TREATISE ON ZANDTAO
Path & Activism
The political world now is totally confused and that means ordinary people are suffering. Acts of war are carried out with impunity by democratic countries because the people are so confused that their compassion is hidden. Only a few politicians speak out about war because they know that profits from war are profits for the corporations, and so speaking out would end their opportunism. And in all this confusion people somehow have to try and make some sense.
150 years ago Karl Marx wrote books that made completely clear the source and problems of our economic system, and yet still people are confused as to the validity of this analysis. Why has this happened? Quite simple. The confusion is intended, the confusion is part of the conditioning. The analysis of Marxism at a simplistic level analyses the economics of capitalism, and shows how that economics is there to benefit the few at the expense of the many. Intellectually at its time it could not be refuted.
What does this say? Firstly it says that the conditioning we are in is not based on truth, and secondly that analysis, intellectualism, sankhara do not hold power however much academics, the adherents of the Church of Reason, would like to claim it does. Looking fundamentally at political analysis we have a system that has developed, but not changed, from the capitalism of 1867, and we have a Marxist system (which has also developed) that explains why such a system is not in the interests of the people. I refer to the contemporary versions of these two systems using the Occupy analysis of the 1% and 99%. Instead of accepting these clear analyses people are confused.
If they are confused after 150 years of activism, 150 years of such clear analysis, then we have to examine the way in which activism is taking us because it has failed. So we have to examine why activism is failing when the analysis is correct. If we don’t examine this then activism will continue to fail. Over the 150 years since Marx the world has become wealthier but the suffering has increased globally. For most people writing about Marx in western countries they refute this assessment of suffering, and that is because the wealth is in their countries and the suffering from war occurs in other countries. And the suffering the system causes in their own countries are blamed on the people who suffer through offshoots of capitalism such as racism and sexism. And even more callously we do not care sufficiently for the disabled because many cannot perform the sort of job that would bring a profit to the capitalists. This capitalism of putting profits before people is rotten to the core, the analysis is clear, and yet the system continues to harm more and more people.
When activism clearly has compassion on its side and yet it is failing then we have to begin to examine why activism is failing, why people are acting in a way that is so distant from their compassionate core.
Quite clearly the people are conditioned not to act in their own interests. When I described conditioning as being neutral I was describing the totality of conditioning, conditioning as a whole, but within this totality there are aspects of conditioning that are far from neutral – and clearly sinister. This is the aspect of conditioning that makes us as people not act compassionately. The confusion that exists prevents people from acting compassionately by conditioning people to accept being part of a system that hurts others. The confusion enhances the inherent addiction in the conditioning, and uses that addiction to harm others. The 1% are addicted, the 99% are addicted, and they are both harming people.
One reason that the conditioning works is that it appeals to desire, and for political opportunists this desire becomes the ego that promotes their own interests over the interests of the people. As I have described in this section desire is at the source of conditioning whether for political or egotistical reasons or simply for the conditioning that is our upbringing. Politically this ego separates people from their compassion as self-interest comes first. This egotism exists throughout the political spectrum, but is notable on the right where individualism is promoted, where freedom is often touted, and where compassion is often forgotten because of the strength of these egos and the inbuilt guilt people feel at putting themselves before people in general – by putting themselves before compassion.
Currently there is much exploitation concerning PC. Historically correct language came into usage because there was a need to counter the prevailing misuse of hurtful language. At the same time as there was promotion of this correct language, there was an intended dual arm of education so that people’s compassion would be enabled and they would understand why the previous language had been so damaging. However a group of righteous people put their ideals (sankhara) first, they became increasingly powerful and effectively introduced censorship on those who were not educated enough to realise how harmful their language was. Immediately there was an attempt at censorship there grew an egotistical backlash which has recently shown itself in hate crimes that have been enabled by Trump and Brexit. There has to be an end to this sort of adherence to self, egotism, that has been funded online.
Within the conditioned system we have essential prevailing narratives. We have the 1%-narratives and its influence, and the 99%-narratives. These narratives are mental constructions, idea systems (the khandha – sankhara), and people are attached to these systems. Different intellectuals say that my ideas are better for humanity than yours. This might be workable if the world was run by the measure as to which idea system is better, but it is not. The world is run by power, who is stronger, and because of the level of accumulation that exists now the wealth of the few buys that military power both in terms of people and influence, and in terms of weapons technology. It matters not the human value of the idea systems because the 1% have the power totally under control. And because they have the power under control they control the conditioning that perpetuates their system. They do not sit down and fashion the conditioning. Conditioning has developed over time, and as their accumulation has increased, so has their power, and so there has been changes in conditioning.
At present their model for conditioning is confusion. Compare the political awareness now than with times of Occupy (Horizontalidad, Arab Spring, Indignados (Podemos)). In 2011 more and more people were seeing the source of the problems in the 1%, this was a populist notion. Now after all the funded confusion (some call it the Dark Money Network) the antagonism between the Left and the Right is far more deeply entrenched than ever before, and what is worse is that right-wing hate crimes, police violence as Black Lives Matter, are now publicly acceptable for a significant proportion of the population. For the middle-classes living in fear to maintain their standard of living they now have to accept such atrocities. That is a change of conditioning that takes me back to the 50s and 60s when it was acceptable in London for landlords to put up signs that say “no blacks need apply”.
What is happening with this confusion is that people are turning on each other, and the invective because of the anonymity of the internet is far more destructive. It is far harder to use language to people’s faces. And this is all being funded. It suits the 1% to have this confusion, to have the animosities, to have the invective. It suits the 1% to have the conditioning where people are fighting each other over which idea system to support. It suits the 1% not to have compassion.
At present activism plays into the hands of this confusion. Activists say that their idea system is better than other idea systems. On the internet these activists exist one way or another because of funding so we have competing idea systems based on funding. Who has all the money? The 1%.
Activists will then argue that truth will out. If they present the truth then eventually people will choose the truth. But there is no evidence for this, in fact there is 150 years of evidence that truth has got very little to do with it. And if activism is based on presenting ideas then funding can pay for the ideas they want, they can pay for the conditioning that suits the 1%.
Whilst the right view of Occupy, whilst the right view of compassion, is important it is nowhere near enough. Activism needs to look beyond the right view, and begin to see that activism has to combat the addiction that is maintaining the conditioning. Activists need to know that the right view will not solve any problems.
As an activist who was also spiritual I always had a problem because activists would often dismiss spirituality as irrelevant. Even then (30 years ago) it was clear to me this was a problem. And the problem could best be summed up as clinging to ideals. Whilst many people on the then left would claim to be Marxist, arguments occurred over different versions of Marxism possibly dependent on one person’s analysis. Again funding was an issue then. The establishment would fund a particular idealist so that their faction would increase in size thus causing divisions. People would fight each other instead of the establishment. Meanwhile there were a small group of activists not of any particular allegiance who sought only grass roots activism, through political activism they had found compassion – working with people to help end suffering.
Marxists always had a strong component of education within their activity, the better the activist the greater understanding of Marxism and its application they had. They were educating for right view. But their education failed because they were addressing the problem as being a matter of ignorance. It was their understanding that people were not Marxist because they were not fully aware, and that for that awareness to take place more and more people needed to hear the right view. Whether the view is right or not it is still a set of ideals and it is still part of the conditioning. This was a source of their failure.
It is not right view, a new narrative, or whatever that is needed. Activists need to address the problem of addiction to conditioning. Whether the view is right or not, if all activism tries to do is present a different set of ideals for people to accept they will always lose because of the power and wealth of the 1%. There will always be more funding available to confuse the understanding of the right view.
So whilst we need the right view activism needs to change its approach. Activism needs to focus on changing the attitude to conditioning and the addiction that people have to that conditioning. Activism needs to address its own egotism.
Fundamentally activists need to change the attitude to desire because desire is what causes conditioning. We live in a consumerist marketed nightmare because of our desire. Through the media we are presented with the "lifestyle of the rich and famous" as being desireable. This lifestyle is often the core of our conditioning. People aspire to a lifestyle they feel can only come from being rich - or richer. The small business person aspires to be 1%. The middle classes desire middle-class wealth of house car and whatever, are always working for more, and abdicate their compassion by voting for the traditional conservative out of fear of losing their lifestyle. The working-class usually cannot attain any of this but are always told they need more, and this desire is often used to fuel racism because the 1% ensure there is not enough work because their accumulation is the priority. And the poor and unemployed have none of this but desire it. It is a nightmare that uses our desires to control us. And it is based on an illusion, the 1% are not happy. They buy into the illusion of happiness the same as anyone else but are afraid of poverty so maintain the illusion of their conditioning. A nightmare.
Marxism has always addressed the issue of materialism but the solutions are materialist themselves. Do the profits go to the owners of the means of production or to the producers themselves? This is basic Marxism in the trade union field, and is the source of the strikes that improved the lot of some but has not done much for the situation overall. At the root of this is the notion of the redistribution of wealth based on some merit measure. Whilst this view is correct to some extent, if all we are concerned with is who has the wealth, then we are definitely working within a conditioned ethos.
We need money to live but the desire for as much money as possible is conditioned. If we get off the carousel of greed, then they cannot make us ride the horses – tongue-in-cheek analogy . The less I want the less control they have over me. If that could be applied universally then it is the end of the conditioning, end of addiction, and the end of suffering that dominates the world today.
Therefore the path is the answer .
At the present moment there is little that can be done to develop a mass movement in which all people are trying to follow the path. I mentioned earlier that there is a natural imperative to follow the path, and that sadly has its converse there is guilt when people don't. This also applies to people whose self-interest represses their own compassion, for some this leads to a mid-life crisis where compassion tries to raise its head. But not always because the conditioned self-interest is just too entrenched.
So whilst a political ideal of following the path would have little traction, we can begin to alter the focus of our activism. Apparently the talk is now of a new narrative, this will do little to create a way forward given the prevailing forces. Activists need to bite the bullet that has been avoided so far, and change the focus of activism away from greed and desire.
A platform of activism needs to contain the following:-
An examination of right view – an updated narrative.
A focus on the need to end conditioning and egotism in politics
Strategies to promote human compassion and end suffering.
This focus on ending conditioning could look at desire and how it contributes to conditioning, how we have become addicted to the materialism that is part of our conditioning, how our desire has created an individualism that works against compassion and therefore helps suffering. How we begin to address this as community activists I am not sure because of the level of conditioning, but it does need to be addressed. The current activist approach avoids confronting this source of the problem because many activists appeal to greed as a means of mobilising. This organisation method, that is entrenched within the trade union movement has failed. A movement for change has got to change the mental mindset that embraces the greed which is at the basis of the 1%-system. And that change has got to be compassion. Compassion can end suffering, can end injustice, can end inequality. Maintaining the activist approach of better view cannot work now because of the ease with which funding can control conditioning. Activism now means ending conditioning, and that starts with ending desire.
Ultimately the mass movement wants to follow the path.
Activists can take their lead from climate activism. Here activists recognise that the capitalist system is destroying the planet. There is a famous talk by Russell Means in which he sourced the problem as Europeans (white people). Why? They were only interested in desire whether they were proletariat or bourgeoisie. Climate activism also has its basis love of Mother Earth and the Unity to help protect Her for ONE planet to survive. We need to understand Gaia.