Integrating Opposites

 

We often experience the world as a struggle between competing opposites: conservative vs liberal, objective vs subjective, male vs female, right brain vs left brain, the inner life vs the outer life, the active vs the passive, and so on. In the study and practise of Tai Chi I have observed a dynamic tension between  opposing forces – advance and withdraw, rise and sink. After many years of diligent practise, you can master the rise without losing the sink or you can withdraw but remain a coiled spring prepared for the advance. Mastering integration ignites explosive power (Tai Chi is a martial art).  It’s not a question of rise or sink, advance or retreat; it’s more a case of rise and sink happening together so fast as to achieve integration. The interaction of opposites could best be described as a marriage, not a binary choice or a conflict but integration.

Fundamentalists invariably identify with one pole or another creating an adversarial relationship between opposites.

From my office window I survey a pleasant scene of forested hills, early-spring pastures slowly turning green, and below them, a vast expanse of wetland where ducks and geese are returning from their winter refuge. Soon our farm pond will come alive with tiny goslings and ducklings eagerly following their mothers. It’s a scene of perfect harmony which could not exist without a balance and reconciliation of opposites – death and decay vs renewal and rebirth. Neither should prevail over the other. Both work together for good and what we observe with pleasure is the outcome of integration. Likewise, the most beautiful paintings are a combination of light and dark.

In the latter part of my book, I identify postmodernism as a fundamentalist belief system, one which has become the prevailing orthodoxy of our time. One of the doctrines of this new religion is that there is no such thing as objective reality. This sets the philosophy on a collision course with Enlightenment principles – a worldview which asserts that there is an objective reality discoverable through reason and the scientific method. Enlightenment principles are summarily dismissed (by the extremists) as the product of a white male patriarchy, itself overcome with bias. Here we see the battleground of the subjective (postmodernism) vs the objective (rationality). How can they be reconciled?

I didn’t get too far in my expose of postmodernism before I realized, yes, I am a postmodernist myself; I only reject the counterfeit version, used wrongly for political purposes, to foster totalitarianism, censorship and societal subordination to a global technocracy. Nevertheless, we do not understand the world through reason alone and in this sense, I am a postmodernist. We have a left brain which is rational and a right brain which is artistic – the realm of the poet, the mystic, the musician and the painter. A whole person must function with both hemispheres without one dominating the other.

In the early part of my book, I identify personal experience (subjective) as the only thing we can know for sure and the inner journey as an avenue to certainty (very postmodern). Finding truth in the outer world is difficult because it’s a funhouse ‘s “hall of mirrors.” It’s hard to tell what is real and what is illusion. Observing the outer world we are confused and unsure and thus vulnerable to the Wizard’s counterfeit offer of comforting certitude.

Here’s where I think the counterfeit version of postmodernism gets it wrong. I refer to a teaching story about a village of blind people trying to figure out what an elephant is. One holds the tail and says it’s a snake. Another holds the leg and says it’s a pillar, another holds the trunk and says it’s a hollow tube; but no one has the vantage point to see the whole elephant even with the use of scientific instruments. The extremists say there is no elephant. I say there is one but difficult to discover, difficult but not impossible. If there was no elephant, then nothing would be objective and therefore nothing in the outer world could be described as true or false. If nothing is true then science has no place, there would be no such thing as a lie and research would be pointless ( no truth to be found).

You can have your own subjective insights without imposing them on others or using them to ignore verifiable facts or lobbying to have your subjective perceptions enshrined in law. All these things the faux postmodernists attempt. Subjective and objective must walk hand in hand, recognizing their respective spheres of influence. A police officer might follow a hunch or rely on intuition (subjective) to solve a murder but a conviction can only be upheld by evidence gathered and proven in court. Many scientific breakthroughs  began as dreams or flashes of insight but these must also be subjected to the rigours of the scientific method.

The great mathematician Ramanujan said that the Hindu goddess Namagiri would appear in his dreams, delivering mathematical insights, which he would write down when he awoke. He described one of them as follows:

While asleep, I had an unusual experience. There was a red screen formed by flowing blood, as it were. I was observing it. Suddenly a hand began to write on the screen. I became all attention. That hand wrote a number of elliptic integrals. They stuck to my mind. As soon as I woke up, I committed them to writing.”

The Cambridge University mathematician Godfrey H. Hardy, who worked with Ramanujan, said that if mathematicians were rated on the basis of pure talent on a scale from 0 to 100, he himself would be worth 25, J.E. Littlewood 30, David Hilbert 80, and Srinivasa Ramanujan 100.

When Ramanujan first arrived at Cambridge he insisted that his mathematical insights just came to him or were dictated by God (subjective) but professor Hardy, recognizing his genius, worked with him to provide objective verification based on principles acceptable to the scientific community. This was a very fruitful partnership. The word genius comes from the Latin word of the same name, meaning, “guardian deity or spirit which watches over each person from birth” or “innate ability.”

We become much more effective as a result of integration and the world is a more peaceful place without the either/or mindset of fundamentalism.

The amazing life of Ramanujan was made into a feature film which I highly recommend (see Recommended Viewing section for movie trailer).

(C) Adrian Charles Smith 2020

The Shock and Awe of Covid-19

span flu2
The Spanish Flu

It’s all coronavirus all the time in the news these days and people are afraid. When people are afraid, they might countenance measures more terrifying than the disease itself. Totalitarians never let a good crisis go to waste and this one is a giant leap forward with no clear way back. Confined to our homes, under virtual “house arrest”, we can only watch helplessly as events unfold. As I write, civil liberties are suspended and there is a virtual takeover of the economy by government. When it comes to public spending, we are oft reminded, “there’s no magic money tree”. Well, quite suddenly – we have this magic money tree. Government will bail out affected business without discrimination – the good, the bad and the ugly, whatever it takes. There will be cash for affected individuals too but as usual, the benefits for them will be inadequate. No one knows for sure what the consequences will be, except – there will be consequences. If we have this magic money tree after all, then why do we have a health care system that’s so quickly and so easily overwhelmed?

A 2016 “wargame” concluded that Britain’s National Health Service was woefully unprepared for a pandemic. The results of the test, which was suppressed by David Cameron’s conservative coalition government, cited shortages of IC beds, tests, protective equipment and ventilators. We now know that austerity kills as surely as any virus. Oxford university estimated 120,000 people lost their lives as a result of austerity in the health service imposed in the aftermath of bank bailouts. That’s more than have died from coronavirus worldwide so far. Properly prepared health services could have coped with Covid-19 and there would have been no need to deliberately engineer an economic collapse.

It will be small business which suffers most from the lockdown. It is estimated that up to one third of small businesses will not re-open. Whether it’s the disease or the cure, lives are ruined or ended prematurely by suicide or despair. There will be suicides, substance abuse, anxiety, depression, necessary doctor’s appointments missed, treatments put off and the unquantifiable damage to our sense of autonomy.

Life here on our small farm goes on much as it always has. We can go for a walk in the woods or on the marsh and we have ample supplies. But what if you live in a small apartment in a big city with four kids climbing the walls? You have just lost your job, joining ten million in the USA who have lost their jobs in the last two weeks alone; and this is only the beginning. Your relationship was strained to begin with, now it’s at the breaking point. What does this mean for the incidence of domestic abuse? What does it mean for mental health? In 2012, a landmark report from University College, published in both Britain and the USA, identified a new “killer disease”– isolation.

Lockdown is not a choice of lives vs dollars; it’s lives vs lives. How many lives will be lost from the cure? It’s now a given, we are in a self-induced recession worse than The Great Recession of 2008 and, if so, it could take up to two years to recover once the crisis ends; but if the shutdown persists much longer, we could have a depression and that could last ten years. This could mean hardship on a par with the 1930s. Could it be that we are so afraid of death, we are willing to commit suicide?

I am reminded of Naomi Klein’s bestselling book The Shock Doctrine. Shock leaves us disorientated and confused. Shock leaves us begging the authorities to apply their cure. Draconian policies are often imposed on a population in shock. Minds full of fear are blank slates highly receptive and easily persuaded. If the policy response doesn’t work, there will be more shocks. In such a state we lose the capacity to resist. Klein refers specifically to the radical free-market policies imposed on Chile under the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, policies inspired by the fundamentalist economic ideology of Milton Friedman of the Chicago School. The ensuing disaster was all part of the cure, Friedman argued. The radical Marxists are no better. In either case, when things don’t work as advertised, the response is the same – double down. ( As I have argued in my book, no need for a binary choice between the seemingly opposite ideologies of the political left and right; there is another way – integration.)

It’s not clear these radical anti-virus measures will work either, unless or until there’s a vaccine but that could be two years away. By that time, we will be well accustomed to dictatorship. We are warned not to let our guard down – against the disease that is. There could be a renewed outbreak, perhaps in the fall. Even when there’s a vaccine, the disease could mutate or there could be another even more deadly virus unstoppable in a globalized world. Coronavirus could well be the new normal. Acceptance of dictatorship could also be the new normal. Having been gradually conditioned to such solutions, one question remains: Is this the end game or just one more step along the way?

Given the magnitude of the crisis and the response to it, one would hope that there would be some certainty as to the numbers. If the deaths were numbered in millions, as first indicated, then the response could be justified. To put things in perspective, the World Health Organization puts the annual worldwide deaths from ordinary flu (respiratory complications only) at 290,000 to 650,000. According to John Hopkins University, the worldwide deaths from coronavirus as of this date (April 11, 2020) stand at 105,000. The Spanish Flu of 1918 killed 40-50 million.

What is the true death rate for the coronavirus vs ordinary influenza? The number of deaths is the numerator, the number of infections is the denominator. The number of deaths over the number of infections equals the death rate. Current estimates are that this flu is 10 times more deadly than ordinary flu or one person dying for every one hundred infected. The truth is, no one knows the denominator because there is no antibody test available yet. Such a test would tell us the number of people who have had the virus but have recovered, having produced an antibody affording them immunity. Such a test would greatly increase the denominator (the total number of people who have been infected). A larger denominator produces a much lower death rate. The true death rate is therefore less than the one reported (the reported number is based on incomplete information).

There are problems with the numerator also. How many people die with the infection but not from it? You can have the infection and not even know it but you die of a heart attack. The test says you died of Covid-19.

Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, MD Phd, is a professor of medicine at Stanford University. He recently wrote an article for the Wall Street Journal asking, Is The Coronavirus As Deadly As They Say? He argues that the lethality of the coronavirus is much less than advertised. He raises these issues in an interview with The Hoover Institution (included with this posting). He proposes alternatives to shutting down the entire economy.

Whatever the numbers, it’s important that we know the price we pay.

British conservative MP Steve Baker fought back tears as he labelled Britain a dystopian society following new laws passed amid the growing coronavirus pandemic.

Mr. Baker said: “We are implementing tonight in this Bill at least a dystopian society, some would call it totalitarian.”

He approved the Bill in the fervent hope that these measures would remain in force not one minute longer than necessary. It’s often the case though, that once enacted, there’s no going back. The Patriot Act, authorizing unprecedented surveillance of U.S. citizens, is still in force 20 years after 9/11. It was due to expire in 2015 but was extended by the Obama administration.

Former Cabinet Minister Ted Davis added: “Even worse is how some police forces are encouraging people to spy upon their neighbours, seemingly attempting to turn us into an informer state.”

From The Times of London April 10, 2020:

Nick Adderley, the chief constable of Northhamptonshire said, that a “three-week grace period” in the country was over, adding: “We will not, at this stage, be setting up roadblocks.”

“We will not, at this stage, start to marshal supermarkets, checking the items in baskets and trolleys to see whether it’s a legitimate, necessary item. But again, be under no illusion, if people do not heed the warnings I’m making today, we will start to do that.

And in Derbyshire, police use drones to find people walking alone on the mores. Such activities are deemed “non-essential”.

We recall with horror the prospect of being asked by police, “where are your papers”, recalling many old films depicting life under Nazi rule. Could we be that far off? Of course, it’s always in a good cause, legitimate or not.

(C) Adrian Charles Smith 2020

No Country for Old White Men

bidensanders
Image: New York Times

Why are there no women running for president? The Democratic Party’s leadership race is down to two, decidedly old, white men, one of whom has trouble completing a sentence. The sitting President of the United States is yet another old white man. The media is all  abuzz  with this question.  Hilary Clinton wants to know why? House democratic leader, Nancy Pelosi wants to know why? Nancy Pelosi implies, if the Republicans ran a woman, she’d vote for her.

Well, Democratic Party establishment, I’ve found someone for you. She’s young, not white, articulate and definitely a woman. On top of that she’s a war veteran, having served as a medic in Iraq. Guess what? She’s running for president and in the Democratic Party leadership debates, she embarrassed all her rivals (watch the video).  So what’s the problem? Why can’t a woman like this be the next president? Answer, she wants to stop all theses costly and destructive regime change wars and bring the troops home. She also wants to defuse the new cold war and spend the money instead on education, healthcare and other priorities. This has the military industrial complex and its media stooges in a fury. Let’s talk about something else, they say – why there’s no women, not enough gender neutrality, anything; just don’t mess with our wars!

Since the debates, Tulsi has been mercilessly and thoroughly demonized in the media and by the Democratic Party establishment. She’s a Russian agent, apparently, and an Assad apologist. More recently, she has been rendered invisible. So that’s why there isn’t a woman, Hilary and Nancy.

What do Tulsi Gabbard and Donald Trump have in common? Not much, but one thing they share – wanting to end regime change wars and defuse the new cold war. At least Donald Trump ran for president on that ticket.  Both Tulsi and Donald were speaking outside the “republicrat” mainstream narrative, the corporate-controlled narrative. Interestingly, Donald Trump was also labelled a Russian agent and an Assad apologist. A costly and futile two-year investigation found no evidence for this (The Meuller Report) but there it was, every day for two years, in the media spotlight, Donald Trump the Russian agent.

On the night of the debates there was unprecedented public interest in Tulsi’s campaign. She was the most Googled candidate of them all. As the online hits soared, Google, with no explanation, shut down her account. This action deprived her campaign of vital ad revenue.   As a so-called “private” corporation, they are allowed to do this.  In fact, Google executives have been caught boasting of how they can influence the results of an election.

I’m going to propose something radical. It doesn’t matter whether the president is a man or a woman, black or white, someone with a pleasing personality or an abrasive one. What matters is their policies and more importantly, their ability and willingness to implement those policies.

The fact that Donald Trump, an old white man, and Tulsi Gabbard, a young, female person of colour are subject to exactly the same treatment by the establishment media, ought to have us asking a few questions and thinking outside the box.

 

 

(C) Adrian Charles Smith 2020

Globalization Re-Think

war-of-the-worlds-2005
Image: Paramount/Dreamworks

Those who have read my book will know I am no fan of globalization, or the false narratives which are used to promote it. Such narratives resemble religious doctrine which are only challenged by heretics.   By promoting ever higher levels of dependency, globalization threatens both national and individual sovereignty. It also creates huge systemic vulnerabilities. Yet, such trends seem unstoppable and irreversible. I have argued for a return to more local and national production – as close to self-sufficiency as possible. That might seem like an idealistic dream.

Yet, I am reading an increasing number of reports that the coronavirus is causing a re-think of globalization because of the interruption of complex international supply chains and the devastation this is causing to the global economy.  It was reported today in The Times of London, March 6, 2020:

The most efficient, which is to say the cheapest, way companies have found of manufacturing products is to use supply chains that straddle the globe in search of cheap labour. If something could be made for less on the other side of the world, so be it.

Yet coronavirus, which threatens to constrain the free movement of people and goods, will deny companies this cheapest avenue. Companies will have to think long and hard about whether intercontinental supply chains make sense. Already some companies are shifting production back home and opting for home-built components.

And this from Bloomberg: “Fed Did Right Thing, But It’s a Whole New Ballgame: Jim Bianco”:

“I would argue that markets are signaling that the coronavirus is causing a secular shift in thinking [by declining after the Fed rate cut announcement] … the global supply chain, especially if more shortages develop in the coming weeks, will get a rethink similar to the worst-case scenario from the trade wars. This means de-globalization and returning manufacturing processes closer to home…

This trend reversal would mean relief from grossly over-valued asset prices (urban real estate and the share values of multi-nationals).  That won’t be such a bad thing if people at home can afford to buy a house.  There will be a return of inflation (excluding real estate) but that won’t be such a bad thing since wages will rise also, as will employment in more meaningful and better quality jobs.

Penicillin is no longer manufactured in the U.S.; it comes from China, as do the components of many manufactured goods. Assembly lines at home are crippled if trade is interrupted.

I am reminded of the 2005 movie War of The Worlds, based on the novel by H.G. Wells. The “tripods” seemed unstoppable.  Missiles, planes and tanks were useless; but in the end, the aliens were defeated by a tiny microbe invisible to the naked eye.

(c) Adrian Charles Smith 2020

Brexit – The Quest for Autonomy

britain_brexit_npost
Image source: National Post

I wanted to write something about Brexit while it’s still timely. The topic has temporarily dropped from the radar but will soon return with a vengeance as the UK approaches a new “cliff edge” in about a year. At the end of this period, a transitional arrangement will end; and if no trade deal has been reached by then, the UK will leave the EU on World Trade Organization terms.  We are often warned the UK must not leave without “a deal,” but this is misleading because WTO terms would represent a perfectly acceptable arrangement.

Brexit is an acronym which stands for Britain’s exit from the European Union. The controversy has given rise to a flurry of such acronyms – Frexit, France’s exit ; Dexit, Germany’s exit; and my personal favorite Czech Out, the exit of the Czech Republic. The EU has a mechanism, called Article 50, which theoretically allows member states to leave; but  like the Hotel California – you can check out; but you must never leave (unless prepared for the clean break). British Prime Minister Theresa May waisted three years negotiating a terrible deal which was worse than membership. It was repeatedly rejected by Parliament despite numerous attempts to ram it through (the rejections were about the only thing Parliament could agree on). May’s spider’s-web agreement spawned yet another acronym, BRINO – Brexit in name only.

The UK has been roughly divided into two camps, consisting of Leavers and Remainers, the latter often referred to as Remoaners, because they only accept democratic outcomes they agree with. They’re also internationalists, claiming the nation state is obsolete and ought to be replaced by a world government run by really smart people who know what’s best (a dictatorship). The first step towards globalization is regionalization and the continent of Europe is a “blueprint” for successive phases.

Needless to say, I am a Leaver (as the title of this blog site would suggest). In another sense I am also a Remainer; supporting a  close trading arrangement and other forms of co-operation which do not compromise national and individual  sovereignty. Indeed, from the beginning, that was always the stated intention of the EU. The idea of a super state was a hidden agenda, waiting to emerge full blown once decades of anti-nation state propaganda had reached fruition. The EU was originally sold to the public as a peace project, an alternative to two world wars. If that’s so, then why the push for a single European military with headquarters on the continent? This planning is now at a very advanced stage.  Apparently, they are  still planning for war but on a much larger scale.  Nationalism is racism, they say, but people who love their own families can live side by side with other families without becoming the Hatfields and the McCoys. It happens all the time – in the real world. Canada has a free trade agreement with the United States and Mexico but no assembly outside Canada has power to legislate for Canadians and we are not subject to the rulings of any foreign court. There were many wars on this continent once, but this is unthinkable now, without the need for political unification. In Europe, the once  hidden imperative for ever closer political union is now explicit and Brexit represents a dagger at the heart of it. If Britain were to remain in the EU, it would have less autonomy than a single state within the United States. There’s a government document in the National Archives which says so.

There are many reasons to be Euroskeptic, but of particular interest to me is the damage done to the UK constitution occasioned by many years of EU membership. This damage has accelerated since the 2016 referendum owing to desperate attempts by well-placed Remainers to subvert the results of the referendum.  This is no small matter. The UK constitution has evolved over the centuries as a defense against tyranny. To allow that constitution to be compromised  in favour of  anti-democratic institutions in Brussels is to put at risk all the protections we take for granted.

First, I will explain some key features of the UK constitution then proceed to describe how EU membership has damaged it, possibly beyond repair.

The central pillar of the UK constitution is the legal sovereignty of Parliament. Parliament may legislate on any subject matter and having legislated, no court or other body may challenge the validity of that legislation. Furthermore, a  unique aspect of the U.K constitution is that of the  convention. Convention  gives the UK model it’s unwritten characteristics. An unwritten constitution works fine until a convention is violated. For example, no law can take effect without royal assent; but by convention, the Queen does not act alone, relying on the advice of her ministers. What happens if she withholds the royal assent, which she is legally entitled to do? The answer – constitutional chaos. To be clear, the Queen has not done this, but other conventions have been broken in desperate attempts by Remain MP’s and a biased Speaker to stop Brexit. The closest thing the UK has to a written constitution is the Bill of Rights 1688. Article 9 of the Act says the freedom of speech and debates and proceedings in Parliament may not be challenged or impeached in any court or place out of Parliament. This clause was inserted because the King would often use the courts to override proceedings in Parliament. This use of the courts to interfere in “proceedings in Parliament” re-emerged during the Brexit battle.   The constitutional battles of the 17th century resulted in a clear delineation of responsibility – a separation and balance of powers. Tyranny occurs when one branch or arm of governance seeks to override another. Since then, the courts have always refused to get involved in political matters. The rule is, Parliament creates laws, the courts enforce them. Until now, the UK courts have been renowned for impartiality. I cannot think of a single example until now when the courts have broken with this convention. Another aspect of the UK constitution is the concept of the royal prerogative. Certain matters are for the executive branch alone and the courts may not interfere except to determine the existence and scope of a prerogative power. Two common prerogatives are the command and disposition of the armed forces and the negotiation of international treaties. Negotiations with Brussels over Brexit is in the latter category.

UK parliament
UK Parliament

The UK joined the European Union, or The European  Economic Community as it was then called, in 1973. The Union was “sold” to the public by Ted Heath’s conservative government as a trading relationship. I lived in the UK at that time and I remember it well. In those days, the Labour Party (the socialists) opposed the UK’s application for membership based on the issue of national sovereignty, the same reason I oppose it today. How times have changed! Today it’s the conservatives leading the Leave campaign. Now it’s Labour (although divided) trying to keep us there. Back in the day, Labour’s eloquent spokesman, Anthony Wedgewood Benn, repeatedly warned of the hidden agenda. That was when the Labour Party actually represented working people rather than an effete establishment as it does today. Here’s what he had to say:

Britain’s continuing membership of the Community would mean the end of Britain as a completely self-governing nation and the end of our democratically elected Parliament as the supreme law-making body in the United Kingdom.

Here’s what he said after the passage in Parliament of the European Communities Act 1972 (providing the legal basis for the UK to join the EEC):

It was a coup d’état by a political class who did not believe in popular sovereignty.

The 1972 Act gives legal authority for EU law to have effect as national law in the UK. The 1972 Act also gives EU law supremacy over UK national law. Where the interpretation of EU law is in doubt, the 1972 Act requires UK courts to refer judgment to the European Court of Justice. All primary legislation enacted by the UK Parliament has effect subject to the requirements of EU law. This means that the courts are obliged to strike down legislation which is inconsistent with EU law.  The European Court of Justice (to which the UK is now subject) has since ruled that EU law prevails even over the national constitutions of member states. As always, the devil is in the details.

This is a clear violation of the legal sovereignty of Parliament principle, the very foundation of the UK constitution. It is also a clear violation of the long-standing convention that UK courts do not interfere with Parliament.

An example will serve to illustrate. I refer to the The Factortame case of 1991, which concerned the practice whereby Spanish fishing companies registered their vessels as British and then bought up British fishing licences, allowing them to share UK quotas even though they sailed from and landed their catches in Spanish ports. Parliament passed the Merchant Shipping Act to protect UK quotas. To qualify for British quotas, ships had to be owned and crewed in Britain. A group of Spanish-owned fishing companies headed by Factortame Ltd. brought a legal action claiming, “national discrimination.” The European Court of Justice upheld their claim and the UK ‘s highest court had no choice but to strike down the Act.  Factortame is a clear example of the impotence of Parliament occasioned by EU membership. To add insult to injury the British government had to pay 100 million pounds in compensation to the Spanish companies for the 18 months they had been deprived of fishing rights.

After all my painful experiences with religious and secular fundamentalism, I’ve become deeply suspicious of people with hidden agendas, disguising their true intentions behind a mask of moral and intellectual superiority; especially when I suspect their real motivation is power. Every now and again, they step out from behind the curtain and reveal themselves. Here’s what political economist and diplomat Jean Monnet  (one of the original founding fathers of the EU project, (called “The Father of Europe”) had to say:

Europe’s nations should be guided towards the super state without their people understanding what is happening. This can be accomplished by successive steps, each disguised as having an economic purpose, but which will eventually and irreversibly lead to federation.

Well, he very nearly got us there. Then came Brexit.

The progression from trade arrangement to super state  was recognized in the 2016  Referendum Bill, read in Parliament by then foreign secretary, Philip Hammond (remember that name). He begins, the EU had “changed almost beyond recognition” from what the British had endorsed in the confirmatory referendum in 1975.

He ended: “Whether you favour Britain being in or out, we surely should all be able to agree on the simple principle that the decision over our membership should be taken by the British people. Not by Whitehall bureaucrats; certainly not by Brussels Eurocrats; not even by government ministers or parliamentarians in this chamber. The decision must be for the common sense of the British people . . . For too long, powers have been handed to Brussels over their heads. For too long, their voice on Europe has not been heard. This bill puts that right. It delivers the simple in/out referendum that we promised, and I commend it to the House.”

MPs endorsed his call by the massive margin of 544 votes to 53. Not a single Conservative, Labour or Liberal Democrat MP voted against it (the 53 “no’s” consisted of Scottish National Party MPs). In the most spectacular and emphatic fashion, Parliament had ceded its authority to the public, directly.

That was all well and good when the political establishment were confident that the British people would swallow the Kool Aid. Once the unexpected happened, and the Leavers won the referendum, that same Philip Hammond, who once  lauded the common sense of the British people, he abruptly turned on them, together with 21 Tory rebels,and set upon sabotaging the democratic result.  Phillip Hammond and others were all elected on a clear platform of “no deal is better than a bad deal.” By defying the government and refusing to allow a “no deal exit,”  they were also defying the very people who elected them. Today the legal supremacy of Parliament really means the legal supremacy of the voting public.   Suddenly, the people had no common sense, they did not understand what they were voting for. The simple in or out choice would not suffice after all. It needed to be hedged about by endless reams of qualification calculated to neuter the result.

By denying their own government a working majority, the rebels had also engineered a “hung Parliament.”  Parliament then  passed a law requiring Boris Johnson to seek an extension rather than leave on schedule (on a date already enshrined in law). Boris sought to prorogue (adjourn) Parliament for a period deemed longer than normal. Rather than seek a remedy internal to Parliament itself, the Remainers took him to court. This marked a return to the constitutional battles of the 17th century.  The High Court gave an impeccably correct decision in line with  precedence. It was a political question and not one for the courts. It could be resolved in Parliament by a vote of no confidence or an election. The Remainers lacked the nerve for either alternative, anything but face the verdict of the electorate. Instead they appealed to the Supreme Court, a relatively new court set up by arch Remainer Tony Blair. This is the moment the constitution shattered. The Supreme Court held that the PM’s decision was “unlawful.” This was more of a  political decision than a neutral and impartial one based on precedence. There was a fear that the extra time involved in prorogation would prevent Parliament from extending the deadline thus triggering a “no deal” outcome. The clear rule has always been, the courts do not interfere in political matters. In the end it mattered little how long Parliament was prorogued but the decision has created a constitutional crisis.

The will of the people cannot be suppressed forever, and to drive that point home even more forcefully a subsequent election (on a platform mandating a clean Brexit) returned Boris Johnson with a thumping majority; and as for those 21 Tory rebels, every last one of them failed to be re-elected after being expelled from the party. The way is now clear for a true Brexit, but have those passionate Remainers given up? Not a chance. Their patriotic zeal for a new European super state is undiminished, even as the EU fails miserably on every front. It remains to be seen how much influence the new aristocracy will bring to bear on subsequent developments.

The EU is not a democracy, far from it. Eu law originates as Commission proposals and is enacted by a Council of Ministers. There is a European Parliament but it’s mostly a debating chamber. It‘s role is consultative but real power resides with unelected appointees who receive their instructions from corporate lobbyists, a more direct form of corporate rule. The nation state is regarded by the multinationals as a big nuisance, an obstacle to the free movement of labour, capital, goods and services.  Free movement of people provides cheap labour for big business as well as the nannies, gardeners and servants needed to serve  affluent Londoners. Remainers can barely conceal their contempt for democracy, as do their ideological soulmates in Brussels. The aristocracy of old had a similar contempt for the masses.

Britain has the second largest economy in the EU and the largest military. It is the second largest contributor to the EU budget. Its economy continues to thrive despite all the predictions of “catastrophe” from the Remain camp. Leavers call this “project fear.” “Project fear” is nothing new. When the UK refused to adopt the Euro currency in 1992, there were similar predictions of catastrophe, none of which materialized. The UK imports vast quantities of manufactured goods from the continent, more than it exports which means a free trade agreement will benefit Europe more than the UK. The UK is in a strong negotiating position. Having a close relationship with Europe, trading or otherwise, is a great idea . Political union is unnecessary to achieve these ends.

(C) Adrian Charles Smith 2020

dover cliffs
photo: Plastee/Shutterstock

Rick Gervais, a right-winger? Hardly.

British comedian Ricky Gervais caused a stir at the recent Golden Globe awards ceremony, calling out “woke” corporations and the  “woke” celebrities who work for them. Here’s some of what he had to say:

“Apple roared into the TV game ‘The Morning Show,’ a superb drama about the importance of dignity and doing the right thing — made by a company that runs sweatshops in China. You say you’re woke, but the companies you work for, I mean, unbelievable: Apple, Amazon, Disney. If ISIS started a streaming service, you’d call your agent, wouldn’t you? So if you do win an award tonight, don’t use it as a platform to make a political speech, right? You’re in no position to lecture the public about anything. You know nothing about the real world. Most of you spent less time in school than Greta Thunberg. So if you win, come up, accept your little award, thank your agent and your God, and fuck off.”

The Apple CEO was there, drinking it all in; and check out the expression on Tom Hanks’ face. Priceless!  There was some nervous laughter punctuated by gasps of disbelief and Tom Hank’s facial contortions lasted throughout the evening. Too woke to joke!

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Hanks’ discomfit

Ricky was instantly labelled a right winger by the corporate-owned media, but it’s a lie. He publicly supported the left-wing Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn (the communist) in the UK general election. Ricky is also an avowed atheist who hates religion, especially the “woke” kind. He’s a real progressive, just not a fake one (see Mask of Piety).

Tom’s face brings back a lot of memories. I would see that a lot during my last days in the Church.

(c) Adrian Charles Smith 2020

The Mask of Piety

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Pharisees (depiction)

Those driven by the  impulse to power, the crafty ones, have long ago learned to hide behind a mask of piety. The mask changes according to the times, sometimes religious, sometimes secular but always virtuous, devout, sanctimonious, holier than thou. A just cause has all the characteristics of a good mask. Today, concern for the environment is a worthy cause but could also serve as a mask for the exercise of power.  Environmental crisis could be a reason to accept global government, centralizing control of all land, water, energy and the essentials of life under an undemocratic, unaccountable technocratic elite who would act as “saviours.” The real motive might be power, a  power made more sinister by the light of modern surveillance technology and artificial intelligence.  In my book, in the chapter on corporations, I outline how the multinationals seek to replace governments as the sole source of legitimate authority. To this end they seek to break down traditional loyalties to the nation state, which is seen as an obstacle to the free movement of people, capital, goods and services, thus paving the way for a global governance system controlled by them.  Of course, they will try to put the best face on it, by emphasizing their devotion to worthy causes such as “diversity.” Today we have the spectacle of the “woke” corporation.  How do we tell the difference between the real version and the fake? Watch for the hypocrisy, look for the contradictions, the absence of reason, and the suppression of debate; approach with skepticism any claims to moral superiority and remember history, paying attention when history is ignored or simply re-written. All this has happened many times before, so we can either learn from the mistakes of the past or we can sleep-walk into yet another disaster. Speaking figuratively, the devil has power to assume a pleasing shape and often appears as an angel of light. Remember also, the devil is a shapeshifter appearing at one time as a man of the cloth and another as a champion of the oppressed. The impulse to power is the only constant. It might be helpful to know that absolutely nothing can be taken at face value, so beware the thirty second sound bites of the corporate-owned media conglomerates, devoid of critical analysis. We are drowning in a sea of lies.

At one time, those with the impulse to power were called Pharisees, praying in public places for all the world to marvel at their goodness.  Judaism was their chosen vessel then, a mere carrier for the pathogen. There they stood for all to see, pillars of the community, fasting twice a week, meticulously  tithing mint and anise and cumin but ignoring the weightier matters of the law – justice, mercy and faith. They loved the uppermost seats in the synagogues; highly visible yes, but their true nature was hidden, hidden in plain sight.  The outside of the cup appeared clean but the inside, full of extortion and excess, was unseen.

The New Testament is a chronicle of conflict between these Pharisees and a religious reformer, Jesus Christ. It’s a mythic theme because the essence of the story remains constant, though its outer form  morphs dramatically over time and distance. Jesus knew the Pharisees had lived before. They were the children of those who had murdered the prophets.  And as we shall see, they live on, and even today walk among us.

Jesus did not mince his words.  He likened them to “whited sepulchres” which appear beautiful outwardly but within are full of corruption and “dead mens’ bones.”  He called them a “generation of vipers” who “strain at a gnat and swallow a camel.”  “You are of your father the devil,” he said to them. Strong language this. True to their ancestry, murder was in their hearts and power was the object of their desire.  Jesus was condemned to death at their behest. Blinded by their brightly-polished image and shameless self-promotion, murder was normalized for the suggestible mob. Surely, they must have  a good reason, it must be the will of God.

Fast forward three hundred years. A man has a vision of a cross shining like the sun bearing an inscription: “By This Conquer.”  His name is Constantine, a Roman Emperor. The “prince of peace” is weaponized as an instrument of war. The Roman Empire becomes the Holy Roman Empire. Soon papal armies lay siege to cities, massacring the inhabitants but the bright shining image blinds the masses once more. The people say, this murder of innocents must be from God. Yet Constantine, perhaps the most infamous convert, continues to hold gladiatorial contests.  The Holy Inquisition  burns people alive in His name, He who said forgive your enemies, He who said my Kingdom is not of this world. Let no one doubt the power of those who have captured the moral high ground.  For some reason the suggestible mob cannot see the obvious contradictions. We must open our eyes to the hypocrisy and to the contradictions. The most superficial reading of the teachings of Jesus Christ ought to reveal the staggering hypocrisy, the most blatant contradictions. Why do we not see it?  Perhaps it’s because we find it so hard to believe that lies so monstrous can be told by those apparently so virtuous. Somewhere along the line we have swallowed their claims of moral superiority and accepted their dubious authority to determine right from wrong. We go along, albeit with a sense of unease, unable to grasp the enormity of the deception.

It’s reminiscent of the now famous Milgram experiment, which examined the conflict between personal conscience and response to authority. The experiments began in July 1961. A variety of volunteers were recruited to administer successively higher electric shocks to subjects whenever they gave wrong answers to a series of questions. This was done under the supervision of mild-mannered men in white coats. The subjects being shocked were actors, but this was unknown to the volunteers. Amazingly, 65% of the volunteers administered lethal amounts of electricity, despite protestations from the subjects  (loud screams and complaints about heart problems). All the  volunteers continued to administer very high and unsafe levels of electricity. The experiment resulted in the following overall conclusion:  People tend to obey orders from other people if they recognize their authority as morally right and/or legally based. It’s easy to see how something as simple as a white coat could be a kind of mask in the wrong hands. For one thing, it’s a symbol of authority. Furthermore, those who wear it are supposed to be compassionate healers, not killers. They are responsible people and their decisions are scientifically based.   The volunteers tend to accept their reassurances that the protestations of subjects are simply part of the experiment. Please continue. We accept responsibility. It’s all good.

In the mid 19th-century the mask of piety assumed the form and shape of “social justice.” Social justice is a worthy aspiration, but terms like these can also be weaponized in the service of power and profit as easily as the prince of peace can be used to further the cause of empire. In the mid 19th century the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche put it eloquently:

You preachers of equality, the tyrannomania of impotence clamors thus out of you for equality: your most secret ambitions to be tyrants thus shroud themselves in words of virtue.

And when they call themselves the good and the just, do not forget that they would be pharisees, if only they had—power.

Today the term is “virtue signalling.”

JTBF
Trudeau (CBC)

Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau constantly telegraphs his “woke” credentials and his carefully-constructed image seems to have stuck, since he has been re-elected despite some high-profile scandals. Wearing black face for theatrical performances is “racist,” he says, yet it has emerged that he has worn black face himself, not once, but an indeterminate number of times. He has also said that China is the best country outside of Canada because of it’s “basic dictatorship.” He tells us, “Canadians have no core identity.” It all must be good.  (President Macron of France says something similar: “The French have no culture. There is a culture in France, and it is diversity.” Imagine telling the French, of all people, they have no culture! Getting rid of national cultures [not to mention national constitutions] is a globalist’s dream.)

I’m not recommending anyone for political office. I’m not even saying Trudeau is a bad Prime Minister. In fact,  he has all the qualities of an excellent Prime Minister. He sticks to the script and that’s what our corporate masters need in a Prime Minister. All I’m saying is, he thinks Canada is obsolete and he prefers a global dictatorship. I know this because he said so quite plainly. Can we see the contradictions and the hypocrisy?

They would be Pharisees!

Note: Please see the Documentaries Section for more details of The Milgram Experiment.

(C) Adrian Charles Smith, 2020

My Book Begins with a Troubling Realization…

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warner bros

Reality might not be what we think it is. What we have come to regard as objectively real might be instead a carefully-constructed false narrative to pull the wool over our eyes. A whole universe of credible alternatives never see the light of day. Our imagination  has been  narrowed, our field of vision confined to a small box  resembling a prison – a prison for the mind. This realization is by no means confined to a religious context but is much more widespread than generally understood. In fact fundamentalism can take over an entire civilization, as outlined in the chapters on postmodernism.  The carefully-constructed false narratives fall apart over time, which leaves us wondering, have we built our house on sinking sand rather than solid rock? We thought we understood the world but the real truth is far different. In the movie The Matrix, the main character Neo, is horrified to discover that his every day world is nothing more than an illusion, a sophisticated mirage. The horrifying truth is that he has lived, since birth, in an incubator where an attached cord siphons off his vital life force energy. The cord is a feeding tube for an alien race of overlords.  They have reduced the human race to an energy source, a collection of living batteries. Immersed in the fantasy of the Matrix, he is unaware of their presence and therefore incapable of escape. The false narratives have a similar effect as the fictional Matrix. If we allow them to continue unchallenged, we can literally fall asleep in delusion. The only answer is to free our minds, to pursue autonomy as though it were the Holy Grail.

I have attempted to distill the essence of fundamentalism, identifying its common features regardless of the external appearances which vary considerably.

Here I summarize some of those common features which are discussed at greater length in the book.

Utopian Vision

If you really believe in utopia, no price is too high and no sacrifice too great to bring it about. The end justifies the means, opening a Pandora’s box of depravity. Like the four horsemen of the apocalypse, famine, pestilence and death ride with them. as illustrated by the Holy Crusades, the Bolshevik Revolution and the Reign of Terror – murder and mayhem, then utopia. But utopia never comes.

The Parasites

These are the ones who benefit from the false narrative.  There’s always a parasite disguised as a benefactor. The old adage applies – follow the money; but their real goal is power, perhaps religious, perhaps political.  Their real motives and objectives remain hidden and often, their very existence.

Demonization of the Opposition

Challenges to the prevailing narrative are not met with argument and reason but rather denunciation and labeling.  This is a form of indirect censorship, not as obvious as book burning to be sure but highly effective. Nothing succeeds quite so well as the smear. The strategy also serves to isolate the believers because they are afraid to listen to or associate with heretics.  Such a reaction is a sure sign you are on the right track. Perhaps they are afraid. Perhaps our liberation is closer than we think. Perhaps we need only snap our fingers to awaken from the trance.  Once we awaken it’s all over for the parasites. Once you realize you’re in a cult you’re already free.

The Mask of Piety

The parasites always manage to occupy the moral high-ground.  This has been true since the Pharisees and no doubt longer than that. Outwardly, they appear righteous but inwardly they are full of corruption. They like to make public displays of piety which in modern times has been called “virtue signalling.” Beneath the veneer of moral and intellectual superiority there exists a barely concealed contempt for the vulgar masses.

Hypocrisy

Invariably, the evidence mounts that the parasites do not practise what they preach, yet the true believers remain unwavering in their loyalty.  This represents, I believe, a kind of wilful ignorance.  The desire to believe is so strong that even when the hypocrisy becomes truly staggering, continuation of the status quo is preferred to the discomfort of uncertainty.

Arrogance

All fundamentalists have a certain contempt for unbelievers. This can range from mild condescension as in “let’s reach out to save the poor lost souls” or all the way to mass murder, as in, “let’s get rid of this evil  in the world.”  The Crusaders had this in mind as did Stalin and Hitler.

This arrogance has an addictive quality because it gives the true believer a false sense of empowerment.  The addict is attempting to relieve his suffering which in this case is a sense of disempowerment.   The fundamentalist is part of a special people, an elect. The elect know “the truth”, others do not.  There is a feel-good factor here but because every drug starts to wear off,  more is needed to have the same effect.  Every addict is blind to his addiction so if it isn’t working, his answer is – “double down.”  If the addict were not blind he would reach the obvious conclusion: the ideology isn’t working anymore because there’s something wrong with it.

Shadow Projection

Psychologist Carl Jung and others have long argued that we all have a shadow side, those attributes which we would prefer to keep secret. The dividing line between good and evil runs through the centre of each individual soul. But for the fundamentalist, the dividing line exists at the boundaries of his ideology.  All virtue is ascribed to those who belong to the inner circle and all evil to those who do not.

Shadow denial leads to shadow projection. Those attributes which we reject within ourselves are projected onto others, the non-believer or the heretic. The deeper the denial the more fanatical the projection.  The true believer starts to resemble the very thing he hates. Those who profess tolerance are plagued by intolerance.  Those who profess virtue are a veritable grab-bag of sin.  This can reach hysterical proportions as it did during the Salem witch trials where innocent women were hanged. To see a modern day example of this hysteria and mob mentality see the video What’s Happening at Yale?  

Every human being has a shadow and so does every ideology, a combination of both positive and negative attributes. The shadow loses its sting once recognized and integrated into wholeness. The concept of integration is the vital antidote to fundamentalism. Integration at the individual level yields an integration of various competing ideologies. Every ideology has something to contribute. It ossifies if mistaken for the whole truth.

Adrian Charles Smith, December 2019

A Prison For The Mind

What does it mean to be a fundamentalist? What are its common characteristics and defining features? Can we escape the prison of ideological commitment, the straightjacket of conformity and groupthink?

Answers are needed to avoid the endgame of fundamentalism – totalitarian control.  

Adrian Charles Smith entered adulthood as a minister in a fundamentalist Christian sect, a loyal follower of a man he now calls the Wizard. But as with the Wizard of Oz, all was revealed to be a sham and his questioning of authority led to excommunication and life in the secular world.  Yet, once away from  the church, he observed fundamentalism in unexpected places – in the corporate world, in science and economics, in political ideologies, New Age movements and in postmodern philosophy. Different contexts, yes, but the same underlying phenomenon, the same adherence to ‘one truth’.  

In these adventurous essays, Smith, with equal amounts of erudition, humour and insight, examines why we are drawn to these fundamentalist approaches. His search ranges from the caves of Nag Hammadi to the hallways of Ivy League universities, from communist Romania to Sedona Arizona. He discovers his potential for unconscious relapse to one all-knowing ‘Wizard’ but eventually realizes that fundamentalists live in isolated camps, the truly free have genuine community, and unity in the midst of disagreement is possible.

This is a book about fundamentalism in all its pervasive, insidious manifestations.

Available through Amazon: USA, or Canada