Pulling back from the blog

SUBHEAD: After more than 7,000 articles posted on this website it may be the right time to lay down the "pen".

By Juan Wilson on 25 August 2017 for Island Breath -

Image above: Screen shot of front page of IslandBreath.org website.

[IB Piblisher's note: It's been a week without a post to this block. Note that below I didn't say there would never be another post, but that I needed to pull back. We talked about "pulling back". Putting up two or three articles a day meant spending most of every morning working the blog - and that is not counting research time finding or coming up with articles of interest. So we will be posting irregularly starting September 1st, 2017.]

We've been practicing  online activism since the early 1990's. Back in rural upstate New York as The Gobbler (first in print and then online) and in 2000-2001 on Maui as the Kihei Watchdog (in print and online).

Since 2004 we've been publishing Island Breath from Kauai. In 2009 we joined the blogging community with Ea O Ka Aina that shares its posts on IslandBreath. Yeah, I know, it sounds unwieldy. The Ea O Ka Aina  blog now has 6,808 postings. This may be the last.

Why end this effort? For two primary reasons.

One: I've been spending my mornings doing this for hours. I usually start after breakfast and go until around 10:30am but that sometimes means going until near noon. It's a lot of time that could be spent doing homesteading chores that keep piling up.

Two: Readership has been falling slowly for the last four years. The peak readership was mid 2012 with 613,700 page views. The last complete year (2016) had 187,761 page views. This year will be less than that.

Back in 2010 we had five editorial contributors: Juan Wilson, David Ward, Linda Pascatore, Brad Parsons and Jonathan Jay. That year we hit our most prolific level of output that averaged over three articles a day.

Probably the most impact we had on a controversial issue was pushback on the Hawaii Superferry, a scheme to test and operate a badly designed littoral combat ship for the Navy.

Our coverage began with an article by Judy Dalton in July of 2004 "There Are More Problems than Just the Added Traffic" (http://www.islandbreath.org/2004Year/02-growth/growth13SuperFerry.html). Our coverage of that issue produced hundreds of articles over the years until the ferry service was cancelled.

We have engaged on many controversial issues, most recently on the terrible Kauai General Plan Update that will lead us to suburban sprawl and greater dependence on mainland food and consumerism. We have dealt with the themes of dealing with Peak Oil and Climate Change.

But they has not been our first order of business. Since reading James Kunstler's "The Long Emergency" our personal focus has been acquiring the knowledge, skill and equipment to become more self reliant and less dependent on large scale systems.

Unfortunately not enough people have woken to deal the existential threats we face... at least not enough or fast enough.

The economic bubble is ripe for bursting. many observers we respect think that things are really about to unwind.  Before this year is over that deflation will take with it the current delivery system of vital services that provide energy, credit and food. We hope you have alternatives and are practicing using them now.

If there seems a valid need to address upcoming issues "I'll be bock", but in the meantime I'm going out to the garden.

See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: Ebbing the Blog  5/10/14
 I was reminded by a comment below by Familia Tober-Zambrano of a previous attempt to drop working on the blog every day. One forgets. I guess at some point "I'll be bock!"


How America Lost Its Mind

SUBHEAD: Our post-truth moment is the sum of mind-sets that have always made America "exceptional".

By Kurt Andersen on 24 August 2017 for The Atlantic -

Image above: Illustration of American fantasies over the decades by R. Kikuo Johnson. From original article.

“You are entitled to your own opinion,
but you are not entitled to your own facts.”
— Daniel Patrick Moynihan

“We risk being the first people in history to have been
able to make their illusions so vivid, so persuasive,
so ‘realistic’ that they can live in them.”
— Daniel J. Boorstin,

When did America become untethered from reality? I first noticed our national lurch toward fantasy in 2004, after President George W. Bush’s political mastermind, Karl Rove, came up with the remarkable phrase reality-based community.

People in “the reality-based community,” he told a reporter, “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality … That’s not the way the world really works anymore.

A year later, The Colbert Report went on the air. In the first few minutes of the first episode, Stephen Colbert, playing his right-wing-populist commentator character, performed a feature called “The Word.” His first selection: truthiness.

“Now, I’m sure some of the ‘word police,’ the ‘wordinistas’ over at Webster’s, are gonna say, ‘Hey, that’s not a word!’ Well, anybody who knows me knows that I’m no fan of dictionaries or reference books. They’re elitist.

Constantly telling us what is or isn’t true. Or what did or didn’t happen. Who’s Britannica to tell me the Panama Canal was finished in 1914?

If I wanna say it happened in 1941, that’s my right. I don’t trust books—they’re all fact, no heart … Face it, folks, we are a divided nation … divided between those who think with their head and those who know with their heart …

Because that’s where the truth comes from, ladies and gentlemen—the gut.”

Whoa, yes, I thought: exactly. America had changed since I was young, when truthiness and reality-based community wouldn’t have made any sense as jokes. For all the fun, and all the many salutary effects of the 1960s—the main decade of my childhood—I saw that those years had also been the big-bang moment for truthiness.

And if the ’60s amounted to a national nervous breakdown, we are probably mistaken to consider ourselves over it.

Each of us is on a spectrum somewhere between the poles of rational and irrational. We all have hunches we can’t prove and superstitions that make no sense. Some of my best friends are very religious, and others believe in dubious conspiracy theories.

What’s problematic is going overboard—letting the subjective entirely override the objective; thinking and acting as if opinions and feelings are just as true as facts.

The American experiment, the original embodiment of the great Enlightenment idea of intellectual freedom, whereby every individual is welcome to believe anything she wishes, has metastasized out of control.

From the start, our ultra-individualism was attached to epic dreams, sometimes epic fantasies—every American one of God’s chosen people building a custom-made utopia, all of us free to reinvent ourselves by imagination and will.

In America nowadays, those more exciting parts of the Enlightenment idea have swamped the sober, rational, empirical parts.

Little by little for centuries, then more and more and faster and faster during the past half century, we Americans have given ourselves over to all kinds of magical thinking, anything-goes relativism, and belief in fanciful explanation—small and large fantasies that console or thrill or terrify us.

And most of us haven’t realized how far-reaching our strange new normal has become.

Much more than the other billion or so people in the developed world, we Americans believe—really believe—in the supernatural and the miraculous, in Satan on Earth, in reports of recent trips to and from heaven, and in a story of life’s instantaneous creation several thousand years ago.

We believe that the government and its co-conspirators are hiding all sorts of monstrous and shocking truths from us, concerning assassinations, extraterrestrials, the genesis of , the 9/11 attacks, the dangers of vaccines, and so much more.

And this was all true before we became familiar with the terms post-factual and post-truth, before we elected a president with an astoundingly open mind about conspiracy theories, what’s true and what’s false, the nature of reality.

We have passed through the looking glass and down the rabbit hole. America has mutated into Fantasyland.

How widespread is this promiscuous devotion to the untrue? How many Americans now inhabit alternate realities? Any given survey of beliefs is only a sketch of what people in general really think.

But reams of survey research from the past 20 years reveal a rough, useful census of American credulity and delusion. By my reckoning, the solidly reality-based are a minority, maybe a third of us but almost certainly fewer than half.

Only a third of us, for instance, don’t believe that the tale of creation in Genesis is the word of God. Only a third strongly disbelieve in telepathy and ghosts. Two-thirds of Americans believe that “angels and demons are active in the world.”

More than half say they’re absolutely certain heaven exists, and just as many are sure of the existence of a personal God—not a vague force or universal spirit or higher power, but some guy. A third of us believe not only that global warming is no big deal but that it’s a hoax perpetrated by scientists, the government, and journalists.

A third believe that our earliest ancestors were humans just like us; that the government has, in league with the pharmaceutical industry, hidden evidence of natural cancer cures; that extraterrestrials have visited or are visiting Earth.

Almost a quarter believe that vaccines cause autism, and that Donald Trump won the popular vote in 2016.

A quarter believe that our previous president maybe or definitely was (or is?) the anti-Christ.

According to a survey by Public Policy Polling, 15 percent believe that the “media or the government adds secret mind-controlling technology to television broadcast signals,” and another 15 percent think that’s possible. A quarter of Americans believe in witches.

 Remarkably, the same fraction, or maybe less, believes that the Bible consists mainly of legends and fables—the same proportion that believes U.S. officials were complicit in the 9/11 attacks.

When I say that a third believe X and a quarter believe Y, it’s important to understand that those are different thirds and quarters of the population.

Of course, various fantasy constituencies overlap and feed one another—for instance, belief in extraterrestrial visitation and abduction can lead to belief in vast government cover-ups, which can lead to belief in still more wide-ranging plots and cabals, which can jibe with a belief in an impending Armageddon.

Why are we like this?

The short answer is because we’re Americans—because being American means we can believe anything we want; that our beliefs are equal or superior to anyone else’s, experts be damned.

Once people commit to that approach, the world turns inside out, and no cause-and-effect connection is fixed. The credible becomes incredible and the incredible credible.

The word mainstream has recently become a pejorative, shorthand for bias, lies, oppression by the elites. Yet the institutions and forces that once kept us from indulging the flagrantly untrue or absurd—media, academia, government, corporate America, professional associations, respectable opinion in the aggregate—have enabled and encouraged every species of fantasy over the past few decades.

 A senior physician at one of America’s most prestigious university hospitals promotes “miracle cures” on his daily TV show. Cable channels air documentaries treating mermaids, monsters, ghosts, and angels as real.

When a political-science professor attacks the idea “that there is some ‘public’ that shares a notion of reality, a concept of reason, and a set of criteria by which claims to reason and rationality are judged,” colleagues just nod and grant tenure.

The old fringes have been folded into the new center. The irrational has become respectable and often unstoppable.

Our whole social environment and each of its overlapping parts—cultural, religious, political, intellectual, psychological—have become conducive to spectacular fallacy and truthiness and make-believe. There are many slippery slopes, leading in various directions to other exciting nonsense.

During the past several decades, those naturally slippery slopes have been turned into a colossal and permanent complex of interconnected, crisscrossing bobsled tracks, which Donald Trump slid down right into the White House.

American moxie has always come in two types. We have our wilder, faster, looser side: We’re overexcited gamblers with a weakness for stories too good to be true.

But we also have the virtues embodied by the Puritans and their secular descendants: steadiness, hard work, frugality, sobriety, and common sense.

A propensity to dream impossible dreams is like other powerful tendencies—okay when kept in check. For most of our history, the impulses existed in a rough balance, a dynamic equilibrium between fantasy and reality, mania and moderation, credulity and skepticism.

The great unbalancing and descent into full Fantasyland was the product of two momentous changes. The first was a profound shift in thinking that swelled up in the ’60s; since then, Americans have had a new rule written into their mental operating systems: Do your own thing, find your own reality, it’s all relative.

The second change was the onset of the new era of information. Digital technology empowers real-seeming fictions of the ideological and religious and scientific kinds. Among the web’s 1 billion sites, believers in anything and everything can find thousands of fellow fantasists, with collages of facts and “facts” to support them.

Before the internet, crackpots were mostly isolated, and surely had a harder time remaining convinced of their alternate realities. Now their devoutly believed opinions are all over the airwaves and the web, just like actual news. Now all of the fantasies look real.

Today, each of us is freer than ever to custom-make reality, to believe whatever and pretend to be whoever we wish. Which makes all the lines between actual and fictional blur and disappear more easily.

Truth in general becomes flexible, personal, subjective. And we like this new ultra-freedom, insist on it, even as we fear and loathe the ways so many of our wrongheaded fellow Americans use it.

Treating real life as fantasy and vice versa, and taking preposterous ideas seriously, is not unique to Americans.

But we are the global crucible and epicenter. We invented the fantasy-industrial complex; almost nowhere outside poor or otherwise miserable countries are flamboyant supernatural beliefs so central to the identities of so many people.

This is American exceptionalism in the 21st century. The country has always been a one-of-a-kind place. But our singularity is different now.

We’re still rich and free, still more influential and powerful than any other nation, practically a synonym for developed country. But our drift toward credulity, toward doing our own thing, toward denying facts and having an altogether uncertain grip on reality, has overwhelmed our other exceptional national traits and turned us into a less developed country.

People see our shocking Trump moment—this post-truth, “alternative facts” moment—as some inexplicable and crazy new American phenomenon. But what’s happening is just the ultimate extrapolation and expression of mind-sets that have made America exceptional for its entire history.

America was created by true believers and passionate dreamers, and by hucksters and their suckers, which made America successful—but also by a people uniquely susceptible to fantasy, as epitomized by everything from Salem’s hunting witches to Joseph Smith’s creating Mormonism, from P. T. Barnum to speaking in tongues, from Hollywood to Scientology to conspiracy theories, from Walt Disney to Billy Graham to Ronald Reagan to Oprah Winfrey to Trump.

In other words: Mix epic individualism with extreme religion; mix show business with everything else; let all that ferment for a few centuries; then run it through the anything-goes ’60s and the internet age. The result is the America we inhabit today, with reality and fantasy weirdly and dangerously blurred and commingled.

The 1960s and the Beginning of the End of Reason

Image above: Illustration of American 1960's Counter Culture mixed with nutcakes of today. by R. Kikuo Johnson. From original article.

I don't regret or disapprove of many of the ways the ’60s permanently reordered American society and culture. It’s just that along with the familiar benefits, there have been unreckoned costs.

In 1962, people started referring to “hippies,” the Beatles had their first hit, Ken Kesey published One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and the Harvard psychology lecturer Timothy Leary was handing out psilocybin and LSD to grad students.

And three hours south of San Francisco, on the heavenly stretch of coastal cliffs known as Big Sur, a pair of young Stanford psychology graduates founded a school and think tank they named after a small American Indian tribe that had lived on the grounds long before. “In 1968,” one of its founding figures recalled four decades later,
Esalen was the center of the cyclone of the youth rebellion. It was one of the central places, like Mecca for the Islamic culture. Esalen was a pilgrimage center for hundreds and thousands of youth interested in some sense of transcendence, breakthrough consciousness, LSD, the sexual revolution, encounter, being sensitive, finding your body, yoga—all of these things were at first filtered into the culture through Esalen. By 1966, ’67, and ’68, Esalen was making a world impact.
This is not overstatement. Essentially everything that became known as New Age was invented, developed, or popularized at the Esalen Institute. Esalen is a mother church of a new American religion for people who think they don’t like churches or religions but who still want to believe in the supernatural.

The institute wholly reinvented psychology, medicine, and philosophy, driven by a suspicion of science and reason and an embrace of magical thinking (also: massage, hot baths, sex, and sex in hot baths). It was a headquarters for a new religion of no religion, and for “science” containing next to no science.

The idea was to be radically tolerant of therapeutic approaches and understandings of reality, especially if they came from Asian traditions or from American Indian or other shamanistic traditions. Invisible energies, past lives, astral projection, whatever—the more exotic and wondrous and unfalsifiable, the better.

Not long before Esalen was founded, one of its co-founders, Dick Price, had suffered a mental breakdown and been involuntarily committed to a private psychiatric hospital for a year.

His new institute embraced the radical notion that psychosis and other mental illnesses were labels imposed by the straight world on eccentrics and visionaries, that they were primarily tools of coercion and control. This was the big idea behind One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, of course.

And within the psychiatric profession itself this idea had two influential proponents, who each published unorthodox manifestos at the beginning of the decade—R. D. Laing (The Divided Self) and Thomas Szasz (The Myth of Mental Illness).

“Madness,” Laing wrote when Esalen was new, “is potentially liberation and renewal.” Esalen’s founders were big Laing fans, and the institute became a hotbed for the idea that insanity was just an alternative way of perceiving reality.

These influential critiques helped make popular and respectable the idea that much of science is a sinister scheme concocted by a despotic conspiracy to oppress people.

Mental illness, both Szasz and Laing said, is “a theory not a fact.” This is now the universal bottom-line argument for anyone—from creationists to climate-change deniers to anti-vaccine hysterics—who prefers to disregard science in favor of his own beliefs.

You know how young people always think the universe revolves around them, as if they’re the only ones who really get it?

And how before their frontal lobes, the neural seat of reason and rationality, are fully wired, they can be especially prone to fantasy?

In the ’60s, the universe cooperated: It did seem to revolve around young people, affirming their adolescent self-regard, making their fantasies of importance feel real and their fantasies of instant transformation and revolution feel plausible.

Practically overnight, America turned its full attention to the young and everything they believed and imagined and wished.

If 1962 was when the decade really got going, 1969 was the year the new doctrines and their gravity were definitively cataloged by the grown-ups. Reason and rationality were over.

The countercultural effusions were freaking out the old guard, including religious people who couldn’t quite see that yet another Great Awakening was under way in America, heaving up a new religion of believers who “have no option but to follow the road until they reach the Holy City … that lies beyond the technocracy … the New Jerusalem.”

That line is from The Making of a Counter Culture: Reflections on the Technocratic Society and Its Youthful Opposition, published three weeks after Woodstock, in the summer of 1969. Its author was Theodore Roszak, age 35, a Bay Area professor who thereby coined the word counterculture.

Roszak spends 270 pages glorying in the younger generation’s “brave” rejection of expertise and “all that our culture values as ‘reason’ and ‘reality.’ ” (Note the scare quotes.)

So-called experts, after all, are “on the payroll of the state and/or corporate structure.” A chapter called “The Myth of Objective Consciousness” argues that science is really just a state religion.

To create “a new culture in which the non-intellective capacities … become the arbiters of the good [and] the true,” he writes, “nothing less is required than the subversion of the scientific world view, with its entrenched commitment to an egocentric and cerebral mode of consciousness.” He welcomes the “radical rejection of science and technological values.”

Earlier that summer, a University of Chicago sociologist (and Catholic priest) named Andrew Greeley had alerted readers of The New York Times Magazine that beyond the familiar signifiers of youthful rebellion (long hair, sex, drugs, music, protests), the truly shocking change on campuses was the rise of anti-rationalism and a return of the sacred—“mysticism and magic,” the occult, séances, cults based on the book of Revelation.

When he’d chalked a statistical table on a classroom blackboard, one of his students had reacted with horror: “Mr. Greeley, I think you’re an empiricist.”

As 1969 turned to 1970, a 41-year-old Yale Law School professor was finishing his book about the new youth counterculture. Charles Reich was a former Supreme Court clerk now tenured at one of ultra-rationalism’s American headquarters.

But hanging with the young people had led him to a midlife epiphany and apostasy. In 1966, he had started teaching an undergraduate seminar called “The Individual in America,” for which he assigned fiction by Kesey and Norman Mailer. He decided to spend the next summer, the Summer of Love, in Berkeley. On the road back to New Haven, he had his Pauline conversion to the kids’ values.

His class at Yale became hugely popular; at its peak, 600 students were enrolled. In 1970, The Greening of America became The New York Times’ best-selling book (as well as a much-read 70-page New Yorker excerpt), and remained on the list for most of a year.

At 16, I bought and read one of the 2 million copies sold. Rereading it today and recalling how much I loved it was a stark reminder of the follies of youth. Reich was shamelessly, uncritically swooning for kids like me.  

The Greening of America may have been the mainstream’s single greatest act of pandering to the vanity and self-righteousness of the new youth. Its underlying theoretical scheme was simple and perfectly pitched to flatter young readers:

There are three types of American “consciousness,” each of which “makes up an individual’s perception of reality … his ‘head,’ his way of life.”  

Consciousness I people were old-fashioned, self-reliant individualists rendered obsolete by the new “Corporate State”—essentially, your grandparents.  

Consciousness IIs were the fearful and conformist organization men and women whose rationalism was a tyrannizing trap laid by the Corporate State—your parents.

And then there was Consciousness III, which had “made its first appearance among the youth of America,” “spreading rapidly among wider and wider segments of youth, and by degrees to older people.”

If you opposed the Vietnam War and dressed down and smoked pot, you were almost certainly a III. Simply by being young and casual and undisciplined, you were ushering in a new utopia.

Reich praises the “gaiety and humor” of the new Consciousness III wardrobe, but his book is absolutely humorless—because it’s a response to “this moment of utmost sterility, darkest night and most extreme peril.”

Conspiracism was flourishing, and Reich bought in. Now that “the Corporate State has added depersonalization and repression” to its other injustices, “it has threatened to destroy all meaning and suck all joy from life.” Reich’s magical thinking mainly concerned how the revolution would turn out.

“The American Corporate State,” having produced this new generation of longhaired hyperindividualists who insist on trusting their gut and finding their own truth, “is now accomplishing what no revolutionaries could accomplish by themselves.

The machine has begun to destroy itself.” Once everyone wears Levi’s and gets high, the old ways “will simply be swept away in the flood.”

The inevitable/imminent happy-cataclysm part of the dream didn’t happen, of course. The machine did not destroy itself. But Reich was half-right. An epochal change in American thinking was under way and “not, as far as anybody knows, reversible …

There is no returning to an earlier consciousness.” His wishful error was believing that once the tidal surge of new sensibility brought down the flood walls, the waters would flow in only one direction, carving out a peaceful, cooperative, groovy new continental utopia, hearts and minds changed like his, all of America Berkeleyized and Vermontified.

Instead, Consciousness III was just one early iteration of the anything-goes, post-reason, post-factual America enabled by the tsunami.

Reich’s faith was the converse of the Enlightenment rationalists’ hopeful fallacy 200 years earlier.

Granted complete freedom of thought, Thomas Jefferson and company assumed, most people would follow the path of reason.

Wasn’t it pretty to think so.

I remember when fantastical beliefs went fully mainstream, in the 1970s.

My irreligious mother bought and read The Secret Life of Plants, a big best seller arguing that plants were sentient and would “be the bridesmaids at a marriage of physics and metaphysics.” The amazing truth about plants, the book claimed, had been suppressed by the FDA and agribusiness.

My mom didn’t believe in the conspiracy, but she did start talking to her ficuses as if they were pets.

In a review, The New York Times registered the book as another data point in how “the incredible is losing its pariah status.”

Indeed, mainstream publishers and media organizations were falling over themselves to promote and sell fantasies as nonfiction.

In 1975 came a sensational autobiography by the young spoon bender and mind reader Uri Geller as well as Life After Life, by Raymond Moody, a philosophy Ph.D. who presented the anecdotes of several dozen people who’d nearly died as evidence of an afterlife.

The book sold many millions of copies; before long the International Association for Near Death Studies formed and held its first conference, at Yale.

During the ’60s, large swaths of academia made a turn away from reason and rationalism as they’d been understood.

Many of the pioneers were thoughtful, their work fine antidotes to postwar complacency. The problem was the nature and extent of their influence at that particular time, when all premises and paradigms seemed up for grabs.

That is, they inspired half-baked and perverse followers in the academy, whose arguments filtered out into the world at large:

All approximations of truth, science as much as any fable or religion, are mere stories devised to serve people’s needs or interests. Reality itself is a purely social construction, a tableau of useful or wishful myths that members of a society or tribe have been persuaded to believe.

The borders between fiction and nonfiction are permeable, maybe nonexistent. The delusions of the insane, superstitions, and magical thinking?

Any of those may be as legitimate as the supposed truths contrived by Western reason and science. The takeaway: Believe whatever you want, because pretty much everything is equally true and false.

These ideas percolated across multiple academic fields. In 1965, the French philosopher Michel Foucault published Madness and Civilization in America, echoing Laing’s skepticism of the concept of mental illness; by the 1970s, he was arguing that rationality itself is a coercive “regime of truth”—oppression by other means. Foucault’s suspicion of reason became deeply and widely embedded in American academia.

During the ’60s, large swaths of academia made a turn away from reason and rationalism as they’d been understood. Many of the pioneers were thoughtful, their work fine antidotes to postwar complacency. The problem was the nature and extent of their influence at that particular time, when all premises and paradigms seemed up for grabs.

That is, they inspired half-baked and perverse followers in the academy, whose arguments filtered out into the world at large:

All approximations of truth, science as much as any fable or religion, are mere stories devised to serve people’s needs or interests.

Reality itself is a purely social construction, a tableau of useful or wishful myths that members of a society or tribe have been persuaded to believe.

The borders between fiction and nonfiction are permeable, maybe nonexistent. The delusions of the insane, superstitions, and magical thinking? Any of those may be as legitimate as the supposed truths contrived by Western reason and science. The takeaway: Believe whatever you want, because pretty much everything is equally true and false.

These ideas percolated across multiple academic fields. In 1965, the French philosopher Michel Foucault published Madness and Civilization in America, echoing Laing’s skepticism of the concept of mental illness; by the 1970s, he was arguing that rationality itself is a coercive “regime of truth”—oppression by other means. Foucault’s suspicion of reason became deeply and widely embedded in American academia.

When I first read that, at age 18, I loved the quotation marks. If reality is simply the result of rules written by the powers that be, then isn’t everyone able—no, isn’t everyone obliged—to construct their own reality? The book was timed perfectly to become a foundational text in academia and beyond.

A more extreme academic evangelist for the idea of all truths being equal was a UC Berkeley philosophy professor named Paul Feyerabend. His best-known book, published in 1975, was Against Method: Outline of an Anarchistic Theory of Knowledge.

“Rationalism,” it declared, “is a secularized form of the belief in the power of the word of God,” and science a “particular superstition.”

In a later edition of the book, published when creationists were passing laws to teach Genesis in public-school biology classes, Feyerabend came out in favor of the practice, comparing creationists to Galileo. Science, he insisted, is just another form of belief.

“Only one principle,” he wrote, “can be defended under all circumstances and in all stages of human development. It is the principle: anything goes.”

Over in anthropology, where the exotic magical beliefs of traditional cultures were a main subject, the new paradigm took over completely—don’t judge, don’t disbelieve, don’t point your professorial finger. This was understandable, given the times: colonialism ending, genocide of American Indians confessed, U.S. wars in the developing world.

Who were we to roll our eyes or deny what these people believed? In the ’60s, anthropology decided that oracles, diviners, incantations, and magical objects should be not just respected, but considered equivalent to reason and science.

If all understandings of reality are socially constructed, those of Kalabari tribesmen in Nigeria are no more arbitrary or faith-based than those of college professors.

In 1968, a UC Davis psychologist named Charles Tart conducted an experiment in which, he wrote, “a young woman who frequently had spontaneous out-of-body experiences”—didn’t “claim to have” them but “had” them—spent four nights sleeping in a lab, hooked up to an EEG machine.

Her assigned task was to send her mind or soul out of her body while she was asleep and read a five-digit number Tart had written on a piece of paper placed on a shelf above the bed. He reported that she succeeded.

Other scientists considered the experiments and the results bogus, but Tart proceeded to devote his academic career to proving that attempts at objectivity are a sham and magic is real. In an extraordinary paper published in 1972 in Science, he complained about the scientific establishment’s “almost total rejection of the knowledge gained” while high or tripping.

He didn’t just want science to take seriously “experiences of ecstasy, mystical union, other ‘dimensions,’ rapture, beauty, space-and-time transcendence.” He was explicitly dedicated to going there. A “perfectly scientific theory may be based on data that have no physical existence,” he insisted.

The rules of the scientific method had to be revised. To work as a psychologist in the new era, Tart argued, a researcher should be in the altered state of consciousness he’s studying, high or delusional “at the time of data collection” or during “data reduction and theorizing.”

Tart’s new mode of research, he admitted, posed problems of “consensual validation,” given that “only observers in the same [altered state] are able to communicate adequately with one another.”

Tart popularized the term consensus reality for what you or I would simply call reality, and around 1970 that became a permanent interdisciplinary term of art in academia. Later he abandoned the pretense of neutrality and started calling it the consensus trance—people committed to reason and rationality were the deluded dupes, not he and his tribe.

Even the social critic Paul Goodman, beloved by young leftists in the ’60s, was flabbergasted by his own students by 1969. “There was no knowledge,” he wrote, “only the sociology of knowledge. They had so well learned that … research is subsidized and conducted for the benefit of the ruling class that they did not believe there was such a thing as simple truth.”

Ever since, the American right has insistently decried the spread of relativism, the idea that nothing is any more correct or true than anything else.

Conservatives hated how relativism undercut various venerable and comfortable ruling ideas—certain notions of entitlement (according to race and gender) and aesthetic beauty and metaphysical and moral certainty. 
Yet once the intellectual mainstream thoroughly accepted that there are many equally valid realities and truths, once the idea of gates and gatekeeping was discredited not just on campuses but throughout the culture, all American barbarians could have their claims taken seriously.

Conservatives are correct that the anything-goes relativism of college campuses wasn’t sequestered there, but when it flowed out across America it helped enable extreme Christianities and lunacies on the right—gun-rights hysteria, black-helicopter conspiracism, climate-change denial, and more.

The term useful idiot was originally deployed to accuse liberals of serving the interests of true believers further on the left. In this instance, however, postmodern intellectuals—post-positivists, poststructuralists, social constructivists, post-empiricists, epistemic relativists, cognitive relativists, descriptive relativists—turned out to be useful idiots most consequentially for the American right.

“Reality has a well-known liberal bias,” Stephen Colbert once said, in character, mocking the beliefs-trump-facts impulse of today’s right. Neither side has noticed, but large factions of the elite left and the populist right have been on the same team.

 [IB Publisher's note: If you've read to here you are only part way through - about 40%. To read about Kurt Anderson's take the 70's and 80's and beyond go to (https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2017/09/how-america-lost-its-mind/534231/) and search for:

"Conspiracy and Paranoia in the 1970s"



Averting Apocalypse

SUBHEAD: Advertising controlling the masses can be repurposed in order to liberate humanity. Really!

By Daniel Pinchbeck on 27 July 2017 for Medium -

Image above: A polar bear amid melting ice with no place to go. From original article.

[IB Publisher's note: This is a subtly deceptive piece. At one point  Although Pinchbeck makes some important observations on possible future human behavior regarding food and energy production, as well as resetting priorities regarding corporate and financial operations, he still falls into the techno-optimist trap of thinking we are going to avoid ecological collapse through retooling Google, Facebook and Bitcoin.  Pinchbeck writes "...we need new, powerful, abstract goals to orient us and provide ideals for people to rally around. Patriotism, satyagraha, the ideal of a “Master Race” provided such goals for mass movements in the past..."Don't wait for Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos to save you. Get a head start of avoiding apocalypse by turning away from corporations and government for your survival. My thinking is that the future will look more like 1850 than Pinchbeck's 2050.]  

A few weeks ago, New York Magazine published a devastatingly apocalyptic overview of climate predictions. We are on target for a 4 to 8 degrees Celsius warmer climate by 2100, at current rates of CO2 emissions.

We know from past epochs that it could even be worse: In the past, temperatures have shot up as much as ten degrees in a single decade, as feedback loops get engaged. The author David Wallace-Wells is correct when he writes, “No plausible program of emissions reductions alone can prevent climate disaster.”

However, that doesn’t mean that nothing can be done to save our species - and the planet - from approaching cataclysm. In fact, if humanity was to awaken to our current plight and work together, we could transform the Earth in a positive direction that would allow us to thrive here for the long term.

Unfortunately, at the moment most people’s innate response to the looming ecological mega-crisis is to suppress it, avoid it, or freeze like the fabled deer caught in the headlights. It seems too overwhelming to contemplate.

Obviously, we need to find a different way to respond. The problem is that the effort to develop a systemic response and coherent strategy for making this change falls outside of existing categories - public or private sector, left or right, etc.

So what can we do?

First we have to understand what’s possible. I spent the last decade researching and considering what we must do to avert ecological collapse. The results are presented in my new book, How Soon Is Now? (published by Watkins, with introductions from Russell Brand - who calls it “a blueprint for the future” - and Sting).

Let’s imagine ourselves - for a moment - as extraterrestrial observers watching humanity’s current gyrations from the surface of another world. We need to start from such a high level of abstraction before we drill down into the possible solutions in various areas.

From such a distant vantage point, humanity would resemble one gigantic organism that is continuously transforming the surface of the Earth. From the alien perspective, we might seem to be something like rust, or a virus on the face of the Earth.

However, the aliens would realize that this fast-developing species has the capacity for self-reflection and long-term thought.

If or when we become aware of ourselves as a planetary entity - a super-organism in a continuous symbiotic relationship with the ecology of the Earth - we will rethink how we organize ourselves and how we apply our technologies.

We will use our creative powers to replenish and restore the world’s ecosystems while we take care, responsibly, of our human family as one unified whole. Instead of a virus, we might intentionally mutate ourselves to become the Earth’s immune system.

In my book, I defined the three main areas we need to address as our technical infrastructure (energy, agriculture, and industry); the social systems (government and economics); and consciousness (the set of beliefs, values, and ideologies which are imprinted by mass media and education).

We can look at these three areas as gears that turn each other. For instance, when the technology of the Internet developed, it changed collective consciousness and had many influences on our political and economic systems.

Together, the technical infrastructure, social system, and collective consciousness make up our current paradigm - the system we are in now, which is in the process, unfortunately, of annihilating the ecosystems we depend upon for life.

In terms of the technical infrastructure, we know that we need to make a rapid transition to renewable energy - in a decade or two, rather than a half century or more.

We also need to make a transition from industrial and monocultural agriculture back to regenerative farming practices that sequester CO2 in the soil. We need to transition from exploitative industrial processes to what the designer William McDonogue calls “cradle to cradle” manufacturing.

In the short term, we also need to demand a sharp global reduction in CO2 emissions that will, indeed, impact the lifestyles of vast masses of people, above all the wealthy.

The lifestyles of the wealthy are a much bigger problem than overpopulation. It is estimated that 50% of the world’s resources are consumed by the wealthiest 1% of the population.

I know the idea of voluntarily reducing our excesses seems difficult to imagine from where we are now. But I will propose, later on, how this can be accomplished. Similar things have happened before.

The gist of it is that we need to unleash a global marketing campaign that makes use of mass media, social media, and social networks and utilizes the levers of our individual and collective psychology, as effectively as advertising does.

When we look at the technical challenges facing us, we can see they are difficult - but not impossible.
Solar has already reached “grid parity” with fossil fuels. We have developed new methods for storing renewable energy sources (such as the Tesla Power Wall) as well as developing the “Internet of Energy” which will allow individuals and communities to feed energy back to the grid.

One issue is the enormous “sunk costs” of the existing fossil fuel infrastructure - but forfeiting that is better than forfeiting a future for our species.

Such a rapid energy transition is not something that can occur purely through market mechanisms. It would require a melding of public and private interest. Hard as this is to imagine, it has occurred in the past: After the 1941 Pearl Harbor attack, for example, the US shifted all factories to wartime production within a few months.

Production of consumer goods like private cars were stopped. The wealthy were taxed at more than 90% and this capital was used for wartime goals. If this has happened before, such a concerted effort can happen again.

People have to recognize the ecological crisis poses the same level of existential threat as the Nazis did in World War Two. It requires the same level of collective, committed response.

Farming practices must change as drastically as energy production. According to the United Nations, we only have 60 years of harvests left with current industrial farming practices, in any case.

This is because we are depleting the world’s topsoil. Luckily, there are other - in many cases older - forms of farming that replenish and restore topsoil. These include organic farming, no-till farming, and permaculture. These practices also sequester carbon back in the soil - potentially huge amounts of CO2.

We also need a large-scale global reduction on meat eating, as animal agriculture is extremely destructive to the environment. 30% of the Earth’s surface is animal grazing land.

With a reduction or moratorium on meat, we can reforest this surface area, creating carbon sinks.

Reforestation can be accomplished quickly using the latest technologies such as drones to plant trees and Artificial Intelligence to help replicate diverse self-supportive ecosystems.

While it is true that regenerative farming practices require more skilled labor, more people working on farms, as well as smaller farms, this is also not technically impossible or unfeasible.

In fact, we are seeing increasing automation in many fields that will eliminate millions of industrial jobs over the next decades. An interesting question is - what are people supposed to do once all of the old industrial jobs have disappeared?

Retraining people to be custodians and stewards of their local lands, teaching them to grow food, combining the best knowledge from the present and past, could be socially beneficial on many levels.

To accomplish this will also require a shift in the third area I mentioned upfront - our consciousness and ideology, which is imprinted through the media. Essentially, over the last few hundred years, we developed an ideology of one-directional progress and modernization that benefitted corporations and large-scale commercial enterprises.

According to this ideology, the rural areas were boring and stagnant. Mass populations would relocate to cities and people would find it more exciting to work in sweatshops or small factories, as Uber drivers or in marketing firms.

In essence, to make the transition that is now necessary, we need to change our vision of progress once again. People living in healthy multi-generational communities out in nature, working less, growing food, taking care of their local ecosystems - combining the best of modern technology with some aspects of ancient and indigenous cultures - could become a new paradigm for a humane and resilient post post-modernity.

We could actually resettle the rural areas as part of a movement toward decentralized and resilient communities. Resilience will be a necessary virtue in the near-future, as we confront intensifying battering from “super-storms” and other impacts of the ecological crisis. Decentralized communities that can grow their own food and make their own energy are maximally resilient.

Our industrial paradigm must also change drastically from the models of “planned obsolescence” and “conspicuous consumption” that fueled the last centuries of industrialization. It is increasingly obvious that we are living on a planet of finite and limited resources, yet we have constructed a commercialized industrial system that requires constant over-production of disposable goods that poison the environment.

Plastics, for instance, now infiltrate every ecosystem on the planet and concentrate in the fatty tissues of animals, causing hormonal disruptions and cancers. We have been hypnotized and entranced by our own technical powers yet unable to master them and use them wisely. This must now change.

The alternative is that we redesign our systems of industrial manufacturing, over the next decades, so they are close to zero-waste, or even feed back benevolently into the Earth’s ecosystems. While this seems impossible from where we are now, we do have a great model for this - nature itself. Nature is ceaselessly productive and her productions do not harm the biosphere but only add to its fertility and abundance.

In Cradle to Cradle, designer William McDonogue proposes that all of our packaging could be designed so it is compostable and contains seeds. When you eat an ice cream, you bury the wrapper and a little garden grows from it. McDonogue believes we can redesign all of our industrial systems along the same principles.

While this seems difficult to imagine now, we must remember that many things which seemed impossible have, in fact, come to pass. Flying around the planet in a metal tube was impossible - until the Wright Brothers came along.

Forms of plastic are already being developed out of biodegradable and nondestructive materials such as cassava and hemp. “Biomimicry” may also provide many answers. The point is that we need our academies and laboratories to innovate in this direction, and unleash our creative genius on this area, comprehensively.

Tools and gadgets that require rare metals and other minerals - like laptops and Smart Phones - should be designed so that their components can be replaced and recycled. The bylaws of companies must change so they are responsible for their products over the entire course of their lifecycle.

I know it seems difficult, if not impossible, to address these areas in the systemic way I have proposed here. This is because our social systems and ruling ideologies are organized against it. We live in an odd circumstance where we have been indoctrinated and programmed to believe that unreason - irrationality - must triumph.

But social systems as well as ideologies do, in fact, change. Human nature, in itself, is changeable, as Oscar Wilde realized: “The only thing that one really knows about human nature is that it changes. Change is the one quality we can predicate of it.”

If we are going to make a rapid transition to renewable energy over the next decade or two, while we engineer a transition to regenerative agriculture and at the same time redesign our industrial manufacturing processes to minimize waste and mesh with the Earth’s ecology, this will require a deep transformation in our social systems as well as our ruling values and ideologies. It will, also - we must accept - profoundly impact our daily lives and habits.

We will have to change our consumption patterns, reduce our excesses, as well as some of our short-term expectations for the future - both for ourselves and our children.

However, when we fully realize the alternative is a universal collapse and apocalypse that will ruin our children’s future and leave the Earth close to uninhabitable, we can make this choice happily - choosing it as a mission and a destiny.

When we start to respond as a society to the ecological crisis, we may find we enjoy life more. Building new community networks and moving toward resilience will increase our sense of personal satisfaction while ending our feeling of alienation from one another and the Earth as a whole.

One main factor accelerating our rush toward global cataclysm is the underlying design of our economic system.

We can look at corporations as artificial life forms that humans have designed to survive and compete in an artificial game that we also created which we call the stock market.

We gave these artificial life-forms only one prime directive: In order to survive and “win the game,” they must maximize financial profit and shareholder value. This is, therefore, exactly what corporations do - like robots.

If a corporation can only survive and win its game by maximizing financial value, then it naturally must work to overcome anything that stands in the way of that goal. For instance, a corporation must seek to evade environmental restrictions that reduce its profit margins. If the health and diversity of local ecosystems or communities stand in its way, it must break them.

Such an artificial life-form - designed with one purpose only - must also naturally self-select for the most sociopathic character types as it needs CEOs and leaders who have no ethical compunction or concern for externalities.

In this sense, we can’t even blame a company like British Petroleum for despoiling the Gulf of Mexico, to take just one example. Evading restrictions, corrupting governments - that is what corporations have been designed to do.

Similarly, our money system is a design artifact that enforces certain kinds of behavior patterns. A debt-based currency issued by private banks and backed by government loans, money is designed to maximize competition and create artificial scarcity, as well as winners and losers.

The Belgian economist Bernard Lietaer - one of the architects of the Euro - argues that our money system is purely a “Yang” currency supporting masculine ideals of aggression, competition, hoarding, and domination,

In his book The Future of Money, Lietaer looks at the history of monetary systems and finds examples of more balanced societies that also used “Yin” currencies which foster collaboration, community, connection, and sharing.

Lietaer proposes that we could create a global trading currency he names the Terra that would have a “demarrage” charge or negative interest rate. In other words, when you receive a Terra, it has a time stamp on it. It quickly goes down in value as you hold onto it.

Your best option is, thus, to get the currency back into circulation rather than hoarding it. This is one innovative idea that could lead to a less destructive money system. There are many others.

The blockchain - the underlying technology upon which crypto-currencies like Bitcoin, Ether, and Tezos have been built - could provide the new infrastructure for a rapid redesign and reinvention of our financial system.

However, a new financial system can’t simply imitate the same destructive processes and hierarchies of our present system, if we want to interrupt our march toward ecological suicide.

If we want an ecologically sane society, we will need to radically reduce the current extremes of wealth inequality, which create irresponsible attitudes and practices for rich and poor alike.

Blockchain - a transparent accounting ledger that is distributed and decentralized - could also provide the basis for a global direct democracy that scales from the local to the bioregional to the global level.

We could potentially create a truly democratic system where everybody, ultimately, has the equal right to contribute - to debate and decide on our collective future. This may seem scary at first, but alternatives may be even less feasible.

We are seeing new prototypes for collaborative governance developing online in platforms like DemocracyOS and Loomio.

Just as our economic system is a design template from over a century ago, our current political system was largely constructed in the late 18th and early 19th Centuries, when information only moved as fast as horse-and-buggies or schooner ships.

The rate of change was much slower than it is today. In fact, when we look back through history we discover there is an intrinsic relationship between the predominant form of media and the ruling political-economic system.

For instance, we could never have had empires like Rome or Babylon without a written code of laws - without the media technology of writing.

We could never have had the modern nation-state with its liberal democracies and parliaments without the printing press, which made it possible for many people to follow the news of the day and have enough knowledge to vote in elections.

With the Internet, we have a new, profound system of globally interactive communication and it points toward a profound transition in our social, political, and economic infrastructure.

The regressive movements happening now express a tension between the older modes of authoritarian control and the new possibilities and potentials inherent in our new media and communications infrastructure, which points toward the potential for a much deeper level of democratic decision-making, as well as a sharing of wealth and power.

I realize these considerations may seem very abstract to some readers - it may seem a stretch to connect them with our urgent and immediate need to deal with an ecological emergency that threatens our tenure on this planet in the near-term.

However, I believe that all aspects of this crisis are linked together and it is crucial to understand it, as a system. Without the right viewpoint on it, we can’t make the right moves, whether in the short or long term. All of this is explored in my book in greater detail.

So then - let’s return to the somewhat mind-boggling question of how we can approach the multi-dimensional ecological crisis we have brought upon ourselves in the short term and avert what seems to be probable if not inevitable catastrophe? I propose the following as methodology and next steps.

In the next years, we must create a broad-based movement of civil society, globally, that is solution-focused and positive - that recognizes not only the threat of climate change and environmental crisis but also the opportunity this crisis provides us to reinvent our society so it is truly equitable, empathic, and corresponds to our deepest and best impulses individually and collectively.

The problem with organizations like Greenpeace or Bill McKibben’s 350.org, I believe, is the lack of a brilliantly inspiring and redemptive vision for the future. We need a movement that offers a thrilling vision of our future together, particularly for Millennials and even younger people.

In some ways, in fact, our future looks very bright. If we can handle the ecological threat — a big “if” — the prospect of automation combined with a Universal Basic Income could alleviate humanity, as a whole, from degrading work and senseless drudgery. We could liberate the knowledge commons so that people everywhere have unlimited opportunity to learn new skills. The prospect of settling other planets is, also, an exciting one.

I also believe the new paradigm may include an intentionally guided evolution of consciousness as well as an exploration of altered or non-ordinary states of consciousness. While this seems marginal now, it may be important or even crucial for our future.

This is something I have explored in depth in past works - it is too much to unpack here. Personally I am persuaded by the overlay of quantum physics, the Holographic Universe theory of David Bohm, and the mystical traditions of Eastern cultures like Tibet and India.

The melding of ancient mysticism and modern techno-science may turn out to be an extremely important aspect of the transformation taking place.

As science and mysticism converge (even Elon Musk now believes we are living in a kind of simulation similar to what Gnostics spoke about a few thousand years ago), we find that our self-identity, our sense of purpose or meaning, and the way we envision humanity’s place in the universe are all changing.

In any case, the idea that we could orient ourselves positively toward a creative and participatory future could be deeply inspiring - and profoundly different from the ideology of corporate globalization culminating in a technological Singularity where silicon fuses with flesh. There may be many potential future orientations that are valid and valuable.

Some people may fuse with machines while others choose to return to a more agrarian way of life.

I know these ideas seem abstract - but we need new, powerful, abstract goals to orient us and provide ideals for people to rally around.

Patriotism, satyagraha, the ideal of a “Master Race” provided such goals for mass movements in the past. We need new collective myths to support our transition to an emancipated, ecologically regenerative society.

In terms of building a global movement, the marketing pitch would be something like the following:
“Dear Human Family,
We have reached an amazing and critical juncture. On the one hand, we see extraordinary progress happening in many areas. On the other, our rapid evolution over the last centuries has unleashed an ecological crisis that could bring our species to an end or lead to a crash back to a much smaller population. This time happens to be critical.
A beautiful outcome is possible, still, but to get there, we will have to cooperate as never before. We will, also, have to commit to building a future that elevates and enhances our human community as a whole as we care for our threatened ecosystems and seek to repair and reverse the damage we have done.
We can co-create a global society defined by universal abundance within the next 20 to 50 years - probably closer to 20. This would be a world where nobody went hungry and everybody had access to knowledge and ongoing education and job retraining via the Internet, supported by a basic income. But to get to that place we must first undergo a period of transition that will be difficult and challenging - but also, potentially beautiful, if we rise to this occasion. We must understand that individually and collectively, we are on a hero’s journey, a trial by fire.
We know from past epochs that humanity has the capacity to rally when challenged. The United States and Britain rallied to win the Second World War, even though this required tremendous sacrifices for many people. We require the same kind of commitment now. If humanity has accomplished this before, we can again, together.”
The fact that we are more connected than ever before - almost as if the global brain has spontaneously emerged just when we need it most - might mean that new ideas and a new awareness could spread rapidly at the propitious moment.

Imagine, for instance, if Google and Facebook were to put what I just wrote above on their home page. 2 billion people now use Facebook every day. Zuckerberg has recently announced his interest in Universal Basic Income, and proposes that fighting global warming could be a rallying cry for the Millennials.

Google and Facebook - or other social networks that develop through peer-to-peer computing or the blockchain - could be used to warn everybody on Earth that we are confronting the immediate prospect of ecological decimation.

These platforms could be used to give people the necessary information they need to make many changes in their daily lives. Through social tools, groups could be formed that would support millions of people in shifting to vegetarianism, sharing cars and tools and other resources, engaging in voluntary campaigns of bioremediation, ending the unnecessary use of plastics, and so on.

We now have the mapping and geolocating capacities to enhance our efficiencies and support conservation in many areas.

A massive short-term jobs program - something like the WPA in the 1930s - could be unleashed to transition our energy infrastructure to renewables and shift our farming practices to regenerative ones. Many forms of tech innovation are developing rapidly that could be implemented universally.

For instance, vertical farms and massive solar collectors can be built. Urban rooftops can be painted white or gardens put on them to reduce the albedo effect. Biochar is an industrial process that creates energy from biomass while sequestering CO2, ending with a carbon-rich tilth that can enhance topsoil. Industrial Biochar could be scaled up globally.

I tend to believe that to make this deadline, we need a new media network that is global and funded to the same level as FOX or CNN. This network would be laser focused on ecological solutions and pragmatic alternatives.

No problem would be presented just to create fear and anxiety in the viewer’s mind. Every program that presented a problem in the world would also propose actionable steps to solve it. The content would be linked to participatory networks where people could engage immediately in bringing about solutions.

One simple way for a network such as this one to be launched would be for a group of progressive billionaires, realizing the necessity, to come together to contribute the seed capital.

Because many people are currently hypnotized or brainwashed by FOX in particular, this new network would have to make use of similar tropes, repetitive memes, and production values. It could also integrate user-generated content, engaging its audience in a new way.

What I have offered here is a brief overview, indicating both the direction of the change we need to make, and the actionable steps that are required in many areas. I know that most people in the mainstream will immediately reject this plan as impossible. The fact is that nothing is impossible for us, once we set our minds to it.

We certainly don’t know the limits of what we can do - at least until we try with all of our will and courage, and we haven’t done that yet. I also think, considering the scale of the problems, the solutions are likely to be rapidly scalable, growing exponentially once we have found the answers.

For instance, when a community develops that is largely self-sufficient and makes a positive local impact, the templates for how that community governs itself, as well as its daily practices, can be shared and copied widely.

The techniques of television, advertising, and branding that have been used so successfully to dominate and control the mass mind can be repurposed in order to liberate humanity from its delusions. The most important thing to realize is that, despite what doomsayers tell us, our fate still rests in our hands.


No more half-measures!

SUBHEAD: McKibbon says only solution is 100% renewables 'As fast as humanly possible'.

By Jake Johnson on 22 August 2017 for Common Dreams -

Image above: Abandoned section of "Will Rogers Turnpike" now known as Interstate 44. In a future in which we save the Earth we'll be seeing much more of this. From (http://www.flickriver.com/photos/tags/willrogersturnpike/).

"Given the state of the planet," writes 350.org founder Bill McKibben in his new feature piece for In These Times, it would have been ideal for the world to have fully transitioned its energy systems away from fossil fuels to 100 percent renewable sources "25 years ago." But we can still push for the "second best" option, McKibben concludes. To do so, we must move toward wind, solar, and water "as fast as humanly possible."

The transition to 100 percent renewable energy is a goal that has gained significant appeal over the past decade—and particularly over the past several months, as President Donald Trump has moved rapidly at the behest of Big Oil to dismantle even the limited environmental protections put in place by the Obama administration. Trump also withdrew the U.S. from the Paris climate accord, a move McKibben denounced as "stupid and reckless."

"Environmental groups from the Climate Mobilization to Greenpeace to Food and Water Watch are backing the 100 percent target," McKibben writes, as are many lawmakers, U.S. states, and countries throughout the world.

Given the climate stance of both the dominant party in Congress and the current occupant of the Oval Office, McKibben notes that we shouldn't be looking toward either for leadership.

Rather, we should look to states like California and countries like China, both of which have made significant commitments to aggressively alter their energy systems in recent months.

The newest addition to the push for renewables is Maryland, which is set to announce on Thursday an "urgent" and "historic" bill that, if passed, would transition the state's energy system to 100 percent renewables by 2035.

McKibben also points to individual senators like Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), who in April introduced legislation that would transition the U.S. to 100 percent clean and renewable energy by 2050. The bill will not pass the current Congress, "but as a standard to shape the Democratic Party agenda in 2018 and 2020, it's critically important," McKibben argues.

"What Medicare for All is to the healthcare debate, or Fight for $15 is to the battle against inequality, 100 percent renewable is to the struggle for the planet's future," McKibben writes. "It's how progressives will think about energy going forward."

Previously a fringe idea, the call for 100 percent renewables is "gaining traction outside the obvious green enclaves," McKibben adds. This is in large part because technology is such that a move toward 100 percent renewable energy "would make economic sense...even if fossil fuels weren't wrecking the Earth."

"That's why the appeal of 100% Renewable goes beyond the left," McKibben writes. "If you pay a power bill, it's the common-sense path forward."

Writing for Vox last week, David Roberts noted that "wind and solar power are saving Americans an astounding amount of money" already.

"Wind and solar produce, to use the economic term of art, 'positive externalities'—benefits to society that are not captured in their market price," Roberts writes. "Specifically, wind and solar power reduce pollution, which reduces sickness, missed work days, and early deaths."

For these reasons, and for the familiar environmental ones, 100 percent renewables is no longer merely an "aspirational goal," McKibben argues. It is "the obvious solution."

"No more half-measures... Many scientists tell us that within a decade, at current rates, we'll likely have put enough carbon in the atmosphere to warm the Earth past the Paris climate targets," McKibben concludes. 
"Renewables—even the most rapid transition—won't stop climate change, but getting off fossil fuel now might (there are no longer any guarantees) keep us from the level of damage that would shake civilization."


Trump's Phoenix Speech

SUBHEAD: Trump's vision of a beautiful America delivered to seething, screaming Arizona crowd.

By Staff on 22 August 2017 for The Onion -

Image above: Enthusiastic supporters of Trump attending speech in Phoenix 8/22/17. From (http://www.twincities.com/2017/08/22/trump-protesters-expected-to-flood-downtown-phoenix/).

Visibly moved by the outpouring of rancor before of him, President Trump was reportedly struck by the beautiful vision of what America could be while looking out over a seething, screaming Arizona rally on Tuesday.

“As I gaze upon the snarls on your red faces today, I’m filled with hope at what astonishing hostility the America of tomorrow can achieve,” said the president, swelling with optimism at the inspiring scene of thousands of Americans gathering to act on their basest instincts.

“I’m simply overcome by the bitterness and resentment filling this convention center. Just imagine if everyone in the nation—every single man and every single woman—could let their anger and intolerance consume them the way it has the good people in this room.

What a wonderful country this would be.” Trump went on to say that while progress would not always be easy, the uncontainable rage of crowds like this one made him feel like America was well on its way.

Trump Says ‘Love’ But Spews Hate

SUBHEAD: Trump can continue to call for love and unity, but he’s actually just spreading the hate.
By Libero Della Piana on 23 August 2017 for Common Dreams - 

Image above: Trump delivering his incoherent speech in Phoenix 8/22/17. From (http://www.twincities.com/2017/08/22/trump-protesters-expected-to-flood-downtown-phoenix/).

The rabid, racial-nationalist Trump was on full display in Phoenix Tuesday night, in a speech CNN’s Don Lemon called “A total eclipse of the facts.”

The Phoenix Trump stood in sharp contrast to the more conciliatory Trump we heard just one night before, in his scripted address to the nation on Afghanistan.

“We can find the inspiration our country needs to unify, to heal, and to remain one nation, under God,” he told a military audience on Monday.

On Tuesday, in what was a billed as a campaign speech just eight months into his presidency, he said, “the only people giving a platform to these hate groups is the media themselves and the fake news.”
Charlottesville’s Shadow

Trump’s comments in Phoenix come on the heels one of the most tense and contentious moments of his deeply divisive presidency: the white supremacist mobilization in Charlottesville, Virginia which resulted in the murder of anti-racist activist Heather Heyer.

The Phoenix rally, which frequently veered off-script, was exactly a week after Trump delivered an off-script rant blaming “both sides” for the violence in Charlottesville, drawing criticism from across the political spectrum.

Thousands Descend
It was no surprise, then, that thousands on both sides came to Phoenix – some to cheer the President, and others to jeer him.

The rumor was that Trump would use the occasion of the speech to pardon former Maricopa County sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was convicted of contempt of court for willfully violating a court order to stop racial profiling.

Greg Stanton, the Democratic Mayor of Phoenix had implored Trump to delay his trip to the city until things cooled down from Charlottesville and the President’s inflammatory comments.

“America is hurting,” Stanton wrote. “And it is hurting largely because Trump has doused racial tensions with gasoline. With his planned visit to Phoenix on Tuesday, I fear the president may be looking to light a match.”

Sheriff Joe
The White House did not cancel or postpone the event, but they did promise Trump would not pardon Arpaio at the event. But Trump did all but pardon him in the speech.

“I think he’s gonna be just fine,” Trump said. “But, but, I won’t do it tonight because I don’t want to cause any controversy. Is that ok? But Sheriff Joe can feel good.”

Trump also railed against the media, blaming reporting of his comments for the criticism he received in the past two weeks.

“I hit ’em with neo-Nazi,” he said. “I hit ’em with everything. I got the white supremacist, the neo-Nazi. I got ’em all in there. Let’s see. KKK? We have KKK. I got ’em all. So they’re having a hard time. So what did they say, right? ‘It should have been sooner; he’s a racist.’”

Bait and Switch
‘I checked off all these things,’ thinks Trump, so why are people so upset? Of course he left out his reference to “hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides.”

This is the essence of Trump’s rhetorical handling of race. He says “they call me a racist” in mock surprise – this from the guy whose first act as a candidate was to call Mexicans rapists. Then he adds, “they are trying to take away our culture.”

Trump says, “racism is evil,” then trades in the most base racial stereotypes. This is from the same man who as a candidate claimed, “I am the least racist person you have ever met,” a statement which immediately calls into question one’s intentions.

Whose Champion?

Trump has stocked his Cabinet with billionaires, and champions a legislative agenda that targets people of color for repression, discrimination and vilification.

Trump’s border wall proposal has been exposed as unrealistic, ineffective, outrageously expensive, and silly. It’s main purpose is in fact ideological. The idea of the wall gives a clear physical representation to the anti-immigrant sentiment of his base.

Trump’s Wall is a monument of hate, as surely as any statue of Robert E. Lee.

The Trump administration’s rollback of civil rights enforcement and police oversight, the Muslim ban, the increase in family-destroying deportations, the dismantling of the social safety net – the list of violations gets longer by the day.

All of these measures disproportionately impact communities of color, and materially contribute to racism far more than his rhetoric.

Trump’s Heart

Trump takes advantage of a popular misconception about racism. For many, racism is viewed as a personal matter, something held in the heart. Racism is an expression of bigotry alone.

Presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway famously said judge Trump by “what’s in his heart,” not what “comes out of his mouth.”

By this reasoning, since we can’t really know what’s in Trump’s heart, how can he be a racist?

But racism is much more than deeply felt racial bias, or even marching white supremacists. Racism is a system of oppression that promotes power and privilege for white people in the real world, and oppresses people of color.

It doesn’t matter what’s in Trump’s heart or mind. It doesn’t matter what his intentions are. His actions, words and policies support and advance racism. Trump is in fact racism’s main spokesperson today. And its main policy advocate.

Hate Rising

This is why so-called “alt-right” white supremacists, as well as old-fashioned Klansmen and Nazi adore Trump. This is why his name has become a weapon to hurl at victims of hate crimes.

This also why hate crimes are on the rise since Trump’s election.

Avowed racists understand clearly that Trump has to say “love” and “unity” and “racism is evil.” But they also know that once he makes the required nod to acceptability, that the dog-whistle racist code words will be unleashed.

When Trump says he condemns racism “in the strongest of possible terms,” it’s not the same as actually condemning it in the strongest of terms.

Trump can continue to call for love and unity, but he’s actually just spreading the hate.


Kauai Community Coalition meeting

SUBHEAD: The Kauai Planning Department plan for the future needs to be fixed by the people.

By By Juan Wilson on 22 August 2017 for Island Breath -

Image above: Detail ofillustration of County General Plan proposal superimposed over photo of the landscape of Kauai. From Kauai Community Coalition website.

All are invited to a public meeting to discuss changes needed in the Kauai General Plan Update as presented by the Kauai Planning Commission. 

 Thursday, August 31st 2017 from 6:30pm to 9:00pm

Lihue Neighborhood Center
3353 Eono Street
 Lihue, HI 96766

Kauai Community Coalition
Website: https://www.communitycoalitionkauai.org/
Email:  communitycoalitionofkauai@gmail.com

For Kauai’s Future, for our Keiki – Fix the Plan!
Please join us in this coordinated community-wide effort to speak with one voice about the need to have a General Plan that first and foremost meets the needs of the residents of Kauai.

See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: We need "our" Kauai General Plan 7/24/17
Ea O Ka Aina: Fact or Fantasy: Kauai General Plan 7/9/17
Ea O Ka Aina: Commission accepts General Plan 6/15/17
Ea O Ka Aina: Lima Ola mess to begin in 2018 6/15/17
Ea O Ka Aina: Testimony against General Plan 6/14/17
Ea O Ka Aina: Kauai Nui Kuapapa 5/14/17
Ea O Ka Aina: Find and Limit Ourselves 2/17/17
Ea O Ka Aina: Kauai General Plan open house 12/8/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Reject the Kauai General Plan update 11/30/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Kauai County "Keep Kauai Rural!" 11/17/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Planet Kaauai 2/26/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Kauai General Plan Update 9/4/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Kauai Plan disappoints 12/9/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Kauai Agricultural Goals 4/30/09
Ea O Ka Aina: Kauai General Plan 4/2/09


The myth of "White Safety"

SUBHEAD: Stats on violent deaths shows that people are safer living in diverse places - especially white people.

By Mike Males on 22 August for Truth Out -

Image above: Photo illustration of white crowd. From original article.

The latest manifestation of white Americans' open racial animosity, from the election of President Donald Trump to the recent violence in Charlottesville and the emboldened rhetoric of white nationalists since then, suggests continued anxiety that research indicates is grounded in an overriding fear of non-whites.

But new data show that fear is irrational.

While white people tend to feel safer when they dominate the population, and feel threatened by the visible presence of other races, they actually are safer in racially diverse communities.

Trump's voters -- nearly 90 percent of whom are white and average $72,000 in median family income -- were often motivated by anxiety over increasing diversity and "racial resentment," especially toward "illegal" immigrants. Trump stoked his constituents' fears associating immigrants with violence and drugs, claiming they kill "innocent American(s)" abetted by liberal, immigrant-friendly sanctuary cities that "breed crime."

Trump's demagoguery resonates because it comes amid one of the most dramatic public health declines on record: the fall in recent decades of middle-aged whites' from America's safest demographic to its most endangered today.

From 1990 to 2015, deaths of whites 40-64 from drug overdoses rose from 3,000 to 22,000, suicides rose from 9,000 to 19,000, and total violent deaths rose from 24,000 to 58,000.

According to Princeton University economist Angus Deaton, there is correlative evidence that Donald Trump is doing very well in the same areas that are hardest hit by this decline. "…I think it is pretty clear that Mr. Trump has locked into this group of people who are feeling a lot of distress one way or another," Deaton said in an interview with Politico.

They are stressing, overdosing, and dying violently at rates surpassing less-advantaged non-white, younger, and poorer cohorts. And their worst death trends and levels are in predominantly white communities.

Centers for Disease Control mortality data show that whites are actually safer in racially diverse areas -- not only from violent deaths in general but specifically from guns, drugs, and suicides.

Image above: Chart of violent deaths in various percentages of whites and other races. Source is Center for Disease Control 2015 data from 3,097 counties on homicides, suicides, accidents and overdoses. From original article.

There's irony in many Americans' long association of danger with mean downtown streets, and their association of safety with leafy suburban cul-de-sacs and rural lanes.

Consider the city Trump and others often identify with rampant violence: Chicago. It is true that African Americans and Latinos have high homicide rates in the city and surrounding Cook County. However, whites there are much safer, with homicide rates less than half the national average.

The same is especially true of whites in New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Seattle, Columbus, and other large "sanctuary cities," where local policies seek to shield immigrants from federal persecution. whites living in and around diverse sanctuary cities are substantially less likely to die from violent death than anywhere else.

Fear-based white flight from "dangerous" cities to the "safety" of suburbs and small towns -- as their urban cores and schools became more racially diverse -- actually increased the odds that whites who fled would die violently.

Conservative politics of white-dominated areas seems to play a role.

The white-safety-in-white-numbers myth can be seen as emanating from a narrative of racial superiority.

A 2016 study found whites "living in racially isolated communities with worse health outcomes" is "one of the strongest predictors of Trump support." Isolation reinforces the sense of white grievance and siege mentality connected to high levels of racial anxiety many Trump voters seem to feel.

Deaton refers to this wave of grievance and anxiety as "white rage." It manifests in various reactions, he says, from support for far-right political candidates to "deaths of despair."

As middle-aged whites, stressed by socio-economic challenges, were most in need of health care such as mental health counseling, domestic violence and addiction services, budget cuts fueled by conservatives' anti-tax, anti-government politics were slashing these programs. These cuts not only eliminated vital services in predominantly White rural conservative places, they muted local alarms of just how serious White distress was becoming.

Conversely, the more progressive voting patterns of racially diverse, mostly urban residents sustained many vital services that may have helped mitigate the opiate and suicide epidemics in places like New York City and coastal California. Those whites more comfortable among diverse populations also may be less vulnerable to stresses over changing racial demographics. In New York City and urban California, for example, whites have had more time to adjust to their growing minority status.

And there's this. The white-safety-in-white-numbers myth can be seen as emanating from a narrative of racial superiority: whites are safer around other whites than around people of color because whites are better people.

Facts to the contrary may not change self-flattering prejudices. But, over time, mundane pocketbook issues might. A New York Federal Reserve Bank analysis shows the most robust economic futures lie in " areas that are less residentially segregated by race or income," favoring higher-quality schools and community cohesion.

Of course, continued analysis of the new violent deaths data is required. But, during this time of confronting whites' fears, it helps to understand that moving toward communities of diversity, integration, and multicultural environments -- and the progressive social policies that often accompany them -- may benefit whites in terms of both actual physical safety and economic well-being.

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license. It may not be reproduced in any form without permission or license from the source.

See also:
White Supremacy in the Age of Trump By Keri Leigh Merritt

• Mike Males is a senior researcher at the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, San Francisco, and content director for YouthFacts.org. He taught sociology at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and has authored numerous journal articles, op-eds and four books on youth issues. He can be reached at mmales@earthlink.net.