Art is our weapon against material things which threaten to devour the human spirit.
- Andrei Tarkovsky
The Discourse on Peace - Jacques Prévert
Near the end of an extremely important discourse
the great man of state
tumbling on a beautiful hollow phrase
falls over it
and undone with gaping mouth
shows his teeth
and the dental decay of his peaceful reasoning
exposes the nerve of war
the delicate question of money.
A patriot is a person who protects his country from its government.
The loud little handful - as usual - will shout for the war. The pulpit will - warily and cautiously - object... at first. The great, big, dull bulk of the nation will rub its sleepy eyes and try to make out why there should be a war, and will say, earnestly and indignantly, "It is unjust and dishonorable, and there is no necessity for it." Then the handful will shout louder. A few fair men on the other side will argue and reason against the war with speech and pen, and at first will have a hearing and be applauded, but it will not last long; those others will outshout them, and presently the antiwar audiences will thin out and lose popularity. Before long, you will see this curious thing: the speakers stoned from the platform, and free speech strangled by hordes of furious men... Next the statesmen will invent cheap lies, putting the blame upon the nation that is attacked, and every man will be glad of those conscience-soothing falsities, and will diligently study them, and refuse to examine any refutations of them; and thus he will by and by convince himself that the war is just, and will thank God for the better sleep he enjoys after this process of grotesque self-deception.
Victory of the Loud Little Handful - Mark Twain
Mark Twain - from The Mysterious Stranger & Other Stories, 1910
Scientists by R Buckminster Fuller
. . . scientists are the most confused and irresponsible human beings now alive. They lay "eggs" - and the businessman sells the "eggs" to the politicians and the politicians "scramble" or "drop" or "easy-over" those eggs as we hurtle towards oblivion. If our lives are left to their care we will all soon be dead.
The US Model by Blair Gibb
In the US model, much more than in other countries, society exists to serve the individual and allow the fullest possible self-expression. Extremes of wealth and poverty, profligacy with natural resources, high crime levels, and other features of society that would be considered unacceptable elsewhere are tolerated in the US in the name of individual freedom. The creativity and economic power this tolerance has created may be a source of envy and admiration, but for many outside the US, the social price paid for these benefits simply looks too high.
Income Delusion by Joe Bageant
Nearly 40% of households surveyed making less than $30,000 a year believe they are in the top 10% of Americans when it comes to income! In a similar, though more extreme national delusion, millions of North Koreans eating wild grass soup during the winter under Kim Jong-Il, believe they live in the richest nation on earth, and that America wants to attack them out of jealousy. Such are the results of successful propaganda.
More from Joe:
- Joe Bageant thinks out loud "from the Cheap Beer Zone"
- Where young US liberals get their news
- Television has no effect?
- Joe's blog
Shopping by Jerry Brown, mayor of Oakland (California)
From a market point of view, one of the most dangerous possibilities in contemporary cities would be if the majority of people had deeply satisfying relationships. If people actually enjoyed one another's company, that would be devastating to shopping.
- speech on Sustainable Development at the General Assembly of Bay Area Governments, April 1999
Belief Systems by Tom Robbins
". . . no matter how valid, how vital, one's belief system may be, one undermines that system and ultimately negates it when one gets rigid and dogmatic in one's adherence to it."
Transitions From Big to Small by Richard Heinberg
How can individuals assist the transition? Support the small, local alternative, even if it entails inconvenience. And often it will. The big, mainstream standbys (big banks, chain stores etc.) are often subsidized in hidden ways to make them more convenient, and to make them seem to the individual consumer to be more economical. According to dominant theory, bigness implies an "economy of scale" through mass production and bulk purchasing. But the real costs of added transportation resulting from centralized production and control (including extra pollution and its cascading environmental effects) are rarely factored into the accounting. Also we must learn always to question the ideology of efficiency, since many human needs and interests are only degraded by its ruthless, myopic calculus (should one, after all, strive to be an "efficient" parent, giving a minimum of love for a maximum of obedience?).
- from Museletter, July 1999.
Economics, Real and Imaginary by Richard Heinberg
From an ecosystem point of view, an economy that does not heavily tax the extraction of non-renewables is like a jobless person rapidly spending an inheritance. As Gary Gardner and Payal Sampet put it in their 1999 World Watch Institute State of the World report, "An extraterrestrial observer might conclude that conversion of raw materials into wastes is the real purpose of human economic activity."
- from Museletter, August 1999.
Toward a History of Needs by Ivan Illich
...growing dependence on mass-produced goods and services gradually erodes the conditions necessary for a convivial life.
School by Ivan Illich
School pretends to break learning up into subject "matters", to build into the pupil a curriculum made up of these prefabricated blocks, and to gauge the results on an international scale. People who submit to the standard of others for the measure of their own personal growth soon apply the same ruler to themselves. They no longer have to be put into their place but put themselves into their assigned slots which they have been taught to seek, and in the very process, put their fellows into their places too, until everybody and everything fits.
Overspecialization, US foreign policy, man's stories by Tom Robbins (through the character, Switters)
. . . extinction is a consequence of overspecialization. It's a cardinal law of evolution, and many a species has paid the price. Human beings are by nature comprehensive. That's been the secret of our success, at least in evolutionary terms. The more civilized we've become, however, the further we've moved away from comprehensiveness, and in direct ratio we've been losing our adaptability.
American foreign policy invites opposition. It invites terrorism . . . . Terrorism is the only imaginable logical response to America's foreign policy, just as street crime is the only imaginable response to America's drug policy.
Human societies have always defined themselves through narration, but nowadays corporations are telling man's stories for him. And the message, no matter how entertainingly couched, is invariably the same: to be special, you must conform; to be happy, you must consume.
Fundamentalism is terrifying because it is based purely on emotion, rather than intelligence; it prevents followers from thinking as individuals and about the good of the world. - The Dalai Lama