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A Conversation With Andre

June 23, 2010

This is an email conversation I had with Mr. Andre Gaudwin.

Andre,

I’m in agreement with you that the way we’re living today is destructive both to ourselves and to our planet.  Whether it be our forms of government or our philosophies toward life and the Earth, our planet is taking a serious beating.

I’ve wondered why our leaders do the terrible things that they do.  Maybe it is because they primarily concern themselves with reelection and pandering to the dumbest members of society.  Maybe it is because they’re just not very smart.  Or maybe it’s greed and since they’re only a temporary caretaker, they try to exploit the people and the country to their own personal benefit.  Whatever the reason, I wonder if we can continue on the path we’re on without killing ourselves.

With nuclear missiles pointed at every inch of civilization, I sometimes lose sleeping wondering when a missile will fall into the wrong hands and KABOOM, the Earth goes up in a mushroom cloud.

We’re currently ravaging the Earth and destroying the biosphere.  Within the next century nearly half of all living species will be killed off as there’s no room for their habitats.

Global warming is a huge threat and could lead to massive crop failures in the future, not to mention massive changes to the environment.

Our views on economics are certainly bad.  Unmitigated capitalism leads to large inequalities in wealth, and a class of parasitic mega-rich who sit at the top, doing nothing productive at all.  Communism is politically repressive, as the central government enforces equality on a sea of diversity.  Can freedom and equality go together?  That seems to be the question.

Both economic systems keep people from being all they can be.  When politically repressed and forced to be “equal” to their neighbor, they’re not allowed to express and fulfill their own individuality and self-passions.  Yet when given freedom in our current economic systems, a small group of greedy bastards control all the money and the average person isn’t able to get his or her hands on enough money to do much of anything worthwhile.  They become slaves to money until they eventually die, stuck in the rat-race.  Most of them rarely get a chance to live out their true inner passions and dreams.  The wealth lingers up in the stratosphere of the mega-rich and never makes it back down to Earth.

The wealthy also then have incentives to keep the status quo in order to keep bringing in their profits. They gain control over the media and stop any meaningful social reforms from taking place.  They have incentives to keep the public conversations dumbed down, because a smart public would demand changes in society – changes which would ruin and destroy their power structure. They spread propaganda from all corners of the globe, confusing everyone in a sea of rigged studies and bad data.  As everyone who has studied Statistics knows, statistics and data can be rigged to say anything. Percentages and data, without proper randomized controls for example, lead to misleading results.  All sorts of poll numbers and “studies” are being quoted, and most of them conflict with one another.  People struggle to make sense of all the information they drown in within this “information” age.

This oil spill is a disaster.  This is yet another instance of the Earth taking a beating.  How long is it before all our drinking water is filled with pesticides?  Before all the fish are contaminated with small bits of plastic and other chemicals?  Before our modified crops start to cause us all kinds of health problems?

I think we have too many people living on this planet and we’re living on borrowed time, hoping scientists will find cures to the problems we’re creating.  But the more people who live on this planet, the more food we’ll need to produce, and that means more destruction of natural habitats as well as genetically modified crops to produce higher yields.  And as the third world further industrializes, without clean energy sources they’ll continue burning fossil fuels contributing to massive warming on the planet.  They’ll also become worse polluters as their corporations search for ways to save money, and start wrapping their products in plastic, etc.

I recently watched some films by David Attenborough and his ending to his ‘Life Of Mammals’ series was quite powerful.

I think scientists would be able to create new technology to fix these problems, but, as you said, our politicians and leaders waste money building weapons instead of helping the planet.  It’s a shame that the brightest members of our society, our scientists and engineers, are subject to some of the dumbest people on our planet — elected officials.  If you look at the election process in any detail you see that it’s a complete joke.  They stick a few signs up in people’s yards with their name on it, and quote a few party one-liners and pit a mob of mostly uneducated common-folk against one another based on shallow political rhetoric. Also, unless you have millions of dollars for mass media exposure, you’re unlikely to win a powerful seat in our government.  This leads to the rich ruling us, mostly to their own benefit. The winners of this political contest then control the funds to our scientists, and they use it for all the wrong things.  They use it to build weapons to defend their empires.  They use it to steal from and exploit foreigners. They use it to rig the economy further in their favor.  And for those who try to fix things, most of them are unqualified and do not understand all the complications involved.  They don’t know what they’re doing.

As the power of the state expands, these rather stupid and greedy elected officials are given greater and great control over our lives.  In the origins of the United States the government was far less powerful, and life was more simplistic.  Most people were farmers and the economy was self-regulating under a laissez-faire model.  Now things are much more complicated and we have unqualified and evil people setting the rules for immigration laws, tariffs, taxes, banking regulation, currency supplies, healthcare systems, and other complex economic policies which they do not understand or will exploit nefariously.

But having a completely hands off approach, with very little government at all, doesn’t fix things either.  As already mentioned, pure laissez-faire capitalism doesn’t lead to a beautiful world. Corporate greed knows little bounds and they’ll ravage the planet and exploit their workers without any thoughts of long term consequences.  They’ll dump their waste in our streams. They’ll exploit their workers until they’re too weak to work and then throw them aside and hire someone else instead. And if the workers unionize to fight for better wages and better working conditions, the rich and powerful will pass new laws allowing poor immigrants into the country to work for them, or even better, they’ll just relocate to an impoverished country and exploit their citizens instead.  They’ll work children in hot warehouses exposed to dangerous machinery, and when they’re injured, won’t even provide for medical costs.

Have we outgrown our political and economic systems?  I think so. Technology can save us, but with our terrible social systems, it may well destroy us instead.  With all these new problems brought into play by our new technology, our social systems are getting falling dangerously far behind, and that’s a serious problem.

Einstein saw these problems.  Quoting him:

* The economic anarchy of capitalist society as it exists today is, in my opinion, the real source of the evil. We see before us a huge community of producers the members of which are unceasingly striving to deprive each other of the fruits of their collective labor — not by force, but on the whole in faithful compliance with legally established rules.

* I am convinced there is only one way to eliminate these grave evils, namely through the establishment of a socialist economy, accompanied by an educational system which would be oriented toward social goals.

* Nevertheless, it is necessary to remember that a planned economy is not yet socialism. A planned economy as such may be accompanied by the complete enslavement of the individual. The achievement of socialism requires the solution of some extremely difficult socio-political problems: how is it possible, in view of the far-reaching centralisation of political and economic power, to prevent bureaucracy from becoming all-powerful and overweening? How can the rights of the individual be protected and therewith a democratic counterweight to the power of bureaucracy be assured?

– Albert Einstein, ‘Why Socialism’ writing for the Monthly Review
http://www.monthlyreview.org/598einstein.php

I’m in agreement with Einstein that some new economic system needs to be in place.  We need a system which removes all the competition among ourselves, yet still provides outlets for growth and self-determination.  It needs to utilize scientific mass production techniques, and share the rewards with all.  But communism, as implemented all over the world such as East Germany, Russia, and China, have not created paradises.  It’s been a nightmare for a lot of people who have lived under such regimes.  And liberal capitalism was implemented in India, leading to a class of rich entrepreneurs, yet the general population is still living in poverty. Some nations such as Japan have taken a “soft authoritarian” approach, using a mixture of liberal capitalism gently directed by a central authority. It’s worked well for them yet at the same time, their economy is hurting right now too.  Their scholars today are debating whether they’ve outgrown their current setup.

Most scientists I meet share comments on these issues and talk about a world where we all share things and work together.  Problem is, how do you actually implement a society like that?  Once you get into the technical specifics it gets really difficult.  I personally feel that our best bet is to somehow use the computer and the internet to distribute our resources.  A lot of the problems money solved was the fact that transactions could be done and people could efficiently exchange goods with one another, yet nobody had to understand what was going on in the big picture in order to do business.  Central planning has always failed because it all gets too complicated far too quickly.  Things become inefficient and wasteful because the human mind is too fragile and weak to plan such a complicated system.  It also falls prey to greed and corruption.

But if somehow computers could do it.  If everyone was constantly inputting their situation into a computer, and it was managing the resources of society.  If programmed correctly, maybe it could distribute the goods in an efficient manner, and never overlook the poor and impoverished, who are struggling.  Political leaders can get too busy and overwhelmed, but a computer would have time to notice every individual.

It’s just a thought. I’ve been thinking how such a system may work, but it will take a lot of research.

I agree with you that our philosophical views on the world, going all the way back to the Greeks, have been wrong. I think we view both ourselves, and the way we relate to the planet in the wrong ways.  We try to dominate nature instead of living in harmony with it.  We think using our reptile brain, hoping to achieve some sort of hierarchical dominance, instead of trying to be one with nature and the universe. When we see ourselves in the mirror we don’t understand what it is we’re looking at.  That’s why people even to this day believe in religions of all sorts.  They’re so busy working jobs that they haven’t been educated in all the new scientific knowledge which is out there.

Not too long ago I had a Jehovah’s Witness confront me while I was out getting a pizza.  She handed me a book called, ‘What Does The Bible Really Teach’, and within it it tells how when I die I will inherit my own planet, which I will populate and rule over for all eternity.  It says that when I get angry, demons are flowing into my body causing me to do evil.  And on and on it goes, filling people’s minds with complete nonsense.

And what about those who have learned all the science of our day?  I feel they face a crisis of meaning. Everything is advancing so fast that people don’t know what direction the world is going. Where will this technology take us?  They see sheep being cloned, talk of genetically modifying the human body, mixing our brain with micro-processors, nano-chips controlling DNA assemblage, the possible colonization of Mars… and it’s all too much.  They see how dumb we are as humans, and yet science has given us such incredible powers.  Are we even ready to handle such responsibilities?

As our science progresses we’re going to have to change how our society works.  We can’t continue business as usual.  And people are going to have to become aware of all the technology around them, because it’s dangerous to have stupid people living in a high-tech world.  It’s fine to be stupid when all you have is a spear, running around chasing grazing animals.  It’s not ok to be stupid and have control of nuclear weapons.

– Jason

From: Andre Gaudwin
Sent: Tuesday, June 22, 2010 5:20 PM
To: jason@jasonsummers.org
Subject: “YES WE CAN.”????

“YES WE CAN.”????

Of course we can, but we won’t do anything about it until we understand what is really happening to us. And we don’t, since none of the professionals in all sectors of society ―who should lead us into doing it, and who all together know everything there is to know about our particular problems― is remotely fit to understand the nature of the global problem presently affecting the whole of humanity. And this, because of a mistaken premise about their dominant status, which, when analyzed from an evolutionary psychological point of view, becomes an evident logical fallacy.

And it is not the first time that such a fundamentally false premise opens up an unbreachable space between our ability to know and our capacity to understand.  In Ancient Greece, astronomers knew everything there is to know about the behavior of the stars and the planets that they were observing in the heavens. However, they were incapable of understanding their true nature and the nature of the irregularities among them, because of their belief that the earth was fixed at the center of the universe. The same is true today for our intellectual elites, who know everything there is to know to dominate their own sectors of society, but who cannot understand the true nature of our problems, because of this generally accepted logical fallacy.

If such a close parallel can be made between the Ancient Geek astronomers’ incapacity to understand the true nature of the stars, and our elites’ incapacity to understand the true nature of the problem that we are facing, it is because that the two false premises causing these limitations stem from the same fundamental natural phenomenon: inertia.

For the Greeks, it was their ignorance of physical inertia ―still today interfering with our sense of motion― that was keeping them from understanding the true nature of the Heavens.  For our present day elites, it is their intellectual inertia created by the mass of knowledge that they have assiduously accumulated on a few subjects during their years of formation as specialists ―they all are― that is interfering with their sense of responsibility, and which is preventing them from understanding that they are integrated part of  the global problem that they have themselves contributed to create, and which is being dramatically worsen by their ignorance of the fallacy on which their dominant behavior is grounded.

It is because of my understanding of this fallacy―which became clear to me, after forty years of independent and “single-minded” academic inquiry on the subject―that I came to perceived “them” (humanity’s elites) as “degenerated baboons,” who, in time of dangers, have forgotten how to step ahead on the first lines of defense to protect us, as dominant baboons do to protect their troupes, which initially gave them  their dominant standings for this reason alone. Of course, our elites are still driven by the same urge to protect and defend, and they do it well. However, because of our assumed dominance over nature, they have to constantly create new enemies to satisfy these urges and the needs of the technologies that they are using to wage their wars from afar, “to save lives.” Ignoring the fact, thus, that the real enemies of our species are not among ourselves, but still in nature, on the forms of catastrophic events, as floods, droughts, famines, severe weather conditions, epidemics, earthquakes, volcanic irruptions, and today the Oil Spill from the guts of the earth in the Gulf of Mexico. All of which we would be well equipped to overcome, if we were not using all the resources that we are presently using to wage irrelevant wars.

Simply put: Our war economy need to be “converted” into a peace economy, to defend all of us against our true enemies, the furies of the elements and the aging of the world infrastructures. If this happened, we would be able to double the “defense budgets” of the whole word and put everybody to work at the maintenance of our home planet, for the good of all.

* * *

To illustrate the ground of my argument, let me tell you what happened the other day when I met a new acquaintance of mine for the first time after the Gulf of Mexico Disaster.

During our conversation, I eventually came to tell him how offended I was to see that the “hundreds of trillions” (sic) of dollars floating around in the world markets were not used in a way or another to do something about the Spill. He look at me, stunned, as if I didn’t know what I was talking about, and told me: “But…but… that is “investment money.”

What he was telling me was that this money cannot be used to overcome such man-made catastrophes as the one presently threatening the whole Gulf of Mexico, but that it is money exclusively used to  “make money.”

I hope to show you that this is the essence of the invalid argument made about our social power, which is the type of arguments that the market dwellers make all the time, on different forms, and which is directly based on this fallacy that I am talking about.

Regarding investment specialists, who claim to “play the role of God” in the economy, and who are the ones benefiting the most from this virtual wealth that they are “managing,” —if not ultimately the only ones benefiting— this type of reflections made about material “security” is exactly the same type of reflections that clergymen were making before the Reformation, about money to buy indulgences for “spiritual” security. Indeed, the  present days  investments in “security” will be as irrelevant for our survival as a species, as the investments in “indulgences” were for individual salvation.

To come back to my conversation on this subject with my new acquaintance, it stopped immediately after his mention about “investment money.”  It would have taken me too long, since what I was thinking about was too much in the line of a “mobilization” of all our resources against  the oil invasion’s of the Gulf of Mexico, as FDR did to counter the German invasion.

It is not our freedom that is at stake at the moment, but the health of of the North Atlantic and eventually the whole Earth, if we don’t succeed in stopping these oil leaks soon.  Doesn’t it call for the mobilization of all our resources? For this, though, we need political leadership, but, as I already realized many years ago, “political leadership” has become an oxymoron, since today’s politicians have only one preoccupation, there own reelection. And, it happened that the Gulf of Mexico oil Spill has followed  Murphy’s law to the letter, by happening at the worst of time, during a year of US election.

* * *

I say “single academic inquiry” above, since the only reason that kept me going for all these years was the need to find out what was this “mistake” that I have always believed we made as a rational species, somewhere in the course of our evolution.  After forty years, I have finally found it. If you want to know what it is, stick with me, if you can!  It won’t be an easy realization for anybody, believe me, since it has to do with a misunderstanding that happened tens of thousands of years ago, before the Ancient Greek, when we first acquired a proto-consciousness of our social nature.  And, since the Greeks philosophers didn’t know about this misunderstanding, it happens that it has imbued all of our philosophies of life, and that it will be a lot tougher to accept, especially for the “high priests” of finance, than heliocentrism was for the clergy of the time.

First, though, I have to explain the context in which my findings came about. (Work in Progress)

Jason, it is done and coming after your comments on this email

Topics: Philosophy | 6 Comments »

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