Donald Trump Poisons the World

by David Brooks, New York Times, JUNE 2, 2017 – excerpt

This week, two of Donald Trump’s top advisers, H. R. McMaster and Gary Cohn, wrote the following passage in The Wall Street Journal: “The president embarked on his first foreign trip with a clear eyed outlook that the world is not a ‘global community’ but an arena where nations, nongovernmental actors and businesses engage and compete for advantage.” That sentence is the epitome of the Trump project. It asserts that selfishness is the sole driver of human affairs. It grows out of a worldview that life is a competitive struggle for gain. It implies that cooperative communities are hypocritical covers for the selfish jockeying underneath….In the essay, McMaster and Cohn make explicit the great act of moral decoupling woven through this presidency. In this worldview, morality has nothing to do with anything. Altruism, trust, cooperation and virtue are unaffordable luxuries in the struggle of all against all. Everything is about self-interest…. The problem is that this philosophy is based on an error about human beings and it leads to self-destructive behavior in all cases.The error is that it misunderstands what drives human action. Of course people are driven by selfish motivations — for individual status, wealth and power. But they are also motivated by another set of drives — for solidarity, love and moral fulfillment — that are equally and sometimes more powerful… Good leaders …seek to inspire faithfulness by showing good character. They try to motivate action by pointing toward great ideals…By behaving with naked selfishness toward others, they poison the common realm and they force others to behave with naked selfishness toward them….By looking at nothing but immediate material interest, Trump, McMaster and Cohn turn America into a nation that affronts everybody else’s moral emotions. They make our country seem disgusting in the eyes of the world….

full text

This week, two of Donald Trump’s top advisers, H. R. McMaster and Gary Cohn, wrote the following passage in The Wall Street Journal: “The president embarked on his first foreign trip with a cleareyed outlook that the world is not a ‘global community’ but an arena where nations, nongovernmental actors and businesses engage and compete for advantage.”

That sentence is the epitome of the Trump project. It asserts that selfishness is the sole driver of human affairs. It grows out of a worldview that life is a competitive struggle for gain. It implies that cooperative communities are hypocritical covers for the selfish jockeying underneath.

The essay explains why the Trump people are suspicious of any cooperative global arrangement, like NATO and the various trade agreements. It helps explain why Trump pulled out of the Paris global-warming accord. This essay explains why Trump gravitates toward leaders like Vladimir Putin, the Saudi princes and various global strongmen: They share his core worldview that life is nakedly a selfish struggle for money and dominance.

It explains why people in the Trump White House are so savage to one another. Far from being a band of brothers, their world is a vicious arena where staffers compete for advantage.

In the essay, McMaster and Cohn make explicit the great act of moral decoupling woven through this presidency. In this worldview, morality has nothing to do with anything. Altruism, trust, cooperation and virtue are unaffordable luxuries in the struggle of all against all. Everything is about self-interest.

We’ve seen this philosophy before, of course. Powerful, selfish people have always adopted this dirty-minded realism to justify their own selfishness. The problem is that this philosophy is based on an error about human beings and it leads to self-destructive behavior in all cases.

The error is that it misunderstands what drives human action. Of course people are driven by selfish motivations — for individual status, wealth and power. But they are also motivated by another set of drives — for solidarity, love and moral fulfillment — that are equally and sometimes more powerful.

People are wired to cooperate. Far from being a flimsy thing, the desire for cooperation is the primary human evolutionary advantage we have over the other animals.

People have a moral sense. They have a set of universal intuitions that help establish harmony between peoples. From their first moments, children are wired to feel each other’s pain. You don’t have to teach a child about what fairness is; they already know. There’s no society on earth where people are admired for running away in battle or for lying to their friends.

People are attracted by goodness and repelled by selfishness. N.Y.U. social psychologist Jonathan Haidt has studied the surges of elevation we feel when we see somebody performing a selfless action. Haidt describes the time a guy spontaneously leapt out of a car to help an old lady shovel snow from her driveway.

One of his friends, who witnessed this small act, later wrote: “I felt like jumping out of the car and hugging this guy. I felt like singing and running, or skipping and laughing. Just being active. I felt like saying nice things about people. Writing a beautiful poem or love song. Playing in the snow like a child. Telling everybody about his deed.”

Good leaders like Lincoln, Churchill, Roosevelt and Reagan understand the selfish elements that drive human behavior, but they have another foot in the realm of the moral motivations. They seek to inspire faithfulness by showing good character. They try to motivate action by pointing toward great ideals.

Realist leaders like Trump, McMaster and Cohn seek to dismiss this whole moral realm. By behaving with naked selfishness toward others, they poison the common realm and they force others to behave with naked selfishness toward them.

By treating the world simply as an arena for competitive advantage, Trump, McMaster and Cohn sever relationships, destroy reciprocity, erode trust and eviscerate the sense of sympathy, friendship and loyalty that all nations need when times get tough.

By looking at nothing but immediate material interest, Trump, McMaster and Cohn turn America into a nation that affronts everybody else’s moral emotions. They make our country seem disgusting in the eyes of the world.

George Marshall was no idealistic patsy. He understood that America extends its power when it offers a cooperative hand and volunteers for common service toward a great ideal. Realists reverse that formula. They assume strife and so arouse a volley of strife against themselves.

I wish H. R. McMaster was a better student of Thucydides. He’d know that the Athenians adopted the same amoral tone he embraces: “The strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.” The Athenians ended up making endless enemies and destroying their own empire.

7

 

Imagine America – crises and opportunities

Crises

When you are surrounded by something so big that requires you to change everything about the way you think and see the world, then denial is the natural response. We are heading for a crisis-driven choice. We either allow collapse to overtake us or develop a new sustainable economic model. We will choose the latter. We may be slow, but we’re not stupid.” Paul Gilding

For the first time in the history of the human species, we have clearly developed the capacity to destroy ourselves… The question is: What are people doing about it?It’s not because the population doesn’t want it…It’s institutional structures that block change.  Business interests don’t want it and they’re overwhelmingly powerful in determining policy, so you get a big gap between opinion and policy on lots of issues, including this one…It’s not that there are no alternatives.  The alternatives just aren’t being taken. That’s dangerous.  So if you ask what the world is going to look like, it’s not a pretty picture.  Unless people do something about it.  We always can. Humanity Imperiled — The Path to Disaster by Noam Chomsky, Huffington Post, June 4, 2013

The World Grows More Complex

 Opportunities

…biologically speaking, we are just as likely to be peaceful as we are to be violent…charts a new course for rejecting the old paradigm of war’s inevitability and finally releasing mankind from its destructive grip….Why War Isn’t Inevitable: A Science Writer Studies the Secret to Peaceful Societies by Brad Jacobson  

…….As consumers, employees and entrepreneurs, Millennials are shifting the norms of corporate America’s conduct, ethical imperatives and purpose…A new generation of employees, consumers and entrepreneurs is stepping forward with a better way of doing business — putting its bets on the goodness of people rather than loading the dice in its own favor. Millennials to business: Social responsibility isn’t optional By Michelle Nunn 

…A healthy democracy requires an educated electorate that shares basic truths and values — or at least is willing to sit down and listen to one another with an open mind, with mutual respect and civilityReweaving the Fabric of our Society by Joan Blades

what I see everywhere in the world are ordinary people willing to confront despair, power, and incalculable odds in order to restore some semblance of grace, justice, and beauty to this world…Humanity is coalescing. It is reconstituting the world…Rather than control, it seeks connection. Rather than dominance, it strives to disperse concentrations of power…The scope and scale of this effort is unparalleled in history…We are vastly interconnected. Our fates are inseparable…This extraordinary time when we are globally aware of each other and the multiple dangers that threaten civilization has never happened before…Healing or Stealing? by Paul Hawken

 

Overview – planet earth and the human family

War or peace?

biologically speaking, we are just as likely to be peaceful as we are to be violent…charts a new course for rejecting the old paradigm of war’s inevitability and finally releasing mankind from its destructive grip….Why War Isn’t Inevitable: A Science Writer Studies the Secret to Peaceful Societies by Brad Jacobson  

…Global Peace Index…shows that…The U.S. ranks 88 of 158…The index takes into account factors including jailed population, political instability, conflicts fought and military expenditure. We’re Number 88! US Ranked Low on Global Peace Index — Common Dreams staff

International polls shows that world, including significant portion of Americans, deem US as greatest obstacle to peace – Over 12 years into the so-called “Global War on Terror,” the United States appears to be striking terror into the hearts of the rest of the world…In the Americas themselves, decades of US meddling have left an awkward legacy. Its neighbours, Mexico (37%) and Canada (17%), clearly have issues. Even 13% of Americans see their own country as a danger. Biggest Threat to World Peace: The United States, Sarah Lazare, Common Dreams, December 31, 2013

Environmental Crisis

…climate change is actually the biggest thing that’s going on every single day. This is a full-on fight between information and disinformation, between the urge to witness and the urge to cover-up. The fossil-fuel industry has funded endless efforts to confuse people, to leave an impression that nothing much is going on.  But — as with the tobacco industry before them — the evidence has simply gotten too strong…The one institution in our society that isn’t likely to be much help in spreading the news is… the news. Studies show our papers and TV channels paying ever less attention to our shifting climate….If we’re going to tell this story — and it’s the most important story of our time — we’re going to have to tell it ourselves. A Warmer World and Weather Gone Wild: The Most Important Story of Our Lives by Bill McKibben, TomDispatch.com, May 3, 2012.

How the Religious Right Is Fueling Climate Change Denial

It’s Time to Fight the Sta­tus Quo

The Earth Is Full 

Why Science Is Telling All of Us to Revolt and Change Our Lives Before We Destroy the Planet

Civilization

Civilization is social order promoting cultural creation…It begins where chaos and insecurity end.… Man differs from the beast only by education, which may be defined as the technique of transmitting civilization…What is civilization by Will Durant

…all great public issues…[are] a debate about what kind of country we want America to be. During the first many decades of this nation’s existence, the United States was a wide-open, dynamic country with a rapidly expanding economy. It was also a country that tolerated a large amount of cruelty and pain — poor people living in misery, workers suffering from exploitation. Over the years, Americans decided they wanted a little more safety and security. This is what happens as nations grow wealthier; they use money to buy civilizationThe Values Question by David Brooks,New York Times, November 24, 2009

We are witnessing an epochal shift in our socio-political world.  We are de-evolving…The Social Contract is the intellectual basis of all modern democratic republics, including oursA system which – for all its flaws – often managed to protect the rights of the many, against the predatory power of the few… Republicans and Tea Partiers may be leading this retreat from reason, but they are unopposed by Democrats or the Press. And in the end, there is a special place in Hell for those who allow evil to prosper by doing nothing. Dark Ages Redux: American Politics and the End of the Enlightenment by John Atcheson, Common Dreams, June 18, 2012

Human nature

…We humans are by nature social creatures, even the most introverted of us, and we tend to trust and follow the thinking of the groups with which we identify…Our groups define “us” and exert powerful influence on how we think, even how we feel, and how we behave in society. By definition, of course, every group creates “Them”— they are all the ones who are not in our group…Throughout history, political elites have manipulated social groups to achieve and maintain power.… in the last two generations Republicans have masterfully used wedge politics– pitting us against them — to gain and keep power and to implement policies that a clear majority of the populace dislikes, but apparently cannot find any effective way to change.…Although we live in an irreducibly pluralistic world, we have yet to learn how to function as a pluralistic democracy…To restore civil discourse and bring down the level of polarization, we need to learn new ways of relating together as us and them.….…The fundamental questions need to be raised, because what we imagine—no matter how inchoate it may be—influences the way that we act and the choices that we make every day. Nothing is more immediately practical and political than imagination…We have a lot of rehumanizing to do. There are powerful political and economic interests that want to keep us fragmented and at one another’s throats rather than working together to establish a more inclusive democracy. They will do all they can to stir continued discord between groups and to use wedge politics to defeat our aspirations for meaningful change. Can progressives of all persuasions, no matter what our primary interest groups may be, at least agree that we will stop doing their job for them? Us vs Them: A Simple Recipe to Prevent Strong Society from Forming By James Rohrer, AlterNet.org, July 27, 2012

The Moral Animal By JONATHAN SACKS, New York Times, December 23, 2012

Generational justice

U.S. Ranks at the Bottom of Child Well-Being 

Why our children’s future no longer looks so bright

Old vs. Young By David Leonhardt, New York Times, June 22, 2012

The Gradual Selling of America the Beautiful By VERLYN KLINKENBORG, New York Times, February 9, 2013

Government, War, and Hollow Principles

ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT Friday, 21 June 2013

“Our primary long range interest in Geneva, however, is general and complete disarmament, designed to take place by stages, permitting parallel political developments to build the new institutions of peace which would take the place of arms. . . .

“While we proceed to safeguard our national interests, let us also safeguard human interests. And the elimination of war and arms is clearly in the interest of both.”

That was President John F. Kennedy speaking to the 1963 graduating class of American University —announcing that the human race was ready to move beyond war. This was the speech in which he revealed that talks on a Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty with the Soviet Union had begun, and that the U.S. was unilaterally suspending atmospheric nuclear testing.

Fifty years later, the words seem like an archaeological find — quaint, strange, shocking. Look, common sense! Perfectly preserved. Once upon a time, such a goal — disarmament, the end (good God!) of war itself —had political cred at the highest levels.

Kennedy even had the audacity to proclaim that peace wasn’t totally a matter of our enemy du jour, the Soviets, changing their behavior. “I also believe,” he said, “that we must reexamine our own attitudes, as individuals and as a nation, for our attitude is as essential as theirs.”

Politics that makes room for self-reflection? While he proceeds to bash the Communists for bad-mouthing the U.S., he calls their rhetoric “a warning to the American people not to fall into the same trap as the Soviets, not to see only a distorted and desperate view of the other side, not to see conflict as inevitable, accommodation as impossible, and communication as nothing more than an exchange of threats.”

This is politics outside the simple zone of winning and losing. Kennedy dared to suggest that that peace was complex, that it was not a mere matter of military strength and the power to dominate, and that “our enemy” was not subhuman. The American public was ready to hear this half a century ago. What happened? And more to the point, how do we return to this cutting edge of political sanity?

As I listened to Kennedy’s speech, which a number of people have pointed out to me recently, what struck me even more, perhaps, than the words themselves, was that the president seemed to be speaking from a position independent of the American and global military-industrial consensus. That this should stand out as unusual — that my inner political child should feel moved to ask, “Is a president allowed to do that?” — is truly unnerving.

Once upon a time, not all that long ago, the highest levels of American government were capable of representing more than just the status quo, and were not irrelevant to real social change. Once upon a time, principles stood independent of politics. It was always shaky, of course. The Kennedy presidency was flawed; the Vietnam War was set at simmer. But once upon a time, one could look for real values in the political arena . . . and find them.

What has happened in the intervening years has been a hollowing out of those principles and of democracy itself — a moral bottoming out, you might say. What has happened is that the military-industrial consensus has taken control. No more nonsense. War wins. We’re addicted to it.

“But any awake American can see that PRISM is only one sock on a long line of dirty laundry,” Erin Niemela wrote recently at Common Dreams. “The list of U.S. government abuses and failures to protect stretches far and wide. . . .

“While PRISM and the rest of the gang are individually sordid, when combined they are the track marks of a far more pervasive, widespread, life-wasting problem. One that has systematically attacked not just the Fourth Amendment, but also the First, Second, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, and 10th. No matter how hard we advocate for the Fourth Amendment now, others will fall so long as this substance burns through the veins of the Republic.

“This is your government on war.”

Whatever the threats that emanate from beyond or within the national borders, the overwhelming condition that concerned citizens — the ones, for instance, in sync with Kennedy’s 1963 speech — must address is that the government itself is the problem, and its abuses both at home and abroad are only going escalate until its addiction to war is curbed. And the first step in this process is to declare: no future wars. The seductive rhetoric pushing “the next war” is a lie. It’s always a lie, concealing the addiction. The game stops here. No future wars!

Niemela proposes a constitutional amendment: “The American people, in accordance with the promotion of international justice, peace, human rights and dignity, hereby renounce the use of organized, armed force to resolve intra- and inter-state conflict; neither war nor war-making processes shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

David Swanson, in response, proposed enforcing the 1928 Kellogg-Briand Pact, which the United States along with more than 80 other nations signed, agreeing that the settlement of all disputes between signatory nations “shall never be sought except by pacific means.”

The precedent is there. I don’t doubt that the moral passion, in the U.S. and around the globe, is there as well. The idea of ending war can no longer be compromised. Can it regain the political presence it had 50 years ago? That part is up to us.

Robert Koehler is an award-winning, Chicago-based journalist and nationally syndicated writer. His new book, Courage Grows Strong at the Wound (Xenos Press) is now available. Contact him at koehlercw@gmail.com, visit his website at commonwonders.com or listen to him at Voices of Peace radio.

http://www.truth-out.org/buzzflash/commentary/item/18043-government-war-and-hollow-principles

Ten years of questions, outrage, tragedy, grief and change – The Iraq War

ProgressiveValues.org e-letter by Phyllis Stenerson, February 15, 2013

Ten years ago today – February 15 – millions of people around the globe took to the streets to protest the planned invasion of Iraq. With an estimated six to ten million people participating, it is listed in the 2004 Guinness Book of World Records as the largest anti-war rally in history.

The invasion of Iraq began on March 20, 2003. The world was forever changed in countless ways. We embarked upon a new chapter in America’s story that is still unfolding.

For many of us, this event launched a new chapter in our own personal stories. I was flabbergasted and outraged, sending me on a mission to figure out why and how this disastrous decision could have been made by my government. It has grown into wisdom for the future.

Now, ten years later, I have insights but questions remain and I expect new information will continue to be revealed. To manage the voluminous data, I developed a framework so material could be sorted into categories. Highlights are posted for public review on my website www.ProgressiveValues.org. Much of the information has been found on excellent sources on the internet demonstrating the essential role of new media and the progressive movement in saving and revitalizing our democracy. I think of this as having a conversation with many diverse voices.

Pulling this together into a cohesive narrative is a work-in-progress. The story of America’s preemptive war on Iraq – and the aftermath – connects with virtually every facet of American history, government and culture. My focus is on contrasting worldviews, how values affect and are affected by American policy, with an emphasis on the intersection of politics and religion/spirituality. It’s absolutely fascinating. Implications for the future are critically important. Optimism for the future is based on the fact that we’re becoming increasingly knowledgeable and there are a lot of very smart people deeply concerned and engaged.

The website is a start and I now want to collaborate with an established non-profit organization. If you know of any potential connections, please contact me. I want to hear about related work being done by others.
Phyllis Stenerson – phyllis@progressivevalues.org

* * *

Hubris: Selling the Iraq War hosted by Rachel Maddow
premieres February 18 at 9pm ET on MSNBC.

The tenth anniversary of the beginning of the Iraq War is March 20.  Even after all this time there are important questions unanswered about how and why this government decision was made. The new documentary called Hubris: Selling the Iraq War is based on the book Hubris, co-written by NBC News National Investigative Correspondent Michael Isikoff and MSNBC contributor and Mother Jones Washington Bureau Chief David Corn

* * *

“Our movement changed history. While we did not prevent the Iraq war, the protests proved its clear illegality, demonstrated the isolation of the Bush administration policies, helped prevent war in Iran, and inspired a generation of activists.”  Phyllis Bennis, The Day the World  Said No To War , CommonDreams.org

* * *

Today the real test of power is not the capacity to make war but the capacity to prevent it. Anne O’Hare McCormick

Wars can be prevented just as surely as they can be provoked, and we who fail to prevent them, must share the guilt for the dead. General Omar Bradley

When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace. Jimi Hendrix

Either war is obsolete or people are. R. Buckminster Fuller

I think that people want peace so much that one of these days government had better get out of their way and let them have it. Dwight D. Eisenhower

It isn’t enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it. One must work at it. Eleanor Roosevelt

http://p0.vresp.com/bQJcTZ

America Is Far from #1

AlterNet [1] / By Eric Zuesse [2] February 7, 2013

Excerpt

“The Global Competitiveness Report 2012-2013,” [3] by the World Economic Forum, is the latest annual ranking of 144 countries, on a wide range of factors related to global economic competitiveness…Gross Domestic Product is the only factor where the U.S. ranks as #1…Health Care has the U.S. ranking #34 on “Life Expectancy,” and #41 on “Infant Mortality.” Education in the U.S. is also mediocre….The U.S, overall, is very far from being #1 – not really in contention, at all, for the top spot. The rankings suggest instead that this nation is sinking toward the Third World…

Full text

“The Global Competitiveness Report 2012-2013,” [3] by the World Economic Forum, is the latest annual ranking of 144 countries, on a wide range of factors related to global economic competitiveness.

On each of their many rankings, #1 represents the best nation, and #144 represents the worst nation.

Gross Domestic Product is the only factor where the U.S. ranks as #1, which we do both on “GDP” and on “GDP as a Share of World GDP.”

Health Care has the U.S. ranking #34 on “Life Expectancy,” and #41 on “Infant Mortality.”

Education in the U.S. is also mediocre. On “Quality of Primary Education,” we are #38. On “Primary Education Enrollment Rate,” we are #58. On “Quality of the Educational System,” we are #28. On “Quality of Math and Science Education,” we are #47. On “Quality of Scientific Research Institutions,” we are #6. On “PCT [Patent Cooperation Treaty] Patent Applications [per-capita],” we are #12. On “Firm-Level Technology Absorption” (which is an indicator of business-acceptance of inventions), we are #14.

Trust is likewise only moderately high in the U.S. We rank #10 on “Willingness to Delegate Authority,” #42 on “Cooperation in Labor-Management Relations,” and #18 in “Degree of Customer Orientation” of firms.

Corruption is apparently a rather pervasive problem in the U.S.

On “Diversion of Public Funds [due to corruption],” the U.S. ranks #34. On “Public Trust in Politicians,” we are #54. On “Irregular Payments and Bribes,” we are #42. On “Judicial Independence,” we are #38. On “Favoritism in Decisions of Government Officials” (otherwise known as governmental cronyism), we are #59.

On “Organized Crime,” we are #87. On “Ethical Behavior of Firms,” we are #29. On “Reliability of Police Services,” we are #30. On “Transparency of Governmental Policymaking,” we are #56. On “Efficiency of Legal Framework in Challenging Regulations,” we are #37. On “Efficiency of Legal Framework in Settling Disputes,” we are #35. On “Burden of Government Regulation,” we are #76. On “Wastefulness of Government Spending,” we are also #76. On “Property Rights” protection (the basic law-and-order measure), we are #42.

Investors find somewhat shaky ground in the U.S.

On “Strength of Investor Protection,” we are #5. On “Protection of Minority Shareholders’ Interests,” we are #33. On “Efficacy of Corporate Boards,” we are #23. On “Reliance on Professional Management,” we are #19. On “Strength of Auditing and Reporting Standards,” we are #37. On “Venture Capital Availability,” we are #10. On “Intellectual Property Protection,” we are #29. On “Soundness of Banks,” we are #80. On “Regulation of Securities Exchanges,” we are #39. On “Country Credit Rating,” we are #11. On “Government Debt [as a % of GDP],” we are #136. On “Effectiveness of Anti-Monopoly Policy,” we are #17. On “Extent of Market Dominance,” we are #9.

Technology is moderately good here. The U.S. ranks #14 on “Availability of Latest Technologies,” #24 on “Internet Access in Schools,” #20 on “Internet Users [%],” #33 on “Internet Bandwidth [per user],” and #8 on “Mobile Broadband Subscriptions [%].”

Infrastructure is fairly good in the U.S. We rank #25 on “Quality of Overall Infrastructure,” #33 on “Quality of Electricity Supply,” #30 on “Quality of Air Transport Infrastructure,” #19 on “Quality of Port Infrastructure,” and #20 on “Quality of Roads.”

Taxes also definitely don’t qualify as being good in the U.S. We rank #69 on “Extent and Effect of Taxation,” in which the “Effect” that’s considered is reducing the “incentives to work or invest.” We are #103 on “Total Tax Rate,” #47 on “Number of Procedures Required to Start a Business” (which is an indirect tax), and #50 on “Prevalence of Trade Barriers” (both tariff and non-tariff).

The U.S, overall, is very far from being #1 – not really in contention, at all, for the top spot. The rankings suggest instead that this nation is sinking toward the Third World. The nations that stand high on most of these lists are Finland, Switzerland, Singapore, New Zealand, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Japan, Canada, Qatar, Netherlands, Iceland, Ireland, and Hong Kong.

The nations that generally rank in the bottom half of these rankings are the ones that are typically cited as being “Third World,” or poor.

Source URL: http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/america-far-1

Links:
[1] http://www.alternet.org
[2] http://www.alternet.org/authors/eric-zuesse
[3] http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_GlobalCompetitivenessReport_2012-13.pdf
[4] http://www.alternet.org/tags/united-states
[5] http://www.alternet.org/tags/ranking
[6] http://www.alternet.org/tags/global-competitiveness-report
[7] http://www.alternet.org/%2Bnew_src%2B

Foreign Policy Mag’s ‘Top 100 Global Thinkers’: A Rogue’s Gallery of Imperialists, Billionaires and Cheerleaders of Capitalist Domination

Al Jazeera English [1] / By Belén Fernández [2]  December 30, 2012

A few years back, Foreign Policy magazine began [3] compiling annual lists of “The FP Top 100 Global Thinkers”. Aside from some worthy exceptions [4], the lists are populated by individuals whose dearth of intellectual qualifications [5] tends to render the whole business an exercise in oxymoron proliferation.

With this year’s survey of Global Thought [6], FP purports to “present… a unique portrait of 2012′s global marketplace of ideas and the thinkers who make them”.

Given the neoliberal presentation of the mission statement, it’s not surprising to find corporate apologists well-represented in the marketplace. Global Thinker no. 65, for example, is US economist Paul Romer, whose crusade to revive the practice of colonialism [7] in the world is creatively euphemised by FP into a “novel idea for persuading a developing country to sign away a parcel of land to be governed by a foreign power as a model for economic growth”.

Multibillionaire Bill Gates is meanwhile elevated to the rank [8] of “perennial FP Global Thinker for the enormous scale and ambition of his efforts to finance – and reimagine – global health and development”.

Some of these virtuous efforts were showcased in a 2007 Los Angeles Times report [9] revealing that “the Gates Foundation funded a polio vaccination clinic in Ebocha, Nigeria, in the shadow of a giant petroleum processing plant in which the Gates Foundation was invested” and which itself contributed in no small way to the deterioration of local health.

The brains of empire 

Of course, no inventory of Global Thought would be complete without a celebration of the cognitive processes underpinning US imperial predations. Among the 2012 honourees are President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former National Security Adviser and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and former Vice-President Dick Cheney [10] - the latter two icons dating from the administration of someone who has been excluded from the FPlist despite notable thoughts such as that Africa is a country [11].

To be sure, reports [12] that the Obama team has managed to conduct five times as many drone strikes in Pakistan as the preceding cowboy – a practice inevitably resulting inrampant civilian casualties [13] - are a sure sign of civilised progress and a conclusive rejection of George W Bush’s “smoke them out [14]” rhetoric. Obama, the “brainy 44th president”, is recognised for his “more restrained view of America’s role in the world” and for “curb[ing] his predecessor’s dangerous excesses”, thereby “conclusively put[ting] cowboy diplomacy out to pasture”.

In similar counter-intuitive fashion, Clinton is praised by FP, along with her husband, for her “vision” that the US can “promote democracy and development abroad without… needlessly antagonising other countries. It’s a different kind of American exceptionalism, based on more than just firepower”.

FP does not care to explain how Clinton’s campaign to validate [15] the 2009 coup d’état against the democratically-elected president of Honduras constitutes democracy promotion or an eschewal of needless antagonising of a country that has for the duration of its contemporary history been at the mercy of US corporate and military interests.

That the coup has ushered in an era of intensified murder and impunity raises additional questions about the merits of “American exceptionalism” [16].

According to FP, Clinton “has emerged as one of the Obama administration’s most forceful advocates for human rights and democracy” based on her preeminent role in “the push for the United States to intervene in Libya last year”.

This assessment overlooks the fact that even the New York Times - bastion of imperial apologetics [17] - has drawn attention to disconcerting accompaniments to firepower in Libya such as NATO’s refusal to acknowledge or investigate the substantial civilian casualties [18] that resulted from its own bombardments.

Condoleezza Rice is meanwhile hailed as an “optimist” with an “unwavering belief in American indispensability” in the world. This indispensability was previously asserted via such events as the 2006 Israeli destruction of Lebanon [19] and 1,200 persons (primarily civilians) therein, assisted by rush shipments [20] of US weapons to Israel and hailed by Rice as the “birth pangs of a new Middle East [21]“.

The presence in the annals of Global Thought of Iraq war profiteer Dick Cheney [22] - described by FP as Rice’s “dark-side-minded rival” who is to thank for “keeping the neocon flame alive” – is cast as a mere diplomatic reflection on the man’s influence: “Cheneyism is alive and well in today’s Republican Party”.

After decreeing that “If scaring us silly were a religion, Dick Cheney would be its high priest”, FP goes on to observe that the former VP “is still waging a campaign… to convince us that the dark side of terrorists and rogue states is out there and must be defended against at all costs”.

Israel’s global musings

Despite apparently mocking Cheneyesque propaganda concerning alleged “dark sides” and “rogue states”,FP devotes slot 13 [23] on its Global Thinkers list to Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Ehud Barak “[f]or forcing the world to confront Iran’s nuclear programme” and for “[a]lmost single-handedly… wrench[ing] the world’s attention toward the apocalyptic potential of a nuclear Iran”.

That Netanyahu and Barak’s alleged feat is not as single-handed as FP implies is made quite clear in a recent essay for the Journal of Palestine Studies [24] by Edward S Herman [25], professor emeritus at the University of Pennsylvania, and journalist David Peterson.

Entitled “The Iran ‘Threat’ In a Kafkaesque World”, the essay presents such findings as that, from July 2002 to June 2012, “the volume of media attention devoted to Iran’s nuclear program [in English-language wire services and newspapers]… was 88 times greater than that devoted exclusively to Israel’s (and 105 times greater in the New York Timesalone)”.

Never mind that the International Atomic Energy Agency has not, in the course of obsessive inspections, stumbled upon the Iranian “nuclear programme” that FP passes off as unquestionable reality.

As Herman and Peterson note, “[t]he last major US National Intelligence Assessment of Iran’s ‘Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities’ in November 2007 concluded with ‘high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons programme’” – something that cannot be said for the bellicose homeland of Global Thinkers no. 13 [26], a country that is nonetheless exempt from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as well as from weapons inspections.

That non-Iranian entities may enjoy a monopoly on “apocalyptic potential” is furthermore suggested by the authors’ contention that the hype over Iran “allows the United States to divert attention from the real threats that it poses itself, including its own contribution to the spread of nuclear weapons by its refusal to live up to its own disarmament obligations [as stipulated in Article VI of the NPT] and its acquiescence in the nuclear weapons programmes of Israel, India and Pakistan outside the NPT”.

As for FP’s assessment of Netanyahu and Barak’s global influence – “Pretty impressive for a country the size of New Jersey” – impressive is not the first word that ought to come to mind when faced with the possibility of regional destruction.

Perhaps in an effort to appear less blatantly warmongering, FP assigns slot 14 on the Global Thinkers list to another pair of Israelis: ex-Mossad director Meir Dagan and former Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin, for “mak[ing] a convincing, hard-nosed case that a strike [on Iran] would only make the Iranian threat greater”.

Lest we start feeling overly warm and fuzzy at the prospect of human co-existence in the Middle East, however, FPassures us that “[t]hese former soldiers are no peaceniks… Netanyahu once praised [27] Dagan by saying that he went to war not with a knife but with ‘a rocket-propelled grenade between his teeth’”.

According to FP, “[i]f the Israeli government doesn’t end up launching a war against Iran, it won’t be because of the persuasive abilities of US President Barack Obama or the political machinations of Israel’s opposition parties”. It presumably won’t be because of FP either.

See more stories tagged with:

Foreign Policy magazine [28],

empire [29]


Source URL: http://www.alternet.org/foreign-policy-mags-top-100-global-thinkers-rogues-gallery-imperialists-billionaires-and

Links:
[1] http://english.aljazeera.net/
[2] http://www.alternet.org/authors/belen-fernandez
[3] http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2009/11/30/the_fp_top_100_global_thinkers
[4] http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2012/09/2012928329663179.html
[5] http://www.versobooks.com/books/1024-the-imperial-messenger
[6] http://www.foreignpolicy.com/2012globalthinkers
[7] http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2012/07/2012711121224166933.html
[8] http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/11/26/the_fp_100_global_thinkers?page=0,4#thinker5
[9] http://www.latimes.com/news/la-na-gatesx07jan07,0,2533850.story
[10] http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/11/26/the_fp_100_global_thinkers?page=0,30#thinker38
[11] http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/story?id=129596#.UNlfjo4l7ao
[12] http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/map_of_the_week/2012/06/obama_drone_strikes_the_president_ordered_more_than_george_w_bush.html
[13] http://news.antiwar.com/2009/06/24/at-least-35-civilians-killed-in-us-drone-strike-on-funeral/
[14] http://www.nytimes.com/2001/09/19/news/19iht-t4_30.html
[15] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10256459
[16] http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/27/opinion/in-honduras-a-mess-helped-by-the-us.html
[17] http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2004/03/23/1079939624187.html
[18] http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/18/world/africa/scores-of-unintended-casualties-in-nato-war-in-libya.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
[19] http://pulsemedia.org/2010/07/28/postwar-photographs-of-lebanon-by-amelia-opalinska-round-iii/
[20] http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/22/world/middleeast/22military.html?pagewanted=print
[21] http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1219325,00.html
[22] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/blood-and-oil-how-the-west-will-profit-from-iraqs-most-precious-commodity-431119.html
[23] http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/11/26/the_fp_100_global_thinkers?page=0,12#thinker13
[24] http://www.palestine-studies.org/journals.aspx?href=current&jid=1
[25] http://www.amazon.com/Edward-S.-Herman/e/B000APBH1G
[26] http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2012-08-31/opinions/35492379_1_nuclear-weapons-avner-cohen-nuclear-program
[27] http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2012/09/03/120903fa_fact_remnick?currentPage=all
[28] http://www.alternet.org/tags/foreign-policy-magazine
[29] http://www.alternet.org/tags/empire
[30] http://www.alternet.org/%2Bnew_src%2B

The Big Theories Underwriting Society Are Crashing All Around Us — Are You Ready for a New World?

 by Terrence McNally, AlterNet, January 27, 2010

Mini-excerpt

…Many of the ideas and institutions that define our culture are breaking down — and that’s a good thing…today’s crises are part of a natural process — clearing out what no longer serves us to make room for a new way of being…We can no longer afford to indulge outdated worldviews. In order to deal with the crises we now face, we’ve got to act on the new realities and understandings revealed by science…Rather than focusing on what’s coming apart, we want people to understand that this crisis makes it possible to move to a much higher level of evolution….Every cell counts. Every human counts.

Excerpt

Bruce Lipton: …I saw that genetically identical cells put into different environments have different fates…How an organism perceives the environment or, in the case of humans, what an organism believes about the environment, actually controls its genetics. If we change our perceptions or beliefs or attitudes about life, we actually change our genetic read-out dynamically. This revolution in science empowers you to recognize that your health is under your control…

Steve Bhaerman: … I’ve been exploring spiritual paths…and seeking ways of making our great ideas congruent with actual reality…about healing the body politic, applying a biological or medical metaphor to the wider world. …For the last few years Steve and I have been crafting an understanding that says we’re in a transition. Rather than focusing on what’s coming apart, we want people to understand that this crisis makes it possible to move to a much higher level of evolution….Every cell counts. Every human counts.

Full Text

Economic meltdown … environmental crises … seemingly endless warfare. The world is in critical condition. Bad news? Good news? Or both?

Many of the ideas and institutions that define our culture are breaking down — and that’s a good thing, say Bruce Lipton and Steve Bhaerman. In their new book, Spontaneous Evolution: Our Positive Future and a Way to Get There from Here, they write that today’s crises are part of a natural process — clearing out what no longer serves us to make room for a new way of being. Are they cockeyed optimists or do they see things others miss?

Reality is alive, dynamic and interconnected. Science has been saying so for nearly a century, and we experience it every time we walk on a beach or look into another’s eyes. Yet most of our cultural, societal, political and economic structures act as if it’s not so. We can no longer afford to indulge outdated worldviews. In order to deal with the crises we now face, we’ve got to act on the new realities and understandings revealed by science.

A cell biologist by training, Bruce Lipton taught at theUniversityofWisconsin’sSchoolofMedicine, performed pioneering studies at Stanford, and authored The Biology of Belief. Steve Bhaerman has been writing and performing “enlightening” comedy in the character of Swami Beyondananda for over 20 years. He is the author of several books.

Terrence McNally: Bruce, you first, a bit about your path to the work you do today?

Bruce Lipton: When I was very young I looked into a microscope for the first time and saw cells moving around. That vision ultimately led to my becoming a cellular biologist and teaching in medical schools. I was a pretty conventional biologist who thought of the body as a biochemical machine run by genes. I was teaching the genetic control of a molecular body to medical students, but at the same time I was doing research on muscular dystrophy and cloning stem cells starting about 1967.

My research proved so mind-boggling that it led to my leaving the university. I saw that genetically identical cells put into different environments have different fates. I’d start with genetically identical stem cells, change some of the constituents of their environment, and the stem cells would form muscle; change the environment a little bit differently and genetically identical cells would form bone; change it yet again, and another group of genetically identical cells would form fat cells.
I was teaching medical students that genes control life, yet my research said that the genes were actually controlled by the organism’s response to the environment.

That work ultimately led to The Biology of Belief, and presaged epi-genetics, one of today’s leading areas of research in biomedicine. Epi is a prefix that means above. Epidermis means the layer above the dermis. Epi-genetic control literally means “control above the genes.”

How an organism perceives the environment or, in the case of humans, what an organism believes about the environment, actually controls its genetics. If we change our perceptions or beliefs or attitudes about life, we actually change our genetic read-out dynamically. This revolution in science empowers you to recognize that your health is under your control.

TM: Now Steve, your path, which I assume may be even more circuitous than Bruce’s?

Steve Bhaerman: I was a very idealistic young teacher inWashington,DCteaching during the late ’60s-early ’70s. I found some really fabulous ideas about how things could be, but how to put those ideas into practice escaped most people. I remember meeting a world-famous expert on communal living, but nobody could stand to live with him. For the last 30 or 40 years I’ve been exploring spiritual paths, learning about myself, and seeking ways of making our great ideas congruent with actual reality.

I thought it would be interesting to write a book about healing the body politic, applying a biological or medical metaphor to the wider world. When I read The Biology of Belief and met Bruce, I realized that he was the guy I was meant to do this book with. In Spontaneous Evolution we hope to help people see that many of the beliefs we’ve been living by are now burned-out stars, yet we keep trying to navigate by them.

TM: Steve, you left out the fact that a big part of your path has been humor.

SB: For the last 20-something years I’ve been performing and writing as Swami Beyondananda, the cosmic comic. Humor is a great way to allow new ideas to infiltrate, and I’ve learned a lot cohabiting with the Swami. As soon as I put the turban on [with Indian accent], oh then we’ve got a whole different set of wisdom coming out.

TM: Bruce, how did you decide to take on this collaboration?

BL: I got so caught up with cellular biology and the biology of belief that I kept putting the biological understanding of civilization on the back burner — until Steve and I started talking.

Most people get caught up in, “Oh my God, crisis here, crisis there. What are we going to do? The sky is falling!” For the last few years Steve and I have been crafting an understanding that says we’re in a transition. Rather than focusing on what’s coming apart, we want people to understand that this crisis makes it possible to move to a much higher level of evolution.

TM: Let’s pull apart some of the threads that you deal with in the book. You say 1) there are three perennial questions that any belief system needs to address; and 2) that the answers to those questions have changed. What are those three questions?

SB: Why are we here? How did we get here? And now that we’re here, how do we make the best of the situation?

TM: And how have those changed?

SB: If you look at recorded history, we began with animism — simply “I am one with everything.” There wasn’t much of a distinction between the spiritual world and the material world, and indigenous people were able to navigate these two worlds fairly easily. Had we stayed at that point, we would be little more than human animals in a cosmic petting zoo. But we ventured out to explore.

We then began to see that there are many forces. We recognized the “me” and the “not me,” and we began to assign powers to various gods. So we had polytheism. Then came the monotheistic view that there is only one God and one power. The institutionalized version of monotheism through Christianity was very powerful throughout the middle ages.

TM: You single out the institutionalized version of Christianity, not Judaism or Islam?

SB: Christianity is most powerful in terms of its impact on Western society. Christianity’s worldview eventually gave birth to scientific materialism as a challenge to the institutionalized version of the infallible church.

The first little chip to fall: Copernicus recognizes that the earth actually revolves around the sun. It takes over 100 years for that belief to be integrated throughout even the thinking world.

As the church loses its infallibility, we see the rise of the current dominant paradigm: scientific materialism, the material world is what matters.Newton, Descartes and the rest say that the universe is a machine.

We are now at the threshold of a new understanding which we call holism, in which what we call “science” and what we call “spirit” are part of the same thing. Yet our institutions are still based on scientific materialism, on beliefs that have actually been disproved by science.

TM: You point out myth perceptions: unexamined pillars that support modern thought. In science, some of these have been proven wrong, but the public hasn’t been let in on that yet.

BL: When the general population accepts particular answers to perennial questions from some group or entity, they tend to turn to that same source for other truths about the world. When the Church was running the show, if you wanted to find out about health or what’s going on in the future, you turned to the priest or the Church for answers.

TM: Or prior to that, the medicine man.

BL: In animism.
When science took over, we started saying, “You want truth? You don’t go to the Church anymore. Now you go to the science people.” The flavor of the answers flavors culture and character. When the answers change, civilization changes.

In the current vision of scientific materialism, belief in matter is primary. The Newtonian belief that the universe is a physical machine takes our attention away from the invisible realm. We focus on material acquisition as a representation of how well we’re doing in our lives. We take the earth and the environment apart seeking more matter. The more matter you have, the more effective you are in this world. He who dies with the most toys wins.

Over 100 years ago, quantum physics said, “The invisible realm you ignore is actually the primary shaper of the physical realm.”

 

TM: I hear you expressing a kind of duality: “We were paying attention to matter, now we’ve got to pay attention to the invisible.” But holism doesn’t pay attention to one or the other, it realizes they are in fact the same.

BL: Exactly. That’s the conclusion we come to. If it sounded like we were emphasizing the spiritual over the material, it was only because that’s the piece that’s missing in today’s world: the piece that says “Wait there’s more to us than this physical plane.”

Look over history. The primary differences between civilizations is whether they emphasize the spiritual or the material. With animism, both were the same thing. We’re coming back to that. After taking civilization to the spiritual realm under the Church and then into the material realm under the sciences, science and spirituality are coming back to a midpoint, recognizing that they are both critical.

TM: What is the old belief and what is the new belief?

BL: The old belief: Genes predetermine our fate and control who we are. We didn’t select our genes and we can’t change them, so our lives are beyond our control. That kind of science says I’m a victim, so I need a rescuer. As victims, we turn over our healthcare to other people. But the new biology reveals that our thoughts and beliefs and how we interact with the environment control our genetics.

 

TM: Until fairly recently I thought that I was born with a blueprint that would play out for the rest of my life. I think that’s a common misconception. You’re saying that, though we’re born with a particular genetic structure, it’s not a blueprint or a done deal. Again, not a simple either/or.

BL: The scientific story we’ve been living says we have no power. But we say we are all active participants in the unfoldment of our own genetics, our own health, and the health of the world that we live in.

TM: You say that from a position of science, not from a position of belief. We’ve talked about two of the false beliefs: Newtonian physics, and the belief that genes control our lives. What are others?

BL: The premises of Darwinian evolution: that random mutations got life going and that life is based on a struggle for survival of the fittest. Those are beliefs that influence our culture well beyond the realm of science. As a consequence, we live in a world based on competition and struggle. But we have to ask: Is the world really that way or did our beliefs create that impression?

Now we learn that the entangled community called the biosphere is driven not by competition but by cooperation and community. This means our competing has been anti-evolutionary.

Humans evolved over a million years ago. What’s evolving now is not the individual human, but the living superorganism called humanity. We are all cells in the body of one living thing. So we need to come together and recognize our unity.

The cells making up humanity will keep killing each other — as in an autoimmune disease — until we realize that we’re all part of one organism and cooperation is key. The way we live in our world today mimics some of our biggest health issues: autoimmune diseases like arthritis, Alzheimer’s and cancer. The fundamental underlying issue in almost all illnesses today is stress. When stress hormones are released into your body, the same hormones that get you ready for fight and flight, also shut off the immune system.

TM: In the old days, fleeing or confronting a tiger, you didn’t need immunity or digestion or much intellectual capacity. You needed speed and force. And so the body turns off certain things and turns on others. In modern society, however, those stressors are often symbolic and constant. What about the notion of random evolution?

BL: “Why are we here?” If you start from random mutations, we’re just an accident, a genetic crap-shoot. That belief disconnects us from the biosphere and all the other organisms on the planet. But the fundamental nature of evolution is that every new organism emerges into the biosphere to bring greater harmony and balance to the environment.

 

TM: You’re saying evolution is not about individual organisms, it’s about larger and larger ecosystems.

BL: We started this whole cycle of civilizations with animism and we have to return to that kind of awareness. Belief systems that allow us to pollute will go away when we realize we’re part of an intricate and delicate network and web of life.

TM: You conclude that the crises and breakdowns we’re facing are in some ways a good thing that will allow the rise of new and better systems. That may not be such good news to a lot of people who are hurt in the process.
SB: Survival of the fittest is a dominator belief system. We must move to “thrival of the fittingest” where we disperse resources in such a way that everybody benefits and we build a common wealth.

When we allow every individual to thrive in a local garden, we allow them local energy, local autonomy, local sustainability. All of a sudden, every group makes a contribution, and we spend less time, energy, money and attention protecting ourselves from one another and fixing things that could have been prevented.

Underneath our skins we have a 50-trillion-cell, highly functional community with technology that far outstrips anything that we’ve invented with our human minds. When we’re healthy, this system is so impeccable and harmonious that within us we have full employment, universal health care, no cell left behind. The organs cooperate with one another so that the whole system can thrive. You never hear about the liver invading the pancreas demanding the islets of Langerhands. It just doesn’t happen.

We need to begin to imagine how to put these ideas into practice in our lives, our communities and our world. Awareness is the first step. Every phase of evolution involves expanding awareness and expanding connection.

TM: Are you saying that even evolution that appears to us to be simply physical, arises through awareness and connection?

SB: When single cell organisms “decided” they didn’t want to be single any more, they combined in community. And the process of combining as a community enhanced the awareness of each cell. Each now had access to the information that was being gathered and used by other cells. Then we had specialization of cells, and some cells would never see the light of day but would get signals about what was happening out in the world.

Each of us is a community of 50 trillion cells working in concert. At this stage in human evolution, we don’t need to grow another arm or a bigger brain. We need to grow greater awareness and connection in community.

What are the implications of that? How do we live our lives? How do we relate to other people? Politically we’ve been divided — as if the liver said, “I’m not talking to the heart, to hell with him!” Can we begin to recognize that every nationality, every cluster of human cells, is an organ in this one body of humanity?

What would it be like if our systems — the organization of money or health care or the law — actually worked in concert with one another rather than in competition? These are important questions to begin to ask as we take the first steps of new awareness, as we lift ourselves outside the matrix of invisible beliefs that we’ve mistaken for reality.

 

TM: What would a person want to know or learn or do to begin to participate in this spontaneous evolution?

BL: We have to start recognizing that our belief systems are controlled by our mind, and that most of our mind is not under our control. We have a conscious mind, the creative mind, home to our wishes and desires, and we have a subconscious mind, a habit mind with programs downloaded. We generally believe that we’re running our lives with our creative minds. A lot of people say, “We’re facing a crisis, let’s create answers and solutions.” But 95 percent of our life comes from the habit mind, programmed primarily by other people and our culture.

 

TM: So even with the best of intentions, we miss 95 percent of where the action is.

BL: Absolutely. That’s why we struggle so hard to get to where we want to go. We’re operating from invisible beliefs about how life works that were programmed into us before we were six.

In the first six years of your life, you see the stresses and struggles your parents go through, and that becomes a behavioral program in your subconscious mind. Then when you’re older, you say, “Let’s have a life that’s wonderful and joyous and happy.” But 95 percent of your life is coming from behaviors downloaded from your parents.

Until we become aware of these invisible programs that undermine us, we look like we’re victims to the world. If we want peace and love, harmony and health, and we don’t get it, we may conclude that the universe is against us. But from the perspective of the new biology, we undermine ourselves with the acquired beliefs of our culture. We have to rewrite those beliefs to re-empower ourselves.

TM: I knew we were facing lots of crises. Now I learn that 95 percent of what I do is out of my control. Where’s the good news?

BL: The good news is if we become aware of it, we can do something about it. Being forewarned is being forearmed.

TM: What can I do about the 95 percent that’s habitual?

SB: Once we recognize how much of our reality is programmed, we can begin to forgive ourselves and forgive others. We can begin to recognize that one thing we have in common is that we’re all programmed. That recognition is a first step outside the matrix of controlled beliefs.

I’ve been told that a person out there is my enemy. We’ve both been programmed, but with different programs, therefore we disagree. So the first step is to recognize that we are all programmed.

The reality we have in common is not in our heads, it’s in our hearts. Scientific studies have shown that we can walk into a room and begin to entrain with one another.

McNally: We begin to have similar heartbeats?

SB: Like a tuning fork, we begin to harmonize. When you create situations where people can communicate and listen in a respectful way, an interesting thing happens. We begin to focus on what we have in common as humanity. We begin thinking like a species instead of like individuals.

We’re in a similar situation to a caterpillar in the process of transforming into a butterfly. Most of the news is about the caterpillar that can’t be fixed. Our book is about the emergence of the butterfly. While still a caterpillar, the imaginal cells of a new butterfly begin to communicate with one another, allowing new structure to emerge as the caterpillar collapses.

We face a choice of focus. Do we focus on the Titanic sinking or the party boat doing fine?

 

TM: The premise of all of this is holism, yet out of habit we end up with dualism. I don’t accept that it’s a choice between this or that. I’m not going to be satisfied focusing on the party boat and ignoring the hunger and inequity around me.

SB:It will take a new structure for that hunger to be solved. We can’t solve it at the level that we’ve created the problem.

 

TM: So you’re not saying to focus on where the goodies are, you’re saying focus on the possibility of evolution and transformation.

SB:We’re not saying to ignore the problems in the world. We’re simply putting our attention on what we’re building instead.

BL: Today we write off whole populations because they don’t fit into our economic models. There’s hope in our future, because the breakdown is necessary to build a more sustainable foundation. Some people will have terrible problems and others will have great success, yet they’re both part of a community.

In your body, no particular cells go hungry. Every cell must be fed for the body to be in harmony. When we begin to treat all humans as cells in one body, and make sure that they all get the basics in life, we create the foundation on which to build an exciting future.

Every cell counts. Every human counts.

Interviewer Terrence McNally hosts Free Forum on KPFK 90.7FM,Los Angeles and WBAI99.5FM,New York (streaming at kpfk.org and wbai.org.). Visit terrencemcnally.net for podcasts of all interviews and more. He also advises non-profits and foundations on communications. Visit terrencemcnally.net for podcasts of all interviews and more.

© 2010 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/145394/

 

5 Ways to Achieve World Peace and Prosperity — Yes, It’s Possible

Berrett-Koehler Publishers [1] / By J. Kirk Boyd [2] posted on Alternet.org, May 11, 2010 
Editor’s Note: The following is excerpted from 2048: Humanity’s Agreement to Live Together [3], by permission of Berrett-Koehler Publishers, copyright 2010.

Excerpt

…One of the most pernicious myths is that peace and prosperity are hopelessly complicated and unattainable…This is untrue. Peace and prosperity can be attained through the realization of five basic fundamental freedoms, for all people, everywhere in the world. They are: freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from want, freedom for the environment, and freedom from fear…If our international community remembers these Five Freedoms, and if they become a regular part of our daily lives, then collectively we will carry the core of 2048 in our minds and they will become our way of life…

…The truth is that there is enough funding for the realization of fundamental human rights, including economic and social rights. The problem is those who are presently profiting…have an interest in maintaining the status quo. It is time for the human rights community to have the strength and daring to band together so that we have the clout to stand up to this narrow-minded view…

Awareness can be created with a small percentage of people…it will take only 1% of humanity to share the news…This 1% of humanity already exists within the arts and media, our nonprofit and for-profit businesses, our places of worship, our universities, and even our governments — now the Internet and 2048 are bringing all these communities together…

Full text

One of the most pernicious myths is that peace and prosperity are hopelessly complicated and unattainable. 2048 dispels myths. This is untrue. Peace and prosperity can be attained through the realization of five basic fundamental freedoms, for all people, everywhere in the world. They are: freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from want, freedom for the environment, and freedom from fear. Of course, other rights are needed too, but these five fundamental freedoms establish a framework within which other rights can flourish. If our international community remembers these Five Freedoms, and if they become a regular part of our daily lives, then collectively we will carry the core of 2048 in our minds and they will become our way of life.

Please look at your hand for a moment. Hold it up, palm facing you. We all have five fingers, but the first we call a thumb. In appearance it looks different. It stands out. And it is strong. It represents freedom of speech, the idea that stands out, that stands up to dishonesty and corruption.

Next, look at your index finger. We point with this one. It gives us direction. It represents freedom of religion. Each of us is free to choose our own direction, with or without God, and for those who decide that God is their guide, then they are free to have their own relationship with God without the state telling them what that relationship must be. Interference by the state pollutes the relationship with God.

Third is the middle finger, the longest of all. It represents freedom from want, the long road of existence, and the certainty that there will be food, water, shelter, education, and health care for every one of us no matter where we may be on that road.

Next, for many of us, is the marriage ring finger, either the right or the left hand, and for all of us, a finger with a direct link to our nervous system. It represents freedom for the environment. Life. We all have a direct link to the Earth and the ecosystem of which we are a part. When the life of the Earth is spoiled, our lives are spoiled.

Finally, there is our “little finger,” shorter and smaller than the rest. It represents freedom from fear. It’s the “finale” of our hand, our reward. All the others lead to this one.

As you take a look at your hand and recount the Five Freedoms, remember that you didn’t ask for that hand, you were born with it. So too, you do not have to ask for the Five Freedoms, you were born with them. They are five freedoms for all!

Four of these Five Freedoms originated with U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt. He stated the following in his State of the Union address to the U.S. Congress in January 1941:

We look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms:

The first is freedom of speech and expression?—??everywhere in the world.

The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way?—?everywhere in the world.

The third is freedom from want?—?everywhere in ?the world.

The fourth is freedom from fear?—?everywhere in ?the world.

The beauty of these Four Freedoms is that they are an outline of an agreement for humanity. The Four Freedoms are a social formula. When we, the people of our international community, have created a social order whereby all people enjoy the first three freedoms?—?freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom from want?—?then we will have created a society where we can all share in the fourth freedom, freedom from fear. This formula was born out of a desire not just to end World War II, but as President Roosevelt said “to end the beginning of all wars.” This quote and the Four Freedoms are engraved in granite at the Roosevelt Memorial in Washington, D.C. They are a guiding light for 2048.

I recall being at the Roosevelt Memorial in Washington, D.C., at dusk one evening. It is an outdoor memorial with a mix of monuments, trees, and waterfalls. The many cherry trees were in blossom and a light drizzle gilded the petals with water. My friend and I stood before a large stone wall, perhaps 30 feet high, with the Four Freedoms engraved in large letters on it. At that moment a group of twenty-five or thirty middle-school students, 12 to 14 years old, of all different races?—?black, white, Latino, Asian?—?came to the wall.

They were from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, United States, but the rights on that wall applied to any visitor from anywhere in the world. The students laughed and formed small groups to have their pictures taken in front of these freedoms. After the flashes stopped, several turned to touch the wall and run their fingers through the carved grooves of the letters on it. The connection for my friend Bart, who is black, and me, white, was clear: It didn’t matter what color they were, what sex, what religion or what nation they were from?—?the rights on that wall must become as real in the lives of all people as they are to the fingertips of those children.

Fortunately, we need not wait for the children to grow old for the realization of the Four Freedoms. Roosevelt saw the Four Freedoms as achievable within a generation. Commenting on his speech, he said, “It is no vision of a distant millennium. It is a definite basis for a kind of world attainable in our own time and generation.” Perhaps he was overly optimistic about the speed at which the Four Freedoms could be achieved everywhere in the world, but steady, immediate action is the message?—?not to put these rights off forever.

The Four Freedoms are the essence of a good life for all. They ensure the following: We can think freely, say and write what we want, and peacefully organize to protest; we can have a relationship with a god of our choosing, without interference by the state; we can live with security knowing that education and health care will always be available, regardless of circumstance; and finally we can live in peace, without fear of rampant crime and continuing war. In short, the Four Freedoms are the core of our social contract?—?our agreement about how we will live together.

President Roosevelt’s recitation of the phrase “everywhere in the world” at the end of each freedom is key. He was so adamant about these words that he handwrote them onto the pages of the speech he gave. He made it perfectly clear that the Four Freedoms were not just for Americans. His own speechwriters questioned him about this, saying that Americans wouldn’t be much concerned about the people in Java. Roosevelt’s response was that Americans had better care because we are all interconnected now. So as we strive for the Four Freedoms, we do so for all members of our international community. Security rests not in the well-being of one nation, but in the well-being of all nations.

In effect, the Four Freedoms were a New Deal for the world. Roosevelt had long been a champion of the common man in America. Through the New Deal in America, Roosevelt took the hard edges off of capitalism. He made sure that working people were not left destitute while wealth and power were consolidated into the hands of a few. With the Four Freedoms, he was expanding his gaze to all men and women, in all nations, to ensure that destitution did not befall anyone, for in destitution he saw the seeds of war. His wife, Eleanor, saw these seeds as well. In 1942 she wrote, “If we really do not mean that after this war we intend to see that people the world over have an opportunity to obtain a satisfactory life, then all we are doing is to prepare for a new war.” Recently we have seen the correctness of this insight in Afghanistan, where Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda have grown from the soil of crushing poverty.

Soon after Roosevelt unveiled the Four Freedoms they were incorporated into a multinational wartime strategy. A superpower summit between Winston Churchill and President Roosevelt was held aboard American and British ships in the Atlantic Ocean, on August 10, 1941, eight months after Roosevelt stated the Four Freedoms in his State of the Union address. Roosevelt summoned great courage and strength to rise up out of his wheelchair and walk across a ship while it was at sea. Each footstep, with crutches, and braces on his legs, was a stride toward a new deal, a new contract, a new agreement for humanity.

The famous Atlantic Charter came out of Roosevelt’s meetings with Winston Churchill at sea, and the Four Freedoms were included in that Charter. Like the Four Freedoms speech, the Atlantic Charter was written for everyone. It envisioned a postwar social order “which will afford assurance that all the men in all the lands may live out their lives in freedom from fear and want.” The embodiment of the Four Freedoms in the Atlantic Charter was a defining moment for the social contract between government and the common person.

While the Four Freedoms ensure dignity and cover most of our social contract among ourselves and our government, we also need a fifth freedom to preserve our planet, including the ecosystem that provides joy and beauty, and also sustains us: freedom for the environment. Just as our human DNA is 98.5 percent the same for all people in all countries, so too our well-being is intertwined with our physical environment.

Equally important, as we have learned from global warming, the health of our environment affects us all, everywhere, and therefore, as with the first Four Freedoms, freedom for the environment must also apply “everywhere in the world.” The demise of our planet’s ecosystem teaches us the folly of only working on local environmental issues while dramatic degradation takes place worldwide. I recall a lawsuit in which I represented an environmental group seeking to protect old growth forests. We won that lawsuit, but now, because of global warming, the temperatures are not dropping enough to kill the bugs that are today killing the trees. We can’t just protect the environment at the local level and expect to have a clean and healthy environment.

Furthermore, it’s time to discard the myth that we must be willing to sacrifice the environment for the sake of economic competition. What is needed is uniform, international regulation of the type that an International Convention would provide. Without an international approach there will always be pressures for some countries to sacrifice the environment to gain market advantage. Capitalism works well, but it also tends to create a race to the bottom when it comes to environmental protection.

Creating a fifth freedom for the environment is also harmonious with the other four freedoms. Often destruction of the environment results from the actions of impoverished people who are struggling to survive, whether by cutting down their local forest to an extent that it does not grow back, for example, or overfishing to where fish stocks do not come back. The lack of the first three freedoms, particularly freedom from want, can thus lead to the destruction of the environment. As we reach an agreement regarding the first Four Freedoms, well-being for all, the result is that the need to sacrifice the environment to survive is reduced. In this way, the Five Freedoms are intertwined and the success of each bolsters the others.

Given the strength and well-being that each of us will gain from five universal freedoms, it is also time to dispel another myth?—?that there is not enough to go around. We pay dearly for the myth that we can’t afford to have health care and education for all, and the myth that environmental protection is too costly. These myths are untrue. For example, studies have conclusively shown that not only will global warming cause serious suffering and diminishment of our daily lives, but it will cost us more to pick up the pieces after hurricanes, droughts, and flooding than it will cost to avoid these calamities. Similarly, while education may cost more initially, it creates good jobs to construct schools and results in highly productive workers. The net result of the implementation of 2048 is a financial savings in addition to fulfilling lives.

No Increase In Taxes

Furthermore, securing Five Freedoms for all will not require more taxes! All it will take is the reallocation of existing tax revenues. The real myth is that we must continue the way we are going. Our international community is spending $1.4 trillion a year on military expenditures. One percent of GNP for all countries is roughly $500 billion. Therefore, all it would take to bring about the full realization of the Five Freedoms and to usher in a new form of human security would be to reallocate $500 billion of military costs toward the realization of the Five Freedoms. That would leave $900 billion for military, more than enough!

The truth is that there is enough funding for the realization of fundamental human rights, including economic and social rights. The problem is those who are presently profiting do not want the public to believe there are sufficient funds for military and human rights because they have an interest in maintaining the status quo. It is time for the human rights community to have the strength and daring to band together so that we have the clout to stand up to this narrow-minded view.

One way that myths are perpetuated is by keeping people unaware of the truth. Today, for example, the United States gives only 0.17 percent, less than one-fifth of 1% of its GNP, to foreign aid, and much of this goes for military purposes, not education and health care. One percent of GNP is not too much to ask, particularly when greater security for ourselves and our children is the result. Just think of the cost if the bird flu or some other pandemic were to arise out of abject poverty in a poor country and then sweep the world, killing tens of millions in all countries and causing utter chaos and financial collapse because goods could no longer be produced and shipped in our global economy. A penny of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

People in the United States, on the whole, like people in all other countries, are fundamentally good and generous souls with whom you can sit and talk at their kitchen tables. Many do not know that their government gives less than one-fifth of 1% to foreign aid and is at the bottom for giving among developed countries. They probably also don’t know that the United States spends more on military than all other countries combined. Part of the role of 2048 is to help spread awareness. When people know the truth, they typically support reallocation of resources as part of our agreement to live together, in keeping with their self-interest and morals.

Awareness can be created with a small percentage of people. Just as it will only take 1% of GNP for the realization of education and health care for all, so too it will take only 1% of humanity to share the news of 2048. Word of mouth, spurred by our innate desire to live in peace and security instead of war and want, will spread the word. This 1% of humanity already exists within the arts and media, our nonprofit and for-profit businesses, our places of worship, our universities, and even our governments?—?now the Internet and 2048 are bringing all these communities together.

Knowledge of the Five Freedoms is essential to achieve this 1% “tipping point” for the success of 2048. Students and the public generally need to be able to recall the Five Freedoms just as easily as they can count the five fingers on their hand. As they learn their rights, they also come to expect them, both from one another and from their governments. What they expect today, they will demand tomorrow. The Five Freedoms are deeply held cultural values that lead to lasting results. Now, with the Five Freedoms for all etched firmly in mind, let us consider each of these freedoms individually.

.See more stories tagged with:
2048 [4],
five freedoms [5],
five freedoms movement [6],
2048 movement [7]
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Source URL: http://www.alternet.org/story/146724/5_ways_to_achieve_world_peace_and_prosperity_–_yes%2C_it%27s_possible
Links:
[1] http://www.bkconnection.com/
[2] http://www.alternet.org/authors/j-kirk-boyd
[3] http://www.bkconnection.com/ProdDetails.asp?ID=9781605095394
[4] http://www.alternet.org/tags/2048
[5] http://www.alternet.org/tags/five-freedoms
[6] http://www.alternet.org/tags/five-freedoms-movement
[7] http://www.alternet.org/tags/2048-movement
[8] http://www.alternet.org/%2Bnew_src%2B

2048: Humanity’s Agreement to Live Together – 5 Ways to Achieve World Peace and Prosperity

…One of the most pernicious myths is that peace and prosperity are hopelessly complicated and unattainable…This is untrue. Peace and prosperity can be attained through the realization of five basic fundamental freedoms, for all people, everywhere in the world. They are: freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from want, freedom for the environment, and freedom from fear…If our international community remembers these Five Freedoms, and if they become a regular part of our daily lives, then collectively we will carry the core of 2048 in our minds and they will become our way of life…

The Four Freedoms are the essence of a good life for all.

…Given the strength and well-being that each of us will gain from five universal freedoms, it is also time to dispel another myth…securing Five Freedoms for all will not require more taxes! All it will take is the reallocation of existing tax revenues. The real myth is that we must continue the way we are going…The truth is that there is enough funding for the realization of fundamental human rights, including economic and social rights. The problem is those who are presently profiting do not want the public to believe there are sufficient funds for military and human rights because they have an interest in maintaining the status quo. It is time for the human rights community to have the strength and daring to band together so that we have the clout to stand up to this narrow-minded view…

Awareness can be created with a small percentage of people. Just as it will only take 1% of GNP for the realization of education and health care for all, so too it will take only 1% of humanity to share the news of 2048. Word of mouth, spurred by our innate desire to live in peace and security instead of war and want, will spread the word. This 1% of humanity already exists within the arts and media, our nonprofit and for-profit businesses, our places of worship, our universities, and even our governments — now the Internet and 2048 are bringing all these communities together.

Knowledge of the Five Freedoms is essential to achieve this 1% “tipping point” for the success of 2048. …The Five Freedoms are deeply held cultural values that lead to lasting results…