Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Noble Eightfold Path

The Noble Eightfold Path describes the way to the end of suffering, as it was laid out by Siddhartha Gautama. It is a practical guideline to ethical and mental development with the goal of freeing the individual from attachments and delusions; and it finally leads to understanding the truth about all things. Together with the Four Noble Truths it constitutes the gist of Buddhism. Great emphasis is put on the practical aspect, because it is only through practice that one can attain a higher level of existence. The eight aspects of the path are not to be understood as a sequence of single steps, instead they are highly interdependent principles that have to be seen in relationship with each other.

1. Right View

Right view is the beginning and the end of the path, it simply means to see and to understand things as they really are and to realize the Four Noble Truth. As such, right view is the cognitive aspect of wisdom. It means to see things through, to grasp the impermanent and imperfect nature of worldly objects and ideas, and to understand the law of karma and karmic conditioning. Right view is not necessarily an intellectual capacity, just as wisdom is not just a matter of intelligence. Instead, right view is attained, sustained, and enhanced through all capacities of mind. It begins with the intuitive insight that all beings are subject to suffering and it ends with complete understanding of the true nature of all things. Since our view of the world forms our thoughts and our actions, right view yields right thoughts and right actions.

2. Right Intention

While right view refers to the cognitive aspect of wisdom, right intention refers to the volitional aspect, i.e. the kind of mental energy that controls our actions. Right intention can be explained best as a commitment to ethical and mental self-improvement. Buddha distinguishes three types of right intentions: 1. the intention of renunciation, which means resistance to the pull of desire; 2. the intention of good will, meaning resistance to feelings of anger and aversion; and, 3. the intention of harmlessness, meaning not to think or act cruelly, violently, or aggressively, and to develop compassion.

3. Right Speech

Right speech is the first principle of ethical conduct in the eightfold path. Ethical conduct is viewed as a guideline to moral discipline, which supports the other principles of the path. This aspect is not self-sufficient, however, essential, because mental purification can only be achieved through the cultivation of ethical conduct. The importance of speech in the context of Buddhist ethics is obvious: words can break or save lives, make enemies or friends, start war or create peace. Buddha explained right speech as follows: 1. to abstain from false speech, especially not to tell deliberate lies and not to speak deceitfully, 2. to abstain from slanderous speech and not to use words maliciously against others, 3. to abstain from harsh words that offend or hurt others, and 4. to abstain from idle chatter that lacks purpose or depth. Positively phrased, this means to tell the truth, to speak friendly, warm, and gently and to talk only when necessary.

4. Right Action

The second ethical principle, right action, involves the body as natural means of expression, as it refers to deeds that involve bodily actions. Unwholesome actions lead to unsound states of mind, while wholesome actions lead to sound states of mind. Again, the principle is explained in terms of abstinence: right action means: 1. to abstain from harming sentient beings, especially to abstain from taking life (including suicide) and doing harm intentionally or delinquently; 2. to abstain from taking what is not given, which includes stealing, robbery, fraud, deceitfulness, and dishonesty; and, 3. to abstain from sexual misconduct. Positively formulated, right action means to act kindly and compassionately, to be honest, to respect the belongings of others, and to keep sexual relationships harmless to others. Further details regarding the concrete meaning of right action can be found in the Precepts.

5. Right Livelihood

Right livelihood means that one should earn one's living in a righteous way and that wealth should be gained legally and peacefully. The Buddha mentions four specific activities that harm other beings and that one should avoid for this reason: 1. dealing in weapons, 2. dealing in living beings (including raising animals for slaughter as well as slave trade and prostitution), 3. working in meat production and butchery, and 4. selling intoxicants and poisons, such as alcohol and drugs. Furthermor,e any other occupation that would violate the principles of right speech and right action should be avoided. 6. Right Effort

Right effort is a prerequisite for the other principles of the path. Without effort, which is in itself an act of will, nothing can be achieved, whereas misguided effort distracts the mind from its task, and confusion will be the consequence. Mental energy is the force behind right effort; it can occur in either wholesome or unwholesome states. The same type of energy that fuels desire, envy, aggression, and violence can on the other side fuel self-discipline, honesty, benevolence, and kindness. Right effort is detailed in four types of endeavours that rank in ascending order of perfection: 1. to prevent the arising of unwholesome states; 2. to abandon unwholesome states that have already arisen; 3. to arouse wholesome states that have not yet arisen; and, 4. to maintain and perfect wholesome states already arisen.

7. Right Mindfulness

Right mindfulness is the controlled and perfected faculty of cognition. It is the mental ability to see things as they are, with clear consciousness. Usually, the cognitive process begins with an impression induced by perception, or by a thought, but then it does not stay with the mere impression. Instead, we almost always conceptualize sense impressions and thoughts immediately. We interpret them and set them in relation to other thoughts and experiences, which naturally go beyond the facticity of the original impression. The mind then posits concepts, joins concepts into constructs, and weaves those constructs into complex interpretative schemes. All this happens only half consciously, and as a result we often see things obscured. Right mindfulness is anchored in clear perception and it penetrates impressions without getting carried away. Right mindfulness enables us to be aware of the process of conceptualization in a way that we actively observe and control the way our thoughts go. Buddha accounted for this as the four foundations of mindfulness: 1. contemplation of the body, 2. contemplation of feeling (repulsive, attractive, or neutral), 3. contemplation of the state of mind, and 4. contemplation of the phenomena.

8. Right Concentration

The eighth principle of the path, right concentration, refers to the development of a mental force that occurs in natural consciousness, although at a relatively low level of intensity, namely concentration. Concentration in this context is described as one-pointedness of mind, meaning a state where all mental faculties are unified and directed onto one particular object. Right concentration for the purpose of the eightfold path means wholesome concentration, i.e. concentration on wholesome thoughts and actions. The Buddhist method of choice to develop right concentration is through the practice of meditation. The meditating mind focuses on a selected object. It first directs itself onto it, then sustains concentration, and finally intensifies concentration step by step. Through this practice it becomes natural to apply elevated levels concentration also in everyday situations.

20 Most Populous Cities

Rank      City/Country            Population
1         Shanghai, China           17,836,133
2         Istanbul, Turkey          13,854,740
3         Karachi, Pakistan        12,991,000
4         Mumbai, India             12,478,447
5         Moscow, Russia           11,977,988
6         Manila, Philippines     11,953,140
7         São Paulo, Brazil          11,821,876
8         Beijing, China               11,716,000
9         Tianjin, China               11,090,314
10       Guangzhou, China       11,070,654
11       Delhi, India                    11,007,835
12       Seoul, South Korea      10,442,426
13       Shenzhen, China          10,357,938
14       Jakarta, Indonesia       10,187,595
15       Tokyo, Japan                 8,967,665
16       Mexico City, Mexico    8,873,017
17       Kinshasa, DR Congo    8,754,000
18       Bangalore, India           8,425,970
19       New York City, USA     8,336,697
20       London, England         8,308,369

Saturday, August 30, 2014

The OMG Particle

The Oh-My-God particle was an ultra-high-energy cosmic ray (most likely a proton) detected on the evening of 15 October 1991 over Dugway Proving Ground, Utah. Its observation was a shock to astrophysicists, who estimated its energy to be approximately 3×1020 eV (3×108 TeV, about 20 million times more energetic than the highest energy measured in radiation emitted by an extragalactic object); in other words, a subatomic particle with kinetic energy equal to that of 50 Joules, or a 5-ounce (142 g) baseball traveling at about 100 kilometers per hour (60 mph).

The particle was traveling very close to the speed of light — assuming the particle was a proton, its speed was only about 1.5 femtometers (quadrillionths of a meter) per second less than the speed of light, translating to a speed of approximately 0.999 999 999 999 999 999 999 9951c. At that speed, in a year-long race between a photon and the particle, the particle would fall behind only 46 nanometers, or 0.15 femtoseconds (1.5×10−16 s); or one centimeter every 220 000 years.

The energy of this particle is some 40 million times that of the highest energy protons that have been produced in any terrestrial particle accelerator. However, only a small fraction of this energy would be available for an interaction with a proton or neutron on Earth, with most of the energy remaining in the form of kinetic energy of the products of the interaction. The effective energy available for such a collision is \sqrt{2 E m c^2}, where E is the particle's energy, and m c^2 is the mass energy of the proton. For the Oh-My-God particle, this gives 7.5×1014 eV, roughly 50 times the collision energy of the Large Hadron Collider.

Since the first observation, by the University of Utah's Fly's Eye Cosmic Ray Detector, at least fifteen similar events have been recorded, confirming the phenomenon. These very high energy cosmic ray particles are very rare; the energy of most cosmic ray particles is between 10 MeV and 10 GeV. More recent studies using the Telescope Array have suggested a source for the particles within a 20-degree "warm spot".

More on the OMG particle here.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Ride Across The River

Who Polices The Police?

Local police should be peace officers, not militarized law enforcers. Police have become violent and abusive to the public they are supposed to protect, and we regularly document cases of abuse. This is the natural result of the War on Drugs and of the influence the federal government has — through grants, training and the divvying out of military equipment — to local police. When a “war on (whatever)” mentality is prevalent, everyone not a member of the force is viewed as an enemy combatant. This has created an atmosphere of fear of the populace among the police and a fear of the police among the populace, putting them at odds. The Founders recognized that a standing army is the bane of liberty. Local police officers and the federal law enforcement agencies are becoming that standing army by proxy.


sonder, n. the realization that each random passerby is living a life
as vivid and complex as your own.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Too Many Police Shootings

fm We're Compiling Every Police-Involved Shooting In America. Help Us.
by Kyle Wagner

[excerpt] The United States has no database of police shootings. There is no standardized process by which officers log when they've discharged their weapons and why. There is no central infrastructure for handling that information and making it public. Researchers, confronted with the reality that there are over 17,000 law enforcement agencies in the country, aren't even sure how you'd go about setting one up. No one is keeping track of how many American citizens are shot by their police. This is crazy. This is governmental malpractice on a national scale. We'd like your help in changing this.

Read on here.

fm What I've Learned from Two Years Collecting Data on Police Killings
by D. Brian Burghart

[excerpt] "The biggest thing I've taken away from this project is something I'll never be able to prove, but I'm convinced to my core: The lack of such a database is intentional. No government—not the federal government, and not the thousands of municipalities that give their police forces license to use deadly force—wants you to know how many people it kills and why.

It's the only conclusion that can be drawn from the evidence. What evidence? In attempting to collect this information, I was lied to and delayed by the FBI, even when I was only trying to find out the addresses of police departments to make public records requests. The government collects millions of bits of data annually about law enforcement in its Uniform Crime Report, but it doesn't collect information about the most consequential act a law enforcer can do.

I've been lied to and delayed by state, county and local law enforcement agencies—almost every time. They've blatantly broken public records laws, and then thumbed their authoritarian noses at the temerity of a citizen asking for information that might embarrass the agency. And these are the people in charge of enforcing the law."

Read this article here.

Here's my blog comment: What no one wants to say but secretly believes is that deep down cops want to pull their weapons from their holsters and discharge a few rounds into somebody. It's an ego thing. Notches on the gun handle. A badge of fear. Look at me with awe and respect -- I'm a killer.

If you don't believe it, then why not consider banning all patrol officers from carrying any sort of weapon? If they run into a situation where a weapon is required, perhaps they should back off and get on the radio to request assistance. I'd much prefer that than this state of martial law that currently exists.


Venus is the second planet from the sun and is named for the Roman goddess of love and beauty. It is the only planet named after a female and is probably named for the most beautiful Roman deity because it is the brightest of the five planets known to ancient astronomers.

In ancient times, Venus was to be two different stars, the evening star and the morning star. In Latin, they were known as Vesper and Lucifer. In Christian belief, Lucifer, or "light-bringer," became known as the name of Satan before his fall.

Venus and Earth are often called twins because they are similar in size, mass, density, composition and gravity. The similarities, however, end there.

Yes, but it's a dry heat!
Although Venus is not the planet closest to the sun, it is the hottest planet in the solar system. Its dense atmosphere traps heat in a runaway version of the greenhouse effect. As a result, temperatures on Venus reach 870 degrees F (465 degrees C), more than hot enough to melt lead. Probes that scientists have landed there have survived only a few hours before being destroyed.

The atmosphere on Venus consists mainly of carbon dioxide with clouds of sulfuric acid. The atmosphere is heavier than that of any other planet, resulting in a surface pressure 90 times that of Earth.

The surface of Venus is extremely dry. Roughly two-thirds of the Venusian surface is covered by flat, smooth plains that are marred by thousands of volcanoes, ranging from about 0.5 to 150 miles (0.8 to 240 kilometers) wide, with lava flows carving long, winding canals up to more than 3,000 miles (5,000 km) in length, longer than on any other planet.

Beneath the cloud cover.
Six mountainous regions make up about one-third of the Venusian surface. One mountain range, called Maxwell, is some 540 miles (870 km) long and reaches up to 7 miles (11.3 km) high, making it the highest feature on the planet.

Venus also possesses a number of surface features unlike anything on Earth. For example, it has coronae, or crowns — ringlike structures that range from roughly 95 to 360 miles (155 to 580 km) wide. Scientists believe these formations come into being when hot material beneath the crust rises up, thereby warping the planet’s surface. Venus also has tesserae, or tiles, that are raised areas in which ridges and valleys have formed .

With conditions on Venus that could be described as infernal, the ancient name for Venus — Lucifer — seems to fit. The name was not originally intended to carry any fiendish connotations; Lucifer means "light-bringer," and when seen from Earth, Venus is brighter than any other planet or even any star in the night sky because of its highly reflective clouds and its closeness to our planet. Since Venus is the hottest planet, maybe Lucifer is an apt alternate name.

Venus takes 243 Earth days to rotate on its axis, by far the slowest of any of the major planets, and because of this sluggish spin, its metal core cannot generate a magnetic field similar to Earth's. That means gravity is weaker on Venus.

If viewed from above, Venus rotates on its axis the opposite way that most planets rotate. So, on Venus, the sun rises in the west and sets in the east.

The Venusian year is about 225 Earth days long. Normally, that would mean that days on Venus would be longer than years. However, because of Venus' curious retrograde rotation, the time from one sunrise to the next is only about 117 Earth days long.

Atmospheric composition (by volume): 96.5 percent carbon dioxide, 3.5 percent nitrogen, with minor amounts of sulfur dioxide, argon, water, carbon monoxide, helium and neon.

Internal structure: Venus' metallic iron core is roughly 2,400 miles (6,000 km) wide. Don't ask me how I know that -- I got it from the internet. Venus' molten rocky mantle is roughly 1,200 miles (3,000 km) thick. Venus' crust is mostly basalt, and is estimated to be six to 12 miles (10 to 20 km) thick on average.

The average distance from the sun: 67,237,910 miles (108,208,930 km) and its perihelion (closest approach to sun) is 66,782,000 miles (107,476,000 km). The aphelion (farthest distance from sun) is 67,693,000 miles (108,942,000 km).

Venus would be a very nasty place to live if you could live there. The very top layer of Venus' clouds zip around the planet every four Earth days, propelled by hurricane-force winds traveling roughly 224 mph (360 kph). This super-rotation of the planet's atmosphere, some 60 times faster than Venus itself rotates, is perhaps one of Venus' biggest mysteries. The winds at the planet's surface are much slower, estimated to be just a few miles per hour.

The Venus Express spacecraft that the European Space Agency launched in 2005 found evidence of lightning. The lightning is unique from that found on the other planets in our solar system in that it is the only lightning known that is not associated with water clouds. Instead, on Venus, the lightning is associated with clouds of sulfuric acid. Scientists are excited by these electrical discharges because they can break molecules into fragments that can then combine with other fragments in unexpected ways.

Unusual stripes in the upper clouds of Venus are dubbed "blue absorbers" or "ultraviolet absorbers" because they absorb light in the blue and ultraviolet wavelengths. They soak up a huge amount of energy — nearly half of the total solar energy the planet absorbs. As such, they most likely play a major role in keeping Venus as hellish as it is. Their exact composition remains uncertain.

European Space Agency's Venus Express
The United States, Soviet Union and European Space Agency have deployed many spacecraft to Venus, more than 20 in all so far. NASA's Mariner 2 came within 21,600 miles (34,760 km) of Venus in 1962, making it the first planet to be observed by a passing spacecraft. The Soviet Union's Venera 7 was the first spacecraft to land on another planet, and Venera 9 returned the first photographs of the Venusian surface. The first Venusian orbiter, NASA's Magellan, generated maps of 98 percent of the planet's surface using radar, showing details of features as small as 330 feet (100 meters) across.

The European Space Agency's Venus Express is now in orbit around Venus with a large variety of instruments, and has confirmed the presence of lightning. The next mission to Venus, Japan's Akatsuki, was launched in 2010, and will follow Venus' thick cloud layers as they are whipped around the planet by hurricane-force winds.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Southern Manners

People in the Southern United States are known for being hospitable, religious, and proper. Generally, they are known as hard working and family-oriented as well.

Southern culture has many unspoken rules that have become a way of life in the South. These rules are engrained in the basic character of the Southern folk. When it comes to Southern living, Northerners can’t understand it because they didn’t grow up here. Oh, they've tried to subvert things, but the thing is, you can't bury the truth. It's like re-writing history. People still know what happened because we talk to each other and some of us still read books. Imagine that.

Anyway, if you're a Northerner and particularly blessed, maybe that big ole Yankee company you work for will transfer you down to its Atlanta office, or maybe you'll get real lucky and move to a beach-side city in Florida. If you hit the jackpot, they'll send you down to Texas. I need to warn you, though, that once you spend some time here, you'll never return to Yankeeland. In the meantime, here are some rules for getting along down South.

10. While driving on country roads, keep your speed down and lift a finger (wave) at every oncoming car. If you see someone pulled over with their hood up, they've got car trouble. Pull up and ask if they need help. Why? Because that's the Christian way, that's why. Were you born ignorant? Don't be shocked if people wave at you from their porches as you drive by. They're not calling to you so there's no need to stop -- they're just being friendly.

9. We like beef and pork and chicken with barbecue sauce and we don’t respond kindly to people suggesting we should try something vegetarian.

8. We like to drink iced tea because it's hot down here. When someone comes to your house, your first question should be whether they want something cold to drink.

7. We eat dinner about six o'clock, we go to church on Sunday mornings, and we go to the local high-school football game on Friday nights in the Fall. 7:30 pm sharp.

6. We don't speak sharply to one another unless we're asking for a fight. It's always good to remember that real Southern men are not averse to fighting. Talking it out is for girls.

5. We know people who work for the government are shiftless but we still call them sir and ma'am.

4. The flag of the Confederacy is not a symbol of slavery. Chains and manacles are. Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee are heroes. Ulysses S. Grant was a drunk.

3. Southerners love the outdoors and like to hunt and fish. We own a lot of guns and without question believe in our right to bear arms. We don’t expect non-southerners to embrace hunting or fishing, but if you don’t know how to hunt or fish, we don’t consider you a real man.

2. Southerners are patriots. It is not acceptable to burn an American flag. If you want to speak disrespectfully about America, go out to California and enroll at the University at Berkeley.

1. Finally, here in the South, we expect everybody to speak and act respectfully, even if we don't really care for one another. So, if you're from the North and want to shoot off your mouth about how backward Southerners are, you might expect a cold response. Southern culture is not an oxymoron. You see, we do things our own way down here. Furthermore, we don’t have an accent, you do.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


A Lesson In Leftism

The following argument was taken practically in whole from other sources in an effort to show the logical inconsistency of what we term as Leftism -- you know, that definition of what drives Progressive politics. Necessarily, the argument starts off with the following statement: The presupposition of competitiveness grants competition as a rational process by any belief. This is why Leftism can't criticize the outcomes of economic competition without becoming inconsistent.

Leftism is defined as "The people and groups who advocate liberal, often radical measures to effect change in the established order, especially in politics, usually to achieve the equality, freedom, and well-being of the common citizens of a state."

Furthermore, "Leftists... claim that human development flourishes when individuals engage in cooperative, mutually respectful relations that can thrive only when excessive differences in status, power, and wealth are eliminated. According to leftists, a society without substantial equality will distort the development of not only deprived persons, but also those whose privileges undermine their motivation and sense of social responsibility. This suppression of human development, together with the resentment and conflict engendered by sharp class distinctions, will ultimately reduce the efficiency of the economy."

If taking these definitions to be sufficient of all derivations of Leftism-progressives, social liberals, social democrats, socialists, communists, and anarchists, etc.-then Leftism is necessarily anti-competitive, as competition by definition produces inequality. To be for the elimination of "excessive differences" and to advocate "a society without substantial equality", as defined previously, is still, albeit nonsensically, anti-competitive. The nature of competition is the existence of rival differences which tautologically create inequality amongst them - if these differences weren't defined as unequal by the definition of "different" to begin with. Competition itself is amoral, for does a fact such as the sky being blue have a moral value? Thus, the belief that competition ought to be different than what it is, such as through moralization (e.g. "a society without substantial equality will distort [its] development..."), is to be opposed to what competition is.

Having clarified that Leftism is necessarily anti-competitive, the realization that Leftism is self-contradictory is clear: An argument, theory, belief, or ideological position, which is anti-competitive invalidates its presupposition for existing, rendering it logically inconsistent through this contradiction. In other words, an argument, theory, belief, etc., presupposes a competitive nature for which it is a participant in. This is because the nature of discourse supposes that to put forth an idea-and certainly one of a political nature such as Leftism-is to have it rival or contend with preexisting ideas. You see, thought does not exist in a vacuum. This is not to say a belief is necessarily put forth with the intent to contend with a preexisting belief but it is to say that, if thoroughly scrutinized, every belief can be reduced to its fragments (e.g. axioms) which will necessarily expose opposition (e.g. belief A holds axiom X to be true while belief B holds it to be false) to the fragments of another belief. Otherwise, differences in beliefs would be nonexistent, as beliefs would be all identical, that is, equal.

Thus the necessary and sufficient supposition for any belief is its competition for preeminence. And it is this supposition of competitiveness which Leftism abides by and, by definition, contradicts.

In left-right politics, left-wing politics are political positions or activities that accept or support social equality, often in opposition to social hierarchy and social inequality. It is typically justified on the basis of concern for those in society who are perceived as disadvantaged relative to others and an assumption that there are unjustified inequalities that need to be reduced or abolished.

Click to enlarge.
The political terms Left and Right were coined during the French Revolution (1789–1799) and referred to the seating arrangement in the Estates General. Those who sat on the left generally opposed the monarchy and supported the revolution, including the creation of a republic and secularization. Those on the right supported the traditional institutions of the Old Regime. Use of the term "Left" became more prominent after the restoration of the French monarchy in 1815 when it was applied to the "Independents".

The term was later applied to a number of movements, especially republicanism during the French Revolution, socialism, communism, and anarchism. Beginning in the last half of the 20th century, the phrase left-wing has been used to describe an ever widening family of movements, including the civil rights movement, anti-war movements, and environmental movements, and finally being extended to entire parties, including the Democratic Party in the United States and the Labor Party in the United Kingdom.

The influential Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, published in 1848, asserted that all human history is the history of class struggle. They predicted that a proletarian revolution would eventually overthrow bourgeois capitalism and create a classless, stateless, post-monetary society.

In the United States, many leftists, social liberals, progressives and trade unionists were influenced by the works of Thomas Paine, who introduced the concept of asset-based egalitarianism, which theorizes that social equality is possible by a redistribution of resources.

The International Workingmen's Association (1864–76), sometimes called the First International, brought together delegates from many different countries, with many different views about how to reach a classless and stateless society. Following a split between supporters of Marx and Mikhail Bakunin, anarchists formed the International Workers' Association. The Second International (1888–1916) became divided over the issue of World War I. Those who opposed the war, such as Vladimir Lenin and Rosa Luxemburg, saw themselves as further to the left.

In the United States after Reconstruction, the phrase "the Left" was used to describe those who supported trade unions, the civil rights movement and the anti-war movement. More recently in the United States, left-wing and right-wing have often been used as synonyms for Democratic and Republican, or as synonyms for liberalism and conservatism respectively.

The following positions are typically associated with left-wing politics.


Leftist economic beliefs range from Keynesian economics and the welfare state through industrial democracy and the social market to nationalization of the economy and central planning, to the anarchist/ syndicalist advocacy of a council- and assembly-based self-managed anarchist communism. During the industrial revolution, left-wingers supported trade unions. In the early twentieth century, the Left were (with the notable exceptions of libertarians like the anarchists and revolutionary syndicalists) associated with policies advocating extensive government intervention in the economy. Leftists continue to criticize what they perceive as the exploitative nature of globalization, the race to the bottom and unjust lay-offs. In the last quarter of the Twentieth Century the belief that government (ruling in accordance with the interests of the people) ought to be directly involved in the day-to-day workings of an economy declined in popularity amongst the center left, especially social-democrats who became influenced by 'third way' ideology.

Other leftists believe in Marxian economics, which are based on the economic theories of Karl Marx. Some distinguish Marx's economic theories from his political philosophy, arguing that Marx's approach to understanding the economy is independent of his advocacy of revolutionary socialism or his belief in the inevitability of proletarian revolution.] Marxian economics does not exclusively rely upon Marx, it draws from a range of Marxist and non-Marxist sources. The dictatorship of the proletariat or workers' state are terms used by Marxists to describe what they see as a temporary state between the capitalist and communist society. Marx defined the proletariat as salaried workers, in contrast to the lumpen proletariat, who he defined as outcasts of society, such as beggars, tricksters, entertainers, buskers, criminals and prostitutes. The political relevance of farmers has divided the left. In Das Kapital, Marx scarcely mentioned the subject. Mao Zedong believed that it would be rural peasants not urban workers who would bring about proletariat revolution.

Left-libertarians, Libertarian socialists and anarchists believe in a decentralized economy run by trade unions, workers' councils, cooperatives, municipalities and communes, and oppose both government and private control of the economy, preferring local control, in which a nation of decentralized regions are united in a confederation.

According to Barry Clark:

"Leftists... claim that human development flourishes when individuals engage in cooperative, mutually respectful relations that can thrive only when excessive differences in status, power, and wealth are eliminated. According to leftists, a society without substantial equality will distort the development of not only deprived persons, but also those whose privileges undermine their motivation and sense of social responsibility. This suppression of human development, together with the resentment and conflict engendered by sharp class distinctions, will ultimately reduce the efficiency of the economy.

The global justice movement, also known as the anti-globalization movement or alter-globalization movement, protests against corporate economic globalization, due to its alleged negative consequences for the poor, workers, the environment and small businesses."

The environment

Both Karl Marx and the early socialist William Morris arguably had a concern for environmental matters. According to Marx, "Even an entire society, a nation, or all simultaneously existing societies taken together ... are not owners of the earth. They are simply its possessors, its beneficiaries, and have to bequeath it in an improved state to succeeding generations." Following the Russian Revolution, environmental scientists such as revolutionary Aleksandr Bogdanov and the Proletkul't organisation made efforts to incorporate environmentalism into Bolshevism, and "integrate production with natural laws and limits" in the first decade of Soviet rule, before Joseph Stalin attacked ecologists and the science of ecology, purged environmentalists and promoted the pseudo-science of Trofim Lysenko. Likewise, Mao Zedong rejected environmentalism and believed that, based on the laws of historical materialism, all of nature must be put into the service of revolution.

From the 1970s onwards, environmentalism became an increasing concern of the left, with social movements and some unions campaigning over environmental issues. For example, the left-wing Builders Labourers Federation in Australia, led by the communist Jack Mundy, united with environmentalists to place Green bans on environmentally destructive development projects. Some segments of the socialist and Marxist left consciously merged environmentalism and anti-capitalism into an eco-socialist ideology. Barry Commoner articulated a left-wing response to The Limits to Growth model that predicted catastrophic resource depletion and spurred environmentalism, postulating that capitalist technologies were chiefly responsible for environmental degradation, as opposed to population pressures. Environmental degradation can be seen as a class or equity issue, as environmental destruction disproportionately affects poorer communities and countries.

Several left-wing or socialist groupings have an overt environmental concern, whereas several green parties contain a strong socialist presence. For example, the Green Party of England and Wales features an eco-socialist group, Green Left, that was founded in June 2005 and whose members held a number of influential positions within the party, including both the former Principal Speakers Siân Berry and Dr. Derek Wall, himself an eco-socialist and marxist academic. In Europe, some 'Green-Left' political parties combine traditional social-democratic values such as a desire for greater economic equality and workers rights with demands for environmental protection, such as the Nordic Green Left.

Well-known socialist Bolivian President Evo Morales has traced environmental degradation to consumerism. He has said "The Earth does not have enough for the North to live better and better, but it does have enough for all of us to live well." James Hansen, Noam Chomsky, Raj Patel, Naomi Klein, The Yes Men, and Dennis Kucinich have had similar views.

In the 21st Century, questions about the environment have become increasingly politicized, with the Left generally accepting the findings of environmental scientists about global warming, and many on the Right disputing or rejecting those findings. The left is however divided over how to effectively and equitably reduce carbon emissions- the center-left often advocates a reliance on market measures such as emissions trading or a carbon tax, whilst those further to the left tend to support direct government regulation and intervention either alongside or instead of market mechanisms.

Nationalism and anti-nationalism

The question of nationality and nationalism has been a central feature of political debates on the Left. During the French Revolution, nationalism was a policy of the Republican Left. The Republican Left advocated civic nationalism, and argued that the nation is a "daily plebiscite" formed by the subjective "will to live together." Related to "revanchism", the belligerent will to take revenge against Germany and retake control of Alsace-Lorraine, nationalism was sometimes opposed to imperialism. In the 1880s, there was a debate between those, such as Georges Clemenceau (Radical), Jean Jaurès (Socialist) and Maurice Barrès (nationalist), who argued that colonialism diverted France from the "blue line of the Vosges" (referring to Alsace-Lorraine), and the "colonial lobby", such as Jules Ferry (moderate republican), Léon Gambetta (republican) and Eugène Etienne, the president of the parliamentary colonial group. After the Dreyfus Affair however nationalism became increasingly associated with the far right.

The Marxist social class theory of proletarian internationalism asserts that members of the working class should act in solidarity with working people in other countries in pursuit of a common class interest, rather than focusing on their own countries. Proletarian internationalism is summed up in the slogan, "Workers of all countries, unite!", the last line of The Communist Manifesto. Union members had learned that more members meant more bargaining power. Taken to an international level, leftists argued that workers ought to act in solidarity to further increase the power of the working class.

Proletarian internationalism saw itself as a deterrent against war, because people with a common interest are less likely to take up arms against one another, instead focusing on fighting the ruling class. According to Marxist theory, the antonym of proletarian internationalism is bourgeois nationalism. Some Marxists, together with others on the left, view nationalism, racism (including anti-Semitism), and religion, as divide and conquer tactics used by the ruling classes to prevent the working class from uniting against them. Left-wing movements therefore have often taken up anti-imperialist positions. Anarchism has developed a critique of nationalism that focuses on nationalism's role in justifying and consolidating state power and domination. Through its unifying goal, nationalism strives for centralization, both in specific territories and in a ruling elite of individuals, while it prepares a population for capitalist exploitation. Within anarchism, this subject has been treated extensively by Rudolf Rocker in Nationalism and Culture and by the works of Fredy Perlman, such as Against His-Story, Against Leviathan and "The Continuing Appeal of Nationalism".

The failure of revolutions in Germany and Hungary ended Bolshevik hopes for an imminent world revolution and led to promotion of "Socialism in One Country" by Joseph Stalin. In the first edition of the book Osnovy Leninizma (Foundations of Leninism, 1924), Stalin argued that revolution in one country is insufficient. But by the end of that year, in the second edition of the book, he argued that the "proletariat can and must build the socialist society in one country". In April 1925 Nikolai Bukharin elaborated the issue in his brochure Can We Build Socialism in One Country in the Absence of the Victory of the West-European Proletariat? The position was adopted as State policy after Stalin's January 1926 article On the Issues of Leninism. This idea was opposed by Leon Trotsky and his followers who declared the need for an international "permanent revolution". Various Fourth Internationalist groups around the world who describe themselves as Trotskyist see themselves as standing in this tradition, while Maoist China supported Socialism in One Country.

Some link left-wing nationalism to the pressure generated by economic integration with other countries encouraged by free-trade agreements. This view is sometimes used to justify hostility towards supranational organizations such as the European Union. Left-wing nationalism can also refer to any nationalism which emphasizes a working-class populist agenda which seeks to overcome perceived exploitation or oppression by other nations. Many Third World anti-colonial movements adopted left-wing and socialist ideas.

Third-Worldism is a tendency within leftist thought that regards the division between First World developed countries and Third World developing countries as being of high political importance. This tendency supports national liberation movements against what it considers imperialism by capitalists. Third-Worldism is closely connected with African socialism, Latin American socialism, Maoism, Pan-Africanism and Pan-Arabism. Some left-wing groups in the developing world — such as the Zapatista Army of National Liberation in Mexico, the Abahlali baseMjondolo in South Africa and the Naxalites in India — argue that the First World Left takes a racist and paternalistic attitude towards liberation movements in the Third World.


The original French left-wing was anti-clerical, opposing the influence of the Roman Catholic Church and supporting the separation of church and state. Karl Marx asserted that "Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people." In Soviet Russia the Bolsheviks originally embraced "an ideological creed which professed that all religion would atrophy" and "resolved to eradicate Christianity as such." In 1918 "ten Orthodox hierarchs were summarily shot" and "children were deprived of any religious education outside the home." Today in the Western world, those on the Left usually support secularization and the separation of church and state.

Click to enlarge.
Religious beliefs, however, have also been associated with some left-wing movements, such as the American abolitionist movement and the anti-capital punishment movement. Early socialist thinkers such as Robert Owen, Charles Fourier, and the Comte de Saint-Simon based their theories of socialism upon Christian principles. From St. Augustine of Hippo's City of God through St. Thomas More's Utopia major Christian writers defended ideas that socialists found agreeable. Other common leftist concerns such as pacifism, social justice, racial equality, human rights, and the rejection of excessive wealth can be found in the Bible. In the late 19th century, the Social Gospel movement arose (particularly among some Anglicans, Lutherans, Methodists and Baptists in North America and Britain) which attempted to integrate progressive and socialist thought with Christianity in faith-based social activism, promoted by movements such as Christian Socialism. In the 20th century, the theology of liberation and Creation Spirituality was championed by such writers as Gustavo Gutierrez and Matthew Fox.

There are also left-wing movements such as Islamic socialism and Buddhist socialism. There have been alliances between the Left and anti-war Muslims, such as the Respect Party and the Stop the War Coalition in Britain. In France, the Left has been divided over moves to ban the hijab from schools, with some supporting a ban based on separation of church and state, and others opposing the ban based on personal freedom.

Social progressivism and counterculture

Social progressivism is another common feature of the modern Left, particularly in the United States, where social progressives played an important role in the abolition of slavery, women's suffrage, civil rights, and multiculturalism. Progressives have both advocated prohibition legislation and worked towards its repeal. Current positions associated with social progressivism in the West include opposition to the death penalty and the War on Drugs, and support for legal recognition of same-sex marriage, cognitive liberty, distribution of contraceptives, public funding of embryonic stem-cell research, and the right of women to choose abortion. Public education was a subject of great interest to groundbreaking social progressives such as Lester Frank Ward and John Dewey who believed that a democratic system of government was impossible without a universal and comprehensive system of education.

Various counterculture movements in the 1960s and 1970s were associated with the "New Left". Unlike the earlier leftist focus on union activism, the "New Left" instead adopted a broader definition of political activism commonly called social activism. U.S. "New Left" is associated with the Hippie movement, college campus mass protest movements and a broadening of focus from protesting class-based oppression to include issues such as gender, race, and sexual orientation. The British "New Left" was an intellectually driven movement which attempted to correct the perceived errors of "Old Left".

The New Left opposed prevailing authority structures in society, which it termed "The Establishment", and became known as "anti-Establishment." The New Left did not seek to recruit industrial workers, but rather concentrated on a social activist approach to organization, convinced that they could be the source for a better kind of social revolution. This view has been criticized by some Marxists (especially Trotskyists) who characterized this approach as 'substitutionism'- or what they saw as the misguided and apparently non-Marxist belief that other groups in society could 'substitute' for the revolutionary agency of the working class.

Many early feminists and advocates of women's rights were considered left-wing by their contemporaries. Feminist pioneer Mary Wollstonecraft was influenced by Thomas Paine. Many notable leftists have been strong supporters of gender equality, such as: the Marxists Rosa Luxemburg, Clara Zetkin and Alexandra Kollontai, anarchists such as Virginia Bolten, Emma Goldman and Lucía Sánchez Saornil, and the socialists Helen Keller and Annie Besant. Marxists such as Clara Zetkin and Alexandra Kollontai however, though supporters of radical social equality for women, opposed feminism on the grounds that it was a bourgeois ideology. Marxists were responsible for organizing the first International Women's Day events.

The women's liberation movement is closely connected to the New Left and other new social movements that challenged the orthodoxies of the Old Left. Socialist feminism (e.g.Freedom Socialist Party, Radical Women) and Marxist feminism (e.g. Selma James) saw themselves as a part of the left that challenged what they perceive to be male-dominated and sexist structures within the left. Liberal feminism is closely connected with left-liberalism, and the left-wing of mainstream American politics. (e.g. the National Organization for Women).

The connection between left-leaning ideologies and LGBT rights struggles has also an important history. Prominent socialists who were involved in early struggles for LGBTI rights include Edward Carpenter, Oscar Wilde, Harry Hay, Bayard Rustin and Daniel Guérin among others.

The spectrum of left-wing politics ranges from center-left to far left (or ultra-left). The term center left describes a position within the political mainstream. The terms far left and ultra-left refer to positions that are more radical. The center-left includes social democrats, social liberals, progressives and also some democratic socialists and greens (in particular the eco-socialists). Centre-left supporters accept market allocation of resources in a mixed economy with a significant public sector and a thriving private sector. Centre-left policies tend to favor limited state intervention in matters pertaining to the public interest.

In several countries, the terms far left and radical left have been associated with varieties of communism, autonomism and anarchism. They have been used to describe groups that advocate anti-capitalist, identity politics or eco-terrorism. In France, a distinction is made between the left (Socialist Party and Communist Party) and the far left (Trotskyists, Maoists and Anarchists). The US Department of Homeland Security defines left-wing extremism as groups who want "to bring about change through violent revolution rather than through established political processes."

In China, the term Chinese New Left denotes those who oppose the current economic reforms and favor the restoration of more socialist policies. In the Western world, the term New Left refers to cultural politics. In the United Kingdom in the 1980s, the term hard left was applied to supporters of Tony Benn, such as the Campaign Group and those involved in the London Labor Briefing newspaper, as well as Trotskyist groups such as the Militant tendency and Socialist Organizer. In the same period, the term soft left was applied to supporters of the British Labor Party who were perceived to be more moderate. Under the leadership of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, the British Labor Party re-branded itself as New Labor in order to promote the notion that it was less left-wing than it had been in the past. One of the first actions however of the Labor Party leader who succeeded them, Ed Miliband, was the rejection of the "New Labor" label.

Left-wing post-modernism opposes attempts to supply universal explanatory theories, including Marxism, deriding them as grand narratives. It views culture as a contested space, and via deconstruction seeks to undermine all pretensions to absolute truth. Left-wing critics of post-modernism assert that cultural studies inflates the importance of culture by denying the existence of an independent reality.

In 1996, physicist Alan Sokal wrote a nonsensical article entitled "Transgressing the Boundaries: Toward a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity". The journal Social Text published the paper in its Spring/Summer 1996 issue, whereupon Sokal publicly revealed his hoax. While this action was interpreted as an attack upon leftism, Sokal, who was a committed supporter of the Sandinista movement in Nicaragua during the 1980s, intended it as a critique from within the Left. He said he was concerned about what he saw as the increasing prevalence on the left of "a particular kind of nonsense and sloppy thinking... that denies the existence of objective realities". He called into question the usefulness of such theories to the wider left movement, saying he "never understood how deconstruction was meant to help the working class."

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things
that you didn't do than by the ones you did do,
so throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbor,
catch the trade winds in your sails.
Explore, Dream, Discover."

- Mark Twain

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Scream

The Scream is the popular name given to each of four versions of a composition, created as both paintings and pastels, by the Expressionist artist Edvard Munch between 1893 and 1910. Der Schrei der Natur (The Scream of Nature) is the title Munch gave to these works, all of which show a figure with an agonized expression against a landscape with a tumultuous orange sky. Arthur Lubow has described The Scream as "an icon of modern art, a Mona Lisa for our time."

Edvard Munch created the four versions in various media. The National Gallery, Oslo, holds one of two painted versions (1893, shown at right). The Munch Museum holds the other painted version (1910, see gallery) and a pastel version from 1893. These three versions have not traveled for years.

The fourth version (pastel, 1895) was sold for $119,922,600 at Sotheby's Impressionist and Modern art auction on 2 May 2012 to financier Leon Black, the highest nominal price paid for a painting at auction. The painting was on display in the Museum of Modern Art in New York from October 2012 to April 2013.

Also in 1895, Munch created a lithograph stone of the image. Of the lithograph prints produced by Munch, several examples survive. Only approximately four dozen prints were made before the original stone was resurfaced by the printer in Munch's absence.

The Scream has been the target of several high-profile art thefts. In 1994, the version in the National Gallery was stolen. It was recovered several months later. In 2004, both The Scream and Madonna were stolen from the Munch Museum, and recovered two years later.

The original German title given to the work by Munch is Der Schrei der Natur ("The Scream of Nature"). The Norwegian word skrik usually is translated as scream, but is cognate with the English shriek. Occasionally, the painting also has been called The Cry.

In his diary in an entry headed, Nice 22 January 1892, Munch described his inspiration for the image:

Photo of Edvard Munch.
"One evening I was walking along a path, the city was on one side and the fjord below. I felt tired and ill. I stopped and looked out over the fjord—the sun was setting, and the clouds turning blood red. I sensed a scream passing through nature; it seemed to me that I heard the scream. I painted this picture, painted the clouds as actual blood. The color shrieked. This became The Scream."

This memory was later rendered by Munch as a poem, which he hand-painted onto the frame of the 1895 pastel version of the work:

"I was walking along the road with two friends – the sun was setting – suddenly the sky turned blood red – I paused, feeling exhausted, and leaned on the fence – there was blood and tongues of fire above the blue-black fjord and the city – my friends walked on, and I stood there trembling with anxiety – and I sensed an infinite scream passing through nature."

Among theories advanced to account for the reddish sky in the background is the artist's memory of the effects of the powerful volcanic eruption of Krakatoa, which deeply tinted sunset skies red in parts of the Western hemisphere for months during 1883 and 1884, about a decade before Munch painted The Scream. This explanation has been disputed by scholars, who note that Munch was an expressive painter and was not primarily interested in literal renderings of what he had seen. Alternatively, it has been suggested that the proximity of both a slaughterhouse and a lunatic asylum to the site depicted in the painting may have offered some inspiration. The scene was identified as being the view from a road overlooking Oslo, the Oslofjord and Hovedøya, from the hill of Ekeberg. At the time of painting the work, Munch's manic depressive sister Laura Catherine was a patient at the asylum at the foot of Ekeberg.

In 1978, the Munch scholar Robert Rosenblum suggested that the strange, sexless creature in the foreground of the painting was inspired by a Peruvian mummy, which Munch could have seen at the 1889 Exposition Universelle in Paris. This mummy, which was buried in a fetal position with its hands alongside its face, also struck the imagination of Munch's friend Paul Gauguin: it stood as a model for the central figure in his painting, Human misery (Grape harvest at Arles) and for the old woman at the left in his painting, Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?. More recently, an Italian anthropologist speculated that Munch might have seen a mummy in Florence's Museum of Natural History, which bears an even more striking resemblance to the painting.

The imagery of The Scream has been compared to that which an individual suffering from depersonalization disorder experiences, a feeling of distortion of the environment and one's self, and also facial pain.

Self Portrait 1882
The Scream has been the target of a number of thefts and theft attempts. Some damage has been suffered in these thefts.

On 12 February 1994, the same day as the opening of the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, two men broke into the National Gallery and stole its version of The Scream, leaving a note reading "Thanks for the poor security". The painting had been moved down to a second-story gallery, as part of the Olympic festivities. The presence of international media covering the games made the theft a sensation. After the gallery refused to pay a ransom demand of US$1 million in March 1994, Norwegian police set up a sting operation with assistance from the British police (SO10) and the Getty Museum and the painting was recovered undamaged on 7 May 1994. In January 1996, four men were convicted in connection with the theft, including Pål Enger, who had been convicted of stealing Munch's Vampire in 1988. They were released on appeal on legal grounds: the British agents involved in the sting operation had entered Norway under false identities.

The 1910 tempera on board version of The Scream was stolen on 22 August 2004, during daylight hours, when masked gunmen entered the Munch Museum in Oslo and stole two paintings by Munch: Scream and Madonna. A bystander photographed the robbers as they escaped to their car with the artwork. On 8 April 2005, Norwegian police arrested a suspect in connection with the theft, but the paintings remained missing and it was rumored that they had been burned by the thieves to destroy evidence. On 1 June 2005, with four suspects already in custody in connection with the crime, the city government of Oslo offered a reward of 2 million Norwegian krone (roughly US$313,500 or €231,200) for information that could help locate the paintings. Although the paintings remained missing, six men went on trial in early 2006, variously charged with either helping to plan or participating in the robbery. Three of the men were convicted and sentenced to between four and eight years in prison in May 2006, and two of the convicted, Bjørn Hoen and Petter Tharaldsen, were also ordered to pay compensation of 750 million kroner (roughly US$117.6 million or €86.7 million) to the City of Oslo. The Munch Museum was closed for ten months for a security overhaul.

On 31 August 2006, Norwegian police announced that a police operation had recovered both The Scream and Madonna, but did not reveal detailed circumstances of the recovery. The paintings were said to be in a better-than-expected condition. "We are 100 percent certain they are the originals," police chief Iver Stensrud told a news conference. "The damage was much less than feared." Munch Museum director Ingebjørg Ydstie confirmed the condition of the paintings, saying it was much better than expected and that the damage could be repaired. The Scream had moisture damage on the lower left corner, while Madonna suffered several tears on the right side of the painting as well as two holes in Madonna's arm. Before repairs and restoration began, the paintings were put on public display by the Munch Museum beginning 27 September 2006. During the five-day exhibition, 5,500 people viewed the damaged paintings. The conserved works went back on display on 23 May 2008, when the exhibition "Scream and Madonna — Revisited" at the Munch Museum in Oslo displayed the paintings together. Some damage to "The Scream" may prove impossible to repair, but the overall integrity of the work has not been compromised.

Dance of Life
The 1895 pastel-on-board version of the painting, owned by Norwegian businessman Petter Olsen, sold at Sotheby's for a record US$120 million at auction on 2 May 2012. The bidding started at $40 million and lasted for over 12 minutes when Leon Black by phone gave the final offer of US$119,922,500, including the buyer's premium. Sotheby's said the painting was the most colorful and vibrant of the four versions painted by Munch and the only version whose frame was hand-painted by the artist to include his poem, detailing the work's inspiration. After the sale, Sotheby's auctioneer Tobias Meyer said the painting was "worth every penny", adding: "It is one of the great icons of art in the world and whoever bought it should be congratulated."

The previous record for the most expensive work of art sold at auction had been held by Picasso's Nude, Green Leaves and Bust, which went for US$106.5 million at Christie's two years prior on 4 May 2010. When accounting for inflation, the highest price paid for art at an auction is still held by Van Gogh's Portrait of Dr. Gachet, which sold for $82.5 million in 1990, or about $145 million 2012 dollars. There have been reports that The Card Players, by Cézanne, sold privately for $250m in 2011, which can not be verified for the establishment of a record price.

In the late twentieth century, The Scream was imitated, parodied, and outright copies have been made following its copyright expiration, which led to it acquiring an iconic status in popular culture. It was used on the cover of some editions of Arthur Janov's book The Primal Scream. In 1983–1984, pop artist Andy Warhol made a series of silk prints copying works by Munch, including The Scream. His stated intention was to desacralize the painting by making it into a mass-reproducible object. Munch had already begun that process, however, by making a lithograph of the work for reproduction. Erró's ironic and irreverent treatment of Munch's masterpiece in his acrylic paintings The Second Scream (1967) and Ding Dong (1979) is considered a characteristic of post-modern art. Cartoonist Gary Larson included a "tribute" to The Scream (entitled The Whine) in his Wiener Dog Art painting and cartoon compilation, in which the central figure is replaced by a howling dachshund. The Scream has been used in advertising, in cartoons, such as The Simpsons, films, and on television. The principal alien antagonists depicted in the 2011 BBC series of Doctor Who, named "The Silence", have an appearance partially based on The Scream. The Ghostface mask worn by the primary antagonists of the Scream series of horror movies is based on the painting, and was created by Fun World employee, Brigitte Sleiertin, as a Halloween costume, prior to being discovered by Marianne Maddalena and Wes Craven for the film.

In 2013, The Scream was one of four paintings that the Norwegian postal service chose for a series of stamps marking the 150th anniversary of Edvard Munch’s birth.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall

"A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall"
by Bob Dylan

Tell me, where have you been, my blue-eyed son?
Where have you been, my darling young one?

I've stumbled up on the side of twelve misty mountains
I've walked and I've crawled over six crooked highways
I've stepped in the middle of seven sad forests
I've been out in front of a dozen dead oceans

And it's a hard, and it's a hard, well it's a hard, and it's a hard
It's a hard rain's a-gonna fall

Tell me, what did you see, my blue-eyed son?
What did you see, my darling young one?

I saw a black branch drippin', with blood all around it
I saw a room full of men with their hammers a-bleedin'
I saw a white ladder all covered with water
I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken

And it's a hard, and it's a hard, it's a hard, oh yeah
It's a hard rain's a-gonna fall

Tell me what did you hear, my blue-eyed son?
What did you hear, my darling young one?

I heard a one hundred drummers hands were a-blazin'
Ten thousand whisperin' and nobody listenin'
I heard a one person starve, I heard many people laughin'
I heard the song of a poet who died in the gutter

And It's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard, oh hard
It's a hard rain's a-gonna fall

Well, what'll you do now, my blue-eyed son?
What'll you do now, my darling young one?

Well, I'll walk to the depths of the deepest black forest
Where the people are many and their hands are all empty
Where the pellets of poison are flooding their waters
But I know my song well and I sure won't forget it

'Cause it's a hard, and it's a hard, well it's a hard, oh yeah
It's a hard rain's a-gonna fall

Order Out Of Chaos: The Doctrine That Runs The World

August 12, 2014 by Brandon Smith

In February 1920, Winston Churchill wrote an article that appeared in the Illustrated Sunday Herald, stating:

From the days of Spartacus-Weishaupt to those of Karl Marx, and down to Trotsky (Russia), Bela Kun (Hungary), Rosa Luxembourg (Germany), and Emma Goldman (United States), this world-wide conspiracy for the overthrow of civilization and for the reconstitution of society on the basis of arrested development, of envious malevolence, and impossible equality, has been steadily growing. It played, as a modern writer, Mrs. Webster, has so ably shown, a definitely recognizable part in the tragedy of the French Revolution. It has been the mainspring of every subversive movement during the Nineteenth Century; and now at last this band of extraordinary personalities from the underworld of the great cities of Europe and America have gripped the Russian people by the hair of their heads and have become practically the undisputed masters of that enormous empire.

The concept of conspiracy frightens some people, so much so that they are willing to overlook any and all evidence that world events are for the most part directed, rather than chaotic and coincidental. For those who are uneducated and unaware, explanations for the terrible tides of politics and war generally revolve around a false understanding of Occam’s razor. They argue that the theory states that the “simplest explanation” is usually the correct one for any particular problem or crisis. But Occam’s razor actually states that the simplest explanation according to the evidence at hand is usually the correct answer for any given problem. That is to say, the simplest explanation must conform to the evidence, or it is likely not correct.

Unfortunately, “skeptics” of directed conspiracy often turn a blind eye to evidence that is contrary to their simple explanations, while arguing that simplification is its own vindication. In other words, they don’t feel the need to defend their simplistic world view because, in their minds, simplicity stands on its own as self-evident. There was a time when men believed that the planets revolved around each other because they were tied together by long glass strings, and this was evident to them because it was the simplest explanation they could come up with. The thinking of skeptics of the New World Order and concerted globalization is much like this.

The most common argument they tend to exploit is that the world is far too “chaotic” and that if the elites are actually seeking a fully centralized one-world system, they are “failing miserably” because so many cultures are so clearly divided. For anyone who holds this argument as logical or practical, first I would suggest they look beyond the surface of the various conflicts at the similarities between these so called “enemies.”

For example, what about the United States versus Russia? These two nations have a long history of opposing ideologies and have come close to war time and time again. Certainly, average Americans see themselves as individualists and Russians as socialist or communist. Average Russians see Americans as capitalist imperialists and see themselves as humanists. But what about their respective governments? What about their respective financiers and oligarchs? Do they really see each other as enemies?

If that were so, then why did American Wall Street tycoons and the U.S. military aid the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917?

A false paradigm was created when internationalists supported the Bolshevik Revolution and allowed Russia to become a communist-held country. The eventual Cold War that resulted created the rationale used by the military-industrial complex to build a massive standing army (which is not part of the U.S. Constitution), an army which could then be sent around the world to subdue various nations and even possibly be used to oppress the American people.

Even today, the false East/West paradigm continues, with America painted as the bumbling villain and Russia painted as the stalwart and reasonable objector. Yet Russia’s top government officials and our top government officials work closely with and answer to the same international financiers and elites, like the International Monetary Fund and the Bank of International Settlements, as I outlined in great detail in False East/West Paradigm Hides The Rise Of Global Currency and Russia Is Dominated By Global Banks, Too.

Even closer to current events, the U.S. has now entered into military operations against ISIS insurgents moving rapidly through Iraq’s northern regions toward Baghdad. However, if ISIS is the enemy, why did the U.S. and our ally, Saudi Arabia, support and train ISIS agents in Syria as well as Iraq?

Is it just irony that our government helped birth ISIS and now the White House is at war with the group? Or is it possible that maybe, just maybe, a greater plan is afoot?

As the sinister Rahm Emanuel famously said: “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.”

If a crisis of opportunity does not present itself in the time frame you need, why not engineer a crisis to fit your goals? This is a tactic that has been used by elites for generations, and it is called the Hegelian dialectic.

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel’s work was the very foundation of the collectivist/socialist ideology, and it inspired Karl Marx during his writing of The Communist Manifesto. Hegel was an avid statist who believed that the collective must be ruled and directed by centralized governance and that all individualism should be sacrificed for the greater good.

Hegel wrote that the state “has supreme right against the individual, whose supreme duty is to be a member of the State… for the right of the world spirit is above all special privileges.”

In his dialectic theory, Hegel conjured a strategy by which the establishment elites could control the masses through deliberately created division. To define the Hegelian dialectic method simply, the ruling body must first trigger a problem or crisis that causes the citizenry to react with fear and demand a solution. The rulers then offer a solution, which they had already predetermined before they had started the crisis; this solution would usually entail more power for the elites and less freedom for the citizens.

The world appears divided and chaotic exactly because it has been made that way by a select few in the globalist establishment. In fact, if you were to name any war in the past 100 years, any competent alternative analyst would easily produce undeniable evidence of the involvement of international banks and think tanks pulling strings on both sides.

If you don’t understand the concept of “order out of chaos,” then you’ll never understand a thing.

Engineered chaos serves several purposes. It provides distraction and cover for the elites to implement other plans that they would rather not have noticed.

It also provides a scapegoat for the masses, who are now divided against each other. When violent changes are implemented that produce destructive consequences, the people must be placated with an easily identifiable villain. Certain changes globalists wish to make in the way the world functions require the careful exploitation of scapegoats.

For example, the globalists at the IMF have been discussing the establishment of a global basket currency for years to replace the U.S. dollar.

Russia and the East have also, conveniently, been calling for the IMF to replace the dollar with their Special Drawing Rights basket.

And finally, as well as conveniently, the elites in the U.S. government have launched a controlled coup in Ukraine and initiated direct economic confrontation with Russia, thereby giving the East the perfect excuse to dump the U.S. dollar as world reserve and replace it with a basket currency system under the IMF. Despite claims that Vladimir Putin is “anti-globalist,” the Russian is in fact an avid supporter of the IMF, and has stated his goal is to continue Russia’s IMF membership in a larger capacity:

In the BRICS case we see a whole set of coinciding strategic interests. First of all, this is the common intention to reform the international monetary and financial system. In the present form it is unjust to the BRICS countries and to new economies in general. We should take a more active part in the IMF and the World Bank’s decision-making system. The international monetary system itself depends a lot on the US dollar, or, to be precise, on the monetary and financial policy of the US authorities. The BRICS countries want to change this.

Yes, Vladimir, and so do the manipulative social engineers at the IMF.

Hopefully, you have the sense to see how this works: problem, reaction, solution. Economic or physical war is launched between East and West, while the dollar is killed in the process. The masses react by demanding a fair and balanced replacement for the dollar as world reserve so that economic stability can return. The Americans blame Russia and the East for their fiscal misfortune. The East blames the hubris of the West for its own downfall. Neither side blames the banksters, who started the whole calamity to begin with. And the elites swoop in as saviors with a new Bretton Woods-style agreement to appease all sides and cement their global currency system, the system they had always wanted. And with a global economic currency and authority in place, global governance is not far behind — order out of chaos.

This process is more psychological than political in its goals. One could argue that if the elites already have control of all central banks and governments, then why do they need a global government? The answer is that these men do not want secret global governance, they want open global governance. They want us to accept the idea as a fact of existence, for only when we agree to participate in the lie will they then have truly won.

The end result of World War I was the creation of the League of Nations and the argument that sovereignty leads to disunion and catastrophe. World War II led to the creation of the United Nations and the International Monetary Fund. I believe that a third world war is nearly upon us, one that may involve weapons of monetary destruction more so than weapons of mass destruction. Each supposed disintegration of global unity has eventually led to greater centralization, and this is something the skeptics seem to forget. The progression of crises suggests that the next war will lead to total globalization under the dominance of a minority of elitists posing as wise men who only wish to bring peace and harmony to the masses. In the meantime, the skeptics will continue to mindlessly debate in the face of all reason that the whole thing was a fluke, an act of random mathematical chance, leading coincidentally to the one thing the establishment rulers crave: total global totalitarian micromanagement.