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The most heinous thing a human can do is eat another human. Fear of cannibalism along with the other two great taboos, incest and inter-family violence, are the bedrocks of human culture. Without these taboos there is no human civilization, yet zombie cannibals are everywhere, from the most popular TV shows in the US and Europe to the most played PC games. Everywhere we look there is a zombie dragging his feet looking for human prey. The ubiquitous nature of this meme of semi-human creatures that survive only by breaking the most fundamental of human taboos is a clear indicator of a collective cultural pathology.
Humans must not only kill and eat plants and animals to survive, we must make sure they keep coming back so they can be killed and eaten again and again. Life needs death; we must kill to live, and eventually we all wind up as someone else's food. This paradox lies at the core of the world’s religions and mythologies and the fear/repulsion of eating other humans is the keystone of our culture, without it we turn on ourselves and self-annihilation ensues. The zombie meme is a modern myth pointing to a deep fear of self-destruction.
The great psychologist and mystic Carl Jung was asked if a myth could be equated to a collective dream and he answered this way, “A myth…is the product of an unconscious process in a particular social group, at a particular time, at a particular place. This unconscious process can naturally be equated with a dream. Hence anyone who ‘mythologizes,’ that is, tells myths, is speaking out of this dream.”
If a person had a recurring nightmare that she was eating her family it would be a clear symptom of a profound psychological disturbance. Cultures don’t dream, but they do tell stories and those stories can tell us much about the state of the collective psyche.
Many of the themes in our popular culture are conscious story telling devices with the definite purpose of social engineering/control, but others seem to just emerge from the collective unconscious like the stuff of dreams. The zombie meme is clearly of the latter variety. It's pointing to a fear that something has broken in our culture and what awaits us is a collective psychotic break of apocalyptic proportions.
In the 1950’s there were widespread fears of a communist takeover that expressed themselves through films like The Village of the Damned or the Invasion of the Body Snatchers. But the zombie meme exposes something much darker in our collective psyche. The fundamental taboo around cannibalism is a pillar of human culture, yet the zombies are obsessive cannibals and we can’t seem to get enough of them.
What does this new archetype of a cannibalistic apocalypse reveal about out culture? By nature archetypes point to transcendent themes that evade definition. They are not symbols that have a clear equivalent, they can only point in the general direction which in the case of the zombie meme is the inverting of some of our most sacred myths and the embracing of our most horrid taboos.The zombie meme emerged onto the American consciousnesses with George Romero’s 1968 cult classic, The Night of the Living Dead. The archetype was invigorated with Danny Boyles’s 2002 film, 28 Days Later which introduced an important new element: the apocalypse.
The meme reached maturity in 2010 when AMC launched The Walking Dead, now the number #1 show on US television for viewers between the ages of 18 and 49. The Walking Dead was created by Frank Darabont, director of The Shawshank Redemption, and is based on a comic book series written by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, and Charlie Adlard. The key to the success of The Walking Dead is the dystopian zombie apocalypse in which the story unravels, allowing it to outperform even the ultimate social opiate, Sunday Night Football.
This is not simply an American phenomenon. In France the series The Returned (French: Les Revenants) has been very popular with both viewers and critics. The Returned puts a fascinating twist on the return of the dead- they just start walking home after having been dead for many years as if nothing had happened. The BBC’s In the Flesh focuses on reintegrating zombies, victims of PDS (Partially Dead Syndrome). World Z had Brad Pitt save the world from fast moving zombies on the big screen and Mel Brook’s son Max even wrote a book titled The Zombie Survival Guide.
The Inverted Christian Mythos
In one episode of The Walking Dead the zombies are seen shuffling under the arch of an episcopal church inscribed with a passage from the gospel of John, “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life”. Over a billion Catholics in the world regularly participate in the transformation of bread and wine into what they believe is the actual flesh and blood of their savior, Jesus of Nazareth, and then eat him. Catholics believe this sacramental right gives them eternal life. In the zombie meme, however, the infected humans die and are born again but not unto salvation but into a hell of insatiable appetites and mindless meandering.
The Christian myth is agricultural; Christ is killed, buried, and comes to life three days later as the seed emerging from the ground, just as the moon hides for three days behind the sun each month, only to be born again. Christ’s body is the ‘sacred’ meal, the sacrificial food of the gods, his blood is their elixir. The Catholic acts as the god receiving the sacred meal and by doing so gains the eternal qualities of the gods by breaking the most embedded of human taboos – the eating of human flesh. It’s certainly a curios paradox that the sins of man are forgiven by committing cannibalism, as Catholic doctrine clearly states that Jesus was both man and God and the transubstantiation of the Catholic mass physically changes the bread and wine into the flesh and blood of Jesus.
As the Christian myth begins its third millennium, is the zombie meme telling us that this religious story is no longer viable ? Are billions of ‘zombies’ eating flesh and drinking blood but finding no nourishment? The vast majority of Western people have a profound belief in science and science tells us that the story of Jesus is not to be taken literally, yet our churches insist that the ‘myth’ of Jesus is historical. The Christian software no longer works as the science ‘virus’ has rendered it useless.
Myths are other people’s religions and for Westerners in need of spiritual ‘food’ the Eastern systems of yoga and Buddhism, which don’t depend on dogma that contradicts science, seem to be more palatable to their scientific worldviews. Unfortunately, those ‘programs’ where written for a machine other than modern Western man.
Joseph Campbell described believing in a literal, historical God as someone eating a menu believing that they were really eating the food. One clear component of the zombie meme is the spiritual starvation we are experiencing in the West. We are eating the menus so the speak- old, meaningless books written by foreign peoples from far off places thousands of years ago, and they give us no nourishment.
Another essential quality of the zombie is it’s unquenchable hunger. No amount of flesh and blood seems able to quench the longing to consume live human flesh. Modern man has a similar problem- no amount of money, sex, gadgets, job titles, drugs, entertainment, pornography, art, religion or gurus seem able to quench our thirst. We live in constant hunger.
If we equate the zombie ‘hunger’ for flesh to the human desire for money, the comparison becomes almost uncanny. Most adult humans spend most of their day either making money or spending it while being constantly bombarded with propaganda/advertising to keep them hungry.
From the most humble street vendor to the billionaires on CNBC, no one seems to ever have enough money. Zombies need to eat live human flesh and money is at its core, human labor. Our craving for money is really the craving for the work of others, for the sweat and blood of millions to furnish us with unlimited amounts of food and consumer goods.
The vast majority of Westerners have ceased to create anything tangible. Only one in five Americans actually produce anything. Eating what one produces on a farm or trading manufactured goods for food connects us to life. But when people spend ten hours hours a day in an office looking at a computer screen and two hours in traffic, somehow eating, and living, become abstract. What are we actually doing to create the food , heat, and the shelter we need?
Our hunger for food and things far outstrips our practical needs and has become the cause of our ever more obese, angry, unsatisfied society while our spiritual hunger leaves us addicted, chasing empty consumer thrills. There is no end to what can be consumed and there is never enough for even those with billions; we always need more.
Zombies Don’t Surf
Zombies don’t think, they simply move in big herds looking for their next meal, reminiscent of the herds piling up behind the doors of malls on Black Friday. Curiously, the only way to kill them is to shoot them in their least vulnerable point, their brains.
Modern man is almost entirely without out any practical skills. He doesn't know how to grow food, hunt animals or build a house. He uses all sorts of electronic tools whose core technologies he doesn't really understand and which he doesn't have the slightest idea how to fix.
This set of circumstances is a recent development in human history, beginning in the 18th century and growing exponentially in the last 30 years during the information revolution. We are helpless slaves to technologies we don’t understand and to media that programs us to believe all sorts of propaganda designed to keep us from actually thinking critically.
The Zombie Apocalypse
At least since the time of Christ, western man has been waiting for one apocalypse or another. Be it the return of Christ, the turn of the millennium, nuclear war, killer meteorites or UFO’s, apocalyptic fears are nothing new to us. Yet it’s no coincidence that just as the zombie took over prime time with The Walking Dead, the term 'preppers' began to appear. The intensity of apocalyptic thinking has noticeably increased in the last few years as shows like Doomsday Preppers is the most watched program in the history of the National Geographic Channel.
The latest wave of apocalyptic furor to take over the US is not based on fears of nuclear war or the return of Jesus, but on the collapse of the financial system which gave us a shot over the bow in 2008. We are so far removed from any practical and productive activities that if the extremely complex financial and logistical infrastructure of the world gave way, how would we survive? If our stores were suddenly empty how many people in the West would be able to produce food, fuel and shelter? The vast majority of us are so far removed from the practical necessities of life that we are in a very real sense, mindless, insatiable, endlessly consuming zombies.
Not only do we not understand the technologies we use, we seem to trust that the complex systems that maintain us will continue working seamlessly even as doubts grow over the people who brought us the sub-prime debacle, the Iraq War and quantitative easing (QE). What would happen to the world supply chain if the confidence in the dollar as a reserve currency were lost? Is the ever increasing gap between rich and poor about to explode into all out class/race war? A key element of the zombie meme is the underlying fear of societal collapse.
The Myth is Dead
Sometime after Galileo but before Newton, science lost the need for meaning. For Galileo the universe, including the earth, was alive but by the time of Newton it was a dead machine. The importance of this shift cannot be overestimated. Galileo was describing something that was alive, that had a soul, a soul humans participated in, but by the time of Newton and the Enlightenment we were existing in a cold universe. The world went from breathing like a mother to ticking like a clock.
From the earliest known cave paintings made over 40,000 years ago to the mystery schools of pre-Aryan Europe through to medieval Christian Europe, the West has been guided by profound mythical stories.
Science can give us answers to almost all our questions, yet in the end its meaninglessness is disquieting. Science gives us technologies and deep understandings of the mechanics of the universe, but it's unwilling to the breach the topic of meaning. We are asked to live for cliches, consumerism, hedonism or fundamentalism. Rejecting science is absurd but embracing it is deadening.
If we were able to understand our own religions in the same spirit that we decipher the religions of others (myths) while embracing science (with its limitations), than maybe we could find our way to a new myth that would shed meaning on our cold world. But myths emerge, they are not consciously created, and for the moment we wade in the void of knowing how but not why. We consume but are never filled, we seek but we do not find.
We are all zombies.
ISIS is marching through city after city in Iraq, and they are doing it with American weapons. Thanks to a series of stunning victories in recent months, ISIS has captured a vast array of U.S. military equipment including trucks, Humvees, rockets, artillery pieces and Stinger missiles. When the U.S. was pulling out of Iraq, we were [...]
Force-Feeding Videos Sought by Second GuantÃ¡namo Hunger-Striker Thought to Show ‘Gratuitous Brutality’
Middle East Eye – 15 May 2014
LUBYA, Israel – Palestinians are due to stage marches in both the occupied territories and Israel Thursday to commemorate the loss of their homeland 66 years ago – an event they call the Nakba, or “Catastrophe” – a little more than a week after Israeli Jews celebrated the anniversary of the Jewish state’s birth.
But for many Israeli Jews, it is becoming ever harder to mark their Independence Day without confronting the fact that Israel’s establishment created a new set of victims, said Eitan Bronstein, founder of Zochrot, or “Remembering”, an organisation dedicated to teaching Israeli Jews about the Nakba.
“Once, the Nakba was a non-issue for Israeli Jews. Many had never heard of it or didn’t know what the term meant. But now it is unavoidable. Israelis have to face it.”
Long excluded from the Israeli national discourse, the Nakba – and the ensuing destruction of hundreds of Palestinian villages – is slowly forcing itself into the consciousness of ordinary Israelis. And that is creating new sources of tension and potential conflict.
Last week, as Israeli Jews held street parties celebrating Independence Day according to the Hebrew calendar, some 20,000 of their compatriots – Palestinians citizens of Israel – gathered in a forest half way between Nazareth and Tiberias. In the largest Nakba procession ever staged in Israel, they waved Palestinian flags as they marched to Lubya, one of more than 500 Palestinian villages destroyed in the aftermath of Israel’s creation.
As has become typical in recent years, the march produced a counter-demonstration: hardline Jewish nationalists staged noisy celebrations close by, fervently waving Israeli flags and trying to get as close to the march as police would allow.
Scenes of the Nakba procession – all over social media, as well as the Israeli news – upset the Israeli right. Avigdor Lieberman, the foreign minister, and leader of Israel is Our Home party, called Palestinian citizens who joined the march “a fifth column whose aim is the destruction of Israel”. He added that their rightful place was not in Israel but “Ramallah”, where the Palestinian Authority is headquartered.
Numbering 1.5 million, the Palestinian minority comprises a fifth of Israel’s population. Able to reach the destroyed villages, unlike most Palestinian refugees, they have increasingly shouldered the struggle to keep alive the memory of what was lost in 1948.
Most Israeli Jews, however, regard efforts to revisit 1948 as a threat to Zionism, said Bronstein. A long-standing consensus in Israel is that any concession to Palestinians on the refugee question could open the door to the right of return, destroying Israel’s Jewish character.
Im Tirtzu, a far-right youth movement opposed to what it sees as growing anti-Zionist influences on Israeli society, organised protests at several Israeli universities this week as Palestinian students tried to hold Nakba commemorations.
Matan Peleg, Im Tirtzu’s director, said: “The left is trying to promote these Nakba events to make Israelis feel guilty about our Independence Day. But Israelis aren’t falling for it. We know who started the war.”
Israel has long insisted that the many Palestinians left of their own accord or that their exodus was possibly even coordinated by Arab leaders. Palestinians in turn have always vehemently denied this narrative and insist that the civilian population was forced out.
Peleg said Israel respected the human rights of its Arab population more than any Arab state in the Middle East. “Israelis are made angry by the hypocrisy. When we see the Palestinian flag being raised, we know that they [those on the march] don’t want Israel to exist.”
Sights like those at Lubya are likely to fuel a “harsh” reaction from Israel, said Ilan Pappe, an Israeli historian and expert on the events of 1948. “Unfortunately, we are likely to see more draconian legislation in the future and the possibility of brutal violence,” he said.
The Israeli parliament has already passed a law preventing any publicly-funded institution – such as schools, universities and libraries – from providing a voice to the Palestinian narrative of 1948.
Pappe said an announcement last month by Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu of new legislation to define Israel in exclusively Jewish terms indicated further efforts to eradicate discussion of the Nakba and Israel’s responsibility.
Ziad Awaisi, one of the Nakba march organisers, said such moves were only galvanising the resolution of Palestinians on the refugee issue. “A new, young generation is ready to be more assertive about the Nakba and the rights of the refugees. They are willing to confront the Israeli authorities,” he said.
Estimates are that one in four Palestinian citizens of Israel belongs to a family expelled from its home in 1948, making them a potentially powerful force in Israel for a historical re-evaluation.
The “March of Return” has been held annually since 1998, each year to a different destroyed village. In recent years, the number of participants has swelled dramatically, with young families and youths playing an ever greater part.
The erased village of Lubya is covered by a pine forest known to the Jewish population as Lavi Park and nowadays chiefly visited by walkers, cyclists and families out for a barbecue.
Avraham Burg, a former speaker of the Israeli parliament who has emerged in recent years as a stern critic of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, asked in a commentary last week: “Can the Nakba and Independence coexist in the same space?”
Calling Israelis ”insensitive”, he wrote: “All around the country, cemeteries were desecrated, holy places were turned into storerooms and animal pens, entire villages were wiped off the face of their tilled earth, and one person’s place of mourning and devastation became another’s place of leisure and holiday-making.”
At Lubya, refugees spoke longingly of their desire to return to a village that was once home to nearly 3,000 Palestinians. Many were among the 750,000 Palestinians forced out of the new state of Israel in 1948 and into refugee camps across the region.
Awaisi said the large attendance at this year’s march may have reflected in part the fact that a significant proportion of Lubya’s refugees ended up in Yarmouk, a camp in Damascus that is now caught in the midst of Syria’s civil war.
“It is important that we show the refugees that we are active on their behalf, especially when the Palestinian leaders [based in Ramallah] grow ever quieter on the right of return.”
But, he added, local tensions were also driving a renewed interest in the Nakba. “The recent attacks on our communities, including mosques and churches, and the failure of the police to do anything, are a reminder to people that our presence here is under threat. This march was a way to say: We are here and we are not going anywhere.”
Nakba initiatives inside Israel are taking off on various fronts, adding to the tension with Israeli Jews.
Zochrot, or Remembering in Hebrew, is a small but growing organisation of Israelis – Jews and Palestinians – whose goal is to be “provocative”, said Raneen Jeries, the group’s media director. “We want to make them [Israeli Jews] angry. That is how we raise awareness. They have to take note of the history they were not taught at school.”
Map of destroyed villages
Last week Zochrot launched a phone app called iNakba, the first of its kind. In three languages, English, Arabic and Hebrew, it flags up on an interactive map all the Palestinian villages destroyed in 1948, allowing users to locate them and share information.
Jeries said it had been an instant success, gaining thousands of downloads on its first day.
“Colonial regimes like Israel use maps as a political tool, to erase communities, heritage, even nations. But this app puts Palestine back on the map. With the help of users, it will create the most accurate map ever and reconnect the refugees to their villages.”
For the past decade Zochrot has been running regular visits for Israelis to the ruins of different villages, often buried under pine forests and hidden inside gated communities reserved for the Jewish population.
Zochrot has created a “nakba kit” for teachers, though it is barred from use in the classroom by education officials.
The group has also created an archive of filmed interviews with veteran Israeli fighters from the 1948 war, who admit their role in expelling Palestinians and, in some cases, participating in massacres. Most Israeli Jews are still taught a long-discredited narrative that Palestinians fled under orders from Arab leaders.
Last year Zochrot held the first-ever conference on the practical implementation of a right of return, at a time when most Israeli Jews still reject even the principle.
Holy places reclaimed
Groups of refugees inside Israel have been trying to reclaim mosques and churches, usually the only buildings still standing in the destroyed villages, defying Israeli orders that have typically declared the ruins “closed military areas”.
In two destroyed Christian villages in the Galilee, Biram and Iqrit, youths have set up encampments next to the surviving churches, daring Israel to force them out.
Such efforts are leading to confrontations.
Last month a refugee family that tried to hold a baptism in a church at al-Bassa, now the industrial zone of the northern Jewish town of Shlomi, was attacked. A group of Jewish residents reportedly called them “stinking Christians” and smashed the camera of the official photographer.
Shlomi’s mayor, Gabi Naaman, told the Haaretz newspaper that refugee families trying to renovate or use the church were “trespassing”. He added that the building was too dilapidated to be safe. “I will act to close the place down because it’s dangerous, and I will block any entry to it in the future.”
At other sites, such as at the historic mosque of Ghabsiyya, east of Acre, Israeli authorities have been trying to prevent refugees from using the building by sealing it off with razor wire and high walls.
According to Pappe, as Israelis are faced with the realities of 1948, there is likely to be an ideological entrenchment. “Israelis may admit the ethnic cleansing [of 1948] but then they say it was justified, or that the Palestinians were the successors of the Nazis, or that Israel was going to be exterminated.”
But Jeries insists that the work of the Nakba groups is only just beginning. “Israeli society now acknowledges the Nakba. But there is much more to be done,” she said. “Israeli Jews don’t yet want to take responsibility for it: to fix historical injustices and take back the refugees. It is going to be a long process.”
One: The Creative Also Destroys
Ye instruments, forsooth, but jeer at me,
your wheels and cogs mere things of wonder;
when at the door, you were my keys to be,
yet, deftly wrought, your bits can move no wards asunder.
Long before paperback novels and films turned this universe into an industry, magicians of an earlier age attempted to unravel the mysteries of space and time through number systems, using experience and experiment to juxtapose "sacred" numbers with chemical and material correlates. Number theory also fascinated many founders of modern science; for Descartes there was "universal mathematics," for Liebnitz the key was "universal calculus."
More than two thousand years before that, however, Pythagorean philosophy launched this quest by synthesizing the use of numbers in several religious traditions. The Babylonians had based their system on the number 60, with a god for each number. In the Old Testament 40 was a holy cipher. In Jericho the number seven was powerful, referring both to the seven deadly sins and the seven spirits of God. In Chinese mythology odd numbers represented white, day, sun and fire, while even numbers signified black, night, earth and water.
With such precedents, in about 550 BCE Pythagoras used his knowledge of numbers, along with related beliefs about music, magic and astrology, to construct a knowledge system that eventually served as the basis for "solar" systems of thought. With his discourses, numbers began to expand humanity's grasp of the actual, imposing order on matter.
According to legend, the "first philosopher" had noticed a relationship between the sizes of four anvils and the notes they produced when struck. From this revelation he developed a philosophy based on the numbers one through four. Creation begins with the One – pure unity, he concluded, and then expands to the holy four. In turn, they beget the sacred number ten. For Pythagoras, all life sprang from this formula. Using the four basic numbers he proceeded to build his great triangle:
Despite the trend a few mathematicians did manage to maintain their belief in the mystical basis of number theory. Liebnitz, for example, accepted the universe as an expression of perfect reason and proposed the "universal calculus" that eventually developed into symbolic logic. His intention was to replace the decimal system's repeating sequences of one through ten with a binary system in which only one and two were used. Yet this notion, which ultimately led to the 20th century's computer revolution, was linked to his recognition that the binary system reflected another form of knowledge, a "lunar" system known as the I Ching. Although Liebnitz' attempt to express all knowledge through mathematical symbolism might well be classified as a simplistic error of rationalism, his insight into the revelatory power of the I Ching was nothing less than inspired.
A series of 64 oracles, the I Ching is said to have been written by King Wen about a millennium before Christ. Its subconscious, or lunar insights – sometimes used as a spur for meditation or a form of fortune telling – are derived from a dialectic of light and darkness, the primal thesis and antithesis known as Yin and Yang. Yin is the dark, night side of mind, the opposite of the bright, white and orderly Yang. The 64 oracles have a simple mathematical basis, the total number of possible combinations of Yang (represented by unbroken lines) and Yin (broken lines). The symbols of the hexagrams are paired opposites: heaven and earth, thunder and wind, water and fire, mountain and lake.
When I began this project many years ago I consulted the oracle in a moment of intuitive expectation. The idea was that the answer to any question is – and has always been – known to the asker. The coincidence of thrown coins, or even a page randomly opened, records this subconscious knowledge, and can eventually be understood through meditation. Jung called this principle synchronicity, the meaningful coincidence of two or more events:
"Synchronicity designates the parallelism of time and meaning between psychic and psychophysical events, which scientific knowledge has so far been unable to reduce to a common principle."
In this case, the Wilhelm-Baynes translation of the I Ching fell open at the commentary on the first hexagram, six unbroken lines called Ch'ien, or The Creative. This hexagram represents primal power, light-giving and strong, the power of time and duration, motion with time as its basis.
In the human world, The Creative represents the action of the leader, the ruler or manager, who awakens and develops the higher nature of his or her fellows. The Creative "sees with great clarity causes and effects" and attempts "conservation," which the translators define as the continuous actualization and differentiation of form. The qualities of such leaders are potentiality of success, power to further, perseverance, and sublimity; in this context "sublime" means "head" and success implies that the Creative lends "form" to archetypes of ideas.
According to the oracle, The Creative brings peace and security to the world by creating order: "The course of The Creative alters and shapes beings until each attains its true, specific nature, then keeps them in conformity with the Great Harmony." The leader is personified by the dragon, Chinese symbol of the electrically charged, dynamic, arousing force, a thunderstorm which is active in summer and withdraws into earth in winter. The oracle explains that the leader chooses a specialty and exerts influence on his environment without conscious effort.
Ch'ien seemed an ideal definition of the manager, bringing order to the environment, shaping the actions of others through creative activity that can lead to harmony. The Creative strives upward – toward heaven, giving support to the idea that managers and other leaders are natural ascensionists. Psychically oriented toward brightness, flying, climbing, pointing and moving upward, ascensionists are also often particularly concerned with hierarchic order. In sum, the I Ching defines the creative nature of humanity, organizing the universe of ideas.
My reading, however, wasn’t complete; there were also the "lines" which reflect the changes in individual situations. Lines that "move" reveal the direction of subsequent events, and sometimes offer warnings. Reading the lines related to The Creative, "nine at the top" caught my attention. In any hexagram, this line concerns the effect produced by the beginning line; in this case, it provides the warning that the "arrogant dragon will have cause to repent."
Several interpretations are possible. When a person attempts to move too high he or she loses touch with humanity and becomes isolated. Extremes also lead to confusion. Arrogance leads one to press forward, moving outward and upward without understanding how to draw back – inward and downward.
Put another way, an "arrogant dragon" knows existence but not annihilation; such a leader "meets with misfortune." Although the hexagram deals with creative powers, suggesting that an excess of strength isn’t necessarily harmful, this line illustrates the final effect of the leader's situation. If one's character is strong and inner preparations have been made, the end may simply be a transition. Yet the line also implies remorse, "since there is no possible way out."
"Nine at the top" is a succinct description of leaders in a world of manipulative tools that they create to order reality, a world of efficient production that culminates in techniques of death, a world of predictability, assimilation, and alienation. Over the last century, The Creative has certainly become a destroyer. More than once, order had led humanity to the brink of annihilation in a cycle suggested by the lunar system.
Prisoners of the Real makes the connection between solar and lunar knowledge, illuminating the cost of society’s preoccupation with certainty and order. Exploring insights from linguistics, psychology, physics, literature, philosophy and management science, it opens the door to a new vision of freedom and cooperation – Dionysian leadership.
"Dionysian leaders use artistic methods to invent structures of reality. Although they acknowledge that scientific and artistic processes have equal worth, they de-emphasize logical reasoning and deduction and focus on metaphorical thinking. Their interest is not definition but discovery.”
Section One: The Rational Trap
The Creative Also Destroys * Deconstructing Leadership * Anatomy of Insecurity * Managers and Their Tools * The Corporate Way of Life * The Dictatorship of Time * Rules for Rationals * The Age of Adaptability * Living with Rational Management
Section Two: Philosophy of the Real
Al-Jazeera – 27 February 2014
The first bullet struck 16-year-old Samir Awad in his left leg. He staggered away as fast as he could, but was too slow. A second round slammed into his left shoulder, exiting from the right side of his chest. Then, moments later, a third bullet penetrated the back of his skull and exited from his forehead.
The live rounds were fired by a group of Israeli soldiers guarding a section of Israel’s separation barrier built on the lands of Samir’s village in the occupied West Bank. The wall has been used by Israel to make large areas of the town of Budrus’ farmland inaccessible to the villagers.
On the day he died in January 2013, Samir and his friends had celebrated the end of the school term by walking into the hills along a path close to the steel barrier, said Ayed Murrar, head of Budrus’ popular struggle committee. An army patrol, laying in wait, ambushed them. Samir was grabbed as his friends fled. When moments later he managed to break free, the soldiers opened fire.
Samir’s friend, Malik Murrar, who witnessed the shooting, said: “How far can an injured child run? They could easily have arrested him. Instead they shot him in the back with live ammunition.”
Samir’s story is one of several harrowing accounts of killings of Palestinian civilians told in a report “Trigger-happy“, published Thursday by Amnesty International.
The international human rights organisation said the evidence suggests Samir’s death was an extra-judicial execution, which constitutes a war crime under international law.
“It’s hard to believe that an unarmed child could be perceived as posing imminent danger to a well-equipped soldier,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty’s director for the Middle East and North Africa.
Dozens killed, hundreds wounded
The report identifies a pattern of behaviour by Israeli soldiers of shooting live ammunition at unarmed Palestinians, sometimes as they are fleeing. Over the past three years of Amnesty’s study, dozens of Palestinians have been shot dead in the West Bank and hundreds seriously wounded. Thousands more have sustained injuries from rubber-coated bullets and tear gas.
The number of casualties rose dramatically last year, with 25 Palestinians in the West Bank, four of them children, killed by live rounds – more than the total in the previous two years of the study combined.
Many were targeted during largely non-violent weekly demonstrations in more than a dozen Palestinian villages in the West Bank against the separation barrier Israel has built on their land. The wall has entailed the confiscation of hundreds of hectares of farmland on which the inhabitants depend.
Ayed Murrar attributed the rise in killings to a fear in the army that unrest is growing in the occupied territories and may lead to a new intifada, or popular uprising, against the occupation.
“They want to make an example of us to stop others from adopting our way of mass protest against the occupation. They want to keep us submissive and passive.”
Last summer Nitzan Alon, the Israeli commander in charge of the West Bank, warned that Israel was facing a wave of unrest unless peace talks were revived.
‘All kinds of resistance’
But as the recent US-brokered negotiations have faltered, senior Palestinian officials in the West Bank have called for a return to “all kinds of resistance” against Israel, including popular protests. Last Friday dozens of Palestinians were reported to have been injured by Israeli soldiers firing rubber-coated bullets and tear gas canisters against demonstrators opposed to Israel’s wall.
Other kinds of popular protest have also emerged over the past year, including Palestinian groups setting up encampments to reclaim land Jewish settlers have grabbed in Israeli-controlled parts of the West Bank.
In the latest example this month, soldiers beat and arrested protesters as they removed a camp named Ein Hijleh in the Jordan Valley, which had been established to highlight Israeli efforts to annex the valley as part of the peace talks.
And 13 Palestinians in Hebron were injured in clashes with Israeli soldiers last week when 2,000 demonstrators marched down Shuhada Street, the city’s main street, which Israel has closed to Palestinians for the past 20 years.
The Amnesty study did not include Gaza, where Israel usually claims Palestinian civilians killed by its forces were “collateral damage” during military operations. The report notes that this context of armed conflict does not apply to the casualties in the West Bank.
In many West Bank locations, said Amnesty, Palestinian residents face “collective punishment”, with Israeli forces declaring areas to be “closed military zones”, blocking access roads, launching night raids where sweeping arrests are made, using excessive force against protesters and bystanders, and damaging residents’ property.
Amnesty says Israeli soldiers’ decision to fire live ammunition, rubber bullets and tear gas canisters at Palestinian civilians who pose little or no immediate threat to them raises troubling questions about the army’s undeclared rules of engagement.
The report dismisses claims by the Israeli military justifying its harsh actions on the grounds that Palestinians have thrown stones at soldiers. It said “stone-throwing poses little or no serious risk to Israeli soldiers”, and chiefly serves as an “irritant”. The stones are thrown from too far away to harm the soldiers, who in any case are usually too well-protected to suffer injury.
Israeli human rights groups have long criticised the army’s repressive methods towards Palestinian protests against the occupation. In the late 1980s, during the first popular uprising, Israel’s defence minister at the time, Yitzhak Rabin, publicly urged soldiers to “break the bones” of any Palestinians they caught.
During the early stages of the second intifada, beginning in late 2000, the Israeli army again resorted to massive use of force. In three weeks during October 2000, before Palestinian factions started taking up arms, Israeli military records show soldiers fired one million live rounds.
Amnesty describes the Israeli army’s use of force against Palestinians in its three-year study as “unnecessary, arbitrary and brutal”. It adds that in all the cases it examined, including Samir’s death, there was no evidence the Israeli soldiers’ lives were under threat.
“The frequency and persistence of arbitrary and abusive force against peaceful protesters in the West Bank by Israeli soldiers and police officers – and the impunity enjoyed by perpetrators – suggests that it is carried out as a matter of policy,” Luther said.
Shot in the back
In addition to 45 unarmed Palestinians shot dead with live ammunition over the past three years, many of them at protests, another 261 have been seriously injured, including 67 children. Several were shot in the back, indicating they had been targeted as they were fleeing.
Many more civilians have been injured by means other than live rounds. Amnesty cites as “astonishing” the fact that in three years Israeli soldiers have wounded 8,500 Palestinians with rubber-coated steel bullets and tear gas. Among that number were 1,500 children.
Sarit Michaeli of B’Tselem, an Israeli group monitoring abuses in the occupied territories, said her organisation had been distributing video cameras to Palestinians as a way to help document the use of violence by soldiers and settlers. In December, B’Tselem released video footage shot by Muhammad Awad, a Palestinian in the village of Beit Ummar, showing a soldier firing a tear gas canister into his chest. He had to be treated in hospital.
Amnesty criticises the lack of proper investigations by the army of the many incidents it records, calling the response “woefully inadequate” and lacking in “independence and impartiality”. The human rights group says it cannot identify a single case of a member of the Israeli security forces being convicted of “wilfully killing” a Palestinian in the occupied territories for the past 25 years.
According to figures compiled by Yesh Din, another Israeli human rights group, only four soldiers have been convicted of negligent manslaughter and another of negligence in the past 13 years. None was discharged from the army or received a prison sentence of more than a few months.
Michaeli was herself injured last July when a police officer fired a rubber-coated bullet at her from close range while she was filming a demonstration in Nabi Saleh.
“It’s clear there is a policy from the commanders of turning a blind eye when open-fire regulations are violated. When I recently spoke to the officer investigating my case, he said that there had been no developments – that was six months after the events happened. When the security services know the policy is to do nothing, there is no deterrence.”
Requests by Amnesty to meet army officials to discuss the cases in its report were rejected. The Israeli defence ministry was unavailable for comment when approached by Al Jazeera.
An Israeli army statement said: “The IDF [Israeli Defense Forces] holds itself to the highest of professional standards and trains and equips itself as such. When there is any suspicion of wrong doing, or breach of discipline, the IDF reviews, investigates and takes action where appropriate.”
Numbed to aggression?
A recent academic study of Israeli soldiers’ testimonies suggested their operational routines quickly numbed them into treating harassment and aggression towards Palestinians as normal. The young soldiers came to enjoy a sense of power and their ability to impose “corrective punishment”.
Avner Gvarayahu of Breaking the Silence, a group of former soldiers who compile testimonies of soldiers’ abuses, agreed. He said the real rules of engagement issued by commanders were “flexible” and allowed soldiers to open fire on civilians.
“Soldiers are educated by the army to see the conflict as a zero-sum game: It’s either us or them. Then every Palestinian comes to be seen as a threat, as a potential terrorist, whether they are young or old, man or woman, able-bodied or disabled. They are all the enemy.”
Gvarayahu, who once commanded a special operations unit, said the army command also approved of what he called “revenge attacks”, raids on random Palestinian communities in retaliation for the deaths of Israelis. “There is no way these kinds of attacks can be carried out by ordinary soldiers without authorisation from the very top. I think the decision even comes from the political level.”
He said political and military leaders established the norms of behaviour within the army.
“Remember that the current defence minister, Moshe Yaalon, when he was the chief of staff [in 2002], said the army’s job was to ‘burn into the consciousness’ of the Palestinians their defeat. The only aim one can infer from that is that the army’s role is to use force to make the Palestinians weak and compliant.”
In the 19th century news was an open ideological weapon; opinions splattered across printed pages. But the new age brought with it a new form – objective reporting. Based on the notion that rational people could discover the truth if presented with enough unfettered facts, objectivity quickly became the unchallenged goal of the professional press. In 1947, however, the Commission on Freedom of the Press noted that it was no longer just the goal. It had become a fetish.
By the end of the 20th century factual fetishism was a social illness fed by print and electronic media. As journalist Mark Harris put it, "Only hard data are useful to the press. Unable to negotiate meditation, the media turn it off. Reporters cannot believe things they cannot instantly absorb, jot down, add up and phone in." In the words of TV's most famous FBI man, Jack Friday, like a good cop, a good reporter -- or a rational leader -- wants "nothing but the facts." That many of these so-called "facts" turned out to be false, incomplete or inaccurate, and objectivity itself was an impossible standard, seemed not to matter.
Humanity turned further outward toward the "objective," and upward toward “order” through scientific methods and bureaucratic organizations. The dream of the new world, at first sounding much like Rousseau's vision of a naturalized community, became the reality of centralization, regimentation, and predictability. Human relations and behavioral engineering were primary tools used by leaders to turn citizens into more easily conditioned extroverts.
Materialist assumptions replaced the concept of a "rational soul" with a "tabula rasa" upon which managers attempted to write. The term "tabula rasa" was introduced by John Locke in 1672, just as a new English middle-class was disposing of the divine rights of kings. Rejecting Descartes' theory of innate knowledge, Locke traced it instead back to sense perception. We begin, he said, as blank slates, without general principles. After birth external stimuli imprint themselves upon the mind. Locke applied Newton's mechanistic view to the theory of knowledge:
"Let us then suppose the mind to be, as we say, white paper, void of all character, without any ideas; how comes it to be furnished? Whence comes it by that vast store, which the busy and boundless fancy of man has painted on it with an almost endless variety? Whence has it all the materials of knowledge and reason? To this I answer in one word, from experience; in that all our knowledge is founded, and from that it ultimately derives itself."
Combined with dialectical materialism, Locke's hypothesis found considerable support in the 20th century. The conditioned reflex – training to respond to a given stimulus in a predetermined fashion – was a shaping mechanism that, according to psychologist J.B. Watson, confirmed that the human being is "an assembled organic machine ready to run." The techniques of operant conditioning developed by Skinner rested upon an assumption that the "living organism" called human being functions faithfully in response to externally administered stimuli. This gradually conferred on managers, as natural programmers for these living machines, the status of cultural designer. The rest of humanity was meanwhile consigned by behaviorism to a rational extroversion that removed the summum bonum – the highest good, always a bit beyond reach -from view.
The other-directed person, noted David Reisman in his seminal study The Lonely Crowd, is the model of the salaried employee and bureaucrat in any metropolitan area, "torn between the illusion that life should be easy, if he could only find the ways of proper adjustment to the group, and the half buried feeling that it is not easy for him." Reisman documented how the shift away from agriculture and the growth of habits of scientific thought caused religious feelings to give way to rational, often individualistic attitudes.
The centralization and bureaucratization of society, in turn, increased awareness of and sensitivity to other people. The result was the other-directed person – Fromm's "marketer," Mills' "fixer," Arnold Green's "middle class male child." Other-direction insured conformity and, therefore, comfort in one's peer group. Rational extroverts care very much what others think of them. Being liked is the chief area of concern:
"What is common to all other-directed people is that their contemporaries are the source of direction for the individual – either those known to him or those with whom he is indirectly acquainted, through friends and through the mass media. This source is of course 'internalized' in the sense that dependence on it for guidance in life is implanted early. The goals toward which the other-directed person strives shift with that guidance: it is only the process of striving itself and the process of paying close attention to the signals from others that remain unaltered throughout life."
The other-directed person is often a rational manager who believes that all associates are essentially customers, and all objects of either conciliation or manipulation. Jung describes this person as an extrovert psychological type of either the thinking or feeling rational variety. Such a leader is object-oriented and dedicated to given facts, never expecting to find absolute factors in his own inner life; the only ones he knows are outside himself. His guide is external necessity. His consciousness, said Jung, looks outward because that is where the essential and decisive determinant is found. No serious attempt to overreach the boundary of facts is made, since facts are a source of almost inexhaustible fascination.
The moral standard of the modern, rational leader coincides with the demands of society. Above all, such a person is adaptive. Yet adjustment to the objective situation, the demands of the environment, isn't merely adaptation. The factual fetishism of rational managers traps them in short-range planning and bans considerations beyond the observable, all those things that lie outside the immediate conditions of time and space. Instead, the manager does only what is needed and expected.
In most modern societies, leaders and managers have formed a new class, a brotherhood of ascensionists. For these committed strivers, the highest person represents the utmost in power, authority, and sometimes even intelligence. But as Lewis Mumford noted, those who look upward and outward, moving across vast distances at rapid speeds, often forget to look downward and inward. Both self and Earth are thus sacrificed in a quest for order and control, and the rejection of the inner being becomes the curse of our age.
The dominance of rational habits of thought in virtually all areas of life has given theory the veneer of absolute truth. Despite the limits of perception, we struggle for certainty about the small bits of knowledge we hold. Our spirit of logical inquiry is too often a journey to eradicate doubt and establish doctrine. Once a hypothesis has been verified, the next step is to corroborate, refine and disseminate it. In this way a variety of flawed and false theories attain the status of law.
A significant example is the behaviorist hypothesis that the only elementary function of the central nervous system is reflex. To verify this, only experiments that registered responses to "change" were conducted. According to ethologist Konrad Lorenz, these experiments were executed in a way "that precluded their revealing that the central nervous system can do more than react passively to stimuli." He concluded that, "The Skinnerian has no right to comment on innate behavior or on aggression, because he cuts it from consideration."
Nevertheless, they do comment – on this and many other matters, continuing to spread this belief system. Despite its blind spots, the Skinnerian world view has made a deep impact and almost become an item of faith. The simplicity of the reflex doctrine, along with the apparent exactitude of related research, has led to considerable acclaim. In Civilized Man's Eight Deadly Sins, Lorenz noted:
"Even religious believers could be converted to it, for if the child is born as a 'tabula rasa,' it is the duty of every believer to see to it that this child and, possibly, all other children, are brought up in what he believes to be the only true religion. Thus behavioristic dogma supports every doctrinaire in his conviction."
Behaviorism is essentially the doctrine of human as mechanism restated as a democratic principle: all of us are created potentially equal-blank slates without instinct, and would be equal under the same external conditions. The threat to democratic order therefore is the "myth" of the inner being, which suggests differences in social need and response.
Most leaders generally accept such mechanistic doctrines, moving their organizations toward increased predictability, continuing the search for the Absolute. Yet, in order for rationality to function as the central operational principle, people must be unresisting objects. The rulers of the modern world may disagree about ideology or economics, but they have apparently reached a virtual consensus on at least one matter – that the conditioning of humanity is highly desirable. The social contract, in the US and elsewhere, may have been initiated with the ideal of individualism, but its implementation has progressed dramatically toward order and uniformity.
Judging from the higher degree of extroversion in developed societies, and the popularity of analysis and certainty, mass indoctrination has been remarkably effective. But classification without reflection upon whole systems can be dangerous; this rational approach is easily prey to reductionism. It smirks as subjective attempts to gain insights without quantification or operational research, considering the filter of measurement the only dependable standard. To look at and work with human beings is this manner, one must accept a dehumanized view of consciousness. Along with that comes aggressive action to suppress subjective experience, impulse, instinct and other challenges to pure reason.
Skinner proclaimed that the autonomous human was dead: long live conditioned and conditioning humanity! What we need is just more objective, exact research to push back the decimal places that measure the "real world." But our half-buried feelings have not disappeared. The adjusted life, they remind us, does not bring us closer to the "summum bonum," and may instead have moved us farther away.
This is a excerpt from Prisoners of the Real.To read other chapters, go to Prisoners of the Real: An Odyssey
When people sign the declaration of peace at WorldBeyondWar.org they have the opportunity to type in a brief statement in their own words. Thousands have done so, including those pasted below. (And a few great quotes from the past have been added here in graphic form.)
“I support this proposal and agree with this great and important initiative to abolish militarism and war. I will continue to speak out for an end to the institution of militarism and war and for institutions built on international law and human rights and nonviolent conflict resolution.” — Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Laureate
“As a 29 year veteran of the US Army/Army Reserves, retiring as a Colonel and having served as a U.S. diplomat for 16 years and resigning in 2003 in opposition to the Iraq war, I firmly believe war does not resolve political issues. We must work diligently to force the governments of our nations to use diplomacy, not weapons.” —Ann Wright
“Everybody’s worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there’s a really easy way: stop participating in it.” — Noam Chomsky
“It is so inspiring to see a new group coming together not to focus on a particular war or weapons system, but on all war–everywhere. And it’s great to have such beautifully crafted arguments about why war is not inevitable and how war contributes to so many other global ills. This coalition is worthy of Martin Luther King’s call to end violence and instead put our energies and resources into ‘life-affirming activities.’ Bravo!” —Medea Benjamin
“We must work to end all war because: 1. In war there are no winners, only losers. 2. To thrive, humans need peace, which cannot be created by war. 3. We need all our ingenuity, creativity, technology and will to find a solution to runaway climate change. We cannot afford the military-industrial complex.” — Sally Reynolds, Abingdon Peace Group
“The abolition of war is an idea whose time has come. We are at a transformative moment in history. Our Mother Earth is under siege from destructive global warming and industrialization. It is essential that we mobilize to save our planet. War is a cruel and untenable distraction, draining trillions of dollars and incalculable losses of intellectual firepower away from the essential work that needs to be done to create a livable future for humanity.” — Alice Slater, Global Council of Abolition 2000
“War is a crime against humanity. When 90% of the casualties of war are civilians including children, its time to End ALL WARS! The world badly needs the resources to meet human and environmental needs. Wars are not making us more secure, but creating more enemies. There are more effective means of achieving security than war and killing other people’s children. As former President Eisenhower said, ‘I like to believe that the people of the world will want peace so much that governments will have to get out of the way and let them have it.’ When the people of the world decide to end war, we can end it. At least 99% of the world’s people do not benefit at all from all the wars our governments are waging. The time is NOW. Please join us.” —David Hartsough
“If anything can halt climate change it’s redirecting the unfathomable pile of money and energy now wasted on a war machine that kills for fossil fuels and consumes a good share of them in the process. The symptoms of militarism addressed by human rights and civil liberties groups would end if the disease were treated. Our culture of violence, our government of secrecy, our provocation of animosity around the world: these would end if we stopped slaughtering people under the banner of war. If a fraction of those damaged by war work to end war, it will quickly become a thing of the past — seen then as the unmitigated barbarism that many find it hard to recognize as long as war is accepted by those in positions of power.” — David Swanson, author of War No More: The Case for Abolition
“History has shown us that the institution of war created by humans is not only morally reprehensible, but utterly ineffective in resolving any kind of disputes. The human, social, environmental and economic costs of war are too high. We now know more about the reality of a global peace system built upon global collaboration, social change and constructive conflict transformation. It is time for a re-energized effort to build a world beyond war by challenging the war system and supporting the infrastructure of peace.” — Patrick Hiller, Peace Scientist and Director of War Prevention Initiative by the Jubitz Family Foundation
“War is a great destroyer. And human history has arrived at a pivotal moment. We can choose a path built on cooperation, where our caring and sharing side uplifts us, or we can continue to embrace a worldview where domination using violence imprisons us in cycles of killing and destruction. I’m a biologist, and war is not genetically fixed. War is a cultural invention. It’s time to end this abomination, and this World Beyond War movement is uniquely focused on unifying the human community to create one of the biggest revolutions in history. I’m in. Join us!” — Judith Hand, Founder: A Future Without War.org
“Change will not come from a President Gandhi. Rather, the initiate for change will come from the bottom up as citizens force politicians to act. We just need to put our voices together and get sufficiently organized. Ultimately change will come from the ingenuity, compassion and ability of the American people to self-correct and chart a more secure and sustainable course for the future.” — Russell Faure-Brac, author of Transition to Peace
“Our greatest enemy today is not a particular group of people in a far-off country. Our greatest enemy is war itself.” — Paul Chappell, author of The Art of Waging Peace
“We must work to end all war because the health, welfare, and safety of the children is the most important element of a society. The children can be the focus for mobilizing, conflict resolution, and uniting for the future of humanity. The children allow the people of the world to show kindness, generosity, and compassion.” — Andre Sheldon, Director of Global Strategy of Nonviolence
“We must end war because war is an abrogation of the inviolable bonds of connection between all people, all living things and the planet. To participate in it is a denial of the trust in continuity deeded to us by our forebears and expected of us by future generations. Every act of war and aggression diminishes the humanity of the individuals involved, destabilizes communities and nations; and scars the entire human family. We are committed not to ending wars but to ending war itself, and to addressing the fear, greed, misunderstanding and drive for power that lead to violent conflict and war.” — Rena Guay, Executive Director, Center for Conscience in Action
“Richard Wendell Fogg, Center for the Study of Conflict, years ago said rather than saying we need to abolish war, we should talk of REPLACING war. In the field of conflict analysis and transformation, there are creative strategies we can apply to solutions that can solve problems and make war unnecessary. With increasing lethality of weapons, evolving technology and communications, war is obsolete. It is a solution worse than any problem it presumes to solve. We can address conflicts constructively. Beyond diplomacy, we can use mediation, negotiation and problem-solving strategies to transcend war.” —Diane Perlman
“Humanity can no longer afford war for two reasons. 1) We need all our resources to deal with the consequences of climate change and peak oil, and 2) War is too wasteful of both human and physical resources to be further utilized or tolerated by the human species. Indeed, nuclear war, which remains a major threat to the world as we know it, would likely make our planet uninhabitable for our own species and many others.” —Peter Bergel
“War is at the heart of all global problems, impeding humanity from a full realization of just, equitable and sustainable communities.” —Kent D. Shifferd
“There is enough for everyone to have what they need without exploitation. Adequate distribution of resources, including education, without violence can lead to a sustainable system that doesn’t stress the ecosphere. Alternately, continued violence feeds population surges and hoarding the products of exploitative extraction, which endanger the survival of our species. In short, if we want a future with humans on Earth, we’ve got to stop war.” —Vernon Huffman
“Life on earth is not sustainable continuing down this path. War destroys people, the air, the ground, the water. It destroys history. It inhales money/resources literally taking food out of the mouths of the people. It takes generations to recover if that is even possible. Enough.” —Barbara Cummings
“War is the worst act of terrorism and among the greatest causes of human suffering and death and ecological degradation. Wars are declared by the rich and fought by the poor. There will be no real justice and protection of human rights and the rights of nature until a sustainable global peace has been achieved.” —Brian J. Trautman
“I know from my lengthy experience as a journalist, researcher, and human being working in various war-torn or recently war-battered countries that all wars inflict terrible, long-lasting damage on all the residents of the war-zone– with the weakest members of society always suffering the most. There is no such thing as a ‘humanitarian’ war. In cases of conflict or bitter oppression, the very best way to mend broken relationships while building a solid basis for a better situation going forward is to use all nonviolent means possible to de-escalate tensions and work for a better life going forward on the basis of the equality and equal worth of all human persons.” —Helena Cobban
“War murders our children and sickens the survivors. ‘Peace or Perish: Abolish War on Planet and Poor’ (Theme of the 2014 Veterans For Peace National Convention, Asheville, NC, July 2–27).” —John Heuer
“The main obstacle to disarmament is the general/common belief that it is impossible. And it is — just as impossible as ending slavery, apartheid, the Cold War, and tearing the Iron Curtain. Humanity suffers under poverty, unhealth, pollution, depletion of resources, climate change. Instead of being an extremely expensive and deadly risk on top of all those threats militarism is clearly the best option/chance/opportunity to do something substantial — if all countries would join in abolition of military force and forces (the idea that Nobel in his will for ‘the champions of peace’ called ‘creating the brotherhood of nations’).” —Fredrik S. Heffermehl
“Militarism is the world’s biggest problem…morally, socially, economically, and environmentally.” —Ward Reilly
“Creating a world beyond war may be the noblest endeavor we can work on. Can you imagine what future generations will think if we succeed? We will leave them a world where trillions of dollars are not wasted annually on weapons and war, where tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands are no longer slaughtered in unnecessary wars. Surely we can imagine solving conflicts between nations in a more mature way; we can imagine the human race evolving to a higher consciousness that no longer requires war. We can imagine a world without war, now we have to work toward such a world. It will be a global challenge, uniting the world to accomplish this great new reality.” —Kevin Zeese, PopularResistance.org
“War is a lie. War is a racket. War is hell. War is waste. War is a crime. War is terrorism. War is not the answer.” —Coleen Rowley
“War destroys. War obliterates. War is ruination. And war begets more war. After thousands of years of experience proving this, and reams of literature and countless works of art exposing it, when are people going to learn?” —Lisa Simeone
“War is a barbaric tool of the war profiteers and Empires who employ them. War pits young people from the working class against other similarly poor, or disadvantaged humans, for nothing but the greed of the few. Only we the people can make war obsolete by not participating in the profound crimes of the profiteers and other war mongers.” —Cindy Sheehan
“War causes pain, suffering, and gross violations to human needs and rights. War causes a violent domino effect for years to come. Humans have no business being involved in war. We are an evolved species that needs to focus on peace and justice in our world. We must honor and show respect for our planet and all living and nonliving entities. We need to shift away from violence and focus on the beauty of nonviolence. War and destructive violence are not solutions to any problem. War must be ended. When that happens we will lift the pain and suffering of our world and allow humanity to begin to heal. It is time we wake up and raise our thoughts to a higher consciousness. If we do not end war now, it will end us. Call on me. I am ready to help end all war!” —Joy Henry
“We need a movement if we are going to stop wars and this may be it. So many of us are working in small groups and we need to come together as one.” —JoAnne Lingle
“The future existence of our planet depends upon ending war. War and violence are not a solution to conflict. They contribute to more violence, more death, more poverty, more suffering physically and psychologically, more patriotism, more borders, more ignorance, and more stupidity. How tragic is all of that. The ecology of our planet is in jeopardy and the pollution of the war machine world wide is a huge contributor to climate change.” —Ann Tiffany
“As professor of global peace studies at the International Islamic University of Malaysia I am committed to the ending of war also through criminalization of war, an approach that has not been sufficiently used in spite of the UN Charter outlawing war — with too many loopholes used buy aggressive countries.” —Johan Galtung, Founder of TRANSCEND International
“I applaud the establishment of a global movement to end all war, but note that citizens of the United States have a special responsibility to make this happen. Since the end of World War II, the U.S. has bombed more than 25 countries. In those 68 years, no other nation has killed and injured more people living outside of its borders. Most Americans remain silent while we spend more on war, and have more soldiers in other countries, than all other nations combined. War and soldiers are glorified in the U.S. Please recognize and honor those who have had the courage to take a public stand against one or more U.S. warswww.uspeacememorial.org/Registry.htm. We celebrate these role models in hopes of inspiring other Americans to speak out against war and for peace.” —Michael D. Knox, US Peace Memorial Foundation
“War is about nothing but violence. War is terrible! I have a first-hand war experience and I know what war is all about! I dream of peace!” —Fidaa Abuassi
“War, and preparation for war is draining resources that are life giving from countries, statesnd cities. The world we help create is the world we leave for those who come after us. I am committed to living non-violently in response to the violence in my neighborhood, my city, my state, my country, my hemisphere and my world because non-violent love in action is the most powerful force for change that exists.” —Joyce Ellwanger
“As Ernest Hemingway wrote, ‘Never think that war, no matter how necessary, nor how justified, is not a crime. Ask the infantry and ask the dead…’” —Christopher Flynn
“The biosphere can no longer tolerate the toxic affects of modern warfare, which threaten the continued existence of all humanity and many animals and plants on which we are dependent.” —Richard Ochs
“War benefits no one, with the exception of military contractors and their shareholders. It makes our communities poor, our nation less safe, and ourselves less fully human. We must commit to diplomacy, peacemaking and development!” —Diane Farsetta
“This atavistic practice has always been horrible, but technology makes it even more destructive and savage. it is time for humanity to become civilized.” —Sally-Alice Thompson
“We need to solve some of the world’s problems like climate change, world hunger, homelessness, income disparity, the influence of money ine lections, destruction of the environment, etc. and stop wasting our resources on killing people and destroying the environment.” —Jean Gordon
“The U.S. has become the most egregious war-monger and terrorist nation in the world, as well as the long-time leading purveyor of weapons of war throughout the world, and because here at home, we have 50 million of our citizens living in poverty, one in four children surviving on Food Stamps, a collapsing education system, poor health care, and many other disasters, none of which can be addressed as long as the country keeps pouring trillions of dollars into war and militarism. This madness and criminality must end!” —Dave Lindorff
“It’s obvious: war is a waste of human and earth resources that results only in suffering. There are other ways to disagree.” —Karen Malpede
“As John F. Kennedy said, it will end us instead. ‘If mankind does not put an end to war, then war will put an end to mankind.’ Modern war is ecocide, genocide and ethnocide and is not sustainable. The costs of war are enormous, not just financial but social, ecological and global. War must become obsolete if the world is to survive.” —John Judge
“We’re destroying life on earth in all its forms. By supporting war we are creating poverty that includes fear and anxiety about the future which leads to depression, poor health, food insecurity, and homelessnes. People all over the world are experiencing the destructive effects of investing most of our country’s resources in war resulting in the failure to create a healthy, well-educated and secure environment for humanity around the world.” —Nancy Schoerke
“We must shift from ‘war is a necessary evil’ to ‘peace is a necessary good.’” —Swami Beyondananda, Steve Bhaerman
“The myth that war creates justice, solves problems, improves security and enables peace is absurd. If we weren’t so bombarded with propaganda to the contrary, everyone would know that. We need to insist on a new story, the true story. We must forbid the few to profit from war so that we may all begin to profit from peace.” —Robert Shetterly
“We have seen enough of war to know that it doesn’t work to resolve conflicts. It only exacerbates them. It is time we find other solutions and dedicate ourselves to life–not death.” —Peter Kuznick
“To the extent that today’s world is civilized at all, it’s largely thanks to yesterday’s opponents of war and misery: the soldiers who refused to fight, the civilians who refused to accept war and occupation, and all those who worked for a global order based on peace and equity. Yet the institutions and forces that produce war have not been eradicated. Today we must build an international movement that will not only prevent future wars but transform the very structures on which war, militarism, and imperial domination are based. This struggle will not be won quickly, but in the process even small acts and partial victories can help save numerous lives.” —Kevin Young
“It is clear to me that war creates violence and does not solve problems. I have lived and worked in Iran. Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine and have seen first hard the broken bodies of children and the anger at our impact as a nation on people’s lives. Thank you for putting this opportunity together. Peace” —Ann Huntwork
“I don’t believe there is such a thing as a ‘just war’. Murder is murder, whether sanctioned by a government or not. All people should have the right to life and liberty, so long as they do no harm to others, and war extinguishes both.” —Ethan Bell
“War promotes rascism all around the globe.” —Muhammad Ali Khan
“The greatest threat to humanity today is climate change. Militarism exacerbates that threat, and is in no way useful for addressing that threat. The resources invested in militarism must be redirected to combat climate change and global warming.” —Larry A. Unruh
“As a very young man I signed a declaration – ‘I renounce war and will never support another’. That was in 1939 and I have maintained this stand throughout the whole period, including WW2, as a Conscientious Objector.Worked to achieve Peace since. It is necessary for individuals to take this stand and maintain it. War never solves anything – it accentuates any problem, whatever it is, and makes matters worse. There is no moral or humanitarian justification for it.” —Donald Saunders
“Having survived WWII as a child I am TOTALLY against ALL wars, there is not excuse for killing and injuring humans, all innocent, for life. I am still traumatized from the war and the bombing and starvation.” —Ingrid Kepler-May
“We still carry ancient beliefs from thousands and thousands of years ago when war was the only thing known. We have options now. This organization will help shift the collective consciousness toward greater humanity and peace. War has indoctrinated the U.S. government as well as other countries. There is no integral intention that exists behind war. It is a contradiction and therefor useless. Its time to evolve greatly. ‘Love precious humanity’” —Leslie Naugle
“I want a world without war. War never works it just kills. I want my children to never have to have a close contact with war. I want my children and future generations to grow up free and in a peaceful world. War is not freedom it is a malignant force imposed by men in power. We must change the views of people in power now and let them know that in a diplomatic and peaceful way issues can be solved.” —Ana Martins
“I am working with the higher education system in Afghanistan. My work in this world is teaching and serving as a role model for peace, particularly in this environment that has been devastated by the ravages of 30+ years of horrific conflict. I have a number of close Afghan friends and they, probably more than any people I have ever met, want peace for themselves, their families and their country. I am privileged to know them and am inspired by their endurance and resilience. Endless war serves only to enrich those who champion it and it is long past time that it be stopped.” —James Stapp
“We know, deep down inside, it’s wrong! There’s nothing you can say to ever make it right! Killing is killing, no matter how you slice it! And the ones doing all the killing should be locked up, and be forced to watch the world transform from, This evil place they’ve created, To the wonderful place we should be creating!” —Ronald Richter
“Why must we work to end all war? War keeps us from progressing as a race. We can’t reach a point of sustainability with war taking up so much of our time. It attributes to the division of wealth providing greater conflict between classes and it hands over authority to the wealthy class. It makes them richer while the working class is left to die. War need to end because it’s a tool used to control the masses with fear. It distracts us from the problems within the social hierarchical systems that have been established. We must end all war because we’ll never have peace without it. War is expensive and destroys makes the economy unstable. War is a tool of capital gain, it’s marketable and from youth we are encouraged to take and defend our ruling authority without question. There are other ways to solve conflicts. Civilians are the ones who suffer the most damage. War and violence is terrible for you Psyche due to the traumatizing events. And Finally the main reason we should end all war is because it will kill us if we don’t.” —Jessica Gartner
“While I was always aware that there was a sickness that pervades every social institution I just could not make the connection to myself and this ‘sickness’ until my beautiful child was murdered in the ‘theater’ of ‘War’. This experience was eviscerating. I was disgorged of this ‘sickness’. I could see that ‘war’ is just goddamn MEAN. It bears no resemblance to what lives in my heart and mind so why was I able to accept it as a way of life? Why was I able to accept my son being part of a force for death…for entropy? I see it all clearly now, though. There is a deep sickness that pervades all social institutions and these sicknesses have made us mentally ‘disturbed’ – working out of balance with the gift of life. My granddaughter, Eva, is now four and has no father. She has no protector in this mean world where men prey upon life with a sense of entitlement that desires are to be quenched at all costs. Who will protect my granddaughter now? Through the physical death of my beloved son I have learned that misogyny is the root of warring behavior – and this thought process, this behavior is just goddamn mean.” —Jamie Santos
“Every person who dies is someone’s son, dad, mom, brother or sister.” —Gaston Locklear
“Nelson Mandela said: ‘It always seems impossible until it’s done.’ Peace is possible.” —John Bonifaz
“Every modern war has had its root in exploitation. The Civil War was fought to decide whether the slaveholders of the South or the capitalists of the North should exploit the West. The Spanish-American War decided that the United States should exploit Cuba.” —Larry Egly, Veterans For Peace Chapter 961 Codirector
“Another war will likely lead to the end of the human race.” —Lewis Patrie, WNC Physicians for Social Responsibility
“LAW opposes the illegal use of force supports the use of national and international law to settle disputes, prosecute offenders and protect rights.” —Gail Davidson, Lawyers against the War
“As a 70 year old woman, I have seen just what the destruction of war has done to my home country and also those we have invaded in the name of democracy! None of this has been done with my consent, so for the rest of my life I want to promote peace.” —Katherine Schock
“War takes people’s lives and destroys property, but it does not resolve the world’s problems. If anything is achieved through war, it is to plant the seeds for the next violent conflict as the vanquished and their children will usually not accept the outcome.” —Bruce Van Voorhis
“War is an irrational, counter-productive way to handle conflicts.” —Lawrence Wittner, Professor of History emeritus, SUNY/Albany
“Because we are being used as pawns in an endless game of bloodletting. One generation has to stop this. Please let it be ours.” —Lynne Thomas
“War traumatizes soldier and civilian alike; warfare is a profit-making racket; warfare resolves nothing that negotiations can’t resolve better; the weapons we have now make non-violence the only option to planetary annihilation.” —Madeline Taylor, Topanga Peace Alliance
“Those who exploit our susceptibility to the us-them fallacy to enlarge themselves are today no worse than those who have done the same down through the ages. But the world is different.” —Roger Arnold
“I know war. I was in one in 1991 in Bosnia. It is something that has to stop now. Noone should experience something like that ever again.” —Hatidza Isic
“War is the worst thing that human beings can do to each other, and the worst form of exploitation by the rich and the powerful.” —Nicolas J Sandy Davies
“As a geologist I have travelled the world and lived and worked amongst wonderful but disadvantaged peoples. I am emotionally moved to welcome this campaign.” —Kenneth Buckland
“It is time for the thinking man to realise that what we do to other living things and our environment we do to ourselves. As previous civilisations have learnt, the only way is to create harmony in our world and move beyond hypocrisy.” —Nozar Mossadeghi
“War must become obsolete in the 21st Century. Modern War is genocide, ecocide and ethnocide. Wars profit the few and destroy the many. ‘The hour is getting late,’ sang Bob Dylan. War is destroying the future of humanity.” —John Judge
“We owe it to our children and their children. The end of war is an end to poverty. War is a crime against humanity.” —Jean Andrew
“It’s time, at this 100-year anniversary of the start of World War I, for us all to join together to fight only war itself.” —Marie Reinsdorf
“War ain’t good for shit!” —Bryant White
Did you get a chance to see the debate between Ken Ham and Bill Nye “the Science Guy” the other night? It was definitely entertaining. Unfortunately, it didn’t do much to clarify the issues that millions of Americans tuned in to learn more about. In fact, viewers got a lot of information from Bill [...]
By James F. Tracy
An integral and by now much-anticipated element of a spectacle such as the Boston Mass Casualty Event (BMCE) of April 15, 2013 involves establishment of charities through which the incident may gain legitimacy in the public mind. Such entities provide fiscal channels by which event participants may be compensated and are also vital for public participation via charitable offerings.
Here, perhaps predictably, one find the unusually swift development of “The One Fund Boston,” a now celebrated aid organization whose very name oddly resonates with the new agey themes of “resilience” and “unity” promoted by mass grief and woe maven John Woodall. “We are one Boston. We are one community,” Boston Mayor Thomas Menino is quoted as saying on “One Fund’s” website. “As always, we will come together to help those most in need. And in the end, we will all be better for it.”
One Fund is in fact the sole creation of the 2013 Boston Marathon’s chief corporate sponsors—the John Hancock corporation and the Hill Holliday advertising firm. Website captures from the Internet Archive indicate the entity was up-and-running with a logo and web presence on April 16, less than twenty four hours after the incident, just as the dreaded Tsarnaev brothers still roamed free and long before the professed bombing’s fatalities could be laid to rest.
The rapid-fire creation of the relief fund is an example of how individuals, politicians and businesses in Boston unite in a crisis,” Advertising Age gushed, referencing an interview with Michael Sheehan, Chairman of Hill Holliday. “Communicating mostly by text-message, about a dozen key players at Hill Holliday, Hancock and the Mayor’s Office managed to create the foundation from scratch. Within a week One Fund had raised over $23 million from corporate and individual donors  including John Hancock, Bank of America, and Bain Capital. The charity has to date raised a total $71.3 million.
On April 17 at 9:29AM One Fund filed its articles of organization  with the Massachusetts Secretary of State. Yet One Fund’s quickly-drafted articles list only two individuals fulfilling the roles of president, treasurer, clerk, and board members—James D. Gallagher, Chief Administrative Officer and General Counsel of John Hancock, the US subsidiary of Canadian-based Manufacturers Life Insurance Company (“ManuLife”), and Hill Holliday’s Sheehan. “If you can think it,” one of Hill Holliday’s mottoes reads, “we can make it real.”
Sheehan recently left Hill Holliday to become a consultant to the Boston Globe. Examination of existing photographic and video evidence of the bombing’s aftermath combined with amateur videos taken from the scene now suggest how the Globe was likely given exclusive rights to photograph and videotape the BCME, as the video below tends to demonstrate. The paper has also been direct role in propagating inflated injury tallies following the event.
The One Fund even proffers a referral service to BMCE martyrs, many of whom sustained grievous “hearing issues,” needing advice on how to manage their newfound wealth. Because of The One Fund contributors’ “unprecedented generosity,” a document on the charity’s site reads,
many victims and families may be receiving very large monetary gifts. To help address the management of the gifts that you may receive, the One Fund is happy to connect you with financial advisory firms that have volunteered to consult with you at no cost. If you are interested in learning more about this free consultation, please contact One Fund Boston at …
John Hancock and the broader insurance industry’s benefit from the BCME and its influence in the intertwined public opinion and policy-making processes shouldn’t be underestimated. Both stand to profit greatly from the enhanced risk environment brought about by the renewed specter of international terrorism, the supposed cause of the BCME itself.
In light of the manifestly dubious nature of the Boston Marathon bombings  the active and multi-faceted solicitation of contributions to address the event’s aftermath suggests a fraud of extravagant proportions, even by today’s threadbare standards.
The true beneficiaries of the BMCE include not only the American police state that has grown by leaps and bounds since September 11, 2001, but more importantly the global corporatist class that likewise benefits from the quickening demise of a critical citizenry. Those select few with the control to shape public consciousness now recognize more than ever that the masses will accept as genuine almost any tragic domestic event, provided it is presented within the infotainment formulas to which the population has grown so accustomed.
 James F. Tracy, “New World Order Religion,” memoryholeblog.com, April 14, 2013.
 The One Fund Boston, “About,” n.d. Accessed January 16, 2014.
 “How Hill Holliday Created Relief Effort One Fund Boston in Seven Hours,” Advertising Age, April 19, 2013.
 Lindsey Tanner, “One Fund Boston Raises More Than $2o Million, But Will It Be Enough For Injured Marathon Victims?” Huffington Post, April 25, 2013.
 “Thank You,” The One Fund Boston, n.d. Accessed January 16, 2014.
 “Articles of Organization,” The One Fund Boston, n.d. Accessed January 16, 2014. Accessed January 16, 2014.
 Beth Healy, “Globe Hires Former Hill Holliday CEO as Consultant,” Boston Globe, January 3, 2014.
 James F. Tracy, “The Boston Marathon Bombing’s Inflated Injury Tallies,” memoryholeblog.com, May 11, 2013.
 “Memo re Financial Advisory Services,” The One Fund Boston, n.d. Accessed January 16, 2014.
 James F. Tracy, “Witnessing Boston’s Mass Casualty Event,” memoryholeblog.com, April 22, 2013.
Republished at GlobalResearch.ca on January 17, 2014.