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I am writing this for Ghion Journal, but I don’t know whether I will do anything with it.
Quite rightly Ghion Journal repeatedly discuss the circus that is US politics, and again quite correctly point out that this political theatre is a diversion. Chomsky reflects that Trump uses his own diversions to benefit the 1%, this is perfectly true. Trump attacks snowflakes who respond, and between them create the current version of the theatre. And whilst all this theatre is happening, the 1% are manipulating power to ensure increased resource exploitation – even whilst Liberals are eulogising about the Green New Deal. Whilst we participate in the theatre we are being mugged.
For most Americans what exists outside their national boundaries are just ignorant parts of the world open for exploitation. Whilst their foreign policy continues with militarised resource exploitation, for most Americans their eyes are focussed on their own theatre. As a result they miss the bipartisan theatres which are being touted as democratic models to be followed globally. Even as England exploited the colonial world before the US hegemony, the Mother of Parliaments was offered as a model to bring the colonies into their manipulative arena. My point, without the rhetoric, is that bipartisan conditioning is global, it is part of the neoliberal model that is the 1% economic system.
I wish to discuss conditioning, and want to begin with the political conditioning. I am unwilling to discuss other races even though race is a construct, and am only prepared to make limited observations concerning gender; there are many people with first-hand experience such as at Ghion Journal or Black Agenda Report who are far more knowledgeable. I wish to make observations about my white middle-class community, and how we have been conditioned politically. The men of my community are extremely arrogant often in a quiet way - unless pushed. Their lives are focussed on providing a home and enabling their children’s education. They work as wage-slaves in white collar jobs often being small business owners, and their arrogance rates themselves as heroes who have worked so hard for the wife and kids. Through the generations these people have voted republican/conservative because over time they have been conditioned into believing that “conservatism” provides economic stability. Because of their arrogance they believe it is their own free will which has create their minimal wealth, and so become easy targets for middle-class freedom philosophies such as Jordan Peterson and the Intellectual Dark Web. At the same time the women in this community tend to subscribe to the same objectives of home and education so their voting patterns are similar. Because these people own their own property they have been deluded by the 1% into thinking that they are “owners of the means of production”, and they further delude themselves into thinking they are working with the 1% - even when there is strong contradictory evidence based on the practices of transnationals who swallow up thriving small businesses. To keep small businesses going these arrogant men work very long hours, are far more committed to their own companies than their workers who rarely have any vested interest in the company thriving functioning just as wage-slaves. The small business owners are so arrogant they don’t see the separation they cause, and worse they do not see how they are indirectly enslaved, a slavery which means they work most of their adult life for a standard of living which is materialistic and only marginally better than the usual wage-slaves.
Recently these arrogant men have been manipulated into outright conflict with liberals. Now the liberals are self-righteous, advocating campaigns of justice and compassion so why is it that such liberalism is not bringing about change. And the answer is the bottom line, and their bottom line is snow. Liberal establishments such as schools fail miserably. Teachers are very dedicated to their students but only as long as their own homes and children’s education are not threatened. This dedication attempts to patch over weaknesses in teaching establishments mainly through their work with the students, but if it ever came to striking for real change in education they will not do it because of their homes. Because the tools of a teacher’s trade is words their rhetoric is excellent but it has no substance, and their employers know this. So there is another theatre of supposed conflict between teachers and their employers basically to salve the conscience of these liberals. Ultimately the bottom line for liberals are their homes, they are unwilling to see them threatened. I grew up with the hippies, their liberalisation was love yet as pensioners they were voting for Brexit – the right-wing conditioning of their generations.
Fundamentally amongst these conditioned people the bottom line is the same but they have been conditioned to believe each other’s rhetoric so jump down each other’s throats as censorship and self-righteousness meets egoic freedom and arrogance.
Similar conflicts exist amongst other white peoples and, using outside observation, in most other communities where manipulation and exploitation is mostly the same – just with shades of difference.
And the political theatre that exists in western countries is the outcome of this conditioned theatre as Ghion Journal regularly points out.
I am unable to present any useful understanding of the right-wing intellectual. Their arrogance usually just uses their intellect to attack liberal weaknesses, and this appears to suffice as a rationale. They are not happy with the 1% but are more willing to blame liberal intellectuals and powerless minorities for their problems. Although I don’t understand it, it does work and these right-wing intellectuals have campus positions book deals and their bottom line of homes and education.
Liberals I can understand more because they believe in isms that are humane and satisfy the compassion that is fundamental to all humans – despite the evidence of the deplorables to the contrary. But what has the 150 years of belief in Marxism, socialism and communism brought? Wars with the 1% and suffering for the masses. All the political activity that has happened has not held back the ravages of the 1%-satrapy, and even in my lifetime I see the ongoing destruction of Gaia as well as the worsening of human exploitation. Activism as is(m) has failed, we should accept this but our conditioning does not allow this as we have bought into the isms.
There has been a long but small tradition that has accepted the failure of electoral democracy, has recognised the theatre that is central to Ghion Journal understanding. And where has that analysis taken them? Anarchy, anarchy that is astute, sound analytically, but has barely scratched the consciousness of most activists – the rabbit-hole of anarchy.
So where does that leave the analysis of Ghion Journal? There have been many indicators of where this direction could be. Writers have noted political ego and compassion, and these flags gave me great personal hope. But this hope fades as the compassion appears to be static. Caitlin Johnstone, one writer, wrote on medium somewhere (I have no subscription to find the link) about her personal journey, her path gives her the strength to see politics for what it is. And for me this is where I would like to ask Ghion Journal to consider – following the path. Analysis, and activism based on analysis, has failed. No matter how sophisticated the analysis is the people (NPR according to Caitlin) remain conditioned within the bipartisan melodrama and media circus – with their conditioning vaguely hoping that this time round some good will come of putting x on a bit of paper.
What we need is that we as a movement move beyond our conditioning. We need to move beyond the miseducated mind that attaches to the first ism that their compassion hears of. We need to develop so that as activists we move beyond all conditioning developing minds that can discern truth, can move beyond the egoic battles that are enshrined in political melodrama but also move beyond the egoic battles that dominate our grassroots movements.
In other words I am advocating spiritual activism – following the path as Caitlin has. It is this path of spiritual activism that I propose could unite the grass roots by removing ego and developing discernment.
For most activists that approach meets with derision, I have attended many a meeting where the spiritual is mocked and a demand for an ism is raised. This of course is activist ego but that ego does have a reason. How many spiritual people start to follow some kind of spiritual path and forget the suffering in the system they are a part of? Buddhism has ongoing debates about engagement where activists such as the Buddhist Peace Fellowship suggest that Buddhists do more than sit on meditation stools. At the height of the military dictatorship in Myanmar westerners were allowed to go and study there on a meditation visa. Of course it is a great bonus that people like Sharon Salzberg were able to become wise in this way, but what was the price? I don’t know, and other than raising the issue I am not passing judgement on the compromise that Burmese monks made. My question to all on the path is “Is their spiritual path fighting to protect Gaia?”; to me this is a fundamental and basic enquiry.
Another teacher influential in my life has been Eckhart Tolle. Through his connections with Oprah huge numbers of people have been exposed to the spiritual path. How many of these people are fighting to protect Gaia? How many monks in monasteries teach on their stools that the Buddha would be fighting to protect Gaia? Yet from my minimal knowledge of the Buddha in his life I surmise he would, in much the same way I surmise that Jesus if he were here again would be fighting in the same way.
So when activists are critical of the spiritual for not being activist I understand, but after their united criticism of the spiritual their egos would start bickering about whether the mission statement contains 2 commas or a semicolon.
Activism and spirituality need to be one, and they can be as there is a tradition in which this happens, the tradition of indigenous wisdom. In the US this is called “Walking the Red Road”, although indigenous wisdom is not isolated to the US. For such wisdom the spirit is active in protecting Mother Earth, and if you are protecting Gaia you are protecting people. The path is compassionate. For all the activists who bury themselves in the egoic battles of socialism they have missed the fundamental importance – it is compassion for all people that brought them to socialism in the first place, compassion was the driving force.
Throughout this world there are people waking to their spiritual path yet their voices struggle to be heard. Activists mock them, religious institutions oppress them, yet their compassion always finds them a niche in this word where they can do some good. But in some ways the compassion of their paths is wasted because instead of their spirits leading peaceful revolutions egos dominate all the usual channels for change.
I put it to Ghion Journal that with their understanding of bipartisan conditioning they can move beyond the usual conditioning and unite by following the path, spiritualising the activist and activising the spiritual. #pathtivism is such an approach.
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