Where does enquiry take us? If we keep asking and asking it can remove the conditioning but it can also be the endless circular why of an inquisitive child. Enquiry could go nowhere. What enquiry needs to know is that it has found the answer – found the truth. That requires discernment. Through enquiry discernment can find the truth but you must know when to choose that truth. This sounds a bit heavy – must, and it sounds dogmatic because I have said “choose the truth”; however it is neither heavy nor dogmatic because there is no definitive truth - you make the choice. From our type of educational background this sounds wacky, it sounds as if we could accept any kind of false fact flying around the fringes of the internet, but with sound discernment that is not going to happen; I hope to make it clear why.
Most people do not make their own choices. Apparently there is a new (new-to-me) alt-right thing going round called NPC – non-player character in video games. It is being used to attack the liberals who the alt-right claim are just conditioned, as I have already said I agree that liberals are conditioned. But equally these alt-right MAWPs are being played all over the place, Caitlin Johnstone described these MAWPs as living in a “Republican echo chamber” (Tory/alt-right echo chamber) led there by their egos. Basically neither are the players, it is the conditioning that is “playing”, neither are making their own choices. And both are receiving their versions of truth, and are shouting my truth is better than yours because their truths are not truth but a set of ideas or facts they have no personal experience of. And some of these truths are absolutely ludicrous but we will get into that.
It is the conditioning that is playing, the agreements, that have been used to make up the ego. These egos are outer shells fashioned by upbringing, parents, education and society/media, and like a pinball these egos rebound from one set of conditions or agreements to another. To extend the video game analogy (as above NPC is terminology from video games), the conditioning and agreements function like programming; the ego is programmed to do what it does. Choice exists when we move beyond that ego, but as I discussed in the last chapter going beyond ego, removing conditioning, is not easy. But as activists, pathtivists, we must learn to make our own choices, not simply react, be averse, to the conditioning we have received. And as activists we must help people to make their own choices, and not simply give them a new set of conditions - or agreements because they like what we say. As activists we want to impart the ability to choose without conditioning, and not impart the choices leading to the sankhara shell that we accept. If it is choice without ego we have made an activist. If that choice is different to ours and it is a choice without ego, we must have the strength to begin to question our own choices in that situation.
And that is the situation the progressive left is in now. They are arguing about which narrative, where to go next, how can Trump and Brexit have happened, how can EU be going so right. Then they hold up the Marx manual, look at this wonderful enshrinement, let’s join this church, this set of ideas, and the alt-right egos scream we don’t want more of the same. And the alt-right points at the Democrats or Labour or EU liberal/left opportunists, and say there is your enshrinement. Are they wrong? NO. They are wrong with the conclusions they then draw because those conclusions are based on the manipulations, primarily of the MAWP egos, but they are not wrong to reject adherence to a set of limited ideals.
Let me very clear at this point, I think Marxist analysis is very sound. As a way of describing the political situation in the mid-19th century it is very clear. Similar forces to the bourgeoisie remain in power to this day – I call this the 1%-satrapy. The Zandtao narrative can very easily be seen as a simplified Marxism made contemporary:-
But also let me be clear, I would like you to choose a narrative similar to the Zandtao narrative. BUT I don’t want you to believe it, I don’t want you to receive it as an external truth, I don’t want you to take it on faith. If you are choosing and not your ego choosing, and you don’t choose the Zandtao narrative go for it. Examine your choice. Is it conditioning? Is it based on agreements that you had to make growing up? Is it based on desires that come from materialism attaching to ego? Have you observed society in a detached way, and are certain your choice is not based on attachment? And you don’t agree, go for it. I have no issue with you.
Is your choice based in compassion and therefore truth? NO. Then I do disagree with you, because compassion is the place where choice comes from when there is no conditioning. Compassion is the fundamental human nature, all questioning, all enquiry, all removal of conditioning and social agreements, all of these remove the ego to reveal compassion, a deep compassion, a loving compassion, a drive that has no ego, no attachment, a drive that calls for the end of suffering for all. A pathtivist/activist has this drive, in a sense it is all they know. And if your actions as a person do not come from compassion then they are not the actions of a person who has moved beyond conditioning. This compassion is the only assertion a pathtivist makes, it is the core of activism, it is who we are in the struggle. And if our actions are not compassionate, then we have to question ourselves.
It is compassion that discerns. It is compassion that makes our own choices, compassion chooses truth. Before the Bolshevik revolution do we see compassion from the Tsars? NO. Were the Bolsheviks compassionate? Maybe. After the revolution do we see compassion? No we see suffering, whatever the causes, no matter how much Imperialist interference. Do we see suffering in Stalinism? Do we see suffering in Yeltshin, Putin? With all this suffering, no matter how much interference, is it any wonder caring people criticise Marxism? But of course people criticising Marxism because of the USSR more often than not are coming from a position of ego in that they don’t see the wars that are being waged by the 1% to increase their (1% not MAWP) accumulation, they don’t see the foreign interference, they don’t see the 1%-satrapy, they don’t see the suffering they cause because their apathy towards government has allowed their democracies to be hijacked by neoliberalism. Compassion fights this apathy making us activists, pathtivists.
Socialism talks of enabling for all, but if it is not the end of suffering for all it is not compassionate and we need to question. When we question socialism are we questioning the spirit of socialism, in my view no. But I am questioning adherence to an ideal if that egoic attachment causes suffering. Socialist egos blame capitalism and its interference, there is some truth in that, but can all the actions of socialism be described as compassionate? That is for every socialist to answer, I have come to my own understanding on this. One answer I will share is that socialists without ego are compassionate, that is enough for me.
Compassion requires engagement; when we feel our deep compassion engagement, activism, follows as a duty to that compassion, to nature. When there is no engagement, when there is apathy – asking with frustration “what can we do?”, then we know there is ego. Compassion’s frustration together with the ego that does not engage is the anger we see in many young people, an anger that is based in aversion, an anger that the older people will say “they will grow out of it”. The lack of compassion in these old people is saddening, apathy has worn them down, their egos have chosen to live in comfort and materialism, and somehow they have managed to bury their compassion – or at least control it by whatever compromise with material benefits they have made. Their apathy has chosen to allow suffering for others in the world, their egos have chosen fear and so many other people suffer because of these personal choices. The pathtivist cannot accept apathy in themselves, but at the same time because they are living through compassion there is no guilt. Their compassion struggles, they question themselves to improve their own struggle, but that is not guilt questioning but compassion improving itself. Living with their compassion means that when they sit on their stools they can feel compassion without feeling guilt. There is sadness for the state of the world but there is not depression, there is no need to escape, to run from the suffering because they are living with their compassion. This is the emphasis of pathtivism, an activist with compassion – living and deciding with compassion.
Compassion discerns truth but whilst that is true, it is far easier to say than to do. Listen to Chomsky here. These accumulators use their satrapies to destroy Gaia, to destroy their life whilst they feed the addictions their egos have caused. I feel compassion for their addiction and I feel compassion for the suffering their addiction causes. How can their addiction destroy the life we all are?
Recently their addiction has caused a danger that exists now more than ever before. During my life the internet came, and there was hope amongst many that the ability to communicate would help us make people aware. When my activism started what was difficult was access to people. For many activism therefore lay in education because education was enforced – “universal”. Of course we knew that education was primarily there to create wage-slaves but we hoped that through education we could perhaps make more people aware. From my own experience the 1%-satrapy has controlled education sufficiently that good actors within education are unable to make a significant difference to truth. That is not a call for the end of activism in education, just a recognition that it is well-controlled.
We deluded ourselves about the internet because of our intellectual egos. Our sankhara shells deluded us into thinking that people didn’t have access to the truth, that was the basis of our strategy. We held meetings to give them access to the truth, meetings where we were able to communicate some awareness. We were mistaken in thinking that awareness was the problem. Throughout my early life media was limited to television, and of course the news was controlled. This MSM presented what the 1%-satrapy wanted us to hear – their aspect of the conditioning. But there were still activists in the media, and at the time I contended that there were sufficient media programmes on the TV to make people aware.
But people did not choose to watch those programmes. Putting on education in the movement wasn’t offering anything that was not on MSM, it was choosing information to make people aware but people could have chosen for themselves. Those people who became aware chose to attend those meetings, heard what was being said, chose to listen, and formed a bond with the people in those meetings. They formed a movement of activists, but that activism was predicated on the choice to attend and become aware. Anyone could have discerned the truth from MSM, but most people through their conditioning chose entertainment, propaganda and conformity; their egos were comfortable.
Because activists believed the issue was awareness the internet was a hope. Every activist could create a website, and put the truth out there. We misunderstood because we thought that the problem was our inability to get people to meetings where we could make them aware. The problem was completely different. It was that people’s egos chose not to listen, it was not that they didn’t know, it was not that they weren’t exposed to the truth, it was that their egos chose not to listen – not to engage.
But this hope of the internet was still a threat to the 1%-satrapy, if people had easier access to the truth through the internet maybe their satrapies would be threatened. In my young adulthood MSM displayed images of Vietnam. Whilst they tried to control information about this war, whose fault etc., these images raised compassion amongst westerners. There was much activism, shamefully not from me, about the war, and eventually the movement ended the war. Sufficient activism could end the 1% wars for profit, and this obviously concerns the 1%. From the 1% point of view people cannot be allowed to understand that these wars are part of their accumulation, and with the increasing communication of the internet there was a greater possibility that people would choose to become aware, would choose activism, would try to end neoliberalism, would try to end the apathy.
Their strategy was to cause confusion. The internet has potential for democracy, has the potential for every voice to be heard, for the interests of the 99% to outweigh the interests of the 1%. So they needed a strategy of confusion, and to achieve this confusion they financed those who supported their interests. Essentially the internet reflects the status quo of mainstream media because the internet has been financed. To learn from the internet we have to look at sources which are not financed by the 1%. To understand the internet we have to understand that it is money talking, and so when we examine internet information we have to understand the finance. This is where discernment comes in, we have to understand the finance before we can see the truth.
We can begin thinking about this by looking at this Occupy article connecting right-wing extremism to the internet mainstream on youtube. The other day I told a right-wing acquaintance I never use youtube. This is not true but I never use it to learn where to look politically. My reasoning is based on the Dark Money Network, personally I have seen incredible bias to the right on youtube. I accept that judgement is subjective, and doesn’t happen now because my own discernment affects Google's algorithms.
"I never use it politically" is of course clearly untrue as my blogs often link to youtube clips but politically youtube never uses me. It appears that the youtube model wants you to "just keep watching". I do that with comedy shows but I will not do it with politics or interest groups. If I got a clip from an article or blog, at first I noticed that what starts as a left-wing clip moved to the right as you go down the list. My interests were left-wing so there was no way I clicked on them. This has helped.
However when I am researching I might go to a website I have doubts about, so I always read "about". You can usually see that the website is funded but there are clues, to be discerning you must learn to recognise the clues. When I read about Derek Black it was clear that his erstwhile movement were attempting to move more mainstream, he once said they were trying to dissociate from the sociopaths. Good recruiters select facts and present them in a reasonable manner, that is their acumen. If you don’t recognise the name such as the AIN then some people could easily be seduced by reasonableness. Remember they are only trying to crack the shells of feeble egos.
Conservative and traditional are often words used to gently seduce. These are words that appeal to those in fear worried about changes happening around them and unable to control their lives, white middle-class backgrounds are breeding grounds of such fears. Turning Point USA appeals to the conservative and traditional, on this site there is right-wing money trying to influence university campuses particularly with their nasty "professor watchlist". "The organization's mission is to identify, educate, train, and organize students to promote the principles of freedom, free markets, and limited government" [here]. I have always seen independent, business-oriented and things like "financially sound" as right-wing indicators. All of these values I would love to see. Genuine freedom for all based on compassion - freedom from suffering for all, not the MAWP freedom of ego-driven selfishness. I want free markets where there are no tariffs, cartels, price-fixing, market mechanisms, no foreign intervention politically or diplomatically, no cash crops, no neocolonial deals brokered by governments, IMF, World Bank, GATT or whatever conquistadores now do the bidding of the 1%, just free trade, supply and demand as you get at your local market. The free markets these right-wingers (as conditioned by 1%-money) want is the high level control (such as market mechanisms) without regulations to limit their resourcing and market control. The only government I want to see is the government that helps the unfortunate, helps those who can't help themselves, using whatever they need to do as a government to ensure this, such as taxing the rich and not the poor, paying for better schools, universal health care etc.
Business-oriented and financially sound are concerned with maintaining neoliberalism. They mean "only profits matter", and have nothing to do with genuine free trade.
Independent has come to be a particularly distasteful word for me now with regards to the internet. Basically in many cases it can mean "Dark Money Network"-funded - as opposed to crowd-funded.
Tradition is something I support, I devoted a chapter to it in the Treatise. But our movement has tradition. Many devotees are proud to discuss the historic struggles of comrades, my fondest memories of activists were of those who had spent their lives in the struggle, living it, breathing it, proud of contributions made by those that had gone before. In the same way that I saw tradition as a guide to the spiritual in the Treatise, I see tradition as a guide to the movement. Such traditional comrades are not driven by ego, they work for the movement, are guided by the movement, take their instruction from the movement, and are the torch-bearers of the movement from generation to generation. Of course such is not the tradition Turning Point offers as bait, that tradition is wealth, wealth exploiting from generation to generation, exploiting slaves, exploiting people who were living in poverty, working in dangerous mines to come home with crumbs for their families, whilst this wealthy tradition had their balls and considered themselves superior. Tradition in the movement provides strength and wisdom, the tradition of Turning Point is simply the result of a history of oppression and exploitation.
"[I]t becomes clear to even the casual observer that politically YouTube now belongs to the far-right - just like Twitter largely, with one notable presidential exception, belongs to the left," [here]. In the same article it quoted a Guardian analysis which asserted that the youtube algorithm distorted towards the right - Guardian clip. Knowledge of the algorithm came from an ex-Google worker, Guillaume Chaslot. It could be sour grapes, I just don't know enough.
I am forced away from the facts as usual. But I did find a plausible explanation for the youtube and google search bias, watch this. It is taken from a TED talk by Berit Anderson. In another clip she pinpointed Robert Mercer as a bad actor. It would make sense that Robert Mercer could finance this. As my short clip shows he has backed Trump (Real News Network says this as well), was involved with Cambridge Analytica and Breitbart, and most importantly he has the AI skills and interest. Berit Anderson quotes Jonathan Albright, a respected academic, and she also talks about Sam Woolley and computational propaganda. As for Berit herself, she is a liberal promoting her business, so there is a question of compromise. As I said above this is a plausible explanation, but I personally cannot be 100% about it. Judge for yourself.
So let's consider analysis. There is a proliferation of right-wing think tanks - money, independent right-wing websites with videos (videos require money), and my initial observation. This is too flimsy. I have a personal observation. Two MAWPs I know spend a lot of time on youtube, down a rabbit-hole of right-wing bilge. Again flimsy.
I go back to the Occupy article and quote again "it becomes clear to even the casual observer that politically YouTube now belongs to the far-right - just like Twitter largely, with one notable presidential exception, belongs to the left," [here], the plausible explanation I gave above, and my own subjective opinion. I am satisfied but I have not offered proof - and it is not an issue of insight.
There is more. Go here to download a report about media manipulation. It discusses an Alternative Influence Network (AIN) which is a broader Intellectual Dark Web; this AIN is probably Berit's "shadow net". As with the IDWeb the AIN is useful to know about, there is a list of people who are presenting right-wing bias – or who are encouraging it.
Going back to my position I personally (subjectively) know that youtube is biassed right. Unfortunately that youtube bias has developed into a populist following so that AIN (IDWeb) could now argue that they are a response.
I have also looked at Google's search engine. People have studied this and shown it to be racist - Racist AI. Safiya Noble gave a TED talk on Algorithms of Oppression. In this she strongly indicated how search engines are racist and sexist. Now this is because of how I assume the search engine algorithm works - I don't know how it works, and there is strong secrecy about the algorithms because of powerful interests wanting to manipulate.
Fundamentally search engine rankings are based on what is loosely called the market, the most visited sites are highest up the rankings – I don’t want to assume anything more nefarious than this. Google is an advertising business, high rankings mean advertising revenue. It is not based on human values eg the most creative has no component within the Google model.
What are the implications of this marketing model? I contend that marketing and bell hooks' wonderful "white supremacist patriarchal society" are symbiotically linked. I am quite happy to say as I am not a scientist that marketing is patriarchal. Is marketing white supremacist? Much more of a leap, but maybe?
But I don't want to get too bogged down in language because bell's language turns the ignorant off. Marketing is the 1%-system might not raise so many hackles, it is not any sort of leap to see that owners of big companies selling products are interested in marketing. And what are the characteristics of the 1%-system? Quite simple, the 1% exploit the 99% for profit. Not a biggy to say that. And it's not a big jump to then say that marketing exploits the 99%.
For me that does not need explaining but let's examine it anyway. I need to buy so I have to learn about what choices I have to buy. Let's take food. I remember a TED talk, I think Dean Ornish, in which he describes the supermarket shelf as having many brand names but no difference in food choices. I know as a person who would love to eat 100% organic that I cannot go to a supermarket and do that. In other words in a supermarket I cannot choose to eat healthy; I cannot eat healthy although my choices can improve my diet. Market apologists turn round and say people are not choosing organic so it is not available. To counter that I argue that people are conditioned not to eat what is good for them, and we end in confrontation.
Marketing fashions what we know is available, and the results of search engines are based on the fashioning of the marketers. How can this be changed? Regulate search engines?
Search engines reflect the market, search engines reflect society. And that is why search engines are racist and sexist as Safiya Noble says. The algorithms reflect the way humanity acts. I did not say it reflects the way humanity is.
However Google's algorithms work there is strong evidence they effectively go right. Therefore discernment dictates being circumspect about use of Google Search. To learn about Hillary Clinton's politics a Google search of "Hillary Clinton" will move rightwards, "democratic view of Hillary Clinton's policies" or "left-wing analysis of Hillary Clinton's policies" will give more truth. Discernment in this day and age has to be focussed because the internet is now controlled - controlling the internet was a strategy described by Hillary in her policy statement back in 2010 - focussing on establishment values of freedom, security and international control but NO net neutrality. What I discern from this speech is that the internet is to be part of "business as usual" for the neoliberal establishment. The western value of freedom is integral to this because with freedom as usual the 1%-satrapy functions in controlling the 99%. Genuine freedom comes from truth and compassion and are not part of the 1%-satrapy. For many conditioned this discussion of freedom and security (right-wing code words for establishment as usual) borders on the extreme, sadly that is where this position is situated. Don't dismiss it because of that, investigate and enquire. Why do so many who follow the path express similar views? Is it Path 101 or does compassionate enquiry take us there? Don't believe me - belief in someone else's ideas is meaningless; enquire.
As for youtube, link to it only from blogs, articles or trusted recommendations otherwise I contend their algorithm will move you to the right because of manipulation (market or not).
There is a lack of discernment built into the models of both facebook and twitter - lack of quality. It is the quantity of likes, followers and subscribers that matters. Now clearly this matters if you are using facebook to monetise or build an audience, but it matters less so on a personal level. In terms of facebook's newsfeed this quantity of followers matters because it is then easier to slip in a "sponsored feed". On the right of the facebook page is advertising but there is also the advertising of the sponsored feeds, this is the advertising that Cambridge Analytica used in its microtargeting. They use an advertising technique. Now the purpose of advertising (marketing) is to create a need to buy where previously there wasn't one, if you bought this maybe you want to buy this - look at the pretty girl. With political microtargeting, the right wing (could be Democrat/Labour of course) finds a particular interest and then shows how that interest would be served by voting right. Because it is in your newsfeed (as a sponsored link), if you have many friends you don't notice that it is advertising - potentially political advertising. If you limit friends or you discerningly refuse to read sponsored links, then this does not work. Be discerning.
In the third bullet of the Zandtao narrative I describe the 99% as being indentured consumers:-
Consuming is the fundamental purpose of the internet. Look at the microtargeting of Cambridge Analytica described above. Facebook collects your information, sells it to businesses who can then use your profile to tweak their ads to con you into thinking that is what you need, that is what you desire. Look for the word “sponsored”, and skip over it. If there is a commercial link in facebook you want, copy and paste into your browser – DO NOT CLICK. If you know what you want go directly there, don’t use search, if you search there is a history. The more information that you give them the more the microtargeted ad will appear personal, and the more you will be at risk in spending money on something you don’t need. We have limited money, we must consume to survive, but we don’t want to consume what we don’t need. And that is basically what marketing and advertising wants you to do.
In general recognise that the internet is a commercial market-place, controlled by the 1%, and it is not politically neutral. You must approach it with discernment. Clips are easier - watching is much easier than reading, but you have to read. There are no costs in writing a blog, making a video-clip other than a smartphone requires money; where there is money there is bias. Whilst the internet can be a learning tool, when it comes to understanding politics power and influence it cannot be relied on. Treat the internet the way you treat conversation. Listen to those people (real friends) you trust. Don't seek political info from the internet as you cannot be sure of its bias. If you want to know what Corbyn says, listen to Corbyn and not all the people who put words in his mouth. But maybe Corbyn is lieing - judge for yourself or trusted friends. If you are in an interest group at the time of elections, be aware that they could be manipulated - only read the views of people you know. But when you decide about politics (or anything) be discerning, rely on yourself, rely on your own understanding, and generally do not believe anything unless you know the source. Discernment. When you choose friends you must be discerning, they are your choice. It is your responsibility to choose friends wisely offline. It is not society's responsibility to ensure that your friends are good people. This applies to internet contacts as well. The internet is open to all kinds of manipulations, be aware of this and be discerning. Don't speak to internet strangers.
When we are enquiring both spiritually and politically we have to enquire somewhere to get guidance – to find the truth. As mass media the internet is relatively new so how we approach the internet is also new. For many the internet is seen as neutral but in reality the internet has been appropriated by finance perhaps even more than mainstream media (MSM), and all people using the internet have to be careful, particularly careful if you are seeking political truth.
But discernment concerning the internet is not the only discernment we need. I grew up with MSM so when I started on the path MSM was where I began to discern for the truth. There was none there – mostly. I always sought truth through alternate means. In the Treatise Ch21 I described the upheaval that started me on the path. At that point it was like starting again – I rejected everything, upbringing, education, social norms. What mattered to me then was finding other people on the path, and I was fortunate to find a group of arts people who helped me on my way. Their connection with their muse, my starting on the path, there was common ground. Rather than being isolated in my upheaval I had people who affirmed what was a different experience (from the norm). Whilst there may well have been people on the path in MSM eg the Beatles, MSM didn’t want to know about path, they only wanted to know about what sold – what fit in with the 1%-satrapy at the time.
I was also fortunate at the time of my upheaval to be in the early-mid 70s where there were still people around who had rejected society in the hippies movement. I had experienced my upheaval at a time when people were questioning the Victorianism that had been society in post-war Britain. There was plenty to source on this alternative scene in London, but it was done through personal recommendation. At my time of upheaval I learned to discern people in terms of the path. What mattered was the path, that was what I sought in others, that was what I tried to discern.
This period of starting on the path and consolidating it was intense for 18 months, and by then I moved into teaching where there were few who considered the path, good caring liberal people (some more caring than others) but they had little interest in the path. But the path was still central to my life even though I was now mainstream.
At this time I was still learning to discern. I was an educational activist, I was not politically aware at the time. I was confronted by a group of SWP teachers whose politics rode roughshod over education, and they alienated me from politics because of this. They taught me much of what is negative in politics. When I moved on from that school I became a political activist, learning first from African activists, and then through comrades in the movement. There was a huge difference between these comrades and the SWP who had alienated me but this difference was not in the rhetoric – they said the same thing all advocating Marxism. Basically the comrades I learned from were not bound to their egos, not bound to the sankhara shells of idealism, not trying to force people into accepting the creed. The keyword for these comrades was discipline, and what this discipline did was control the ego.
But in my mind I saw these comrades differently, they cared about the people they were fighting for. Whilst the SWP were vehement in the struggle, what mattered to them was the ideology. In the school with the SWP there was never a year 3 parents’ evening (now year 9). That evening occurred in March prior to the new education budget in April. The SWP always agitated against the cuts in the budget so there was always action (a work-to-rule) during March so no parents’ evening. You might say that teachers should have been agitating against the budget reductions, and I agree but for it to be effective the agitation needed to be all the teachers. Many teachers felt similar alienation as I did. They would have liked an improved budget, maybe would have been a bit more active, but they knew an SWP-directed action was going nowhere. The school just accepted there was no 3rd year parents’ evening. In retrospect to me what the SWP did then was not constructive action but action based on their own need to be doing something.
You could not discern true activism from the rhetoric as that was the same, when I later saw what disciplined comrades did I understood the requirements of activism and the dangers of alienation.
By the time I had got involved with this teacher activism I was not trying to discern the path, I was looking to discern people who were genuinely working for change for all. I knew it was not the emotional egoic-based activism that I had seen in the SWP, egos that produced alienation rather than commitment to the struggle. By this time I was working in the mainstream not seeking answers in the alternative, I was not seeking people on the path either and because I wasn’t I rarely met them especially when I was deeply involved in politics. In fact that politics tended to create a schism between spirituality and politics, and when I reflected deeply about this I could not understand it because one of my personal political objectives was to give people the economic freedom to be spiritual – the freedom to follow their own paths. Someone working all hours to earn the money to feed their families could not possibly have found the time to be spiritual.
I was involved in mainstream trade union politics, and this meant that I required an understanding of the mainstream. I had rejected the mainstream during my upheaval, and then when I was involved in activism I learnt the lies that people were being told in MSM. And I learnt through the people who spoke on platforms. I discerned the difference between those who spoke with compassion and those who simply spoke the rhetoric, and a key characteristic of these compassionate was discipline. On the platforms I began to see people who spoke the truth, and people who would say whatever to try to persuade, discipline-based compassion spoke the truth, ideals didn’t necessarily. I became attracted to these discipline-based people. They had sister organisations across the world, organisations that valued truth above ideals, organisations for whom truth was a byword. This collaboration was a process of discernment.
But within my own country I had to discern the truth of what was happening, I had to keep up with the news in order to speak with non-activists, and be able to work with them concerning what was happening. This was no easy matter when these people were being lied to, and I had to try and convey the truth beyond these lies. It was particularly difficult because ordinary people were alienated from the idealists, and their first reaction would to associate me with them. Whilst these idealists were very solid within their own organisations they made little inroads into the mainstream because the mainstream was alienated.
As activists we learned about MSM, where there was some truth, where there was just complete lies, basically understanding the media was just discernment. And that process continues to this day.
I wish to consider a case-study concerning discernment, that is the case of Corbyn, Labour and Antisemitism. Corbyn was around the movement when I was active in the 80s, I never knew him but knew of him. Because of what I knew I am convinced he is an anti-racist, it is a great advantage in considering this case study to know that he is not antisemitic.
Historically Corbyn was a Trot - probably the most liked after Tony Benn, and the Trots in the Labour party often alienated membership in the 80s (as discussed above) - when I first became aware of Corbyn. But he was a sound MP representing his constituency well so he stayed active within the party.
How was he first treated by his party when he was voted in? There was a vote of “no confidence”. Is this a sensible tactic of an opposition party trying to get in government to show the nation that they were divided. The vote failed as Corbyn increased his share. Why was there a vote? Under Blair Labour fulfilled its neoliberal function, doing the 1%-bidding including war on Iraq against the views of British people. Corbyn stood against Blairite MP’s and won – surprisingly at the time. But there were still Blairite MP’s in parliament, the 1% did not want Corbyn so a vote of “no confidence”. It is evident they are fighting Corbyn, are regularly quoted in the media doing so, and are more concerned with doing their paymasters' duties than ousting the Tories. Since then Corbyn has called for a democratisation of the party wanting the MP’s to be representative of the people, not manipulated into power to support a 1%-puppet.
These opportunists are now afraid for their jobs because they know they are only there by manipulation, their views are not socialist, and they are not mass movement politicians. The media calls Corbyn’s democratisation “deselection”. If an MP is voted out democratically, isn’t that democracy in action? No the media wants these neoliberal Blairites, so Corbyn is attacked by MSM. First part of the case study.
As a joke I always say that Chris Mullin failed in his book "A Very British Coup". I don't know whether he is anti-neoliberalism but he recognised the power of neoliberal forces. However he failed to recognise that the way that force would now manifest would be "antisemitism". It is somewhat ironic that a fierce anti-racist and gender activist is being attacked for antisemitism. But all the neoliberal forces are amassed against him. Blairites, the media, all stand up to create division, and I particularly note that the Guardian has shown its true colours with its continued attack.
Corbyn has always stood up for Palestine, for the Israeli government it is a problem if a Palestinian supporter became head of the UK government. So the Israeli government is against Corbyn for his support of Palestine, and they are trying to equate being pro-Palestinian with being antisemitic. So the Israeli government has attacked Corbyn for being antisemitic. Not fair but a typical tactic.
Within the Labour party there are Jews who support the Israeli government, they attack Corbyn. Within the wider Jewish community there are Jews who support the Israeli government so they attack Corbyn. But there are Jews within Israel, Jews within Labour, and Jews within the wider UK community, all who defend Corbyn.
With the Jewish community being so divided as to whether Corbyn is antisemitic, why has the row dragged on? It has been dragged on by the neoliberal media as the 1% are supporters of the Israeli government. Certainly some of the 1%, such as Sheldon Adelson, send money to Israel. The 1% MSM, as media puppets, also attack Corbyn, and strong note should be made of the Guardian’s continual attack on Corbyn. And of course those opportunist Blairite MP’s such as Margaret Hodge who called a vote of no confidence are in the forefront of Labour critics of Corbyn’s supposed antisemitism.
Neoliberal bias in the media doesn’t end there. I still have a British sense of humour, and enjoy Mock the Week. Throughout the programme one of their joke lines is an attack on Corbyn for being unable to solve the antisemitic problem. When you look at the power of the players involved in the assault on Corbyn, it is amazing the problem is not far worse. I also find Micky Flanagan’s stage act funny – perhaps because I know the East End a bit, but there is no way I would trust his views. There is a need for tolerance, tolerant but discerning.
In virtually everything you have to be discerning, it is no wonder that there are some who advocate you should never watch MSM. I disagree. To be informed of what they are doing it is necessary to watch and discern.
Hollywood is a major part of western MSM, and they repeatedly promote the heroism of war. Equally they promote the heroism of the CIA, FBI and the police, although all voices are not completely unified. Hollywood has also recently promoted the notion of Deep State, and presented heroes fighting the Deep State. One of my favourite early movies was Redford’s “3 Days of the Condor” which was recently remade as a TV series.
There are no doubts in my mind that the alt-right promote attacks on the Deep State as part of an attack on bloated government, I find this an amazing appropriation considering the history of Deep State involvement in the disruption of the mass movement. I listened to Yanis Varoufakis on the Deep State. One thing he said frightened me, in the rise of Hitler Goebbels used propaganda about the Deep State to promote their fascism.
In his talk Yanis described his view of the Deep State, and this is not the view of the Hollywood thrillers. In his talk, he includes the security (and intelligence) aspect, but he focuses on 4 deep states:-
I would describe this Deep State as a combination of finance and conditioning; the purpose of the Deep State is therefore to promote the interests of the 1%.
If we listen to Hollywood without discernment we will be sucked into the world of propaganda the 1% want you to believe. Remember conditioning is all around us, we have to consciously discern what is happening.
In looking at the media, MSM and internet, we are discerning facts and opinions, we are discerning the implications of the 1%-satrapy with its power and influence pervading every echelon of our lives. But we can’t always know the facts no matter how discerning we might be, and everyone is entitled to their opinion. In much of this chapter I have presented analysis based on my experience and compassion; how true is it? I understand it to be true but I have no way of proving. But the path has given me the confidence to trust my compassion and analysis. However you can't trust me, you don't know me. My words might ring true, they might strike a chord deep within, but I would not want it quoted as truth - it is my opinion (with compassionate analysis); it is not insight. You must determine your own truth. For me this chapter is a guide to how you ask questions, and how you develop discernment; if you follow the path you don't believe anything, you don't accept conditioning nor agreements.
To be discerning we need to detach ourselves and see if there are different yardsticks, different ways we can assess truth. One thing we know about someone who always tells the truth is that they are moral. So in attempting to discern the truth we can use as a guide whether the person has sila, moral integrity. Discerning sila is one way to begin to find some truth. When we look at our electoral representatives how high are they on this sila yardstick? Soon after retiring and focussing on Buddhism I focussed on sila - not being something I had previously paid great attention to. Through insight I realised that the only way we can have a stable society is if we live through compassion and always try to have moral integrity – the moral integrity provides the social infrastructure for the way we deal with each other. I will discuss the importance of insight when I reflect on the inner struggle, but I ask you to consider the importance of sila. I specifically ask for your discernment in considering only leaders with sila.
If someone chooses political power as a way forward I immediately begin to question my trust in them because of the potential in power to attract ego. I distrust the way my own ego was invested when politically active. But when I compare my own egoic entrapment with those I struggled with, for many their egos were far more invested. And that applies to good people in the movement. However many people seeking office were/are not good people, they were/are opportunists who said and did whatever for power.
Yet around me in the movement no-one spoke of ego, at best they spoke of discipline. This discipline was based on trust, adherence to a party line and collective understanding reached as policy that the disciplined followed. This worked for smaller groups but did not work for the large organisations, the organisations with political power. For those who adhered to such discipline there was an element of control of the ego but few in the movement were not sucked in by their egos attracted by power. However amongst grass roots campaigning there was a strong attachment to the community, enabling the community being a strong proportion of their political activity. This was compassion and beneficial. But I wonder how the community saw these activists when they got involved with political power. Did that involvement bring with it suspicion as people saw the rising of ego?
However there is one sure measure of discernment amongst activists and that is those who talk of and mean sustainability:-
For many years I have heard politicians talk of sustainability but as they work within a 1%-satrapy this cannot have any substance as neoliberalism requires resource exploitation without giving back. It requires young people to say the truth Greta Thunberg, Anjali Appadurai and Severn Suzuki, but of course they are not in politics and have no power over resource exploitation. Some people are taking sustainable steps but the exploitation of Gaia by our global economic system has significantly worsened in my lifetime.
In the end no matter who we are we are forced to compromise, but if we develop a sense of discernment then we can see genuineness within all the compromise. Developing such a sense as with controlling the ego is something we can develop by following the path, a pathtivist limits her attachment to ego and develops his sense of discernment. Apply this manual.