Sunday, December 28, 2014

Best Indie Album Of The Year

First let's be clear about what this music is's not about pickup trucks, booze in plastic cups, or lovers that treat you bad. It's not about anything normally discussed in pop culture. It's substantial. If you like a little substance in your music, you may find this to be just your cup of tea then. The music on "Western Front Of Dreams" has been described by fans as having elements of Pink Floyd, Peter Gabriel, Robert Fripp, The Beatles, 10CC, and David Lindley. It's's related to pop and rock...but not exactly the same thing. The key to really appreciating the album is the layers...songs all have layers to them both musically and conceptually. There is immediate gratification, but there are subtle hues and complete twists that reveal themselves only with repeated listens. Conceptually It's a search for some sort of detente where the matters of heart and the matters of the mind coexist precariously, but coexist none the less.
Ben New is indeed a masterful songwriter and performer with a unique style that fuses elements of seemingly diametrical concepts into cohesive and ultimately beautiful wholes. The lyrics are guaranteed not to insult your intelligence. The music is crafty and expressive, covering a remarkably wide range of genres.
You'll be treated to unexpected but truly satisfying orchestrations and arrangements with dynamic twists wrapped around surprising rich timbres featuring everything from banjos, to lap steel guitars, to wood flutes and melodica. Yet the guitar arrangements, chord voicings, and soloing are definitely worth the price of admission in themselves. Ben's virtuosity on guitar is evident even when not the focus of a piece. Be prepared for a memorable experience exploring this music.
It's deep and iconoclastic while remaining wholly accessible.
You can get yours at
By the time this is published, the album should be available on itunes and Amazon as well.

 If you like digging deeper, and who doesn't really? There is a lyrics page here. (Click on the text below the breaking news banner that says Western Front Of Dreams).

Also check out Ben New on Facebook here.
Need a teaser video?
Say no more!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Tuesday, December 23, 2014



I love the smell frankincense in the morning

By far, the longest running war, the War on Christmas...and all the counter wars against counter wars associated with this sordid affair is the most lengthy conflict in the history of mankind.  Its origins are sketchy, even among those on the front lines, but actually the modern conflict (though rooted in older events, Cromwellian and other skirmishes)  started in 1959 when the John Birch Society released a pamphlet called “There Goes Christmas,” in which they claimed there was a new communist plot to take the Christ out of Christmas and replace the baby Jesus with United Nations decorations.

In this enlightened era of course we know that it isn’t Communists or the U.N. trying to destroy Christmas it’s those vexatious, sinister, secular liberal types who are obviously the minions of Satan!

This holiday terrorism has been raging apparently during my entire lifetime and one wonders just what the effects the war has on everyday citizens.  I mean when one grows up in war, one becomes accustomed to it immune to it's horrors right?  I’m completely chagrined to confess that while my fellow citizens have been fighting this battle year after year neither my family nor I personally have  felt the effects. Why, there is a Christmas tree lit up right now as I type and no one has stormed in to arrest me or rip the tree away to taken it ( or me) to the public square for burning.  

The soldier's on the front lines, Christian Soldiers... Commander and Chief Bill O’Reilly and his Chief Propaganda Minister Sarah Palin have been instrumental in keeping the public informed on this matter.  I was astonished to learn there were two new fronts in the war, one on either coast. Not surprising, the coasts are heavily populated with the Secular liberals. Why they even have a glitzy interactive map that showed where every battle was raging!
 Apparently a new front line had moved to my own backyard, Teaneck, New Jesey.
Where for the last few years during the holiday season, Teaneck Township has had a menorah and various decorations and lights scattered around their town hall, but according to at least one community activist, they refuse to appropriately acknowledge Christmas. Christian Soldier Hector Ferrer has been fighting to get a nativity scene and Christmas tree displayed on the municipal building's property, but the township has resisted!!!
“The former city manager stated that it was too controversial of an issue,” Ferrer explained.
The township finally agreed a few years ago, but Ferrer said that it caused a very contentious relationship. The nativity scene was placed in a lower visibility area and the spotlight for that display was seemingly aimed away... and the Christmas tree lights allegedly burned out and hadn't been replaced in over three-years!

The Township has attempted to placate Ferrer with numerous excuses... first they said the nativity scene and tree were controversial.  Then they said there were electrical issues that led to the Christmas tree not being lit, however Ferrer took photos which showed that the lights simply weren't plugged in! To which the township has responded just yesterday saying  they have no obligation to provide any decorations or lights and these things just take time.

Wanting to get a firsthand look at how the war was affecting people I chose to venture there since there was no budget to go to the other front on the west coast.
As I ventured closer to the site of this latest battle I expected to see a city ravaged by intense fighting. I was certain to see hoards of out-of-work elves feasting on the carcasses of downed reindeer, the bodies of blow up Santa’s strewn across the road, their suits made crimson by their own blood; yet I saw none of this. In fact, everything looked normal; even festive. Every shop I passed had Christmas displays, Christmas lights sparkled on nearly every house even giant decorated trees adorned the malls and government buildings. How could this be, Christmas decorations in public? Were these people mad? Surely bands of black, gay, atheist, Jewish, Muslim, Wiccan, Festivus worshippers would descend at any minute and destroy everything. I was beginning to think I’d been misinformed about the war for all these years
Yes, when I reached the front lines there in Teaneck my suspicions were confirmed.
The park was filled with people caroling, strolling with Christmas packages; there was a Santa on a skateboard....but there were no Nativity scenes. I asked a passerby what had happened to them and was astonished to hear that there that there had been a battle, a year or two ago, about having 14 Nativity scenes displayed on land owned by the city. OMFG!!! Was Fox news right??
I asked a passing stranger what had happened to the nativity scenes.
Were they fire bombed? Was baby Jesus hurled into the ocean?
Were the 3 Wise Men napalmed? 
“No, no, no” she responded.
“They moved them to the front lawn of the Lutheran Church across the street.”
Of course!
Well we do have a separation of church and state in theory
so that one group's religious beliefs can not be forced on another.
And to be fair, government; local or otherwise, really does have a responsibility to deal with other issues besides seeing to it that religious icons are placed about to the satisfaction of every citizen.

So this war really wasn’t much of a war after all.
No reports to be filed today from the front.
There is no front.
As I stood there puzzled, Christmas was everywhere I looked.
I couldn’t escape it. No matter where I went.
Even if I couldn’t see displays of Christmas I would hear the nauseating sound of the “Little Drummer Boy” droning on in elevators and supermarkets.
  Commander O’Reilly and Chief Propaganda Minister Palin were simply talking shit.
They were particularly incensed by people saying “Happy Holidays” rather than “Merry Christmas.” Claiming that saying Happy Holidays pulls the Christ out of Christmas and infringes on the rights of Christians.
I always thought saying “Happy Holidays” was a nice way to include everyone, since many religions celebrate this time of year and for those that aren’t religious it’s a nice holiday as well.
Apparently however, being inclusive and pleasant to one another is unchristian.
The latest strategy in the war is for good Christians to shank anyone who says “Happy Holidays".

 In related news, the image of Cthulhu has appeared on toast.

 And...the image of Satan has appeared on Rupert Murdoch's head.
 As well as Santa!
In summary, it's a miracle...
not that these images appear to us on toast or grilled cheese sandwiches
...but that a species that is obviously so mentally deficient has survived this long.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Oedipus In The 21st Century-- The Primrose Path To Democracy's End

By Without Shoes Correspondent Ben New
You know, to say democracy is struggling in America is almost a cliché today and we are tempted to shrug and move on about our personal business when we see evidence of this or hear someone speak up about it. I suggest however we have unwittingly already lost this age old conflict. There is no denying that in nearly every society throughout human history, there have been people who have tried to constitute themselves as an aristocracy by imposing an internalized psychological condition of deference that crushes people's minds often employing the destruction of reason and logic, replacing it with a marginally tangential skewed version of reality and deference. Democracy, despite any faults one may find in it was the only solution to emerge to prevent the domination of society by the few sociopaths who believe they have 'divine' theochristic rights to rule over the rest of us.

 The alternative to democracy, unless and until something 'better' is imagined, is always some form of totalitarianism, an aristocracy, or an oligarchy of some kind. Alternatives to democracy have always led directly to tyranny.
I'm sorry to report that our nation (and many of our political allies in the world are following suit, walking down the same path to the proverbial slaughterhouse) simply isn't a democracy at all any longer. In an unknowing Oedipus-like scenario, you and I have been inadvertently duped into inglorious ignominy. It is we, our generations {the ones alive during the last 35 years or so}; that will receive the blame and shame in history for this contemptible disgrace because it's happened on our watch.

We now live in a completely faked managed democracy.
A deception where the illusion is maintained on the surface, while a sort of inverted totalitarianism conjoins economic and state powers.
We have become a society of politically uninterested and submissive pawns, with self proclaimed elites eager to keep us that way and the tools to accomplish this.
 In this "managed democracy"  the public is shepherded, It is not sovereign. Corporate power no longer answers to any type of state controls.  Although today's America may not be morally or politically comparable to totalitarian states in the past like Nazi Germany,  but clearly unchecked economic powers combined with state powers has its own unnerving pathologies that do in fact align with the goals of fascism. (Fascism was defined by Mussolini, who coined the term as a bundling of state and and corporate [economic] powers). It's always a minefield to bring up fascism as it becomes a tired banality and is so often misused, but it would be a mistake of the highest order to ignore the similar dynamics at work in this scenario.
We simply can't intellectually or realistically avoid it.

 Myth makers alone dominate today's politics as the quest for an insufferable, impossibly self-defeating, ever-expanding economy combines with the deplorably perverse attraction to endless indefinable war on obliquely indefinable "terror".
This is the diagnosis of the condition.
 What is the solution?
This is a brave new world...though in a sense it's the same old struggle.
The difference is the self proclaimed Pharaohs of today have finally found the method that keeps them hidden from plain view while dismantling democracy on a staggering scale quite effectively.
None of this relates to the past. The "left -right" political dynamics of the past are completely irrelevant, and have been for some time. It's just a prop on the stage.
It's bait to get the people who do get involved away from the real mechanisms and further divorce the rest of the population from the process.
Sure, the product on the left or right will throw their supporters a bone once in while.
So voting does matter to a order to get a bone or scrap that the real powers don't care about. But in the big picture, on serious matters of policy that truly have impact in YOUR world, you and I will have no say whatsoever.
That's a fact.
The solution may not be a political one at all actually.
In a machine that is powered by wealth and mythology alone, unless you have endless supplies of cash to pay the piper, you will hear no music.
However you CAN teach people how to deconstruct the myths.
Teach logic

Actual democracy requires that a good majority of citizens be capable of logical thought.
Starting with the Greeks, logic has been taught in a fairly narrow way. Logic of course, does include syllogisms, but it also includes a great deal of savoir faire about what actually constitutes a good argument and conversely a good counterargument... as well as a good counterargument to that. In a sense, it's like visualizing a 3 dimensional map of the arguments.
Our existing curriculum regarding "critical thinking" is generally weak. And I propose this is not incidental.
(It's well known that people with reasoning skills are much harder to manipulate.)

It's become another banal cliche to lambaste public education, the truth is there are far more triumphs than failures and the quality of one's educational experience is very localized, as each district has it's own set of socio-economic problems to contend other words there is no blanket solution, no magic political bullet to solve the issues that need improvement in general education. However one ingredient in the curriculum that is missing in action and needs to be addressed across the board is teaching logic. And the first thing to address in teaching logic SHOULD be close analysis of irrationality.

 Understand that I'm not suggesting that the purpose of reason is to petition authorities more effectively, rather it's to disarm their obfuscations and myths, to help others cut through the darkness of deception. Education about logic is critical to this.
Reason is not merely the property of the elite. That is part of the myth, part of the deception. This notion is sold as part of the package that deprives the common people of the capacity to engage in democracy. Reason, itself; is the tool that dismantles this hybrid tyranny we face.

You may argue that politics based on reason tilts the playing field in favor of the elite. This may be historically true, however as I said earlier this is a brave new world and the dynamics of the past are irrelevant. In the past only those who could afford to purchase advanced education would have access to the knowledge and history of logic. This MUST not be the case anymore, as there is nothing esoteric or terribly difficult about critical thinking and it can be taught to everyone, in fact it would likely improve the overall ability to perform better in all areas of academics, including testing. I would also respond that politics based on money has tipped the field far more drastically and dangerously. The reality is that democracy needs the citizenry to be educated, and the skills of reasoning are the most basic foundation of democratic education. Democracy simply can not function in any other way. Aristocratic rule is not reinforced by the use of reason. The reality is quite the reverse: in order to dominate society, the would-be Pharaoh must simulate reason, and pretend that their deception is itself reasonable when it in fact is not. How many pundits, George Will and Thomas Sowell come to mind; make their living by saying illogical things in a reasonable tone of voice? We will be subjugated and dominated unless the great majority of citizens can identify just how this trick works. Maybe you can't afford to buy your own senator, lobbying firm, or political party...but you can teach others about logic. Especially the young. Because it will take time to thwart the last 35-40 years of dismantling democracy, and the torch is passed to the young. Their role is critical and the consequences couldn't be more momentous for the survival of civilization.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

If Schroedinger's Cat Enters The Forest, & No One Is Around To Observe It, Is The Future A Porkchop?

By Benjamin New

I often find myself thinking about the nature of the time space bubble we find ourselves in.
Perhaps you do as well. Certainly this is the primary function of the science of study the nature...of nature.
  According to the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum humor, the state of your reaction to my jokes is undefined until you observe them written here. Then you collapse into either one of the two humor eigenstates: either rolling on the floor laughing or frowning and groaning. There are a few assumptions being made on my part here, basically that my dear readers have a working familiarity with the basics of Quantum Mechanics. Fear not if you don't think you do! Here are a few links that will do the trick...if for instance you think that "the collapse of the wave function" is a condition over advertised by pharmaceutical companies that's cured with a blue pill, or if you think "discrete position and momentum" might be an illustration in some new sort of hipster Kama Sutra (Oh come on now. obviously sex is a semi-classical process---the quantum corrections are WAY too small to matter!),  then click this link to clarify things in regards to the rest of this article.


Quantum Mechanics is the most battle-tested theory in all of science. And one-third of our economy involves products designed using it. The device you are reading this on is directly a result of quantum mechanics. The principles of Q. M. work for conducting fundamental science as well as for very for practical applications. Some folks suggest that is all we need to works...why question a good thing? However, this consistently dependable and useful physics model absolutely challenges any reasonable worldviews as it either denies the existence of a physically real world independent of its observation... or it suggests an unimaginable infinitely unfolding series of worlds forming from every possible event that takes place. Today friends, we are going to concern ourselves with the two most widely accepted views regarding the interpretation of quantum mechanics. The Copenhagen Interpretation, and the Many Worlds interpretation.

Copenhagen comes down to this: “everything we can measure ultimately behaves like a quantum wave, but this doesn't apply to me, so what are the implications of that?”
Many Worlds boils down to saying: “everything we measure ultimately behaves like a quantum wave, what are the implications of that?” The Copenhagen interpretation says what it says and it clearly does not  have apodictic dents in it's armor. It has no internal inconsistencies and it is not in contradiction at all with any observation done as of today...but the same can be said of Everett's Many Worlds interpretation.

Copenhagen is considered the standard model while Many Worlds has steadily gained in acceptance.

What we know is that particles are in fact in a state of superposition, that is to say that there is empirical evidence that simultaneous states co-exist in matter. Where paradoxes seem to occur are when we try to understand why or how. These undefined superpositions have been observed in larger quantum systems as well...and this is where the rub comes into play. Laws of physics as we understand them don't have exceptions. Gravity exerts force on galaxies, planets, bowling balls, beads, or molecules in a predictable and identical manner. Events in our macroscopic world all seem to have a causality. It's when we try to comprehend what our observations of very small particles means in the macroscopic world that we run into what seems to be contradictions with what we think we know of this objective world we are accustomed to. However it may well be that these paradoxes only exist in our brains. In other words, these paradoxes are only conflicts between reality and our feelings about what reality ought to be as opposed to what it actually is. As a physicist, one seeks to understand the nature of the physical universe, many physicists would rather stick to the mathematical calculations that represent physical reality and leave the interpretations and implications out of the picture.

( Professor Stephen Hawking and probably most physicists would rather not concern themselves with the interpretations, while Einstein, Heisenberg, Bohr, & others, certainly did. They discussed the possible philosophical implications as well as the physical implications ). There is an implicit ontology that no one really wants to discuss but everyone ponders when it comes to quantum mechanics.


As far as can be tested, the Copenhagen model works, but comes at a price that Einstein & Schrodinger suspected was too high. And that price is acausal randomness and the implication that there is ultimately no objective reality. Our Newtonian reality intuitively does not seem to be that way. (Yet it probably is).  As Einstein said "the moon is not there if you don't look at it"...though he was being is applying principles observed in the micro system to the macro system.
one of  the  key concepts of C.I is the wave function collapse. The idea that every event exists as a “wave function” which contains every possible outcome of that event, which “collapses”—becoming an actual outcome, once it is observed. A thought experiment that illustrates this (similar to Schrodinger's Cat) is if a room is unobserved, anything and everything that could possibly be in that room exists in “quantum superposition”—an indeterminate state, full of every possibility, until someone enters the room and observes it, thereby collapsing the wave function and solidifying the reality. The problem with this is that observation is given some sort of vaguely defined superpower in a way. It seems to suggest that we are somehow 'different' than the quantum systems we observe or outside of them...and I'm not sure I find that entirely feasible. Though as Niels Bohr, the father of the orthodox 'Copenhagen Interpretation' of quantum physics once said, "Anyone who is not shocked by quantum theory has not understood it". Some people have come to the conclusion that consciousness itself and particle physics are inter-related. There was a legitimate paper on this in 1997 by Dr. Henry Stapp at the University of California in which he suggested that the synapses in your brain are so small that quantum effects are occurring. He suggested that there is quantum uncertainty about whether a neuron will fire or not - and this degree of freedom that nature has, allows for the interaction of mind and matter. (I'll just say that this really doesn't seem intuitively correct to me, but that is just my opinion...and in the realm of QM, intuitions based on experiences in the classical or Newtonian world can't be taken all that seriously it seems). He's written several books on the subject and he is a quantum physicist who worked with both Wolfgang Pauli and Werner Heisenberg. (unfortunately this sort of suggestion has given rise to all sorts of ludicrous quackery...which is clearly NOT related legitimately to QM....for instance NO legitimate science claims the result of the cat in the quantum box can be manipulated by wishful thinking...there's a ton of new-age quantum quackery proliferating out there on the web, avoid it if possible... except for a laugh.)  I have a problem with this interpretation actually, it does not strike me as consistent or reasonable within what we know of nature...even at the quantum level. A law of physics should apply across the board...if there is an exception, this would be a first. I mean to say that the Newtonian world we are used to interacting in isn't and shouldn't be separate in terms of physical laws from the quantum world. Rather isn't it more likely that everything is a quantum system, every combination of particles, a quantum machine of sorts... including ourselves? Even the entire universe....a quantum machine.
This is why I tend to think that Hugh Everett's Many Worlds interpretation is, well,....less wrong. 



Welcome to Many Worlds!
Many Worlds was proposed by Hugh Everett in 1957. Essentially it states that there is no wave collapse, but when we observe something the universe splits or branches off into an alternate timeline or world so to speak. 
Max Tegmark, the well known and respected astrophysicist says this about Everett's theory:  
"Everett’s theory is simple to state but has complex consequences, including parallel universes. The theory can be summed up by saying that the Schrödinger equation applies at all times; in other words, that the wavefunction of the Universe never collapses. That's it - no mention of parallel universes or splitting worlds, which are implications of the theory rather than postulates. His brilliant insight was that this collapse-free quantum theory is, in fact, consistent with observation."  We have observed larger and larger objects that can be in multiple states, using the same double slit experiment or variations of it.  The same wave-particle duality was exhibited on a molecule which had fully 108 atoms, made up of 2,424 protons, neutrons, and electrons.  The entire molecule (actually, thousands of them) interfered with itself, demonstrating that it was in multiple states. It seems that everything that can indeed be tested has demonstrated quantum superposition, so why not just extend that to “everything obeys the same quantum mechanical laws, including superposition.”? This is the essence and indeed the beauty of Everett's interpretation. It applies to everything. The math is elegant. It makes logical sense, requires no particular special provisions, no dividing the universe into an indeterministic microscopic world and the deterministic macroscopic world. Many would say no, “the physics at small scales is just different!”.  Maybe so...but as I've stated earlier there are no physical laws that work differently on different scales.  In our experience, the same physical laws (see the Navier-Stokes equation) govern everything.
Generally, in science,  all laws apply at all scales, it’s just a question of degree.  Relativity is at work at all velocities, you just do not notice the effects until you move really fast. Should this “size argument” (that larger objects somehow have different laws) turn out to be true, it will be the very first instance of such a thing. The quantum world builds the classical world. Everything in the classical, macroscopic world is composed of microscopic particles acting in unison.

The problem is, if it's a problem at all; the consequences of not collapsing the wave function is that the universe is constantly splitting into alternate worlds which accommodate each possible outcome of every single event. It's likely that for many years before Everett wrote his paper, people had thought about this problem, but Everett was the first to propose a logically consistent way of removing the barrier backed up by convincing equations to support it. Schrödinger had said a few years before in Dublin in a physics conference a few years before Everett published his paper that physicists fear that if we don't have the collapse, "We should find our surroundings rapidly turning into a quagmire, or sort of featureless jelly or plasma, all contours becoming blurred, we ourselves probably becoming jellyfish."
  In other words if there is no collapse, then all these possibilities are going to start propagating all over the place, and there won't be any cause or effect anymore. We,our selves, our physical beings, being quantum systems, become duplicated, and every possible position that a human body can be in will suddenly exist in classical reality. Schrödinger looked at that and booted the idea...the implications being too mind boggling for even a quantum physicist. Even a "mystical" explanation that makes no logical sense seemed better than that to him...and many others!


Everett who was very much a realist simply could not accept that consciousness was "privileged," or that the universe would not exist without it. He assumed human consciousness is a quantum-mechanical system like any other quantum-mechanical system. Everett had an advantage the earlier theorists didn't though. Information theory. We have called tthe era in which we live the Information you know why? We entered the Information Age in 1948 thanks largely to Norbert Wiener (the father of cybernetics) & Claude Shannon,  Shannon and Wiener proposed remarkable theories that said that information actually has a physical reality that is independent of any kind of meaning that you might want to give it. (Which is synchronous with observations made in QM).  The development of understanding information itself as a physical thing has given birth literally to all modern technology including the internet . Well, Everett began to calculate using information theory, which had just been invented. He developed a mathematical argument showing how data correlates within itself. Which is what happens in a superposition. essentially he showed that The Schrödinger equation never ends, including in the classical world. In Everett's theory, what happens is that when a human actually looks at a clock or any other object, he or she splits like an amoeba. (In his view, the observation interaction, is just an exchanging of energy. (A person looking at the clock, in our example, is an energetic interaction, with photons of light bouncing off the clock and going into the person's eye.) According to Everett's view, when the human correlates him-herself, (interacts or exchanges energy with the clock or whatever is interacted with) then he-she splits into copies of him- herself, one for each element in the superposition. This split creates the 'many worlds'. As bizarre as this sounds—a person splitting into numerous copies of him-herself...Everett's theory has stood the test of time and peer review. It has not been shown to be mathematically incorrect. And to be sure, people have tried very hard. They have found some minor mathematical gaps, but no one has been able fault the basic mathematical logic, which has made a very convincing case that every time there is an interaction anywhere in the universe, one of the systems splits in order to accommodate all of the elements or superpositions that are contained in the wave function that describes the observed system. So the basis for having multiple universes emerges from this solution to the measurement problem in QM. The universal wave function of Everett's theory ultimately describes a series of branching universes that make up what David Deutsch has called the "multiverse," and recent discoveries in Astrophysics as well as in Neuroscience hint at this as well. (Hence the idea of titling  this section "synchronicity") In these branching universes, there are many trillions of copies of you, of your neighbor, of Everett. There are branches in which Everett is still alive, others where he died at birth. Everything that is physically possible happens in some branch of the multiverse.
The implications of this are nothing less than astonishing.
There is no ceiling of improbability, other than the laws of physics which may actually operate differently in other universes. Whatever could possibly occur does. So when  you are confronted with circumstances that appear to be impossible, like a missing woman unknowingly standing in the background of a photo being taken of her family for a newspaper story about her own disappearance,  remember that nothing is impossible on a large enough scale—indeed, given an infinite number of chances, literally anything you can imagine is not only possible, but inevitable.


Consider what we know about how probability works
In a Multiverse; on a persoanl level, the implications become somewhat overwhelming.
There are trillions of versions of you—all of which are undeniably you—but many of which are very, very different from the “you” of this world-line. The differences between the various versions of you are as vast as your imagination can allow...or more. There’s a world-line where you’re the worst dictator ever and an architect of genocide. Conversely, there’s another where you dedicate yourself to world peace. Your crappy  band in high school became the dominant musical force on the planet, somewhere. Ladies, in one timeline Johnny Depp is your lover. Men can find some solace in knowing that they are sleeping with Scarlett Johansson in at least one of these timelines..though conversely perhaps in another they are married to their former cell mate Bubba or a blow up doll. Well, you get the idea. Multiplicity might explain a lot of things...feelings of deja vu,  a close connection with someone you’ve never actually met,  the sense of synchronicity itself. Perhaps there is some type of resonance or distant memory of a previous timeline that explains this. Think of  Buddhism or Hinduism in a divergent light for a moment. Both suggest a reincarnation. They posit that we manifest physically on Earth multiple times, and that we can learn from our past and future “paths”. Indulge me for a moment but might these belief systems be an intuitive understanding of the Multiverse idea? ( I'm thinking about the previous assertion that you were, or are; an evil mass murdering dictator in one timeline... it can be comforting to know that the experience of all possible facets of human nature is explicitly required  for growth which is the case in those belief systems).

This is not to suggest you should kill people or engage in any other immoral behaviors mind you, but the alleged purpose of this cycle of learning is to eventually learn all that there is to learn, to actually transcend physical existence. Of course you dear reader are highly evolved and learned many lifetimes (world-lines) ago all there was to learn from indulging the dark side of human nature.

Of course you did! While some folks seem to believe that our destination is some type of eventual meta-godhood, where we are thrown from our carriages off of the great Ferris Wheel Of Karma or preside over a universe of our own creation... others believe that the cycle just simply repeats. If the whole thing runs down, plays out, or heat death ends all realities; perhaps the cycle is simply restarts and the next Multiverse begins. Perhaps this has already been happening trillions of times? Wiz Bang, expansion, contraction, collapse, Wiz Bang again! Bazoomy! Off we go! As Johnny Carson used to say "I'll be right back"!
...And perhaps he will.


(But Not falling From Grace)

  In this Multiverse model with its infinite world-lines, you have existed before. In fact, all the infinite versions of you have existed before, and will exist again and again.  The same goes for Kurt Vonnegut, Billy the Kid, Thomas Jefferson, Jimi Hendrix, and Attila the Hun... along with every possible idea, creation and situation throughout all of our past and future, across all realities.
Of course you know if everything that exists or will exist has already existed there is nothing new and nothing original. Not exactly a concept that hasn't been touched on before.

  • From a 19th Century BC Egyptian poem: "What has been said has been said."
  • From The Old Testament : "It has all been done before; there is nothing new under the sun."
  • From The Beatles "All You Need Is Love": "There's nothing you can do that can't be done."
  • From John Steinbeck :"There are as many worlds as there are kinds of days"

Many writers, artists, and musicians (myself included on occasion) describe a sense that the pieces we craft are in some manner already existing, fully formed, merely waiting for us to come along and excavate them like fossils in some ethereal tar pit.  In an infinite Multiverse, there is a possibility this may be exactly what the pieces are. Creation and interacting with art is a very unique human experience. There are aspects of the human condition that are difficult or impossible to communicate by any other means. (Often physicists too say their ideas occur fully formed in dreams...and that language simply does not exist to express them adequately.)  This quality has been ascribed to the observations of QM, especially the "observe" portion of the Copenhagen observation is kind of an interaction of any kind and it's said that there is no known language to properly describe this). While it is not possible to accurately describe in any language what love is, or what it feels like,  there are plenty of ways to communicate this in art. Most often it is through artistic expressions that resonate with us  that many of us develop our first notions of the nature of love or other complex human experiences that elude description in other forms of communication.

I am reminded of the lyrics in the Who's song "905"
from the Who's album  "Who Are You" written by John Entwistle:

"...Now I'm to begin
The life that I'm assigned
A life that's been used before
A thousand times

I have a feeling deep inside
That something is missing
It's a feeling in my soul
And I can't help wishing

That one day I'll discover
That we're living a lie
And I'll tell the whole world
The reason why

But, until then, all I know is what I need to know
And everything I do's been done before
Every idea in my head
Someone else has said
At each end of my life is an open door"


While there are actually many interpretations of QM, the two most accepted are the Copenhagen and the Many Worlds...most others are tweaks on these two and are pretty much just variations on the two main ideas. There are however others that are different:

Pilot Waves, Hidden Variables and the Implicate Order

David Bohm (1917-1992) came up with an elegant but more complicated theory to explain the same set of phenomena (normally, more complicated theories are disqualified by the principle known as Ockham's Razor). Bohm's theory follows original insights by Prince Louis de Broglie (1892-1987), who first studied the wave-like properties of particles in 1924. De Broglie suggested that, in addition to the normal wavefunction of the Copenhagen Interpretation, there is a second wave that determines a precise position for the particle at any particular time. In this theory, there is some 'hidden variable' that determines the precise position of the photon.  John von Neumann (1903-1957) wrote a paper in 1932 claiming that this theory was impossible. Von Neumann was such a math wiz that nobody actually bothered to check his calculations until 1966, when John Bell (1928-1990) proved he'd bungled it and VIOLA! ...there could actually be hidden variables after all ... but only if particles could communicate faster than light (this is called 'nonlocality' in physics). In 1982 Alain Aspect demonstrated that this superluminal signaling did appear to exist, but then David Mermin came along and showed that you could not actually signal anything. There is still some argument about whether this means much of anything.
Bohm's theory was that this second wave was indeed faster than light, and instantly permeated the entire universe, acting as a guide for the movement of the photon. He called it a 'pilot wave'.
Although this theory explains the paradoxes of quantum physics, it also introduces a new faster-than-light wave and some hidden mechanism for deciding where it goes to create an 'implicate order'. That's quite a lot of luggage to carry and science generally likes to travel light. Worse still, Bohm  become something of a mystic, identifying his 'implicate order' with Eastern spirituality. It's all very interesting and we should keep in mind that "many worlds" was not broadly accepted at fact it was more or less least privately. 

Consistent Histories 

This interpretation analyzes sequences of states of a system (which may or may not include the whole universe), to find what questions can be consistently answered about the system, such as “was the particle at A or B at time T?” The measurement problem, however, is not resolved: the question of which histories actually happen remains a matter of probabilities just as with the standard Copenhagen I guess it's really just a variant on Copenhagen.

Shut Up and Calculate!
David Mermin said in a lecture" If I were forced to sum up in one sentence what the Copenhagen interpretation says to me, it would be 'Shut up and calculate!"Some physicists talk of the “shut up and calculate interpretation” which is to ignore the philosophical puzzle of how the classical and the quantum coexist entirely.

Transactional Interpretation

This interpretation was proposed by John G. Cramer in 1986 and it has waves traveling forward and backward in time, setting up standing waves between an emitter of a particle and its detector.

Other Odd Considerations

Although not technically an interpretation of QM, there are some other theories related to it that frankly...give me a headache. Largely because they seem so far fetched yet undeniably plausible at the same time. One of these would be that the superposition is observed because we are actually in a computer simulation. When you open a simulation what happens? The various components of the simulation are in an undetermined state and then software tells them to form a certain way to create the simulation. It does explain the wave collapse doesn't it?  Far fetched? Certainly...wait...maybe not. After all if our technology were sufficiently advanced enough to actually simulate a universe, we likely would. If we could simulate one...why not another? Or many? ...all existing right next to each other. An advanced civilization could likely do such a thing...geez maybe even our ancestors were that advanced and are doing it right now! Maybe we are actually simulations of their ancestors in some computer somewhere. We currently actually have supercomputers performing lattice quantum chromodynamics calculations which essentially divide space-time into a four-dimensional grid which then allows researchers to examine what we call the strong force, one of the four fundamental forces of nature and the one that binds  quarks and gluons together into neutrons and protons at the core of atoms. Martin Savage, from Washington University has said “If you make the simulations big enough, something like our universe should emerge", and by studying that, we could then look for a “signature” in our universe that has an analog in the current small-scale simulations. We can test this.
Savage and colleagues Silas Beane and Zohreh Davoudi, a UW physics graduate student, suggest that this signature could show up as a limitation in the energy of cosmic rays. At any rate suffice it to say some very intelligent and learned scholars do not find this notion ridiculous.
Then there's the idea that the universe is a hologram.  Leonard Suskind and other highly respected physicists posit this this video...

So, I know what you are saying right now..."what's the bottom line on this stuff, what happens to Schrodinger's Cat? "

In Copenhagen: The cat's dead and alive simultaneously until you look at it..then it's one or the other.
In Many Worlds: The cat's dead in one world, alive in another.
In Pilot Waves, Hidden Variables and the Implicate Order: It's either dead or alive, of course! (But becomes a Buddhist monk.)
In Consistent Histories: Don't ask, don't tell.
In Shut Up And Calculate: No one cares about the cat.
In Transactional: The cat is both alive and dead but it's in the past as well as the future simultaneously.
In a computer simulation: The cat's a cartoon...but so are you!
In a hologram: The cat's a 3D cartoon and the future is indeed now a pork chop.


In 1957, when Everett's thesis was published in Reviews of Modern Physics, the editor of that issue was Bryce DeWitt. Initially, DeWitt was unimpressed with Everett's theory. He wrote to Everett and asked "if the universe is splitting, then why don't I feel myself split?"
Everett responded. "Well, Copernicus made the analysis that the Earth was moving around the sun, undoing thousands of years of belief that the sun was going around the Earth, and people asked him, If the Earth is moving around the sun, then why don't I feel the Earth move?"
 DeWitt, who was well aware of the Newtonian reasons why they wouldn't, simply said "Touché".

In the late 1960s,  DeWitt when he was working seriously in quantum cosmology, DeWitt was attracted to the universal wave function as an interpretive method of dealing with what was going on, and he started writing about it. In 1970, he published an article in Physics Today that set off a firestorm of letters back and forth in that publication, debating the theory. Then, in 1973, he went to Everett, and said, "I know that there's a longer version of your thesis than the one that I printed in 1957. I'd like to publish it." The full dissertation was  137 pages, while the thesis that was published in 1957 was only about nine pages. [You can read the full dissertation here if you like.]
Apparently John Wheeler  (Noted physicist who worked with Bohr) was a professor at Princeton University, and was influential in mentoring a generation of physicists who made notable contributions to quantum mechanics and gravitation including Everett, anyway he had cut three quarters of Everett's original thesis. Wheeler is said to have had a dream that Bohr was somehow going to approve it, so he made Everett remove his direct attacks on the Copenhagen Interpretation as well as his provocative metaphors about splitting observers like amoebas, and bifurcating cannonballs. (as well as, for some unknown reason, a whole chapter on information and probability theory).
  As a result, a lot of the explanation for things that people saw as weaknesses in Everett's theory were cut out of the version that people read.  In 1973, DeWitt published the long version, along with the short version and some other papers, including one by himself, in a book called The Many Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics. He used the phrase "many worlds," because he thought it would be provocative and catchy, it was! And the name stuck. Incidentally, Hugh Everett did not call his theory "Many Worlds"...he called it "The Relative-State Formulation of Quantum Mechanics."

If you have read all this material and the links, congratulations! You are now a certifiable quantum mechanic! Send me the 1200 dollars and I'll print you out a certificate with a 3 dimensional hologram of a cat in a box eating a pork chop ! 

Of course, no electrons were harmed in the making of this blog.

Monday, June 16, 2014

The Age Of Anxiety

Ah yes, the Age of Anxiety! The times in which modern Fascism and Totalitarianism made their melodramatic debut on the historical stage (and their refusal to go they merely transform and masquerade as something less identifiable or less unpalatable). The age of the Atom, the Age of Information, the Age of World Wars...the Age of Grotesque Materialism, Unmitigated Greed, Institutionalized Racketeering, Glorified Moral Bankruptcy and Wholesale Looting of Nations.
Does this sketch of the world you find yourself in ring true? If so, or even if not; perhaps you disagree and think everything is coming up roses...still read on. We are here and it is now...this much is indisputable and may be the only thing one can actually fully know. But how did we get here, to this lamentable yet reversible condition? Why can we not purge ourselves of the self defeating delusions and and failed ruinous notions of the past?

Before actually looking at the times we exist in, it's important to understand a few facts about the history of mankind leading up to our Age Of Anxiety. No matter how far back you look, human history is the story of one group of people or another attempting to set themselves up as superior to others and come up with a plethora of bogus reasons why they should dominate the others. Whether it's the "divine right" of Pharaohs in ancient Egypt, self-regarding thuggery of ancient Romans, the glorified warlords of medieval and absolutist Europe, or assorted Shahs, Caliphs, Sultans, Imams, Popes, Spurious Holy This or That Alliances, Tzars, Robber Barons, or other types of Grand Poohbahs; it's all the same in the end as in nearly every urbanized society throughout human history some group of people have tried to constitute themselves as an aristocracy. These people, their allies, sycophants, and apologists have been the scourge of humanity since time immemorial. The 20th and 21st centuries however have provided tools and technology to the would be Pharaoh that dwarf the potential of any previous despotic oligarchical nightmare.

  By the year 1939, liberal democracies in Britain, France, Scandinavia and Switzerland were realities. Unfortunately, elsewhere across the continent, assorted dictators  had also imposed their ugly mugs into the picture (Photo Bombed the process so to speak). Dictatorship seemed to be the wave of the future. Many people were resigned to accept this,while others were looking for ways to 'get in on it'. It also seemed to be the wave of the present. After all, didn't Mussolini proclaim that this century would be a century of the right? Of Fascism?

This is what disturbed such writers as Arthur Koestler (1905-1983), Yevgeny Zamyatin (1884-1937), Aldous Huxley (1894-1963), Karel Capek (1890-1938) and George Orwell (1903-1950). This was an antephialtic world in which human dignity, individuality, and the innate value of a human being was trampled under by the might of  totalitarianism. These early modern totalitarian states rejected liberal values of human dignity and fairness. They exercised total control over all aspects of the lives of subjects. Totalitarianism in these states became a new religion...a system of  required beliefs...a political religion for the Age of Anxiety.

   It goes without saying that the governments of Europe had been conservative and anti-democratic throughout their long histories. The leaders, whether monarchs or autocrats WERE the government, and by their very nature, prevented any incidence of social or political change that might endanger the existing social order that they benefited from. There have been enlightened monarchs, but few so enlightened as to have removed themselves from the sinews of power. Before the 19th century these monarchs all legitimized their rule by recourse to the divine right theory of kingship, an idea which  appeared in Europe during medieval times. In France, you may recall;  this was the case until the late 18th century when French revolutionaries decided to end the Bourbon 'divine' claim to the throne by cutting off the head of Louis XVI. Of course, France ended up with Napoleon who ironically also claimed the divine right of kingship. The difference was merely that this divine right emanated from Napoleon himself. One might say "the same shit, different shitter". And one would be correct. After all, the would be Pharaoh will simply rule by whatever mechanism of ascension to a throne is available. It could be divine, military, or could be using the political rhetoric of the left or right,  it doesn't matter...some people insist on being crowned. Where's my crown? I want my crown!. It's a type of sociopath really, isn't it?

  In contrast to these dictatorships,  a country such as England, on the other hand, underwent twenty years of civil war in the 17th century as well as the Glorious Revolution of 1688 which had produced a constitutional monarchy.

In the 19th century, both the Industrial and French Revolutions created the forces of social change which monarchs, enlightened or not, could not safely ignore. A large middle class had emerged in the 18th century but had lacked political status. Now, in the 19th century, this large class of entrepreneurs, factory owners, civil servants, teachers, lawyers, doctors, merchants and other types of professionals wanted their voices heard by their governments and there were a lot of them. They were largely at least somewhat educated unlike the peasants of previous times who were much easier to frighten, manipulate, and fool into submission. The middle class became a force which had to be reckoned with and governments began to utilize their talents by creating large, but obedient bureaucracies. In this way, government seemed to reflect the interests of all when in actual fact, they represented the interests of the same sociopath assholes it always had. There was however the illusion of democracy and every once in a while a bone was thrown to the middle class to keep them believing in the illusion.  So European governments maintained order by giving the middle classes a stake in the welfare of the nation. Governments also built strong police forces and armies of loyal soldiers to protect itself largely.  Meanwhile of course in reality, the great mass of people, the "swinish multitude," remained completely unrepresented. Radicals were either imprisoned, murdered, or exiled because of their liberal, democratic, socialist, communist or anarchist inclinations. Despite these measures, and there were others as well, traditional authoritarian governments were not completely successful. Their power and their objectives were actually limited.  Why you ask?  Well these governments lacked modern communications and modern transportation. They lacked, in other words, the ability to totally control their subject populations. Not until the twentieth century -- thanks to improved technology -- would this change . In fact, true totalitarian regimes are limited only by the extent to which mass communications have been made a reality. And, of course, with mass communications comes "mass man", and the capability of total  and complete control.

In this latter Age of Anxiety, humanity faces it's greatest challenge as the would be dictators have learned they can't use the older more obvious methods of domination. The modern threat hides behind logos, holding companies, and is difficult to discern. It's obvious that a handful of multinational corporations have seized control of mass communication globally, well frankly every industry. But who actually owns these multinational cartels and monopolies? It's cloaked and difficult to discern but if you follow the tangled web to it's source you find that roughly 85 people own virtually everything. There is no way Orwell could have predicted that there would be larger economic entities than states...but today more than half of the largest 'economies' in the world are not in fact states at all. They are corporate entities that exist only in an abstract manner on paper. "Big Brother" is no political entity at all. States now are openly bought and sold and the corrupt purchase of government is open and in plain's institutionalized.  It is reversible for the same reason the aristocracies of the past had to relinquish some of their powers. It is reversible if middle class demands change...the poor are powerless and it's by design. But the middle class has power because it potentially might be smart enough to see through the trickery. It may not be demoralized and degraded enough yet to simply go along with the plans of the modern fascists hiding behind these corporate facades because it's easier than objecting. These modern fascists are well aware of this and are doing everything they can now to eliminate this middle class. So there is a time limit on the possibility of change. There is likely a tipping point where if this middle class shrinks in numbers enough they will lose what power they have to refuse this new branded corporate fascism. The salvation of mankind lies in this alone-  Only by analyzing this deception will it become possible to revive democracy. Democracy may be imperfect but of all the possible means of governance and organizing society man has invented, a manageable representative democracy is the only one that attempts in any way to limit obscene concentrations of power. All others promote it in one way or another. Fight the power. But understand where that power lies, that it's concentration is the problem... and above all else don't be conned into enabling these modern cosmetically altered brands of fascism.  To impose its order on society, the modern corporatist must destroy what we non fascists view as civilization. In particular in order to thrive it must destroy conscience, democracy, reason, and language. The goal, in the name of humanity, decency, and survival is to reverse this concentration of power. Don't believe the one has the right, divine or through accumulation of wealth to dominate society. It's a crock! It's the big lie. We can end The Age of Anxiety in one of two ways. Either by waking up and refusing to allow this concentration of power just as Dr. Martin Luther King refused to stand by and accept racism, or by rolling over in submission....going out with a whimper. The choice dear reader is yours.


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Phenomenon Of Creeping Fascism

"There are few things as odd as the calm, superior indifference with which I and those like me watched the beginnings of the Nazi revolution in Germany, as if from a box at the theater...Perhaps the only comparably odd thing is the way that now, years later...."

These words belong to Sebastian Haffner, who was a young lawyer in Berlin during the 1930s.
He experienced the Nazi takeover and wrote a first-hand account of it. It was not published while he was alive, but his children found the manuscript when he died in 1999 and published it the following year as "Geschichte eines Deutschen" (The Story of a German). The book became an immediate bestseller and has been translated into 20 languages.  In English it is published as "Defying Hitler." This will likely have a disconcerting resonance to anyone familiar with the Nazi ascendancy, noting how "odd" it is that the frontal attack on Constitutional & Human rights as well as civil liberties is met with  "calm, superior indifference" in our own times. 
First what is fascism actually? It is described by Benito Mussolini (who is credited with coining the term and ought to know what he meant by it) as the combining of corporate and state powers. It's derived from latin...a word meaning the bundling of sticks. A single stick can be snapped and broken, where a bundle of sticks can not easily be snapped or broken.

Fascism is growing in many modern democracies today...the citizens may have trouble recognizing it for what it is....but rest assured it did not disappear after WWII. Many of the nations who fought fascism and sacrificed life and limb preventing it from global domination in the mid 20th century now see their own countries engaging in it fully a few generations later. It isn't obvious to the majority, there are no literal goose stepping parades or brownshirted thugs...not in public anyway. No, that wouldn't do in today's world...people might recognize that too easily. The methods have to be more stealthy and wrapped in the local flag...not a swastika.

The fulfillment of the prediction by Sinclair Lewis 'not if'  but "when fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag carrying a cross"

  Nazis and Those Who Enable Them
Well what we can learn from Haffner's account of the fascist's rise to power in Germany is that you don't have to be a Nazi. You can just be, well for lack of a better description, a sheep. Do nothing.
In his account,  Sebastian Haffner describes what he calls the "sheepish submissiveness" with which the German people reacted to a 9/11-like event, the burning of the German Parliament (Reichstag) on Feb. 27, 1933. Haffner suggests it quite telling that none of his acquaintances "saw anything out of the ordinary in the fact that, from then on, one's telephone would be tapped, one's letters opened, and one's desk might be broken into."  His his most virulent condemnation is reserved for the cowardly politicians. Do you see any contemporary parallels here? In the elections of March 4, 1933, shortly after the Reichstag fire, the Nazi party garnered only 44 percent of the vote. Only the "cowardly treachery" of the Social Democrats and other parties to whom 56 percent of the German people had entrusted their votes made it possible for the Nazis to seize full power. Haffner explains: "It is in the final analysis only of betrayal that explains the almost inexplicable fact that a great nation, which cannot have consisted entirely of cowards, fell into ignominy without a fight."
The Social Democratic leaders betrayed their followers-"for the most part decent, unimportant individuals." In May they sang the Nazi anthem; by June the party was dissolved.

The middle-class Catholic party Zentrum folded in less than a month, and in the end actually supplied the votes necessary for the two-thirds majority that "legalized" Hitler's dictatorship.

As for the right-wing conservatives and German nationalists: "Oh God," writes Haffner, "what an infinitely dishonorable and cowardly spectacle their leaders made in 1933 and continued to make afterward.... They went along with everything: the terror, the persecution of Jews.... They were not even bothered when their own party was banned and their own members arrested." In summary he says: "There was not a single example of energetic defense, of courage or principle. There was only panic, flight, and desertion. In March 1933 millions opposed the Nazis but overnight they found themselves without leaders...At the moment of truth, when other nations rose spontaneously to the occasion, the Germans collectively and limply collapsed. They yielded and capitulated, and suffered a nervous breakdown.... The result is today the nightmare of the rest of the world."

In the U.S., the Founding Fathers were not oblivious to this general behavior and it's danger.
  James Madison wrote "I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.... The means of defense against foreign danger historically have become the instruments of tyranny at home."
We cannot say we weren't warned.


Ignorance. Fear. Greed. Selfishness. In that order, those are the reasons that explain the phenomena of creeping fascism. And this applies to the nascent fascism in the United States and other democratic nations today. Predictably and rightfully, the majority of the population in every society strives to be safe, to have a "normal" life by local standards, to count on certain basic things like employment, family ties, entertainment, friendship. So people go about their daily lives influenced by what they see around them. their experiences in shops they use to buy things, who they might talk to, maybe some house of worship they attend, or a gathering, a party, a funeral, a baby shower, etc. The conditions that lead to creeping fascism and its eventual establishment are essentially invisible to most folks (until its too late). For these folks who are unaware of it, well their sin is ignorance, so they are arguably less culpable. (Dear reader, if you happen to be in this category, understand that further reading will make you  fully aware of it,  and should you decide to do nothing, then your personal level of culpability will go up).


The biggest threat to the establishment of fascism is education.
A populace with a collective high intellect is not prone to be easily duped.
The tell-tale heart of creeping fascism is the rise of anti-intellectualism, such as the one we have in the U.S. today. Ignorance is literally elevated to be the false equivalence of intellectual curiosity. The dim wit is elevated publicly to hero status (think of Sarah Palin and numerous others).
The sure fire technique to prevent the populace from developing their collective intellect is by discouraging people from engaging in any sort of deep thinking or analysis about the world around them, government and its institutions,  issues related to power or wealth hierarchies, income disparity, etc.
The best way to do this is to create a situation where people are made to work at a subsistence level (hand-to-mouth, paycheck-to-paycheck), to put up roadblocks to attaining a proper education, and to bombard people with, as in Roman times, "bread-and-circuses," which in today's world happens with the bombardment of the human mind with an incredibly effective propaganda machine in the form of the corporate-owned U.S. media. Think of all the  'reality' shows, and the fantasy of an obscure and unknown person making it big by winning in American Idiot, or any of the other mind rotting shows.
Think of how a news network actually fought for and won in court the right to misinform...the right to lie as a free speech issue.

In the ignorance category we can also include the religious Right, the nationalists, and the racists and how easily they are to incorporate in creeping fascism. This is because fear is the other classic way of manipulating the population. When it comes to the middle class, you have a combination of factors, including ignorance and fear (to a greater extent), and selfishness (to a lesser extent). The first priority of the middle class is to keep what they have, and to dream of possibly having something better or more.  So when fascism and oppression creeps in, it succeeds if  the middle class remains mainly dormant and docile through most of the process. Again until it is too late.

Usually during the first stages of fascism, it directly affects certain maligned groups such as the poor (the most maligned and defenseless target), and certain minority groups, the nascent "baby" fascist state needs to practice with  minority groups in order to perfect it's system of domination before consolidating their power and applying their techniques on the general population.


 The politicians, business people, the leaders of most liberal and progressive groups, and unions cave and cower. At this stage of the acquiescence to creeping fascism is mainly the result of pure greed and selfishness. It's a willful blindness. At this stage these people in the 'establishment'  possess the intellectual capacity to understand what's going on, but chooses to do nothing (or to do minimalist, don't-rock-the-boat ineffectual gesturing) out of pure short-term self interest. Greed. Like the middle class, they are more interested in keeping what they have, and possibly having more, in cushy jobs and positions, in grants and money from donors, corporations, employers, in being connected to the expanding power structure, and benefiting from it.

  Have you ever wondered about the dismal lack of leadership from most of the top ranks in unions in modern times?... Or the lack of any real leadership in liberal and progressive organizations? Well  wonder no more.  Creeping fascism has taken them. At this level, the so-called leaders share more culpability and responsibility for allowing fascism to creep in because at an intellectual level they know full well it's happening,  they choose  to look the other way for purely greedy and selfish reasons.

The only antidote is the type of leader who is totally, one hundred percent driven by duty, love of humanity, by the concept of justice, and not by self interest or greed. Do such people exist?
Well yes. They do. They are rare but they exist.  In India for instance, the anti-corruption campaign of activist Anna Hazare who has been bringing the entire Indian government to its knees with the force of his conviction.  I firmly believe there are leaders (in wait) like that in the U.S, the U.K. and other democratic nations., but the manipulation and influence of the corporate-owned media is so total, that at this point it's nearly impossible for them to get any traction. If they ever make it to the point of being on the public radar, they are vilified, ridiculed, demonized, attacked, spied on, etc.
But I really believe those leaders will emerge once there is a significant number of people who are able to break through the mental shackles imposed by the nascent fascist regimes.

There are some signs that a large enough number of people are "waking up" from the corporate stupor and realizing what's happening, as exemplified by the occupy protests last year.

If you read this, you can't really claim ignorance any more.
Democracy is under attack from creeping fascism.
Corporations are NOT people and money is NOT free speech.
In a democracy, we consent to be governed in our own COMMON interest, not the interests of the few who can buy their own senators. We are interested in the general prosperity of all our people, not just the few who already own most everything.
There are no scapegoats folks, there is no one to blame but ourselves.
It's time to do something to deter creeping fascism.
If not now, when?

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Henry Wallace On American Fascists

Henry A.Wallace And Franklin D. Roosevelt
Henry A. Wallace was the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture from 1933 to 1940, during the incredibly  difficult years of the Great Depression, and Vice President from 1941 to 1945, at the height of World War II.  Wallace was one of FDR's closest and most trusted associates, A huge supporter of the New Deal and a man determined to fashion a better world out of the ashes of war II.
Wallace was born on an Iowa farm in 1888. After graduating from Iowa State College in 1910, he went to work for the family paper, Wallaces' Farmer, which was widely read throughout agricultural circles and brought the Wallace family considerable prestige among the nation's farming community.
In the early 1920s, Wallace became the editor of the Farmer after his father, Henry C. Wallace, accepted an offer to serve as Secretary of Agriculture in the Harding and Coolidge administrations. A long standing Republican, the younger Wallace broke with his father's party in 1928 over the issue of farm relief and high tariffs campaigning for the Democrat, Al Smith, in his run for the White House. This brought Wallace to the attention of FDR, who, four years later, asked him to follow his father's footsteps and become his Secretary of Agriculture. He later served as FDR's Vice President, and as Secretary of Commerce. Following FDR's death, and after resigning as Secretary of Commerce in 1946, Wallace became a leading advocate for post-war cooperation with the Soviet Union and one of the most prominent critics of the Truman Doctrine and containment policies that became the Cold War. He ran an unsuccessful third party campaign for the presidency in 1948 that was tainted by false reports that he was a tool of Moscow. Roosevelt once said that "no man was more of the American soil than Wallace," and in the wake of his 1948 defeat, Wallace decided to return to his roots and retire to his beloved New York farm. For the next seventeen years he devoted himself to scientific farming, genetics, and gardening. He died on November 18, 1965. His writing has been out of print for years, but I believe modern ears deserve to hear what this wise man's common sense voice. I believe these modern ears will find his voice quite relevant.

The following is taken from an article in the New York times, April 29th, 1944.

"A fascist is one whose lust for money or power is combined with such an intensity of intolerance toward those of other races, parties, classes, religions, cultures, regions or nations as to make him ruthless in his use of deceit or violence to attain his ends. The supreme god of a fascist, to which his ends are directed, may be money or power; may be a race or a class; may be a military, clique or an economic group; or may be a culture, religion, or a political party.
 In every big nation of the world are at least a few people who have the fascist temperament. The obvious types of American fascists are dealt with on the air and in the press. These demagogues and stooges are fronts for others.  The dangerous American fascist is the man who wants to do in the United States in an American way what Hitler did in Germany in a Prussian way. The American fascist would prefer not to use violence. His method is to poison the channels of public information. With a fascist the problem is never how best to present the truth to the public but how best to use the news to deceive the public into giving the fascist and his group more money or more power.

If we define an American fascist as one who in case of conflict puts money and power ahead of human beings, then there are undoubtedly several million fascists in the United States. There are probably several hundred thousand if we narrow the definition to include only those who in their search for money and power are ruthless and deceitful. Most American fascists are enthusiastically supporting the war effort. They are doing this even in those cases where they hope to have profitable connections with German chemical firms after the war ends. They are patriotic in time of war because it is to their interest to be so, but in time of peace they follow power and the dollar wherever they may lead. American fascism will not be really dangerous until there is a purposeful coalition among the cartelists, the deliberate poisoners of public information, and those who stand for the K.K.K. type of demagoguery.
Fascism is a worldwide disease. Its greatest threat to the United States will come after the war ...within the United States itself.

Still another danger is represented by those who, paying lip service to democracy and the common welfare, in their insatiable greed for money and the power which money gives, do not hesitate surreptitiously to evade the laws designed to safeguard the public from monopolistic extortion. American fascists of this stamp were clandestinely aligned with their German counterparts before the war, and are even now preparing to resume where they left off, after "the present unpleasantness" ceases:

The symptoms of fascist thinking are colored by environment and adapted to immediate circumstances. But always and everywhere they can be identified by their appeal to prejudice and by the desire to play upon the fears and vanities of different groups in order to gain power.

The American fascists are most easily recognized by their deliberate perversion of truth and fact. Their newspapers and propaganda carefully cultivate every fissure of disunity, every crack in the common front against fascism. They use every opportunity to impugn democracy. They cultivate hate and distrust ...they claim to be super-patriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution. They demand free enterprise, but are the spokesmen for monopoly and vested interest. Their final objective toward which all their deceit is directed is to capture political power so that, using the power of the state and the power of the market simultaneously, they may keep the common man in eternal subjection.

Several leaders of industry in this country who have gained a new vision of the meaning of opportunity through co-operation with government have warned the public openly that there are some selfish groups in industry who are willing to jeopardize the structure of American liberty to gain some temporary advantage. We all know the part that the cartels played in bringing Hitler to power, and the rule the giant German trusts have played in Nazi conquests. Monopolists who fear competition and who distrust democracy because it stands for equal opportunity would like to secure their position against small and energetic enterprise. In an effort to eliminate the possibility of any rival growing up, some monopolists would sacrifice democracy itself.

It has been claimed at times that our modern age of technology facilitates dictatorship. What we must understand is that the industries, processes, and inventions created by modern science can be used either to subjugate or liberate. The choice is up to us. The myth of fascist efficiency has deluded many people. It was Mussolini's vaunted claim that he "made the trains run on time." In the end, however, he brought to the Italian people impoverishment and defeat. It was Hitler's claim that he eliminated all unemployment in Germany.  Well, neither is there unemployment in a prison camp.
In order for democracy to crush fascism internally it must demonstrate its capacity to "make the trains run on time." It must develop the ability to keep people fully employed and at the same time balance the budget. It must put human beings first and dollars second. It must appeal to reason and decency and not to violence and deceit. We must  tolerate neither oppressive government nor industrial oligarchy in the form of monopolies and cartels.

As long as scientific research and inventive ingenuity outran our ability to devise social mechanisms to raise the living standards of the people, we may expect the liberal potential of the United States to increase. If this liberal potential is properly channeled, we may expect the area of freedom of the United States to increase. The problem is to spend up our rate of social invention in the service of the welfare of all the people.

The worldwide, agelong struggle between fascism and democracy will not stop when the fighting ends in Germany and Japan.

The moral and spiritual aspects of both personal and international relationships have a practical bearing which so-called practical men deny. This dullness of vision regarding the importance of the general welfare to the individual is the measure of the failure of our schools and churches to teach the spiritual significance of genuine democracy. Until democracy in effective enthusiastic action fills the vacuum created by the power of modern inventions, we may expect the fascists to increase in power after the war both in the United States and in the world.

Fascism in the postwar inevitably will push steadily for Anglo-Saxon imperialism and eventually for war with Russia. Already American fascists are talking and writing about this conflict and using it as an excuse for their internal hatreds and intolerances toward certain races, creeds and classes.

It should also be evident that exhibitions of the native brand of fascism are not confined to any single section, class or religion. Happily, it can be said that as yet fascism has not captured a predominant place in the outlook of any American section, class or religion. It may be encountered in Wall Street, Main Street or Tobacco Road. Some even suspect that they can detect incipient traces of it along the Potomac. It is an infectious disease, and we must all be on our guard against intolerance, bigotry and the pretension of invidious distinction. But if we put our trust in the common sense of common men and "with malice toward none and charity for all" go forward on the great adventure of making political, economic and social democracy a practical reality, we shall not fail."