The End of Human Rights

As we bid goodbye to 2018 – and why wouldn’t we want to? – it is time to take a very brief – we don’t need to look too closely or we might become a little despondent – look at what the past year has been all about.

One thing, above all else, stands out from a crowded year. Human rights. Just about everything that has occurred this year has had at its core the subject of, neglect of, denial of, striving for or abuse of, human rights. I don’t think I need to go into all the specifics of these things. If you don’t agree with my assessment, stop wasting your time, go read somewhere else.

We, as a people today, place great emphasis on the rights of human beings, and consider it of such importance that organisations at all levels of human society have been set up to define and/or enforce what we think of as an unalienable and irrevocable part of our heritage within the human family. Yet the very fact that this has been thought necessary, speaks volumes as to the fragility of our position even amongst ourselves.

I pulled this quote, a brief definition of human rights, from the latest book I am reading, which was the final ‘spark’ I needed to write this piece:

‘…rights to the benefits of culture, to property, to the preservation of health, life, physical integrity, security, and a means of subsistence, and to residence, movement, and inviolability of the home.’

– Lynas, Mark. Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet (p. 75). HarperCollins Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Let us ask ourselves the question: If we require, for peace of mind and physical well-being , such rules of law around our personal rights, enforcible, though quite obviously often ignored, waived, or indeed frequently and rudely stomped on, among the human community, even now, in what is supposed to be an enlightened age of cultural enrichment, economic prosperity and advanced technological progress –

a) How will, or do, we fare as but a small though influential part of the natural world and life of our home planet, when that natural world presents itself as less benign or implacable, and much more forcefully antagonistic to our shared existence here than it has fortuitously been in the recent past of our living memory?

b) How will we fare on this issue in a time when our ‘enlightened age of cultural enrichment, economic prosperity and advanced technological progress’ is somehow removed or ripped away from our grasp and we are plunged into a state of much lowered expectations or even into a ‘survival of the fittest’ situation?

I feel sure you will understand to what I am referring there. The two most pressing of a whole bunch of unwelcome strangers knocking at our door – Climate Change and Imminent Economic Collapse. The former being a now unstoppable inevitability which is even now breaking down the last barriers of natural resistance to thoroughly overwhelm us in the immediate to long term future – like it or not. The latter almost as inevitable because of our innate inability to stop and think about what we are doing, leave alone any possibility that we may unilaterally decide to change our way of life to accept ‘less’. The usual obscene spending spree of the past week, pledges to that thought.

These things, either acting separately or together, will bring to an end once and for all the question of human rights, bringing with them an eventual, perhaps even an abrupt, overturning of all that has come to mean human society and civilisation. And without that overarching structure in place at all levels of human society, the concept of ‘rights’ will have no meaning – at least for a while – and think, if you have any concept of history, how long a struggle it has been to get to where we are today of those issues, and how relatively ineffective that progress is even today.

So, what have we to look forward to, as the page of history turns once more?

Hh-hh-hh-hh-h. (that was a resigned and suppressed – no heaving of either chest or shoulders – chuckle)

Welcome to 2019, which may well be the year that marks the end of human rights.

…and here, from Wondermom Wannabe, and not more than a hint of sarcasm from me, is the opportunity for you to record the highlights of your life – in a free, printable, review of 2018…


Seeing the West as the New (Worse Than) Nazis

While I am sure that many would attempt it, there is actually no-one who could successfully raise a fact-based, logically sound argument against that premise.

If the West, led by America, has its way, the planet we now live on will be turned into a vast prison system where numbers will be forcefully kept down to only sufficient slaves to adequately produce the resource needs of the ruling elite.  There is only one nation, possibly assisted by a few others, that stands solidly in the way of the realisation of such a nightmare.  That nation is Russia.

This would more than adequately explain the exuberant posturing and rabid polemic (mostly false) railed against the Russian Federation by Western government and media alike in recent times.  And, of course, the vast sums the West is prepared to spend (a loosely defined term for ‘raise debt to buy’) on military manpower and munitions to back up (another loosely defined term for ‘use coercively in a threatening way or for sabre-rattling maneuvers’) their attacks on Russia.

So, what does this mean?  What action will Russia take?   What does the West expect  Russia to do?  Capitulate?  Surrender?  Accede to the West’s expectations to rule the world and shape it as it sees fit?  Or call the West’s bluff, as being only a fanciful notion?  Steel its reserve for possibly bolder moves by the West?  How far is Russia prepared to go to preserve its identity?

Someone has already written about this, and no, I don’t mean George Orwell, someone more recently, in the last few days.  And someone else has collaborated to translate that into English to help inform us poor citizens of the West – if we are willing to listen.  You will find this enlightening or simply confirmatory (to already held thoughts) article here: ‘Why Russia Has No Right To Surrender To The West’, or as Google Translate would put it (from the original): ‘Why Russia Does Not Make Sense To Capitulate To The West’

 I will entrust to readers intelligence what they make of that, but I will just make a couple of further statements. One is that I don’t believe, even for a second, that Russia, under President Putin (and for as long as he holds the reins), has any intention of capitulating to the West in any way whatsoever.  I believe he has made that abundantly clear.  The West then has two main options:

  • Continue the overt baiting and demonisation of Russia while waiting for, and covertly working towards, a more opportune moment for a takeover/capitulation.  The downside to this plan is that such a moment may never happen.
  • Push for a flare-up (actually ‘keep’ pushing for a flare-up, since provocation is one of their main games) that will ensure and in their own minds justify a move to open armed conflict, relying on their massive military to somehow bungle and bruise its way to gaining them a superior position (not hopeful, based on their past record – Russia is not Iraq).  The downside of that unlikely outcome is that they could easily end up with nothing – a pyrrhic victory.  President Putin has already made it abundantly clear that, and I paraphrase, “If there is to be no Russia, there will be no ‘anywhere’.” – and he, of all people, has the power to make that happen.

So, where does the ‘worse than Nazis’ thing come into this?  Well, you wouldn’t be asking that question if you had read the linked article.

But, stepping back a little, is this all leaning too much on the worrying side?  Did Solzhenitsyn have the West truly pegged?  Or should we all be ‘ready to die’?

To defend oneself, one must also be ready to die; there is little such readiness in a society raised in the cult of material well-being.

Squaring Up To Face The ‘Ancient Covenant’, or Biting Off More Than I Can Chew?

l return to my blog site, after a rather long break, in order to attempt to answer a self-imposed question that I had no hope of adequately tackling in a social media post.  Have I bitten off more than I can chew?  I can’t answer that until I reach the end of this story but, having now more or less been forced by my own arrogance to face my own inadequacy in the contemplation of deep issues and the shallowness of my own depth of knowledge, coupled with the potential shattering of my own cherished illusions, we shall see.

I will give it my best shot, because the subject, it appears, has far reaching consequences, not only for anyone who may read this, but for my own personal view of myself and the world into which I was born and which we all inhabit.  A world of so many questions, and a search for answers that have largely been obscured by illusions of our own making.  All of  us, throughout time.

So, let’s make a start.  And this all really started with a quotation by an eminent person of the last century, actually a Nobel Laureate, which I read in a book by a prolific author of the current century, actually written in the current year.  Something about that quotation made me jump up and begin to question its basis, little knowing where it would lead.  Here is what it said, and its source:

“The ancient covenant is in pieces; man knows at last that he is alone in the universe’s unfeeling immensity, out of which he emerged only by chance. His destiny is nowhere spelled out, nor is his duty. The kingdom above or the darkness below: it is for him to choose.” —Jacques Monod: Chance and Necessity

This quote represents the final words in the final Chapter of that book, so they were obviously meant to be taken seriously.

Now, Jacques Monod (1910-1976) was a highly respected Nobel Prize-winning French Bio-scientist whose thinking and studies obviously went far beyond the boundaries of Biology and Evolution, the subject of his book – Chance and Necessity: An Essay on the Natural Philosophy of Modern Biology (1971).

I specifically use the term ‘the subject of his book’ because, having read it (I will explain that in a moment), I get the feeling that he was merely using what is the basis of his life’s work – Biology and Evolution – as a familiar medium to convey and explain his profound ideas on the condition of mankind in the context of, to pull in another quote from another author’s work, ‘life, the universe, and everything’.  I love thinking on that level.  It beats by far being caught up and enmeshed in the trivia of everyday life and the idiosyncratic melodramas of personal issues that many of us fail to escape and untangle ourselves from.

Having claimed to have read ‘Chance and Necessity’, a book I was unfamiliar with until the past few days, let me explain.  As with most books that are written with the object of conveying a particular idea which this one, while coevally being a scientific treatise, obviously was, a short-cut to understanding the conveyed premise can usually be utilised.  It is this: A reading of the author’s Preface, Chapter I (to gain a view of the book’s tempo and direction – though in this particular case I would impress the non-technical reader to skip Chapter I in favour of Chapter II), and of course making sure to read the final chapter – where all is usually revealed.  By all means skip lightly (unless enthusiastically intrigued with the subject matter) over the intervening chapters (in this case lingering for a while at Chapters VII and VIII) will usually suffice.

Exhibiting extraordinary openness, the author encourages readers un-engaged with the rather dry subject matter, to do just that – skip over the boring bits.   He really wants more than just scientific minds to get his message.

OK, so now I feel a little more competent to tackle this task.  Let us begin.  At the beginning.

Well, not quite at the beginning but in the latter half of the first sentence of which this quote comprises:

“…man knows at last that he is alone in the universe’s unfeeling immensity, out of which he emerged only by chance.”

‘Man knows that he is alone in the universe’, the immense, unfeeling, bereft of life universe, in which he is the sole sentient denizen, and that by a complete and unrepeatable fluke of nature.  Does man really know that?  Well if we for the moment accept its truth, and the logic of science would indicate that it is true, then why are scientists still looking for life elsewhere and not only that but continually striving to extend their search range further and further out into that immense universe?  I hope to answer that question later.  Meanwhile, it is without doubt that the fact that we are even here at all, even that the whole universe is here at all, or indeed that life chose to spring up on planet Earth, is nothing more than pure chance and that the probabilities of it ever happening are negligible.  Here is some of what Monod says on that:

“Pure chance, absolutely free but blind, at the very root of the stupendous edifice of evolution: this central concept of modern biology is no longer one among other possible or even conceivable hypotheses.  It is today the sole conceivable hypothesis, the only one that squares with observed and tested fact. And nothing warrants the supposition  – or the hope – that on this score our position is ever likely to be revised.”

Later he says:

Monod4 Monod5

Monod has hit on something there – symbolic communication – our learned ability, unique among the life-forms we exist among, although not necessarily unique among the potential capabilities of some of them (so why us?), to communicate ideas between individuals (now so refined that I can talk in this way to you though I may never know who or where you are, or even potentially use the same symbolic language that you do) was the beginning of the end (of the importance at least) of human physical evolution in favour of what is now undoubtedly the major evolutionary driver for humanity – cultural evolution.

I have long thought that we may have passed the pinnacle of our physical evolution and be on the downward path to a physically degenerate species, needing mechanical or automated machine parts to replace some or, eventually, potentially all of our physical frame.  Humanity lost to the machine.  It’s already in some people’s  minds or imaginations.  Is that the way we will exit?

So, the science says that we were not destined to be.  The universe, nor even the world, was designed for or around us.  We, it, that, were all a complete, unexpected and un-forecastable accident of evolutionary nature.  And we, our ancient forebears, somehow managed to rationalise all that under the sheltering umbrella of a covenant of animism (more on that later) which for a long, long time served us very well and formed a basis for our survival.

Then, one day, as Monod suggests, that all changed when:

“Australanthropus or one of his kin managed to express the content of a subjective experience… On that day a new world was born, the world of ideas; and a new evolution, that of culture, became possible. From there on and for a long time, man’s physical evolution must have been intimately connected with and profoundly influenced by the development of the linguistic capacity, which so thoroughly changed the conditions of selection.” 

With the arrival of cultural evolution our cosy (meaning well wrapped up against the harsh realities of life) world of the safety and comfort of the ancient covenant with nature was forever turned upside down.  Man was now able to formulate rules and laws for social cohesion – and also to express questions.

“We are the descendants of such men.  From them we have probably inherited our need for an explanation, the profound disquiet which goads us to search out the meaning of existence.  That same disquiet has created all the myths, all the religions, all the philosophies, and science itself.   (emphasis is mine)

That this imperious need develops spontaneously, that it is inborn, inscribed somewhere in the genetic code, strikes me as beyond doubt.”

Monad has much to say on man’s cultural evolution, mostly in his final chapter which I will include in full at the end of this piece. [Edit – I didn’t do that, but I do provide a link.]

It is important here to realise that with mankind’s evolutionary progression from ancient hominids to modern man, that progression somehow uniquely on Earth drew out in man this ability to express ideas among themselves and the capability to raise, discuss and perhaps answer their own questions and, for those more difficult or unanswerable questions, to set up methods of inquiry, methods of study, to bring more and more understanding around these issues.  Man’s disquiet with lack of knowledge and the growing culture of inquiry came, over time, as Monod says, to create “all the myths, all the religions, all the philosophies, and science itself.”

All of these things, I emphasize, were and are the creation of man, gradually informed by and through his ‘covenant’ and affinity with nature, that being the only point of reference and experience that he had.  And therefore these creations of man were imbued and permeated with those ancient subjective ideas, even those ideas which may have been, in its infancy, labelled as science, until his enquiring and enculturation brought about the formation of objectivity in the scientific method.  Such things persisted, not just ‘until’, but ‘well beyond’ that scientific breakthrough, and are even still very firmly in evidence today.  So strong are those comforting subjective influences and so deeply ingrained into human culture that, generally throughout the world, even among the vast majority of  people in populations which can claim to be educated and living in modern advanced societal cultures, people still prefer to trust in the old forms of animism, broken as the ancient covenant now is in the light of scientific objectivity, than to fully accept the new alternative and all the ideas that it both closes off or offers to open to the receptive mind.  This is one of the major problems facing our world today.  And so intransigent is the issue, that it may never be solved.

With that said, let’s go back to the real beginning, with the phrase, actually the quite explicit statement that:

“The ancient covenant is in pieces”

This, the use of the word ‘covenant’, is the what first drew my interest and raised the first question.  If man is truly alone in the universe, then what is this ‘ancient covenant’?  It takes two parties to make a covenant.  Often such things are recorded to be between gods and men, regents and their subjects, legal contracts between parties.  On the face of it, this doesn’t make sense.  Until we read further – and this being the final paragraph, ‘reading further’ means starting closer to the beginning – actually back to Chapter II.

Dealing with Vitalisms and Animisms, of which for our current purposes we need concern ourselves only with animisms, Chapter II relates how our early ancestors, having found themselves quite by unpredictable accident living in a strange world of nature and looking around them, while trying to understand that world, they saw that every living thing – plants, animals, humans, all had the same major purpose – the need to survive, which of course includes the need to reproduce themselves.  They therefore felt a natural affinity with all of nature, to which they also ascribed the same purpose.  This was the birth of Animism as a comfort and refuge for mankind.  A form of covenant which Monod describes as the ‘Ancient Covenant’:


“Primitve animism,” the author goes on to say, “formulated this hypothesis with complete candour, frankness and precision, populating nature with gracious or awesome myths and myth-figures which have for centuries nourished art and poetry.”


“Animism established a covenant between nature and man, a profound alliance outside of which seems to stretch only terrifying solitude.  Must we break this tie because the postulate of objectivity requires it?”   These are the key words here.  Objectivity forms the basis of science. It has no place in an animistic paradigm.  But science was not yet born, and the ancient covenant reigned supreme and embedded in the hearts and minds of mankind for countless millennia, uncontested.  And it firmly remained so, even after the birth of science.  Even largely also today.  Even, I dare say, though in a more or less weakened form, within my own heart and mind and also those of most all of anyone who reads this.

Yes, while we can acknowledge that with the knowledge we have today, the knowledge brought to us by scientific discovery, that “The ancient covenant is in pieces,” we cannot tear ourselves away completely from, or give up the comforting assurance gained from  the myth, religion, philosophy, of our long time and deep-rooted covenant with nature.

Why?  Because science offers none of those things in return.  No comfort.  No assurance of our own value as a living person.  No separation of brain and mind.  No me.  No expression of hope for the future, no continuance of life, no hereafter.  Not much of a choice.  What hope does science have to gain the hearts of men and women for whom these things are important – whether that importance was gained and garnered as a direct result of the comforting musings of ancestral animism entrenched deep within our collective soul, or through some later arising of mythical, religious, or philosophical concepts still operating under the aegis of that ancient covenant?

Jacques Monod too saw this.  He says of objective science, after the statement that any acceptable explanation as to why science needs replace the ancient tradition:

“…if to appear genuine, meaningful, soothing, the ‘explanation’ must blend into the long animist tradition, then we understand why it took so many thousands of years for the kingdom of ideas to be invaded by the one according to which objective knowledge is the only authentic source of truth.”


I think I have almost said enough here.  Let me quickly move onto the last two sentences which complete the original quote which both started this discourse and ended the author’s book.

“His (that is ‘man’s’) destiny is nowhere spelled out, nor is his duty. The kingdom above or the darkness below: it is for him to choose.”

This passage raised the second question that sparked my interest in Monod’s words, and it really is an offshoot of my first question.

If man is alone in the universe, where on Earth (or anywhere else for that matter) does this concept of a ‘kingdom above’ or a ‘darkness below’ arise from?  What else is there apart from the cold, heartless, hostile universe and the tender, frail life-forms sheltered beneath the Earth’s shallow band of protective atmosphere?  What else is there?

Is the author revealing that he himself is still, at least partly, under the enchantment of the ancient covenant?  Does he explain further?  Well, as a matter of fact he does.


What Monod is saying here, well one of the things he is saying anyway, is not that mankind has a choice – although I suppose that we do, in that we could choose to abandon objective science altogether, as a concept, which is no choice at all really – but that the ‘kingdom above’ is really the pie-in-the-sky ’empyrean noon hour for mankind’ which was the delusional vision of 19th century scientism – again no choice at all really.

The ‘darkness below’?  Well that is simply the only future that awaits us – the ‘abyss of darkness’ we see opening before us today – and again, no choice at all really.

And why is that?  Monod provides the exact answer to that supplementary question.  At some point in the last three (now approaching four) centuries, humanity, our species, made the choice which is “…binding upon its entire future,” and that choice “unconscious in the beginning” has “launched” our culture “on a one-way path” toward that “abyss of darkness”.

The choice we made? “Scientific practice“.   In short – Applied science.  The application of science in manufacturing, mining, commerce, business, chemistry, resource utilisation, health (so called), warfare and weaponry, and every other activity involving the plundering and rape of the very planet, the only planet, which we could ever contemplate as being our home.   It’s the old Petrie dish syndrome.

We made our choice.  OK, it may not have been ‘us’ in person, but we have gone along with everything it means, lately in an orgy of profligacy.  The consequences will soon be due.

Whoever said there is no justice in this world, well, they were wrong.

This is the story of our lives, in just over 2,800 words of mine and a lot more from someone who I think knew what he was talking about.

I have gone along with what he said, because I think – in fact I am fairly sure – that this is a reasonable account of how our story began, has played out over time, and how it will end.  It was going to be that, since I am not in total agreement with the whole of objective science (and neither is science, or they would not still be searching for knowledge to confirm, expand, or alter their findings to date), I would offer some of my own subjective views on some of the glaring gaps in current objective knowledge.  Maybe another time.

There is a lot more useful information in Monad’s final chapter, which is well worth looking up, and also throughout the whole book if you are a biology or evolution nerd. If you find it difficult to obtain a copy of the book, here is a link to a photographed .pdf version (it’s where I obtained the images used here, and it’s in the public domain and downloadable, so why not?):

I think I am done here.

Age? Eve? (Either/or) – of Destruction.

I remembered it as ‘Age of Destruction’ (well, it was a long time ago, and my memory has seen better days, and I was looking for a way to tie it in with my previous post), but in fact it was ‘Eve of Destruction’.

It is a song, an anti-war song, penned in the Vietnam war era, 1965, by Pf Sloan but made memorable by Barry McGuire.  I am going to feature versions by both men here.

Why should I want to do that?  Well, it seems to me that we have not learned anything from the mistakes of these past days and, if anything, we are moving backwards away from civility, caring, virtue and honour in our societies, towards the sort of barbarism that has always lurked somewhere within our roots.  It doesn’t hurt to reflect on that.  Mind you, it doesn’t help much either.  At least not enough to matter …and, as time marches on, whether it is an age or the eve, the destruction (and our own ability to ‘bring it’) looms ever closer.


If there is any one thing I hate in the world, it is whooping Americans who, it seems to me, and this is obviously generalising a bit in order to make a point, have little understanding or capability to understand just what it is they are whooping about.  It seems to be a group phenomenon.  Nevertheless, I can get past that, and can see the value in what the song’s author has to say in this presumably quite recent, cosy, home or community fireside version of his own song.  It is an introductory commentary on current American culture and a little of his own history.

Next, and I’m sure that if you are of a certain age, this will be somewhere in your memory, a still moving and confronting version of the song, even though some of the lyrics are now dated, and the images historical but which should never be forgotten, by Barry McGuire.

Past The Age of Be- Through The Age of Re- Entering The Age of De-

Twilight of humanity…

The final generation of growth…

The final generation of ‘old people’…

No more great grandparents…  No more grandparents…

There are 24 started but unfinished posts sitting in the edit section of this blog.  This is one of them.  I hope to finish it now.

I wrote the words above the ellipsis and the title of this piece almost 18 months ago in September 2016.  It still has the ring of truth to me – with all that that implies, although I can’t remember exactly why I did it now…

…but  I think it must have been something like this…

It’s all a question of prefixes:

Past The Age of Be-
(The Old Times, long, long ago – though some of us can still have vague memories, when life was slow and mostly uncomplicated – ‘before’ modern times)
Prefix meaning: around (as on all sides); thoroughly, completely; to make, cause seem; to provide with.

Being, Begin, Bearing, Become, Before, Behave,
Behold, Belief, Belittle, Belong, Bemuse, Benign,
Beside, Besiege, Besmear, Bestow, Betray,
Betroth, Beware, Bewilder, Beyond.

Through The Age of Re-
(The Modern Age – increasingly complex and rapidly becoming unworkable and untenable – we are nearing its inglorious end, with no hope or even an attempt to ‘reverse’, ‘return’ or ‘restore’ the way things were)
Prefix meaning: back to the original place; again, anew, once more, against, “also with a sense of “undoing”.

React, Rearm, Rebel, Rebuff, Rebuke, Recall, Recant, Recede, Recidivism, Reciprocate, Reckless, Reckoning, Reclaim, Recoil, Record, Recount, Recourse, Recover, Recruit, Recurrent, Recuse, Redact, Redeem, Redeploy, Redouble, Redoubt, Refer, Refill, Refine, Refit, Reflate, Reflect, Reform, Refrain, Refresh, Refuel, Refuge, Register, Regress, Regret, Regulate, Rehash, Reinforce, Reject, Relapse, Relegate, Relent, Relief, Rely, Remain, Remand, Remonstrate, Remorse, Remote, Remove, Renegade, Renounce, Repair, Repay, Repeat, Replace, Represent, Repress, Reprisal, Repulse, Repute, Rescue, Resent, Reserve, Reset, Residual, Resign, Resilience, Resist, Respect, Respond, Restore, Restrain, Restrict, Retract, Retreat, Return, Reverse, Revert, Revise, Revoke, Revolt.

Entering The Age of De-
(The End Times – Twilight of humanity – born and resulting, most likely, from the ‘decay’ and ‘decline’ of the Modern Age)
Prefix meaning: down, off, away, from among, down from,” but also “down to the bottom, totally” hence “completely” (intensive or completive)

Dearth, Death, Debacle, Debar, Debility, Debit, Debris, Debt, Debunk, Decamp, Decarbonise, Decay, Decease, Decelerate, Decentralise, Decide, Decimate, Declare, Decline, Decompose, Decrease, Decrepit, Defect, Defend, Defer, Deficient, Define, Defunct, Degenerate, Degrade, Delete, Demolish, Depopulate, Depravity,  Depress, Deprive, Derelict, Derive, Descend, Desert, Deserve, Desist, Desolate, Desperate, Despond, Destiny, Destitute, Destroy, Detach, Deter, Determine, Detract, Detritus, Devaluate, Devastate, Develop, Devoid, Devolution.    

Syria War Diary: Order Returns To Western Cities, Civilians Recount Horrors Of “Rebel” Rule


This gallery contains 16 photos.

Originally posted on In Gaza:
After reconciling with the Syrian government, former militants clear debris as they rebuild their homes, and their lives, in al-Waer, Homs. (Photo: Eva Bartlett/MintPress News) In revisiting Madaya and al-Waer after their reclamation by the…

Civilised Man?

What effect has modern civilisation made on its denizens (that’s us) for good or ill?  There must have been some progress, some shifting from barbarism and bestiality to more ‘humane’ behaviour, surely?  Some softening from the necessarily ‘hard’ shell honed for survival in a hostile world?  Some growth and maturation of culture, appetites and outlooks in the herd as in the individual?  In the “…man affected by progress and European civilisation, a man who is “divorced from the soil and the national elements,” as they express it now-a-days.” – as described by Fyodor Dostoyevsky in his ‘Notes From The Underground’ novella from 1864.

Dostoyevsky was a man who thought long and hard about the human condition.  It was he who said, in private correspondence –

Man is a mystery. It needs to be unravelled, and if you spend your whole life unravelling it, don’t say that you’ve wasted time.  I am studying that mystery because I want to be a human being.

So, what does Dostoyevsky have to say about the impact of civilisation on mankind?  Here are some of his thoughts, again from ‘Notes From The Underground’.

I want to compromise myself personally, and therefore I boldly declare that all these fine systems, all these theories for explaining to mankind their real normal interests, in order that inevitably striving to pursue these interests they may at once become good and noble — are, in my opinion, so far, mere logical exercises!  Yes, logical exercises. Why, to maintain this theory of the regeneration of mankind by means of the pursuit of his own advantage is to my mind almost the same thing … as to affirm, for instance, … that through civilisation mankind becomes softer, and consequently less bloodthirsty and less fitted for warfare. … But man has such a predilection for systems and abstract deductions that he is ready to distort the truth intentionally, he is ready to deny the evidence of his senses only to justify his logic.  Only look about you: blood is being spilt in streams, and in the merriest way, as though it were champagne.  Take the whole of the nineteenth century … Take Napoleon — the Great and also the present one.  Take North America — the eternal union.  Take the farce of Schleswig-Holstein…. And what is it that civilisation softens in us?  The only gain of civilisation for mankind is the greater capacity for variety of sensations — and absolutely nothing more.  And through the development of this many-sidedness man may come to finding enjoyment in bloodshed.  In fact, this has already happened to him.  Have you noticed that it is the most civilised gentlemen who have been the subtlest slaughterers, … it is simply because they are so often met with, are so ordinary and have become so familiar to us. In any case civilisation has made mankind if not more bloodthirsty, at least more vilely, more loathsomely bloodthirsty.  In old days he saw justice in bloodshed and with his conscience at peace exterminated those he thought proper.  Now we do think bloodshed abominable and yet we engage in this abomination, and with more energy than ever.  Which is worse?  Decide that for yourselves.

You will say that that was in the comparatively barbarous times; … that though man has now learned to see more clearly than in barbarous ages, he is still far from having learnt to act as reason and science would dictate.  But yet you are fully convinced that he will be sure to learn when he gets rid of certain old bad habits, and when common sense and science have completely re-educated human nature and turned it in a normal direction.  You are confident that then man will cease from INTENTIONAL error and will, so to say, be compelled not to want to set his will against his normal interests.  That is not all; then, you say, science itself will teach man (though to my mind it’s a superfluous luxury) that he never has really had any caprice or will of his own, … so that everything he does is not done by his willing it, but is done of itself, by the laws of nature.  Consequently we have only to discover these laws of nature, and man will no longer have to answer for his actions and life will become exceedingly easy for him.

And then, rather presciently looking forward to our times, controlled by computers and gadgets, he says:

Then — this is all what you say — new economic relations will be established, all ready-made and worked out with mathematical exactitude, so that every possible question will vanish in the twinkling of an eye, simply because every possible answer to it will be provided.  Then the “Palace of Crystal” will be built.  Then … In fact, those will be halcyon days. Of course there is no guaranteeing (this is my comment) that it will not be, for instance, frightfully dull then (for what will one have to do when everything will be calculated and tabulated), but on the other hand everything will be extraordinarily rational. Of course boredom may lead you to anything.

Man is stupid, you know, phenomenally stupid; or rather he is not at all stupid, but he is so ungrateful that you could not find another like him in all creation.  I, for instance, would not be in the least surprised if all of a sudden, APROPOS of nothing, in the midst of general prosperity a gentleman with an ignoble, or rather with a reactionary and ironical, countenance were to arise and, putting his arms akimbo, say to us all: “I say, gentleman, hadn’t we better kick over the whole show and scatter rationalism to the winds, simply to send these logarithms to the devil, and to enable us to live once more at our own sweet foolish will!”  That again would not matter, but what is annoying is that he would be sure to find followers — such is the nature of man.  And all that for the most foolish reason, which, one would think, was hardly worth mentioning: that is, that man everywhere and at all times, whoever he may be, has preferred to act as he chose and not in the least as his reason and advantage dictated.

Finally, in conversation with a German General, and I think this is absolutely brilliant and so apt for today.  By the way, in case you don’t see it, ‘Fater’ is the German ‘Vater’ – Father, head of house.

I can tell you that what I have seen and verified makes my Tartar blood boil. Good Lord! I wish for no virtues of that kind.  Yesterday I went for a walk of about ten versts; and, everywhere I found that things were even as we read of them in good German picture-books — that every house has its ‘Fater,’ who is horribly beneficent and extraordinarily honourable.  So honourable is he that it is dreadful to have anything to do with him; and I cannot bear people of that sort.  Each such ‘Fater’ has his family, and in the evenings they read improving books aloud.  Over their roof-trees there murmur elms and chestnuts; the sun has sunk to his rest; a stork is roosting on the gable; and all is beautifully poetic and touching.  Do not be angry, General. Let me tell you something that is even more touching than that.  I can remember how, of an evening, my own father, now dead, used to sit under the lime trees in his little garden, and to read books aloud to myself and my mother.  Yes, I know how things ought to be done.  Yet every German family is bound to slavery and to submission to its ‘Fater.’ They work like oxen, and amass wealth like Jews.  Suppose the ‘Fater’ has put by a certain number of gulden which he hands over to his eldest son, in order that the said son may acquire a trade or a small plot of land.  Well, one result is to deprive the daughter of a dowry, and so leave her among the unwedded.  For the same reason, the parents will have to sell the younger son into bondage or the ranks of the army, in order that he may earn more towards the family capital.  Yes, such things ARE done, for I have been making inquiries on the subject.  It is all done out of sheer rectitude — out of a rectitude which is magnified to the point of the younger son believing that he has been RIGHTLY sold, and that it is simply idyllic for the victim to rejoice when he is made over into pledge.  What more have I to tell?  Well, this — that matters bear just as hardly upon the eldest son.  Perhaps he has his Gretchen to whom his heart is bound; but he cannot marry her, for the reason that he has not yet amassed sufficient gulden.  So, the pair wait on in a mood of sincere and virtuous expectation, and smilingly deposit themselves in pawn the while.  Gretchen’s cheeks grow sunken, and she begins to wither; until at last, after some twenty years, their substance has multiplied, and sufficient gulden have been honourably and virtuously accumulated. Then the ‘Fater’ blesses his forty-year-old heir and the thirty-five-year-old Gretchen with the sunken bosom and the scarlet nose; after which he bursts, into tears, reads the pair a lesson on morality, and dies. In turn the eldest son becomes a virtuous ‘Fater,’ and the old story begins again.  In fifty or sixty years’ time the grandson of the original ‘Fater’ will have amassed a considerable sum; and that sum he will hand over to, his son, and the latter to HIS son, and so on for several generations; until at length there will issue a Baron Rothschild, or a ‘Hoppe and Company,’ or the devil knows what!  Is it not a beautiful spectacle — the spectacle of a century or two of inherited labour, patience, intellect, rectitude, character, perseverance, and calculation, with a stork sitting on the roof above it all?  What is more; they think there can never be anything better than this; wherefore, from their point of view they begin to judge the rest of the world, and to censure all who are at fault — that is to say, who are not exactly like themselves.  Yes, there you have it in a nutshell. For my own part, I would rather grow fat after the Russian manner, or squander my whole substance at roulette. I have no wish to be ‘Hoppe and Company’ at the end of five generations.  I want the money for MYSELF, for in no way do I look upon my personality as necessary to, or meet to be given over to, capital. I may be wrong, but there you have it.  Those are MY views.”“

Hope you enjoyed that as much as I did.

The Myth of the Kurdish YPG’s Moral Excellence

I’m reblogging this as a rather cleverly constructed exposé of the true Kurdish situation. A quite larger dilemma than what the current focus on its intrusion into the war in Syria might suggest.

Not that I wish to belittle or deflate the significance of that intrusion, since it carries a much greater impact in that nation’s struggles against terrorism than might be imagined. Not least due to media overplaying and American backing of the Kurdish forces operating there, in what must be the last and least hopeful phase of US regime change policy.

A good read, to be sure.

what's left

July 11, 2017

By Stephen Gowans

A barbed criticism aimed at the International Socialist Organization, shown nearby, under the heading “If the ISO Existed in 1865” encompasses a truth about the orientation of large parts of the Western Left to the Arab nationalist government in Damascus. The truth revealed in the graphic is that the ISO and its cognates will leave no stone unturned in their search for an indigenous Syrian force to support that has taken up arms against Damascus, even to the point of insisting that a group worthy of support must surely exist, even if it can’t be identified.

If the ISO existed in 1865. Of course, Washington lends a hand, helpfully denominating its proxies in the most laudatory terms. Islamist insurgents in Syria, mainly Al Qaeda, were not too many years ago celebrated as a pro-democracy movement, and when that deception proved no longer tenable, as…

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“Bye Bye America” – Part 2

You can’t, with any hope of retaining much in the way of credibility, say on one day “Bye Bye America” – a story of societal collapse – and on the very next day say “Is America Really Collapsing?” – another story of societal collapse with a note of hope at the end.  Yet this is exactly what Umair Hague has done in his follow-up piece on Medium.

He outlines in some detail just what, or some of what, societal collapse means, defining it as “a process of going from function through dysfunction to malfunction, a journey, in other words from one system state to a higher entropic state. An intrinsically one-way process – you can’t unscramble an egg.

Having then outlined four ways that America is in collapse, namely: Political Collapse, Social Collapse, Economic Collapse and Eudaimonic Collapse (you’ll need to read the article) – and this is not by any means an exhaustive list of the possible ways in which a society can fall apart – Hague then goes on to talk about the generally accepted view that a collapse is in essence ‘unstoppable’ as not applying, or – “is not the case with societies”.

What is it with doom-writers not being able to face up to the inevitability of what they clearly see coming up for sections of humanity?  They never seem to be able to abandon hope and think clearly on what to actually do in the aftermath of the events of which they tell.  Always looking around for any tiny speck of hope.  It’s nuts …and facing reality takes courage, not to mention – some sort of plan.  But not a plan which merely hopes to stop the unstoppable in its tracks and back it up to some earlier point in its prior path, based entirely on the good will and enthusiasm of the very people who set the unstoppable train of events in motion in the first place.   Such a plan could aptly be described as ‘pure folly’, whether applied at the purely personal or at a local, national or truly global level.

Now, just a final point.  I was thinking of, or trying to come up with a precedent for the type of social recovery (the ‘minor miracles’ he spoke of previously) of which Hague and other writers are so keen to have us believe.  One might think of post-war Germany or Japan as examples of such, arising from the utter destruction of that time to become major societal economies in the modern world.  However, the ruination of those particular nations in the middle of last century was not specifically or directly a result of societal collapse, moral, social, political or any other -wise.  The destruction of those nations was in each case not as a result of a decay of the central core of the nation, its peoples – those remained essentially, morally, spiritually, etc., intact throughout the ordeal of the forced collapse of their material and economic national structures through acts of war.  Two things then were central to their phoenix-like rise from the ashes.  Firstly the central core of national pride, the people themselves, and secondly they could call on the developing availability of world resources which came fully into prominence, profligate prominence from that time until today.  It was entirely a point-in-time thing, employed alike by many nations around the world to rebuild themselves at the same time.  The likes of which had never been seen before and sadly, after less than a century of complete and obscene global madness during which the world ‘partied’ in a once only orgy of digging things up and using them, it will never serve as an option for humanity to enjoy again.  At least on the same scale – the scale of rebuilding nations into any form of structure we would today recognise as being the equivalent of modern society.

So, there we have it, believe it or not, won’t make any difference.  Undoing collapse today can never return us to any resemblance of yesterday. There is no point starting something you can’t finish.

Someone should tell that to Donald Trump …and all other national leaders who continue to seek the elusive ephemera of ‘economic growth’ or ‘growth and jobs’ or simply ‘jobs, jobs, jobs’.

America is on the way down.  Basically, we are all on the way down.  The West, being for so long standing on the upper rungs of the ladder, will feel it the hardest when there are no more ladders to climb over the shoulders of other people.  A level playing field should look the same to everybody.



“Bye Bye America”

America, as I have long and often suggested, is in a state of social collapse. Is that down to Donald Trump? No. The process has been going on for decades, as Umair Hague maintains in his latest piece ‘Bye Bye America’ on Medium’s ‘Bad Words’.
“One bad leader didn’t make all of this true — decades of neglect did. Thus, the challenge is undoing those decades of neglect.”
It has a lot to do with the fact that America is basically a society based on hate, an unhealthy foundation for building anything.
“The deep antipathy to public goods, healthcare, education, and so on, in America is the result of a legacy of hate.”
Hague suggests that only a series of minor miracles can turn things around, and this is where I tend to disagree with him. Miracles are in short supply these days, even minor ones, and even Hague’s final points seem to negate that possibility. I agree. There is now no stopping the collapse. It’s completely natural. It’s what societies do.
“Life will go on. Just not very nicely. Life doesn’t stop because societies collapse. Life just keep going. What collapse really means is that life gets worse and worse. Inexorably, like the frog in the pot. Take the example of life expectancy. It’s already falling. As millions of Americans lose healthcare, what’s going to happen? It’s going to fall further, faster, obviously. That’s what collapse means at a personal level. Life itself dwindles day by day. People live shorter, meaner, dumber, nastier lives.
And, as ever, dumber, meaner, nastier people don’t undo the mechanisms of their collapse. They only ever tug the strings faster and harder.”
Just you watch and see.