The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Author: Eric Anderson Page 1 of 2

On The Use of Clubs

This post is by Eric Anderson

What’s the first thing you think about when you hear the word club? Does it bring to mind a night out dancing with your friends? A day behind a fancy gate wining and dining between rounds of golf? Perhaps getting together with friends to play chess, or cards, watching birds, or exploring nature? Or, does it bring to mind something entirely different — such as bashing your enemy over the head?

The comedian George Carlin wryly observed that the elite are “… one big club, and you’re not in it.” Were Carlin to better understand the nature of clubs he might have more accurately stated “it’s one big club, and you’re not swinging it.” Carlin’s predecessor Groucho Marx understood, once stating “I got a good mind to join a club and beat you over the head with it.” What the elite have always known, and the left tragically fails to understand, is that “club” means power.

Originally used in the violent sense, the word club originated c. 1200 from the old Norse klubbe, as in cudgel. The word’s transition from connotations of violence, to ease, is fascinating. As any wildlife biologist knows, humans are by far the most violent species. Most animals displace aggression by use of elaborate dominance rituals, that while serving to measure the species’ fitness to reproduce, or defend territory, rarely result in death.

And while humans are the least skilled at this adaptive ritual capacity, forms of it have evolved. Sports are one such outlet. And so it appears that the paradoxical use of the word as both a means of violence, and ease, evolved from this same capacity. The club, as cudgel, was used in early gatherings of individuals to play games and sports. See: the golf club. From there, it’s easy to see how the differentiation to such wildly different connotations evolved. The modern usage of the word club seems to have emerged as a means to symbolize displaced social aggression.

Clubs — in the groups of people wielding power sense of the word — serve another important function. They diffuse responsibility. As stated by Frederick Douglas, “Power concedes nothing without a demand.” And, in the same speech “Who would be free, themselves must strike the blow.” Douglas is saying, in no uncertain terms, that when demands go unmet the only recourse is to clubs. But, using clubs is messy business. A demand, made by one moral human alone, is no demand at all.

This is because most humans are moral, and it viscerally pains us to hurt another human being. Not so with the sociopathic elite, who employ their clubs of attack dogs to beat justice bloody, while standing one-thousand feet removed from violence in their towers. Clubs allow diffusion of the pain it causes a moral human to hurt another. But, unlike the elite who can afford to pay attack dogs, among the poor “Who would be free, themselves must strike the blow.”

Today the elite — and their traditionally conservative constituents — appear to understand this relationship far better than their traditional leftist enemies. For example, try strolling into Davos and see if you’re not met by a human attack dog with a badge who will revel in taking a club to your head. “Good dog! Here’s your promotion. Now, heel. Sit. Good dog.” So too, the elite’s conservative constituency understand that “club” means the power to smash your enemy over the head. Witness a sample of right-wing clubs having no qualms about using the club to achieve power: the Ku Klux Clan, NRA, Oath Keepers, Proud Boys, Stormfront, Constitutional Sheriff’s Association, Three Percent, Redoubt Movement, Patriot Front, Family Research Council, Atomwaffen Division, and virtually every fundamentalist religious organization one chooses to identify.

The list on the left is not nearly so extensive. Witness: Antifa. Wait, WHAT? How is this working out for leftists? Not so well.

There was a time in the U.S. when the left did understand the relationship between clubs and power. We called those clubs Unions. The reasons behind the erosion of Union power are numerous, but this discussion must include the fact that their vision was not large enough. Union vision was limited to jobs. Those clubs failed to threaten to use the club on those elite who sold America’s soul to the foreign bidder offering the lowest wages. They failed to use their power on politicians and capitalists. Then, when the jobs were gone, so too were the clubs. The left was left powerless, and remains so. In America, the left go clubbing to dance. The right goes clubbing for dominance.

One billion theoretical leftists using the tools of their elite internet masters, remain alone in practice – myself included. As it stands, we remain like those described by Thoreau, as “a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.” Leftists desperately need new clubs, on the ground, that are willing to use clubs to effectively strike at the roots of power, or the perpetual slide down the slope of fascism will continue. It’s past time all those identifying as leftists join clubs, and courageously set about beating the elite over the head with them.

My next installment will discuss a model to begin rebuilding the grassroots clubs necessary to take power.

God As Idea, By Eric Anderson

I woke up last night feeling like I was suffocating, because in my dream I was. It began in a church, or an old university lecture hall. Antique. And everyone in attendance was being asked to say little prayers honoring Jesus. Everyone was reciting little prayers that are common among the devout. But when it was my turn, I stood and exclaimed: Jesus was a philosopher who taught that love is the only thing that really matters, and the rich and powerful executed him for it. Then I sat. The crowd was stunned at first, the headmasters, or priests, physically taken aback. But a small smattering of applause began to ripple through the room in agreement. The ripple turned to a roar echoing through the antique hall.

Suddenly, a giant man cloaked in black moved from the corner of my vision and was standing before me. His robe parted at one point to reveal a cloven foot and a boar’s head as he pulled back his hood.The room went silent. Looking down on me, still seated, he bent toward me and slowly said “What … did you say”? I stood to confront him and was overwhelmed by the stinging scent coming from this giant. I found I couldn’t talk, or breath. I gasped and gasped and ran out the room for a drink of water, angry that I’d been silenced. A drinking fountain hung on the wall outside the door and as soon as the water hit my lips, I woke.

I was gasping and coughing.

Composing myself, I turned out the light and sought sleep again but my mind would not stop trying to interpret what was probably the most powerfully vivid dream of my life. I tossed and turned thereafter and could not go back to sleep. I resolved interpreting the dream as my subconscious telling me evil was trying to take my voice. Knowing I’d still be unable to sleep, I sought to free my voice. So I began to write what became, this:

God is not some nebulous deity sitting a throne in the sky looking down upon us in judgment. God is an idea. An idea that exists within us all, but we’re too scared to confront in open self contemplation. So we content ourselves stories. Abstract stories, that can only loosely define the boundaries of our spirit. The trouble is, stories are open to different interpretations and can be corrupted from the original intent.

Take the story of Jesus. Many christians today like to talk about what christianity tells us we should, and should not do. But they seem loathe to actually talk about Jesus. Jesus scares them. He scares them because he was a revolutionary. A revolutionary whose gospel taught that love, is revolutionary. The idea was so powerful that the rich and powerful executed him for it. He was a threat to their coveted and established order. The real Jesus is a threat to christianity’s coveted and established order. Thus, they fear him much like the romans, and the jews feared him. But instead of physical execution, today, the principle thrust of his ideas are crucified.

God, as taught by Jesus was an idea. That idea was love. The idea was communicated to the masses by means of story, or parable. Stories abstractly behoving us to simply practice love among one another. And that if we could do this, there’d be no more need to obey the powerful, or their rules, taxes, profits, debts, wars, and contempt for the unwashed masses. He used the word God, because ideas are so hard to hold fast in our minds. They are fleeting, and nebulous, like God.

As example, witness the story of Ten Commandments and the lessons therein, as viewed from the language of love. We may not remember every commandment, but we remember the story of Moses coming down the mountain with the tablets. But what about the ideas those tablets contained? From the jewish tradition, we’re taught they were inviolable rules that if transgressed, meant perdition. Too literal. But view them through the lens of love, and everything changes.

  1. You shall have no other God before me.”

If god is an idea, and the idea is love, then the revolutionary idea is that God is love. Thus, the translation becomes “You shall have no other idea before love.”

2. “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven images.”

Traditionally translated, this meant don’t do idolatry. But if the idea is love, then it means that the second you try to capture love in an image, you lose it. Love is an action. Love is a verb, that disappears as soon as it’s objectified.

3. “Thou shalt not take the name of the lord thy god in vain.

In the traditional sense, we take this to mean don’t abuse the name of God. But cast in the active sense, to be vain is to act with vanity. From a gospel of love, to take the idea of love, in vain, is to be totally immersed in self-love. In a word, selfishness. Don’t do it.

4. “Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy” Translated to the language of love means to don’t get so busy in your affairs that you forget the importance of practicing the idea that is love. Take some time and make some space in your life just to focus on the idea, that is love.

5. “Honor thy mother and father.” Translates to the symbolic embodiment of the love a mother and father hold for their children. Honoring that love means acting toward others with the gravity that love holds.

6. “Thou shalt not kill.”

Does this need explanation? Honor love in the forefront of your mind and killing another can never occur.

7. “Thou shalt not commit adultery.”

Outside the love parents feel for their children, is there any greater love than that between husband and wife, wife and husband? Adultery is nothing more than succumbing to lust, when the revolutionary idea tells us to keep love sacrosanct.

8. “Thou shalt not steal.”

Rule? Or idea of love? Love and respect are closely synonymous. Taking from another what what one has no claim, as idea, is the highest form of disrespect.

9. “Thou shall not bear false witness.”

Again, translates closely to not stealing. Disrespect for ones fellow, and more than that disrespect for oneself. We all understand the idea … those that love themselves, and others, have integrity. People with integrity travel in truth. Those without integrity travel in lies.

10. “Don’t covet.” Because, wanting what someone else has is the surest way to hate, not love. The idea is to love one another, not things. Love, again, is an action. To love a thing so much as to put it before the action of love, is self-demeaning.

The traditionally interpreted ten commandments are a prescription unifying power under a set of rules. Translated to the idea of love, they become a prescription for keeping hate from your heart. But, this translation cannot be taken literally. The lessons must be viewed as a symbolic story that points to an idea. That idea is love and love is an action.

But god is more than just love. Indeed, God, in the multitude of forms, is all of the revolutionary ideas that benefit mankind. Those ideas that hold us together, instead of tearing us apart, are in a word, our divine inheritance. Ideas that pull our minds from hate and division and discord and judgment and instead, focus our attention on quality of life among our brethren. Ideas like beauty, truth, charity, tolerance, justice.

I don’t see many of these qualities among the christian right today. I see their interpretation of the Bible as an attempt to create a jail to enclose ideas they are intolerant of. I see them using Jesus as a symbol of hate. Largely, I see them as people who walk in hate, rather than in love of people they might have some moral qualms with. But, that’s not what Jesus taught. He taught the idea of love. He taught us to live our lives in such a manner that our hearts are totally opposed to the idea of hypocrisy.

We’ve all seen this movie before, this preaching of the gospel of hate and intolerance. We’ve seen the movie where laws are passed to marginalize the weak on the basis of hateful interpretations of divine stories. Those movies don’t end well. We collectively call them nightmares, that fortunately, we’ve historically woken from by remembering that love means action. Hate means rigidity accompanying fear. We cannot fear for long before rigor mortis sets into our minds and souls. Evil will only take my voice in my sleep. I won’t let it happen while awake.

Capitalism as Mental Illness, by Eric Anderson

It’s axiomatic that any system preying upon the vulnerabilities of the many, to profit the few, is both a moral and ethical atrocity. Capitalism embodies such a system. As originally conceived by Adam Smith “selfish interest” would theoretically extend “that universal opulence … to the lowest ranks of people.” But at some historical point his creation escaped. It turned malignant. Today, it serves only to increase the opulence of the opulent, while recruiting the rest of us to wage perpetual war against each other for survival. When, and why, did this occur? I’ll begin with a brief technical digression.

Psychologists have long used the diathesis/stress model to explain mental illness. The DSM-V defines mental illness as a syndrome of disturbances in cognition, emotion regulation, or behavior reflecting dysfunction in psychological, biological, or development processes. In medical terms, a diathesis is defined as a tendency to suffer from some latent condition. Stress defined as a state of mental or emotional strain resulting from adverse circumstances. Also known as the vulnerability–stress model, the model attempts to explain mental illness as the result of the interaction between latent vulnerabilities (diathesis) and adverse life experiences (stress).

Not coincidentally, the U.S. leads the world in mental illness. More than 50% of us will be diagnosed with a mental illness or disorder at some point in our lifetime, and 20% of us will experience a mental illness in a given year. The perversion of Adam Smith’s originally benign, and arguably beneficial early conception is to blame — and the story of John Watson marks a good starting point to the divergence.

Watson was a behavioral psychologist at John Hopkins University, who, together with his research assistant Rosalie Rayner, conditioned an infant to fear a white rat by loudly striking a metal rod every time the rat was introduced. “Baby Albert’s” aversion was then extended to white rabbits, dogs, and cats. Watson made no attempt to decondition Albert leading to severe developmental and emotional difficulties.

Subsequently, the discovery of an affair with Ms. Rayner led to Watson’s expulsion from John Hopkins in disgrace (quaint — what progress we’ve made). It’s also known that three out of four of Watson’s children attempted suicides, two of them succeeding, due to Watson employing his children as subjects of his conditioning techniques. Yes, he was a moral monster.

But the moral monster landed on his feet. He took his ‘talents’ on the road to New York City where he rapidly climbed to the upper echelons of the Madison Avenue advertising world. He did so by employing his conditioning techniques on a public totally unprepared for incessant psychological warfare. Watson also inspired Edward Bernays — known as the Father of Propaganda — who is credited with ad campaigns popularizing female smoking under the banner of freedom. In short, Watson’s behaviorism copulated with Smith’s self interest and spawned the science of exploiting psychological vulnerability for profit. Capitalism became mental illness the moment diathesis met stress.

And long before the science of psychology, theology recognized that we all possess multiple diatheses that reduce our humanity. Christianity warned us against indulging these psychological vulnerabilities. They’re called the seven deadly sins, which are: pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath, and sloth. But virtually every religion forewarns against overindulgence in these base emotions and behaviors. Advertising, invariably appeals to precisely these base impulses.

Tying back to psychology, one’s imagination need not roam far to begin drawing parallels between these “sins,” and the ten recognized DSM-V personality disorders, known as: paranoid, schizoid, schizotypal, antisocial, borderline, histrionic, narcissistic, avoidant, dependent, and obsessive-compulsive disorders. Ultimately, one could go on at book length about the relationship between sin and psychological disorder. But for the sake of brevity, I’m certain you take my point.

As to the stress mechanism, Adam Smith supplied that with his theory of “selfish interest” providing collective benefit. And while it’s inarguable that being forced to compete in a self reinforcing and ever accelerating rat race has provided us with many industrial and technological milestones, we must ask ourselves: at what cost? The fracture of social cohesion? The immiseration of the many to benefit the few? Graft and corruption?

Over generations now, the diatheses and the stresses have combined and evolved together, entwining ever more tightly like tentacles around our collective throat. Over generations we have become inured to the impact upon our mental health. But make no mistake, the impact is real, as evidenced by a society that has become morally and ethically unhinged.

Ethically, our collective conception of the the utility of preying on the vulnerable among us is commonplace. We pride ourselves in becoming rich by selling snake oil. We turn our backs upon the poverty stricken while shunning them to makeshift camps, which we then tear down with impunity. And as amply demonstrated by the Covid 19 pandemic, we turn our backs on the oldest and youngest among us in the name of protecting the rights of the strong. We’re destroying the very planet that sustains us and massacring our fellow species that inhabit it in an orgy self-loathing masochism. Why? Why do we it find so difficult to be humane?

In a word: fear. We are taught to fear the success of our fellows by teachers aiming a fire hose of capitalist propaganda at us from the moment of conception. We are taught young to fear our precarious positions in life. And thus, we fight interminably for ascendance to the promise of opulence, displayed on TV by the Jones’ we’ll never meet. And from fear arise those close cousins: pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath, and sloth. Oh, how well we’re taught young to fear falling behind those ubiquitous Jones’, ever parading their opulence before our eyes.

The result is predictable. Morally, our political leaders and captains of industry are insane with greed for wealth and power. How does someone need billions of dollars? And how can someone possessing billions of dollars look around the world, witness mass suffering, and do nothing about it while possessing the means to fix it? How can they use every tool at their disposal to crush the efforts of those who would try?

The answer is simple. Latent vulnerabilities, coupled with the stress of the hyper-competitive environment they were raised in, drive them insane. We all possess psychological vulnerabilities. We’re all incessantly exploited by well rehearsed behavioral tools. Algorithms, we call them now. And coupled with a conditioned creed to compete only for our own selfish interest, we’ve all grown sick in the mind.

Psychologically, we have been conditioned to accept an ethical system that treats atrocity as mundane, while simultaneously lionizing morally diseased monsters. We’re swaddled from birth in fear. We’re coddled on competition. And we age into insanity. This isn’t a portrait of a mentally healthy society. It’s a portrait of depravity on a mass scale — of capitalism as mental illness.

The Dunning-Kruger Affect

Affect: noun (a-fekt): a set of observable manifestations of a subjectively experienced emotion.

Benjamin Franklin popularized the phrase “time is money” circa 1748 in his essay “Advice to a Young Tradesman.” Never since have so few words of advice been accepted so wholeheartedly, while simultaneously being so pervasively destructive. You see, Ben embodied what once passed as the model of what it meant to be a man. He was a “Renaissance man.” But in an ironic twist of fate, his advice murdered the archetype.

As testimony to Mr. Franklin’s advice, speed has become virtually synonymous with business success. UPS moves “at the speed of business.” Mark Zuckerberg thinks we should “move fast and break things” because “unless you are breaking stuff, you are not moving fast enough.” Marc Benioff goes so far as to conflate the terms, stating “Speed is the currency of business.” Can there be any doubt that since Franklin’s time the world has just continued to move faster, and faster, and faster?

To compensate for the demands associated with maintaining such blistering speed, society has responded by delegating knowledge more diffusely. Meaning, of course, each of us knows our role more intimately, while simultaneously knowing less about the world writ large. And while the business community acts as if speed exists in a vacuum, in reality, speed invariably exists in relation to mass. Thus, as applied to society, the “turning the ship” metaphor is incomplete and must be extended. We’re not only a massive ship traveling at tremendous speed, but one powered by eight billion parts, each so singularly focused on the specialized task at hand that no single part has the ability to comprehend the danger posed by the rocks just off the bow. The ship is without a captain.

The tragedy in this is that extremely smart people abound today. What appears to be lacking is leadership born of wisdom. We can always refer to specialists as smart, intelligent, or knowledgable. But how often do we refer to them as possessing wisdom? And, do we necessarily equate specialists with good leadership? Sometimes, I suppose. However, we always seem to equate good leadership with wisdom.

So where does the wisdom that guides good leadership come from? What do the great leaders of the past share that the specialists of today do not? It’s simple. They share a high concentration of knowledge in its disparate forms. For example, Franklin had a wide range of interests including natural sciences, literature, and politics. He was an inventor, civil activist, diplomat, author, and political theorist. Thomas Jefferson was many things, including an architect, author, lawyer, musician, botanist, inventor, philosopher, political theorist, and naturalist. And while Abraham Lincoln didn’t fit the lettered tradition associated with the Renaissance archetype, he certainly made up for it by being a remarkable autodidact in business, military affairs, law, and engineering. For example, he still holds the distinction of being the only U.S. president to receive a patent by designing a system for lifting riverboats off sandbars.

The never-ending quest for speed through specialization appears to have come at a steep cost. We haven’t changed the way each one of us thinks about ourselves individually. Our egos still tell us all that we’re all of above average intelligence. However, we have drastically changed the way we educate ourselves by emphasizing, to an absurd degree, the value we place upon commodifying ourselves to be more marketable. Who has time to learn something that isn’t marketable? We’ve STEM’ed ourselves stupid.

Psychologists talk about the Dunning-Kruger effect. If we’re unaware of what we don’t know to such a degree that we can’t conceive of somebody knowing more about it, we tend to think we’re as knowledgable about the subject as those who actually do know the subject inside out; witness Donald Trump. As such, I think we need a new term to describe what society is suffering due to our dogmatic adherence to Franklin’s “time is money” maxim. Perhaps, the societal malaise can be summed up as mass suffering from the Dunning-Kruger effect.

The Mass Delusion of Self-Actualization



Don’t part with your illusions: when they are gone you may still exist, but you have ceased to live. — Mark Twain

The latest plague to sweep our planet has seen me thinking hard about Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. And I’ve concluded that, for roughly the past decade, I’ve been viewing myself with the 20/20 vision that only the truly delusional are capable. I honestly thought that I had attained the stage in my life that Maslow dubbed “self-actualization.” I haven’t. And if you think you have, well, you’re delusional too.

For those unfamiliar with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, a bit of context. Maslow set out his theory in a paper published in 1943 titled “A Theory of Human Motivation.” In it, he describes a five layer pyramid of ascending human needs beginning with the most basic like clean air and water, food, sleep, and intercourse, of course, because none of would even be here if we didn’t procreate. We’re intrinsically motivated to satisfy these first level needs, and once satisfied, our motivation to action matures to the next level — safety. Once we feel safe, our motivation turns to interpersonal needs. Those satisfied, we seek confirmation of social status from ourselves and others. Finally, we reach the pinnacle where we express the motivations society generally ascribes to what it really means to be human.

I say “what it really means to be human” because we can find examples throughout the social animal world of the four previous motivations. But, are you self-actualized? Are you, really human? Or, just another animal hanging on by your fingernails to a precarious simulacrum of humanity? Only recently, I’ve come to understand it’s the latter. I’ve come to understand we are only as self-actualized as the society we live in allows us to be.

It’s an easy mistake to make when times are good. When happenstance allows one to focus on “individuality.” But let’s break the pyramid down from the top. I can honestly say there is little about me during this pandemic that is feeling particularly creative. Little thought to my ego. True, I’m lucky to be loved, and, in turn, have others in my life that I love. But, as an abstract concept? Or, being motivated to “belong” to anything outside of my family? No — I can’t say that I’m too interested. Rather, I’m stuck squarely at making sure my family and loved ones are safe.

This is the society we live in. This is the society our “best and brightest” have engineered. It is the opposite of resilient, and therefore, the opposite of safe and dependable. As a result, the daily energy I could be exerting toward creativity, spontaneity, and problem solving instead goes into making sure myself and my family are safeguarded against being deprived of their most basic needs. And, as such, it is only logical to conclude that in order to attain self-actualization, I must be prepared to exist as an individual wholly independent from the “system” we’ve created. Everything I need for the survival of my family must exist at arms length. Remember that basic necessity of of sleep? Well, without these assurances in place, I really don’t.

Our world’s systems, despite the many labels we place upon them such as capitalism, socialism, or any number of theologisms is really little more than precaritism. This isn’t a new insight. The “precariat” is a term that has been thrown about in certain circles for some time now. However, it is typically reserved for the poor. But please, show me a self-actualized billionaire and I’ll show you a frightened effete building a bunker in New Zealand.

It took this pandemic to remove the blinders from my eyes. The rich aren’t building bunkers because of Covid-19. They’re building them, perhaps, because of global warming. Or, perhaps mass insurrection. Maybe an asteroid? The point being, those society deems most worthy of attaining the holy grail of self-actualization feel, deep in their bones, that one butterfly flapping its wings in just the right place and time will bring this entire charade to the ground.

The world we live in has never been one of anything more than basic animal motivations. And so I conclude, the ability to attain self-actualization isn’t what it means to be human — the ability to lie to ourselves is. Delusion, get behind me.

Toward a Land Ethic

**GUEST POST By Eric Anderson**

If you don’t know where you are, you don’t know who you are.
— Wendell Berry

I’ve thought a lot about immigration in my time, and confess, I’ve never thought very highly of it. Which, of late, seems to be an extremely unpopular position among liberals. But it’s not that I’m anti-immigrant, per se. It’s that I’m militantly pro-place. I sympathize with my place.

Not being inhumane, I do empathize with the plight of the refugee. However, their plight will always remain at one remove from me. I learned this from a pretty smart fellow who once observed that empathy is a problematic emotion because it is near automatic with those who are like us, and virtually non-existent with those who are not. Whereas, sympathy is a more useful emotion because it represents the care we feel about someone else who we want to feel better. Thus, we tend to help those we care about.

That being said, I submit that a land ethic exists in applying the aforementioned insight to the land we live on, with at least equal the gravity we apply it to people. Should you disagree, perhaps you have never discovered who you are, because you’ve never stayed in one place long enough to learn to care about it.

I am my place. We are inseparable, and my love of my place insuperable. I know its wrinkles, contours, temperament and fundament as I know the same of my wife and child. And as with my family, if I leave my place, my place suffers for the knowledge and support I remove. The converse seems true as well. Should I immigrate, I become a stranger in a strange land. I become a stranger to myself, who in my ignorance, suffers and longs for my place — which contagion cannot help but afflict those around me.

When times are hard, politically or otherwise, to abandon place is to be a traitor to oneself. And as cliché as it may sound, I mean it when I say that I will stay, fight, and die for my place because I am the steward of my place. It’s my family. To run from it is to run from myself. And if I run once, I will be running the rest of my life in shame.

Such cowardice drains the life from the place and the culture it’s built upon because the first to leave are always those with the most resources to do so. The materialists. Those who don’t know who they are because all they think about are themselves – and how to enhance their self with more material. Which flight begins a spiral, enabling the further destruction of place, because those having the most resources to confront the problems facing that place, remove them when they flee.

And here we are. Take a look in the mirror at your materialistic nation born of immigrants. Daily borne by the fear of trying to replace knowing who we are, with status symbols of what we are, because to know no place is in our blood. To empathize with those like us who flee in fear is genetically encoded in our blood. It is this difference between empathy for people, and sympathy for place, that allowed us to commit genocide upon the entire Native American population. Cowardice destroyed an entire civilization that knew better than any other who they were, because they intimately knew where they were.

I’ll be forever grateful for the fact that, by some turn of chance, I got lucky enough to know who I am. Blessed in knowing that I am my place. Blessed to know that the atoms and soul of my constituent parts are of my place. So please, don’t come to my place and destroy what I am, because you don’t know your place well enough to value who you are, enough to die for it.

Heaven is getting to eternally inhabit a mental picture of your favorite place.

Hell, is transience.

How to Fix Fake News

Pinocchio and Jiminy Cricket, provided by Seth Borenstein from

By Eric Anderson


The reason fake news exists is not complicated. The majority of journalists don’t follow a professional ethical code. It’s not that they don’t have an ethical code. It’s that they – or more likely their paymasters — don’t want to be held accountable for breaking it.

Four basic elements comprise the Society of Professional Journalism’s (SPJ) voluntary code of ethics: (1) seek truth and report it; (2) minimize harm; (3) act independently, and; (4) be accountable. But because there aren’t any penalties for not following the code, journalists are perfectly free to: (1) report lies; (2) maximize harm inflicted upon their paymasters enemies, for; (3) a corporate paycheck upon which they are absolutely dependent, and; (4) be left completely unaccountable for the damage done to society. What? You didn’t swoon?

Of course you didn’t. Because, the public already knows this to be the norm practiced by the large majority of “professional” journalists today — as demonstrated by the 2017 Gallup/Knight Foundation Survey on Trust, Media, and Democracy. The survey found that an overwhelming majority of Americans (84 percent) believe it is harder to be well informed and to determine which news is accurate. The same percentage also increasingly perceives journalists to be biased and they struggle to identify objective news sources. And again, hold on to the table: The survey concludes that “[a]mid the changing informational landscape, media trust in the U.S. has been eroding, making it harder for the news media to fulfill their democratic responsibilities of informing the public and holding government leaders accountable.”

Given such a trenchant indictment, and amid the obviously changing informational landscape, one might think the SPJ would be inclined toward some out-of-the-box thinking in an effort to address this catastrophic lack of public trust. Wrong! Just witness the puerile arguments regarding the reasons the SPJ doesn’t enforce their Code of Ethics:

• The SPJ thinks that encouraging fellow journalists and the public to hold news reports and commentary up to ethical scrutiny is the most effective antidote to questionable reporting — not quasi-judicial proceedings;
• And that establishing a quasi-judicial system, such as those found among other professions, would inevitably lead to actions by governments, thereby restricting protected speech;
• And that protected speech is vulnerable and placed in jeopardy whenever it’s allowed to be confused with, or limited by, the professional responsibility to act ethically;
• And that professional enforcement of ethics for news reporting would require more detailed provisions and case law that are far beyond their resources to provide, even if desirable, because no set of rules, however detailed, could possibly apply to all the nuances and ambiguities of legitimate expression;

These are nothing more than excuses as to why the SPJ advocates no action be taken to reform journalism in the modern age. Which begs the question: What action has the SPJ taken?

Well, it seems the SPJ has “entered into a partnership with Bloomberg to teach ethics to professionals.” Fox? Meet henhouse.

And, given that the hens are allowing the fox to rule the roost, it would be remiss to not ask another question: Can we really, in good faith, allow journalists to call themselves professionals?

I’m pretty sure the noted sociologist Eliot Freidson would not. Freidson posited five elements that define a professional:

(1) Adherence to an ideology that asserts a greater commitment to doing good work than to economic gain and to the quality rather than the economic efficiency of work

(2) Performs specialized work grounded in a body of theoretically-based, discretionary knowledge and skill that is accordingly given special status

(3) Possesses exclusive jurisdiction in a particular division of labor created and controlled by occupational negotiation

(4) Occupies a sheltered position that is based on qualifying credentials created by the occupation

(5) Has completed a formal training program that produces qualifying credentials, which are controlled by the occupation and associated with higher education

With good reason, all five factors apply to what are traditionally called the “white collar professions.” Because when doctors lie, people die — witness the opioid epidemic. When lawyers lie, people die. Don’t believe me? Do a quick web search of “dishonest prosecutor death penalty.” When engineers lie, people die –witness Boeing. In short, when professionals that broker in public trust tell lies, people needlessly die — witness Judith Miller. And witness, too, the utter lack of accountability that followed her comeback.

Fortunately, the factors outlined above also contain the cure to the changing informational landscape’s problem with fake news. Journalists can create sheltered positions that are based on qualifying credentials created by the occupation, combined with a formal training program that produces qualifying credentials that are controlled by the occupation and associated with higher education. Which, in turn, would result in truly professional journalists that assert greater commitment to doing good work than to economic gain, and to the quality rather than the economic efficiency of their work.

And hear the SPJ protest: Requiring the establishment of a quasi-judicial system, such as those found among other professions, would inevitably lead to actions by governments, thereby restricting protected speech! It might. But it doesn’t have to.

Coming full circle, we arrive back at the point where the SPJ has utterly failed to think outside the box.

Licensure does not need to be required in order to be effective. It can be voluntary, because the U.S. Constitution also enshrines another fundamental right – the right to enter into and be bound by contract. Just think, for a moment, the profound trust that would be instilled among the public for the journalists who were willing to put their necks on the line – for the truth.

Thus, the answer to the fake news problem can be solved as easily as it was created. A few brave and principled journalists just need to form a new organization that allows them to submit to licensing requirements, wherein their peers can sanction and revoke licensure like every other “professional” organization in the US that brokers in public trust. And for that, one can only hope their efforts will be applauded and secured throughout the remaining history of what once was, and still can be, a noble profession.

Until that time, journalism deserves every ounce of shame thrown upon its practice.

Placing the Precautionary Principle Before Profit

**This Post Is By Eric Anderson**

The overwhelming majority of Americans simultaneously live in two states of denial. The first, psychological denial, enables the second – the illusion we live in something other than a State of denial.

We live in psychological denial because we continue to think that we all share the equal right to opportunity, when in fact, the profit held by the 400 richest people in America exceed the profit held by two-thirds of American households. We live in denial because we continue to think those 400 people earn their profit, when in fact, by externalizing the byproducts of production they are subsidized at the expense of our safety, health and well-being. And we live in denial because we continue to think our politicians democratically represent us, when in fact it’s far from hyperbole to say 400 oligarchs represent us.

Collectively these issues — and too many more to mention — equate to living in a State of denial. The State denies our right to financial well-being. It denies our children their right to an ecologically sustainable future. And it denies we, the people, our right to collectively choose the rules by which we govern ourselves.

But if we are the State, which our Constitution tells us that we are, then how did we get here? How did we allow the few the right to amass such obscene wealth at the expense of the many? How did we allow the few the right to condemn our children to ecologic disaster? And how did we come to allow the few the right to represent the many?

I submit that we arrived at this sordid chapter in American history because we collectively forgot that there are no rights, without attendant duties. Simply put, the many failed in their collective duty to ensure that the few uphold their duty. We failed by obsessively focusing on our own rights. We allowed the few to profit at the expense of the many before looking to our well-being. But for the sake of our progeny, it is time the many force the few to do their duty. That duty is to place the precaution principle before profit.

The precautionary principle states: Activities that present an uncertain potential for significant harm should be prohibited unless the proponent of the activity shows that it presents no appreciable risk of harm.

The principle’s wisdom is demonstrated by the resilience of several age-old adages. We have long been warned to look before we leap. Warned to save nine stiches, by making one in time. Warned to avoid a pound of cure, by taking an ounce of prevention. And warned that it’s better to be safe, than sorry.

For example, beginning in the 1970’s many economists and business leaders began a thought crusade promoting market efficiency, proceeding on the untested theory that, if allowed to become obscenely wealthy, the benefits afforded the rich through deregulation would “trickle down” to everyone else. In hindsight, however, it’s not difficult to argue that the theory presented “an uncertain potential for significant harm.” And indeed, we have been harmed by the political backlash ensuing from the unprecedented economic inequality that has resulted. Would the many not have been better served by a policy prohibiting this neoliberal agenda until it’s proponents had shown it presented no appreciable risk of harm?

So too, in response to overwhelming public dismay over the ecologic destruction wrought by a century of unbridled capitalism, Richard Nixon signed the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) into law on January 1, 1970. Unfortunately, NEPA is all sound and no fury. It requires only Federal agencies to take a “hard look” at the environmental consequences of their actions, and to engage all practicable measures to prevent environmental harm. A hard look? All practicable measures? Would we be facing the civilization threatening crisis we call anthropogenic global warming if, instead, we had required the prohibition of all activity posing a risk of significant ecological harm unless the proponent of the activity showed that it presented no appreciable risk? Would we really be worse off today for having placed precaution for our delicate ecology, over profit for the few?

And finally, we hear no end to the furor over the 2010 Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United vs. FEC. But the process of rubber stamping rule by oligarchs arguably began in 1976 with the Court’s ruling in Buckley vs. Valeo. There, it was decided that money and speech are synonymous under the 1st Amendment. And two years later, in First National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti, the Supreme Court recognized corporation’s right to put that money where their mouth is, concluding that the value of speech in the course of political debate does not depend on the identity of the speaker. But two issues go unspoken in these decisions. The first is the volume of speech. The many are only allowed to turn the volume of their speech up to 1. But the few richest among us are allowed to turn the volume up to 11. The second is the duration of speech. The many only speak as long as they live. While the few, through their corporations, are allowed to speak in perpetuity. Would not the many be better served by a policy that prohibited such legal assault by the few until it’s proponents had shown that it presented no appreciable risk of harm to our democracy?

In Walden, Henry David Thoreau states “There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil for one who strikes at the root.” Make no mistake; there is no greater evil than a society that allows the few to profit at the expense of the many by exacting our equality, our ecology, and our democracy. Surprise, surprise — money is the root of the evil that bedevils us. But the good news is that the time tested, common sense cure has been right in front of our faces all along. We must demand a Constitutional Amendment forever enshrining the precautionary principle in the Constitution as a shield for we, the people, against the incessant pursuit of profit by the few. No better remedy for our ills exists. The many must begin to do their duty, and force the few to place the precautionary principle before profit.

If you enjoyed this article, and want more, please DONATE or SUBSCRIBE.

Page 1 of 2

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén