The Quigley Formula

31 01 2010

Very interesting lecture by G. Edward Griffin, author of the superb book  “The Creature from Jekyll Island” (see my post on it) and founder of “Freedom Force International“:

The Quigley Formula – Part 1 of 8

This is only the first of eight videos on you tube. Total duration of approx. 75 minutes. You can listen to it while you do other stuff.





The Spirit of the Age

4 12 2008

A couple of months ago a new movie was released with the title “Zeitgeist: Addendum”. This movie is actually the sequel of a previous one called “Zeitgeist: the movie”, which was released in 2007. None of these movies have been shown in theaters, so don’t be surprised if they don’t ring a bell. Despite their low popularity levels, both films are extremely interesting. They may not be blockbusters, but they certainly are mythbusters, so, if you are committed to finding out the truth about such issues as christianity’s origins, the 9/11 attacks, and the powers that run the world behind the scenes, then these movies are for you.

You can watch both of them here (By the way, in case you don’t know, Zeitgeist, pronounced tsaitgaist, is a German word meaning “spirit of the age”, Zeit=time, Geist=spirit).

Let me finish by quickly commenting a few issues regarding these films: I think the first one (Zeitgeist: the movie) is a masterpiece. If you go past the first few minutes, in which you just hear a voice saying some supposedly profound philosophical ideas (actually this was added a posteriori, after the film had already been released), the rest of the movie is really fascinating. Even though the issues are dealt with only superficially, all the important points are laid out in a clear and concise manner, and the movie website also contains a section with all the source materials where you can go to expand your knowledge.

Like its predecessor, “Zeitgeist: addendum” is divided in three parts: the first is an expansion of part-3 of the previous movie; the second is in my opinion the best and deals with modern-day imperialism; whereas the third and last is in my view the weakest, even though it poses some thought-provoking questions which make it worth the watch.

Enjoy!

zeitgeist





Historical Lessons

1 12 2008

These are the closing words of the fifteen chapter series “A History of Britain“, written and presented by historian Simon Schama, coproduced by BBC and The History Channel:

History ought never to be confused with nostalgia. It is written not to revere the dead, but to inspire the living. It is our cultural bloodstream, the secret of who we are, and it tells us to let go of the past, even as we honor it, to lament what ought to be lamented and to celebrate what should be celebrated. And, if in the end, that history turns out to reveal itself as a patriot, well then I think that neither Churchill nor Orwell would have minded that very much, and as a matter of fact, neither do I.

Here you can watch the very end of the series, in which you can also enjoy the great score by British saxophonist and composer John Harle:

A History of Britain – Part 15 of 15 – The Two Winstons 6/6

The reason why I recommend this series to you, even if you do not feel particularly attracted to the topic of British history, is that I think its chapters are full of profound lessons that are as relevant today as they were in centuries past, and as relevant in Britain as they are anywhere else in the world. In addition to describing the usual power struggles between nations and within the aristocracy, the series also portrays very vividly the perpetual conflict between the lowest classes and their oppressors, the constant battle between those demanding greater freedom and social justice and those who insist on taking them away. All of it is presented very compellingly by showing footage of all the relevant places as well as by an abundant use of historical artefacts and documents.

Let me finish by quoting what I consider to be deeply moving words, also from the above video:

When we think of 1984, most of us think of the tyranny of drabness and mass obedience, ruled by Big Brother: an upside down world of doublespeak, where war is peace and lies are truth. But Orwell’s last masterpiece is most powerful and most lyrical when it describes Winston’s resistance to dictatorship: a guerrilla action fought not with guns and barricades, but by, literally, taking liberties, reclaiming the ordinary pleasures of humanity: a walk in the country, an act of love, the singing of an old nursery rhyme. Winston Smith did all these forbidden things prompted by a dim memory of a time when they were all absolutely normal. The last refuge of freedom against Big Brother is memory. The greatest horror of 1984 is the dictator’s attempt to wipe out history.” 





Critical Thinking

22 09 2008

A criticism I often receive when I refuse to believe in the validity of such things as astrology, alternative medicine, religion, extrasensory perception, magic and a number of other commonly held beliefs, is that I am narrow-minded, that I should be more open to the possibility of things existing beyond current scientific understanding, maybe even contrary to the laws of nature as we now know them. 

Let me show you why I think this criticism is completely without substance. First of all, openness is not a virtue unto itself: ideally, we should be open to believe things that are true, while we should be closed whenever lies knock on our door. Or, as Richard Dawkins has put it: “we should be open-minded, but not so much that our brain falls out”.

The virtue, therefore, lies in applying the appropriate filters to the information we receive, and that is what critical thinking is all about. In other words, we should be open to critically consider anything we are told (in this sense openness is a good thing), but we should only believe claims that are supported by evidence (believing anything else is not a virtue, but a serious defect). 

A useful way to think about it, I think, is in juridical terms. Thus, when a claim to reality is presented to us, we should judge it in court. Inside our brain, we should listen to the cases of both the prosecution and the defense, we should hear what experts and witnesses have to say, and we should look at the evidence from both sides. Once this has been completed, our inner jury, doing its best to be fair and impartial, will need to issue a verdict, which can be one of three: (1) the claim is true, (2) the claim is false, or (3) the available evidence is not enough to decide, so judgement is deferred until new evidence is made available.

This is what we all ought to be doing, but we don’t. In fact, we tend to believe things in the absence of evidence and, sadly, some of us are even proud of this kind of stupidity. Why do people do this? The reasons are complex: in the case of religion, for instance, keeping believers in line usually requires threats of punishment (if you don’t believe in god, you will go to hell…), something that would of course be superfluous if the existence of god could be demonstrated. Apart from fear and children indoctrination, many of our societal myths are rooted in ignorance: we do a very poor job when it comes to scientific education, which includes critical thinking. Therefore, given that most people know almost nothing about how the world actually works (at least in physical, astronomical, chemical, geological and biological terms), it should come as no surprise that many of us still believe in Bronze Age myths (e.g. astrology or the Judeochristian god) that have long been superseded by rational scientific inquiry.

Whatever their causes, all these myths have very serious consequences for society, and they are negative. Generally speaking, if people believe lies, they are bound to make stupid decisions (or, as Voltaire said: “if we believe absurdities, we shall commit atrocities”). Additionally, the prevalence of gullible people makes it easy for unscrupulous individuals to manipulate the population for their own gain, which inexorably leads to abuses of power. Finally, there is the self-perpetuating nature of delusions. For instance, one of the reasons why many people dismiss science as irrelevant is that they are still mired in the platonic doctrine of the soul, later embraced and brought to us by christianity, according to which there is no point in studying the laws of the world we live in, since this is only a temporary, imperfect world which our soul will abandon after death to go back to where it came from: the perfect world of the Ideas. The fact that the whole thing started as a figment of Plato’s imagination and as a result of his preconceptions on what a perfect world should be like, with no evidence whatsoever to support any of it, and the fact that there is plenty of proof to the contrary, does not seem to matter for the vast number of people who still believe that our mental life, our soul as they call it, survives the death of our bodies.     

In summary, we should be good critical thinkers if we want to (1) get a deeper understanding of our world, (2) make intelligent decisions, and (3) live in a better, more just society. The historical times and places where unrestrained critical thinking has prevailed over imposed dogmas have also been the ones in which human beings have had more freedom and societies have been more just. And this is not a random coincidence: freedom and critical thinking need each other. Let us embrace both!

baal

Late Bronze age statue of Baal, from Ugarit, in modern-day Siria.

For more regarding critical thinking, you can also read my entry “baloney-detection kit“.





The American Dream

2 09 2008

“It’s called the American dream, because you’ve got to be asleep to believe it…”

George Carlin, one of the best stand-up comedians the world has ever seen, died last June of heart failure at the age of 71. The following videos are but a small sample of his great talent and sharp wit:

George Carlin on Religion

George Carlin on “The 10 Commandments”

George Carlin on “The American Dream”





Homage to George Orwell

22 04 2008

Forget about Muhammad, Abraham, Jesus or Nostradamus: none of them was nearly as good a prophet as George Orwell (1903-1950). Don’t believe me? Let us take a look at what he said in his novel “1984” (written in 1949):

“These three superstates are permanently at war, and have been so for the past twenty-five years. War, however, is no longer the desperate, annihilating struggle that it was in the early decades of the twentieth century… This is not to say that either the conduct of the war, or the prevailing attitude toward it, has become less bloodthirsty or more chivalrous. On the contrary, war hysteria is continuous and universal in all countries, and such acts as raping, looting, the slaughter of children, the reduction of whole populations to slavery, and reprisals against prisoners that extend even to boiling and burying alive, are looked upon as normal…

The primary aim of modern warfare… is to use up the products of the machine without raising the standard of living… From the moment when the machine first made its appearance it was clear to all thinking people that the need for human drudgery, and therefore to a great extent for human inequality, had disappeared. If the machine were used deliberately for that end, hunger, overwork, dirt, illiteracy, and disease could be eliminated within a few generations…

But it was also clear that an all-around increase in wealth threatened the destruction-indeed in some cases was the destruction-of a hierarchical society. In a world in which everyone worked short hours, had enough to eat, lived in a house with a bathroom and a refrigerator, and possessed a motorcar or even an airplane, the most obvious and perhaps the most important form of inequality would already have disappeared. If it once became general, wealth would confer no distinction… Such a society could not long remain stable. For if leisure and security were enjoyed by all alike, the great mass of human beings who are normally stupefied by poverty would become literate and would learn to think for themselves; and when once they had done this, they would sooner or later realize that the privileged minority had no function, and they would sweep it away. In the long run, a hierarchical society was only possible on a basis of poverty and ignorance…

The essential act of war is destruction, not necessarily of human lives, but of the products of human labor. War is a way of shattering to pieces, or pouring into the stratosphere, or sinking into the depths of the sea, materials which might otherwise be used to make the masses too comfortable, and hence, in the long run, too intelligent…

In practice the needs of the population are always underestimated, with the result that there is a chronic shortage of half the necessities of life; but this is looked on as an advantage. It is deliberate policy to keep even the favored groups somewhere near the brink of hardship, because a general state of scarcity increases the importance of small privileges and thus magnifies the distinction between one group and another… The social atmosphere is that of a besieged city, where the possession of a lump of horseflesh makes the difference between wealth and poverty.  And at the same time the consequences of being at war, and therefore in danger, makes the handing over of all power to a small caste seem the natural, unavoidable condition of survival…

War, it will be seen, not only accomplishes the necessary destruction, but accomplishes it in a psychologically acceptable way. In principle it would be quite simple to waste the surplus labor of the world by building temples and pyramids, by digging holes and filling them up again, or even by producing vast quantities of goods and then setting fire to them. But this would provide only the economic and not the emotional basis for a hierarchical society…

War, it will be seen, is now a purely internal affair… waged by each ruling group against its own subjects, and the object of the war is not to make or prevent conquests of territory, but to keep the structure of society intact.” 

 

Let us now examine how his words relate to what the world has become in the years after his death. Take a look at the first paragraph: the superstates are permanently at war... Orwell witnessed the first four years of the Cold War, which would last another forty years. However, despite being very long, the Cold War was not permanent, which seems to indicate that our prophet George was mistaken after all. But was he? Well, only partially, since the Cold War has now been replaced by our current and fake War on Terror, which is also meant to last almost indefinitely (seven years already…). Moreover, both these wars were, or are, not as “desperate and annihilating” as the wars in the early decades of the twentieth century, yet war hysteria is indeed continuous and almost universal.

So the first paragraph was remarkably prescient. What about the following ones? It is hardly disputable that war shatters into pieces, sends to the depths of the sea or pours into the stratosphere the products of human labor. But is that actually the aim of those who encourage war? I think it is. As I said in my previous post, war is extremely profitable for our elite rulers. For them, it is the perfect tool to perpetuate themselves in power, to weaken us while they become even more influential. Not surprisingly, then, these war-mongers do everything in their hands (including using the mass media they own to brainwash us and sponsoring acts of terrorism like 9/11) in order to frighten and outrage us to the point where we are ready to do anything in order to fight our perceived enemy. At this juncture, our alienation is readily used by our puppeteers to drive us into war and into our own destruction. The whole process keeps us permanently on the brink of poverty, which in turn guarantees that we don’t become too intelligent and therefore we do not rebel. As Orwell puts it: a hierarchical society is only possible on a basis of poverty and ignorance. And, as the old Romans knew: Divide et Impera. 

Finally, the chronic state of paranoia in which we live makes us believe that the wars we fight are in our best interest, which provides, in Orwell’s words, the emotional basis for a hierarchical society: Not only are we enslaved, but we are happy about it… And we are likewise happy about handing over all our power to a small caste, which seems the natural, unavoidable condition of survival… (I hope I don’t need to remind you of the Patriot Act, the “enhanced interrogation techniques”, a.k.a. legalized torture, for the Guantanamo prisoners, who, by the way, have not been proven guilty of any wrongdoing, or the disregard for Habeas Corpus, all of which have been marketed to the U.S. public as a necessary sacrifice to guarantee their personal safety). So it is hardly deniable that, as Orwell predicted (surely because the pattern was already visible in his time and even before), our current rulers and their public relations staff are successfully manipulating us into wanting to do those very things they want us to do, even when, as is usually the case, these things are completely against our own interests.

In summary, George Orwell, in 1949, already knew much of what was going to happen to us. How come, then, that everything has caught us so much by surprise? As the saying goes, those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it. Let us therefore learn our lessons now so that we don’t have to relive some of the most infamous episodes of human history…

 





War is over! (if you want it)

13 04 2008

Why are there so many wars in the world? are they really necessary? are they an inevitable consequence of human nature? what is really behind them? Can they be stopped?

It seems obvious to me that, in a sense, war is in our genes. We all (or almost all) care more about ourselves and those closest to us than we do about more distantly related individuals. Consequently, many of us will not resist the temptation, provided the opportunity presents itself, to take advantage of other human beings (see also L5 in my previous entry). This, in turn, is the source of conflict, since oppressed people usually don’t content themselves with that status…

Or do they? If people who are oppressed don’t realize about their situation (maybe because they have been born into it and take it for granted, or because they are actively kept ignorant, or both), then they are much less likely to rebel against their oppressors. This is clearly what happened, for instance, to African-American slaves. But does it still happen in our modern world? 

Those who hold a lot of power have plenty of opportunities to prey upon the vast majority of the population. And facts demonstrate that they don’t resist the temptation to do so. First of all, they have total control over our money supply (through the Federal Reserve and other central banks) and they use that power to steal our money and property by means of the hidden tax called inflation (i.e. they create new money out of nothing to pay their bills, but that causes prices to increase, with the final result that their bills are paid by making our dollars lose purchasing power).

Not only do humble people pay the bills of the very rich, but they do so without even noticing it. Since the vast majority of the population does not understand the nature of inflation, the end result is that they don’t even know that they are being exploited, that they would be much better off if the fruit of their labor was not parasitized upon by those who are supposed to work for them (instead of the other way around). If you think about it, it does not look so different from slavery: the main difference being that we are part-time rather than full-time slaves…

What does war have to do with inflation? A lot, as it turns out. Those who can create money out of nothing actually like doing it, since they are the ones who decide what to do with the money. War is the perfect excuse for them to print huge amounts of this new money, which is then pumped into the large corporations of the so-called military-industrial complex. These military contractors are themselves under control by the very rich members of the establishment, who in this way get even richer. The bankers also get their big piece of the pie, for they are allowed to charge interest by “lending” this money they create out of nowhere. And, of course, politicians also get very nice sums in exchange for awarding contracts and other privileges to their friends the big bankers and industrial moghuls. 

Therefore, war is an extremely profitable business for those people in our society who are already very rich. But, as we all know, there is no such thing as a free meal… These people’s profits are at the expense of the vast majority of us. First of all, at the expense of the lives and efforts of the soldiers, who are fooled into believing that they fight for a just cause, when the truth is that they fight in order to perpetuate a social injustice of which they themselves are victims. But they are not the only ones to pay so that the rich can get richer: the rest of us also do, by having our savings and wages lose purchasing power.

We are all fooled, big time. The establishment forces have a very tight control over all mass communications media (they have had such a control since the time of JP Morgan, see The Capitalist Conspiracy). Even the most prestigious newspapers and TV channels are manipulated. Their bias can be subtle, though: their journalistic practices may be perfectly good in most areas, but they simply have taboo topics that they will never mention. The Federal Reserve monopoly over banking and the creation of money, for instance, is untouchable: we will hear plenty about Microsoft monopolizing the PC market, but nothing about the biggest monopoly of them all. Nor will we hear about the Council on Foreign Relations and its role as the de facto government of the United States (again, see The Capitalist Conspiracy).

9/11 was an inside job. It was created by the American establishment in order to manufacture the consent it needed to launch the War on Terror. This war is meant to last indefinitely and serve as an excuse for the elite to strip us of what we still have left: our rights, our liberties, our money and our property. So far their plan has worked remarkably well. We, the people of the world, need to stand up and rebel against this huge injustice. Right now awareness is the critical issue: make sure you understand the situation well and then try to educate those around you (again, I highly recommend the book The Creature from Jekyll Island, see my previous entry). 

Unfortunately, war is not over yet, but, as John Lennon and Yoko Ono said, we can finish it, if we want it. Power to the people!