Article 43

 

Monday, June 27, 2011

Sad Day For Open Source

It’s a sad day for open source.  At least for me.

I went here - http://winscp.net/eng/download.php, and downloaded the winscp program

It’s bundled with some kind of adware

http://winscp.net/eng/docs/opencandy

http://www.microsoft.com/security/portal/Threat/Encyclopedia/Entry.aspx?ThreatID=159633

---

Here’s what it looks like the installer tried to send out

opencandy.winscp.net?clientv=12
&machine_code=deleted-for-obvious-reasons
&method=track_product_installed
&product_key=c8223ec7b782bba155ed4a5f24e87c75&v=1.0
&signature=37a700fcd5246caa914e88328f1d690b

Since the machine_code is a unique identifier, the winscp notes sound a little misleading

No private information is collected. Installation program collects only information necessary to choose relevant advertisement, such as geo-location, operating system and language.

I don’t mind a little shovelware that one can easily choose not to install, but don’t like the idea of collecting unique numbers, and telling me otherwise.

Do you?

Posted by Elvis on 06/27/11 •
Section General Reading
View (0) comment(s) or add a new one
Printable viewLink to this article
Home

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Disadvantages Of An Elite Education

theendisnear.jpg

A long but important essay, that explains much about the mess were in, when one considers that these people are running the country, and our lives, particularly THE ONE currently in the White House. For what it’s worth, Ive never had a problem talking to either plumbers or auto mechanics. Perhaps because I’ve spent a good part of my life doing both.
- Transterrestrial Musings

By William Deresiewicz
The American Scholar
June 1, 2008

It didn’t dawn on me that there might be a few holes in my education until I was about 35. I’d just bought a house, the pipes needed fixing, and the plumber was standing in my kitchen. There he was, a short, beefy guy with a goatee and a Red Sox cap and a thick Boston accent, and I suddenly learned that I didn’t have the slightest idea what to say to someone like him. So alien was his experience to me, so unguessable his values, so mysterious his very language, that I couldn’t succeed in engaging him in a few minutes of small talk before he got down to work. Fourteen years of higher education and a handful of Ivy League degrees, and there I was, stiff and stupid, struck dumb by my own dumbness. “Ivy retardation,” a friend of mine calls this. I could carry on conversations with people from other countries, in other languages, but I couldn’t talk to the man who was standing in my own house.

It’s not surprising that it took me so long to discover the extent of my miseducation, because the last thing an elite education will teach you is its own inadequacy. As two dozen years at Yale and Columbia have shown me, elite colleges relentlessly encourage their students to flatter themselves for being there, and for what being there can do for them. The advantages of an elite education are indeed undeniable. You learn to think, at least in certain ways, and you make the contacts needed to launch yourself into a life rich in all of society’s most cherished rewards. To consider that while some opportunities are being created, others are being cancelled and that while some abilities are being developed, others are being crippled is, within this context, not only outrageous, but inconceivable.

Im not talking about curricula or the culture wars, the closing or opening of the American mind, political correctness, canon formation, or what have you. I’m talking about the whole system in which these skirmishes play out. Not just the Ivy League and its peer institutions, but also the mechanisms that get you there in the first place: the private and affluent public feeder schools, the ever-growing parastructure of tutors and test-prep courses and enrichment programs, the whole admissions frenzy and everything that leads up to and away from it. The message, as always, is the medium. Before, after, and around the elite college classroom, a constellation of values is ceaselessly inculcated. As globalization sharpens economic insecurity, we are increasingly committing ourselvesas students, as parents, as a society - to a vast apparatus of educational advantage. With so many resources devoted to the business of elite academics and so many people scrambling for the limited space at the top of the ladder, it is worth asking what exactly it is you get in the end, what it is we all get, because the elite students of today, as their institutions never tire of reminding them, are the leaders of tomorrow.

The first disadvantage of an elite education, as I learned in my kitchen that day, is that it makes you incapable of talking to people who aren’t like you. Elite schools pride themselves on their diversity, but that diversity is almost entirely a matter of ethnicity and race. With respect to class, these schools are largely - indeed increasingly - homogeneous. Visit any elite campus in our great nation and you can thrill to the heartwarming spectacle of the children of white business people and professionals studying and playing alongside the children of black, Asian, and Latino businesspeople and professionals. At the same time, because these schools tend to cultivate liberal attitudes, they leave their students in the paradoxical position of wanting to advocate on behalf of the working class while being unable to hold a simple conversation with anyone in it. Witness the last two Democratic presidential nominees, Al Gore and John Kerry: one each from Harvard and Yale, both earnest, decent, intelligent men, both utterly incapable of communicating with the larger electorate.

But it isn’t just a matter of class. My education taught me to believe that people who didn’t go to an Ivy League or equivalent school werent worth talking to, regardless of their class. I was given the unmistakable message that such people were beneath me. We were “the best and the brightest,” as these places love to say, and everyone else was, well, something else: less good, less bright. I learned to give that little nod of understanding, that slightly sympathetic “Oh, when people told me they went to a less prestigious college. (If I’d gone to Harvard, I would have learned to say in Boston when I was asked where I went to school the Cambridge version of noblesse oblige.) I never learned that there are smart people who don’t go to elite colleges, often precisely for reasons of class. I never learned that there are smart people who don’t go to college at all.

I also never learned that there are smart people who aren’t smart. The existence of multiple forms of intelligence has become a commonplace, but however much elite universities like to sprinkle their incoming classes with a few actors or violinists, they select for and develop one form of intelligence: the analytic. While this is broadly true of all universities, elite schools, precisely because their students (and faculty, and administrators) possess this one form of intelligence to such a high degree, are more apt to ignore the value of others. One naturally prizes what one most possesses and what most makes for ones advantages. But social intelligence and emotional intelligence and creative ability, to name just three other forms, are not distributed preferentially among the educational elite. The “best are the brightest” only in one narrow sense. One needs to wander away from the educational elite to begin to discover this.

What about people who aren’t bright in any sense? I have a friend who went to an Ivy League college after graduating from a typically mediocre public high school. One of the values of going to such a school, she once said, is that it teaches you to relate to stupid people. Some people are smart in the elite-college way, some are smart in other ways, and some arent smart at all. It should be embarrassing not to know how to talk to any of them, if only because talking to people is the only real way of knowing them. Elite institutions are supposed to provide a humanistic education, but the first principle of humanism is Terence’s: “nothing human is alien to me.” The first disadvantage of an elite education is how very much of the human it alienates you from.

The second disadvantage, implicit in what Ive been saying, is that an elite education inculcates a false sense of self-worth. Getting to an elite college, being at an elite college, and going on from an elite college - all involve numerical rankings: SAT, GPA, GRE. You learn to think of yourself in terms of those numbers. They come to signify not only your fate, but your identity; not only your identity, but your value. Its been said that what those tests really measure is your ability to take tests, but even if they measure something real, it is only a small slice of the real. The problem begins when students are encouraged to forget this truth, when academic excellence becomes excellence in some absolute sense, when better at X becomes simply better.

There is nothing wrong with taking pride in one’s intellect or knowledge. There is something wrong with the smugness and self-congratulation that elite schools connive at from the moment the fat envelopes come in the mail. From orientation to graduation, the message is implicit in every tone of voice and tilt of the head, every old-school tradition, every article in the student paper, every speech from the dean. The message is: You have arrived. Welcome to the club. And the corollary is equally clear: You deserve everything your presence here is going to enable you to get. When people say that students at elite schools have a strong sense of entitlement, they mean that those students think they deserve more than other people because their SAT scores are higher.

At Yale, and no doubt at other places, the message is reinforced in embarrassingly literal terms. The physical form of the universityits quads and residential colleges, with their Gothic stone faקades and wrought-iron portalsis constituted by the locked gate set into the encircling wall. Everyone carries around an ID card that determines which gates they can enter. The gate, in other words, is a kind of governing metaphorחbecause the social form of the university, as is true of every elite school, is constituted the same way. Elite colleges are walled domains guarded by locked gates, with admission granted only to the elect. The aptitude with which students absorb this lesson is demonstrated by the avidity with which they erect still more gates within those gates, special realms of ever-greater exclusivityat Yale, the famous secret societies, or as they should probably be called, the open-secret societies, since true secrecy would defeat their purpose. Thereגs no point in excluding people unless they know theyve been excluded.

One of the great errors of an elite education, then, is that it teaches you to think that measures of intelligence and academic achievement are measures of value in some moral or metaphysical sense. But they’re not. Graduates of elite schools are not more valuable than stupid people, or talentless people, or even lazy people. Their pain does not hurt more. Their souls do not weigh more. If I were religious, I would say, God does not love them more. The political implications should be clear. As John Ruskin told an older elite, grabbing what you can get isnt any less wicked when you grab it with the power of your brains than with the power of your fists. “Work must always be,” Ruskin says, “and captains of work must always be.[But] there is a wide difference between being captains...of work, and taking the profits of it.”

The political implications don’t stop there. An elite education not only ushers you into the upper classes; it trains you for the life you will lead once you get there. I didnt understand this until I began comparing my experience, and even more, my students’ experience, with the experience of a friend of mine who went to Cleveland State. There are due dates and attendance requirements at places like Yale, but no one takes them very seriously. Extensions are available for the asking; threats to deduct credit for missed classes are rarely, if ever, carried out. In other words, students at places like Yale get an endless string of second chances. Not so at places like Cleveland State. My friend once got a D in a class in which shed been running an A because she was coming off a waitressing shift and had to hand in her term paper an hour late.

That may be an extreme example, but it is unthinkable at an elite school. Just as unthinkably, she had no one to appeal to. Students at places like Cleveland State, unlike those at places like Yale, donҒt have a platoon of advisers and tutors and deans to writeout excuses for late work, give them extra help when they need it, pick them up when they fall down. They get their education wholesale, from an indifferent bureaucracy; its not handed to them in individually wrapped packages by smiling clerks. There are few, if any, opportunities for the kind of contacts I saw my students get routinely - classes with visiting power brokers, dinners with foreign dignitaries. There are also few, if any, of the kind of special funds that, at places like Yale, are available in profusion: travel stipends, research fellowships, performance grants. Each year, my department at Yale awards dozens of cash prizes for everything from freshman essays to senior projects. This year, those awards came to more than $90,000in just one department.

Students at places like Cleveland State also don’t get A-s just for doing the work. There’s been a lot of handwringing lately over grade inflation, and it is a scandal, but the most scandalous thing about it is how uneven its been. Forty years ago, the average GPA at both public and private universities was about 2.6, still close to the traditional B-/C+ curve. Since then, it’s gone up everywhere, but not by anything like the same amount. The average gpa at public universities is now about 3.0, a B; at private universities its about 3.3, just short of a B+. And at most Ivy League schools, it’s closer to 3.4. But there are always students who don’t do the work, or who are taking a class far outside their field (for fun or to fulfill a requirement), or who are’t up to standard to begin with (athletes, legacies). At a school like Yale, students who come to class and work hard expect nothing less than an A-. And most of the time, they get it.

In short, the way students are treated in college trains them for the social position they will occupy once they get out. At schools like Cleveland State, theyre being trained for positions somewhere in the middle of the class system, in the depths of one bureaucracy or another. TheyҒre being conditioned for lives with few second chances, no extensions, little support, narrow opportunitylives of subordination, supervision, and control, lives of deadlines, not guidelines. At places like Yale, of course, itגs the reverse. The elite like to think of themselves as belonging to a meritocracy, but thats true only up to a point. Getting through the gate is very difficult, but once you’re in, theres almost nothing you can do to get kicked out. Not the most abject academic failure, not the most heinous act of plagiarism, not even threatening a fellow student with bodily harm - Ive heard of all three - will get you expelled. The feeling is that, by gosh, it just wouldnt be fair - in other words, the self-protectiveness of the old-boy network, even if it now includes girls. Elite schools nurture excellence, but they also nurture what a former Yale graduate student I know calls entitled mediocrity.Ӕ A is the mark of excellence; A- is the mark of entitled mediocrity. Its another one of those metaphors, not so much a grade as a promise. It means, don’t worry, well take care of you. You may not be all that good, but you’re good enough.

Here, too, college reflects the way things work in the adult world (unless its the other way around). For the elite, thereҒs always another extensiona bailout, a pardon, a stint in rehabחalways plenty of contacts and special stipendsthe country club, the conference, the year-end bonus, the dividend. If Al Gore and John Kerry represent one of the characteristic products of an elite education, George W. Bush represents another. Itגs no coincidence that our current president, the apotheosis of entitled mediocrity, went to Yale. Entitled mediocrity is indeed the operating principle of his administration, but as Enron and WorldCom and the other scandals of the dot-com meltdown demonstrated, its also the operating principle of corporate America. The fat salaries paid to underperforming CEOs are an adult version of the A-. Anyone who remembers the injured sanctimony with which Kenneth Lay greeted the notion that he should be held accountable for his actions will understand the mentality in questionҗthe belief that once youre in the club, youҒve got a God-given right to stay in the club. But you dont need to remember Ken Lay, because the whole dynamic played out again last year in the case of Scooter Libby, another Yale man.

If one of the disadvantages of an elite education is the temptation it offers to mediocrity, another is the temptation it offers to security. When parents explain why they work so hard to give their children the best possible education, they invariably say it is because of the opportunities it opens up. But what of the opportunities it shuts down? An elite education gives you the chance to be rich - which is, after all, what were talking about - but it takes away the chance not to be. Yet the opportunity not to be rich is one of the greatest opportunities with which young Americans have been blessed. We live in a society that is itself so wealthy that it can afford to provide a decent living to whole classes of people who in other countries exist (or in earlier times existed) on the brink of poverty or, at least, of indignity. You can live comfortably in the United States as a schoolteacher, or a community organizer, or a civil rights lawyer, or an artistthat is, by any reasonable definition of comfort. You have to live in an ordinary house instead of an apartment in Manhattan or a mansion in L.A.; you have to drive a Honda instead of a BMW or a Hummer; you have to vacation in Florida instead of Barbados or Paris, but what are such losses when set against the opportunity to do work you believe in, work youגre suited for, work you love, every day of your life?

Yet it is precisely that opportunity that an elite education takes away. How can I be a schoolteacherwouldnגt that be a waste of my expensive education? Wouldnt I be squandering the opportunities my parents worked so hard to provide? What will my friends think? How will I face my classmates at our 20th reunion, when theyҒre all rich lawyers or important people in New York? And the question that lies behind all these: Isnt it beneath me? So a whole universe of possibility closes, and you miss your true calling.

This is not to say that students from elite colleges never pursue a riskier or less lucrative course after graduation, but even when they do, they tend to give up more quickly than others. (LetҒs not even talk about the possibility of kids from privileged backgrounds not going to college at all, or delaying matriculation for several years, because however appropriate such choices might sometimes be, our rigid educational mentality places them outside the universe of possibilitythe reason so many kids go sleepwalking off to college with no idea what theyגre doing there.) This doesnt seem to make sense, especially since students from elite schools tend to graduate with less debt and are more likely to be able to float by on family money for a while. I wasnҒt aware of the phenomenon myself until I heard about it from a couple of graduate students in my department, one from Yale, one from Harvard. They were talking about trying to writepoetry, how friends of theirs from college called it quits within a year or two while people they know from less prestigious schools are still at it. Why should this be? Because students from elite schools expect success, and expect it now. They have, by definition, never experienced anything else, and their sense of self has been built around their ability to succeed. The idea of not being successful terrifies them, disorients them, defeats them. Theyve been driven their whole lives by a fear of failure - often, in the first instance, by their parents fear of failure. The first time I blew a test, I walked out of the room feeling like I no longer knew who I was. The second time, it was easier; I had started to learn that failure isn’t the end of the world.

But if youre afraid to fail, you’re afraid to take risks, which begins to explain the final and most damning disadvantage of an elite education: that it is profoundly anti-intellectual. This will seem counterintuitive. Arent kids at elite schools the smartest ones around, at least in the narrow academic sense? DonҒt they work harder than anyone elseindeed, harder than any previous generation? They are. They do. But being an intellectual is not the same as being smart. Being an intellectual means more than doing your homework.

If so few kids come to college understanding this, it is no wonder. They are products of a system that rarely asked them to think about something bigger than the next assignment. The system forgot to teach them, along the way to the prestige admissions and the lucrative jobs, that the most important achievements canגt be measured by a letter or a number or a name. It forgot that the true purpose of education is to make minds, not careers.

Being an intellectual means, first of all, being passionate about ideasand not just for the duration of a semester, for the sake of pleasing the teacher, or for getting a good grade. A friend who teaches at the University of Connecticut once complained to me that his students donגt think for themselves. Well, I said, Yale students think for themselves, but only because they know we want them to. Ive had many wonderful students at Yale and Columbia, bright, thoughtful, creative kids whom itҒs been a pleasure to talk with and learn from. But most of them have seemed content to color within the lines that their education had marked out for them. Only a small minority have seen their education as part of a larger intellectual journey, have approached the work of the mind with a pilgrim soul. These few have tended to feel like freaks, not least because they get so little support from the university itself. Places like Yale, as one of them put it to me, are not conducive to searchers.

Places like Yale are simply not set up to help students ask the big questions. I dont think there ever was a golden age of intellectualism in the American university, but in the 19th century students might at least have had a chance to hear such questions raised in chapel or in the literary societies and debating clubs that flourished on campus. Throughout much of the 20th century, with the growth of the humanistic ideal in American colleges, students might have encountered the big questions in the classrooms of professors possessed of a strong sense of pedagogic mission. Teachers like that still exist in this country, but the increasingly dire exigencies of academic professionalization have made them all but extinct at elite universities. Professors at top research institutions are valued exclusively for the quality of their scholarly work; time spent on teaching is time lost. If students want a conversion experience, theyҒre better off at a liberal arts college.

When elite universities boast that they teach their students how to think, they mean that they teach them the analytic and rhetorical skills necessary for success in law or medicine or science or business. But a humanistic education is supposed to mean something more than that, as universities still dimly feel. So when students get to college, they hear a couple of speeches telling them to ask the big questions, and when they graduate, they hear a couple more speeches telling them to ask the big questions. And in between, they spend four years taking courses that train them to ask the little questionsspecialized courses, taught by specialized professors, aimed at specialized students. Although the notion of breadth is implicit in the very idea of a liberal arts education, the admissions process increasingly selects for kids who have already begun to think of themselves in specialized termsחthe junior journalist, the budding astronomer, the language prodigy. We are slouching, even at elite schools, toward a glorified form of vocational training.

Indeed, that seems to be exactly what those schools want. Theres a reason elite schools speak of training leaders, not thinkersҗholders of power, not its critics. An independent mind is independent of all allegiances, and elite schools, which get a large percentage of their budget from alumni giving, are strongly invested in fostering institutional loyalty. As another friend, a third-generation Yalie, says, the purpose of Yale College is to manufacture Yale alumni. Of course, for the system to work, those alumni need money. At Yale, the long-term drift of students away from majors in the humanities and basic sciences toward more practical ones like computer science and economics has been abetted by administrative indifference. The college career office has little to say to students not interested in law, medicine, or business, and elite universities are not going to do anything to discourage the large percentage of their graduates who take their degrees to Wall Street. In fact, theyre showing them the way. The liberal arts university is becoming the corporate university, its center of gravity shifting to technical fields where scholarly expertise can be parlayed into lucrative business opportunities.

ItҒs no wonder that the few students who are passionate about ideas find themselves feeling isolated and confused. I was talking with one of them last year about his interest in the German Romantic idea of bildung, the upbuilding of the soul. But, he saidhe was a senior at the timeחits hard to build your soul when everyone around you is trying to sell theirs.

Yet there is a dimension of the intellectual life that lies above the passion for ideas, though so thoroughly has our culture been sanitized of it that it is hardly surprising if it was beyond the reach of even my most alertstudents. Since the idea of the intellectual emerged in the 18th century, it has had, at its core, a commitment to social transformation. Being an intellectual means thinking your way toward a vision of the good society and then trying to realize that vision by speaking truth to power. It means going into spiritual exile. It means foreswearing your allegiance, in lonely freedom, to God, to country, and to Yale. It takes more than just intellect; it takes imagination and courage. ғI am not afraid to make a mistake, Stephen Dedalus says, ԓeven a great mistake, a lifelong mistake, and perhaps as long as eternity, too.

Being an intellectual begins with thinking your way outside of your assumptions and the system that enforces them. But students who get into elite schools are precisely the ones who have best learned to work within the system, so itԒs almost impossible for them to see outside it, to see that its even there. Long before they got to college, they turned themselves into world-class hoop-jumpers and teacher-pleasers, getting AҒs in every class no matter how boring they found the teacher or how pointless the subject, racking up eight or 10 extracurricular activities no matter what else they wanted to do with their time. Paradoxically, the situation may be better at second-tier schools and, in particular, again, at liberal arts colleges than at the most prestigious universities. Some students end up at second-tier schools because theyre exactly like students at Harvard or Yale, only less gifted or driven. But others end up there because they have a more independent spirit. They didnҒt get straight As because they couldnҒt be bothered to give everything in every class. They concentrated on the ones that meant the most to them or on a single strong extracurricular passion or on projects that had nothing to do with school or even with looking good on a college application. Maybe they just sat in their room, reading a lot and writing in their journal. These are the kinds of kids who are likely, once they get to college, to be more interested in the human spirit than in school spirit, and to think about leaving college bearing questions, not resums.

Ive been struck, during my time at Yale, by how similar everyone looks. You hardly see any hippies or punks or art-school types, and at a college that was known in the 钒80s as the Gay Ivy, few out lesbians and no gender queers. The geeks dont look all that geeky; the fashionable kids go in for understated elegance. Thirty-two flavors, all of them vanilla. The most elite schools have become places of a narrow and suffocating normalcy. Everyone feels pressure to maintain the kind of appearanceҗand affectthat go with achievement. (Dress for success, medicate for success.) I know from long experience as an adviser that not every Yale student is appropriate and well-adjusted, which is exactly why it worries me that so many of them act that way. The tyranny of the normal must be very heavy in their lives. One consequence is that those who canגt get with the program (and they tend to be students from poorer backgrounds) often polarize in the opposite direction, flying off into extremes of disaffection and self-destruction. But another consequence has to do with the large majority who can get with the program.

I taught a class several years ago on the literature of friendship. One day we were discussing Virginia Woolfs novel The Waves, which follows a group of friends from childhood to middle age. In high school, one of them falls in love with another boy. He thinks, “To whom can I expose the urgency of my own passion?” There is nobody here among these grey arches, and moaning pigeons, and cheerful games and tradition and emulation, all so skilfully organised to prevent feeling alone. A pretty good description of an elite college campus, including the part about never being allowed to feel alone. What did my students think of this, I wanted to know? What does it mean to go to school at a place where you’re never alone? Well, one of them said, I do feel uncomfortable sitting in my room by myself. Even when I have to writea paper, I do it at a friends. That same day, as it happened, another student gave a presentation on Emerson’s essay on friendship. Emerson says, he reported, that one of the purposes of friendship is to equip you for solitude. As I was asking my students what they thought that meant, one of them interrupted to say, wait a second, why do you need solitude in the first place? What can you do by yourself that you cant do with a friend?

So there they were: one young person who had lost the capacity for solitude and another who couldn’t see the point of it. Theres been much talk of late about the loss of privacy, but equally calamitous is its corollary, the loss of solitude. It used to be that you couldn’t always get together with your friends even when you wanted to. Now that students are in constant electronic contact, they never have trouble finding each other. But its not as if their compulsive sociability is enabling them to develop deep friendships. “To whom can I expose the urgency of my own passion?” My student was in her friend’s room writing a paper, not having a heart-to-heart. She probably didnt have the time; indeed, other students told me they found their peers too busy for intimacy.

What happens when business and sociability leave no room for solitude? The ability to engage in introspection, I put it to my students that day, is the essential precondition for living an intellectual life, and the essential precondition for introspection is solitude. They took this in for a second, and then one of them said, with a dawning sense of self-awareness, “So are you saying that were all just, like, really excellent sheep?” Well, I dont know. But I do know that the life of the mind is lived one mind at a time: one solitary, skeptical, resistant mind at a time. The best place to cultivate it is not within an educational system whose real purpose is to reproduce the class system.

The world that produced John Kerry and George Bush is indeed giving us our next generation of leaders. The kid who’s loading up on AP courses junior year or editing three campus publications while double-majoring, the kid whom everyone wants at their college or law school but no one wants in their classroom, the kid who doesn’t have a minute to breathe, let alone think, will soon be running a corporation or an institution or a government. She will have many achievements but little experience, great success but no vision. The disadvantage of an elite education is that it’s given us the elite we have, and the elite were going to have.

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 06/26/11 •
Section Spiritual Diversions
View (0) comment(s) or add a new one
Printable viewLink to this article
Home

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Problem With Positive Thinking

By Andy Liu
Inspired Startup
June 14, 2009

I can appreciate books like “Think and Grow Rich” and “The Secret” and the other books that highlight the power of positive thinking. However, I know people that TAKE IT JUST A LITTLE TOO FAR and focus a little bit too much on positive thinking that they forget that the world does not and has never revolved around them. I just don’t buy that believing and building a mental picture of a red bike will lead to a red bike appearing. Honestly, I don’t even think its the right mental picture to strive for. LIFE in this world does not revolve around me and it does not revolve around you. After coming back from Central America and getting to know an impoverished community over seven years and committing to working with the community for the past four, I’m even more convinced that success in this lifetime comes from our ability to think positively about others or growing a bigger vision about others. Again, its not intuitive, but it’s true. If all you and I think about is how we make a fast buck and nothing bigger than that, we will ultimately fail. However, if our dreams are about others and our success becomes a means to an end to doing that - we will be successful.

The problem with positive thinking - rather positive thinking just about yourself is that even the most positive thinkers during this economic downturn suffered some tremendous losses. There was just too much irrational exuberance by the talking heads and authors that wrote that their success was all due to their ability to think big and positively. Sure, some of it was due to that, but a variety of external factors also played a large role including a huge bull market. Failure these days is in large part also due to external factors. Why put so much stock in positive thinking when so much of success/failure is due to external factors? Put it another way, is positive thinking self-delusional? I posit that success truly comes from a vision beyond yourself and execution - the ability to actually go out and do it rather than just thinking about it. You do have a choice between positive and negative thinking, it should always be positive thinking, but it should never be the sole motivation for success.

That ends my rant for books and speakers that justify their existence by saying it just takes positive thinking for success, I think its just plain dangerous - what do you think?

SOURCE

---

smileordie.jpg

Book: Smile or Die
How Positive Thinking Fooled America and the World.

By Barbara Ehrenreich

A brilliant, savagely funny attack on the cult of positive thinking.

Bestselling author, Barbara Ehrenreich, conceived this book when she became ill with breast cancer. Finding herself surrounded by pink ribbons and bunny rabbits and platitudes, she balked at the way her anger and sadness were seen as unhealthy and dangerous by health professionals and other sufferers.

Smile or Die explores the tyranny of positive thinking, and offers a history of how it came to be the dominant mode of belief in the USA, and the world.

In a brilliant and savagely funny analysis of the cult of cheerfulness, Smile or Die reveals how this insidious school of through has infiltrated every part of our culture and exposes the downside of always and only seeing the bright side.

Smile or Die is Ehrenreich at the top of her myth-busting game. In this bold, incisive and often funny attack on the myriad ways that Positive Thinking has been used to obscure the truth, Ehrenreich reveals how damaging that has been to our ultimate well-being.

Exposing:

· the pseudoscientific link between positive attitude and healing

· how the relentless push for patients to maintain a positive attitude is often psychologically devastating

· the shocking links between prosperity preachers like Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer, and Creflo Dollar and the mortgage crisis

· the refusal of the business community to consider negative outcomes- like mortgage defaults- and the groundless optimism of CEOs have replaced risk analysis as the basis for company decisions.

Rigorous, insightful and bracing as always, yet also incredibly funny, Smile or Die uncovers the dark side of the ‘have a nice day’ nation, summing up our need to embrace realism, from the battlefield to the bedroom.

Reviews

“Bright, incisive, provocative thinking from a top-notch nonfiction writer” - Kirkus Reviews, starred review.

“Ehrenreich explores the insistence upon optimism as a cultural and national trait, discovering its ‘symbiotic relationship with American capitalism’ and how poverty, obesity, unemployment and relationship problems are being marketed as obstacles that can be overcome with the right (read: positive) mindset” - Publishers Weekly, starred review.

“In this wide-ranging and stinging look at the pervasiveness of positive thinking, Ehrenreich warns against a ‘reckless optimism’ that causes individuals- and nations- not to plan for inevitable downturns and disasters” - Booklist, starred review.

“Unless you keep on saying that you believe in fairies, Tinkerbell will check out, and what’s more, her sad demise will be your fault! Barbara Ehrenreich scores again fro the independent-minded in resisting this drool and all those who wallow in it” - Christopher Hitchens, author of God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything.

“Barbara Ehrenreich has put the menace of positive thinking under the microscope. Anyone who’s ever been told to brighten up needs to read this book” - Thomas Frank, author of The Wrecking Crew and What’s the Matter with Kansas?

“Oprah Winfrey, Deepak Chopra, Andrew Weil: please read this relentlessly sensible book. It’s never too late to begin thinking clearly” - Frederick Crews, author of Follies of the Wise: Dissenting Essays.

“Barbara Ehrenreich’s skeptical common sense is just what we need to penetrate the cloying fog that passes for happiness in America” - Alan Wolfe, author of The Future of Liberalism.

“In this hilarious and devastating critique, Barbara Ehrenreich applies some much needed negativity to the zillion-dollar business of positive thinking. This is truly a text for the times” - Katha Pollitt, author of The Mind-Body Problem: Poems

“This is a mind-opening read” - Michael Shermer, author of Why People Believe Weird Things.

“Once again, Barbara Ehrenreich has written an invaluable and timely book, offering a brilliant analysis of the causes and dimensions of our current cultural and economic crises” - Thomas Bender, author of A Nation Among Nations: American’s Place in World History.

SOURCE

---

The POWERLESSNESS of positive thinking video.

---

Why Positive Thinking Is Bad For You
Many people swear by positive thinking, few are helped by it.

By Srikumar Rao, Ph, D
Psychology Today
April 7, 2010

Positive thinking is so firmly enshrined in our culture that knocking it is a little like attacking motherhood or apple pie. Many persons swear by positive thinking and quite a few have been helped by it. Nevertheless, it is not a very effective tool and can be downright harmful in some cases. There are much better ways to get the benefits that positive thinking allegedly provides.

Perhaps the statement that best exemplifies positive thinking is “When life hands you a lemon, make lemonade.” It seems so self-evident that this is a good thing that we never question the wisdom of the adage. But it does not take a whole lot of digging to unearth the flaws in this reasoning.

First, did fate really hand you a lemon or was this merely your initial, unthinking response? Second, is a lemon really a bad thing, something that you would rather not have, but now that you do have it you will somehow salvage something by making lemonade? Finally, it is quite stressful to be handed a lemon until such time as you figure out how to make lemonade. Do you really have to go through this phase?

No matter what happens to us in life we tend to think of it as “good” or “bad”. And most of us tend to use the “bad” label three to ten times as often as the “good” label. And when we say something is bad, the odds grow overwhelming that we will experience it as such. And that is when we need positive thinking. We have been given something bad, a real lemon, and we better scramble and make some lemonade out of it and salvage something out of this “bad” situation.

How tiring and tiresome!

Now think back on your own life. Can you recall instances of something that you initially thought was a bad thing that turned out to be not so bad after all or perhaps even a spectacularly good thing? Like the time you just missed a train and had to wait a whole hour for the next one and it was horrible except that your neighbor also missed it so you talked for the first time and a beautiful friendship developed. You will find many instances in your life, some of them very significant such as the job you desperately wanted but didn’t get only to find that a much better one came by and you would not have been able to accept it if not for the earlier rejection.

Now lets propose something radical and revolutionary. Lets propose that, no matter what happens to you, you do not stick a bad thing label on it. No matter what. You are fired from your job...your mortgage lender sends you a foreclosure notice . . . your spouse files for divorce . . . or whatever. This seems so far-fetched as to be laughable. Of course these are horrible tragedies and terrible things to happen. Or are they? Is it possible, just possible, that you have been conditioned to think of these happenings as unspeakable tragedies and hence experience them as such?

Viktor Frankl in his book Man’s Search for Meaning narrates the tale of the beautiful girl of privilege who was grateful to be in a concentration camp because she was able to connect with a spiritual side of her that she never knew existed. Observations like this led Frankl into his life’s work of determining why, when faced with extreme adversity, some persons positively flourish while others disintegrate.

Many who rise so triumphantly never label what they go through as bad and lament over it. They simply take it as a given as if they were a civil engineer surveying the landscape through which a road is to be built. In this view, a swamp is not a bad thing. It is merely something that has to be addressed in the construction plan.

And if you never label something as bad, then you don’t need positive thinking and all of the stress associated with getting something bad and experiencing it as such till you figure out how to make lemonade out of it simply goes away.

That is the huge pebble in the positive thinking shoe. “This is bad. Really bad. It’s a lemon. But somehow I will make some lemonade out of it and then perhaps it won’t be so bad.” First you think its bad and then you think you will somehow make it less bad and there is a strong undercurrent that you are playing games and kidding yourself. Some people succeed. Many don’t. And those who don’t are devastated that the model they were trying so hard to build caved in on them. That’s why positive thinking can sometimes be harmful.

Can you actually go through life without labeling what happens to you as good or bad? Sure you can. You have to train yourself to do this. You have been conditioned to think of things as bad or good. You can de-condition yourself. It is neither easy nor fast but it is possible.

Lets say you break your leg. There is stuff you have to do like go to an orthopedist and get it set and go to therapy when the cast comes off. But all the rest of the stuff you pick up “Why did this have to happen to me? Bad things always come my way. I am in such pain. Who will hold the world up now that I am disabled?” is simply baggage. You don’t have to pick up this load and the only reason you do is because you were never told that you didn’t have to.

I am telling you now. Don’t pick up that useless burden. Don’t label what happens to you as bad. Then you won’t need positive thinking and much of the stress in your life will simply disappear. Poof! Just like that.

Srikumar S. Rao is the author of Happiness at Work: Be Resilient, Motivated, and Successful—No Matter What (Published by McGraw-Hill). He conceived “Creativity and Personal Mastery,” the pioneering course that was among the most popular and highest rated at many of the world’s top business schools. It remains the only such course to have its own alumni association. His work has been covered by major media including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, Time, Fortune, BusinessWeek, the London Times, the Guardian and the Daily Telegraph. CNN, PBS, and Voice of America, and dozens of radio and TV stations have interviewed him.

SOURCE

---

Positive Thinking Leads to Economic Decline
Fantasizing about riches will backfire.

By Matthew Hutson
Psychology Today
February 11, 2014

“We will turn to the only resource we have that in times of need always grows - the goodness and the courage of the American people,” George H.W. Bush said in his inaugural address, in 1989. It was an optimistic statement, using the future tense and positive words. Unfortunately, over the next four years, GDP plummeted and unemployment shot up. Bush was not an outlier in his misplaced optimism. In a paper in press in Psychological Science, researchers report that expressions of positive thinking about the future - in inaugural addresses from 1933 to 2009 and newspaper articles from 2007 to 2009 - reliably predicted economic decline.

The researchers, led by A. Timur Sevincer, of the University of Hamburg, built on previous work showing that positive thinking leads to reduced effort and success in many areas of life. Gabriele Oettingen, of New York University, and her colleagues have shown that while expectations correlate with positive outcomes, fantasies about success actually backfire. In one study, obese women in a weight loss program who most expected to lose weight shed 26 more pounds than the other women, while those with the most positive fantasies - they pictured themselves showing off their new bodies to friends a year later - lost 24 pounds less than those with the most negative thoughts. In another study, college students who most expected to find a job after graduation were more likely to find one over the next two years, while those who had more positive than negative fantasies sent out fewer applications, received fewer offers, and made less money.

What explains these paradoxical results? If you vividly picture a desired outcome (weight loss, a job offer), WITHOUT ALSO THINKING in detail about what stands in your way, it’s a bit like you already have the prize, so you dont strive so hard. Relatedly, Carey Morewedge and colleagues have shown that if you imagine stuffing your face with cheese, you’re less likely to indulge when an actual platter is placed before you. You feel satiated. So all those vision boards that readers of The Secret have constructed - covered with magazine cut-outs of mansions and beach vacations and slim waists (but never world peace) - are likely to remain mere visions dancing in their heads.

Positive thinking also biases us to ignore negative information and encourages risk-taking behavior - such as betting on a forever-growing real estate market and investing in precarious mortgages. (In 2006 the economist David Lereah published the book Why the Real Estate Boom Will Not BustחAnd How You Can Profit from It, which is now available on Amazon for $0.01.)

If optimism has these effects on individuals, maybe it affects society as a whole in the same way. The researchers used textual analysis of front-page stories in USA Today and presidential inaugural addresses to compute the ratios of positive to negative words (e.g., dreams, hopes, better; fears, worst, negative) and future- to past-tense words. Sevincer tells me this technique aimed to measure positive thinking in the form of freely generated thoughts and images that depict possible futures in an idealized way, thus closer to fantasies than to expectations.

In the analyzed articles, positive thinking about the future correlated with lower Dow scores a week and a month after their publication (but not with Dow change a week or a month before). In the addresses, positive thinking about the future correlated with a decrease in GDP and a rise in unemployment over the next four years (but over the preceding four years). See below. Bushs speech, for instance, was the sixth most positive among the 20 analyzed, and preceded the worst economic decline. FDR’s fourth inaugural address, in which he says that [God] has given our people stout hearts and strong arms with which to strike mighty blows for freedom and truth,Ӕ was the most positive speech and preceded the second worst economic decline. Although the study was purely correlational, it appears that the articles and addresses reflectedand perhaps also incitedחpositive thinking that led to negative outcomes.

As much as popular culture preaches against negative thinking, our capacities for vigilance and pessimism evolved for a reason - to get us and keep us out of trouble.

SOURCE

---

The ridiculous positivism, the belief that we are headed toward some glorious future, defies reality.

By Chris Hedges
Truthdig
May 27, 2015

The naive belief that history is linear, that moral progress accompanies technical progress, is a form of collective self-delusion. It cripples our capacity for radical action and lulls us into a false sense of security. Those who cling to the myth of human progress, who believe that the world inevitably moves toward a higher material and moral state, are held captive by power. Only those who accept the very real possibility of dystopia, of the rise of a ruthless corporate totalitarianism, buttressed by the most terrifying security and surveillance apparatus in human history, are likely to carry out the self-sacrifice necessary for revolt.

The yearning for positivism that pervades our corporate culture ignores human nature and human history. But to challenge it, to state the obvious fact that things are getting worse, and may soon get much worse, is to be tossed out of the circle of magical thinking that defines American and much of Western culture. The left is as infected with this mania for hope as the right. It is a mania that obscures reality even as global capitalism disintegrates and the ecosystem unravels, potentially dooming us all.

The 19th century theorist Louis-Auguste Blanqui, unlike nearly all of his contemporaries, dismissed the belief, central to Karl Marx, that human history is a linear progression toward equality and greater morality. He warned that this absurd positivism is the lie perpetrated by oppressors: All atrocities of the victor, the long series of his attacks are coldly transformed into constant, inevitable evolution, like that of nature. ... But the sequence of human things is not inevitable like that of the universe. It can be changed at any moment. He foresaw that scientific and technological advancement, rather than being a harbinger of progress, could be a terrible weapon in the hands of Capital against Work and Thought. And in a day when few others did so, he decried the despoiling of the natural world. The axe fells, nobody replants. There is no concern for the future’s ill health.

“Humanity,” Blanqui wrote, “is never stationary.” It advances or goes backwards. Its progressive march leads it to equality. Its regressive march goes back through every stage of privilege to human slavery, the final word of the right to property. Further, he wrote, “I am not amongst those who claim that progress can be taken for granted, that humanity cannot go backwards.”

Blanqui understood that history has long periods of cultural barrenness and brutal repression. The fall of the Roman Empire, for example, led to misery throughout Europe during the Dark Ages, roughly from the sixth through the 13th centuries. There was a loss of technical knowledge (one prominent example being how to build and maintain aqueducts), and a cultural and intellectual impoverishment led to a vast historical amnesia that blotted out the greatest thinkers and artists of the classical world. None of this loss was regained until the 14th century when Europe saw the beginning of the Renaissance, a development made possible largely by the cultural flourishing of Islam, which through translating Aristotle into Arabic and other intellectual accomplishments kept alive the knowledge and wisdom of the past. The Dark Ages were marked by arbitrary rule, incessant wars, insecurity, anarchy and terror. And I see nothing to prevent the rise of a new Dark Age if we do not abolish the corporate state. Indeed, the longer the corporate state holds power the more likely a new Dark Age becomes. To trust in some mythical force called progress to save us is to become passive before corporate power. The people alone can defy these forces. And fate and history do not ensure our victory.

Blanqui tasted history’s tragic reverses. He took part in a series of French revolts, including an attempted armed insurrection in May 1839, the 1848 uprising and the Paris Communea socialist uprising that controlled Franceגs capital from March 18 until May 28 in 1871. Workers in cities such as Marseilles and Lyon attempted but failed to organize similar communes before the Paris Commune was militarily crushed.

The blundering history of the human race is always given coherence by power elites and their courtiers in the press and academia who endow it with a meaning and coherence it lacks. They need to manufacture national myths to hide the greed, violence and stupidity that characterize the march of most human societies. For the United States, refusal to confront the crisis of climate change and our endless and costly wars in the Middle East are but two examples of the follies that propel us toward catastrophe.

Wisdom is not knowledge. Knowledge deals with the particular and the actual. Knowledge is the domain of science and technology. Wisdom is about transcendence. Wisdom allows us to see and accept reality, no matter how bleak that reality may be. It is only through wisdom that we are able to cope with the messiness and absurdity of life. Wisdom is about detachment. Once wisdom is achieved, the idea of moral progress is obliterated. Wisdom throughout the ages is a constant. Did Shakespeare supersede Sophocles? Is Homer inferior to Dante? Does the Book of Ecclesiastes not have the same deep powers of observation about life that Samuel Beckett offers? Systems of power fear and seek to silence those who achieve wisdom, which is what the war by corporate forces against the humanities and art is about. Wisdom, because it sees through the facade, is a threat to power. It exposes the lies and ideologies that power uses to maintain its privilege and its warped ideology of progress.

Knowledge does not lead to wisdom. Knowledge is more often a tool for repression. Knowledge, through the careful selection and manipulation of facts, gives a false unity to reality. It creates a fictitious collective memory and narrative. It manufactures abstract concepts of honor, glory, heroism, duty and destiny that buttress the power of the state, feed the disease of nationalism and call for blind obedience in the name of patriotism. It allows human beings to explain the advances and reverses in human achievement and morality, as well as the process of birth and decay in the natural world, as parts of a vast movement forward in time. The collective enthusiasm for manufactured national and personal narratives, which is a form of self-exaltation, blots out reality. The myths we create that foster a fictitious hope and false sense of superiority are celebrations of ourselves. They mock wisdom. And they keep us passive.

Wisdom connects us with forces that cannot be measured empirically and that are outside the confines of the rational world. To be wise is to pay homage to beauty, truth, grief, the brevity of life, our own mortality, love and the absurdity and mystery of existence. It is, in short, to honor the sacred. Those who remain trapped in the dogmas perpetuated by technology and knowledge, who believe in the inevitability of human progress, are idiot savants.

Self-awareness is as much a disability as a power,Ӕ the philosopher John Gray writes. The most accomplished pianist is not the one who is most aware of her movements when she plays. The best craftsman may not know how he works. Very often we are at our most skillful when we are least self-aware. That may be why many cultures have sought to disrupt or diminish self-conscious awareness. In Japan, archers are taught that they will hit the target only when they no longer think of itӗor themselves.

Artists and philosophers, who expose the mercurial undercurrents of the subconscious, allow us to face an unvarnished truth. Works of art and philosophy informed by the intuitive, unarticulated meanderings of the human psyche transcend those constructed by the plodding conscious mind. The freeing potency of visceral memories does not arrive through the intellect. These memories are impervious to rational control. And they alone lead to wisdom.

Those with power have always manipulated reality and created ideologies defined as progress to justify systems of exploitation. Monarchs and religious authorities did this in the Middle Ages. Today this is done by the high priests of modernityԗthe technocrats, scholars, scientists, politicians, journalists and economists. They deform reality. They foster the myth of preordained inevitability and pure rationality. But such knowledgewhich dominates our universitiesחis anti-thought. It precludes all alternatives. It is used to end discussion. It is designed to give to the forces of science or the free market or globalization a veneer of rational discourse, to persuade us to place our faith in these forces and trust our fate to them. These forces, the experts assure us, are as unalterable as nature. They will lead us forward. To question them is heresy.

The Austrian writer Stefan Zweig, in his 1942 novella Chess Story,Ӕ chronicles the arcane specializations that have created technocrats unable to question the systems they serve, as well as a society that foolishly reveres them. Mirko Czentovic, the world chess champion, represents the technocrat. His mental energy is invested solely in the 64 squares of the chessboard. Apart from the game, he is a dolt, a monomaniac like all monomaniacs, who burrow like termites into their own particular material to construct, in miniature, a strange and utterly individual image of the world.Ӕ When Czentovic senses an educated person he crawls into his shell. That way no one will ever be able to boast of having heard him say something stupid or of having plumbed the depths of his seemingly boundless ignorance.Ӕ

An Austrian lawyer known as Dr. B, whom the Gestapo had held for many months in solitary confinement, challenges Czentovic to a game of chess. During his confinement, the lawyers only reading material was a chess manual, which he memorized. He reconstructed games in his head. Forced by his captivity to replicate the single-minded obsession of the technocrat Czentovic, Dr. B too became trapped inside a specialized world, and, unlike Czentovic, he became insane temporarily as he focused on a tiny, specialized piece of human activity. When he challenges the chess champion, his insanity returns.

Zweig, who mourned for the broad liberal culture of educated Europe swallowed up by fascism and modern bureaucracy, warns of the absurdity and danger of a planet run by technocrats. For him, the rise of the Industrial Age and the industrial man and woman is a terrifying metamorphosis in the relationship of human beings to the world. As specialists and bureaucrats, human beings become tools, able to make systems of exploitation and even terror function efficiently without the slightest sense of personal responsibility or understanding. They retreat into the arcane language of all specialists, to mask what they are doing and give to their work a sanitized, clinical veneer.

This is Hannah ArendtҒs central point in Eichmann in Jerusalem.Ӕ Technocratic human beings are spiritually dead. They are capable of anything, no matter how heinous, because they do not reflect upon or question the ultimate goal. The longer one listened to him,Ӕ Arendt writes of the Nazi Adolf Eichmann on trial, the more obvious it became that his inability to speak was closely connected with an inability to think, namely, to think from the standpoint of somebody else. No communication was possible with him, not because he lied but because he was surrounded by the most reliable of all safeguards against the words and presence of others, and hence against reality as such.Ӕ

Zweig, horrified by a world run by technocrats, committed suicide with his wife in 1942. He knew that from then on, the Czentovics would be exalted in the service of state and corporate monstrosities.

Resistance, as Alexander Berkman points out, is first about learning to speak differently and abandoning the vocabulary of the rationalӔ technocrats who rule. Once we discover new words and ideas through which to perceive and explain reality, we free ourselves from neoliberal capitalism, which functions, as Walter Benjamin knew, like a state religion. Resistance will take place outside the boundaries of popular culture and academia, where the deadening weight of the dominant ideology curtails creativity and independent thought.

As global capitalism disintegrates, the heresy our corporate masters fear is gaining currency. But that heresy will not be effective until it is divorced from the mania for hope that is an essential part of corporate indoctrination. The ridiculous positivism, the belief that we are headed toward some glorious future, defies reality. Hope, in this sense, is a form of disempowerment.

There is nothing inevitable about human existence except birth and death. There are no forces, whether divine or technical, that will guarantee us a better future. When we give up false hopes, when we see human nature and history for what they are, when we accept that progress is not preordained, then we can act with an urgency and passion that comprehends the grim possibilities ahead.

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 06/22/11 •
Section Spiritual Diversions
View (0) comment(s) or add a new one
Printable viewLink to this article
Home

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Bilderberg 2011

Bilderberg mystery: Why do people believe in cabals?

BBC News
June 7, 2011

Ordinary people can only guess at the goings-on at the meetings of the secretive Bilderberg Group, which is bringing together the world’s financial and political elite this week. Conspiracy theories abound as to what is discussed and who is there. Why, asks Tom de Castella?

The belief in secret cabals running the world is a hardy perennial. And on Thursday perhaps the most controversial clandestine organisation of our times - the Bilderberg Group - is meeting behind closed doors.

In the manner of a James Bond plot, up to 150 leading politicians and business people are to gather in a ski resort in Switzerland for four days of discussion about the future of the world.

Previous attendees of the group, which meets once a year in a five-star hotel, are said to have included Bill Clinton, Prince Charles and Peter Mandelson, as well as dozens of company CEOs.

First meeting in 1954, the aim was to shore up US-European relations and prevent another world war. Now under the group’s leadership of former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and one-time EU vice president, Viscount Davignon, the aim is purportedly to allow Western elites to share ideas.

But conspiracy theorists have accused it of everything from deliberately engineering the credit crunch to planning to kill 80% of the world population. Longtime opponent and US radio host Alex Jones, heckled one meeting through a megaphone: “We know you are ruthless. We know you are evil. We respect your dark power.”

Part of the reason for alarm is the group’s secretive working methods. Names of attendees are not usually released before the conference, meetings are closed to the public and the media, and no press releases are issued.

The gnashing of teeth over Bilderberg is ridiculous, says Times columnist David Aaronovitch. “It’s really an occasional supper club for the rich and powerful,” he argues.

Denis Healey, co-founder of the group, told the journalist Jon Ronson in his book Them that people overlook the practical benefits of informal networking. “Bilderberg is the most useful international group I ever attended,” he told him. “The confidentiality enabled people to speak honestly without fear of repercussions.”

So why do groups like this cause so much alarm? Aaronovitch, who wrote the 2009 book Voodoo Histories, says plots to install a new world order have traditionally been a conspiracy fantasy. “They tend to believe that everything true, local and national is under threat from cosmopolitan, international forces often linked to financial capitalism and therefore, also often, to Jewish interests.”

Secret cabals extend beyond the Bilderberg Group. The Illuminati, which derives from a 16th Century Bavarian secret society, is alleged to be an all powerful secret society, including US presidents, that has controlled major world events. The Freemasons - famous for their peculiar handshakes - is a secret fraternity society that has become more open in recent years after extensive criticism.

The charter of Hamas - the Islamist party governing Gaza - asserts that the Freemasons are in league with the Jews and those unlikely bully boys - the Rotary Club - to undermine Palestine.

John Hamill, spokesman for freemasonry’s governing body in England and Wales says the organisation is aware of Hamas’s allegation.

“There’s no truth in it, freemasonry is apolitical. It probably arises because one of our ceremonies is about the story of King Solomon’s Temple. For some reason Islamic governments translate that into Zionism.”

In fact, many conspiracy theories surrounding cabals hint at an anti-Semitic worldview. The Protocols of the Elders of Zion was a forged document, probably created by agents of Tsarist Russia, which appeared to show a Jewish plot to take over the world.

Despite being proved to be a fraud, the idea has been kept alive by anti-Semites and has spawned later versions. One of those, the Zionist Occupational Government, argues that countries have puppet governments but that the real power is held by Jewish interests.

More recently, former sports journalist David Icke has proclaimed that the world is governed by alien, reptilian shape shifters. In other words, giant lizards.

There is obviously no right-wing monopoly on conspiracy theories. During the Monica Lewinsky scandal, Hilary Clinton blamed a “vast right-wing conspiracy” for her husband’s predicament. And more recently, some on the left have argued that the 9/11 attacks were organised by President Bush’s inner circle in order to invade Afghanistan and Iraq.

The politics of cabals has always been pretty muddled, says James McConnachie, co-author of the Rough Guide to Conspiracy Theories. These groups allow protesters to project their own fears onto them.

In the US, the most extreme fear over Bilderberg is of a hidden cabal run by the European Union and threatening American freedoms. In Europe, the view is often of a free market elite trying to push through a right-wing agenda.

“Conspiracy theories are quite blind to conventional notions of left and right,” says McConnachie. “The left is organising an international government. Meanwhile, global capitalism on the right may be doing the same thing by different means.”

For Aaronovitch what often triggers widespread cabal theories are moments of great upheaval.

“It happens a lot when times are changing significantly. Whether, oddly, they are changing for better as well as for the worse. Why did McCarthyism happen at the time when US economy was growing faster than at any time in history?”

Society was in flux, the economy expanding rapidly and millions of servicemen were coming back from the war.

It’s not just the about social context. Some people are more susceptible than others to believing in wacky cabals, says Prof Chris French, of Goldsmith College’s psychology department. “It’s people who tend to be alienated by the mainstream, who feel powerless. They have a need to have a sense of control.”

Not only do they not trust the government, they tend not to trust their neighbours either. And in the need for control, there may be links to the roots of religious belief, he says.

The conspiracy theorists may get overexcited but they have a point, says Prof Andrew Kakabadse, co-author of new book Bilderberg People.

The group has genuine power that far outranks the World Economic Forum, which meets in Davos, he argues. And with no transparency, it is easy to see why people are worried about its influence.

“It’s much smarter than conspiracy,” says Prof Kakabadse. “This is moulding the way people think so that it seems like there’s no alternative to what is happening.”

The agenda the group has is to bring together the political elites on both right and left, let them mix in relaxed, luxurious surroundings with business leaders, and let the ideas fizz.

It may seem like a glorified dinner party but that is to miss the point. “When you’ve been to enough dinner parties you see a theme emerging,” he says. The theme at Bilderberg is to bolster a consensus around free market Western capitalism and its interests around the globe, he says.

“Is this all leading to the start of the ruling the world idea? In one sense yes. There’s a very strong move to have a One World government in the mould of free market Western capitalism.”

Degree of nefariousness

Conventional critiques of alienated people seeking order in a chaotic world may well be true. But there’s more to it than that, McConnachie argues.

“The other explanation is more dangerous. That they are precisely right - they just over-egg the way they articulate it.”

The Bilderberg Group matches up to how a global conspiracy would work - a secretive body attempting to shape the direction of the world, he suggests.

“The only difference is the degree of nefariousness,” he says. “They tend to see this cabal as outright evil. When things are more nuanced than that.”

For all the tales of lizards running the world, we all owe a debt to conspiracy theorists, McConnachie argues.

“Occasionally you have to give credit to conspiracy theorists who raise issues that the mainstream press has ignored. It’s only recently that the media has picked up on the Bilderbergers. Would the media be running stories if there weren’t these wild allegations flying around?”

But Aaronovitch disagrees. Believing in cabals leads to certain groups being victimised and obstructs a rational view of the world.

“To have a strong belief in the Bilderberg Group means believing in a fantasy,” he says. “It suggests that there are people - like God - acting as a higher power. And it replaces the intolerable thought that there’s nothing at work at all, that the world is chaotic. It may be a form of therapy but it has people believing in an anti-scientific message.”

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 06/08/11 •
Section General Reading
View (0) comment(s) or add a new one
Printable viewLink to this article
Home

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

The Next Depression Part 45 - The Worst Is Yet to Come Part 6

great_depression.jpg

The Greatest Depression Has Only Begun

By Global Research
June 2, 2011

The greatest depression in human history is still in its starting stages. What the media and many officials often refer to as the “hangover” from the global financial crisis is in fact the end of the beginning. Originating in 2008, the global economic crisis took the world by storm: banks collapsed, the “too big to fail” became bigger by consolidating the rest, governments bailed out their financial industries, masses of people lost their jobs, the ‘developing’ world was plunged into a deep systemic crisis, food prices rose, which in time spurred social unrest; and the Western nations that took on the bad debts of the big banks are on the precipice of a great global debt crisis, originating in Europe, hitting Greece and Spain, but destined to consume the industrialized world itself. Though many claim that we are in a “recovery,” things could not be further from the truth.

As the mainstream media is finally catching on to the reality of the mirage of the so-called “recovery”, reports are surfacing about a dire global economic situation:

“Evidence of a deterioration of global manufacturing growth and renewed weakness in job creation in the United States emerged Wednesday, two reversals that have markets bracing for an economic pause, or worse… Add to that a daunting list of aggravating factors: the continued implosion of the U.S. housing market, an outbreak of worldwide risk aversion, high crude-oil and gas prices pinching consumer demand, further tightening in China and other emerging-market economies, stock market losses, lack of credit growth, the looming end to the Feds monetary stimulus, weak business capital spending, and the still-unfolding sovereign debt crisis in Europe.”

And now top financial experts are warning of a new financial crisis altogether, since the monstrous derivatives market that played such a nefarious role in the preceding crisis has not been altered, nor have its systemic risks been addressed. The derivatives market - essentially a fictional electronic market of high-stakes gambling - has a value ten times that of the entire global gross national product of the world’s countries combined. This market is dominated by hedge funds and the “too big to fail” banks, who in fact created the derivatives trading schemes. As one leading hedge fund manager recently stated, “There is definitely going to be another financial crisis around the corner… because we havenҒt solved any of the things that caused the previous crisis.” The market for derivatives is somewhere in the realm of $600 trillion.

The most recent publication by Global Research, “The Global Economic Crisis: The Great Depression of the XXI Century,” (Michel Chossudovsky and Andrew Gavni Marshall, editors) examines the true nature of the crisis the world faces; not only its historical origins, but its depth and future repercussions. No other book on the subject takes such a nuanced and multi-faceted approach to examining the global economic crisis. Over a dozen different authors, researchers, economists, academics and former policy-makers contributed to this important book. Included within are: an examination of the history of the central banking system, the emergence and role of neoliberalism, the myth of the “free market”, the role of war and empire, the National Security State, the relationship between economic crisis and the militarization of domestic society, global poverty, the food crisis, the roles played by major think tanks such as the Council on Foreign Relations, the Trilateral Commission and the Bilderberg Group, the nature of the derivatives market, the uses of the crisis as an “opportunity” to forge ahead with long-held plans for a global central bank, a global currency, and a global government, and much much more.

This book is not merely a history, it is a warning, and its message should be heeded now more than ever. As the crisis continues and deepens, as the wars exapand and multiply, as the very institutions that created the crisis are given more power, and as governments become more repressive and people become more resistant, it is vital for all to know the true nature of the crisis we face, the reality of who caused it, and where it is taking the world.

“This important collection offers the reader a most comprehensive analysis of the various facets - especially the financial, social and military ramifications from an outstanding list of world-class social thinkers.” -Mario Seccareccia, Professor of Economics, University of Ottawa

“In-depth investigations of the inner workings of the plutocracy in crisis, presented by some of our best politico-economic analysts. This book should help put to rest the hallucinations of free market ideology.” -Michael Parenti, author of God and His Demons and Contrary Notions

“Provides a very readable expose of a global economic system, manipulated by a handful of extremely powerful economic actors for their own benefit, to enrich a few at the expense of an ever-growing majority.” -David Ray Griffin, author of The New Pearl Harbor Revisited

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 06/07/11 •
Section Dying America • Section Next Recession, Next Depression
View (0) comment(s) or add a new one
Printable viewLink to this article
Home
Page 1 of 2 pages  1 2 >

Statistics

Total page hits 7565457
Page rendered in 4.4482 seconds
40 queries executed
Debug mode is off
Total Entries: 3077
Total Comments: 337
Most Recent Entry: 12/11/2017 09:40 am
Most Recent Comment on: 01/02/2016 09:13 pm
Total Logged in members: 0
Total guests: 8
Total anonymous users: 0
The most visitors ever was 114 on 10/26/2017 04:23 am


Email Us

Home

Members:
Login | Register
Resumes | Members

In memory of the layed off workers of AT&T

Today's Diversion

Where love rules, there is no will to power, and where power predominates, love is lacking. The one is the shadow of the other. - Carl Jung

Search


Advanced Search

Sections

Calendar

June 2011
S M T W T F S
      1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30    

Must Read

Most recent entries

RSS Feeds

Today's News

External Links

Elvis Picks

BLS Pages

Favorites

All Posts

Archives

RSS


Creative Commons License


Support Bloggers' Rights