Friday, August 10, 2007

Slip Sliding Away Down the Behavioral Sink.

Pinpointing the causes of a nation’s decline is not always easy. Picking the moment when it started going down is even more difficult. Perhaps the major difficulty in both of these cases is that everyone has an opinion and a lot of the most powerful and forceful opinions are coming from agents of the decline who may well opine that it is not in decline at all. I can’t believe I wrote that last sentence AND left it in. Possibly that is an example of my own individual decline or some latent desire to write a Broadway musical, but I digress.

Some might say that a bad government came out of nowhere and hijacked the nation and rode it into the ground. You could make that argument; America has never seen a government like this. Some might say it is a cultural thing, exemplified by the fact that two thirds of the nation is overweight or obese. You could make that argument. Some might say it was caused by turning away from the official text of the doctrine of the God that watches over them. A lot of people would argue that. Some might say this and some might say that. Some might say that agents of a foreign power caused the condition.

Yadda, yadda this and... yadda, yadda that. Down it goes no matter what anyone says. Maybe it’s a natural phenomenon similar to autumn; brown, dead leaves falling, stark trees and hard winds coming. Maybe that’s what all that excess flesh is for; to protect you against the pending, cold winter.

You would have to be pretty dense not to see the persistent and incremental loss of basic freedoms. You’d have to be dense or distracted not to notice the blatant, justifying lies; the manufactured boogeymen, the atmosphere of impending terror and all of the reflex actions taken by the government for... your own good. What kept you nailed in your seat while the ship went down? Was there something good on TV? Had you fallen and been unable to get up without the help of a winch? Was it bread and circuses? Was it the fear of being singled out and censured by the rest of the crowd? Did they call you Chicken Little?

Maybe another illustration would be more helpful. How do people become slaves? How are they placed into the position where they can be enslaved and trafficked by whoever is playing that role? I’ll wager that you become a slave when you cease to be your own master. You become a slave when your higher ideals are discarded for the benefit of your lower appetites and when superstition prevails over reason.

Was it fear, stupidity or hunger than kept you locked in the house and nailed in your seat? Does it matter once the chains go on? It matters only if you get a chance to regain your freedom. In that case it’s always good to know what the mistakes were that you made; if you get the chance... if you get the chance.

The Constitution and The Preamble and The Bill of Rights were based on observations made concerning the past. The authors knew about the dangers that could threaten a nation. Everything they wrote down was put there for a reason and all of it was based on events that had happened before. These documents were created as a protection against these events. Over the course of time quite a few examples of these dangers reared their ugly heads in many places around the world. Generations of Americans agreed that they had a good thing going.

You can look at it two ways. You can subscribe to the concept of ‘the barbarians at the gate’ or the ‘danger from within’. Over the course of history both of these have acted out many times in other lands. America has had to deal with both conditions; the threat- whether it ever got that far or not- of foreign invasion, as well as the assault on national interests abroad and internal problems of large magnitude; the Civil War, Joe McCarthy, the Nixon White House and the present Bush administration. It was America’s charters, her documents and laws that protected her. It was the checks and balances of her system that, intended for the common good, always brought her back to the center. Well, as Yeats once said, “Things fall apart, the center cannot hold.” Is that what is happening now?

In order for America to go down, they have to compromise her charters, annotate her documents and change her laws. You need a really good reason to do this. To enslave a people in a democracy you have to get rid of the democracy first. You have to frighten the people about foreign enemies and internal dangers to the point where they will let you get rid of their democracy. Most people, given a moment to think about it will choose to live on their knees as opposed to dying on their feet (that is human nature), at least for the moment- and then you can change something else and then ask them again and then change something else. That’s how it gets done.

You don’t dismantle a country in a few days. There is so much that is involved in the process. You’ve got to weaken it here and weaken it there. At a certain point it will still be standing. It will look like it always did and then all you got to do is pull out this thing here and... fascinating to watch it all slip away and come tumbling down... just like controlled demolition.

There are some interesting comments to this blog entry that relate to fungus growths and mushrooms.

Scroll down to number five and begin reading. Fairly engrossing stuff; something to think about. There’s a lot of hope there and it may be all we have to hope for given the long and accelerating, greased slide- down the behavioral sink.

It’s not the government that takes your freedom. You give it up. You cut a deal. You make a tradeoff. Are they gaming the system? Of course they are. Have they got control of the media and the armed forces and the police? Sure. Is it over before it’s over? No. No it is not.

The same force that inspired your documents and charters lives in you today. You may have a problem finding it right off. After all, you’ve piled a lot of crap on top of it and being as it is a fire like the one symbolized by the torch carried by that lady in the harbor, when it burns crap, it smokes. You’re going to have to clear away the crap and you’re going to have to feed that fire with some other things you may not have seen in a while. You’re going to have to look for these things; these virtues and ideals that you misplaced or replaced with something you found more flexible for your fancies and appetites.

When you find these things you are going to be able to see a little more clearly. First off, the smoke will have dissipated and secondly these things are going to help; these ideals and virtues have that capacity to help you see better; to think and feel with more precision. You’ve got to find your way back to who you are. You’ve got to remember what was important to you. One of the unfortunate things about losing something is that after awhile you forget it was ever there.

We have the power to change the world. Look at the impact a single individual has made in the past. Look at the inspiring tales of our heroes and legends. Look at the desperate times in which they labored and what they were up against. Despite the terrible conditions, despite the enormous bloodshed, history is filled with tales of courage and triumph. There are a lot of good examples. How are you doing with that at the moment?

You might have to change yourself first but you CAN change the world. Just a handful of people forged this nation and look where it went. Think about it. Think about what you might do if you decide not to slide down that sink. Ask yourself what is most important to you. What are the things you could not bear to lose? I’ll wager that if you are a real human being that your life is not first on the list.

Visible sings: Almost A Capella by Les Visible♫ I Am Alive ♫
'I Am Alive' is track no. 8 of 12 on Visible's 2007 album 'Almost A Capella'
Lyrics (pops up)

Almost A Capella by Les Visible

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

You've got some good points here, but I can see that you, like many millions of others, has been "educated" to believe that the U.S.A is a "Democracy". It is not. It is a Constitutional Republic and was founded that way and that way alone. The educational system teaches students that the USA is "democratic", but in fact it is not. In a Republic 99% of the people can not take away the rights of 1% of the people. In a "democracy" 51% can take away the rights of 49% of the people. So you see, the people who control the Gov't in the USA would much rather you believe that we are "democratic", so it's easier to manipulate the masses. Do your homework. Peace! MattyC. in beautiful Honolulu, Hi.

greg Bacon said...

The Bush/Cheney Junta and all their jackal howling enablers, like the corporate press and the spineless Congress, has done more damage than any of THEM, over THERE, could ever have hoped to do to destroy our Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Not to fear. CNN is getting ready to run a special on Anna Nicole Smith's breast implant surgery.

OMG!!!!

"Couch Potatoes, grab the remote and a large bag of chips and settle in for some stimulating entertainment."

"And please, wipe the drool off your face before it lands in the bag of chips."

Anonymous said...

USA is going the way of the old Russia. The trouble is the return path, which Russia has handled very well, will be much more difficult.
The people of the USA are much 'softer' than the people of the old Russia and there is a way to go yet.
Still, best of luck when you are ready I think you'll need it.
Tony

Anonymous said...

"Possibly that is an example of my own individual decline or some latent desire to write a Broadway musical, but I digress."

I'm ready for: "The Dark Splendor . . . THE MUSICAL!"

Provided you write the script, and the songs, and do the casting and the directing, with total artistic control.

Anonymous said...

visible visible you infaliably do not disappoint me. You went from Dov to this? You could have gone after some real hit parades but you tell a human tale. My hat is off to you. I am constantly surprised and delighted. Hey, I met you in real life. Baby, you really do age like wine. And yeah, I've had a few.

Bruce.

Anonymous said...

Very Well said, I couldn’t agree more with most of it.
I’m just not sure about the democracy part though, even if we could have a real one. It seems to me that the original idea of America was a great one, and that was to have a Constitutional Republic, whereby certain foundational principles and rights were laid down, with the idea that they never be changed. Unfortunately, as you say, the principles have gradually been eroded into meaninglessness through Amendments, unconstitutional laws, executive orders and signing statements. I think that this original intent was something different than what has been called a democracy in Britain where we have always been, in their eyes, subjects of the crown or state. Democracy does play out as ‘mob rule’ in the end where 51% percent get to say what’s right or wrong or who should be in charge.

Maybe in the ‘new beginning’ using the things we have learned we can have a constitution so strong and simple that we do not need (and are not allowed) armies of politicians and bureaucrats telling us what we can’t do. Is electing leaders by majority vote the best choice? What about a system where people earn that responsibility through proving their abilities through life and through tests that measure more than charm? Maybe I’m getting ahead of things but we do need to figure out a better way.

I liked the thing about mushrooms but it’s clear with the laws they are bringing out that they plan to pick us one by one before we ever get to bloom together in a bunch. At the end of the day though we are not mushrooms and we will win in the end.

Lady Jane said...

Salaam wa alaikum

We....the muslims...have been trying really hard to tell them you know.

Oh well. Some take the easy way and some take...the hard.

eleanor said...

Thank you for this

"The same force that inspired your documents and charters lives in you today. You may have a problem finding it right off. After all, you’ve piled a lot of crap on top of it and being as it is a fire like the one symbolized by the torch carried by that lady in the harbor, when it burns crap, it smokes. You’re going to have to clear away the crap and you’re going to have to feed that fire with some other things you may not have seen in a while. You’re going to have to look for these things; these virtues and ideals that you misplaced or replaced with something you found more flexible for your fancies and appetites."


and really I must thank you for this "You might have to change yourself first but you CAN change the world. Just a handful of people forged this nation and look where it went. Think about it. Think about what you might do if you decide not to slide down that sink. Ask yourself what is most important to you. What are the things you could not bear to lose? I’ll wager that if you are a real human being that your life is not first on the list."

but most extraspecially for that song. That is so powerful and so faith-filled and so very well done. I am tired to death about people being negative. Any fool can see how bad it is but we need cheerleaders. You did that extra-special-well today. I've always loved this blog and today I know why.

elanor, lurker from Victoria

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed myself today in this heatwave.... Les, I'd only bothered to listen to "911 was an inside job" before, but I hooked up the speakers (had taken just a lil X this a.m.) & over the course of the infernal afternoon we listened to about 25 of your songs.
With the Central Banks printing money and dumping billions of them into the machine to keep the game going, the heat wave, and all this shit, it was nice to just sit on our southern porch and sip our julips and listen to some tunes with joie de vivre and more importantly, mordant wit and hope!
Perhaps balrogs and all we make our way thru Moria.

hunter said...

Hi Les, What something becomes cannot be divorced,(except by extraordinary acts of will and imagination) from the spirit and circumstances in which it was born.Case in Point: The good ole` milk and honey lovin` U.S.of A. What a blood bath!.. With the exception of a few interesting curios and cultural artifacts along the way; everything leads to the cardboard box beneath the overpass along with an incurious population that looks as though they`ve had about a thousand pounds of pea gravel injected into their ass and their third eye cemented over ...forever. I`ve chosen to live in a place whose geophysics resemble that of a toilet bowl. Perfect ongoing entropy.People here resist by personal acts of grace and persistence.You can`t stun these fucks in power with legal brilliance because they just don`t care. They`ve always laughed at that game......anyway.There is hope.Thank you for continuing to probe the most pertinent questions...

Anonymous said...

Yes, blacks saved me too, and Hispanics for that matter... once upon a crime......
Stuck here in this weird continent since 1717, in the South, half irish half english... is it an ethnic thing? No, it is a "right" thing---- was thinking about that, on X, when I heard your song, "Longkesh Lovesong" or thereabouts.
Which side do I take? The right side. The ethical side. Keep Irish for the Irish, and, for the rest of us, please don't make us Jewish, in the Talmudic sense.

nobody said...

Hey Les,

Humans are one species amongst many. Each species has different responses or defences against various environmental predations. Take birds for example. Some birds cope with, or at least do not die, when put into captivity. Other birds pine away, fall ill and die. Ordinarily, we humans would 'admire' the plucky birds that are made of sterner stuff. This being a variation of anthropomorphisation. But in the big picture, the birds that can cope with being caged are now doomed to forever live in captivity. However, the birds that died have bought, unwittingly of course, freedom for the entire rest of their species. After all, who'd bother buying such a lousy pet? The question then is - is the 'strength' to withstand being caged really a 'strength' or a fatal weakness?

This follows also for humans. When Columbus landed in the New World, which is to say Cuba, Haiti and the Dominican Republic, he found the Arawak people. Three million of them. Confounded in his quest to repay his backers in gold he turned to slavery. The only problem was that the Arawaks didn't get slavery. It broke their hearts. They weren't 'strong' enough for it. There's no happy ending to this. The Arawaks all perished - perhaps the most perfect example of genocide ever. Sure enough, the Spanish brought in Africans who were much 'stronger' and that's why Cuba and Haiti today are peopled by African and not Indians.

What's my point? Nothing useful. In the real world this thinking will get you nowhere but the fact is that if everyone, everywhere flat out refused to be slaves and preferred death there wouldn't be any slaves. Everyone who is a slave is doing their bit to ensure the slavery of another. Sure this is idiot idealism but I don't care. I will refuse. It's the only power I have.

Anonymous said...

Very clever thinking.
A bit like; I saw a piece of art the other day. It was a piece of granite about 10ft. by 10ft. square with a beautifully shaped hole in it from one face to the opposite, all polished inside.
The artist hadn’t look at this piece of rock and thought ‘Ah! There is something beautiful inside this lump of granite trying to get out’ and carve it from the outside. No, he saw what was inside the rock and scooped it out from the inside.
You can live and not be a slave. It just takes a different view and response.
Tony

Anonymous said...

Some things never change.

The ancient quote below sounds like it was written yesterday, except it has a happy ending and our story is still unfolding. I find that fascinating, and I want to know more about these sages...

"When greedy and gluttonous people plundered the world, the people were in turmoil and could not be secure in their houses. There were sages who rose up, struck down the forceful and violent, settled the chaos of the age, leveled the uneveness, removed the pollution, clarified the turbulence, and secured the imperiled. Therefore, humankind was able to survive."

-from Huainanzi ("The Masters of Huinan," an early Taoist text circa ~200 B.C.E. translated by Thomas Cleary)


It's true that we are not mushrooms (referencing a comment above). If only we were that strong and resilient! Then this would all be easy. That's one reason I study them so intently.

Remember, the bulk of the culture is underground and invisible; it is only a small few who make their stand on top of the ground, bearing the heat and dessicating winds to spread that colony's message far and wide (using the very same winds that often shrivel the bearer of that message, a fact that may be irony but I'm not sure). Chop it in half and you get two colonies, like the mythical Hydra sprouting more heads. Deny it rain or subject it to fire and the most resilient species form hard, dense clusters ("sclerotia" is the actual term) of mycelium able to withstand prolonged drought and even burning of the ground around them, to spread again when favorable conditions return in a fungal interpretation of the monastic tradition, an option (or backup plan) worth looking into at this time, while there is time.

The Dark Ages were finally transcended when the old texts resurfaced in the changing political climate of the time, texts containing the best of the ancient culture thought to be lost, but kept alive by monks who had painstakingly copied and re-copied the books for 1200 years until conditions became favorable for them again (there is much more to this; the actual mechanisms of preservation were very complicated and strange).

Society, when threatened, had unwittingly formed "cultural sclerotia" to survive the coming intellectual drought and inquisitorial fires, after which European versions of the sages spoken of by "The Masters of Huinan" rose once again. Read "Fahrenheit 451" for another example of intellectual monasticism in the face of drought and fire.

Some things never change.

So the best strategy for survival is many strategies. Flexibility of form, or "formlessness" in other words; at one point expanding outwardly and appearing on the surface and at another withdrawing inwardly and taking hidden shelter in one of Nature's microclimates of mercy, as conditions dictate.

It should be pointed out, however, that some options must be implemented in advance of certain events happening. For example, who reading this is prepared for the internet (most or even all of it) to disappear in the blink of an eye? Or for all telephones to suddenly go out (cell and landline, even satellite)?

These scenarios are entirely possible, for various reasons including a big solar flare, political unrest at levels sufficient to cause leaders to panic and pull the plug (they can do this easily), or the unpredictable Hidden Variable spawned from the rising chaos. What would you do if all electronic communication was lost? Tough question? Trust me, it's easier to ask it now. Hint: buy your faraway friends a ham radio, and don't forget one for yourself. They are useful even for minor, localized events such as hurricane Katrina.

I will do what I can, while I can, to hold it off, and encourage others to do the same in whatever way they are capable.

However, at the same time I am also filling a backpack with valuable bits of culture like a man fleeing his burning house grabbing what he can while getting ready to surf the incoming tsunami of chaos.

Some will surf it through to the end, some will fall trying, and most will just be swept away while standing there with a dumbfounded look on their face, unable to believe that it finally arrived.

The only way to ride chaos is to surf it, and the only way to surf is to surrender to the overwhelming forces around you, moving along with and on top of (but never directly against) them.

Carving my surfboard in the ancient tradition,

The Village Idiot

Anonymous said...

There's no escape in this world, Les.
I "tried" to turn on a friend twenty miles from Hanoi to your music. "He's an imperialist," she said. Maybe. Who knows? But "she" likes the drugs just like I do. The poison has spread all over the world.

Anonymous said...

I never heard about you, never knew I was drugged I was; guess that just shows how many lightyears away I was in those days.
But you: Let me tell you in plain
whatever -- the Boss will constracture, the Boss will torture you. This is not new. This happened to me in Texas and New Mexico in the late sixties and Im sure it goes again. Beware.

Anonymous said...

Someone once said if you have a selfish and ignorant society you will have selfish and ignorant leaders.

Touche.

Someone else once people get the government they deserve.