The Revolution. Peaceful, Violent or Non-desirable?
In one of his classic stand-up performances, Bill Hicks gave some profound advice to anyone in his audience who worked in advertising or marketing: "Kill yourself". Considering this was comedy, you'd assume he was joking. He wasn't. I've no doubt he actually meant it. The more serious question is, was Hicks wise to leave these marketeers with the option of doing it themselves, or would he have been smarter to have just taken them out himself?
Considering that I was probably saved from ignominy of spending my precious life converting other precious life into pathetic, meaningless little numbers by a little man called Gandhi, one of the world's greatest proponents of non-violence, this is a difficult question to ask. With quotes like 'an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind', 'be the change you want to see in the world [regardless of whether you are a minority of one or a majority of millions]', and - most importantly - the way he himself lived his life consistent with these beliefs, I went from wanting to work in the marketing departments of Tesco, Monsanto or GlaxoSmithKline, to trying to figure out what change I actually did want to see. That was ten years ago now, and I feel I am only now starting to be honest with myself about what change I actually do want to see.
For years I convinced myself that I wanted to 'save the planet', whilst living a life that completely betrayed such heady ideals. Given that I couldn't even treat the intimate partners in my life that I claimed to love (read 'need') with anything close to being worthy of the word love, it was a rather ambitious goal. But I wasn't even being honest with myself. In hindsight, what I was really trying to do was help save humanity's shit-clad ass. Or more accurately, the civilisation I myself was still addicted to. As George Carlin once eloquently pointed out, "The planet will be fine. It's the human's that are fucked." Unfortunately, what George left out was the fact that we humans won't be content to go down alone; in fact, in an ever-intensifying scientific conquest to control and manipulate all of Nature until we realise that the harder we try the bigger the hole gets, we're taking out 50,000 species a year. In just twenty years that'll be at least one million species who, after millions of years of calling planet Earth their home (12,000 years if you're a creationist), hit an evolutionary dead-end. The problem for all other forms of life here is that we humans either don't love them at all, or we 'love' them too much.
This was evident from my behaviour, not my words. My words would have suggested I cared about allowing all life on Earth to flourish, not just human life. So I'd look into the best ways of feeding six billion humans, and be more than happy to re-formulate this the moment it became seven and eight billion. For from a humanitarian point of view, there would be no other option. I'd look at energy systems such as photo-voltaic which I deluded myself into believing were sustainable, whilst knowing deep down it was only a way for me to keep using this laptop and feel good about myself. I didn't care about the planet, I cared about me, about feeling good about myself.
As soon as I became aware of my anthropocentric view of the world, one I had no idea I was possessing, all that changed. I became aware that I was being arrogant and deluding myself to what I was trying to do. So I had to ask myself some serious questions. If I wasn't speciesist - meaning I didn't value human life at the expense of all other life (which would, consequentially mean human life anyway) - why would I try to maintain the most destructive, unecological species that Earth has ever taken in as a guest? This is an incredibly difficult question to ask yourself.
As Derrick Jensen asks in Endgame (much of this and my recent writing is influenced by him), who is our allegiance to now? The abuser or the abused? Do we dialogue with the abusers of this world - those who feel they are entitled to consume the planet and all life on it for their own benefit - whilst they continue to abuse/kill/wipe out everything in their path? Or do we do whatever it takes to stop them?
I guess the question I am asking is this: is non-violence actually non-violent, or can it in some situations be more violent than what we culturally understand as violence? Again, tough questions for people who want to see a world where nobody abuses anyone. But that's not the world we live in.
We're in a world where almost all humans abuse and destroy life on Earth, where white humans abuse/kill brown humans, where male humans abuse female humans, where adult humans abuse young humans, and where elite humans create and (through design) maintain a system where the abused can't even imagine a life where they don't then have to abuse others just to survive. In this world, could non-violence actually mean violence, and vice versa?
Take the act of rape down a dark alley. You're walking home some night, and some 6ft 5" powerhouse is raping a young girl. You're only a skinny 5ft 5" man. But you see a metal bar on the ground. You pick it up and tell the rapist that unless he stops you're going to knock him unconscious, possibly even kill him with it. The rapist continues. What do you do? Stay non-violent? Start singing 'Give peace a chance'? Or do you whack him as hard as it will take (but not an ounce harder) to make sure he stops raping her?
As Derrick Jensen points out, is our cultural protection of the planetary abuser mostly due to the fact that we only have one word for violence? Therefore, when anyone defends themselves - or the Earth that gives them life (which effectively is themselves also) - is this still violence? If a woman who is being raped hits her attacker as hard as it is required to get him off her still resorting to violence? Is she really 'just as bad' as her attacker by defending herself and using 'violence' too?
Similarly, if someone who sees others creating and maintaining a culture that is killing not just other humans and non-humans, but eventually the Earth that they owe their own life to, hits back at these other humans, are they also acting violently? Are they also reducing themselves to the abusers level? For many years I denounced all violence against anybody, which was effectively me saying to the woman getting raped 'don't get him off you!' Which isn't very useful to the woman getting raped. Instead of woman, you could also read indigenous tribes, marine life, trees, fish or any other highly exploited species.
Jensen clarifies this when he outlines premise four of his book (unlike me or any other writer, he doesn't try to slip his premises in unnoticed), Endgame: "Civilization is based on a clearly defined and widely accepted yet often unarticulated hierarchy. Violence done by those higher on the hierarchy to those lower is nearly always invisible, that is, unnoticed. When it is noticed, it is fully rationalized. Violence done by those lower on the hierarchy to those higher is unthinkable, and when it does occur is regarded with shock, horror, and the fetishization of the victims."
Think about it. How true it is. But don't just think of the powerful, elite humans as being top of the hierarchy. Whilst this violence certainly takes place intra-species too, it also takes place between us and all the other species we share the planet with.
Jensen, in this fantastic book, goes on to draw comparisons between those in civilisation who feel it is their right to exploit and act violently towards the rest of the natural world, and those who do/did feel it was their right to control, exploit and be violent towards women, black people and so on. Citing lots of authors of books on this topic, he makes the case that abusers, in personal relationships, rarely ever stop abusing unless they are given no other choice.
There is lots of evidence of this in the real world. Despite all the time, energy and resources activists spend campaigning to save this or that, how many do we win? Not very many, given that every year we wipe out another 50,000 species, relentlessly. The oceans are being massacred, the rainforests retreat by the second, and wildlife have almost nowhere now to go.
If supplying information worked, if discussion worked, if petitions worked, if calls to conscious worked, surely we'd all be living in bliss by now. But reality has shown it not to work. You've no idea how much this saddens me.
I deplore violence, I really do. I want to live in peace with all, humans and non-humans alike. That is why I've been calling for an end to civilisation. I'd love for this culture to end peacefully, I really would. But is that probable?
If you think it is, please leave some evidence why you think so in the comments below. If you think it isn't, what does that mean for your life? My life? Our strategies going forward?
Does there need to be a human revolution in order for all life on Earth - human and non-human - to flourish again? If so, will it be peaceful or violent, or a mixture of both? And if not, how do you suggest we humans stop riding on the back of the rest of the community of life we share this planet with?
I'm not suggesting I have any of the answers to this. I am merely asking that the questions that I feel need to be asked. It's just too comfortable, too convenient, for us to not ask them. The alternative is fooling yourself that growing a few tomatoes, or setting up a moneyless village, or organising a petition against factory farm is going to create the level of required change. It's not. That's not to say they are not hugely important. Of course they are, so start or continue to do them. They're just one half of the solution.
Pleasure to be sharing the planet with you all.
Comment on this Post:
Arya comments ...
My feeling is the system will destroy itself... so there really is no need for violence as humans are not the only agent of change.
Those that use violence often justify it one way or another but their message gets lost along the way. I don't think it is true that the end justifies the means. I think the means are the only thing that matters...
I am with Gandhi on this one.
Daniela comments ...
Mark, I have been really impressed by the clarity and honesty in Jensen's work too recently, although I haven't read Endgame yet, and have been asking very similar questions. Haven't come to any real conclusions yet, but one thing really struck me, the idea that it may be an issue that we only have one word for violence and therefore only one way of approaching it. Either for or against, irrespective of circumstance. I don't know this for sure, but I would imagine that there are cultures and languages with a more specific approach where "violence" may be named and therefore viewed differently depending on context. Would be interesting to know. Also I think we need to remember something that this culture has sanitised away: that violence is a fact of life, there is violence in nature, things die and become food (in the widest sense of the word) so others can live. In the sense that violence simply "is", we can't really be for or against it. Again, the question of context raises itself. Jensen is completely accurate in his assessment of the violence used or tolerated by dominant society and its complete hysteria over that which isn't. I guess what I'm most wary of is anything that prescribes me what to do. I don't think this dominant form of culture will end without violence, but I also don't think that the use of violence is everybody's way, neither that we can judge those whose way it is. What I do think is that we really need to share our thoughts and questions and fears about it, so thanks for posting this.
Frederick Dsouza comments ...
I strongly feel there are always good Samaritans and also robin-hoods like wiki leaks and anonymous and others who use all means to keep a check on this wrong doers but we need to do our duty to expose these criminals
Lillith comments ...
"The more serious question is, was Hicks wise to leave these marketeers with the option of doing it [killing] themselves, or would he have been smarter to have just taken them out himself?
Mark, this statement is not mentally healthy. I think you need to seek professional help.
thomas comments ...
Awesome article. One thing is for sure that humans will drive themselves to extinction at some point, or perhaps the majority will.
Even if a revolution occurs, violence will be present and it will probably come from "the elite", those at the top, etc.
I guess in the end it starts with us individually with the need to change our own lives first.
Mike comments ...
"If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor."
Frederick Dsouza comments ...
"survival of the fittest" "law of the jungle" Always existed , is existing and hoping always wont be.
Bev comments ...
I've read quite a bit of Jensen's work and seen some talks. I'm very impressed with his passion and obvious love for the planet. I have to say that I have been changed by reading Endgame and I have a profoundly different view of the world than before reading it.
But...I am bothered by Jensen's us/them, abuser/victim mentality as it relates to the environment. Corporations are not chopping down trees simply to destroy ecosystems. They are chopping down trees to make paper to sell to me so I can wipe my ass with it. As much as I try to reduce my footprint, as a citizen of the first world, my presence on the planet is damaging it. I have no intention of committing suicide and I can't see blowing up a dam anytime soon, either.
I think greed and hubris will be the end of civilization, not eco-terrorism. The corporate-controlled state will always win because they have unlimited resources to protect their interests.
david comments ...
The more serious question is, was Hicks wise to leave these marketeers with the option of doing it themselves, or would he have been smarter to have just taken them out himself?
I too am deeply uncomfortable with this statement. I think Hicks was clever enough to be both serious AND joking.
Anybody/ or belief that thinks itself superior and justifies violence as a means to exert their chosen path upon everyone else is on very dodgy ground. It will never convert anyone, only the opposite.
I do accept your rapists analogy as a very unhappy dichotomy to be in. And you sound very angry. Justifiably so!
But your inspiration and power of living your truth with love, has been hugely inspirational to many people.
LOVE is the path. I know this won't stop the rapist. But as the LOVE spreads and we create a whole new consciosness of being on this planet, by our living our truth, the violence/ rapists will be forced out.
It IS hard. I suffer with it every day, but can we foster some hope and belief in being part of a bigger picture? - it may not all happen in our lifetime. But change will/ has to come.
Hold on in there and keep doing what you do best. Listen to your heart.
Rachel from Brisbane comments ...
Hi Mark, you know you rock my world, and no one could argue that what you have achieved in your life so far is very inspiring to many, including myself. I am reading Endgame at present and find Jensen's writing very compelling and emotive. I agree with so much in it (but not all) and admire his passion. Yet I do agree with Bev that his dualistic thinking (abused- abuser/perpetrator-victim) is problematic. I think your rape victim analogy is helpful to a point, but as Bev points out in her toilet-paper example, it doesn't apply as neatly at the level of the marketplace.
I also have problems with Jensen's approach. His passionate roleplaying as an extremist surely does sell books, but it does not help spread his message. Your actions have greater potential to spread your message widely than Jensen's I believe. His extremism rocks the converted, turns them into passionate consumers of his writing and visitors to his forum, but it does nothing to change the culture. That’s the secret paradox of his work - most people will never trust in him or someone like him.
I agree with Jensen on his views of ecological destruction. I think he articulates very clearly on this and on the desperate need to resist and act against the forces which are killing so much of the planet. But I am not sure blowing up a dam is going to help this cause. Also, he admits he is too wussy to go and organize to blow up the dam himself, so what is going on with that? Does he want an army of disciples to gather momentum around him and do his dirty work for him? I know, I know - he's a writer, not a political activist. Or maybe he's just kinda joking?? I don't think so because he talks a lot about helping to accelerate the current decay of civilization. I have read a lot of Daniel Quinn since finding your blog, and I am more with him on the issue of change. Changing minds will work better than any program of violence. Kill the marketers and you go to jail; other marketing graduates are in the wings ready to take their place. Nothing achieved except some headlines about a nutter who hated advertising (as do I!). Jail the drug dealers and someone else takes their place, as Quinn points out. Same thing. "The war on drugs (or anything) will never be won". Spreading memes will do better in the long-run than blowing up dams (which the rich will just re-build). Besides who would risk their life doing this until things are really super dire? Are you or anybody reading this blog prepared to initiate large acts of violence? Is this what you are telling us Mark? Is that your new plan?? ;-)
Maybe Jensen should go visit someplace like Liberia or Somalia. Places where the civilization he hates so much is already broken down. Because when you get rid of infrastructure, you don't create some mythic, Rousseauian return to nature. What you get is roving bands of youths with weapons, raping and killing and eating whatever they find, including some of those they rape and kill. When civilization falls apart the way Jensen is advocating, you end up with chaos. Mass starvation. And an even more desperate, rapacious attitude toward nature.
I am as much of an advocate of replacing civilzation with something better (esp since finishing "Beyond Civilization"), but let's be honest - Jensen's strategy requires a massive die-out of humanity. What he is advocating may be synonymous with genocide. If that is cool with you, fine, but please be honest about that. I'm not sure if that is the only solution to our current crisis. Though the massive human die-out may happen anyway (is bound to to at least some extent one day), I don't want to advocate near-human extinction as my only road-map, the only solution in my head. I still hope we may become smarter than that.
Mark, I am also curious - as you may know, Jensen has very close ties with Lierre Keith who wrote "The Vegetarian Myth". She deconstructs veganism at the political, environmental and moral levels (quite cleverly at times too). Like Jensen, she is also radical in her anti-civ position. So I am genuinely wondering if this new style of thinking you've been adopting is making you question your own veganism too? I ask because it is making me question my own, and I think food production is such a central topic when thinking about the impending revolution / renaissance. (My little Freeconomy group here in Brisbane is about to learn all about urban food foraging and eating weeds and insects!)
Please take my post in the friendly and curious manner it was intended :-) I look forward to hearing from you. Rachel
Dazzling Allgood comments ...
i think that violence should only be used when all other options have been explored and that your life depends on it, i also think it will be impossible to decommission capitalism without some violence irrupting, not that i am condoning it, i just think the elite will not give up their slaves and their strangle hold on the planet without a fight...just my opinion
Mike Goldstein comments ...
Agreed, Dazzling - but as Derrick Jensen reminds us, the elite are not just holding onto the planet, they are performing violent acts on it. The question is whether it's ok to act violently to stop the violence that's already happening.
Crafty Choc comments ...
Then we will always be violent, all results from violent actions fail eventually. This is because the leader has to maintain that strength and will either weaken or become the violent master.
cai comments ...
a link that might go well with this:
Bev comments ...
Rachel, thanks for pointing out that when civilization disappears, things do not revert to some idyllic garden of eden arrangement (at least not until we're down to the last 2 people, and even then, they're bound to screw it up).
I don't know how to reconcile the fact that my existence and my child's existence cause violence to be done to the earth and to some of its citizens, human and otherwise. I think moneyless living, or voluntary poverty, is really the only practical solution on an individual level, but quite honestly, I despair that it will never be enough.
katie comments ...
peaceful evolution is already happening in many places... i guess we have to take one step at a time and see... there is so much we can do from a place of peace to help this evolution revolution... and we can be assertive while still coming from a place of peace.
Hannah Morgan comments ...
I studied philosophy at uni, spent some time at Buddhist retreats and attended many demos and have been pondering this dilemma for years, I remembered that poem about the Nazis spoken by the person who sat by and realised there was no-one left to help them, yet I very soon realised with regard to political activism like you said that it achieves very little, so much energy is expended in what is grounded in anger, frustration, desire, guilt? during one retreat the time spent in meditation made it so clear to me and others that this time spent agonising over the right path, the right choice, the future etc is futile, there are lots of solutions, many choices can be the right one, for me now I try to focus my energy on living the way that I believe to be right, as you have done, many people are affected every day by the examples set by yourself and others, like a ripple, much more than violent protest. One friend at uni used to say that Nazis only understand one kind of language, violence, maybe violence can stop some actions, but will it change people minds? Minds are more powerful long term
We do live in a dualistic (symbolic) world, our language is built on difference and identifying difference and categorising and labelling, male/female, inside/outside, black/white which precludes a plethora of life, our inner selves and the world as it is in itself, without these human ways of seeing which we know and experience in quiet times, alone with nature. Some philosophers felt that we always value one over the other, male over female etc but this can be overcome by valuing and promoting diversity, from a spiritual perspective, by honouring the masculine and feminine within ourselves living as we can in the world as it is in itself, more than the symbolic/linguistic/discursive
By Being self aware and honest, it’s so refreshing to see someone who is self-aware and honest, but sometimes you do think yes but what do I do with all this self awareness? guidance comes eventually I think and being self aware is the first step to this
I grew up in a violent home, and for years felt hard done by, what have I done to deserve this? I am still now building healthy boundaries, for a long time I have felt angry and bitter about how I was treated and supported zero tolerance, radical feminist groups, etc but now I am trying to forgive and attract healthy relationships through my own actions and intentions rather than re-actions
I couldn’t say what I would do if I saw that down an alleyway? I have experienced that we get/attract what we focus on, I know there are awful things happening and to say well they must have manifested that is not helpful, but what that tesla wizard guy was saying at sunrise had just clicked into place for me, about living in utter, utter paradise, I think maybe we need to visualise it as much as possible, for as many people as possible, (as well as continuing to do all the good stuff, navel gazing alone isn’t going to get us anywhere)
I always turn to ‘the prophet’ when I am feeling a bit like this Mark and it normally helps me get some perspective – on judging and forgiveness esp
I didn’t want to add to the language/philosophy debate on fb so came here but have slipped into the old philosophical lingo anyway, whoops
Who really knows what is around the corner, for me there are only 2 sides and I want to make sure I am on the right one, whatever that involves ♥
jason palmer comments ...
oddly enough, an article on the peacefull protest movement exists in the latest issue of philosophy now :)
I myself think gandhi, who had been a theosophy member, realised, that some kind of religious type figure would work well, and it did, in essence.
I think you have reached out to many people,with a great example.
Frances comments ...
It's difficult some days, but try to focus less on the negative. People listen and are moved by love. Even if you are 'just growing tomatoes', if you love what you do and what you stand for, others will take note and want to emulate your behaviour. See the love. Be the love. Spread the love.
Derek Robertson comments ...
A core part of Gandhi's belief was that an adherent of non-violence rooted in faith of a loving God had to do his best with no thought for the fruit. A person had no right to expect to see what he or she might consider a "success" - that had to be left to God. Tolstoy believed that perhaps some of the most important contributions a person might have made during their sojourn on this earth would be invisible until they/the world/ pass away coming face to face with God.
Of course this is predicated on the faith that this existance is but a shadow of the reality that moves it and the recognition that where we are and where we should be are wide apart.
One of the best descriptions of the power of redemptive love, that could be construed as divine, that I have come across, is from a conversation regarding suffering between Malcolm Muggeridge and Archbishop Anthony Bloom some 50 years ago. Bloom recalled an example from a concentration camp , a prayer left on a sheet of wrapping paper, which in substance said: 'O Lord remember not only the men of goodwill but also the men of ill will. But do not remember all the suffering they inflicted on us, remember the fruits we have gathered, thanks to this suffering - our comradeship, our loyalty, our humility, the courage, the generosity, the greatness of heart which has grown out of this, and when they come to judgement, let all the fruits which we have borne be their forgiveness'.
Of course there could be a temptation here to use detachment as an excuse for passivity, but this would be inexcusable. The honest desire and effort in finding the right path amongst the many false ones is what should hopefully bring out the best in us.
glenno comments ...
Most changes in the nature of our universe are violent. From the big bang, to the formation of stars planets and black holes. It might be useful to take on board the bigger picture namely at the macro (our universe) rather than the micro(our tiny planet) for contemplation.
Whether we destroy our planet by self-centered neglect or reach a self sustaining eco navana. Ultimately we and all other animals will meet our collective end.
Our sun will burn out, our planet will eventually turn to star dust.
Without a faith in a god how can we make sense of our transient lives? What does it mean to live a good life on a finite planet and universe. What are we saving all of planet Earth's species from ultimately?
I feel by all means have a big vision but ultimately stay grounded. What can you and I do practically now to live closer and harmonious to this miracle of a finite planet. Grow tomatoes, live and let live, reduce, reuse recycle, help the needy, set up your moneyless village. Don't underestimate the power and goodness of living a live well spent. Leave violence to the forces of nature. We were given a conscience, we're the only species who can choose to act against our selfish animal instincts. If we choose violence we simply mimick the cold laws of nature. Since all imposed changes are violent by their very nature.
We maybe temporary custodians of this planet but everything changes over the passage of time. Even humans and this planet are transient and will have their time. I'm not meaning to be fatalistic.
I just want my life to have meaning now! To make whatever small, practical, peaceful, positive changes I can to help this present world to be a little healthier, fairer and peaceful. :-)
Probably not very inspiring or ambitious but do-able and practical.
Ruth comments ...
Your blog comes over as someone who is angry or frustrated. Is this because the change you want to see does not seem to be happening? Some things take time, and yes I know the world is running out of time, but as yet you do not know the result of your actions. Many people have read your blogs and they have told many others. The same goes for all others who have taken steps to live in harmony with the world. It will spread and change will happen. Maybe patience is the key. Violence never achieves anything except bad feelings for all concerned. People who have been harmed will react violently themselves or withdraw from the world so they cannot be harmed again, there are very few who can brush violence aside and continue as before. I find your message confusing now as if I have somehow misunderstood what you have been trying to say.
Frederick Dsouza comments ...
To be vicious and caring, the only qualification we need is to be human. Jesus said John 8:7 "Let He Who Is Without Sin Cast The First Stone" . Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you forgive seven times, but seventy times seven. Now a days, who forgives seventy times seven? "If anyone slaps on your cheek, show him ur other cheek too" anyone still existing who showed the other cheek? . Nobodys following the above is the proof god do not exist. This is made up stories by elite (white collar criminals) who give others the bible to follow but they themselves will keep the arms
Mark Boyle comments ...
@ I'll respond to individual comments as soon as I can, but just wanted to say thank you for a very good debate so far.
Can I just add that I am not saying violence is something to strive for. Of course it is not - I can't even imagine it! I don't have the answers, I am just asking a question as I don't think it is clear cut as we would like to think it is.
I just think that so much non-violence is actually violence anyway, in its complicity.
Pacifism can never be passive if it is to change anything, yet it almost always is.
Lots of love to you all.
curbina comments ...
I think we all come here asking the same questions at some point Mark. This kind of thoughts would probably end us all in some kind of "watch list". But these questions need to be asked and people need to be taken to these "ground shaking extremes" (not for me, anyway).
IMHO we are all at the end of the rope. A profound cognitive disonance reigns my own life, created between the life I live and its incoherence with my deep thoughts and feelings.
Nature, in its all ecompasing wisdom , might have something "on the sleeve" anyway. If some things that are unfolding in our local solar system are what they seem to be, by 2016 we will not have to worry about how ending civilization, as a natural event will do it for us. The few survivors I certainly hope will have a chance of starting over and perhaps, this time do it right.
Kai comments ...
eamon hayden comments ...
When I was reading your blog many spiritual texts came to mind.. In Bhagavad Gita it suggests that we should fight for our aims without fear and without hatred or aversion and that ultimately all things come from Krisna (God) and return to Krisna, therefore you should not be troubled by the outcome... Hence be the change you want to see in the world and not be overly concerned by your sucess or lack of it.. Im not directly quoting here but this is one of the underlying themes here and undoubtedly Ghandi was influenced by Bhagavad gita... Further when you look at Jesus he shows non-judgement, 'let he who is without sin cast the first stone' and non-violence 'turn the other cheek' yet the religions that surround christianity show a lot of judgement and violence especially towards minorities... Life it seems to me is grossly unfair and lacks compassion.. It is vital that you make these small changes because the altrernative is our self distruction... WE CANNOT WAIT FOR EVERYONE ELSE TO CHANGE BECAUSE IF WE DO IT COULD BE TOO LATE.. However the only real power that we have is to make these changes ourselves regardless if it is popular or not.. Then you are showing real leadership.. One final note: Look at the civilisation on Easter Island... There is a vital lesson to be learnt there because if humanity keep abusting our host mother earth we also will suffer a simular fate..
Kind wishes to all
Anthony comments ...
Nice debate! Enjoying the varied veiwpoints from everyone. As a fan of Daniel Quinn I would agree with Rachel. I feel that as intelligent beings the most effective revolution has to be in the mind. No one can honestly explain away the disaster of a civilisation weve created. It works for so few and masks so much suffering! Its time to stop propagating it and supporting it. Its time to start discussing a new way forward - like the discussion on this board
SSP comments ...
Nature will and is already starting to get things back to equilibrium as we have seen in New Orleans, the Tsunamis in Japan and Asia and the floods in Queensland. These events will keep on happening, get more severe and kill more and more people until a state of equilibrium is reached. The one book I have read that stopped me getting depressed about all this and actually made me realise that things will sort themselves out is "The Breakthrough Expereience" by John DeMartini.
Robert G comments ...
'THAT PERENNIAL QUESTION, "Does the end justify the means?" is meaningless as it stands; the real and only question regarding the ethics of means and ends is, and always has been, "Does this particular end justify this particular means?"
Life and how you live it is the story of means and ends. The end is what you want, and the means is how you get it. Whenever we think about social change, the question of means and ends arises. The man [or woman] of action views the issue of means and ends in pragmatic and strategic terms. He [or she] has no other problem: he thinks only of his actual resources and the possibilities of various choices of action. He asks of ends only whether they are achievable and worth the cost; of means, only whether they will work. To say that corrupt means corrupt the ends is to believe in the immaculate conception of ends and principles. The real arena is corrupt and bloody. Life is a corrupting process from the time a child learns to play his mother off against his father in the politics of when to go to bed: he who fears corruption fears life.'
Rules for Radicals
A Practical Primer for Realistic Radicals,
Saul D. Alinsky 1989 Reprint Vintage Books
(originally published: New York: Random House,
Alinsky goes on to show Mahatma Gandhi's use of passive resistance as a striking example of the selection of means.
He goes on to give eleven rules on the ethics of means and ends.
Do you know what they are?
hopeful23 comments ...
Mark, I have followed your journey with interest since reading your book.
Your tone has shifted somewhat since then.
Do you feel frustrated? The change you seek, will require organisation, and that will need a greater level of promotion.
What can all of us do to help you? I would like to know.
troblodite (Mat) comments ...
... as you slightly pointed out at this, moving away from the notion of 'saving the world', the more you look at it the more it seems like nothing actually needs to be saved, or can be saved. We talk about humans as some sort of golden cow special in a sense that supposedly it has this technolgy stuff... and this brain... that can think... and do stuff... be violent... ??? a lion eating a deer is dinner... a lion eating man is violence. You pointed out that hierarchy... but does that not sound a bit absurd to even talk about it in those terms. When you talk about other species, that so many will die a year and it is becosue of us, you still are just underlining our ...'superiority'. Earth is just a rock in space... amongs gazillions other rocks in space... and this or that species dying will not make any difference...we dying off will not make any difference to anything. I mean ... its pretty certain that one day ... we will die off, and whatever we do, this planet... will die.
Now going back to 'us' ... we are asses. Pompus and full of words, full of thoughts so much that we have to be pompous. Saving the whale? has anyone really asked themselves why we want to save the whale? becouse we killed them? becouse they dying? becouse its just nature? becosue there are a few of them?... so that is ...our what? guilt? fear of death?economics? A reminder of those things, that we cling to it so much. Desire to be imortal? no baba ... we will die one day... I will die one day ... but I want a clean death and I have spent my whole life 'fucking it up' in search of truth. I actually felt it twice for a few seconds. And it was disatachment, i didnt mind my loved ones dying, and then I felt closer to them then ever before, i felt love for them. Also when i talk about humans .... ha ha ... iam talking pretty much about the western world, or western style influenced. Cant talk for others.
hmn... i guess it all boils down to definitions ... and definitions creating other definitions ... etc etc etc. and at the end of the day... seriously how many of you know for a fact what scrambled eggs taste like from a normal egg? Or a tomato. I do. hahahaha... that is just silly. Eating a tomato that is REALLY a tomato is a rarity and a delicacy. WTF?.... This is what iam pointing to by saying a clean death.
dunno .... just trying to go at this from a different side ...
troblodite (mat) comments ...
oh ... and dig what you wrote :D keep it up
Byron comments ...
Moneyless violence – preaching moneyless living to those trying to survive. As the Churches violently affirm you are a sinner, so does The Moneyless Man. However he is 100% right. And it pains me to look at how I live and how I am seduced by civilisation, more than any physical violence The Moneyless Man could cause.
MikefromPeru comments ...
Mark, I hope life is treating you well my friend.
I can sense you're frustration in this article and I can share it. I sometimes do think that violence will erupt eventually but I there is something we have to consider.
The reason why we see all this destruction in the world is due to ignorance of our impact on the planet, as one great revolutionary man once said it money separates people from the suffering and other externalities tied to their consumption (it was you by the way). Also, the competetiveness that our system propagates between ourselves to survive within our society due to the ilusion of scarcity that is created for it to function, results in most env. destruction and violence i would say. You of course know this, but my point is that it's a matter of teaching people, making people understand, making them aware. Basically, spreading the message... most people do not understand the externalities of our system, they are not aware of the fact that they depend on natural systems, cycles to survive - it might sound crazy to most ppl reading this because nearly everyone is "green" on this forum - but in reality most of the population is oblivious to this and this is what has to change. I believe that once everyone is on the same page, when everyone understands then we will see a change and it might not have to result in violence.
Environmental awareness and the effects of our society are starting to be scrutinised more and more nowadays with more people understanding that our way of life (not yours Mark) is wrecking the planet and leading to the destruction of our species. But this knowledge needs to reach the majority of the population and when this happens, then we will see a change, a peaceful one.
It will take time, but it can happen. And Mark, you are living proof of this. Your actions will have shown thousands and thousands of people that a change is required and many will be applying them already in their own way - let's just hope that it keeps happening until the needed change finally arrives.
Take care Mark, I hope to see you soon mate.
littlewildrose comments ...
. . .
I agree that violence is not a solution. People need to live in peace, befriend one another and help each other if we want to maintain a quality existence on our planet. However, I do think it's necessary and acceptable to defend oneself against attack and physical danger. That's my own personal belief.
I feel that a sudden revolution is not necessary, although it could come to that if people get desperate enough. I think that the answer lies in starting with ourselves first. We do need to be the change that we wish to see in the world. Secondly, and just as importantly, we need to make connections with our neighbors. Without connections, there is no growth. Without growth, there is no big change, and we do need big changes.
Thanks for starting the freeconomy movement. I truly believe actions such as these will lead to growing communities of people - helping and supporting each other. As a result, this will be a healthier, more loving, beautiful, non-violent planet on which to live, with plenty of food and resources for all to use. I believe that the planet has more than enough for all of us, but we are not utilizing it to our benefit or preserving what we should. We are making it harder than it needs to be.
We need helping, loving, sharing communities both in cyberspace and in our own neighborhoods and towns. We need to start being available to our families, friends and our neighbors next door.
I love the idea of people helping each other and having no money exchanged in the process. This truly makes for a win-win situation. There can be no better feeling in the world than helping another person! Besides true security for me is not in having money or things. I find great security in knowledge, self sufficiency and independence. There's also tremendous security in knowing people that you can call on other people to help you (your notion of inter-dependence) - people cooperating and sharing what they have and what they know, for the good of all. This not only helps individuals, but families, communities, regions and the entire planet. It gives us new hope for future generations and a beautiful future for all.
I do believe that like-minded individuals with a worthy purpose can change the world! All we can do is start with ourselves and work our way outwardly from there. Let's stay connected! We can rid ourselves of the survival stress that most of us are living in. I'm so glad that there's lots of people out there who think the same way and understand the truth of the situation that the human race is in. It makes me feel better and safer knowing that you exist and that you are willing to help me.
Information is key . . as are connections . . showing others how it works . . believing that life can be better for all. People are catching on and they will be forced to wisen up eventually. I believe it will work, so let's continue to pay it forward- one person at a time.
ga67 comments ...
Its never been just about money itself,its about how we live and how we treat eachother and how we view the world around us.We live in fear of eachother because the system,the enviroment we have allowed to be built around us demands it.
Violence has to be used as a defence against those who will use violence to have thier reality realized.
A psychcopath,sociopath or twat as i like to call them wil cut your throat with the same emotion he feels when he peels a spud, regardless of your own moral dilemas,look at America and its current and previous murderous campaigns around the world.They dont give a flying fuck for anyone,evn thier own people.So dont be to hard on yourself for considering that violence may well be nessesary to defend and indeed continue your existance on this planet.Violence,force, comes easy many people,they see it as a legitimate course of action in achieving thier aims and sadly the non violent people of this world may have to learn to use it to change the course they would have us take.Do you think the likes of murdoch,Kissenger,Rothchild,Rockafella,daddy bush and the gang are going to just give us back our humanity.Not a chance,its either fight for it or continue to bend for the boss.The future will depend on our ability to stand on our own two feet and help others do the same.The age of self has to end and so does the age of the monertary system.It is time for the meek to take on the strong.
James Deane comments ...
I need love not fear, I need love not fear...
It sounds like you are frustrated, beneath that will be anger beneath that will be pain and beneath that will be love. Go for love Mark its who you are. Its why you care.
www.jamesnaylorfoundation.org is a good source of positive reinforcement. You have to insist you are lovable. When you feel you are coming from a loving place then you are capable of acting with the fullness of your being and bearing the weight of such heavy concerns. You are welcome to be in touch with me if you feel like being supported by a friend. I have recently been going through relearning to take care of myself. From my health to relationships. Beginning with my health and relaxation. I am easier on myself more loving and able to be better responsive the presenting needs around me. This has become really important to me to be able to support myself first. So I can give to others, be responsible, caring, creative and constructive. My heart goes out to you.
When the inner terrain gets tough you have to insist you are loveable. We can do this together and sometimes we need to do this together.
With Love Satyana
Hey Mark, I’m just nearing the end of your book – and have to say that I’ve found it incredibly inspiring; I share your views to a very great extent and have been gradually making efforts to implement them in my daily life, but reading about someone like yourself, who is willing to just put their money (so to speak ;)) where there mouth is has given me a much needed kick up the arse to do better!
As far as this blog post goes, I’m going to introduce a bit of a curve-ball into the discussion here, so please bear with me! Having read your book, I also know how you feel about ‘chai-tea and tai chi’ :), but I study tai chi, both as a meditative practice and the martial art it was originally intended to be (I know because my thighs are burning!); and I find its philosophy and methodology to be highly practical when applied to broader aspects of life. For instance, tai chi teaches us that a smaller, weaker person can overcome a larger, more powerful aggressor by yielding to their attack, moving in response to their movements, redirecting their energy and catching them off balance. Where they are linear, aggressive and rigid, you are fluidic, highly sensitive and flexible. This requires an extremely peaceful, calm and stable state of mind, and takes a long time to master, but it is ultimately far more effective than bluntly trying to pummel your opponent into the pavement.
So what does this have to do with our current situation (…I’m sure you’re already coming with me on this one ;), well – I used to believe that we should fight to the bitter end for our fair share of the world’s ‘stuff’, but now feel that yielding is a far more productive strategy. We yield by doing just what you have done – they take our stuff? – Fair enough, we bend, and flex and build a life without the need for stuff – and in the process neutralize the force that is used against us (it is, after all, only because we keep buying all of their crap that they are becoming increasingly powerful). And as Ghandi’s actions and rhetoric have demonstrated, when a powerful aggressor continues to use violence against those who remain calm and peaceful – but firm in their convictions – it only destabilizes their position further.
That is not to say that there will at no point be a place for aggressive action, tai chi does have powerful strikes in its arsenal too; but these are used sparingly, and whenever possible are aimed at vulnerable targets (after your assailant has, through their own aggressive actions, left their weak spots open to attack) to debilitate them and eliminate the threat they pose to you, not to kill or maim them. I'm not suggesting that any progress that we make or strategy that we implement will ever be as neat or tidy or simple as this, but I believe that this is the example that we should follow. We can only build a better future if we maintain a calm, peaceful mindset that allows us to evaluate our constantly shifting position thoroughly – and adapt to it in the most compassionate, effective manner possible.
I’d also like to say, I spent a little time squatting in Bristol last year and know a couple of the people that you mention in your book (only a little, but who I have nothing but respect for), but ultimately one of the things that encouraged me to leave that scene was the undercurrent from many others of well-intentioned, but I believe misguided, aggression towards those upholding the ‘system’. As suggested above, I do believe that there are occasions when violence is necessary and warranted, but ultimately (if I’m allowed to indulge a little more Taoist philosophy ;) effects always mirror their causes, and I don’t feel that a combative, divisive mindset can ever be used to usher in an era of peace and justice. What’s more, I've got to echo what others have said here; people who are essentially peaceful (and I know, like me, you believe that's most of them) – the people we need to build a better world - will always be deterred and marginalized by its brutality.
So I say peace to all. Until they go after chai-tea and tai chi - then I’m gettin’ CRAZY!!! ;)
Kevin Latham comments ...
Oh, by the way, the above post is by me - it was my first one - and I think I got a bit overexcited! - I appear to have hi-jacked your blog for myself! I'll try to keep it a bit more succinct in future - though no promises - I'm told I have trouble with that!
Ray Taylor comments ...
I have a positive and hopeful view on this, both because of some qualities that humans have and because of the work that you and others have started.
1. Humans have one beautiful characteristic - they really love to give each other (and animals) pleasure, and to know that they did something that made someone else's life more wonderful. This is a great start!
Marshall Rosenberg (he of www.NonviolentCommunication.com) helped me see this.
2. Humans are also the only species we know that protect other species just because they are beautiful. Well done humans! (I'm wanting us to big up the up side as it's so easy to feel gloomy looking at only the down sides.)
3. We are extremely cooperative - even apparent violent enemies are in a kind of weird cooperative dance, where they both do better than the civilians.
4. We now also have amazing cooperation channels on the web, and we know how to manifest both luck AND miracles (ref Prof Wiseman and David Spangler).
5. There's no chance humans will be wiped out this century (no asteriods will hit - NASA checked - and a total volcanic winter is very extremely unlikely) but things will be tough especially in the 2030-2050 period, maybe sooner, perhaps mainly because of problems with phosphate shortage for fertiliser.
Most of us in the progressive movements are very down on corporations, but frankly when it comes to 2020-2050, we won't have the luxury of fighting each other, them etc - we'll be needing to figure out how to prevent millions on very low incomes in the Americas, South Asia and Africa from starving or falling to malnutrition/epidemics. We will need those corporations to use their vehicles, creativity and cash to support governments and communities. Slagging them off will not encourage them to do this - intelligent communication, firmness, clarity and new laws will. And to get those new laws we're going to need to do what Tony Benn suggests: encourage and support leaders and politicians and potential politicians - if we spend all our time complaining about them, do you wonder they get exhausted and give up?
How would Gandhi have done without the support of those around him and millions of Indian citizens?
When it comes to preventing global famine, we know how to do this, and one of the keys will be using less phosphate, so while it may seem trivial, any work you do on making composting toilets normal, and using phosphate free washing powders and encouraging phosphate retention through permaculture etc is really important and worthwhile.
Omar comments ...
Thinking that violence might "solve" the problem suggests the same sort of worldview that has got us into this situation.
The only revolution is to perceive the world without the maps and definitions that have been handed to us.
glenno comments ...
25 years ago I was a copper in London having petrol bombs and bricks thrown at me by socially politicised rioters. I had some respect for their anger.
This time the so called disaffected youths that are violently looting have no grievances other than to stuff their black bin bags full of trivial consumerist tat. Flat screen TV and Nike's apparently are worth crapping on their own doorsteps and ruining communities.
These so-called hard done by socially impoverished youths may want to reflect on true poverty. At a time when millions of African kids are at the point of starvation. Nicked iPods, plasma screen TV and £100 trainers just shows where our vacuous capitalist society places their values. If you're part of a selfish, morally empty consumerist society then don't be surprised if your consumed by it!
Very sad, but if we follow a similar violent path towards a more fairer, sustainable society aren't we just as bad? For me its change and influence by example not coercion, if you choose violence count me out.
Tortoise comments ...
At the time I looked after my children, I loved them, I would protect them as if they were part of me. At the same time I questioned these views on pacifism that people have, and I came to feel that the right way to act is as a mother or as a motherer. As a nurturer.
The vegan animals such as elephants, cape buffalo and rhino hippo and large apes live peacefully day by day they dont predate and are not predated upon and when they are threatened or attacked they will charge and they will crush. And then they live peacefully day by day.
Us. We. have been taken in and tempted out of our former community sharing ways of living to be living now for the most part as battery hens pecking at each other, mugging each other competing with each other alienated from each other, in monocultural concrete and brick rows upon rows of dwellings. A mass audience, for mass profit.
M Sophia Santiago comments ...
Thank you so much, Mark Boyle ~ this is a good set of questions! I'll pass this on to friends. Sophia
Proudscalawag comments ...
Real trouble is, civilization is what enables this planet to carry, well or poorly, seven billion humans. End civilization and 90% of them will probably starve to death or die in renewed pandemics. And think of how much work it would be to dispose of the corpses, one way or another. Not to mention the SMELL of death might be all over the world! Unless you can invent a sort of laser which would, say, draw out all the water from humans and return our (literal) dust to the earth, it seems to me this is pretty close to an unresolvable problem.
P comments ...
"If supplying information worked, if discussion worked, if petitions worked, if calls to conscious worked, surely we'd all be living in bliss by now."
- It worked for you. Didn't it? Thanks to Gandhi. It worked for many people during the Civil Rights Movement, the Women's Movement, etc.
These people defended themselves, and/or others. They stopped letting their oppressors get away with it. But they didn't, as movements, use violence.
I believe in self-defense and in the defense of others. Sometimes violence is necessary, as when you or someone else is being violently attacked. Other times, violence is not necessary, or the best way to achieve what you are trying to, must, achieve. In those cases, violence is gratuitous and harmful rather than helpful to your cause in the end.
Yes, you could rightly say the earth is being violently attacked. Black people were being violently (and systematically) attacked prior to/during the Civil Rights Movement (not to say they never are now).
Maybe the US Civil War had to happen to end (that particular form of) slavery. If so, so be it. It had to end (of course it should never have begun). But maybe the Civil Rights Movement had to happen the way it happened as well.
It is possible, under some circumstances anyway, to get people to stop doing things that are wrong, harmful, unacceptable, without using violence.
1) A movement that thinks in terms of enemies (or acts or sounds as if it does), as opposed to refusing to tolerate harmful, unacceptable treatment and practices, does not fill me with hope.
And 2) What exactly is it that you are talking about? When you talk about the possible necessity of using violence (to stop people or groups of people from exploiting and harming others and the earth), can you give an example? Because the lack of such an example or such examples is, to me, very unsettling and disturbing.
I think that right makes might, and on account of that, we must be very careful to stay right and good, as much as possible, in everything we do to affect the changes we want to see.
P again comments ...
Derek Robertson - What a beautiful comment. Many other beautiful comments as well.
P comments ...
Sorry to take over the comments with multiple posts. Another thought.
I think what needs to happen in order for things to change for the better in a lasting way is for people to have a change of heart.
You can physically stop a person with violence, and under specific circumstances, it's the only way to stop a person. But if you're talking about stopping many people, or a culture, I don't see how physically stopping them with violence can even be possible or effective in the long run. For one thing, other people (likely angered and emboldened by the violence done to them too) will pop up to replace the others in the fight.
In the long run, I think you can't force people to do the right thing. You have to convince them to and invite them to.
I think the way to change people's hearts is to love yourself, respect yourself, try to understand your own reasons for doing wrong when you do it (because the reasons are real and relevant), and to not accept bad behavior from yourself. (For lack of a better term because this term takes it to a place of parents often wrongly and unfairly applying it to their children.) And to do the same for others - respect them if you don't love them anyway (as in not taking or giving disrespect, I'm not talking about "respecting" "authority," titles, etc.), try to understand their reasons for doing wrong - but not accept it, not allow yourself or others, or the earth, etc., to be stomped on. I think what sounds beautiful is actually often practical.
Hope comments ...
Frederick Dsouza comments…
‘Nobodys following the above is the proof god do not exist. This is made up stories by elite (white collar criminals) who give others the bible to follow but they themselves will keep the arms’
Just wanted to highlight a few themes from the bible:
‘Die to the self’ – if a few more of us did that, died to our own ideas, our own selfish behaviours, ambitions, wouldn’t the world be a better place for us all?
‘Love’ – is patient and kind, doesn’t keep a record of what we have done wrong, it isn’t easily angered, rejoices in truth, don’t know about anyone else, but I’m up for that!!
Forgiveness – if we hold anger, resentment, or unforgiveness in our heart the only one it hurts is us. We all need to let go of the negative emotions, or they cripple us and our actions are routed in that anger and unforgiveness.
Grace – the love and acceptance we are shown, when we least deserve it – don’t know about anyone else here but I certainly ain’t perfect!!!!
I ‘d like to end with a story about one man who made a difference......
In the late fourth century there was a monk called Telemachus. He had determined to leave the world and to live all alone in prayer, meditation and fasting. In his lonely life he sought nothing but contact with God, but always felt that something wasn’t quite right. One day it dawned on him that his life was based, not on a self-less, but a selfish love of God, and if he wanted to serve God, he must serve man. He determined to bid farewell to the desert and head for the greatest city in the world – Rome. Telemachus made his way to the amphitheatre, eighty thousand people were there, watching as the gladiators prepared to fight. Telemachus was appalled and leapt the barrier, he was between the gladiators, and for a moment they stopped. ‘Let the games go on’ roared the crowd. The gladiators pushed the old man aside, again he came between them. The crowd hurled stones at him, they urged the gladiators to kill him. The commander gave the order and Telemachus lay dead.
The crowd fell silent, they were suddenly shocked that a holy man had been killed in such a way, there was a sudden realisation of what this killing was all about. The games ended abruptly, and never began again.
sue comments ...
You sound like a wonderfully evolutionary man Mark, seeing a need for change and wanting to grow it. Many of us are feeling the evolutionary shift that is happening at this time, our hearts longing for the unification of humanity, i am you and you are me, why would i want to harm you!! I want so much to live without money and love the Zeitgeist movement's idea of a resource based economy. You're an inspiration Mark, wish i could be as much of an agent of evolution as you are being just now :) thank you
frantasia comments ...
Some very interesting comments from different people.
Changing the world:
When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world. I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to change my nation. When I found I couldn’t change the nation, I began to focus on my town. I couldn’t change the town and as an older man, I tried to change my family.
Now, as an old man, I realize the only thing I can change is myself, and suddenly I realize that if long ago I had changed myself, I could have made an impact on my family. My family and I could have made an impact on our town. Their impact could have changed the nation and I could indeed have changed the world.
-unknown monk 1100A.D
“As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world – that is the myth of the atomic age – as in being able to remake ourselves.”
EconomicDemocracy DotOrg comments ...
You claim to seek out new paradigms but are stuck in old ones. First, you use a violent "teaser" to get us to click through to the full article, asking if we should murder marketers. If the ends justified the means....but they don't, the "ends" of getting more readers does not justify your assault on our minds by putting more violent images into our minds, as if we don't get enough of those. ("but it worked! you're reading this" Re-read what I just said about ends don't justify the means. Secondly, I'm done with your website, I'm done with you, I'm not returning for at least a year until next summer, if not longer. So it didn't work)
I said you were stuck in the old paradigm - or rather an old paradism. That is the same exact tone and rhetoric I've seen over and over again in 100 other activist pages, namely the brutal verbal attack on everyone, I guess that's your way to try to wake people up, and to disguise, it you verbally brutalize yourself first..you say you didn't give a damn about the planet. I call Bullsh*t. I can't get into your mind or prove anything but 95 times out of 100, it's not that peole "only wanted an excuse to keep civilization doing" they wanted to reduce suffering, reduce damage, they didn't want to keep a sick system going, they just were blind to how their solution was only very partial and imperfect, at best.
They didn't come at it from a "arrogant" view point, they were and are (in their imperfect ways) trying to do the moral thing, the altruistic thing, the loving thing. They are not people who only "care about me [themselves] and feeling good" That's bullsh*t, and I say that as someone who sees at least as many flaws in their liberal "within the existing paradigm" very very limited notions of solutions. But it's not only verbally brutal, it's FALSE. You are saying FALSE things about their intentions. Their intentions are good. If you can't even admit that, you're coming from a point of rage, of anger, if not hate, to the extreme point there you're not just unkind, you're actually blind to the truth. And I've seen so many folks (whatever you use to label yourself and your activism) who I share the same values with, do exactly this. Derrick is just one of the more extreme examples. There are countless others.
If you want to mourn something else, mourn also (in addition to correctly mourning the state and likely future of our planet) mourn also the human tendency (not general "human" but withing the existing early 21st century state of culture, which is at the toddler state if that)...mourn that we have the tendency to follow those who make the strongest emotional appeal, that's why folks like Michael Ruppert on Peak oil had so many listeners..not that he was more accurate, he was less accurate (he GUARANTEED us that if Bush was re-elected in 2004, there would be a nation-wide military draft..and similarly with peak oil) his overall message and values were correct, but others were correct too. Others did not add exaggeration to the same extent, but his exaggerations and outright distortions and false predictions were more EMOTIONALLY potent, hence lots of followers...same goes for a long, long, long list of activists including Derrick..he's not more accurate, he's less accurate, but his RAGE and "you're all just a bunch of selfish arrogant @##%s" just emotionally FEELS good and he writes well, that combination means lots of followers. Same with Matthew Simmons on peak oil when he got more and more followers by saying things that are LESS accurate but FELT emotionally good. Same with James Lovelock..again he's accurate on the basics, and no one is more concerns about climate radical destabilization than I am, but then he gets quoted more by making more extreme and INACCURATE but emotionally appealing claims..(which the rightwing and establishment LOVE since they say "see the whole evinronmental movement thinks that in 89 we'll go from 7+ billion to 0.5 billion, the rest dead..see? they are nuts, ignore all their other warnings (even the ones that ARE accurate)"
same with Ward Churchill..not, not his statements about 9/11 but decades earlier when in Z magazine he claimed a sustainable global human population was something like 1 million (for the entire planet!)...again, we all know 7 billion is not good, and we know we must decrease..but who gets more popular? Those with the most accurate claims? No..those who have good writing and rhetorical skills and UNfortunately too often (not always) those who combine it with "emotionally potent over-simplifications" (not just government elites do this, also activists do it)..who make extreme statements about
I admire the efforts and much of the values of both of these people and even Derrick, but the list is long. You're being sucked into it. I've given enough examples to see the "line" you are falling into. You are moving to the Dark Side telling us to murder marketers even as a joke to get us to click on the full story..then a truly humanity-hating view of "arrogant" folks who "just want to feel good" I have some liberal and even middle of the road friends, and I strongly disagree with their "solutions" but I will tell you, these are not arrogant, evil, selfish, "I just want an excuse to feel good" people..they are trying to feed their families and survive, they overwork, and barely get enough sleep or have time to research the facts, etc etc, but they are not as you paint them.
I leave you with this quote from Julie "Butterfly" Hill who the timber companies tried to push out of her tree-sit for weeks and weeks..and almost killed her...storms and helicoper's winds almost pushed her off..but she said in a talk: "if all I had inside me was hate for them, I would not have made it..I would have lost..it was only LOVE for the values I believe in" that kept her going. You my friend are in the dark side or close to it, of a bitter, bitter angry, rage filled person...I feel that way too sometimes..I try not to write "analysis" pieces when I'm too much under that influence, of I too would make false and inaccurate (not just un-Ghandi like) comments.
Shaina comments ...
I wish that more people would 'wake up' and start thinking about LIFE. But it is too comfortable too live oblivious. Truth is a too difficult and complicated subject. Violence is not an answer. We and the earth itself will and have to create situatiuons for people to Expirience truth. Self! Thank you for sharing, really enjoy your blogs!
Peter comments ...
There is also the Buddhist teaching that permits killing a person intent on taking life in order to save lives. Taking a life is never a good thing, but it becomes an understandable thing, a "less-evil" thing, if by taking that life, many other lives are saved.
Alan Twiddy comments ...
I have been reading Derrick Jensens' work for
years, and am A great admirer of him. I was wondering if you are familiar with The 'Deep Green
Resistance' movement that he has started
with two other writers & philosophers. It
really will take things another step forward to
bringing this appalling system down?
Janet McFall comments ...
I get where you're coming from, I really do.
The problem really is that all we can ever hope to change is how we personally behave and interact with the planet, other people, etc. If, like Ghandi, our own behaviour inspires others then great, if not then where does that leave us?
Of course while lots of us are looking for ways to live in harmony with our environment and the other species we share it with the harsh truth is that millions of people couldn't give a flying f*ck. That's what we need to address to change things, why don't they care? And how can we change that?
Thanks Mark for asking the difficult questions and getting us all thinking!
KatHodgkinson comments ...
Those of us who understand this human predicament need to take huge strides and big leaps . . to make the changes we want to see. Time is of the essence. Take whatever steps you can right now!
Whether they are baby steps or huge strides, do not hesitate to move forward now! We are destroying precious resources that future generations will depend on and thrive on.
Awareness is key . . as are connections between like-minded individuals. Revolution? Yes, we need drastic change. Must we form armies of Soldiers of Peace? Yes. As Margaret Mead said, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has."
Violence? No! Again, Margaret Mead, "No society that feeds its children on tales of successful violence, can expect them not to believe that violence in the end is rewarded."
But we need to be fearless, bold and relentless . . like soldiers, taking huge strides. We must walk this EVER FINE LINE of being aggressive and peaceful at the same time.
Sometimes we want to stop and question whether our actions are really making a difference. My advice: don't stop, don't question, just KNOW that you are making a difference.
non2ality comments ...
I was just inspired to start a blog about revolution because it appears that that is where we are in our time. I created a list of things I did not want to do and one of them was pay rent or a mortgage. In a search for living without money i came across this blog! cool! Here is my first blog called Share The Revolution : http://sharetherevolutioncom.blogspot.com/2011/08/share-revolution.html I want to mention this blog in my blog. I love this site. Can the culture end peacefully?? That is what I am exploring on my blog--how to transition and peacefully.
mark comments ...
Just like many people, and i'm sure yourself, I have found it easier to interact with people and share ideas when I lived in a different place than where I grew up.
Would you not agree that your way of living now is easier done than if you tried living without money where you were born? Please discuss....
James comments ...
It seems that if we look at ourselves from a different perspective say the level of our cellular existence, then various different molecules of emotion are contantly influencing us in a rainbow of different ways, impulses towards violence flashing up and then down. As our bodies seem to burn fiercly with a metabolic love and peacefully assert their right to thrive on the world even as they consume invading microorganisms and destroy dying cells, perhaps too the synchronisation we see within our bodies is occuring beyond us, as part of the greater organsim of Gaia. It seems that in conciously choosing violence with my head I might be falling victim to a tiny vision of what is unfolding within and around me and yet the vitality that we propogate through our bodies and the synchronisation we seem to move towards when we are fully embodied and listen to our hearts offer me hope that this non-passive love of being itself is fierce enough for our purposes.
P comments ...
Reading more comments, and rereading my own, my statement "It is possible, under some circumstances anyway, to get people to stop doing things that are wrong, harmful, unacceptable, without using violence" sounds outrageous, as if I'm saying that violence is normally the only thing that can stop people from doing harm. What I really think is that violence, and even force, is only worth doing or using in an urgent situation, when your own life or the lives of others are in urgent danger (which is to say when it is - maybe - necessary).
What EconomicDemocracy said about most people having good intentions but partial and imperfect solutions rings right on to me, and applies to so many things I think.
I don't think you can really address a problem unless and until you see it accurately, or as accurately as possible. And I think most people want and mean to do right. The problem, I think, is they're thinking "inside the box" - They still mostly believe in or go along with the conventional ways of doing and looking at things. Not because they just like conventional and want to be conventional, but because they don't know yet or haven't seen yet that there's anything outside that, that there are choices outside of that... that you can make new ones.
And I think - on account of the culture that most of us are raised in, which teaches us from the beginning to do as we're told, that it isn't our place to think or make meaning but to allow the culture, "authority," "teachers," "bosses," "experts," to do that, and that the way things are is OK or as it should be at the fundamental level and you only have certain "right" band-aid choices where fixes or improving things are concerned - This culture is disempowering, alienates people from themselves, and prevents them from changing and making powerful changes.
empty pages learnt by memory comments ...
The tides are changing. A
by Byron King on August 25 2011, @07:41 am
The tides are changing. A storm is swelling.
In real-time. Off shore and abroad.
Global revolution is real. It is now.
Led by a spring of youth who feel misled.
Who have gotten degrees and don't want to beg?
Steeped in debt they want jobs and to be fed.
As the global economy teeters on the edge.
A cliff so high no one can see the end.
What do we need to save us?
Many would think masked men.
A group of unknown hackers with no friends.
Digital heroes grown from the comic books they read.
A mythos grown from the movies they defend.
You can see it in the streets.
You can read it online.
A storm is brewing that knows no borders.
Clicktivist ready to protest with their bodies.
Against the tyranny their parents built.
Against the freedoms for which so much blood was spilt.
Forgive them, for they know not what they do.
They do not see the decades of social justice work done for me and you.
They do not feel the freedom they so easily abuse.
They see unemployment lines and dead end jobs.
They see all the broken promises Western culture robbed.
They do not remember from which we came.
The struggles of hard labor so many generations made.
For instant gratification is what they have been force fed.
They do not see the opportunity from the books they read.
For they live in status updates.
They tweet and retweet to their mates
A flock of birds who fly to beat
The drum of a revolution.
Coming to a neighborhood near you.
empty pages learnt by memory comments ...
In the wake of two, effective and sustained revolutionary street actions in Tunisia and Egypt the only thought Good British can muster--relative to their own repression, evisceration and complicity--is: we won't do anything.
Newsflash: there is no hip, cool, green-and-groovy, pain-free, violence-free, sacrifice-free way to revolt!
This post and subsequent commentary are profoundly sad because they manifest how thoroughly and completely we have been manipulated, commodified and terrorized.
"Not violently but naturally."?
What planet, universe and reality do you inhabit?
Since when is Nature non-violent?
What you are all really expressing herein is that you're comfortable in your dominated complicity. The nightmare of the British dream works for you and you have no intention of rocking the boat.
Why take the risk of being counted in the streets when you can publish magazines and we can post comments.
That's the extent of our revolutionary aspirations: period, end of story.
Future history will not treat us kindly, as well it should not, for our crimes are legion.
I have met the enemy and s/he is us.
I add one more line to Orwell's infamous three:
War is peace
Freedom is slavery
Ignorance is strength
Complicity is innocence
Under the spreading chestnut tree
I sold you and you sold me.
There lie they, and here lie we
Under the spreading chestnut tree.
To the ones who feel theirs arses are becoming flat for too much sitting check this out:
#OCCUPYBANKOFENGLAND in London, UK
Adrien comments ...
I do believe there needs to be a global (r)evolution for ending this culture for a more emphatic, free culture and I believe it will be peaceful if possible, violent if necessary but with the support of a global consciousness movement, otherwise its not going to do much.
The internet is giving some hope, because we can communicate and organize globally which I think will be needed if we hope to achieve any meaningful lasting change.
I'm in the Zeitgeist Movement, a global movement for sustainability, and it is heartwarming to see so many people in support of the cause.
However I make no illusion, we are nowhere near global support for a new socio-economic system based on sustainability and well-being.
All we can really do now is push this direction , full force, to more people and hope for the best.
curbina comments ...
Just thought this news might be of interest to this discussion: A family in Devon that is living off the grid in 400 sq meters is being forced to abandon it's live style under threat of imprisonment.
A COUPLE living an "off-grid" lifestyle say they face prison unless they move from their own land in Willand and return to an existence in the benefits trap.
Stig and Dinah Mason bought Muxbeare Orchard after a sudden windfall allowed them to quit their impoverished lives on a Hertfordshire council estate two years ago.
Dinah and Stig Mason with sons Yosse, 8, and Dahli, 9, and Moo the dog at their lorry home MARCUS THOMPSON EXMT20110614F-003_C
The Masons have transformed what they described as a derelict four-acre plot into a haven of self-sufficiency boasting a 400 sq m allotment, a polytunnel and greenhouses to grow fruit and vegetables, chickens for egg production and an orchard they have regenerated by planting around 14 new apple trees of various species.
The couple, who have two boys, aged eight and nine, say because they moved onto the site in order to work the land, Mid Devon District Council is turfing them off as officers do not consider them to be conserving an agricultural area.
They faced magistrates on March 31 when they were served with an injunction to leave within 28 days from June 1.
Dinah, 35, who spent a year with her husband clearing four-foot high nettles and thistles which engulfed the four-acre site, said: "How anybody can say the orchard was being conserved before is beyond my comprehension."
Dinah works while Stig, 34, as well as making sure the children get to school on time, tends to the land on a daily basis where peas, potatoes, garlic, strawberries, raspberries and various produce have been growing since 2009.
Vegetarians Stig and Dinah claim council officers offered them bed and breakfast accommodation in Cullompton at taxpayers' expense and suggested they live on take aways, which are likely to cost around £20 for each family meal.
Dinah's income currently provides the family with everything they need which they cannot grow themselves but is unlikely to stretch to cover kennelling costs for their dog, Moo.
They say they currently receive no state hand-outs but by giving up their "off grid" way of life, they fear they will end up in a council house, claiming housing and council tax benefits, as well as seeking grants to help pay for high utility bills.
Stig, chairman of the Willand Composting Scheme and a member of the primary school's PTFA, sells eggs, produce, and hopefully cider in the future but explained that planning permission to live and work on the land was refused in 2009 which they are appealing against.
He said one of the council's reasons for refusal was based on a belief the couple had did not have a "sound enough business plan."
As well as plans to sell more produce locally, the couple say it is only likely to take them a further two years to get to a stage where they will be able to grow six to eight months' worth of vegetables.
Dinah, who is a community care worker, cub leader and also a member of the PTFA, said: "To live in an agricultural area you need to have a financial need, but this gives us enough to live on, but our whole ethos is not about making money.
"The council is saying by us living here it becomes mixed-use and is therefore no longer deemed agricultural."
Dinah was bequeathed money from the sudden death of her aunt and £47,000 was spent on the land to create the smallholding where wood burners and solar panels provide their energy needs.
Dinah said removing them from their land will render them homeless and is concerned they will have to pull their children out of Willand Primary School if they have to move out of the area.
But several people from across the country have written to the council in support of the family's retention.
Anne Wallington, whose family has had an interest in the village for 44 years, wrote to the council in support of the Masons by praising their hard work in reclaiming what was "rapidly becoming derelict land." David Thompson, who also lives in the village, said "they are trying to live up to the Government's pledge to take better care of the environment and this is the last orchard in the vicinity of Willand."
John Clarke, planning enforcement officer, said: "To get planning permission to move onto agricultural land, you have to prove first there is a need for someone to live there, for example, to tend livestock and look after crops, and second, that the enterprise can provide living income for at least one worker.
"Neither condition was met and therefore took the necessary action to protect the nature of the rural landscape and prevent unlawful habitation."
The council said it cannot comment on individual cases of housing need and said bed and breakfast accommodation is offered if people are homeless.
Click on the links below for more stories and reaction on Stig and Dinah Mason...
Father's plea for 'carbon neutral' couple rejected
Carbon-neutral couple's case 'is not exceptional'
Father writes in support of 'off-grid' family facing eviction from their own land
So can I take over a field?
We can learn from Masons
Appalling that such hard work should go to waste
A better life is in our power
Oceanic comments ...
The question isn't really: "Should you be violent or non violent?" The question is: What works?...and further: Which strategy is most elegant / least costly? The answer to this will be different in each situation. Front line tactics in emergency situations will be different from long term, general strategy.
There is also the question of what your motivation is. If your acting from fear or anger, your judgement is likely to be impaired.
In general, my observation has been that in the West violent protest is counter productive because of the ignorance/moral judgements of the masses and the way the media works. A good violent outburst gives 'the powers' a nice little scapegoat to use as a distraction technique whenever the general public comes close to waking up to an issue.
Ultimately, many strategies are required. Working on self, working on community, working on releasing our addictions, working on education and information dissemination, working on effective protest and non cooperation... all of these are required to bring about the change.
As far as i can see, we need cool headed, heart led, honest, authentic, courageous, flexible leadership. We need dogged determination, brutal self honesty and to set an example that folks will be inspired to follow. Ultimately, we need to come to terms with reality as it is....the human race MAY be headed for extinction and taking billions of other souls with it. Grieving for this reality frees up a lot of energy for other work.
Efficiency and progress is ours once more
Now that we have the Neutron bomb
It's nice and quick and clean and gets things done
Away with excess enemy
But no less value to property
No sense in war but perfect sense at home:
The sun beams down on a brand new day
No more welfare tax to pay
Unsightly slums gone up in flashing light
Jobless millions whisked away
At last we have more room to play
All systems go to kill the poor tonight
Kill kill kill kill Kill the poor:Tonight
Behold the sparkle of champagne
The crime rate's gone
Feel free again
O' life's a dream with you, Miss Lily White
Jane Fonda on the screen today
Convinced the liberals it's okay
So let's get dressed and dance away the night
Kill kill kill kill Kill the poor:Tonight
KatHodgkinson comments ...
So yeah, it seems like these problems that we face as humans . . are so huge and impossible to fix or change. It appears that most nations are very far apart. It seems like we (as friends even on this blog) are so far apart that we could never pull together to make the necessary changes, let alone start a revolution. It seems like we're so far apart, but really we're not.
I was sitting at my kitchen table looking to the east (from southwest US). There's a bunch of land between me and the ocean, but just right past that ocean is another huge land mass. . . where lots and lots of hungry people live. Hungry people with no clean water and no medical care. They aren't that far away from me.
And right in my own back yard, missiles and bombs are being tested. Wealthy people are soaking up their riches and luxuries. Also, a commercial space station is being built, which will offer recreational trips to space. Imagine all of the fuel and natural resources that will be used to offer "enjoyable trips to space" to just a few of the wealthy "haves" while there are millions of starving "have nots" just past the ocean from me. Such disparity.
Wow, people need to wake up. We claim to be so intelligent and loving. What's up that we can't feed everybody? I don't get it. The answer is . . we're not that smart and we're not that giving.
We don't even know where our food or our products come from. We don't know what people's hands worked for them and touched them. We don't know what ingredients are in them or what injustices were caused in the process of getting them. We're too lazy or too busy to find out. To top it all off, we're tremendously wasteful.
Man, I just keep thinking about everything the corporate hogs who sponsor the commercials on TV are feeding me. They keep telling me everything that I need to buy and everything that I need to have, including trying to convince me that I have illnesses and disorders that I need special medications for.
I'm tired of the b.s. I'm tired of being deceived. I'm not comfortable turning a blind eye anymore. I don't want to buy into it anymore. Tonight I'm really disgusted and disappointed, but for once I feel free. I've heard it said . . the truth shall set you free.
DG comments ...
To the best of my knowledge and belief, humans are the first species to ever walk this earth and even *consider* sharing it more fairly with other species. The fact that enough of us are well-cared for enough to be able to devote time and resources into such projects is entirely due to the sophisticated "system" you seem to want destroyed. It is not a perfect system. It needs work; it needs to evolve to be better. This will not be achieved by idiot extremists of *any* variety smashing things up and killing people in order to impose their "correct" way of living on the rest of the planet.
If you really want to change things, perhaps you need to stop cutting yourself off from "the system" and start working - REALLY working - to change it. Get elected. If that means wearing a suit and tie and learning some PR skills, so what? Is your sense of self-identity so precious that you can't sacrifice an ounce of it for the good of the planet?
This is the first time I've read this blog since hearing about the (very good) idea of community tool sharing etc. I am bitterly disappointed to find it run by a potentially violent misanthrope.
Jeff comments ...
Great blog Mark. I am against violent revolution. Nothing can be solved through violence. The example of the rapist was interesting though possibly misleading. The violence required to stop the rapist is not intended to shift the consciousness of the rapist. It is a non cognitive reaction based on instinct. A more appropriate example would be whether or not a violent reprimand/harsh prison sentence would be more effective versus a program of education and supportive reintegration. Until we shift the consciousness there will be no real change. Violence to stop violence only lowers the consciousness of all involved.
Fear is underlying all that is wrong in the world. Violence is always reactionary and stems from a place of fear. This is the conscious shift that is happening - away from reaction and toward conscious action.
Ant comments ...
I'm surprised that no-one has mentioned Anna Hazare and his fasting. Whether or not you agree with his aims (and whether or not he is ultimately successful) surely his recent actions have shown the power of non-violent action in the modern world. In fact, perhaps the superior effectiveness of non-violence over violence.
Black Elk comments ...
I appreciate the rawness of this post and the fact that you are seriously wrestling with some your own limitations and the contradictions in what you are trying to achieve. Clearly you are at a point of deep frustration, and as others have said here, not without reason.
I do think, along with Rachel from Brisbane, that in this post you are arguing from a perspective that is unhelpfully dualistic. To go briefly to your rapist analogy. The decision one would make, in such a situation, would not be one the person would know or decide beforehand. It would be a response to a particular situation, certainly connected to the character of the person undertaking the action or inaction, but not a decision of principle. The problem with most discussions on violence/nonviolence is that they take the form of arguments on principles. Life is more than a set of principles. a particular example of this at work can be seen in the life of the theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a person who like yourself had been influenced by Gandhi and considered himself a pacifist, but nevertheless was a part of an attempt to assassinate Adolph Hitler. Not, mind you, because he thought it was the right thing to do, or even because he thought it would be effective, but because in the situation he was in it was a way that he could try to respond faithfully in the face of the horror around him.
For Bonhoeffer ethics was always about responsibility, understood in the sense that we are creatures who have a very limited control and very limited perspective and can only act by means of responding to the concrete situations and events of life. This does not mean that we can't or shouldn't plan for the future and take into account the myriad ways in which we influence and shape the world. But what we cannot control the future. We cannot save the planet, we can only act more or less faithfully in the dim light of obscure knowledge. So to answer your question does there need to be a revolution? Absolutely. Will it be violent? Yes, there is violent inherent in the systems of life we have created and nurtured. There may be violence in their undoing. But at a deeper level, there needs to be a revolution against violence.
Back to the Bill Hicks scenario. What was he supposed to have "taken them out" with? A gun? Should we be supporting weapons and munitions makers as somehow less destructive to the planet than marketeers? What end would it serve, anyway, killing somebody like that? Especially since, as you say, we are embedded in systems of repression, violence, and abuse.
Along those lines, I think you're wrong to posit a collective entity of "humans" as responsible for the destruction of the planet. The idea that those commanding and engineering the American War Machine, for example, have anything in common with the miners in Congo -who are daily subjected to murder and starvation so that we can have cobalt to run our internet devices - is thoroughly disgusting. We, you and I and everyone on this post, share commonalities with those warmongers - by virtue of our birth, our use of the internet, our embeddedness in systems of oppression. Surely we deserve death as much as Bill Hicks' advertisers.
Yet, as your own journey has shown, there can be a capacity, even in our broken lives, for much goodness and redemption. Your encounter with Gandhi has led to a sort of fidelity that has bourne fruit in your life and in that of others. You have seen the hegemony of money for a hoax. You have inspired courage and hope. You have not saved the planet, but you have learned that you are a part of her. You have learned that her death is your death, her suffering is your pain.
Humanity is a child of Mother Earth, with a peculiar awareness and a peculiar failing. The gift and curse of language, of being able to perceive ourselves as separated from our environment. It is a curse, clearly, because of the enormity of misunderstanding, of hurt and alienation. It is a gift because it endows us with a conscious responsibility towards others - towards all life.
Does this entail a particular responsibility towards human life? Earlier I critiqued your lumping together of humans in terms of responsibility. Not every person of the human species has the same responsibilities because there are many disparate situations, and what it means to support life does not always look the same. But if we are to continue with the theme of nature, then every species has a certain responsibility for its own kind, and in nearly all species this enacts what may be considered violence against others. Of course if we look at the bigger picture these relationships all maintain a certain equilibrium. There is death, but that death brings forth life. Yet our historic interventions and blunders have changed even that equilibrium. Plants and animals have entered domains where they have no natural predators and so they have surplanted and usurped space. Now we could read this through the Darwinian mythos of "survival of the fittest" or we could recognize a contingent error - a lack of understanding of what properly constitutes good life in a certain place- and live and respond to the consequences of these decisions with the humility, patience, and hard work necessitated. The epoch they called the Enlightenment was a time of great darkness, much knowledge was lost. It will take time, patience, labour to relearn it. To learn especially, to love.
Perhaps we will die. Perhaps we will face annihilation. We are guilty of great sin and of much that is shameful. To atone for it - to fix it - will take at least all the wisdom and courage we can muster. We may still fail. Let it not be that we did not try.
frantasia comments ...
To Black Elk:
I found your piece to be well put-together and interesting to read.
Thanks for a thoughtful and thought-provoking post.
Frank Anthony comments ...
Revolution; peaceful, violent or otherwise, takes place in the human sphere and, more importantly, in the human mind. In terms of the universe and being, it is irrelevant.
What is happening on Earth may be unsightly, unscrupulous, unsustainable and deadly, but it is natural. Human beings are not doing anything different from bees with their stings and hives or locusts devouring fields - life is a war (see Bhagavad Gita).
Mankind is bent upon it's own destruction and success seems imminent. More species have died prior to humanity's reign than will die during it. Death (and Birth) whether of species or individuals, comes in its own time and is adept at finding it's own agent - it does not require us.
Gandhi is right when he says "be the change you wish to see". Changing ourselves is the greatest thing we can do and our most powerful message. One small non-violent man bested a superpower. What could two small, non-violent people do?
Sometimes, when we feel dispirited and hopeless in the face of struggle, it is because we are taking responsibility for God and for Creation. This is caring and commendable - but it can also be hubris. The answer is to contribute positively and with compassion, remembering that we exist within the universe. We can hope to affect it, but not to control it.
Frederick Dsouza comments ...
Just wondering if Gandhi's struggle would have got independence if world war 2 did not exist or had it not just ended or if united nation was not formed. I guess people of the world was fed up of bloodshed after ww2 and hence the timing of Gandhi's struggle went on his favor or else India would have been like south Africa eventually gaining independence few decades later.
Harald comments ...
There's absolutely no doubt in my mind that we can transform this world into a sustainable world without pollution, killing, war, crimes, and the likes.
We humans have enormous capabilities when it comes to both compassion and ingenuity.
What needs to go is our monetary system, not humans. Humans have been allured into believing that money is actually needed in this world, while it is only a filter between humans and humans, and between humans and the environment.
With the profit motive out of the way, we could actually start to truly share and give to each other, and focus all our energy on creating an abundant and ever lasting sustainable world for everyone, including the plant and animals life, and the planet itself.
This is no hokus pokus. It is not magic. We, humans, are not separated from this world. We are a part of nature just as much as all other animals and plants. Yes, we have been behaving in a pathogenic way for centuries.
And what lies behind it? Two things. Money and religion. Religion has effectively removed 'God' from nature and made people powerless. Put money and ownership into the mix, and you have a recipe for war, strife and all that we see today. People competing with each other for perceived scarce resources.
The truth is that with the right management, a sharing and giving mind, and 'God' back in nature, we can transform the whole planet in a matter of a decade.
We can build new 100% sustainable cities, and we can create a world of joy for everyone. We need visionaries, not doomsday prophets.
"My feeling is the system will destroy itself... so there really is no need for violence as humans are not the only agent of change."
Itself, and everything else with it. I think it takes a degree of wilful blindness not to come to this concussion.
No one has been held accountable for the financial criss the BP oil spill (still ongoing with increased non-fixable tears in the sea bed), the never-ending wars in the middle east, and the continued assault on the natural world.
Wikileaks? Anonymous? What has come of the Wikileaks? Absolutely nothing, yes you can watch an Apache gun down civilians in Iraq online. What has it changed? Nothing. This still happens. Most MSM has forgotten the story; along with Fukushima etc. etc.
Please stop passing the buck, no one is coming to your rescue. Most people don't care. The passivity on these comments is staggering. Robin-hoods? All we need is love? Insanely infantile and completely devoid of reality.
oh ya, Bill Hick most certainly wasn't joking. Watch the clip.
Its unreal TAKE A LOOK AROUND! The same people run things who always have. The only way they'll stop is if me make them.
clare stone comments ...
I am interested to get your point of view of how and end to civilisation would mean and end to violence. I imagine it might be a different sort of violence but on the whole would think that the instinct of survival of the fittest/human and animal nature would the same if not more violence, with the weakest at most risk, without the structures of civilisation to protect the vulnerable. Am I missing the point?
Stevensonopolis comments ...
I do no believe that there will be a non-violent revolution, the "powers" that are in place have done a "fantastic" job of mind control that most people are unaware that there is anything other than what is already in place. People now believe that what they have been taught are "their" beliefs, and that they have a "given right" to uphold them at any cost. Unless everyone (or a large portion) decide that they no longer want this circle of death to continue. We would need to flat out boycott the systems that are in place. This ofcourse would cause a crash of the current systems. Before, during, and after the "crash" people would need to create their own "safe" circles in which they could survive until the whole system crash is complete. Then they would have to branch out slowly creating larger circles with relative and similar interests. Or something along those lines. Like anybody else, I dont have the answers, just bits and pieces of what swirls through my mind. But I'll end with a good quote that I think goes well with this post, and says a lot for humanity as we know it.
"The ultimate tyranny in a society is not control by martial law (visible force). It is control by the psychological manipulation of consciousness, through which reality is defined so that those who exist whithin it do not even realize that they are in prison. They do not even realize that there is something outside of where they exist."
Tomi Astikainen comments ...
You said "The alternative is fooling yourself that growing a few tomatoes, or setting up a moneyless village, or organising a petition against factory farm is going to create the level of required change. It's not... They're just one half of the solution."
Dude, maybe you have been paying too much attention to changing the external reality. You cannot change it. You can't even directly change other people. What you can do is to change yourself.
I feel that you are coming to a very important dead-end in life, where you have to ask yourself this kind of profound questions you are posing. You might make it sound like you are angry at others, although you are, in fact, angry at yourself.
Seek the spiritual path, bro! Let nature help you on your way. Concentrate on what's your potential within. If you change your consciousness, you change the world's consciousness. The advertising people are, in the end, one with us. Be responsible.
If you want I'll pay you a visit in early November and we discuss this more. Don't be alone with your grim thoughts.
Love and light,
Tomi Astikainen comments ...
Kinda forgot the punchline:
Yeah, probably most of the people on this planet will die prematurely... and probably very soon. So?
It's only a negative disaster if this physical reality is all that you think is real. Wake up to see what's the whole spectrum of life... to see "what is" as it is.
You are not alone.
Tomi Astikainen comments ...
Uh, bloody hell, now that I read my comments again, I would even disagree with myself. Words are too easy to misinterpret. Could we just stop using them, m'kay?*
What I kinda meant to say is that we shouldn't be so overly concerned what happens in the physical plane. As you might know, there are other planes of reality that are showing interesting signs of "development", and people are one by one waking up to notice this. So, even if we would manage to kill each other off with whatever the means of violence, the end result might still be some sort of a mass enlightenment, resurrection or whatever you want to call it.
For me nature worked as a teacher some six months ago when I tried mushrooms. It opened up my perception drastically, made life on this planet even more curious and full of wonder, and pushed me to question many of my preconceived notions. And no, I don't use this kind of stimulants every day, I don't meditate. I just live and observe.
*Please respond telepathically
Jason Olshefsky comments ...
Your writing inspires a thousand ideas at once, but I'll try to make sense of as much as I can.
Low-hanging fruit is "violence" as a word. My take is to stop using it and see if you can make sense. I think it covers things like killing people, hurting people, destroying things, and breaking things. It's kind of incomplete, though because is it violent to dismantle a corporation? It seems the word violence, at least to me, necessarily requires the hierarchy of what you speak and is "harming someone or some thing 'higher' on the hierarchy". As such, I think the average person would disagree with "it is violent to pay workers less than a living wage", although it is harming another person; whereas the average person would agree, "it is violent for a worker to sabotage their employer's equipment", even if that sabotage is to prevent other people from being harmed by, say, inadequate safety equipment. Violence, therefore, is a poisonous word to use as a measure of one's own behavior — any attempt to change the system is an attempt to damage it, and therefore necessarily violent. Non-violent revolution, therefore, is sort of double-speak for impotence.
What I think is at the root of our problems is that we humans must first realize we are not as civilized as we think we are.
Yesterday I was talking with a friend of mine who is in the midst of brokeing-up with his longtime lover and friend. We got on the topic of how every single person has strengths and weaknesses, and those sets are different between two people. What is very important to be a healthy adult is to understand what those are, to embrace them as part of your self, and then to actively be the best person you can regardless. If your parents didn't love you the right way and you have low self-esteem, ok: part of your self is that you have low self-esteem. Now what? Do you spend your life wallowing in it, believing you are worth less than other people, or do you accept that you are going to feel that way and live anyway. Sure you'll need to find people who will be tender and compassionate with that weakness, but you have traits that can complement their weaknesses too.
What I'm getting at is that we humans must realize that each one of us is 8-days-starving away from smashing a fellow human over the head with a rock to eat their apple. We are greedy, yet we are social animals too, and naturally share with our own kind. Our big tool-using brains are not smart enough to incorporate all the ramifications of our tool-building actions. (That is, we can turn rocks into metal and build a hammer — each of the incremental steps to do that act is in our grasp — but we can merely comprehend that the iron atoms came from somewhere and are going somewhere else. We do not have the capacity to see the entire lifespan of the hammer and its parts, at least not in the same way as we understand heating the iron and hitting it with a hammer to make the shape we want.)
The thing missing from true growth is to embrace our strengths and weaknesses. That's the path to a sustainable life. The trouble is that by the time you realize what you are and how you affect the world, you've already been alive for several decades at the very least. And by then, damage has already been done.
I don't have a way to teach people younger-and-younger of what they are and what their actions mean. I keep trying to figure it out, and I think everyone else who wants a better world is doing the same thing. Hopefully we'll figure it out together.
It seems my life is leading to a point where I make a new society in place of the one I live in. I'm in America, and it is very difficult to take a step to extricate oneself from cutthroat capitalism. Maybe breaking two words: violence and lazy. Violence as described above. Lazy is the capitalist's insult, yet isn't that what we really want: to do less work? Lazy is a GOAL, not a defect. Living simply is lazy, and it is friggin' wonderful. But lazy does not make the economy grow, so it's violent, right?
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Roslyn comments ...
I've always been moved by your depth, courage,committment and radical honesty . You question even your most cherised beliefs and your willingness to take on a core question of this magnitude with its terrifying implications on a public platform is so courageous . I'm sure you've heard this quote from both Jung and Einstein,"the worlds problems can't be solved at the same level of consciousness that created them". What that means to me is that the call is to become fully present and connected to the oneness of all life, no matter what name it's given. From that oneness, that depth of presence the question may be asked, but from that inner spaciousness and yes to all that is, a completely different question may arise . I don't think it's possible for an unconditioned response to emerge without that presence, without connection to our deepest center and clearest guidance. I have no idea what anyone will be called to do from that place, but it will be akin to true wisdom, in which there is no separation, even with what we label as evil. You may be called to take a stand in a way that appears to conflict with your deep committment to nonviolence, but if the guidance is clear the doing may be as natural as breathing. There is a wonderful section in a book I'm sure you've read "Twelve by Twelve" by William Powers (chapter 5, Warrior Presence)that speaks to this question beautifully.
I wish you every possible blessing on the incredibly challanging journey you've chosen in this life. All of us who've had the great fortune to be touched by it, have been truly gifted by you and I will always be grateful.
Roslyn from Washington, USA
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