Conscious Being Alliance


       [Contribution to the Reimagining Society Project hosted by ZCommunications] 

When we talk about "re-imagining society" it seems we need to first articulate the boundaries of such a project to mean re-imagining western society. I have a fantasy which, translated into action, might be synonymous with this. I call it a Conscious Being Alliance.CONSCIOUS is a prerequisite to both BEING and ALLIANCE. One has to be awake, aware, conscientious. How does one find awakening? How does fear control our choices? How does propaganda control our subliminal desires and everyday actions? Where in the hierarchies of oppressors (oppressing others) and victims (being oppressed) do I reside? Where do you reside?BEING is a way, a path. It is both a noun, and a verb, and it is a cosmological state of existence. CONSCIOUS BEING then is a noun, as in HUMAN BEING, but CONSCIOUS can also be interpreted here as an adjective defining a way of BEING, where BEING is a verb. CONSCIOUS BEING stands in sharp juxtaposition to UNCONSCIOUS being. We all suffer greater or lesser states of consciousness. Our consciousness can be raised and lowered. My experience in the world is that many people do not actively pursue an awakening of their SELF, though many certainly do.ALLIANCE is a joining, a working together, a finding of common ground, a submission to greater good and relinquishing of control, a forging of strength. It is a subordination of the self to higher forces. It is also a position of power, the flourishing of the individual within a community, a tribe or a network, based on a higher good. Alliance is SOLIDARITY. 

THE SITUATION OF SELF

To begin with, I’ve read many of the opening essays of this project, and I have a hard time getting through them. Many seem irrelevant, out of touch with reality, or too theoretical; others appear to be continuations of some ongoing discourse, or the defense of some position or other, where the average reader is assumed to know all the ins and outs of a protracted discussion they (likely) have not been part of. Some appear to be myopic, others ethnocentric.I feel that many of the essays don’t speak to the common people, to practical needs, and some seem to skirting around obvious realities. Of course, people may say the same about this essay. While I respect the extent to which such interpretations may indeed reflect my own unconsciousness, I also recall the scathing criticism of Fanon."It so happens that the unpreparedness of the educated classes, the lack of practical links between them and the mass of the people, their laziness, and, let it be said, their cowardice at the decisive moment of the struggle will give rise to tragic mishaps."[i]

If there were a decisive moment, it would be now, but it has been now for quite some time, and decisive to the point of the murder of millions of people.I understand little about Marxism, never studied it, but I have been declared a Marxist leftist. I spent time in prison, so I am qualified to speak about prison reform, but I also received a full legal pardon from Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis and, earning a Master’s in Electrical Engineering, worked for the aerospace and defense sector. Much later I worked for the United Nations.Everyone is a critic. By some people’s standards my (expunged) record disqualifies me on moral grounds to speak about anything at all, while my collaboration with the UN provokes a similar reaction, but from a very different set of (anti-establishment, anti-imperialism) people.I, I, I.I am one of the only subject I am really qualified to speak with absolute certainty. But it seems the irony (‘i’ again) of this statement will be lost on many readers, because our ‘dead’ culture has so many taboos and contradictions regarding the positioning of the self that many or most people quickly succumb to little personal fascisms on reading the "I" in anything.Me, me, me. It’s all about me. Isn’t it?My iPod, my iPhone, my iTunes, my FACEBOOK profile. Will you FRIEND me? (Not after this essay.) Why do we call it YouTube and not iTube when it is merely another nihilist project meant to Broadcast Yourself TM ?

How about u-Boob and i-Boob? More and more we can witness how people in western ‘society’ have completely lost the capacity to think for themselves. Everything is becoming standardized or computerized. Maps and mapping—dashboard GPS or GIS devices—have taken over people’s lives with out any requisite understanding of what is being lost. People don’t miss what they never had, and youth today—no matter all the devices to ‘find’ or position one’s self—couldn’t be more fucked up in their interpretations of social responsibility and the meaning of their lives.Who fucks up youth? Society…The absolute bondage of student loans is indeed the death knell of our culture because it is the killing of youth, freedom, truth, creativity and the subsidizing of permanent warfare, on all levels, from the mis-education in the university to the every day bondage created by the debt.Are we a ‘dead’ culture? Or a cyborg society? 

OBLIVIOUS INDIVIDUALISM

It is no longer necessary that anyone have any grounding in personal experience (fact) of a subject to become an expert, or an arbitrator, about it and anyone who makes enough noise in this world, deploying all the new electronic mediums and technologies, can rapidly gain a following, a dedicated readership, no matter how fallacious are the arguments or the "facts". Fiction breeds upon fiction until even the manufacturer (journalist, editor, blogger, writer, speaker) has transformed their fiction, in their own mind, into undeniable fact.The U.S. Government should not only have a Department of Peace but a Department of Intuition. Because everyone can hear the truth if they quiet their mind long enough. Instead we have perpetual noise generators all around us, drowning out the obvious truths, perpetuating the obvious lies.White men need to shut up, and (recognizing the hierarchies of oppression) plenty of white women too, and I find it perfectly reasonable for those people attuned to the expropriation of space to demand it. However, in articulating the problem we become it. That is why obliviousness and consciousness must be radically addressed.[ii]

We need to hear from the people involved in the struggles in Congo and Peru, Indonesia and Mongolia. We need to embrace the leadership and wisdom and passions and experience from the Rest, and reverse the direction of exchanges from South to North, from the Rest to the West.[iii] We don’t need any more laziness or excuses why this is not possible or practical.

We need people capable of both listening and hearing.We live in an era of pronouns that greatly makes the "we" of doing anything impossible, unless "we" speak about oppression, which "we" don’t honestly do, even though "we" all participate in it.I can cite the very poignant contemporary examples of the Save Darfur Movement, the Save Tibet campaign, or the Raise Hope for Congo initiative, all of which are examples of massive co-option of {1} popular discontent (about someone’s unmitigated suffering); {2} popular sympathy (for some victim somewhere); and {3} popular compassion (we all want to help).All of these campaigns have been presented and re-presented to the western news-consuming public by the corporate propaganda system, and this corporate propaganda filters its way down and infects virtually everyone—or, well, it virtually infects everyone as the new mediums proliferate faster than society can accommodate or assimilate them.Of course, this is definitively NOT true of social movements elsewhere, but we are so depressed by propaganda that we don’t have any consciousness that an elsewhere exists. Meanwhile, elsewhere, Sudanese Christians (e.g.) adopt the language, modalities and prerogatives of the Empire in the struggle to salvage an identity from the wreckage of Western predatory "humanitarianism" delivered to them as a byproduct of decades of covert Anglo-American-Israeli war in Sudan.What is ‘society’? The word conjures up the scene in the Hollywood film, INTO THE WILD, where the protagonist (Chris McCandless) and his employer/drinking buddy (Wayne) suddenly start shouting: SOCIETY! SOCIETY! SOCIETY! While the mantra is obviously intended to be anti-establishment, the film is not. It is another piece of propaganda utilized to manufacture consent, manipulate consciousness and insure social control. The near complete whiting out of Hollywood’s alliance with the Pentagon, for example, is another successful element of propaganda. (The film Lion King is a subversive anti-immigration work, on one level, and can be unpacked for its imperial race and gender stereotypes about Africa on other levels.)I deactivated ‘my’ FACEBOOK account because it started to take over my life. I don’t subscribe to any of these new technologies of hubris and nihilism, and don’t want to, but my capacity to choose is increasingly under assault: every ten minutes it seems there is some new software update with some Trojan horse of advertising hidden inside, where some purchase or other becomes compulsory. Video games are a lethal poison to children (and adults) and they bespeak the real problem of parent’s not making time for their children. By spending increasingly large chunks of one’s life in the virtual world the intelligence of  ‘our society’ becomes increasingly artificial.Want to re-make society? Exit the matrix. Tune out, turn off, unplug—and then plug-in to the abundance of possibility.[iv]

I agree with much of Robert Jensen’s "Life in A Dead Culture." In particular, "The ultimate test of our strength is whether we can recognize not only that we live in a dead culture but also that there may be no way out."

On so many levels we are facing the need to be really honest and authentic about what is really happening and how to prepare for it. On a completely different level—reflecting the koan of all things—anything can happen, the possibilities are unlimited, yet we are constrained by our life situations and society.Given either reality, what we can do as individuals is re-imagine, re-make and re-learn the ways we each are in the world, how we treat others, how we live and how we love. This means exploring new ways of being, finding the courage to stand strong even when we stand alone, because there will be many little battles to fight, losses to mitigate, liberties to protect. It also means making sacrifices, something people seem universally unwilling to do. Many people are in positions where sacrifices would be easy; for others sacrifices would mean honestly giving up something that is desirable or perceived to be necessary or desirable; and for those that have little to begin with, well, they make profound sacrifices every day.Even some of us who spend our time exposing the nature of the beast will never comprehend the depth of the rabbit hole: humanity may never know the truth of historical and contemporary events due to covert operations, the cults of secrecy, the arrogance of science, document shredders. Instead of questioning these realities we—people of all political stripes—help to sanction them every time we consume propaganda.Again the issue reverts to a contemplation of fear: people fear the ways their lives would change if they made decisions in alignment with their professed values. People perceive and fear losing—based on material realities—and fail to grasp the potential spiritual gain. No gift given is worth anything if the gift was not anyways somehow precious to the giver. Letting go is a beautiful thing. 

SACRED TIME, SACRED SPACE

People have increasingly become slaves to electronics, no matter that the real slaves remain hidden by the new virtual technologies. To "re-imagine" society is to absolutely DEMAND an end to planned obsolescence and the perpetuation of the junk and waste culture. How do we do this? First, we organize the way people in Latin America are organizing and, second, we stop consuming.There should be a law that forbids hardware stores from throwing away mis-tinted paint, gaining a ‘credit’ by dumpstering gallon after gallon, and institutions like Trader Joe’s should be boycotted out of existence for militantly guarding their dumpsters from dumpster-divers. What can be done? I saved 16 gallons of paint, and will paint a barn with salvaged dumpstered paint, and I’m happy to eat pancakes topped with real maple syrup from expensive little pint bottles—discarded because they were sticky on the outside—scavenged from Trader Joe’s dumpster. Meanwhile, my neighbor has received a government grant for $50,000 to increase maple syrup production and he spent part of it on a logging skidder. The world is indeed upside-down, but we don’t have to be.When we have to possess something we want—paint, Internet connection, lover—we have to have it now. There’s no room in that equation for spirit, for synchronicity, for allowing the universe to unfold into our lives the way it is destined to. This is part of our pathological relationship with Time. The corollary is that people from the West are unwilling to give anything up—and our models of selfishness and greed are infecting The Rest largely due to Western propaganda but also due to Western charity and an oblivious militant humanitarianism premised on our supposed goodness and innocence.It’s a thousand little actions in an individual’s daily life choices that can make a difference in this world. Every engagement with mass media is an agreement to kill part of your self and be complicit in killing others, while every disengagement is a choice to love your self and all life.Greed arises from the false economies of scarcity: those worthless little rocks of desire (diamonds) and tinfoil metals (gold) are only as valuable as we make them. The idea that we have to have our daily dosage of world news (read: malicious corporate propaganda) is also premised on scarcity, but at its core are anxieties inculcated by that very propaganda, especially anxieties about self-image and self-identity.Ride a bicycle. Imagine all the excuses people utter to dismiss the bicycle as a reasonable choice for most people. Most of these revolve around privilege, convenience, and Time. People fail to understand the profound freedom brought about by reliance on a bicycle as one’s predominant mode of transportation. They fail to understand the intersection of exercise with personal health and wellbeing. On the other side of the coin we have the petroleum genocides occurring all over the place, hidden from site, in many cases, by the propaganda system. Imagine the profound transformation of your immediate life potentially caused by a flat tire… you might actually be forced to stop and…breathe relaxation into your life. And maybe someone, somewhere, would survive another day because you and I didn’t today participate in this nasty system.Time!We need a complete revision and reorganization of the ways we look at and deal with Time. For example, at first call I crafted an email response to the Re-Imagining Society Project explaining why the project was interesting to me but why I would not participate. (I changed my mind, something I like to retain control of.) Time: the deadlines and structure of the project are mapped out in the terms of the western cartography of schedules and urgency, of linear time. If we wanted to re-imagine society—or remake it—we would attack the standardization of time and space just as we—some of us—attack the process of globalization: one sprang from the other.(It’s the same with the word count restrictions. This is a phenomena with alternative media today: stories have to be short. Project Censored can’t evaluate a story if its too long, no matter how censored, because student evaluators don’t have time. Well, this Opening Essay is exactly as long as I think it needs to be to get my points across. Every time an editor censors my work based on its length they are killing truly independent thought.)Of course, a redefinition of time would be wasted without redefining work, labor and leisure. Propaganda compels people to participate in a system of hopelessness and slavery. It indoctrinates people, turning them into drones. It uses stereotypes, sound bites, irrational jingoisms and outright lies to convince the Jones’s that they too can rise above the (enforced) poverty of our system, if only they work harder.It’s clear that people can’t simply be compelled to ‘stop working’ for this system, that alternatives must be provided. On the other hand, the economics of unlimited growth translated to the household have people complaining that they can’t pay the bills even as they lust over, and purchase, unnecessary technologies (SUVs, iPods, iPhones, snowmobiles, HD TVs, etc.). If people downsized their lives by rejecting consumerism and, especially, the manipulation of their desires, they could upsize their free time and their joy.How many readers say to their self: "this doesn’t apply to me" ? (It doesn’t apply to me.)There are alternative perspectives of being, radically different cosmologies. The universe is not—contrary to the imperialism of Greenwich Mean Time and the Prime Meridian—based in linear time.[v] Breathwork as a personal healing modality, for example—like ayuasca, iboga and LSD—offer the opportunity to experience what Stanislav Grof has defined as the transpersonal and perinatal dimensions of the human psyche.[vi]

Propaganda, addictions, diversions, shopping, incessant talking, travel, fucking, watching films, listening to music, driving all over the place… re-imagining society involves ratcheting down one’s life to be in the NOW. It means stopping on one level, but more deeply interpreted it means redefining our ways of BEING. Existing for the sake of it. Redefining our inner selves such that we, at least, understand who WE are as individuals and what motivates us at every turn, and what our life means, and how to make it meaningful. How many people have explored the inner terrain of their psyche?A fish doesn’t know water until is discovers air. What is consciousness?The success of the propaganda system can be gauged by the massive hysteria about issues that are, for another set of examples, irrelevant to our lives, in comparison to those that are crucial to the ecological and biological integrity of all life.It was Jacques Ellul (Propaganda: The Formation of Men’s Attitudes, 1963) who elucidated the psyche’s susceptibility to the workings of modern propaganda, and it is not surprising that so many people who think they are awake are asleep. Ellul felt that even those who understand propaganda are susceptible. In other words, most of the readers and writers of this narrowly proscribed project are as susceptible to propaganda as anyone else.People are people. We make mistakes. Some people (leftists) refuse to accept such a simple truism. They expect everyone to be impeccable, and would never apologize if they were in error, and would use someone else’s honest apology against them to perpetuity. Imagine, for example, that I have recently been accused of being an agent of the U.S. government merely because I privately challenged China’s roll in Africa. These are pathological behaviors, the product of pathological society.The propensity of people to dismiss the truth is not new. Denial is a powerful force, and the oppressor—you, me, society—wants to deny its role in oppression and will offer the most obtuse internal, self-directed arguments rather than accep

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