Wednesday, 17 June 2015

On the road to hell

The road to hell is paved with good intentions, traditional folk wisdom tells us. In recent years it has become evident that many of those pavers are actually flawed or false assumptions.

Here's a few... The political left represent the people (the political right represents vested interests - the control system). If you side with the right, you're either a capitalist or an arse-licker. The Green Party represents the broader green movement (so how come it carefully avoids representing blue-greens?). The left needs its own think-tank.

Let's take a look at that last one. A leftist think-tank would only work if leftists could actually think! Nigh on half a century of observing them, and I've never seen any evidence they can. Okay, Brian Edwards, Tim Shadbolt, maybe one or two others – just exceptions that prove the rule!

The New Left were the happening thing when I arrived at university, early '68. Big on rhetoric, small on substance. I was intrigued, but disappointed whenever I checked them out. Since then, the left seems to have gone to hell. Their only governments since Big Norm have had a right-wing agenda – competing by pretending they can do neoliberalism better than the Nats. Presuming the people are so stupid they will re-elect the left on that basis seemed a flawed strategy – it worked, but induced fear & loathing in the people.

It was Shadbolt's two-page spread in Cracuum explaining why Labour was just as bad as National that came at me as stunning revelation (in 1971): the left are part of the problem along with the right! So I must reject both, to make myself part of the solution!! I've been neither left nor right, out in front, ever since.
Come the early '80s green politics adopted that slogan, & I thought “Far out, the slow-learners are getting the picture!” Immensely reassuring - during Thatcherism & Reaganomics.

Whereas socialism produced a comfortably equitable society here in the '50s & '60s, by the '80s it was producing hordes of public servants who acted like petty dictators and were too lazy to run government departments efficiently. Then we got robotic pc conformism that turned leftists into drones.

Q: Who's winning the human race? A: the capitalists. Why? They give us jobs. Doing so makes them rich. Class analysis doesn't take account of those who employ themselves, but for the majority of us, our tacit assumption that we were born to trade on our labour produces a dependency relation; we become dependent on employers for livelihood and sustenance. Poor wages creates mass grievance. Not hard to see why the right thinks the left are emotionally juvenile: if the left were mature adults, they'd take responsibility for themselves and become economically self-determinant. If they were educated with a choice of collaborating for mutual benefit, their tacit acceptance of a power imbalance would make less of them victims of life's circumstances. Given a better choice as youngsters, more will mature.

So the inadequacy of the left is deepest in the area of preparation for career: the teenage years. It is no accident that Labour governments are widely viewed as a bunch of teachers. More trad folk wisdom: those who can, do; those who can't, teach. Adequate people, according to convention, don't become teachers. So we get an education system in which a bunch of terminal losers are employed to stuff crap into the heads of the young, producing more terminal losers. Then everyone wonders why the outcome is a dysfunctional, polarised society. Doesn't matter how dire things get, the left demands more education.

Business as usual persists so long as no alternative becomes available. Models of successful collaborative enterprise have long been available! They share profits and risks. They incorporate participatory decision-making by all who work for each such business. The team ethic prevails because of this incentive structure. The left routinely whines and moans about being exploited, like children complaining about parents. Why do they never embrace - or even advocate - such positive alternatives? They consider themselves born losers? Few of them would agree - but what if parents, teachers & employers all treat them as such? Continual reinforcement will create that subconscious identity in many. So, when that is indeed their tacit assumption, they end up co-creating their road to hell.

You'd think Karl Marx was a Marxist, right? Ain't so. Seems logical, but another false assumption. Proof lies in the historical reality as testified by his co-author of The Communist Manifesto. Engels, in an 1882 letter cites this statement from Marx: “what is certain is that I myself am not a Marxist”. Google that to verify it!

A generation is maturing into political activism who cite `perception is reality' as a truism. Sometimes it does seem to be. Politicos who assume it as a general rule will however tend to suffer the consequences of their flawed assumption: the difference between the two is often apparent to a group of politically-significant others. Those grounded in reality will polarise against those asserting the perception. Folks will tend to realise the former group are right. The reputations of the latter will be diminished accordingly.

The 1999 movie The Matrix featured a sci-fi world (ours) in which humanity's belief systems and perception of their surrounding world are entirely generated and constructed by alien controllers via high technology – an ultra-sophisticated smoke & mirrors act. A powerful metaphor for our actual collective reality!! All of us emerge from childhood growing into a cultural matrix, brainwashed by parents, teachers, and media, all of whom were likewise brainwashed. The culture of a civilisation is collectively generated by participants: in any country the national culture is largely co-created by those in control.

Our controllers are mostly capitalist, but some are socialist and some are hybrids. To survive within, we must comply as our society requires; get real. When in Rome, do as the Romans do, as the ancient adage has it. Work for a living - if you can find a job. To prosper, play the game well. Pragmatism works better than idealism (idealists focus on a better world they imagine, rather than on this one). Be here now means accept the status quo. Yet we will only ever get a better world by co-creating it! If we transcend the status quo, we are free to do so. Few do. But when we do transform our perceptions, our new reality is catalysed.

Those of us who have spent our lives pursuing self-development ought to move on to community-building, in the context that most communities now are non-local. Those of us become expert in transcendence must accept that bettering our own lives is liable to produce narcissism unless we act on a common-interest basis. The skill humanity most needs now is collective transcendence. We must apply that skill to create a positive alternative to business as usual. We must mediate between the world as it is and the world we all need. To get us all from the former to the latter, we must perform a collective act of magic: manifest our destiny. If the better world we imagine seems to distant or abstract, too ideal, and our here and now too opressive, use the tree as our model! It is anchored in earth, yet it reaches for the sky. Keep your feet on the ground – use the current reality as basis and foundation. Build your processes and structures toward the future you aspire to. Together, doing so, we can co-evolve into the future we need. Realise, make real!

The best story I ever came across that is dramatic in the way it exposes the difference between perception and reality appeared in 1981 in a book by the philosopher Raymond Smullyan. He reported “an incident I read about in a book on abnormal psychology. The doctors in a mental institution were thinking of releasing a certain schizoprenic patient. They decided to give him a lie-detector test. One of the questions they asked him was “Are you Napoleon?” He replied “No.” The machine showed that he was lying!”

What's going on here?!? Well, our societal consensus is that science defines reality. That's been the case for several centuries. The lie-detector is a device used to prove whether someone is telling the truth or not. Therefore the general perception of most people is that the reality of a situation can be established by using the device to verify the testimony of those involved. In courts of law such usage is a convention. In the lunatic asylum case Smullyan reports, the schizo patient was proven to be lying when he asserted that he was not Napoleon. Therefore the truth is that he was Napoleon! If you believe in science, technology, societal norms and mass consensus, that is!

Having been around leftist political activists close to half a century, I'm aware that their primary pathology arises from naïve idealism (which I still share somewhat), which embeds in the psyche as delusion when folk are reluctant to ground their experiences in collective reality. Thus the left traditionally asserts that it represents the people. The reality is that the people often vote in contradiction. Democracy is illusory when politicos misinterpret results. When the people vote in a rightist government, their verdict that the left is an unrealistic option tends to be ignored by the left. You can't credibly represent the people if you persist in ignoring what they're trying to tell you! The people, rolling their eyes, invariably think that the left has gone to hell. This public perception trends toward reality the longer the left takes to transform public opinion to a positive alternative. Here's a basic principle of social psychology functioning as a driver of politics: a general perception will crystallise into a shared belief via inertia, unless or until collective reality proves it wrong! Political reality emerges from such shaping of perceptions...

The road to hell resembles a highway with multiple on-ramps. Mass perceptions lead folks down the garden path, through the gate at the bottom, out through the commons and onto one of these on-ramps. Someone, like the kid who pointed out that the Emperor was wearing no clothes, may tell others “Hey, this isn't real!” But the opinion of a nonconformist is unlikely to shatter the favoured delusion of the majority – particularly when that has substantiated into the shared belief system of a social group and thereby has become a social pathology. The indoctrinating effect is so powerful that reality-checks roll off adherents like water off a duck's back. The left will march on down the road to hell in proud solidarity, until disaster looms sufficiently as imminent reality that it transforms their perception of the social environment.

Then a collective shift of perception will cascade through the group: “Oops, wrong way!” Time for a u-turn, retreat towards a place of safety, to ascertain and explore a valid path to the future. For the Green Party, shackled to it's leftist alignment, the inexorable lesson of polling and election results is starting to shift the mass perception of members out of their traditional pathology and toward reality. So many years heading down the road to hell with the left, we need to get back so we can save the world! Watch this space..

Sue Bradford on leftist think-tanks 2012:
Sue Bradford on leftist think-tanks 2014: