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November 2005

Skepticism cannot build, only destroy

To say that skepticism is popular these days would be an understatement.  There's so much to be cynical about, and so many perfectly good reasons.  I consider myself a skeptic...more and more so over the past few years...perhaps to the extent that now I'm becoming skeptical of skepticism itself.

Skepticism only gains momentum when it is fed with solid reasons.  To be skeptical is to point out, reject, and stop that which is wrong.  The environment, life on earth itself, is being destroyed before our eyes.  It is our responsibility to direct not only skepticism, but also irreverence and even hatred toward the forces of destruction responsible.  But we will never be able to shout "stop it" loud enough for it to become a solution.

So I have a question for my fellow skeptics.  What alternative do we believe in?  Yes...believe...which involves faith (a term which usually illicits a strong negative reaction from my  skeptical self). 

What can be built when solutions are doubted or rejected by our skeptical minds?  To build a better future, as an individual concerned with his own life, or as a movement concerned with the good of the world...requires belief and faith.  Belief in ourselves.  Belief in humanity.  Faith in possibility.                                    

How will they remove Bush while maintaining the corrupt, exploitative system?

So the Bush Regime is finally being taken down by the powers-that-be for so many good reasons.  Let's get real, since WWII the military-industrial complex has consistently pushed for increasing military spending and aggressive military policy to 1) ensure continued business profits, 2) systematically extract and exploit resources at will, and 3) control strategic areas around the world to maintain this agenda of US global dominance indefinately.

The ruling elite have only tolerated Liberal governments because it is the best way to keep American citizens pacified enough at home to tolerate the injustices being done in their name throughout the world.  In other words, they have given Americans just enough so that they don't disrupt the system of US global dominance.  A true Progressive like Dennis Kucinich would never be given any real power, because he has stated that he would drastically cut military spending and create a Department of Peace.  A true Progressive would, indeed, decrease the funding of "Defense" and would, instead, throw money at creating equal education, health care for all, environmental clean-up, and other well-meaning things that have nothing to do with the real agenda of the ruling elite. 

So while the Bush Administration is committed to the goals of 1, 2, and 3...their incompetence is turning into a real threat to the ruling elites.  Firstly, they are too transparent.  Normally, the US just takes over a country by sending in a few thousand trained militants, a few fighter-jets, and stages a coupe without making such a spectacle of it.  Or if they do decide to declare war, like Gulf War I, at least it was done under a somewhat coherent premise.  But in the age of the Internet, blatant and obvious lies only work on the most naive and unaware among us.  While it took a long time for most Americans to see through the propaganda, citizens of the world weren't fooled at all.  Yet for many Americans, it wasn't until Katrina that a critical mass finally woke up.  The fact that Progressives are achieving critical mass is a big problem for the ruling elite because our agenda is directly opposed to theirs.  So something has to be done.  That's one of the reasons we're starting to see what almost looks like justice (the Libby indictment) and freedom of the press these days.

So of course the concerns of the ruling elite are different from yours and mine.  The Bush Administration's incompetence in the Middle East has forced the US and Israel to withdraw from Gaza, for example.  Failing to compromise here would mean further incensing the Arabs and becoming even more transparent, which threatens our access to oil throughout the region.  Since WWII, Zionist concerns have always been in competition with the interests of oil.  Another tremendous threat to the ruling elite is the rise of Socialism and Nationalism throughout South America.  Leaders like Chavez prevent US corporations from controlling oil and from extracting other natural resources.  US policy for at least the past 60 years has been to prevent and disrupt these kinds of people's movements.  Today, we are starting to see them spread (again, because US policy has become transparent).

So these days, the ruling elite must surely be conflicted and confused.  How are they going to do the necessary work of taking down these cronies without exposing things to the point that US citizens lose their faith in the system altogether?  How can you replace them with a Democratic leadership clever enough to fool the world again without actually tampering with the inherently corrupt and exploitative system?  Just how much will have to be given to appease the masses?  How can anything be given to the masses at all when the federal budget is overstretched and access to oil is diminishing?

From the ruling elite's perspective, I'm actually starting to understand why they bet on this racehorse that should be called "Fascism", despite decreasing odds for success, over these past 4 years.  The alternative is tricky, and will now only be tried reluctantly because the Fascist experiment in the USA has failed.

I'm not sure anyone, including the ruling elite, knows what's next.

Just turn off the TV

For six months now, I've lived without TV.  When I moved to the apartment in Kosice, I simply never bothered to subscribe to cable or satellite.  TV had been a decreasingly important aspect of My life for a few years now, aside from programs like NOW! Bill Moyers or The Daily Show, so when it was clear that only a handful of crappy channels in Slovak and Czech were available, the decision was kind of a no-brainer.

Of course the obvious effect is that I read more, listen to much more music, and occasionally watch a good film.  But the difference is that those things are selected by me to meet my needs, not beamed at me to meet the needs of corporations.

So a few things happened post-TV.  Firstly, I lost weight.  It isn't that I needed to lose weight, really, but I'm now in my ideal form.  While I haven't been dieting at all, it seems that when one leads a more interactive life, one doesn't sit around bored wondering what to eat next.  Also, I stopped shopping as a hobby almost completely.  It is also interesting that my wife and I are having a lot more, and far better, sex.  I remember, back in Seattle, after a few hours watching TV...feeling slightly insulted and offended by the low-brow tone of just wasn't much of a turn-on and it just made me grumpy and in no mood for sex.  These days, many times a week we'll light candles, turn on some sexy music like Gotan Project, Portishead, Wolfsheim, or Nouvelle Vague...we'll sip some wine, and then fuck into the middle of the night ;)

When we detach our lives from the artificially constructed notion of reality beamed at us through the airwaves and cables, we begin to realize that life, at it is, is fascinating.  Without TV, one begins to take part in the drama and beauty of life.  One begins to actively participate.   One's mind is clear to observe the beauty and pleasure, as well as the absurdities, disappointments, and pain, of real life.  Without TV, life happens every day and a month's worth of experiences happen in a week.

Just turn it off.  You weren't really enjoying it anyway.