Thursday, November 26, 2015

What is "water"? Isn't THAT the prize?

A good friend and climate warrior on the front lines of voicing the unvoicable about imminent disaster and abrupt climate change recently posted a commentary on the upcoming Paris climate change summit, officially referred to as COP21, @ In the opening thoughts he points out the similarities of climate change and ISIS, but he also refers to Paris as a "celebration" (really??) and admonishes us to keep our "eye on the ball". While he makes some good points that I completely agree with, he has recently taken to soft pedaling the level and scope of our prevailing disconnect with the reality of our situation as regards the actions of the "movement" and the leadership. Needless to say, I don't agree with that.

My response is "You forgot the one thing that really unites the two great blots on our future - they are both a direct result of our own failure to function intelligently as a society... and therein lies the rub! Our own egregious insults to our home world have not only manifested as a massively degraded environment, but a massively degraded society & civilization, which is the dystopian womb from which springs Abrupt Climate Change & ISIS. While you point out the obvious tragedy of 130 dead in Paris, you then shift to the millions that will be affected by climate change. What about the thousands who are dying in their attempts to escape the brutality of ISIS or Syria's government, or other dystopian futures unfolding right now?... every month! The millions who are displaced by the natural nexus of an environment and a civilization in upheaval? We have no good answers that fit the desired formula, which is to maintain and preserve the status quo.

As your countrywoman, Naomi Klein, so aptly noted recently "There are no non-radical solutions to our problem."  We have blithely overlooked a commonly used phrase to explain why certain animals and plants are threatened by, or have suffered, extinction - loss of habitat. Baby birds instinctively know not to shit in their own nests, so as not to suffer an early and untimely "loss of habitat". Fish flopping in a farmer's fields after a short term flood event are experiencing a rather rapid "loss of habitat" which they weren't instinctively primed to avoid. 

Our continued intransigence, our overwhelmingly prevalent ignorance (as a population), our acceptance of the scarcity based philosophy of existence put forward by the oligarchy for over 100 years, aka the "societal owners", all are contributing to our rapid loss of habitat - because habitat isn't just your house, it's your basic capacity to live in a place on any sustained basis. As I drive through the Ohio countryside and look at the indicators of life around me, I realize that 90% or better of the people here don't spend ANY significant time on ANY given day thinking about the imminent "loss of habitat". They are no brighter than the fish in that field, who may at best be thinking "Oh, look! Some some new food has been uncovered!" They don't even know what "water" is, because it's what they live in and they take it for granted.... until it goes away. (For a great take on this principle see

Paris is on track to be a gathering of fish who can see that it's bad to be in the field when the water goes down, and want an orderly movement of all fish back to deep water. They have no functional mechanism for delivering this outcome... and even if they did, it wouldn't stop the water from continuing to go down, after the field is high and dry.  The 1% don't care - they are waiting on the edge of the field to harvest the stranded fish and fish scrambling to get back to deep water when the level drops, with no clear sense that THEIR habitat is also going away. The schools and shoals of fish in the field? They're just sucking up that new food and thinking how good life is. They may fight with other fish for the pickings in some select spots (ala Black Friday) but in general they don't really think about the future... ever. For those who didn't bother to watch the video above, the point of the "what's water?" story is merely that the most obvious important realities are often the ones that are hardest to see and talk about.... and out time, like that of the speech presenter above (who subsequently took his own life) draws short. So, when we gather in Paris, maybe we should first get clear on "What is water?" followed closely by "Shall we talk about the water??"

For all you do, this one's for you. Thanks for reading!

The Smokemaster

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Ultimate Accomplishment of Predatory Industrial Capitalism

If you spend more than five minutes thinking about it, you will recognize the ultimate accomplishment of predatory industrial capitalism. In the old days predators had to wait patiently around the edges of the herd for the weak, the old, the young, or the careless to make themselves available. By breaking down our community structures, our family structures, and our other natural support structures and by convincing us of the critical scarcity (a Madison Avenue ploy to increase sales of the endless supply of goods) of everything we hold near and dear, "we the people" have been reduced to a milling mob of helpless individuals who lack any faith in themselves and their world, who are convinced of their inability to fend for themselves, and who are all prey for the oligarchic system. Congratulations, the ENTIRE herd is now available to the predators! 

This is the challenge of our time - can the large majority of society cast OFF the mantle of insecurity and timidity that have been bred in over the last 100 years and STAND for themselves and community again? The ULTIMATE weakness of mankind is the vulnerability of individuality and it's strength is now, and has always been, deliberately chosen community. The opposite? Divide and conquer. Our forefathers understood this. It was the primary reason for the "United we stand, Divided we fall" concept of UNITED STATES. Unfortunately, we have preserved the union of states but lost vast amounts of the union of meaningful community, neighborhood, and family to the marketing and divisiveness of predatory industrial capitalism. 

American cities are huge human CAFOs (normally - Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, but in this case - Concentrated American Fleecing Operations). Humans are, after all the best domesticated stock, because they are smart enough to self-herd, self-feed, and self-motivate, and stupid enough to think predatory industrial capitalism is good idea, to think they're too smart to be "suckered", and they allow themselves to be fleeced routinely. Have you never noticed the way you are allowed to earn just enough to keep you "happy", "harvested" regularly to keep you from developing real awareness, and kept busy with a veritable cornucopia of entertainment so that you are blinded to the reality - that you are a herd animal and "they" own you. I believe the question was "How do you control "the masses"? - I believe that Latin answer was "panem et circensus"...

It's time to wake up and smell the ammonia ...

The Smokemaster

Monday, September 7, 2015

What are the links between Predatory Industrial Capitalism & Climate Change?

The fundamental linkage that I see revolves around the central principle of sustainability - 
At the planetary level resource allocation is a zero sum game - all life on Earth is entitled, by being life on Earth, to a proportionate share of the planetary resources. Any aggregation of resources beyond the entitlement of an individual (or the many individuals of a group), on the part of one group or entity, occurs as a direct function of loss of resources by one or more other entities or groups. Sustainability says that we live in such a way that we get the benefit of the planetary resource flows, and we preserve that maximum benefit and value of those flows for everyone else as well.

All human wealth is a derivative function of natural resources, co-opted unilaterally by humanity for personal enrichment or improvement of material well being (in the last three hundred years bolstered by the Christian notion of eminent domain or human dominion over Nature, but extant long before that philosophy rose. There has always been a way to justify taking what is wanted regardless of the intrinsic right to it. The fundamental mechanism of this appropriation is to minimize the value or rights of ALL other living creatures including people not of the exalted “group”, while maximizing the rights and authority of the exalted group). The initial construct for doing this may have been when we aggregated people into large groups (the better to fleece them) - the creation of cities.

Thus, In any situation where someone is aggregating wealth beyond their need or effective requirement, much less beyond their intrinsic entitlement, they are doing so at the substantial expense of the material well being of others, in most cases many others, including the natural realm, which is being massively depleted of resources that are intrinsically valuable to planetary resource flows, in many cases in ways we are only just beginning to understand. This is the study of ecological services, with humans included in the ecological equation - an emergent science. 

Climate inaction occurs for many reasons but the predominant one is the engineered and/or coerced response of the consuming public who represent the engine of consumption that is the defining purpose for the predatory industrial capitalist regime, and who, in the best interest of regime but definitively NOT the planet, just keep on consuming. It is through this process that the multitudes convert & transfer the value of their lives and their share of the planetary resources to the exclusive use of a few - the oligarchy or plutocracy (whichever you prefer). It is good to remember that pigs are not encouraged to consume as they do so that they may become liberated and better pigs. They are encouraged to consume so that they may be better TO consume!

The "market" economy that is used to accomplish this, in the name of "sustaining the multitudes at a higher standard of living" requires three things for it's functional success - endless raw materials, endless consumption, and endless capacity to absorb waste… none of which are present, by definition on a finite planet, with the narrow exception that Madison Avenue expends ever greater sums of money to convince the consuming public to keep on consuming and, in fact, to consume MORE!

There is no functional view of the future that is accomplished through either investment or regulation, both of which are machinations of the oligarchy for control. The only realistic path forward takes us back to square one with a new recognition of what we are actually and functionally entitled to of the planetary resource share, acceptance of a new view of value and transfer of value that is not expressed only in terms of the predominant form of value transfer today (money), and which takes an entirely different approach to ownership, recognizing the commons as the paramount value. I would suggest that in such an environment, incentives will probably be more productive than regulation, with the primary incentive being that the global village recognizes that it's very life and happiness are based on planetary equilibrium and health, not essentially the health and well being of any individual, but of ALL individuals… human or otherwise.

Money as currently construed and applied, is itself a coercive and destructive process, especially when it degenerates, as most world currencies now have, to being both fiat (backed by nothing other than promises) and debt-based (all money is "created" as a function of debt). This is a profoundly destructive force, at the very center of that global wealth transfer and aggregation that underlies the predatory industrialist capitalism and market economy. The rigged process by which money is literally made and controlled is the reason for "inflation" and "deflation" and the fact that your "worth-less" now than you were twenty years ago.

Predatory industrial capitalism is a classic example of the quote ""Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men." by Lord Acton, expressing his opinion in a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton in 1887, or a similar quote from William Pitt The Elder, Earl of Chatham & British PM in a 1770 speech to the House of Lords, in which he said "Unlimited power is apt to corrupt the minds of those who possess it."

Long story short : Predatory Industrial Capitalism is directly and predominantly responsible for the egregious and exploitive co-opting of natural and human resources (ultimately, any resources) that the purveyors could justify as having valid application to their personal objectives and goals and rationalize their exploitation of. The direct result of this is the fouling of all of Earth’s natural environments, the manifest exploitation of 90% of life on Earth to satisfy the whims of less than 10% of human life, and the fundamental endangerment of all planetary life as we now know it. We can trace the current state of climate change directly to these functions of illegitimate and ill-considered exploitation which knocked Earth’s ecosystems severely out of balance, raising some question of if, when, and under what conditions they will find a new equilibrium. 

Thanks for being there and being you ... and thanks for reading this!

The Smokemaster 

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

If you want to understand radicalization and/or the “issues” of war veterans, try this on for size…

In the reporting of slews of young people with good upbringing, from modern well informed countries becoming “radicalized”, or war veterans falling through the gaping “cracks” in the social system, or growth in gang problems, or veteran suicide, and more, I frequently hear words to the effect of “Why? What could be so ____________ (fill in the blank) that they would do that?”  I never cease to be amazed by this, or the amounts of time and money that are spent chasing the chimera of false understanding that wants to rationalize the problem as anything BUT the real problem.

Elliot Ackerman, author of the newly released "Green on Blue" talked with the host of The Takeaway on Thursday (19 Feb, 2015) about the underlying issue of young men throughout a difficult world being at “loose ends” and looking for "purpose". He is a veteran of five Marine Corp deployments to Iraq & Afghanistan and makes the highly accurate observation that the essence of the warrior - nobility, camaraderie, esprit de corp, and the relatively clearly defined, highly responsible role available in a war situation - create the "crystal meth of purpose" for young men who are living lives particularly devoid of self-defined or self-evident purpose. He makes this observation in the context of the apparent similarities in the function and opportunities for a recruiter for IS and a recruiter for the Marines. Then he makes, almost as an aside, what I considered the stunningly accurate connection with what happens when the conflict ends and that young man goes home. He relates how the opportunities presented by routine civilian life - where the level of responsibility is not 1/10th that of the military environment, where so many never actually lead anybody and those who do are in their 40's before they are trusted to do that, where the collected opportunities of life are the functional equivalent of the "light beer" of purpose - are so underwhelming, so disappointing, in some cases so devastating that the root of PTSD and depression probably has much more to do with the sudden radical demotion of role, responsibility, and purpose as any of the "accepted/ correct” reasons such as battle field fatigue or dealing with death in combat. 

Now (and THESE are my words) - Realizing you will never again have that kind of experience, as much because of your social setting/position, and the prevailing structures of your society, as anything else - not because of any shortcoming in you - that the rest of your life will be sitting on your front porch drinking "light beer" - is so hugely demoralizing and enervating that it can account for almost any form of emotional state, mental health issue, or deviant behavior. So… the next time you encounter a (wo)man of any age who "served their country" in the military as a young (wo)man and who has attempted to make a realistic life after their military time was done, think about this. THINK HARD about this. Think about what it is like when you ask someone to be their VERY BEST, and they DO it, and then, when they come home, you don't show any respect for that, you don't ask them to continue to be their best, to continue to bring that to "the party", you don't even invite them to "the party"…  If you don't present even a bad approximation of a good opportunity to build on what they know, what they have done, WHO THEY HAVE BECOME…  there are consequences. 

If you encounter ANY man (or woman), of any age, who "served his/her country" in the military as a young person, and (s)he seems "driven", or "sad", or "desperate", or "angry", or slightly off center… ALL THE TIME… even though life seems perfectly "normal" to you, try some understanding instead of the all too familiar dismissal, disrespect, and holier-than-thou rationalization. The disappointment NEVER goes away. The need for purpose NEVER goes away. The sense of loss is palpable. Having a sense of place and purpose is IMPERATIVE for their good health and well being jut as it is for yours. The difference is that they have been to the top of the mountain and now they are relegated, by their own people, to the rock pile at the bottom. That dog just don't hunt. Only if they are very lucky or inordinately obstreperous will they overcome any part of this. Otherwise they will spend the rest of their lives dying… slowly - at your expense.

On that note, maybe it’s time to seriously review our modern societies and our social structures, with an intensive focus on if, how, and when they deliver functional respect and inspire purpose – purpose that will last a life time, and be an inspiration to the next generation to do the same. Maybe we need to seriously consider how much of ALL of our major issues relate to this fundamental denial of respect and purpose to the large majority of the population. Disenfranchisement, denial of opportunity, and worse, denial of basic respect are short paths to hopeless. Hopeless is the blood brother of radicalization, and desperate action of almost any kind. It’s not about “bad” Islam and “good” western civilization; it’s about being human and lack (or loss) of purpose, respect, and hope.

Thanks for being there and being you, and thanks for caring enough to reading this

Copyright, Feb 2015

Sunday, April 5, 2015

This I Believe...

A number of people I know are scared, exhausted, depressed, anxious, over-worked, and vastly unappreciated. The people of whom I speak are uniformly eco-warriors, fighting to change the harmful paradigm that holds sway over most of the planet on a daily basis - the predatory capitalism and all the goes with it to make life miserable and unthinkable. Climate change activism DOES have emotional consequences. One of these people, in trying to deal with his difficulties, recently quoted from Scott Peck, author of The Road Less Traveled, in the opening moments of which states “Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult - once we truly understand and accept it - then life is no longer difficult. Once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.

I agree with this. More importantly, I BELIEVE in this. This is the key concept - belief - or faith. What you are willing to stake everything you are, know, and do on - that is what you believe in. As the old saying goes, regarding your stated faith that someone can push a wheelbarrow across Niagara Falls on a rope - "It's not faith unless you're in the wheelbarrow." The wheelbarrow is climate change, and you have no option. You ARE "in the wheelbarrow"… as is every other living thing on earth.

The problem is that we're ALL in this wheelbarrow, and not only is faith scarce but denial is prevalent. Here are some other things, some corollary principles, that I believe -
1) What's supposed to happen does. What's not doesn't. (which is approximately equivalent to the Viking observation that our thread was woven into the tapestry of life long ago. Being afraid of death serves no purpose and makes no difference.)  We just need to "do" and "be" what we naturally are drawn to. Which goes hand in hand with "Each and everyone of us is exactly where and who we are supposed to be at any given moment."
2) I believe that we are all energetic beings having a physical experience. This in no way means we are impervious to the pain and panic of our physical world and times but it does mean that there is something more, something greater about us than anything this physical plane can meet out. Think of this as a stage of metamorphosis in our development. 
3) I believe "you get what you focus on" - what you believe in.  This is a simple statement but it is quite literally at the root of everything we have and are.  We create our world around us every moment of every day, as a matter of forging into physical space the thoughts and concerns of our deepest conviction, whether they be fear or fantasy.  Whatever you "be" or you "are" is what you will get more of because you are attracting that energy to you by "being" that way.
4) I believe that we must "know the enemy" if we are to have a prayer of beating him. That said, we must not focus on any latent fear, uncertainty or doubt that may appear in relation to that knowledge. We MUST hold our desire for good at the center of our being, because that is the focus that will prevail in our forging of Source energy (of which we too are made - the forging of desire and thoughts of our parents) Source energy is the universal "I AM/ WE ARE" that unifies us all and is in everything. Do not think of electrical energy. Think of another plane of energy, the energy of being, the very energy of existence itself. Think of the Akashic Field.  This is perhaps, our greatest test of faith.
5) Significantly, I believe that we in this physical plane, this particular place and time in the tapestry of life, are facing something that can best be described as a breakpoint change for life on Earth with special impact for humanity, and as such, because we affect everything, the planet. This is inviolate. Nothing we can say or do will change this. Such epochal change has happened at regular (and decreasing) intervals since life began.  It is happening again now. We happen to be the individuals of choice to be here, now, in the final days of old paradigm, of "old viable" for the last epoch. We also have a unique opportunity. Never before in all of Earth's history has any species been in a position to have this awareness, and to act upon it. Within that exists the opportunity to influence either positively or negatively, what emerges as the "new viable". Think about this. It HAS happened a number of times before (each epochal shift) and it IS happening again… now! You ARE part of the opportunity. Act accordingly.

I believe many things, but for this thought, this discussion, one final belief - I believe in emergence. Margaret Wheatley has a great paper about using emergence to affect social change ( and I will not try to regurgitate it all verbatim here. Suffice it to say, that this is where our real power lies. By becoming informed and impassioned, and talking to others we form networks of common interest. As these networks develop, communities of practice emerge, which in turn seek out others and systems of influence emerge, quite suddenly in some cases. As Margaret says "The third stage in emergence can never be predicted. It is the sudden appearance of a system that has real power and influence. Pioneering efforts that hovered at the periphery suddenly become the norm. The practices developed by courageous communities become the accepted standard." Again, in her words, "Emergence is the fundamental scientific explanation for how local changes can materialize as global systems of influence.  As a change theory, it offers methods and practices to accomplish the systems-wide changes that are so needed at this time.   As leaders and communities of concerned people, we need to intentionally work with emergence so that our efforts will result in a truly hopeful future.   No matter what other change strategies we have learned or favored, emergence is the only way change really happens on this planet.   And that is very good news." In a  nutshell, if you get enough people, focused on the right things, working in cohesive morphic resonance, the crystallization of synergy occurs and you immediately get a result that is greater than the sum of the parts.

This is emergence, this is an absolute reality, and this is our opportunity. We get what we focus on, and I am focused on creative, abundant, ecologically functional emergence… but I DO pay attention to where the potential problems are. The transition to a better way of living with ourselves, each other in community, and Earth, will NOT be a "trip to WalMart"! :-)