On greed.


We have a world that is increasingly unequal with vast amounts of wealth being accrued by a tiny avaricious minority. We watch in despair as Trump fills his administration from the ranks of the billionaires. In this moment of time is if easy to lose hope but this is not a new situation. Greed has plagued humanity for centuries and the voices of the wise call out from history for humanity wake up and rid itself from the scourge of this addiction.

For everyone reeling from recent political events her are some words from about 2500 years ago, that show how little wisdom humanity has accrued. The sages of the time reflect on how society is cursed by those obsessed with greed and power. Perhaps now at last, recent events have given us the wakeup call we finally need?

Bhagavad Gita (from about 4th century BCE) on those whose minds are cursed with demonic (we might say pathological) tendencies.

‘Hypocritical, proud and arrogant, living in delusion and clinging to deluded ideas, they pursue their unclean ends. Although burdened with fears that end only with death, they still maintain with complete assurance “Gratification of lust is the highest that life can offer.”

Bound on all sides by scheming and anxiety, driven by anger and greed, they amass by any means they can a hoard of money for the satisfaction of their cravings.

“I got this today,” they say; “tomorrow I shall get that. This wealth is mine, and that will be mine too! Am I not like God? I enjoy what I want. I am successful. I am powerful. I am happy. I am rich and well-born. Who is equal to me? I will perform sacrifices and give gifts, and rejoice in my own generosity.” This is how they go on, deluded by ignorance. Bound by their greed and entangled in a web of delusion, whirled about by a fragmented mind they fall into a dark hell.’

Sound familiar?

It was no surprise that Donald Trump won the presidential race in the US. The “middle ground” neo-liberal consensus has disenfranchised large sections of society and led to unprecedented levels of inequality. People are angry and rightly blame an establishment that has focussed on greed and self-interest for a few whilst stealing hope for a better future from the many. I believe that Bernie Sanders would have beaten Donald Trump, a clear choice between a society built on mutual responsibility and compassion or one built on division and hate. Hillary Clinton represented politics as usual and that is no longer acceptable to vast swathes of the population.

All across Europe electorates are also becoming polarised reflecting the growing disenchantment with the highly discredited existing neo-liberal politics as usual. We are seeing a frightening rise in extreme right wing political parties who thrive in the current political and economic climate. We also see the rise of new left wing movements such an Syriza in Greece and Podemos in Spain offering stark alternative to the politics of anger and despair.

We face the same stark choice in the UK. We have an increasingly extreme right wing Government that has already started a programme of conscious euthanasia on the most disadvantaged in society. This could be from despair and suicide from callous sanctions on welfare provision, hypothermia, malnutrition, lack of care, homelessness or being locked up in prisons with too few officers to prevent unprecedented levels of violence and homicide. The parallels with the way Nazi Germany managed to dehumanise large sections of its population that ultimately led to horrors of the concentration camps and the Nazis is chilling, we ignore the lessons of history at our peril.

I am committed to doing everything I can to promote Labour’s values under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, to build a society based on caring and compassion and which will tackle greed and inequality head on.  Politics is polarising and people need to make a choice. I believe it is the responsibility of everyone with compassion in their hearts to stand up and be a voice of wisdom, a voice that calls out for a society based on the power of love rather than hate and division. The window of opportunity is short, the storm clouds are already gathering and all too readily the voices of intolerance and hatred are filling the political void.

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I have been greatly humbled by the number of readers from India who have visited my Facebook page and this website. It is a great privilege to attract readers from a continent from which so much of the World’s wisdom has emanated.

This is a short extract from “A Certain Lack of Faith.” The book is a conversation between myself as author and an Outside Rational Being (ORB) in which I try to explain why humans have such a propensity to making irrational attachments to greed, selfishness and anger.

Wisdom cannot be achieved without escaping from the properties of human attachment behaviour and the human instincts embedded in the id. Overcoming these influences emanating from the human unconscious is a truly formidable struggle for any human. The first step on the path to wisdom is for a human to accept that they have nothing approaching an independent will. It is to start observing the manifestation of emotions and attachments that result in fear, aversion and desire in their everyday lives. It is like being on a sailing ship, one cannot fully avoid the actions of the wind, but through observation you can watch its impact on your vessel and mitigate its effects though thoughtful adjustment of the sails and the tiller. To maintain the metaphor, most of us deny the existence of the wind or pretend that we are immune to its effects and we wonder why both as individuals and as societies we so frequently end up wrecked on the rocks.

Here are just a few extracts from verses in the Bhagavad Gita that are particularly relevant to the limitations placed on the human psyche by human attachment behaviour and the resulting desires that so influence a human being.

Sri Krishna:

“Those who are motivated only by desire for the fruits of action are miserable, for they are constantly anxious about the results of what they do……..The wise unify their consciousness and abandon attachment to the fruits of action.”

In answer to a question by Arjuna about the nature of those who live in wisdom; “they live in wisdom who see themselves in all and all in them, who have renounced every selfish desire and sense craving tormenting the heart. Neither agitated by grief nor hankering after pleasure, they live free from lust and fear and anger. Fettered no more by selfish attachment, they are neither elated by good fortune nor depressed by bad, such are the seers”

The following is especially pertinent to a later exploration of the miseries of the extreme capitalist model and greed that currently pervades in many cultures; “attachment breeds desire, the lust of possessions that burns to anger. Anger clouds the judgement; you can no longer learn from past mistakes. Lost is the power to choose between what is wise and what is unwise, and your life is utter waste.” I think that this extract from the Gita shows that the wisdom and understanding of human nature 3000 years ago is still absolutely relevant to the modern age. If we look at how greed and attachment in those running the financial markets has led to what has effectively been the virtual bankruptcy of most of the world’s leading economies, we can see the truth of these words. Greed and attachment and the lust for possessions resulted in a complete lack of the power to choose wisely and learn from past mistakes and only bitterness, despair, and resentment amongst peoples was ultimately realised.

Here are some other words of wisdom that may give us some useful insight should my species decide, however unlikely that is, to build their future societies on mutual responsibility instead of greed and self-interest. “Strive constantly to serve the welfare of the world; by devotion to selfless work one attains the supreme goal of life. Do you work with the welfare of others always in mind……The ignorant work for their own profit Arjuna; the wise work for the welfare of the world, without thought for themselves…..perform all work carefully, guided by compassion.” Indeed Sri Krishna is even more explicit about the impossibility of those focused on selfish desire to gain knowledge and wisdom; “knowledge is hidden by selfish desire, hidden, Arjuna, by this unquenchable fire for self-satisfaction, the inveterate enemy of the wise.”

It is with the greatest sorrow that I observe the country of India, the birthplace of such wisdom, also adopting the most nefarious aspects of the viral capitalism that has infected western societies with such tragic consequences. Inequality in India is increasing exponentially; more billionaires are being created at a frightening pace whilst extremes of poverty ravage the majority of the people. As we have already proven in most Western economies and Japan, this is a completely unsustainable model of capitalism that will ultimately lead to civil unrest and financial collapse. These warning signs are also very evident in other economies like China, Russia and in South America. It gives me a significant sense of shame, living as I do in the UK, that the so called Anglo-Saxon model of extreme socially irresponsible capitalism is infecting so many other societies in our world. The writers of the Bhagavad Gita would I am sure despair how little my misguided species has learnt since their words of wisdom were first drafted 3000 years ago.

ORB: Buzzard, you have made an interesting point here. Are you saying that the same wisdom that applies to development of wisdom in individuals can also apply to the creation of wise societies?

I am absolutely convinced of it. I firmly believe that the actions required to create a wise human have close parallels with the actions required to create wise societies. As societies we make irrational attachments to objects of desire, are often inward looking, self-interested and negligent of the needs of others. How easy it is for those who indulge in manipulation of the masses to whip up the worst aspects of nationalism thereby creating insecurity, collective violence and hostility between identifiable different groups. We have already alluded to this when looking at how identifiable differences between religious sects can lead to appalling examples of collective violence when the spectre of fear and insecurity is raised in the collective psyche of the faithful. The irrationalities within us as individuals are often manifested in the irrationalities we see in the societies around us.

Readers can find out more about a Certain Lack of Faith through the following link

http://bit.ly/2dvYvVN

The current leadership battle within the Labour Party is about far more than who leads the Labour Party, it is about whether genuine democracy can ever be restored within the UK.

For decades the voters have only had the opportunity to choose between candidates that were largely imposed upon local constituencies by political elites. These elites shared virtually the same neo-liberal (greed is good) economic policies to the extent that Margaret Thatcher proudly claimed that Tony Blair was her greatest legacy. The difference between a Labour Government and a Tory Government was just a question of degree, not a serious questioning of the prevailing political dogma. Both parties were never going to challenge the establishment and the shameless extraction of wealth and resources that it has exacted upon the rest of our society.

This is fully understood by an increasingly disenfranchised electorate. It is reflected by ever diminishing numbers of voters at elections. It is reflected in the collapse of political party memberships and in the burgeoning growth in protest groups to fill the gap in progressive politics left by the political consensus in Westminster. Above all it was shown in Scotland where, after the referendum campaign reignited political interest and a sense of empowerment, there was a virtual complete meltdown of support for traditional parties aligned to the Westminster political establishment.

Jeremy Corbyn has always been fully aware that in order to restore democracy in Parliament he first had to restore democracy in the Labour Party. From the very start of his first leadership campaign he set empowering the membership and creating a new democratic political movement at the heart of his proposition for a new kind of politics.

The result has been simply astounding, the membership of the party has exploded as more and more people realised that for the first time in a generation they could really make a difference. In stark contrast the reaction by the traditional Labour party establishment has been largely outright hostility. They deeply resent being held to account by a membership that many of them hold in barely concealed contempt.

Some of these MPs argue that they have a bigger mandate from the electorate than they do from the Labour Party members that helped them get elected. This is very simple to prove; they can stand as an independent based on their personal mandate and see how well they do at the next election without the support of the local party members!

The way that Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership rival Owen Smith reacted to a proposal for a compulsory re-selection process for all Labour MPs was particularly revealing. He said that proposing that MP’s were sacked was “not very friendly.” This process is not the sacking of MPs but just stating the obvious fact that Labour MPs should represent the values of Labour members in parliament. His statement showed his own recognition that a majority of the current MPs do not enjoy the confidence of local party members and would not survive a genuine democratic candidate selection process. The fact that he seems comfortable about this is perhaps the biggest revelation of where his own loyalties truly lie.

Another argument that is often flung back at the Labour membership is that their values will lead to an unelectable party. This is the “power is more important than values” argument. This holds no water if that power just maintains a highly corrupted status quo. It is no coincidence that wealthy “Labour” donors are flocking to this cause. Those seeking to bankroll the Labour PLP coup have no interest in genuinely progressive politics that would lead to the redistribution of the excesses of wealth. Once again an attempt is being made by a small wealthy elite to buy and corrupt the political process.

If genuine democracy is to be established in Parliament, it first has to be established in the political parties that are represented in the parliament. The Tories make no attempt to hide the fact that they are bought and paid for by wealthy donors, they seem to revel in it. The Labour party has to be different if it is to deliver the “new politics” that so many members and voters are desperate to see.

It may be that the electorate don’t initially respond to a democratic Labour Party. I personally think it will rapidly create an unstoppable dynamic in and angry and disillusioned electorate as we witnessed in Scotland. It may be that Labour don’t win a majority at the next election but the principle of restoring a real democracy to the UK is far more important than winning one election. Did Nelson Mandela settle for slightly less apartheid? Did Gandhi settle for slightly less colonialism in India? Then why should we settle for anything less than a fully democratic Labour Party whose MPs accurately reflect the values of the hundreds of thousands of members that helped to get them elected in the first place.

 

 

Consciencia Title Cropped

The most precious gem in the Universe

In the vastness of the Universe lies a small spiral galaxy
Near the end of one arm of this galaxy is a small insignificant sun
Around this sun orbits a tiny planet called Earth
On this planet there exists the miracle of life
Amongst this life is a species called humanity
Human evolution has created a dreadful predisposition to harm and destroy
But human evolution has also created the capacity to love
And love is perhaps the most precious gem to be found in the vastness of the Universe
Should humanity in its folly allow love to wither and die
Those who have glimpsed love will never forget its beauty

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We are seeing a schism opening up in western societies. This is largely because of the extreme inequality that has resulted from the pursuit of neo-liberal economic models that has let capitalism virtually off the leash since the late 1970’s. Most governments are still stubbornly sticking to these failed policies whilst living standards of the majority of people flounder on a rising tide of public and private debt. We face a growing disaffection of populations that have seen their chances of advancement stagnate and a generation of disenfranchised young people who are being brought up in world where their prospects appear to be so much bleaker than that of their parents.

Frighteningly we are also seeing a predictable resurgence of “right wing” political groups that thrive on growing anger and insecurity. The frightening spectres of racism, bigotry, xenophobia, hatred and intolerance are all on the rise. More positively we have also seen the growth of socially aware political groups that are offering a positive alternative to unconstrained capitalism and the worship of greed. These groups desire to restore democracy to political systems that have been thoroughly corrupted by money from small ultra-wealthy cliques and powerful global corporations.

From Bernie Sanders and his supporters in the USA to Podemos in Spain, Syriza in Greece and the unexpected rise of Jeremy Corbyn within the UK’s Labour Party there is a growing movement to make politics work for the benefit of the many rather than a small privileged elite. For those of us who believe in a world built on mutual responsibility, compassion and a love of our fragile Earth, it is crucial that we win this battle of ideas before the world spirals downwards towards violent revolution, conflict and war.

In an increasingly globalised world it is therefore essential that all these separate progressive groups can come together to cooperate and work in unison to change the face of global politics. The big question is how do we do this? How do we create a common identity and set of values whilst still maintaining the diversity of political groupings campaigning under different names in different countries and cultures?

There are terms used to describe our movements such as “left wing,” “socialist,” and “social democratic” but all of these are coloured and tarnished by history. They are easily misunderstood or misinterpreted and I don’t think they really reflect the battle of ideas over which the very future of our planet depends upon. Above all they carry the additional baggage of being formed in societies that were dominated by a patriarchal perspective of the world. I don’t believe that any of these terms reflect a common idea or principle that we can all identify with as a unifying cause.

I think it is useful to understand what is really going between these two contrasting political dynamics. To understand what is happing in populations we need to first look at the makeup of the human psyche. Large groupings and movements are merely an amplification of the dynamic that is going on within every human mind.

After we are born we develop an embryonic consciousness that has to develop to regulate the relationship between our powerful unconscious instincts and emotions and an external, potentially hostile environment. One of the most commonly used descriptions of this developing consciousness is the term “ego.”

There are many factors that affect the extent to which this consciousness develops in every one of us. If this process is poorly developed a person is highly susceptible to unconscious impulses such as insecurity, fear, prejudice and hate. It is also fairly easy for people with weaker egos to passively allow their own ego to be overruled, substituted and dominated by the powerful will of another. The ultimate horror of this process could be seen at the Nuremberg rallies where tens of thousands of virtually robotic followers marched and paraded in adoration of Adolf Hitler’s psychopathic rantings. We only have to look at North Korea to observe a modern day equivalent.

In the UK we have just had a highly divisive referendum on our future in Europe where some politicians shamelessly fed on the insecurities and prejudices of people. We are already seeing the result of this in a rise in the number of hate crimes and abuse being targeted at minority communities. In the USA Donald Trump has won the Republican nomination on a campaign that also deliberately fed upon the insecurity and prejudices of Americans.

The terror that we face is that ignorance is much easier to achieve than wisdom as wisdom requires a concerted effort. A strong will is required to develop the capabilities of the consciousness to enable it to escape from these powerful impulses and make independent rational judgements. It is only with a developed consciousness that it is possible to look beyond individual selfish needs and develop the empathy to become aware of the needs of others. The best description of evil that I have ever heard is that it is the complete absence of empathy.

It is through this process of the development of consciousness that we realise the importance of kindness, empathy and love in creating a society that lifts and benefits everyone. It is also vital to discard failed redundant patriarchal thinking as these positive qualities are most prevalent in women and it is increasingly important their voices are heard. 1 Billion women across the world have experienced psychological or physical abuse at the hands of men. Do we really think we would have all these wars and all this violence if we truly listened to the voices of the mothers of our Earth?

I call this process of developing consciousness and understanding “awakening.” Much of humanity is virtually asleep, it slumbers and whilst in this state is easily manipulated by powerful destructive and pathological wills. The tiny wealthy global elite who have for so long exploited this condition are absolutely terrified that the mass of people will wake up and start thinking objectively for themselves.

No awake person would put up with the systematic exploitation of societies and the corruption of democracy that we have seen across the world. This is why so much of our media is owned by plutocrats and billionaires who pump out soporific messages to keep the populations asleep. This is also why they deliberately fuel insecurity and fear which leads to bigotry and selfishness to keep people blind to what is really taking place in our societies.

I am optimistic in nature, particularly about the empowerment of women in society and the growth of the many progressive social movements across the world that are taking on the forces of intolerance, ignorance and greed. I genuinely think that this battle of ideas can be won but we will all need to support each other and reach out to hold hands across the world to build a better future.

It is my radical proposal that we discard historical political labels and call our global movement “the awakening” because it is only through the process of waking up the slumbering consciousness’s of people across the world that our movement can succeed. Time is short, the unravelling of societies has already commenced and the stakes could not be any higher.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Based on an extract from the eBook A Certain Lack of Faith

One of the strangest absurdities expressed in the world of humanity is the universal misuse of the word truth. Alas, anyone who professes to speak the truth is somewhat lacking in self-reflection. We human beings don’t know the truth. Human beings start their lives with the contents of their brains limited to the instinctive programming and emotional attachments inherent at the time of their birth. From this point onwards the human mind is continually augmented through life by the further gathering of information and experiences from the environment which the brain tries to interpret through the impulses of our senses.

41PuAnwSvTL._SX310_BO1,204,203,200_When we humans express an opinion, unless deliberately lying, we are expressing what we believe to be true based on our attempts to process the limited information at our disposal in our mental databases and our instinctive programming. This is why arguments can be so much fun to observe as they usually start from the perspective that the participants all genuinely believe they are right. There is no shortage of humans prepared to stand up and tell others what they firmly believe the truth to be, but it is incumbent upon us all to use whatever cognitive abilities we have to put such claims to proper scrutiny. It is a sad characteristic of our species that all too often we fail to do this and in this vein I encourage readers to subject anything they may read on this website to the same rigorous test.

Everyone who goes to court and states that they will state the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth should be immediately locked up for perjury and the court should hold itself in contempt for asking such an obviously absurd statement! The best that any human can be asked is to state what they perceive to be true at that moment in time, based on the information that has been made available to them and the limitations of their cognitive abilities.

Scientists amongst you will know this only too well. Yes the truth does exist, but this is only a conceptual idea and it would only be evident to us if we were blessed with universal knowledge. As humans we can but strive to refine our perceptions but let us relish this, after all we may never get to our desired destination but the journey can be awe inspiring and fun.

A Certain Lack of Faith is available to buy on Amazon.