Looking For Saviours

Where have all the anarchists gone?

It seems everyone is looking for a saviour these days. Donald Trump will save us from the establishment elites, Allah and Jesus from the infidels and moral bankruptcy of the modern world, Jeremy Corbyn from capitalism and the Tories and a strong leader will save the Labour Party from Jeremy Corbyn; the list goes on. Anger, disillusionment, fear and blame grow; hatred and bigotry quickly follow. The world gets more divided, everyone has an axe to grind, an argument to win and a faith to defend.

Putting our faith in saviours is always tempting, and powerful, positive movements can be set in motion as a result, but generally speaking, inspiration is more effective than direction. The obsession with ‘strong’ leaders seems to me to be a hangover from our patriarchal society, the need for a ‘father figure’ to protect and save us (though it could be a female one). Rebellion is often fuelled by the same desire, in this case as a reaction against the authority figure and the search for an idealised patriarch/matriarch to lead us all to freedom and some imagined utopia. Even the few who see through this and call themselves anarchists may easily succumb to it when an idealised leader appears.

There seems to be two aspects to anarchism, often acting together in some kind of incoherent, unruly chaos. I prefer to think of it as an unconscious force running through all societies rather than a political and philosophical movement adhered to by a small number of strongly identified individuals. It echoes the unconscious forces within the individual, Freud’s ‘id’ with its instinctive drives for survival, rebelling against the superego demands of society and the more subtle forces of love, compassion and altruism, desperately trying to find a way back to oneness. Firstly, there is an infantile, ego-obsessed reaction to authority, which demands ‘freedom’ for the individual, like the self-obsessed toddler driven by desire having a tantrum. S/he may start throwing things around and smashing things up in a desperate bid to change the system. Secondly, there is the recognition that society changes and evolves slowly, through the raising of consciousness and awareness. It has love and compassion at its core and far from exhibiting the slave morality of Nietzsche, it is strong, full of self-confidence and self-belief, because it recognises that the ‘self’ works together with many selves and not alone as a vulnerable, isolated toddler. Unfortunately, many anarchists lose this self-belief when society appears to take a step backwards as it inevitably will. Human beings have a tendency to fear change and to look backwards to the past, often imagining the world to have been a better place before. This happens because all change, whether technological, psychological, social or political, has complex layers of effects, some of which will seem to be negative. Society tends to oscillate between progressive and reactionary, reflecting aspects of our nature, such as self-preservation and compassion, or competition and cooperation. When times are tough, there is a tendency for self-preservation to gain the upper hand, but sometimes, we may surprise ourselves by becoming more compassionate, helping out those worse off than us.

One huge factor in the world taking dangerous and frightening turns for the worse, is that the great majority of people on the planet still believe in violence and military solutions, (an expectation of ‘strong’ leaders), which inevitably have far-reaching and sometimes unexpected long-term consequences. The ricochets can be felt decades later and the response is often more violence with ever-more powerful weaponry, fuelling even worse consequences. People look for saviours.

We must not lose our faith in social evolution and progress, the march of compassion, the raising of consciousness and increasing awareness of consequences for our world and our neighbours on this small and fragile planet. We do not need saviours. They will inevitably fail us. But we do need inspiration. We need people who unite us, rejecting all violent means of change whilst acknowledging the violence within us all. We must retain faith in humanity, even in the face of such violence, and when we are unsure as to whether the cup is half-empty or half-full, sometimes the best thing to do is just to smash the cup; things are always as they are and things are always changing.

Deactivating Facebook:

Well, I’ve been threatening to do it for quite some time and yesterday, I finally did it. Yes, I cut myself off from my ‘friends’, (some real, some less real), and from the Facebook information trawl, targeted advertising and ‘like’ junkies and all the rest of the irrelevant information invading my life. Why? Well, I’ve already hinted at a few of the irritations, but basically I found it made me feel more alienated from most of my friends rather than closer to them. I found myself getting increasingly irritated by the level of confirmation bias and lack of intellegent debate and discussion, the amount of opinionated self-righteousness and of course the mundane trivia I was being bombarded with every time I bothered to look, which was becoming less and less often. Of course, some of it was interesting and it did keep me in touch with a few people that I rarely see, but on the whole, the people I feel closest to, do not use Facebook much, if at all.

So, although of course, some things were interesting and even inspiring, on balance I was finding most of the time I spent scrolling down the news feed was at best a dull waste of time, and at worst, irritating. Then there was the whole thing about knowing everything you ever put on the site is stored on the internet forever, and easily accessible to anyone who should want to find out about you, googled by future employers, pryed into by police, government, secret services etc.. People have been locked up just for making suggestions on Facebook, or just because of who they seem to know, although Facebook ‘friends’ are often not even acquaintances. People with radical ideas or involved in political protest are easier than ever to keep an eye on and political groups are definitely monitored, as they always have been.

And yet, even with all these reservations, it is still difficult psychologically to deactivate an account and Facebook know this. They deliberately make it more difficult by asking you if you are sure you want to do it. They show you pictures of your friends with their names and say ‘John will miss you’, ‘Sarah will miss you’, ‘Tom will miss you’ etc. and you think, well nobody seems very interested in what I put up there, but I might miss them. And then you think, ‘I hope they don’t take it personally’. Then you realise you actually are insulting them all directly. You are saying, ‘I’m not that interested in you, or at least not in the things about you that you think are so important that you have to share them with the whole world on Facebook’. Finally it can seem like an act of aggression to leave the social network and this virtual suicide is not that different from real, physical suicide. It is aggressive and hurts the people you leave behind…..maybe. But not if I make more effort to seek out the ones that do matter and meet up with them more in the flesh and share more real stuff with them, personal stuff, things that cannot be shared with all and sundry, things that do not turn me into a piece of data for targeted advertising based on my interests, age, gender, affiliations etc. We can have meaningful discussions person to person and see each other as whole people, rather than projections of how we want to be seen by our friends and the world, or businesses promoting our products. Hopefully, we can even challenge each other and debate things rather than just communicating with people who share all our points of view as dictated by whatever dogma or fashion they/we follow. Ultimately all the colours of Facebook and other social media help to create a monochrome world where opinions are black and white and the world is divided into us and them. I tried to put posts up to encourage a common humanity to understand the psychology of different opinions, to see where beliefs come from no matter how different from our own, no matter how bizarre or even loathsome they might seem, even to attempt to find some underlying truth in them which we can all share, because we can all develop, progress and change better from a point of open-mindedness than from a narrow-minded fixed viewpoint, however superior it may seem.

Ironically there is a Facebook share button just below this post! Feel free to share if you feel so inclined!

Wolves and Witches to Dogs and Bitches

 

Human beings are a lot like dogs, and human societies are a lot like canine societies. The pattern of domestication in dogs by humans, follows very closely the pattern of increasing centralisation and control in human societies.

I write from the point of view of an individual living in a modern, liberal western democracy, in which we are constantly being told that this is the model for the world to follow, where all the members have representation and great freedoms are enjoyed. There is some truth in this, but the representation does not come from voting in elections every five years, but by long hard struggles of workers, protesters and minorities. Every major step towards liberation is strongly resisted by the state and usually only accepted once safeguards have been put in place to remove the threat to power that such steps may represent. As for freedom, there are so many restrictive laws in this country that it can seem everything is illegal. We are more observed than any other, cameras are everywhere. The fear of crime and stranger-danger, immigration and the outsider, the foreigner, the international terrorist, have been whipped up to the point of hysteria by the media, in the service of the state, so that the subjects will accept this level of observation, and even biometric passports and ID cards. Children are constantly observed and given no freedom at all to play apart from adults. They are taught to fear adults, and adults meanwhile are taught to condemn and fear children and especially ‘out of control teenagers’. In some ways we are less free now than we have ever been. The right to protest has been strongly curtailed. Demonstrations are now illegal within 5 miles of Parliament or without the permission of the police. The police are quite happy to give permission to any demonstration guaranteed to have no effect and to maintain the status quo, where people can vent a little anger and be given the illusory feeling of empowerment and having a say, by marching for a few hours with their like-minded protesters, as long as they go home again at the end of the day, and do not actually challenge any of the sources of their discontent. I could go on and on and on……..

We have no freedom in our daily lives either, since we have to work most of our time to pay our extortionate rent or mortgages, child care fees, fuel bills etc…… Most people have a couple of weeks holiday a year, which they are supposed to be grateful for; it was after all, one of the privileges fought hard for by the workers and trade union movement. We cannot build our shelter and live in the woods, or live as nomads, without constant harassment by the police and authorities. Everything is owned and controlled. Yet most of us still believe we are free. We happily accept the control over our lives in exchange for the only right we do possess, and that is the right to buy consumer goods, services, holidays, alcohol and leisure pursuits. Our relationships are controlled, as is how much we can express ourselves in public. We become more and more complicit in these controls as they become internalised into embarrassment and morals. Very few people have the confidence to attempt to break out from these accepted ways of living and not be concerned with what others may think of them. Many that do, only do so in the company of others who do the same, and immediately come under pressure to conform to another group with their own set of morals and code of behaviour.

 

So, let us look at dogs. We are probably at the stage of pampered pets. Some of us think we have a lovely life, with our luxurious houses, money and people to supply our every need and whim, and our ‘walk on the lead’ rewards every so often, like a night out partying or a two week holiday. As long as we wag our tails at the bosses and fetch the sticks they throw for us, they will continue to feed us and take us for walks. The trouble is, these dogs do not realise that everything in their lives is controlled; we decide when they get fed, when they get walks, where they go, when they are allowed off the lead, who they can sniff and how long for. Usually they are never allowed to mate and one day we might even take them to the vet for castration! But, we look after them, we treat their illnesses and injuries, protect them from harm and keep them warm, cosy and well fed. A pet dog who is kept outside in his kennel may think he has the best life possible until he compares it to another who is kept inside by the fire. He thinks he has the ultimate life until he meets another dog who curls up on his owners lap on the sofa or the owner’s bed and so it goes on. One dog may never be allowed off the lead, but is still very happy with his life, not realising that other dogs are allowed to run free all the time. There are relative levels of freedom and relative levels of comfort, varying lengths of leads and varying sizes of cages.

So, were wild dogs happier and freer? Obviously they had to suffer the tyranny of their own pack and of the harsh realities of living wild, food shortages, harsh climate etc. Life as a pampered pet is more comfortable and safer and so it is with us, which is probably why we are so happy to put up with the consequent lack of freedom. However, these animals were living according to their instincts, using their senses to the best of their abilities, at the peak of health, and fully living their lives, satisfying the dynamic drives of the life force itself. This is what we have lost. Most of us now live with a constant existential angst. Life has no meaning for us, and we are only half awake most of the time, going through the motions at work not putting our heart into it, because it is of no consequence to us. We only do it to pay for our shelter, food and nights on the booze at the weekend.

But before pampered pets, dogs were domesticated for work. We use dogs to round up cattle and sheep, to pull sledges, and to guard settlements and homesteads from wild animals and outsiders. These dogs seem to love their work. Work gives their lives meaning and this is because it fits in with their natural instincts. These roles are almost identical to their natural roles in the pack, hunting and guarding. Some people likewise get meaning from their work, some because their work involves instinctive behaviour, and some because their instincts are sublimated. For example, the instinct for the kill may be turned into an instinct for ‘making a killing’ with a good business deal and the prey may be a large sum of money or a new luxury car. Working dogs are usually not as pampered as pets. They tend to sleep outside and their owners are usually less sentimental about them. They are allowed to grow up, unlike pampered pets and ‘pampered pet humans’, both of which are kept in a state of emotionally arrested development and infantile dependency.

After pampered pets, some dogs, usually through no choice of their own, become feral. In less controlled cities, they tend to form packs, much reviled and treated with great cruelty by humans, and in more controlled areas, they hide away on their own until they are ‘arrested’. Some humans do make the choice to become feral and break out from the control around them. However, groups of feral humans, just like feral dogs have the hardest time of all. They may attempt to live closer to their instincts, but they are seen as outsiders and ruthlessly treated and hunted down by the mainstream society. Life is tough and many fall by the wayside.

So what is the best way for society to develop? I believe we need the freedom to be able to live in harmony with our instincts, rather than in constant conflict with them, but also with the security and relative stability of a modern society. There must be freedom to express ourselves, there must be mutual trust, no more observation, no more numbers, no more borders, freedom to roam and camp and set up shelters. This all requires a new openness to others, without division, labelling and suspicion. People must be valued as the unique individuals they are, rather than for the role they play as servants of the economy, and treated as mutual members of society, rather than potential criminals and suspects under surveillance. Ultimately, much more will have to be shared, otherwise we will continue to close up in isolation behind our locked gates and cameras to protect our ever-accumulating possessions. Most-importantly, work, life, leisure and family need to exist in our lives together, rather than in separate blocks as they do currently. Perhaps we will no longer be dogs at all, but we will always be animals; animals with the imagination to change the way we live, free at last from the tyranny of top dog and the hierarchical state; decisions made by consensus, everyone fulfilling their creativity and feeling a part of society, aware of the importance of the part they play. All will be valued, all will be respected, responsibility will be truly collective, rather than giving way to the blame game and scapegoating as it does at present, and those who remain outside will no longer be victimised and written off by the mainstream and media. They will no longer need to turn to crime, drugs and violence as is expected of them now and which, in turn, for many, becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

For me the domestication and state-enslavement of the human is symbolised by the brutal intolerance and persecution of the wolf (the wild and free male) and the persecution of the witch (the wild and free female). The last official record of a wolf killed in Scotland (and Britain) was at Killiekrankie in 1680 and by an eerie parallel, the last witch executed in England was two years later in Exeter in 1682, although the last to be hanged in Scotland was in 1727. This was the final nail in the coffin of our repression up to this point, but we will eventually arrive at a new freedom, because the human spirit will not tolerate being caged eternally.

Who am I?

 Who am I?

In the beginning, there was darkness. Then there was the mystical act of creation that turned energy into matter. Galaxies, stars and planets emerged from the chaos and found their own harmony, hanging in the fabric of space-time. Slowly, life emerged and millions of years of evolution transformed single-celled organisms into the organised, symbiotic, self-aware colonies of bacteria-like cells, we call human beings. Many more years of genetic mixing and mutation followed and in the struggle for survival, many combinations fell by the wayside. But some survived, and miraculously they carry on. My genes survived and thus was born a being with all this history, all this knowledge, all this power. This is what I actually am and what I could be. And yet, after all that magic, a bruised and battered ego still insists on telling me what it thinks I could be, and a lifetime of conditioning and moral and social repression has made me the pathetic, half-human, half-robot that I think I am, and wins out every time, in dictating how I behave. It is called a ‘good citizen’ and ‘well-adjusted’, but is actually a slave to the economy and a servant of the state.

Is this a step on the way to a new form of being – a new super-colony, not just of cells, but of human beings, linked, not by genes, but by organisation, control and technology? A human being is so much more than the sum of its parts and it cannot be denied that a super-colony of humans is also. Am I therefore fighting and struggling against the next step in evolution, denying my potential by refusing to surrender, or is this a diversion and a wrong path in our development, brought about by human arrogance, rather than the greater wisdom of evolution and the universe, much of which is forgotten and deliberately crushed, in order to bring about this surrender? A super-colony can only really be superior, if it includes and expands on this wisdom and not by denying it; it must be self-organising from the bottom up, rather than controlled from the top, setting the few against the many.

Much of what we believe to be our own conscious decisions, made by the higher cortex of the brain are actually interpretations of behaviour dictated to us by our cells and our evolutionary instincts and needs. Perhaps this is also true of our political ‘leaders’. How much do they lead and how much do they follow – voters in the desire for power (power being one of those evolutionary instincts and desires), and big business in the service of the economy? For this is their true master, and because of the way our society and world are structured (though they need not be), a strong economy does also benefit the individual, albeit at a high price. This mutual dependency means that voters and individuals will largely go along with things as they are, as long as the injustices, inequalities and hardships do not become too extreme. The difference is that our cells are, on the whole, willing to serve the colony because they have all grown from the same two cells which merged together as one in the zygote. They are truly a single entity, in a way that individuals in a state super-colony are not, and trickery such as patriotism, culture, ritual, consumerism, branding, propaganda, bad education and brainwashing disguised as entertainment, can never fool us into believing we are. And so, I stake my claim to freedom from the state and its brutal economy – to claim back my evolutionary power and wisdom – to emerge as what I actually am, no longer a ‘good citizen’, but a ‘great human’ as we all are.