politics

The Ultimate Revolution

Delving into the third speech/interview I have seen with Aldous Huxley, this gem stuck out and seems to be very pertinent to today’s situation. The talk is on developments in science/technology that allow the controlling of the masses in ways that are not as blunt, and potentially more effective than those historically. Transcript of the speech here.

Quite clearly, if everybody were extremely unsuggestible organized society would be quite impossible, and if everybody were extremely suggestible then a dictatorship would be absolutely inevitable. I mean it’s very fortunate that we have people who are moderately suggestible in the majority and who therefore preserve us from dictatorship but do permit organized society to be formed. But, once given the fact that there are these 20% of highly suggestible people, it becomes quite clear that this is a matter of enormous political importance, for example, any demagogue who is able to get hold of a large number of these 20% of suggestible people and to organize them is really in a position to overthrow any government in any country.

Aldous Huxley – The Ultimate Revolution (Berkeley Speech 1962)

on politics of the hour

It’s been a while since my last post. Often there is a desire to write but no motivation to do so. Today, at 12:42am I have just enough motivation and time and energy to spend on a few thoughts.

It comes to mind that I often miss ‘important’ events- I’m not in country when seemingly eventful occasions happen, when the dynamic of the environment changes, when history is in the making. I read the news, digest and interpret the situation but never experience what those in the midst at the time experience.

I scroll through social media, reading what friends and family posts. I share similar feelings with some and others, I hold polar opposite views. I am very much stirred to question them, not out of bitterness but out of a genuine desire to understand their viewpoint.

But I don’t. I’m not sure I can handle the strain or whether they can handle the strain. Perhaps I am selling them short, selling myself short or selling our relationships short…

Instead my strategy with things of this nature will be to not offer my opinion unless explicitly asked. This never happens, so it’s safe to say that this is one way to avoid the interaction. But also leaves me still in the dark.

Read the Obituaries

Call it a little strange, call it an insight. Often when I come across a headline in the news of some ‘famous’ person passing away, I’ll click and have a look (or if I happen upon a newspaper, I continue reading).

Why? Old people are often under-appreciated and under-utilized by younger versions of people . They are a wealth of knowledge and it’s unfortunate we *sometimes* don’t tap into their resources while they are still with us.

Perhaps if you are well-read or run in certain circles, you’ll know of the late Howard Zinn. Until I read this article, I didn’t know who he was. I may or may not have heard of this book, “A People’s History of the United States” and hadn’t attributed it to him.

Like many of our elders, he had lived a rich and interesting life. I managed to watch a documentary called “You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train”, to learn more about the man and his views.

Check out a video taken from an interview at MIT:

http://mitworld.mit.edu/flash/player/Main.swf?host=cp58255.edgefcs.net&flv=mitw-00288-dusp-spurs-american-zinn-28mar2005&preview=http://mitworld.mit.edu//uploads/mitwstill-00288-dusp-spurs-american-zinn-28mar2005.jpg

Documentaries

I’m a huge fan of documentaries. Huge is, well, subjective language. Let’s just say I enjoy learning about stuff and see an occasional documentary. One of the best resources for this type of thing is on pbs.org, specifically Frontline. Free information, hopefully objective, and most certainly free. I’ve embedded a couple here that I recently watched. Peruse, I implore you. Just click the play button, sit back, and spend some time learning about what is going on in the world and perhaps your country.

This one is called Obama’s War, which I believe isn’t titled well. It speaks very little of Obama per se and more to the effect that he inherited the invasion of Afghanistan. This documentary was informative and a bit hard to take on many levels.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/js/pap/embed.js?frol02c324cqbec

The second one I’ll put up here I just watched this morning (I strangely woke up at 4:30am and continued to stay conscience… thought I might do something productive… how’s about early morning education?) about the economic crisis and some of the workings on Wall Street that lead to some of the problems. Apparently some people were keen on fixing the problem 10 years ago but were blocked for some reasons or another. Insightful to watch.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/js/pap/embed.js?frol02c3315qc11

Book Review: A Brave New World

A Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Not much depicted on this generic cover of a book. I’ve found that the less decoration, the better the book. I’ve also found that the less expensive the book, the better the book. With exceptions of course. But when you can buy paperback versions of classics for under five dollars, why would you spend twenty plus on obscurity? Preference perhaps…

This book is wonderful. I don’t even fully understand then ending. Again I will mention that someday I’ll return to school, or join a book club. Either will suffice. Discussion is a necessity for books. Trouble is finding a friend who will read one with you. Maybe someone can interpret the ending for me- I always read a book quite different than others and draw ‘unorthodox’ conclusions of my own.

If you’d like to read this book online, please take a look here. I stumbled upon the full text on a site which appears to be dedicated to the author. Many books are available online nowadays. It’s wonderful. I really can’t wait to get a PSP for several reasons, one of which would be an e-book reader. When books are near impossible to find, I’ll settle for the electrons whizzing around the universe in resemblance of letters on a page (which are really just more electrons… well they could be strings… String Theory anyone? More on that later.)

Back to the book. I’ve thought about it many times. I’ve read it many times. I may have even written down some thoughts that sparked from this book. Needless to say that the timing of my recent re-reading was quite serendipitous…

Briefly, the book is about a society in a time and place where people are engineered from birth and society is orderly. Mundanely so. There are no aberrants. Should something or someone arise, there are drugs and activities to distract or forgo the disorder. Only heathen pleasure exists. Negative is not possible. Society at its peak…

There are two main characters in the novel. One, a young man, though engineered in his society, who did not develop into a happy carefree individual. The other, a Savage, from the outskirts of society. Their meeting, interactions and ideas form the story.

Life is amazing because given a long enough time line, it begins to converge upon fiction. While recently reading this book, some previously ‘uncontacted tribes‘ were spotted in Brazil. My heart goes out to ‘us’ in ‘civilization’ and also to ‘them’ in the ‘jungle’. Can anyone say disaster waiting to happen?

I’ve taken to highlighting books as I read them. Anything that sticks out or warrants another look. Oh- not library or borrowed books… 🙂 Here are somethings, not all, that for some reason or another, made the cut:

Chapter 1 – “And that,” put in the Director sententiously, “that is the secret of happiness and virtue–liking what you’ve got to do. All conditioning aims at that: making people like their unescapable social destiny.”

Chapter 3 – Feeling lurks in that interval of time between desire and its consummation.

Chapter 3 – “Back to culture. Yes, actually to culture. You can’t consume much if you sit still and read books.”

Chapter 8 – The boys still sang their horrible song about Linda. Sometimes, too, they laughed at him for being so ragged. When he tore his clothes, Linda did not know how to mend them. In the Other Place, she told him, people threw away clothes with holes in them and got new ones. “Rags, rags!” the boys used to shout at him. “But I can read,” he said to himself, “and they can’t. They don’t even know what reading is.” It was fairly easy, if he thought hard enough about the reading, to pretend that he didn’t mind when they made fun of him. He asked Linda to give him the book again.

Chapter 8 – A man can smile and smile and be a villain.

Chapter 16 – “Actual happiness always looks pretty squalid in comparison with the over-compensations for misery.”

Chapter 16 – “I was wondering,” said the Savage, “why you had them at all–seeing that you can get whatever you want out of those bottles. Why don’t you make everybody an Alpha Double Plus while you’re about it?”

Mustapha Mond laughed. “Because we have no wish to have our throats cut,” he answered. “We believe in happiness and stability. A society of Alphas couldn’t fail to be unstable and miserable. Imagine a factory staffed by Alphas–that is to say by separate and unrelated individuals of good heredity and conditioned so as to be capable (within limits) of making a free choice and assuming responsibilities. Imagine it!” he repeated.

The Savage tried to imagine it, not very successfully.

“It’s an absurdity. An Alpha-decanted, Alpha-conditioned man would go mad if he had to do Epsilon Semi-Moron work–go mad, or start smashing things up. Alphas can be completely socialized–but only on condition that you make them do Alpha work. Only an Epsilon can be expected to make Epsilon sacrifices, for the good reason that for him they aren’t sacrifices; they’re the line of least resistance. His conditioning has laid down rails along which he’s got to run. He can’t help himself; he’s foredoomed. Even after decanting, he’s still inside a bottle–an invisible bottle of infantile and embryonic fixations. Each one of us, of course,” the Controller meditatively continued, “goes through life inside a bottle. But if we happen to be Alphas, our bottles are, relatively speaking, enormous. We should suffer acutely if we were confined in a narrower space. You cannot pour upper-caste champagne-surrogate into lower-caste bottles. It’s obvious theoretically. But it has also been proved in actual practice. The result of the Cyprus experiment was convincing.”

Chapter 16 – “Technically, it would be perfectly simple to reduce all lower-caste working hours to three or four a day. But would they be any the happier for that? No, they wouldn’t. The experiment was tried, more than a century and a half ago. The whole of Ireland was put on to the four-hour day. What was the result? Unrest and a large increase in the consumption of soma; that was all. Those three and a half hours of extra leisure were so far from being a source of happiness, that people felt constrained to take a holiday from them. The Inventions Office is stuffed with plans for labour-saving processes. Thousands of them.” Mustapha Mond made a lavish gesture. “And why don’t we put them into execution? For the sake of the labourers; it would be sheer cruelty to afflict them with excessive leisure. It’s the same with agriculture. We could synthesize every morsel of food, if we wanted to. But we don’t. We prefer to keep a third of the population on the land. For their own sakes–because it takes longer to get food out of the land than out of a factory. Besides, we have our stability to think of. We don’t want to change. Every change is a menace to stability. That’s another reason why we’re so chary of applying new inventions. Every discovery in pure science is potentially subversive; even science must sometimes be treated as a possible enemy. Yes, even science.”

Chapter 17 – “But industrial civilization is only possible when there’s no self-denial. Self-indulgence up to the very limits imposed by hygiene and economics. Otherwise the wheels stop turning.”

I would comment on all these, but I’m not up for a one-sided spiel. I prefer discussion. If you read the passages and feel so inspired to make a comment on them or something else, feel free and let the discussion begin!

Oh, the rest of the book is marvelous too…

poor frosty

just as frosty melted into oblivion, so will our earthly icecaps. but all this melting may not be to our disadvantage…

read here an article from the foreign affairs magazine…

this article is quite, quite i repeat, quite interesting. the arctic ice melting at the northern pole of our earth will eventually melt [so they say in the article] enough to become a navigable pathway for transport. yes, that means our goods will arrive even quicker, cutting time by 1/3 [if i remember correctly] of those goods transported by sea.

this of course will raise all kinds of hell, not to mention soon- as soon as within the next 10 to 15 years.

movement-preventing ice being melted is nice in and of itself when you want to move things about, swim or watch matter switch between various states, but most importantly when you want to pillage what’s underneath. yes, the gases and minerals and all those goodies yet to be explored. scientists apparently think this area is ripe for all that jazz.

so the global warming will melt ice, which may lead to discovery of more fossil fuel which will result in more global warming which may melt even more ice, which will lead to more discovery. this cyclical trend is amazing… i can’t wait until it gets so hot that steel starts melting and… well i won’t be able to be around to see that happen.

what a pity.

another reply

Three of Seven:


Thank you for writing to me to express your concerns regarding education funding in
California. It is a pleasure to hear from you and I welcome the opportunity to respond.

During my time in the Senate, education has been one of my top priorities. A solid education is the most important asset we can give young people to help prepare them for the challenges they will face in the future.

I understand your concern about California‘s budget shortfall and its effects on education funding. Governor Schwarzenegger’s 2008-09 budget proposes to cut $4.8 billion in education funding in response to a $16 billion deficit. I have publicly expressed my concern about the cuts in the Governor’s budget. If you have not already done so, I encourage you to contact your state legislative representatives in Sacramento who will be able to assist you further in this matter.

Again, thank you for contacting me. If you have any further questions regarding this issue, please do not hesitate to call my Washington, D.C. office at (202) 224-3841. Best regards.

Sincerely yours, Dianne Feinstein
United States Senator

Further information about my position on issues of concern to California and the Nation are available at my website http://feinstein.senate.gov/public/. You can also receive electronic e-mail updates by subscribing to my e-mail list at http://feinstein.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=ENewsletterSignup.Signup.