Law of Attraction, Part 12: Shiva, the Master Yogi

 

Lord Shiva Wallpaper

The next largest Hindu denomination after the Vaishnava sect is Shaivism, the sectaries who worship Shiva as the Supreme God. While the Vaishnava is Hinduism’s largest denomination, Shaivism claims to be the oldest, with archeological evidence suggesting a proto-Shiva worship in some form in prehistoric India.

The origins of Shiva worship is clouded in mystery. The name, “Shiva” refers to his “Auspicious” nature, but only appears in the Vedas as a title for a minor Vedic storm god, the ferocious and howling Rudra.

Rudra was a malevolent god, feared by the people for his terrible death-dealing wrath. However, Rudra also possessed aspects of a healer. There is an alternate theory which places the emergence of Shiva from an ancient non-Vedic phallic-worship background.

The Upanishads are Brahmin mystical and sacred texts written in Sanskrit that are commentaries on the Vedas assembled over a period from 800 BCE to 200 CE. During the time when the final Upanishads were being circulated, between the 2nd century BCE and the 2nd century CE, the figures of Rudra and Shiva were amalgamated by the various Shaiva cults emerging during this time, like the Pashupata

The ascetic Pashupata sect distinguished themselves by wearing their hair in knots, their penchant for magical ritualism and for chanting the holy syllable,”AUM.” These wandering ascetic monks renounced the world and desires by taking to carrying human skulls as begging bowls, living in the graveyards, And smearing ashes over their bodies three times a day.

The reputed founder was Lakulisha, a sage who lived approximately 200 CE in western India and later was considered by the sect as the 28th and last avatar of Shiva. The Pashupata also claimed that Lakulisha the creator of yoga. The Yoga Masters appeared at the end of the Fourth century and Bhakti, the devotional worship focused on a God considered the Supreme Deity, became popular, and the cults that were devotees of Shiva began to grow. Over time, Shaivism claimed adherents throughout the subcontinent, spread by the singers and composers of the Puranas, the sacred Sanskrit texts of legends and folklore.

As the centuries passed, Shiva grew in stature while his attributes and worship evolved. In the end, Shiva had been transformed from obscure non-Vedic origins, to a minor Vedic storm god, and finally, to becoming the Supreme Being of creation.

There are several sects within Shaivism but they all tend to believe that Shiva will save those who are devoted to him. Shiva is the creator, creation and the Divine Judge who will mercilessly destroy the wicked. Meditation on the properties of Shiva produces “yoga” a state of mental bliss and heightened awareness. Liberation of the soul is achieved thru fervent adoration of Shiva, and if successful, one’s soul becomes equal to Shiva. Shaivites consider the suffering existing in the world is caused by ignorance, thus knowledge is the only thing that can remove it. Purity of the mind is much more commendable than purity of the body.

The legends of Shiva are endless. It is said that he skulks around battlefields and crossroads, and is always surrounded by devas and demons. In devotional art, Shiva is generally depicted as a half-naked ascetic, or as the symbol called the Linga, or as the Nataraja, the Lord of the Dance.

Portraits of Shiva: the Ash-covered Yogi

The devotional art of Shaivism is heavy on the symbolism, and depicts this aspect of Shiva as the ascetic yoga master, covered in ash and dressed in a tiger skin which echoes the Lord of Creatures and the protector of life, Prajapati. Shiva sits in the lotus position for he is the Master of Yoga. His staff is a trident, which symbolizes Will, Action and Knowledge and the power to destroy evil and nescience. Serpents cover Shiva all over his body; he wears one around his neck, chest, arms and his hair, representing the endless cycles of time. Shiva’s matted hair is also dressed with the symbol of the crescent moon and the mighty Ganges River. Centered on Shiva’s brow is his Third Eye, symbolic of the power of knowledge. His right and left eyes appear half-open, because when Shiva opens his eyes completely, the universe comes into being. When Shiva’s eyes are closed, the universe is dissolved. Thus Shiva is the Creator, Preserver and Destroyer, who uncovers and conceals.

The worship of Shiva is done with the anticipation of attaining a place alongside him after escaping from the terrifying world of rebirth and suffering. According to the Law of Attraction – what you believe is what you receive. It is the state of one’s consciousness and the power of belief that determines one’s place in a consciousness-based existence.

Shiva as the Master Yogi, offers escape and salvation through the ascension of the mind. Renunciation, meditation, self-absorption and leading a morally pure life are among the tools of the yogi to counteract karma and achieve liberation.

 
2shivalinga

Shiva: the Linga

The image of Shiva that is most widely worshipped, is that of the Linga: the cultic veneration of the abstract symbol of Shiva’s generative power and of Shiva himself. The linga is a rounded cylindrical pillar usually made of stone or some other material, its origins shrouded in the mist of history. Excavations of the Indus-Sarasvati Civilization has yielded what appears to be lingas made of stone standing two feet high or taller, indicating that some form of pillar-worship existed in pre-Vedic India. There is a long tradition of placing offerings of water, milk or clarified butter upon the linga. Shaivite devotees will have in their homes linga-shaped stones to which they perform ablution, flower-worship and offerings of food.

We do not know how Shiva became directly connected to the linga, but there are various legends of how Shiva-Linga worship was instituted. An interesting tale concerns Brahma and Vishnu busily arguing over who was the mightier god – when all of a sudden, an unknown enormous column of light appeared before them. The gods agreed whoever discovered the meaning of this mystery would be recognized as the Supreme Being. Vishnu shape-shifted into a boar and began to dig to find the bottom of the shaft, while Brahma changed into a goose to fly to the top. No matter how far the gods traveled to reach the end of the shaft of light, still farther the shaft extended. Eventually the two gods returned to the point where they began, and out of the endless shaft of light, Shiva walked out to meet them and both gods were forced to recognize that Shiva was the Supreme God.

 

shiva najahara

Shiva: the Nataraja

The Nataraja symbolizes Shiva’s role as Lord of the Dance. This is cosmic dance of sublime and graceful energy which sustains existence. Shiva is shown standing atop a vanquished demon who symbolizes ignorance. In his upper right hand, Shiva holds a drum which symbolizes of the sound of creation. His upper left hand holds a flame, which is the destruction of the universe. Thus, the Nataraja reveals that existence as a rhythmic manifestation of cosmic cycles : time as a cyclic, endless procession of creation, preservation and the termination of existence. When existence becomes too damaging and unbalanced to the beings within it, Shiva’s Dance is the saving liberation for those suffering, trapped beings – and here again, the role of religious adoration and devotion provides a hope of compensation for living in a world of suffering.

Within the Law of Attraction, Shiva represents the Divine Plan, an active, cosmic force that rewards those who focus their devotion, hopes, desires and dreams, upon him. According to the Shaivites, without the foundation of cosmic consciousness, which stands as Shiva to reflect knowledge and morality back to the mind of the human being, one’s chance for escaping this world of sorrows would be non-existent.

 

Next: Śaṅkara’s Advaita: The Pure Brahman of Consciousness

 

Sources

Shaivism.” Encyclopedia Britannica. 2010. Encyclopedia Britannica Online. 15 Jan. 2010 <http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/518556/Shaivism&gt;.

Pashupata.” Encyclopedia Britannica. 2010. Encyclopedia Britannica Online. 16 Jan. 2010<http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/446153/Pashupata&gt;.

A history of Indian Philosophy,” by Surendranath Dasgupta, Motilal Banarsidass Publ. 1991

The Myths and Gods of India: The Classic Work on Hindu Polytheism,” by Alain Daniélou, Inner Traditions International, 1991.

Perceptions of Shiva in Ancient India,” by Rohitha Easwer, What is India News Service, March 8, 2005

Lord Shiva“by Bansi Pandit,

Linga.” New World Encyclopedia. 7 Jul 2008, 01:15 UTC. 17 Jan 2010, 16:03

Hindu Philosophy,” by Shyam Ranganathan, Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy,

Encyclopaedia of Historiography, by M.M. Rahman, Anmol Publ. 2006

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Fear of Equality, Part 10. The Theology of Capitalism

give til it hurtz

In the last blog I looked very briefly at the work of Max Weber, principally his landmark thesis, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism.  Weber makes a lot of claims and most of them resonate with those who see capitalism as the most logical system of social organization the world has ever seen. The pursuit of profit, according to Weber, isn’t simply a means to an end, it is the end unto itself. Profit is the reward for entering the system and taking advantage of one’s opportunity. In fact, the Holy Book encourages pursuit of profit, and in a New Testament parable, the lesson in profit-making is frightfully clear. [1] If you do not create a profit what you do have will be taken away and given to one who possess more with the added punishment of being cast outside of the system, into the darkness and presumably, outside of the Living Light of God. Biblical passages such as these are set in opposition against those like, “You can’t both serve God or money,” and the verse in Mark 10:25: “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God,” Jesus’ punchline delivered after he instructs the rich man to give all his possessions to the poor.

Thus, again according to Weber, one of the signs of favor that God bestowed on His chosen ones was prosperity. Weber actually wondered whether a feedback loop was occurring where the spirit of Capitalism was affecting religious beliefs and religious beliefs affecting Capitalism. These days, where the accumulation of wealth occurs at a unfathimable pace and Christianity’s waning influence over the cultural landscape, people don’t seem to defend the theology of Capitalism as fervently as they did in the past. They almost seem too embarrassed to even attempt a defense. I find this fascinating because Capitalism is perfectly set up to be an economic theology that is self-contained within its inner logic and rationale. This may indicate an estrangement between the religious belief systems of the 19th century era and the turn to postspirituality in the existential 21st century. Or it may simply be another case of cultural amnesia, that blank void of forgetfulness at the center of our national history where all shared cultural memories fade into oblivion. Weber did predict, however, that the logic of the spirit of Capitalism would lead to alienation and a loss of faith. [2]

But getting back to the point: the theology of Capitalism fulfills a vital service for the continued exploitation and subjugation of humanity, at least in America. It gives form, shape, direction and most important – a moral justification for continuing economic and political inequality. Any talk about income equality can only be seen as heresy and apostasy against the morality of enlightened self-interest. Its catechism can be described as followed –

What is God? MONEY.

The Son of God? THE INDIVIDUAL.

The Holy Spirit? ALL THE THINGS MONEY CAN BUY FROM THE BANKS AND CORPORATIONS.

Places of Worship? THE MALL

The Antichrist? THE EVIL COLLECTIVE, OFTEN CONFLATED WITH THE COMMIES, PINKOS, SOCIALISTS, THE STATE, ETC. BASICALLY ANYTHING THAT INTERFERES WITH THE UNLIMITED PURSUIT OF WEALTH.

The Profits… err, I mean PROPHETS? AYN RAND, HAYEK, MISES, ROTHBARD, FRIEDMAN, ORAL ROBERTS, CREFLO DOLLAR, REVEREND IKE, JIM BAKER, BENNY HINN (And a million others)…et al.

The Gospel? ATLAS SHRUGGED, THE SECRET, The PROSPERITY GOSPEL and its cousin, THE LAW OF ATTRACTION.

The “Prosperity Gospel” championed by many of the names above is ironically (perhaps) most accepted by the poor and lower classes in America. They are also the least educated, as well, which sets them up for living their lives hoping and praying that one day the LORD will grant them a winning lottery ticket or something that will lift them out of their financial bad money hell. After all, God wants YOU to be financially blessed and prosperous. You just have to figure out on your own how you are going to do that in a system that only acknowledges the digits in your bank account. IF you are fortunate enough to have one, that is.

Capitalism is a religion, yes. And like all religions on the planet, there exists within it an existential pathological dimension as well. While Religions of all varieties claim to be the worship of a supernatural power that controls, orders and gives meaning and direction for human lives, all of them are quite guilty of doing more harm than good for human beings in the world. Fear of Equality endorses the theology of Capitalism because it provides a moral and rational framework to justify continuing exploitation, injustice and profiteering at the expense of humanity at large.  It reduces, retards, contains and corrals creative and critical thinking that can lead to dangerous questioning of the system, of our own possibilities and potentials of human growth on a worldwide scale.  Turned inside out, the theology of capitalism reveals itself to be a dry, waterless canal filled with the dusty bones and wretched remains of countless lives who never had a chance at attaining a dignified life. Ask them how it felt being a worthless slave cast into the outer darkness, where there is the weeping and gnashing of teeth.  Ask them if the religion of Capitalism was worth the sacrifice.

Ask yourself.

 

Fear of Equality, Part 11 Our Enemy, The State

 

NOTES

[1]  A peculiar passage from Matthew and a similar account in Luke places these words into the mouth of Jesus. “13 “Therefore stay alert, because you do not know the day or the hour. 14 For it is like a man going on a journey, who summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them. 15 To one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16 The one who had received five talents went off right away and put his money to work270 and gained five more. 17 In the same way, the one who had two gained two more. 18 But the one who had received one talent went out and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money in it. 19 After a long time, the master of those slaves came and settled his accounts with them. 20 The one who had received the five talents came and brought five more, saying, ‘Sir, you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.’ 21 His master answered, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave! You have been faithful in a few things. I will put you in charge of many things. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 22 The one with the two talents also came and said, ‘Sir, you entrusted two talents to me. See, I have gained two more.’ 23 His master answered, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave! You have been faithful with a few things. I will put you in charge of many things. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 24 Then the one who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Sir, I knew that you were a hard man, harvesting where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master answered, ‘Evil and lazy slave! So you knew that I harvest where I didn’t sow and gather where I didn’t scatter? 27 Then you should have deposited my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received my money back with interest! 28 Therefore take the talent from him and give it to the one who has ten. 29 For the one who has will be given more, and he will have more than enough. But the one who does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. 30 And throw that worthless slave into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth’” (Matthew 25:13-30).

[2] The exploitation of the working class led to the worker’s alienation as the increasing bureaucratic apparatus with its hierarchy of command and its impersonality sought to regulate and standardize behavior. Weber called this state, the “iron cage.” No one knows who will live in this cage in the future, or whether at the end of this tremendous development, entirely new prophets will arise, or there will be a great rebirth of old ideas and ideals, or, if neither, mechanized petrification, embellished with a sort of convulsive self-importance. For of the fast stage of this cultural development, it might well be truly said: “Specialists without spirit, sensualists without heart; this nullity imagines that it has attained a level of civilization never before achieved.” Weber, Max. The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, Los Angeles, CA: RoxburyPublishing, 1998.

The Shameful Self-serving Myth of American Exceptionalism

american-exceptionalism-sequester-defense-military-spending

“I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism. We have a core set of values that are enshrined in our Constitution, in our body of law, in our democratic practices, in our belief in free speech and equality, that, though imperfect, are exceptional…. I see no contradiction between believing that America has a continued extraordinary role in leading the world towards peace and prosperity and recognizing that leadership is incumbent, depends on, our ability to create partnerships because we can’t solve these problems alone.”

– Obama, 2009, overseas trip

” I carefully studied his address to the nation on Tuesday. And I would rather disagree with a case he made on American exceptionalism, stating that the United States’ policy is “what makes America different. It’s what makes us exceptional.”

– Putin, NYT Op-Ed, September 11, 2013

“America is an exceptional nation – that is, one like no other, not just now but in history – because it is dedicated to the universal principle of human liberty. This is grounded in the truth that all men – not just Americans – are created equal and endowed with inalienable rights by their Creator.”

– Jim DeMint, Heritage Foundation President

DeMint’s “interpretation” (which is a rather strange way of putting it) only shows he’s either ignorant of history or he hopes his fellow citizens are. And it’s not in any way “valid” because it isn’t the truth. Not that politicians would have any truck with that curiously strange thing called the “truth,” you know. It seems the main thing the USA is “exceptional” is self-delusion. Oh, and toppling other countries who won’t do what we want.”

– Darryl Thomas, blogger

Why all the hubbub over such a seemingly inconsequential and dusty term which hardly anyone outside the halls of academia has ever heard? Well, because the news agencies and the political wonks need something to talk about. First, Obama referenced it in his national speech about the possible military involvement into Iraq’s neighbor, Syria. Then Russian President Putin fired an op-ed in the New York Times cautioning the US about being too quick to assume an “exceptional” national identity. Then Texas congressman Jim DeMint chimed in defending the term with all the empty-headed enthusiasm of a Texas 8th grade  civics book. I had heard the term before, but it wasn’t a subject I ever thought I’d devote a blog towards, but here it is. Hope you like it.

Alright. American Exceptionalism. The term was first coined in print back in the Ben Franklin days of American History by the travel writer Alexis de Tocqueville. He used the term in a very narrow sense; America was exceptional in that it was totally different from any other place the well-travelled Tocqueville had visited. [1] For one, Tocqueville considered America to be far more religious than any country in Europe. It also had far more slaves than any country in Europe but that’s another story for another blog.

The idea has been bandied about and evolved over the past 260 years or so. The term was taken up again by the American Communists during the Jazz Age in the 1920’s. [2] It was used by the American Communists to describe their belief that the reason the socialist movement in America was failing to materialize and advance itself as much as it did in Europe was due to the economy of the times which were so favorable to the Capitalist state, and so it would take longer for the prophesied collapse to occur. In recent times, post-1960’s – the term was used among critical theorists and social scientists that either agreed or disagreed with the premise that America was somehow “qualitatively different from the rest of the nations in the world. Neoconservative and neoliberal politicians have latched on to it to assert America’s global hegemonic rights and powers, which the USA reserves for itself while denying it from other nations.

Now we are caught up. American Exceptionalism can be thought of as a politically religious or metaphysical concept that imbues one with a glowing nationalistic pride. That pride is undeserving because of the titanic mountain of evidence that rises up to meet it.

There are about five core ideas that make up the belief why America is so special. We Americans have been taught these things in various ways and through various means. They can be reduced to these:

LIBERTY

EGALITARIANISM

POPULISM

INDIVIDUALISM

CAPITALISM

None of these concepts have really been practiced on any sort of mass scale – at least not on any scale that didn’t involve requiring money. LIBERTY? Welcome to the nation with the largest disposable populace in the world. America has more people in jails and prisons than anywhere else in the world. Legal rights are being taken away and turned into “privileges” and subject to being overridden by “secret courts” that exist outside the normal boundaries of the law.

EGALITARIANISM? Well, it sure sounds nice. The different classes may not be openly enslaving people in sweatshops and having children making garments in factories (that’s what Asia is for), but since everything revolves around buying  and selling your survival to the next guy, equality is more like a faint outline of a nearly forgotten dream. Equality? People either fear it or don’t know what it means or care if it actually exists as long as they can get through the day without being hassled. That’s what the 21st Century has become.

POPULISM. Please. Half of the elected officials are millionaires working for billionaires. The American voter is typically uninformed and largely controlled through the media that pushes a narrow, slanted virtual reality that shapes a narrow, slanted world view which then the voter forms a narrow, slanted opinion which she will invariably confuse with factual evidence, yet nonetheless convince herself that she’s rational and only interested in reality. She hasn’t any idea that her responses have been programmed into her to become nothing more than a predictably passive consumer.

INDIVIDUALISM. Probably the biggest conceptual scam since reality TV. I have always found it odd that individualism is strangely accorded metaphysical status. It is a central tenet of the European and American Liberal tradition, so it’s had a long run and thus, has embedded itself into the national subconsciousness of the nations of the world. This tenet exists simply to provide a justifiable stance for predatory capitalism to exist and reach into every pocket, ironically. Individualism does not exist unless it exists within the system, to which one has no choice but to submit.

CAPITALISM. Or its 21st Century version, casino capitalism, which is a kindest word ever given to slavery. The chains are not made of iron, but of metaphysical zeros and ones spinning in existential data servers across the globe. There’s no liberty outside of capitalism, only a certain liberty within the system. Which isn’t a liberty at all, but more a submission to the soft cryptoauthoritarianism that destroys lives the world over.

Right. I could go into how taken together, these planks that make up the conceptual platform of American Exceptionalism can be shown to not be all that “exceptional” and downright self-deceptive. And dangerous, if politicians become too enamored of its cache and use it to justify American dominance across the world. Besides, this myth is used to cover a multitudes of lies.

I believe it is the tropes of the US standing for the “principle of equality” and “the principle of human liberty,”as DeMint’s letter puts it, are two clearly defined statements that can be easily rebutted because of that new thing the kids call history. You know, when you add in all that slavery, Jim Crow, segregation, and second-class status for anyone who wasn’t a white male landowner – not to mention various genocides and invasions and assassinations of other citizens and democratically elected leaders in other countries that were no threat to America, one has to be self-deluded, grossly ignorant or simply dishonest not to own up to the facts. The shameful legacy of human slavery alone stands as a valid rebuttal to the stated virtues of the “liberty” and “equality” that America allegedly stands for, no matter how much true believers would like to dismiss it.

How does that Biblical verse go… Let’s see… “A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.” And if that doesn’t work, try this on for size: “Actions speak louder than words.” Oh, and “Pride goeth before a fall?”

American exceptionalism is a self-serving myth.

As long as there exist “secret courts” that operate outside of the bounds of the Constitution (a document our politicians are likely to uphold as a shining example of “liberty and equality”) and so empties standing law of all meaning,  as long as you have the NSA that secretly spies – err.. “collects data” on its own Citizens and then sends that information to Israel, as long as we have the exceptional USA conducting surveillance on its own journalists, its own civil society, and its own ordinary citizens and refer to them as “adversaries” we are not all that exceptional. I know it’s unfair because it’s so easy to argue against American exceptionalism by emphasizing the catalog of evil that’s the legacy of this country. If one examines the example of U.S.-backed Contra war in Nicaragua that killed some 30,000 Nicaraguans, one wouldn’t feel all that great about America’s exceptional role in the world.

NOTES

[1] American Exceptionalism: A Double-Edged Sword. Seymour Martin Lipset. New York, N.Y.: W.W. Norton & Co., Inc. 1996

[2]  Albert Fried, Communism in America: A History in Documents(1997), p. 7.

6.6.13. Human Right #1: Right to a Healthy and Fulfilling Life

step inside someonelse's shoes

1. An Equal Economic Right that insures that all financial needs are accessible and available to ensure that the fundamental requirements of a healthy and fulfilling life can be realized and manifested.

There has been countless words devoted to Human Rights over the centuries. Some writers have even taken seriously the concept of  a human right as something that belongs  justifiably to every person. Thomas Paine, author of Common Sense which gathered Yankee support for the war against the Crown before the Revolutionary War, wrote another book that was nearly as influential for its defense of the French Revolution called, Rights of Man. In Rights of Man, Paine takes 31 points in outlining the justification for revolution against the government when the government fails to safeguards the “natural rights” of its citizens. Among other points under consideration, Paine claims that “rights” cannot be conferred through the political process for a reason:

It is a perversion of terms to say that a charter gives rights. It operates by a contrary effect — that of taking rights away. Rights are inherently in all the inhabitants; but charters, by annulling those rights, in the majority, leave the right, by exclusion, in the hands of a few… They… consequently are instruments of injustice … The fact, therefore, must be that the individuals, themselves, each, in his own personal and sovereign right, entered into a contract with each other to produce a government: and this is the only mode in which governments have a right to arise, and the only principle on which they have a right to exist.

In our view, and with the benefit of hindsight, there are a few problems with this type of analysis.

Laws are created all the time that makes the populace more dependent on government and more dependent on making money to survive. Rights are not so much “given and taken away” as much as they are “bought and sold.” Yes, even in Paine’s day was the recognition of economic and political power concentrated in the hands of the elite, be it the newer and developing merchant class or the old aristocracy. What Paine fails to understand, or maybe didn’t notice, is that governments are not formed by people entering into voluntary contracts with each other. This is a Classical Liberal Romanticist fantasy meant to legitimize all kinds of political and economical deceptions that always seem to end up justifying the status quo for “Individuals” who are doing quite swell, thank you. And it doesn’t even begin to discuss the most glaring and intractable problem defenders of “liberty” never seem to ask themselves: how can a “right” exist when it can be overridden and invalidated so easily by another? Countries have always been formed, managed and maintained through deadly force. I need only to give the example of the United States of America to back up my assertion, born and nurtured under war, holocaust and slavery as it was. All the Liberal Political Scientists at  the time of America’s dawning era were paid to spread beguiling stories and narratives about “We the People,” and “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.” Yes, they meant every single word of it… if you were a landowning White Male.

The Bill of Rights by the Equal Life Foundation represents the reality of what Human Rights can and ought to be… for EVERYONE, not just the few who believe that since they have access to wealth, only they have access to life. Since Governments have proven that they can create money and wealth using computers, paper and printing presses, our first Bill or Humans sees no reason everyone should not be entitled to what a few has allowed only themselves to enjoy. What we propose calls for a different social contract, and a different perspective, but it is not unintelligible or incoherent. Since money has become the lynchpin for gaining and possessing value in the system, let all in the system be valued. Thus we call for enactment and recognition of the basic Human Right for all persons to have their basic financial, educational and health needs met, equally and without delay.

 

Fear of Equal Money, Part 2. 03/24/2013

War in Iraq
Photo: Carolyn Cole

10 years ago, I recall working in a Kinko’s in Whitehall, Ohio when the war began with the news of rockets raining down in Iraq. I heard it first on the radio that we had turned on behind the counter. For months I felt uneasy about the prospect of war with Iraq, and when there was news about an anti-war protest being held in Columbus, I went down only to find nobody had bothered to show up. Some of my work colleagues accused me of “protecting the terrorists.” When I talked with my teen-aged son about the illegality of the war, he dismissed me as “giving in to the terrorists.” I kept to myself and studied the news that confirmed my suspicions that “Bush’s War” (as I called it) was being conducted for stealing Iraq’s oil. Others were saying this at the time, and I felt it was probably true. And at the same time, I experienced a gaping disconnect from my fellow citizens who were parading their “patriotism” by slapping American flag decals on their cars and whooping and hollering as if they were cheering the OSU football team in their rival match against Michigan. I felt a disgust and even a hatred against these stupid, easily – duped people, purportedly my countrymen, and wished that there could be something that would happen that would change their collective minds.

The war dragged on. The Patriot Act. Abu Ghraib. Depleted uranium. [1] WMDs that never were found. “Freedom Fries.” Blackwater. Guantanamo. Extraordinary renditions. And what “good” came out of it? Depends on what you would call, “good.”

Saddam was deposed and the invading nations colluded with the biggest oil companies to shares the spoils of Iraq’s oil reserves, namely, BP and Shell. It certainly was a “good” outcome for them.

Looking back on it now, it seems my memories about the start of Bush’s War has cooled and hardened into a dull mass of regret and shame, and the horror of what America is accountable for is difficult to hold in the mind. Some of these memories are recollections of truly the most, absurdly existential bullshit. Some of them reflect a shocking, sinister and murderous malevolence that exists somewhere within the being of every American. Its fury was born in the perceived mass humiliation of 9/11 and was artfully misdirected and manipulated into being unleashed upon 116,000 Iraqi civilians who never asked to be “liberated,” let alone liberated from their precious resources and their lives.

Will anyone accuse the American Capitalist system of illegally “confiscating” the wealth of another sovereign nation? Will anyone question the morality or justification of a course of action that was nothing if not naked fury of greedy, blood-stained hands? Will anybody ask where the trillions of dollars that exchanged hands in the war went?

I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to blame others for not doing more to stop this shameful war  from happening. But I didn’t know how to deal with it. I didn’t know how to stop it. I didn’t realize until it was far too late that there was another way, a way that was paved within a society  that was honorable and just, not interested in doing the most good for the largest amount of people, but what is best for all.

I went through all that to set up this question: could something like the War in Iraq happen in an Equal Money System? This is going to sound “scary” to some folks, but when one realizes the decisions to invade another country almost never happens because of a purely politically interest. It’s a business. It’s a racket. The profit motive is front and center. The goal of EMS is to remove Capitalism’s profit motive, and replace it with a principle that is truly life – affirming and supportive to all beings, as this quest for profit is both  unnecessary and the single greatest cause of poverty and fear in the world.

NOTE

[1] A 2010 health study of Fallujah, Iraq reveals the highest rate of genetic damage in any population ever studied. Residents have high rates of cancer, birth defects and sterility from U.S. bombs that used depleted uranium and white phosphorus. Other areas of Iraq face similar health problems.

Fear of Equal Money, Part 1. 03/22/2013

Would the Equal Money System confiscate personal wealth?

If history shows anything, it is that there’s no better way to justify relations founded on violence, to make such relations seem moral, than by reframing them in the language of debt – above all, because it immediately makes it seem that it’s the victim who’s doing something wrong.

-David Graeber

This question appeared on the Quora board and I was asked to answer it.  It was asked by “anon user,” the now – infamous paid internet troll who suffered a massive literary beatdown at the hands of Sunette Spies (see previous post). I wasn’t going to answer it at first, but upon reflection, why the hell not? Others (without an axe to grind or a paycheck to collect) probably ask the same question. So I won’t acknowledge the p.i.t. on Quora, but I will answer it here (and dare anon user to play his game in my back yard).

Pretending that this question comes from genuine curiosity, I will say that I do not know everything that will happen with the installation of an Equal Money System. I do foresee it being installed in successive stages, over a period of many years, maybe decades, I don’t know. The current system would not accept such a shock if EMS were to be delivered all at once. But I want to discuss the overarching concern embedded within the question: “what will happen to my personal wealth?”

 This is part and parcel of the fear of loss attached to a change from the current economic system. A system where the winner takes all, and is perfectly represented in the image below:

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Within this equation the question must be asked, what if your personal wealth directly contributed to the suffering of countless others? I won’t even apply any rationality or morality to the question, because it’s been exploited to death. And the cheap trick about morality and rationality is that one can set up a premise based on any foundation along a causal chain of events and attach any moral or rational “cover” or significance that can prove or justify anything, no matter cruel or unjust. MY personal wealth is to be considered the most important thing in my life because I have given it so much value that it justifies everything I had to do to get it and keep it. I’ve given so much to this that I have identified this value as myself. So the fear of my wealth being “confiscated” is really the existential fear of having my valued personality taken away from me.”

Has our questioner ever considered to what extent the personal wealth of those who have to be stripped of all worth, economic or otherwise, to line the pockets of those in command of the system? [1] I really doubt anyone has. Because if one had even first considered the inner dimensions of such a question, it would have failed to leap from one’s mind. Then again, it could be the rank ignorance of an appalling nature. In America we have wealth “confiscated” by others every day in the form of banking fees, interest and other charges and subsidies commonly known as “corporate welfare.” That last item “confiscated” the wealth of US Citizens to the tune of $100 billion dollars in 2012. [2] The questioner may not be aware of such confiscations of wealth currently at work in Capitalism, but more likely, the question was merely a cynical trap to engage in pointless troll dickholery, which I mean to say, it may be a good question, but considering the source, it is only a question presented with a dubious malice submerged within a veneer of civility.

Critics uniformly draw lazy comparisons between Equal Money  and Communism, and often with a weak command of either subject. Of course, we have already diagramed that fear of Equality will cause one to succumb to unreasonableness – and even hostility – when presented with the notion of economic egalitarianism, and at the same time, fall into silent denial over the fact that the current system has taken so much more than Equality ever could.

Fear of Equal Money is a fear that radiates from a center of unenlightened self-interest, a sense of entitlement and a perverse need to justify the unjustifiable. Remember, it was less than a century and a half ago that human slavery  – the legal, religious and economic confiscation of a colonized people’s treasure of blood, labor and tears was abolished. And it took a bloody civil war and a 150 years of lynchings and disenfranchisement since then to nearly settle the question. Nor does the question even begin to explain,  acknowledge or bemoan the attempted extermination and confiscation of land of the Indigenous Peoples in the United States. Yet, any talk of “reparations” sends these Randian Individualists into paroxysms of rage. They will archly reply that they shouldn’t be held accountable for the sins committed in past centuries, yet they will be slow – or unwilling – to forswear any wealth or advantage gained by those same sins. This is what I meant by the “cheap trick of rationality.”

So, back to the question – I simply do not know the answer, because that chapter in human affairs is still to be written. Whatever happens will be agreed upon democratically, which would be the best method to set up the EMS. There will undoubtedly be a transition phase – and many people will be surprised how relatively easy it all could be done. But any discussion about the redistribution of wealth should not be made within cynical, jaded and lazy comparisons of what has happened in the past, but with due consideration of what is best for all. Which leaves me with a question for the critics of Equal Money: What would be better for everyone than having everyone’s basic needs in the world taken care of?

NOTES

[1]  For some perspective how the US government has colluded with the US banking system in taking public money to give to the banks, please read Ellen Brown’s excellent Internet article for Global Research, “Financial Meltdown: The Greatest Transfer of Wealth in History; How to Reverse the Tide and Democratize the US Monetary System.

[2] From the Libertarian Cato Institute report, a think tank as neoliberal as they come; Corporate Welfare in the Federal Budget .

Fear of Equality, Part 6. 03/15/2013

8-3

The Natural Law Argument Against Equality

When we speak of the Fear of Equality, we notice that most opponents of Equality will use various arguments to contradict or invalidate the benefits and rewards of Equality. The most popular is the  Natural Law argument, due to its claims of representing the best features of human nature and best represents the ideals of human freedom. Above all else, Natural Law has been appealed to justify and legitimize and promote Capitalism. But does the Natural Law argument against Equality succeed in overturning the basic tenets of an egalitarian – based society?

“God is not separate from the world; He is the soul of the world, and each of us contains a part of the Divine Fire. All things are parts of one single system, which is called Nature; the individual life is good when it is in harmony with Nature. In one sense, every life is in harmony with Nature, since it is such as Nature’s laws have caused it to be; but in another sense a human life is only in harmony with Nature when the individual will is directed to ends which are among those of Nature. Virtue consists in “living in agreement with Nature.” (Zeno, 4th Century, BCE).

It was the Stoics who are credited in formalizing the theory of Natural Law, where they believed that certain insights existed behind the natural order that could be ascertained through the application of reason and logic. This ancient Greek school of philosophy founded at Athens by Zeno (c. 300 BCE). According to Zeno’s teaching, the Universe is based on laws of the fiery mind of God. The Universe actually IS “God.”  It is the highest virtue (or moral good) that is based on knowledge, and that the wise live in harmony with the divine Reason that governs nature (because “God” IS Nature), and since life on Earth can cause various, detrimental episodes, to be indifferent to the reversal of fortunes that result in success and failure is “virtue.”

Principles of Natural Law have been embedded into Western philosophical thought and accorded a special universal significance, since it has been viewed as a basis for ethical human interaction. Natural law is seen as a “special” branch of  the legal system, especially in the Western tradition  because of its reductive relationship to the natural world from which these universal principles were derived. In other words, it was believed that there was some kind of rational, comprehensible system that exists behind the natural world.

Darwin, Hebert Spencer and others used the Natural Law conceptual framework to build their systems of evolutionary change in biology and sociology. Over time Natural Selection came to be equated with “survival of the fittest,” the Capitalist Law of the Jungle where the only morality could be found in competition, adaptability to the environment and specialization.

During the Middle Ages Thomas Aquinas, the great Christian Church theologian, appealed to Natural Law principles when he proposed that proof of the existence of God did not require faith or belief, but only through the  rational exercise of the reasoning mind.

In the 16th Century, the Dutch jurist, Hugo Grotius, asserted that nations and individuals were subject to natural law principles. Grotius wrote that the laws of men should be in accordance with natural law principles. Grotius and other like-thinking writers and philosophers of the period in the 16th and 17th Centuries used natural law propositions that helped topple the feudal system in Europe by pointing out that the feudal system was in opposition to the universal principles of Nature (and by extension, “God.”). Natural Law precepts helped shape important historical events and documents such as the Declaration of Independence and the Rights of Man documents of te French Revolution, and formed a major stream of thought within the philosophy of Classical Liberalism, Capitalism and religion and science.

By the time we get to Herbert Spencer’s “survival of the fittest” and Charles Darwin’s “natural selection” verbiage in the 19th Century, natural law had become the theological system of Capitalism. The Law of the Jungle and the law of  laissez-faire Capitalism, where the winner takes all, are one and the same. There was nothing “immoral” about a lion killing and eating a gazelle as it was just fulfilling its role as part of the natural world of survival within a certain environment. Same with allowing the exploitation of segments of society and allowing the poor to starve and die; no immorality there, for if the weak are unfit to survive, the law will remove them from this reality. It is simply science. It’s nothing personal.

It has been the theories of Natural Law that has legitimized the structure of Capitalism and helped give it shape and direction. But is this linkage of Natural Law and Natural Selection able to accurately describe a rational order in this world or is it merely a theory based on a false impression of reality? What is the argument of those who fear Equality goes against the principles of Natural Law?

Orders of Equality and the Limits Imposed by “Liberty”

For example, justice is considered to mean equality, It does mean equality, but equality for those who are equal, and not for all. (Aristotle)

Since nature does not endow all men with equal beauty or equal intelligence, and the faculty of volition leads men to make different choices, the egalitarians propose to abolish the “unfairness” of nature and of volition, and to establish universal equality in fact—in defiance of facts. Since the Law of Identity is impervious to human manipulation, it is the Law of Causality that they struggle to abrogate. Since personal attributes or virtues cannot be “redistributed,” they seek to deprive men of their consequences—of the rewards, the benefits, the achievements created by personal attributes and virtues. It is not equality before the law that they seek, but inequality: the establishment of an inverted social pyramid, with a new aristocracy on top—the aristocracy of non-value. (Ayn Rand, The Return of the Primitive)

The arguments against Equality are based in essentialism [1] and limitation. The first argument goes like this: people are inherently un-equal, blessed or cursed with different strengths and weaknesses that yield different results of success and failure in life. To award Equality to all is to reward failure. It is against the Law of the Jungle, Natural Selection and “survival of the fittest.” The Natural Law argument is also one that is embedded through the Classical Liberalism conceits of “Individualism,” “free will” and “Liberty,” not to mention the biggest conceit of all: competition. While the other items are vague, shapeless and subject to multiple interpretations, everyone understands competition.[2] And everyone understands that a Capitalism without competition ceases to be Capitalism. Removing competition removes motivation to participate in Capitalism (so it is believed). And what is feared is the collapse of the entire system due to non – participation. Equality in this way is seen as a subversion to the Natural Order, which leads to the next point.

The Limitation argument is also based on Classical Liberal philosophy, economics and even science. As we have seen in the previous blogs, there’s an inherent, irrational fear that (1) Equality is impossible due to the evil, selfish nature of humanity, and (2) Equality can only be imposed through Draconian, authoritarian means. It is believed that your money must be taken away from you and redistributed to others “who don’t deserve it.” In Capitalism, and this is a point Capitalists are loathe to admit on moral grounds, it is acceptable for a person or group of people to exploit others for profit. The initial economic surge of Capitalism was generated by the harnessing of slave labor and exploitation of the working class. People actually died for the right of working a 40 hour week (Less than 100 years ago, it was common for a factory worker to toil 16 hours a day in dangerous, life – threatening conditions. One can see how Capitalism would have liked to treat its workers). The Limitation of Liberty is the limitation of the liberal’s right to choose to exploit another for profit. (When speaking of “liberal” in this context, I’m referring to the classical economic dimension of the term, not the political definition. Thus, all Capitalists are ‘liberal’ in that Capitalism is a liberal economic system).

So if you mine this equation for any logic, you can only come up with this: at least within Capitalism, Liberty sets limits on equality because Liberty is inherently inequitable, the argument being, “Surely one wouldn’t allow everyone to study at Harvard, would they? It wouldn’t be fair to those who actually can afford it or have the educational level to study there.” There has to be obstacles and impediments in place (like access to money and connections) or else the value of Harvard is rendered spoiled. This value is tied to what we cherish and despise – the life and death principles of success and failure.

We are now moving into another murky territory. The value of a Harvard education is analogous to the value of Capitalism.

NEXT: The Value of Inequality

NOTES

[1] Essentialism is the philosophical belief that things have a set of characteristics that make them what they are (their essence), and that the task of science and philosophy is their discovery and expression; the doctrine that essence is prior to existence.

[2] This is why a result of a tie or draw in a soccer match infuriates American sports fans. There should always be a winner who takes all.