Tuesday, February 21, 2006

A Week's Wisdom

In this one week I have learned the following:

In Iran it is the practice that poor little children who steal bread for they are hungry have their arms crushed under a truck – as it is the Islamic law.

In the US legal advisors to the administration assure us that it is perfectly acceptable for the President to authorize a small boys testicles to be crushed in order to make his father ‘speak’. And that the Constitution should not come in the way of the Presidents powers as ‘under such unusual circumstances of war’ it should be accepted that he is above the law.

The Democratic party in the US survives by infanticide – it kills its own – and is actually a kind of parasite or Remora that lives by cleaning or picking off the crumbs dropped by the host – the Republicans.

U S Corporations are sitting on $634 billions of uninvested cash hoards and non-US corporations on a hoard of $908 billions. And stock markets all over the world are climbing upwards while unemployment and underemployment – remains endemic the world over.

The US (the only surviving super power on the planet) debt is something like $8.2 trillion. And climbing.

Glaciers (fresh water) are melting faster than ever and the global supply of fresh water is shrinking faster than ever. (expected to drop by about a 3rd in the next 20 years)

What matters is not when oil runs out – but when we peak the hill and the production of oil becomes a matter of distributing steadily declining volumes – current projections say somewhere between 2008 and 2010. Close to a billion people in China and India are in line to buy cars. If you follow the tentacles of oil all through our societies and see how many things it touches – you will understand why even a 10% drop will lead to Armageddon.

I read about The End of the Dollar Hegemony written by Hon. Ron Paul of Texas.

Viral diseases are spreading across the globe with the wind.

Children in the US and Europe and the upper classes of other countries are drinking themselves to oblivion starting at ages of 13 on.

An anti-obesity pill is on the verge of a breakthrough. There goes the fitness industry.

Desperate Housewives are chasing Sex in the City with Friends, Apprentices and Survivors. And the Olympics are sponsored by the greatest collection of SUVs and beer kegs ever seen! This is being beamed in dozens of different languages the world over and local variations of them are flooding the airwaves – spinning out across the universe at the speed of light!

Google these issues. Connect a few dots on your own. They are not random events. They are not the product of some gargantuan conspiracy. They are not the work of the Devil or of God. They are however the collective result of our obsession with borrowing to the hilt against all equity we may at one time have had in the future and being completely delinquent with paying the mortgage. You see, instant gratification comes with it’s own in-built time bomb – when we are insatiably gratified now, what use have we of the future?

The only question that remains then is – why are we so obsessed with NOW! ?

I will for now leave that to your own contemplations. But also with one hint – it is not because we are sinners and neither because we are gods.

Monday, February 13, 2006

The will of the people.

A friend made a remark today that sparked of a chain of thoughts. “What if,” he said, “what we are seeing truly is the will of the people?” Something in me reacted at the gut level – the people have no will! I wanted to scream – but I went away with this little episode churning in my head and then after a while the veils began to drop.

Man has a will when he is substantively engaged in his life. When he is producing it and consuming it by his own volition. When he is experiencing his life through his own senses and reflecting upon it through his own mind. When he is engaged with his humanity actively and not as a passive automaton.

“Man is the subject of History”, Marx once said. History is about Man and it is Man who creates it. Therein lies the dialectic of the will.

Today we live vicariously. We live through the produce of others and we consume our lives vicariously watching others paid to go through the entertaining pretenses of living it. We, at best, negotiate our right to exist and are awarded our consumption rights – each according to our credit histories.

We have abdicated our rights to experience our lives unmediated and with that we have abdicated our rights to our wills. The will of the people is a prime time TV show. If the ratings continue to drop it will be cancelled and not even a re-run will be forthcoming.

Why did this happen? The Founding Fathers enshrined for us the right to the pursuit of happiness – somehow that got switched to the pursuit of the happy hour somewhere along the way. The one deals with producing and experiencing joy the other deals with maximizing one’s consumption of it.

There are those who would have it so. For to have a society that is actively engaged in producing life implies a society that reflects upon the world around it, understands it and knows both it’s own and the worlds limits. It is a society where the will of the people is the primary mediator in its symbiosis with the world and life. Here the will of the people resides in We The People. It is a will that rests on autonomous thought. And there is no greater subversion of authority than that.

Authority and Will cannot co-exist. The one derives its ‘will’ by command. The other by experience and reflexion. As it is said in the Lord’s Prayer. It is the Lord’s Will that is to be done not ours. That is why Secular and Democracy are symbiotically bound and that is why a non-secular democracy is an oxymoron. But if experience and reflexion can be cut off then the link to one’s will is severed. And society can be granted the illusion of willing what we see today and still not see that they live in a suicidal illusion.

What we are seeing today is not the will of the people – it is a people without a will, in every sense of the word.

The question that remains then is why should an all powerful, omniscient God be interested in a species as pathetic as this?

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

We The People

From historic, even pre-historic times, Kings, Queens and tribal leaders have claimed some sort of divine patrimony in their claim to power. Rights flowed down from the Gods to their chosen favorites who then visited them upon the people!

Along the way some variations on the theme appeared in the form of Plutocratic Republics in the form of Greek cities, Sparta, Rome and even some of the cities of renaissance Italy. The basics however remained unchanged; Rights and Power flowed from the Gods, the intermediaries were blessed and the subjects just had to suck it up!

Then came a seismic event – somewhere around mid to late 1700s to the early 1800s – today referred to as the Age of Reason followed by the Enlightenment – when some intrepid souls made the intellectual leap of saying that just as natural phenomena could be understood and explained by uncovering the laws and principles governing the natural order of the universe so could the phenomena of the social order be understood and explained.

To cut a long story short from this came the three most important words in the history of man to date (in any language!) – We The People.

Contained within these three words is the concept that all universal rights and powers are a priori vested in the human community at large. And, at their pleasure and in their wisdom We the People do give to various institutions within society the right to exercise some – a chosen few – of those rights and powers in our name and for our collective benefit. The Executive, The Judiciary, The Legislative; Presidents, Prime Ministers, Senators and Judges – are all empowered by the people in each their limited ways. And implicit in this arrangement is the hitherto unspoken corollary that that which is NOT given remains – inviolate – with We the People.

This tectonic shift in the source and locus of rights and powers liberates human kind to crawl out of the Dark Ages and leap to the Moon. Free enterprise, the pursuit of happiness, social welfare and universal education all become possible because it becomes the pleasure of We the People to make it so.

Human history however, also teaches us that the Powerful never voluntarily share or relinquish power (no matter how small the power!). Power addicts absolutely – more than money, sex, wine or drugs or even all four combined! Power is the first and final refuge of the divinely appointed. Divinely apportioned Power is their reason for being. Unmodulated Power. In the Fundamentalist world everyone is imbued with the Divine Power and is beholden to no one other than the divine source of that power. In the necessarily secular world of We the People – we are beholden to ourselves and our brethren for our rights and powers.

In the world of We the People cartoons and satires humble us and remind us what responsibilities we bear in being the universal repositories of all rights and powers a priori. In the Fundamentalist world – if God can be a joke then what am I? Such is the wretchedness of the blessed.

The Cartoon Terror, The War of Terror on Cartoons or the War against Terrorism – no matter how you view it – is not war of civilizations or a war for oil or a war about economic hegemony – or even a war between conservatives and liberals.

It is a systematic ravaging of the secular locus of universal rights by the powerful fundamentals of divine rights.

This is why elections, eavesdropping, environment and equality do not matter. They are all secular mirrors reflecting the nakedness of divine power. They are challenges to the Gods that choose the powerful – they are blasphemers.

We the People (warts and all!) are under attack. The light of the enlightenment is to be extinguished because it dared to shine that light on the apple of knowledge. Are we to be banished from Eden again?

I for one, refuse.