Mauritania and curly haired dudes from Harvard

17_mauritania0743  I woke this morning with Mauritania on my mind. I heard the nation mentioned yesterday and realised I had forgotten where in Africa it was located. I was shocked at this, normally priding myself on knowing more or less where every nation in the world is. I am also motivated in reaction to some neatly curly haired Harvard scholar waxing on the telly last night about how the world is way more peaceful today than it ever has been, that killings are down, down, down and the only reason we may think otherwise is that we are overly influenced by crisis-focused news bulletins. The chap cited his statistics but I remain doubtful. I am always doubtful about statistics. Data collection is a precarious research method, there are always limiting criteria, much that is left out, and many ways that data can be manipulated. I always ask how such research is funded and in whose interests in serves. I listened to this expert’s slick presentation of his findings, my attention fixed on his too-neatly curly hair. Besides, I thought, even if true, his argument leaves out other issues, tons of them, from the rise of slavery and quasi-slavery on a global scale (Mauritania was the last country in the world to abolish slavery, apparently), ethnic cleansing (with millions displaced and in border camps – I don’t know what this Harvard dude did with this information), environmental decimation of epic proportions and so on.

So, back to Mauritania. Who in Australia gives a rat’s arse about Mauritania? Who even knows where the place is? It is easy enough to find out. Search Mauritania and News and much is revealed. Today I found the All Africa website and headline news for Mauritania reads Harnessing the Country’s Natural Resources to Promote Economic Growth and Sustainable Development  by the World Bank. The article reads like Big Brother telling a wayward scamp how to live his life. The usual neoliberalism underpinning every paragraph, where concepts such as ”inclusive” and ”sustainable” must be interpreted in terms of their neoliberal hollowed-out meanings. I am still no closer to finding out what life is like in that desert land so I went to the Guardian website and found an article a year old on the enduring issue of slavery. Slavery is a living death. 

Why bother taking a short detour to ponder the lives of those living in Mauritania? Maybe to contest slick curly-haired dudes from Harvard whose claims serve the interests of obfuscation not reality.

If anyone happens to be curious about Mauritania, the CIA fact book is a good place to start.



Calling on the sickle to save us

Sickle-icon In Ancient Greek mythology it was the Titan Cronus who overthrew Uranus by castrating him with a sickle. A sickle given him by his mother Gaia to rescue his youngest brothers who had been kept in darkness. Cronus then ruled the world instead, his reign the so-called Golden Age. Nevertheless it was an age of dictatorship, of total rule, one reflected today in the emergence of an insidious totalitarianism at root in corporate globalisation, in which democracies are managed by power elites with corporate interests at heart. Where far-right religions, corporations and governments merge to form a single power elite. Where all social and welfare services are run by private enterprise, from debt collecting, prisons, probation services, detention centres, care homes, counselling services, schools, utilities, transport services – just about everything you can think of run for profit not for us. The taxpayer no longer pays for government to provide all the elements of social democracy. Instead the tax payer lines the corporate purse. To prevent dissent this elite makes every effort to opiatise the people by any means, from anti-depressants, through the use of media to spin propaganda, to the atomising of lives through ideological manipulations so that all that  matters to us is the small world we live in, our family, our work, our neighbourhood.  Then through education to the inculcation of false beliefs as absolute truths, such as the notion of the selfish gene. And through the glamour of celebrity and promotion of narcissism at every turn. As well we are enslaved by high mortgage debt and lowering wages as we watch our rights to complain erode. Trapped and powerless, we acquiesce. Failing that, and for those free thinkers among us, the security and surveillance measures are there to the ready. It seems the power elite have things all figured out.

To save those compassionate souls among us from complete meltdown, this dystopia is assuaged by a veneer of humanitarianism. The charitable impulse most of us feel is hijacked by quasi-corporate ngos, providing us with a sense of doing small things to make a difference, giving us feelings of well-being and goodness, and an illusory sense of power and influence. We can donate, sponsor a child, watch the awesome efforts of Save the Children or the Red Cross with our credit card in hand. We can accentuate the positive, focus on the rhetoric of the United Nations and feel ennobled to be part of a world that truly cares, never seeing the complicity, inevitable and sad, of the corporations and the humanitarian organisations, some (but not all) natural disasters aside,  often responding to situations created either through structure or agency by the machinations of the military-industrial complex. Sometimes a corporation itself will make an overt humanitarian move, such as Gucci with its Chime For Change campaign to empower women around the world. Not to mention the philanthropy and generous donations and funding of worthy causes, such as displayed by the Bill Gates Foundation.

Adopting a simple theosophical view, for all the technological advances of our times, the present globalised world seems to me the consequence and the cause of a devolution of consciousness, a wrong orientation, as if humanity is in retrograde motion, the bulk of us concerned primarily with material achievements and narrow selfish satisfactions.

Whether or not the word totalitarianism is used, there exist many across the world responding to its reach, resisting its impositions, struggling to wrest free. There are two distinct means by which people seek autonomy, one cold-hearted and destructive and on the devolution fast track, the other aware, warm-hearted and constructive and both constrained by the resistant pull of devolution and doomed therefore to struggle and suffer. Both approaches make use of the sickle, that communist symbol of the peasantry.

The destructive response to globalisation is a sickle-abusing power grab. Here disenfranchised factional or nationalist groups arm themselves with ideological and military weaponry and go on the rampage. Their resistance is instinctive, their sense of injustice whipping up rage and desires for revenge that are both delusional and psychotic, laying waste to city upon city, community upon community, destroying that which if they stopped and thought rationally for long enough they would realise they are seeking to protect. Destructive groups play into the hands of the corporate totalitarians. While groups such as IS may believe they are taking back power rightfully theirs, they are unwittingly serving the agenda of the power elite, a power elite that sets about fostering these very factional nationalistic groups for its own purposes. It is ironic that extreme outraged calls for some sort of justice are simply doing the work of the totalitarians, providing failed state upon failed state whilst justifying increases in security and surveillance measures in the so-called free democratic west. These wanton destroyers are unwittingly complicit in the agenda of the War on Terror, a mob of blood-lusting brutes sent forth on a killing frenzy, creating more carnage than all the Hollywood blockbusters combined.

While apparently lacking in the drama, almost the heroism of the destructive response, I believe there is only one constructive solution available to us and one we must pursue with vigour. It is the path of the people’s collective.  It involves cooperation, goodwill, egalitarianism and a will to transcend personality differences for the good of the whole. Yet also a need for courage, resilience and perseverance. Constructive acts that seek to demonstrate to the super rich and powerful, that we are not taking their shit any more. That we will fight, we will campaign, we will protest Occupy style, and we too, will carry a sickle in our hands.

The sickle is a tool for harvest, for the constructive response to our times must be one aligned with the land and must be focused on local economies. Whether it be the Permaculture inspired Transition Towns, the creation in Bristol of the Bristol Pound, or the people’s collective of Marinaleda, we need to celebrate each move in the direction of constructive responses to global power that seek change outside the corporate-city walls. Snip the ties that bind us at every turn to the global corporate machine. Reclaim what is rightfully ours – our autonomy. The sickle will save us, if we use it as a tool to empower and not destroy. And perhaps in pushing against the wheel as it turns in retrograde, at least apply a brake.

Downhill to Galilee

10401934_10152552886339099_365001625516304609_n BREAKING NEWS FROM THE GREENS: The Abbott Government has just approved Australia’s LARGEST coal mine, two weeks after abolishing the country’s first climate laws. They just don’t get climate change. The coal from Adani’s Carmichael mine would be equivalent to almost one quarter of Australia’s total emissions – a climate disaster! This mega mine would also destroy 20,000 ha of native bushland, use 12 billion litres of Queensland’s groundwater per year and threaten the endangered black-throated finch with extinction. No vision, no heart, definitely no science.

My response is of course Abbott approved the mine. The Galilee Basin has been doomed from the first. He’ll do anything to appease the Mining Giants. And with Palmer so placed in parliament holding the balance of power in the Senate, this approval was inevitable all along. Everything else is window dressing compared to this. Even if that window dressing is vile in itself (asylum seeker policy, the budget and so on). You can change a social policy. You can’t undredge a port, or unmine a mine. And I say to any doubters who wonder how the land and the Great Barrier Reef  feel about it, go ask the Appalachians where over 500 peaks have been blasted to smithereens to access the coal beneath. To say nothing of the Canadian tar sands.

How is it possible to be optimistic when things like this just keep on happening? To my mind the only answer is to squeeze shut your eyes. And if you do that, then you are as much a part of the problem for doing nothing about it. I never want to come across as a dour and grumpy old crone, but I really am struggling to shake the heavy off my heart.

Let James Foley rest in peace

download  Back in 1998 when I was completing a Bachelor of Teaching at the University of Tasmania I encountered a pedagogical technique called, Critical Literacy. The idea was that students would learn to read a text in a way that ”promotes a deeper understanding of socially constructed concepts, such as power, inequality or injustice in human relationships,’ questioning the attitudes embedded within. Typically our practice lessons would have us analysing cereal boxes and television advertisements. I am not a teacher and have little idea of how far critical literacy has been taken into the classroom and how effective it has been as a pedagogical approach. I am aware, however, of the emphasis in the English curriculum on the exploration and the utlilisation of persuasive language. Again students are invited both to develop and display their skills at persuasive writing, and to critique the persuasive language techniques of other writing, typically speeches and opinion pieces.

Perhaps of value in every classroom would be the facilitation of discussion groups based on a series of questions that form the Good Thinker’s Tool Kit, known as WRAITEC. What do you/we mean by…?; Reasons (an opinion must have reasons); Assumptions (that underlie the thing); Inferences (If…Then…;Implications); Truth (is it true?); Examples and Evidence; Counterexamples.

All these approaches have merit and potential. Yet I doubt that space in the classroom would be found for a thorough media analysis of the beheading of US journalist  James Foley by the Islamic State aka ISIS and ISIL. What teacher would be brave enough to tackle that?! Juxtaposing the video footage put out by IS itself, with the use made of it by  the mainstream news media of the West.

Yet it is vital that we are invited to consider the socially constructed nature of media reality in these most brutal situations. That we recognise that issues of power and control are at work. We must hone the tools to see that everywhere from the tabloid’s front page, the ABC news headlines, and the IS video itself we are not presented with truth or reality but with another attempt at persuasion, an effort to shock. That if we are to arrive at anything close to the real story we must ask many questions, challenge the authorised version of events, right down to the order in which events are presented. Ever since the BBC was found to have re-ordered footage of a protest at a coal mine in the 1980s to persuade the viewer that the police charged into the crowd after the crowd had turned aggressive and not, as it was later shown, that the police charged and the crowd retaliated in response, I have been suspicious of all news presentations.

I am not of course disputing the ruthless swipe of the blade. Here are a few links. In each, use has been made of the IS footage. A critical literacy approach to this film would be of much value, exploring camera angles, lighting, colour and so on. But frankly, I can’t even look at them.

I do not doubt that  James Foley was beheaded, or that he was beheaded by IS. Yet I cannot help asking whether the US sat on its hands, happy to use this man’s tragic death to whip up outrage to justify what is to follow. I cannot help but observe the manner in which here in Australia the Abbott government has pounced on the beheading to further sanction the implementation of even tighter surveillance and security laws. I can’t help noticing that every time there is a desire by government to ramp up surveillance and security of citizenry, some vile act of so-called terrorism is thrust at us via our television screens. Even the use of the words ”terror” and ”terrorists” require a deep, thorough critique, since surely those protesting in Ferguson ”Hands Up, Don’t Shoot!” style are angry because terrified of their militarised police?

There are other questions that might be asked. Ones not present in the three techniques referred to above:- What is the rest of it? What am I not being shown? What exists behind the scenes, out of view, obscured, obfuscated, denied? Answers may be speculative but nevertheless such questioning helps to shape an inquiry by looking not only at what is presented but what has been left out. The obvious question then becomes Why? or For what purpose? Which can easily be answered by a return to critical literacy.

For example, I can’t help reminding myself that IS is a construction, a creation that emerged from and was fostered by those who created the initial conditions for this very emergence – the US and it’s allies including Saudi Arabia. I might further point to US foreign policy and its strategy to destabilise the Middle East to help contextualise this awful beheading.

It is not the beheading of James Foley that is at the heart of the issue of media and government presentations of reality. It is the manipulation of our emotions, particularly revulsion and fear. The James Foley beheading is not a sensation and should not be treated in a sensationalist manner. Every high school student could do with engaging with this point.  And perhaps then we may let James Foley rest in peace.


Absolute Power begets Absolute Nutters: Ideas are more dangerous than guns.

imagesI have known since the eighties when I learned of Ronald Reagan’s association with The Rapture that there exists a section of the power Elite who hold dear some whacky ideas. It occurred to me last night that it is entirely possible if not probable that there are prime movers within this Elite who believe in something more sinister still than fundamentalist Christian beliefs in an end-time event and second-coming of The Christ, a ludicrous set of beliefs based on Scripture taken as literal truth.

I surmise that these prime movers ascribe not to religious but esoteric thought. A likely source, adherents to the philosophy of Leo Strauss, whose works are promulgated at the University of Chicago. Adherents to Strauss believe that in the writings of great thinkers there is an overt or exoteric meaning obvious to all, and a more subtle, hidden, esoteric meaning contained within and accessible to an intellectual few. The truth is to be found at this tacit heart of great writing, there to be perceived by the few whose job it is to communicate between each other in a manner that conveys the same duplicity of exoteric and esoteric meanings. (See Sheldon S Wolin’s Democracy Inc for an indepth discussion on Strauss and the nature of America’s power elite.)

The Straussean method in itself armours those of privilege and power with an exclusive mode of thinking. As well, predisposing those adherents towards an esoteric worldview. Esotericism and Power Elites are common bedfellows. One well-known example is that of Hitler’s association with Munich’s Thule Society (however tenuous), and his later adherence to a form of Theosophical thinking, the most contemporary form of Western Esotericism. See Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke’s ”Hitler’s Priestess.” A pdf can be downloaded here

As part of its esoteric cosmology, it is proposed in Theosophical texts that the dominant root race on the planet today is the fifth or Aryan root race. The fourth root race were the Atlanteans, and it is said that there are among us those with an Atlantean consciousness. The third, scarcely human, was the Lemurian root race. Again, there are said to be Lemurians among us today, animal-humans, desire driven types whose primary concerns are sadism and sex.

Theosophical thinking then goes on to explain that when the Lemurian form was considered too restrictive for the purposes of an overarching spiritual evolution, the race was annihilated in a cataclysm of fire.

A similar situation occurred in the Atlantean root race. It is said that a flood of biblical proportions drowned the race after it was decided by the spiritual overlords of the planet that the Atlanteans had become too greedy, too enamoured with gold and riches.

Who are these spiritual overlords? The so-called Masters of the Wisdom, or Spiritual Hierarchy? According to Theosophy, they are an Elite whose own spiritual evolution is far advanced.

Place into this Theosophical worldview ordinary human beings with exceptionally inflated egos, delusional ambitions and megalomania, along with the propensity for a psychotic adherence to an occult belief system taken as absolute truth and a moral conscience and a capacity for empathy that are  non-existent. These nutters are incapable of seeing anything from another point of view. They are, in fact, the ones whose awareness is constrained, whose spiritual growth is in retrograde, the disconnect between their minds and hearts absolute.

And it is these types who are bringing the entire planet to destruction. They are the warmongers. The earth rapists. The puppet masters.

It seems plausible that these fruit-looped despots actually believe that they themselves, having passed through numerous initiations into an esoteric Elect, ARE the spiritual hierarchy overseeing the spiritual evolution of the planet and all who exist on it. And that just as the Lemurian and Atlantean root races before us faced annihilation because they were purported to be no longer adequate forms of existence for this higher purpose, we the supposed Aryan root race may have been deemed by this Elect similarly inadequate and therefore must face the same termination.

In my view, the entire notion of root races is a falsehood, yet one that carries metaphoric and explanatory power. There is a moral message in the destruction of those who refuse to transcend their selfish desires. However, in the left hand of that which can only be deemed anti-life and therefore evil, all thoughtforms become twisted and inverted and used to justify destructive ends.

I am postulating here, that squatting low in the sticky palm of this left hand, are a high-brow Elect. I make no claim to truth here. This is pure speculation. Entertaining perhaps. Founded on an awareness acquired through doctoral research and my own esoteric bent. I hope with all sincerity that I’m wrong.

Who cares about the Yazidis?



Today I have a convergence of pain at the nape of my neck. I could blame it on a lot of things. Maybe it’s a convergence of a lot of things. Puts me in a grim frame of mind. I have to take care as I don’t trust my perceptions when I’m in this much pain. Life takes on a dull hue, everywhere I turn there is something to feel bleak about, and my own past tends to come at me like a manic bookseller presenting one novel-length chapter after another, each as harrowing as the last.

Frankly, I prefer to dwell on mountains. One particular mountain. A mountain  far far away…

Will someone tell me again the root causes of this new manifestation of horror that is ISIL or ISIS or IS? Would someone care to remind me who funded this mob, who fed them ideas, who armed them?  Hasn’t the engineering of failed states in the Middle East been the foreign policy of America for decades? There must be hundreds of articles to this effect online by now. Here’s one. –

And it can’t possibly be just me that is noticing how the US and its allies have chosen a minimalist approach to  abating the carnage in Iraq while inflating the terror threat bubble in their own lands? A bubble that is pumped up whenever the power Elite decide to roll out stronger surveillance and security measures. It appears to me that as far as Obama and Cameron and Abbott are concerned, the very worst outcome of this present brutality in the Middle East is the apparently profoundly grave potential for the radicalisation of western citizenry who have heeded the call to arms. Not, it would seem, the mass murder of Yazidi Kurds.

I’m especially sickened by this latest round of persecutions, the Yazidis persecuted this time not for adhering to a faith conveniently misunderstood by non-believers for the purposes of scapegoating – for the power Elites down the ages have always employed the scapegoat technique – I seriously doubt that ISIS members have the education and sophistication to argue matters theological. The Yazidis simply believe something that is not Islam. Not any Islam. The extreme version, fundamentalist, corrupted. Simple as that.

Who are the Yazidis? I don’t think Mr Superman America cares. I think Mr Superman America cares more about dams and pipelines. And homeland security.

Why is it that my pain in the neck has suddenly worsened?

Spiders in scandals


I am developing an aversion to spiders. There is something  disturbing in that.

Consumed by an oil spill caught in a slow-moving storm

Sending wave upon wave of sticky defilement on virgin shores.

Moral outrage  it is good, it is just, it is true.

And manipulated.

Obfuscating outrages conjured by those in charge.

Whose violations are devastating my soul.

What happenstance conspired to cause the use of  the betrayals of the young?

Betrayals by oily spiders spotlighted on rocks.

Where lurk the web spinners with their shiny black backs?

I am developing an aversion to spiders. There is something  disturbing in that.