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Welcome back George. Yes the ironical contrast springtime renewal and social disintegration-this is very apparent in Europe stirred up by the epic incompetence of the EU and their fantasy policies of expansion and technocratic neoliberalism. Libya Ukraine Syria fuelled the migration crisis-the floods of displaced peoples and economic migrants-those 'doomer' predictions of 15 years ago are happening right now. Here in Blighty we have the EU referendum coming up soon and its a depressing if predictable sight to see the left wing 'progressives' siding with the political establishment, bankers landowners and multicultural fantasists and campaigning for the remain side. They are living in the past of 'what the EU has done for us' rather than facing the reality of what it has been doing recently- Greece, TTIP, sell off public assets directives etc etc. A Golden opportunity to cause mayhem in financial markets and conditions for real change squandered for the sake of belief and ideology. here will be no voluntary transformation there will be no revolution only a slow collapse..every glimpse of insurrection Tipras, Corbyn, Sanders, Podomos will fizzle out into ideological sectarianism. On a personal level I drop out and get out into nature and innocence...the only thing worth looking forward to is the past.
Toggle Commented Mar 20, 2016 on Happy Spring Equinox 2016 at Question Everything
Ed I agree that the best chance for a mass awakening lies not in any social movement or revolution but the self-Cannibalisation of the global financial sector initiating Crash 2 (or crash 1b) Bring it on.....
2011 seems a long time ago George. It’s difficult to give a concise summary of the situation without lapsing into rants or writing a 4 page essay. I believe we have all underestimated the resilience and the cunning of the elites in keeping the extend and pretend ZIRP plate spinning going for so long. The cult of neoliberalism shows no sign of fatigue or extinction. The crash of 2008 should (in any sane world) have been the final nail in the coffin but the plutocracy simply rode out the storm and patched up the ship. The difference in the last 5 years is that even the elites no longer believe their own fairy stories of endless growth and jobs; technical fixes to impossible resource depletion. What we observe at the microscale of our workplace is happening out there on a macroscale; we are all going through the motions but no-one believes in the system anymore…no-one believes in the future. The masses are hypnotised and bewitched by social media, assaulted by the relentless MSM propaganda machine where any alternative redistributive political system-however mild, is seen not simply as unworkable but insane. I reckon things have got to get a lot worse before the populations are shocked out of their collective stupor. This has happened in Europe with the rise of anti-austerity movements such as Syriza and Podemos in Spain and recently Corbyn in the UK- although he is less of a radical and more of an old fashioned social democrat. The fate of Syriza and Tipras’s capitulation in the face of ruthless EU technocratic oppression shows the delusion of democratic ‘change’ and how paranoid the elites have become at any sign of popular resistance or uprisings. As you may have gathered I believe the situation since 2011 has worsened but a more descriptive analysis has succumbed to fatigue. Fatigue- a common symptom of middle-aged radicals the world over…we are burnt out with unrealised expectations and wishful predictions come to nothing. We are wiser and more cautious now. We don’t put timescales on any future events because the only thing we can be certain of is that we will be wrong. Charles Eisenstein and David Graeber are our heros because they articulate the crisis far better than we ever could.
Over in Europe there has been 'celebrations' over the 100th Anniversery of WW1- the whole thing is crass and there no anniversary too sick, that the media and their puppet masters in the political classes won’t celebrate? Ten million deaths as the result of two obscure Royals being assassinated; 75% of Russian soldiers being killed-well they were only peasants 100 years later we are still plauged by elites running amock in finance and realpolitics killing millions or reducing their lives to wage slavery Lions led by lunatics; sheeple led by sociopaths...not that much has changed after all.
Toggle Commented Aug 7, 2014 on Remember Hiroshima at Question Everything
Hi George OFF tropic for this subject but I missed your Conscious machine series and comments are closed on the subject- I'm wondering if you have considerd the memory trace problem in brain research? IE not being able to find any material traces in spite of decades of research. I know various cloud computing and displaced hologram analogies have been postulated but seem unconvincing. The amazing discovery that cater-pillars were taught to avoid a stimulus(Ethyl acetate)after undergoing two larval moults and metamorphosis within the pupae, the resultant moths still remembered what they had learned as caterpillars...this seems to me very difficult to explain by any recorded biochemical marker. If science cant come up with a plausible mechanism then how will this affect any design of artifical intelligence memory storage system? Apologies if you have covered this but ive missed it.
I feel like I should share this with George (and regular readers.)Latest news; Our fears are groundless scaremongering, latest research(!) shows how energy costs will plunge and we will enter a golden age in the 2020's :-) Maybe this is what Obama and the Guards-in-the-asylum are reading. Enjoy.
Toggle Commented May 18, 2012 on Eaarth Day at Question Everything
We may have a problem here George. Could it be that only the sapient have sufficient insight/judgement to actually understand what sapience means and feels like? Have many others had any experience of the bafflement/rabbit-in-the-headlight-beam look when trying to explain the essentials to (self evidently) non-sapients?
Toggle Commented May 10, 2012 on Eaarth Day at Question Everything
I had a dream: I was walking down the high street, suddenly my heart missed a beat and I grasped the truth; We are all suffering from a inherited progressive neurological disease which prevents humans from attaining authentic self awareness. Then I woke up and discoved it wasnt a dream after all.
Toggle Commented Apr 5, 2012 on A surprise call at Question Everything
I reckon we have far too much faith and in the narrow torchbeam of conscious attention and linguistic comprehension. As I get older I remember how many concepts/ideas/feelings/paridigms my younger days I instinctively knew were wrong, but could articulate why. Now I can unrationally articulate...I suspect my intuition was right all along. I have more faith in its unreasonable intuitive irrationality now.
I realise George is posting this blog tongue-in-cheek but really, the question is slightly ludicrious...:-) 'We' as in thinking feeling living beings dont need 'leaders' We recognise that any desire to lead (or control, manipulate, exploit; no essential difference)is sympamatic of a warped, inadequate personality. Our experiences of leaders, bosses, managers, headteachers, CEOs' presidents, prime ministers, dictators from our work places right up to the global level is one of drowning in an ocean of incompetence corruption, neurosis and nepotism. These hideous specimens are a symptom of the root insanity at the heart of this civilisation and culture. No social organisation above the level of a small village can operate by consensus (monkeysphere, dunbar etc) therfore any social organisation larger than that is doomed to corruption and exploitation. Do ecosystems need leaders? does the human body need a leader to co-ordinate the billions of mindless unco-operative cells? If the leaders were changed the same thing would eventually happen with others because its the system thats the problem more than the individuals within the system.
Reminds me of the conundrum about whether the dinosaurs existed before they were discovered in the early 19th century? If so where? Common sense and reason say "of course-in the ground!" but I'm far less sure about that than I once was. Does a current flow without an eventual destination? Can a universe emerge without mind?
Perhaps I have been working in uni science too long (22years) but I'm afraid I dont share Abocs faith in those 'wise men and women of science' Any cursiory examination of the history of science will find that it has from the earliest times served the rulers and the social elite. The sufferings of Galileo and Copernicus were exceptions to the rule, useful in developing the mythology of science as a force of truth fighting against the obscurantism of superstition and dogma. In reality the historical evidence points out that sciences pursuit of truth or even knowledge is incidential to the need for the atomisation and rationalization of the natural world so that it could be broken down into its component parts which could then be forced into new measured relationships useful to the development of technological systems. The digitalisation of life (GM- DNA manipulation) and the inorganic (nanotechnology) are the latest development in the domination and control of nature demanded by industrial capitalism : its primary function has always been to serve the economy its rulers and to search for the most efficient means of doing so.
I get where George is coming from on this...The Influence of mythology and ideology in human history, its motivational power to transform consciousness and actions (often for the worse) is something worth trying to harness. These myths become embedded in civilisations culture, in upbringing and education. All of these myths have only been partial truths at best and not only in the past think of all the invisible myths of our civilisation,democracy capitalism, separation, determinism, technological utopianism... and of course the story of money system which is both cause and symptom of the myth of what we are....or have been conditioned to believe we are. Imagine the greatest film/music painting/sculpture/song/play/ cultural experience you have ever had in service of the new story of humanity: as a vital part of the universes emerging self awareness. A mythology which is fully in tune with scientific findings, a story which is demonstratably emotionally and intellectually true.
I'm not sure how many thinkers realise how revolutionary these accumulated findings are becoming... 12 dec 2011 Pathogens may be advantageous to the subsistence and prosperity of hosts through effective HGT events at a large evolutionary scale.
I always recommend a through reading of Paul Feyerabend and Stanley Aronowitz to those tempted to dip in the murkey waters of scientism. :-)
Aboc: I am not pushing any intelligent designer or diety agenda I work in a uk university science research dept...I know the stregnths and limitations of science. Intelligent design, scientific orthodoxy and the religious all fall into the same trap of assuming matter is 'dead dough' and must be pushed about and moulded by external forces.... A supernatural God who guides dumb matter or winds up the mechanism or random chance mutations & collisions. This dead homogenous plasma has managed to organise itself in to a planetry system complex and long lived enough to create a consciousness complex enough to ponder its own existence. We forget to be astonished by that brute fact. Matter doesnt look dead to me.
Hi George I’m still reading your blog faithfully but have declined to comment for a long while because, well, sometimes the situation becomes so blatant that comments become endless repetition…sometimes it better to say nothing and ponder deeper. Which I see you have! I had a similar epiphany a few years ago when I delved into neo-Darwinism, genetic nepotism and sundry minefields but before I half explain, I noticed Joel Primacks book in your footnotes, I remember having a conversation with you on this theme- (secular religion for our time) years ago and his attempt to formulate one. Interestingly he and his wife have another one out this year ; ’The new universe and the human future’ must get a copy-wondering have you read it and is Joel in your ‘inner circle’? Anyway back to biochemistry…I was struck how much new evidence was emerging of genes being found before their deployment, and before there was any selective pressure to program them (so called junk DNA) was a real puzzle for progressive accumulation of random mutations ie neo-Darwinism. I soon discovered that evolutionary progress depends on genetic programs acquired by HGT (horizontal gene transfer) in a biologically open system. And the main vectors of this transfer are bacteria, viruses and disease…it is well known that viruses become integrated into the genomes of their hosts, including humans. This assembling and activating horizontally acquired genetic programs-programmes which predate the organisms they encode (!) has an evolutionary purpose serving needs transcending individual organisms and their genes. In other words traits are not accidental; they evolve for an evolutionary purpose and that purpose is the evolving self awareness of the universe via our consciousness. Each geological bottleneck acts as an agent of speciation… perhaps humanity is undergoing speciation right now by the integration of exogenous DNA into the human genome; our children may experience that leap into a higher level of consciousness which followed previous extinction events. The narrative already exists and in various forms has for millennia; I’m struck by the Hindu vadanta religion which states that the whole universe consists of a cosmic self playing hide-and-seek hiding from itself by becoming all the living and non-living things in the universe, forgetting what it really is; It does this to experience all of reality and to come back together as a wholeness at a higher level of consciousness. Of course all this is hopelessly teleological I hear many say and you would be right…yet the carefully contrived ad-hoc rationalisations and appeal to statistically ludicrous random chance look less scientifically convincing as the findings accumulate! In the marrow of our bones and the echoing forests of our minds we don’t believe in nihilism or the absurdity of the universe..
Looking over there from the English side of the pond the dumbest, most conditioned, most brainwashed voters and activists in history has to be the US tea party mob! Here you have a supposed (market) populist, grass roots movement against elitism and for the little guys...dont they know the origins of their own movement? The movement started with Rick Santelli’s call on CNBC for a tea party of city traders to dump securities in Lake Michigan, in protest at Obama’s plan to “subsidise the losers".... it was a demand for a financiers’ mobilisation against the bail-out of their victims: people losing their homes. On the same day, a group called Americans for Prosperity (AFP) set up a Tea Party Facebook page and started organising Tea Party events. AFP are bankrolled by the multi billionare Koch brothers. AFP mobilised the anger of people who found their conditions of life declining, and channelled it into a campaign to make them worse. They supported and spent $45 million supporting its favoured candidates in the 2010 election. Now the grass root dumb decoy activists take to the streets to demand less tax for billionaires and worse health, education and social insurance for themselves!! Urged on by propaganda from Fox news owned and run by another Billionare mogul, gruesomly familar to UK TV viewers recently- Rupert Murdoch & cronies. A plot like that in a political novel would be dismissed as absurd and far-fetched...... Global plutocracy rules ok.
Maybe we didnt think it was possible, but the tragi-comic act both sides of the Atlantic has reached new levels at the moment George. Your comment about voting prompts me to ask why you bother at all? I have never voted for the simple reason that I do not believe in mass-scale democray. Of course criticising this sacred cow invites charges of elitism, fascism and stalinism but that only from those dullards who have never thought it through. It is utterly irrational. Participation in voting legitimises the zero-choice real system in which only political parties with sufficient funding from corporations/big business and media can win. At any level of rationality it fails all criteria; Be they electorate, citizens or subjects THEIR majority legitimacy rests on the assumption that a majority of human beings in whatever social group are autonomous rational beings capable of independent thought and decisions. I have never been able to find any evidence in the scientific psychological or anthropological fields to support such an assumption. Do you know of any George? Democracy can only work at less that approx 150 group the 'monkey sphere scenario' (backed by considerable anthropological evidence BTW) If this is true then participation in national voting is legitimisation of institutional paralysis- nothing will ever change save the name of the parties in government. True, my single vote is neither here or here and totally insignificant(as is everyones in national elections error threshold is several hundered at least) but what would happen in a mass voting abdication and the ruling party only got 5% of votes? They could not claim to be 'acting for the people' Not that they ever have.....
Projecting an individual personality trait on to whole species smacks of scale chauvanism...:-) Matthew; I would suggest it is the universes emergent self comprehension through the human brain (the only known site) which confers significance on humanity not above other life forms, but unique nevertheless.
George I keep forgetting to ask your opinion of the 'Left in the dark' theory of brain development. Briefly this states that humanity is suffering from a progressive neurodegenerative condition that has distorted our perception and altered our sense of self. Apparantly this is gaining increasing acceptance- many scientists are intrigued and there is considerable anacdodal evidence to back this radical idea; there have also been a few articles for the layman in Psychology today etc.
George; that looks like a very interesting book will have to place on my wish list. Although I criticised Jensen and Zeran there are radical environmental writers who are thinking well in advance of the rest of us-they are visionaries who can articulate far better than I can the poetic depths of the crisis. Ran Prieur, Charles Eisenstein and, in England, Paul Kingsnorth. Like a lot of people I become jaded with the incessant dismal failures of this insane society and cut myself off for a while but always return invigorated, after reading inspired words such as these: Quote from Charles Eisenstein: We have grown accustomed to enormously impoverished lives. Yet a buried memory remains of what life can and should be, a memory sometimes brought to the surface in those lucid moments of joy and connection. I speak to this memory and this knowing. I wish to remind myself and everyone that a far more beautiful world and life is possible, and that this possibility demands a revolution in human beingness. My other interest (shared with Ran Prieur) is in finding how to create (or rather nurture the conditions which lead to) a society which mimics natural ecosystems in being decentralised with bottom-up adaptive connections, with no central controlling centre and loaded with redundancy to skirt around losses/adaptations. All historic attempts to control society by top-down hierarchical structures have been dismal failures-as I’m sure you are aware. This kind of society would be as different as the present one as an action man doll is to a human being. Our present globalised civilization has the lethal combination of low ecological complexity (monocrop agribusiness, Americanised cultural homogeneity etc) with high technological complexity which is prone to diminishing returns and an ever escalating regime of techncal fixes. We should be aiming for high ecological complexity (diversity of small scale organic agriculture) with less technological complexity- or machines which again mimic natural cyclic modes of operation. In this society there is no centralized organisation, each part is dependent on all the others, the most successful are those who best fulfill their function in meeting the needs of the whole. There are people with greater physical and mental powers naturally, but there is no hierarchical mechanism to leverage these internal powers into external powers written into the system. The only ‘authority’ is when someone is respected for understanding something better than others. Are we dreamers or visionaries?
George- this has to be one of your more Speculative and philosophical posts…! I find it so interesting because I have been thinking along these lines for years and indeed have touched on these themes quite a few times( not always coherently) in my past comments. Spot on with the evolutionary theory learned 20 years ago- things have moved on with epigenetic HGT adaptive mutation etc if a long way from Dawkinesq (how on earth did that guy become a intellectual giant of this culture?) selfish gene ideology (cultural assumptions projected onto zoological derived genetics) Life is a chimera, it’s the balance of contained conflicts of competition and co-operation, co-operative gene swapping is ubiquitous in the world of viruses and bacteria. It is quite possible to entertain teleological ideas without being reduced to the level of creationists, creationist like theologists depend on an external agency to animate, control or ‘wind up’ dead material rather than seeing matter as self complexifing and adaptive without needing supernatural forces to evolve and change. Indeed, after years I’ve found it more liberating and productive to think of ‘end causes’ or reasons, ‘whys’ to stimulate novel routes of inquiry. Remaining in the reductionist- nihilist random/absurd universe frame of mind requires so many convoluted ad-hoc rationalisations that it starts to resemble the very denial ideology they set out to abolish. Adaptive evolution in humans since the arrival of agriculture is obvious in many studies. I believe western anthropologists (I’ve lost the link) tried living with native aborigine tribes living strictly on their hunter-gather diet and had to give up after 6 months or so because of health problems caused by mineral depletion, not because the aborigine diet lacked them, but because they did not have-or have lost the enzymes to extract them. Anarchic pritivists like Derrick Jensen and John Zaran never bother to discuss or attempt to state what the social structure will be after the crash/collapse because they say that we will simply be forced to revert back to hunter-gather pre-civilised lifestyle and because we have done it in the past for so many millennia we don’t need to organise a any structure – it will happen naturally. This assumes a lack of biological dietary adoption in the last 10K years.. Thinking out loud teleologically one may be tempted to ask a few pertinent questions about this universes evolution…. The most obvious one is how and why a universe full of nothing but homogenous hydrogen plasma managed to converted itself in 13.7 billion years into a living planetary ecosystem complete with brains of sufficiently complexity to begin comprehend itself- self awareness. Is it really nothing more than the inevitable outcome of natural laws of physics, a random fluke which in a re-run could never be repeated. The problem with the million-monkeys-on-typewriters argument is explaining why they do not relapse into gibberish…the complexity meshes together too neatly to be random. If the rise of civilisation was a accident then why did it occur simultaneously and independently in geographically far apart locations? Could it be that civilisation was a evolutionary necessary development to further emergent self awareness and complexity of the universe via humanity? Is it mere co-incident that all the raw materials necessary to power an industrial civilisation were ready waiting for the right species? Look at the coincidences : millions of years Carboniferous Age to lay down oil and coal deposits, enormous fossil fuel deposits, metals that were so abundant near the earth's surface, that domesticable animals and plants suitable for agriculture were so accessible even that genes expressed only in higher animals were present in the genome hundreds of millions of years before they were ever needed and are still present in the form of junk DNA- maybe for future specisiation? Is it possible to have the instruments of modern science which have expanded our consciousness of the universe, the telescopes satellites, the electron microscopes and gene sequencers the silicon chips without a huge global industrial machine to support it? Of course there has been the terrible curses of civilization as well as the gifts, millions of exploited victims and perpetrators have paid the physical and psychological cost. Technology is not a justification to ignore these facts. For what purpose? Perhaps Self awareness is a cosmic imperative and Nature, the universe, even mathematical systems tendency toward increasingly complex order and, more significantly, organisation, could only be fulfilled by a differentiation of roles, of specialisation, within a complex industrial society? Art and culture have expanded the consciousness within and through civilisation, the complexity of orchestral music and cinematic representation, the mass communication of artistic experiences have been enhanced by the technology of recording and mass media. This is a increase of emotional/cultural awareness of the universe via humanity. But something has gone drastically wrong in the last 40 years or so, all the utopian technological dreams of the 50’s and 60’s have crumbled apart. The programme of control and domination of nature has hit the buffers..the world and nature are far more complex than those dreamers supposed. We now have crisis in multiple areas of civilization, environment resources and climate change, finance and money, medicine and new autoimmune diseases, society and globalization, education and culture ….everything gives a very good impression of falling apart at the seams. Is this an accident or has this some environmental purpose? Or could it be envisioned as humanities next evolutionary step in a collective transition to a higher level of organization? We all grasp that the old ways of thinking have reached their limits and that convergence of crises is the result of this wrong or inappropriate thinking. The old ways are so powerful and built into our whole system and money culture that perhaps only the destruction, the collapse or the enforced contraction is the only thing that could make us change our mode of living and thinking? Like a drug addict who has to experience rock bottom to bring home the futility of their lives, before they can change. The idea that the universe, and Earth, was pregnant with life, with intelligence, with civilisation, with the entire course of separation and reunion, from the very beginning is something I find fascinating.. I find it entertaining and illuminating to speculate that that the primordial planet was a fertile womb seeded by genetic material from space, this material encodes a program for the eventual rise of technological civilisation, the present crisis is a necessary and painful development to the next phase transition to a higher level of consciousness and life.
George; This has to be one of your most impressive and courageous blog postings. I spent over an hour carefully reading through your recap and looked at all the links. The relentless logic and sober emotive judgements disarm and charm in equal measure. You are wise not to put any firm timescale on your predictions... the megamechine edifice seems more resilient to collapse than we supposed. I have the shrewd feeoling that Capitalism will find more cunning ways to convert all remaining natural and social capital into money for the plutocratic elite until it is completly exhausted. The only compensation for this scenario is that it can never be rebuilt- low tech will be the only tech possible.
Meanwhile events are moving quickly. I'm expecting a blog from George on the repercussions of events in the middled east. It occured to me last night that this whole middle eastern uprising is a superb example of the butterfly effect December 17, 2010; A desperate 26 year old tunisian man, Mohammed Al Bouazizi, doused himself in petrol and lit a match in front of a government building, also igniting a whole sequence of events which would lead to a massive insurrection, the fall of dictators and shock waves across the globe, an oil price spike which could even lead to another global economic collapse. What would have been just another suicide, because he was in the right place at the right time, had a devestating affect across the globe and probably world history (there is a wiki entry and statues are being errected in his honour already) Of course the cayalyst in all this has been the internet, mobile phone communications, bloggers and the near impossibility of controlling information despite the regimes attempts. On the one hand the interconnectedness of the world, makes everyone eventually vulnerable to knock on negative economic/resource/climate events but on the other hand the same connections make bottom up revolts and insurrections much more likley to spread and inflintely harder to control...the ying and the yang, I'm sure a few of you can sense where I'm going with this....? We can also bet governments will have noticed all this and it will be a gee-up call to find some way of controlling the internet and preventing this kind of thing ever kicking off in western states.
Toggle Commented Feb 24, 2011 on Past the Point of No Return at Question Everything