The Bastille was stormed because women had no bread to feed their families. The royalty was desacralized, dethroned and sentenced to death.  Five decades later Karl Marx wrote his manifesto on the plight of the working class. Ironically Marx did not work, but lived off the money of wealthy patrons.  Even when his child was dying as a result of being underfed, he did not go out and search for work, but searched instead for more entitlements.  How did his manifesto promulgate to a major economic movement?

Socialism and internationalism: the “theory” can be summarized in the well known oft repeated affirmation by Stalin that “the death of one man is a tragedy; a million is a statistic.”  Socialism, above all else, is  a condemnation of capitalism. It’s the attempt to level the playing field for all mankind, that no one be rich or poor, that all men are equal- and not just within a community or a county,  now the goal has become to socialize the planet.  The economic theory is a massive failure at all levels, yet it perpetuates.

Why does it fail?

Socialism in its attempt to redistribute wealth essentially means that as soon as a person or an entity builds a safety net, it needs to be taken away to provide for those who have yet to create their own. In the process of taking from one to give to the other, no one ever attains the security of a safe and happy existence.  It dooms everyone to fail, not just the few. When no one is allowed a safety net,  no one will have one:  under these circumstances it becomes impossible for an economy to improve.  Competition to survive will increase because no one is surviving. Mankind will live in a state of increased and perpetual chaos; mankind will fail, humanity will fail.

Of  capitalist corporations, however, I will say this: They have purchased many a presidency in many a country.  Off the backs of the workers, they have made many a man at the top  filthy rich and with unlimited power the likes rarely seen in the years of monarchy. And when the monarchies over-reached, they were overthrown by various means of riot and war to be replaced with democracy.  It will be the same for the corporations. Not if, but when. In the eras of  kings and queens, the intermarriages between families were carefully planned to extend their reach of wealth and power; this model which proved to be so successful in building empires did the same for executives, corporations and corporate power.

At this point, how can people revolt, overthrow and dethrone that overreach of power? If we boycott their products, their profits crash and because our savings were pushed into their egg basket, we’ll crash and burn,- the executives will just cash out and move on. Must we sacrifice our-self to secure a future not harnessed under their control?

Breaking up the monopolies is one answer, but unfortunately the politicians are not willing to do this because they’re empowered by these corporation.  These corporations, including the stock markets, hold so much power they control the future of the planet; unfortunately – at least here in the United States they have shown little regard for the person and are wholly consumed with the manifestation of profit.

Corporations and their top tiers, including the stock market which serves them,  have grown so huge and so powerful they don’t see the loss of one job as a tragedy, they don’t see the loss of millions of jobs as a tragedy, all they see is statistics. The planet is going to exist in perpetuated chaos until the corporations recognize that there are people behind the numbers.  One day as the world is crashing around those on whose backs the corporations created their wealth, executives will look to the horizon and see that their Bastille is going to be stormed. They will be dethroned.  -Not because capitalism doesn’t work, it does- but because the people are starving, and they’re starving at the expense of corporate greed.  the kings and queens faced the axe because of their greed and overreach; likewise, corporations and the politicians who supported them, to prevent tragedy of a statistical proportion, need to seek a peace treaty while they have the chance.

UPDATE:

London is under the siege of riots. It isn’t the first time.  The tax riots that defeated Thatcher were led by communists, socialists and anarchists but there seems to be  no organized party or leader of these riots.  If there is a leader, they haven’t come forward yet. To organize, they use  Facebook,  the same method used in the Arab -spring protests. They’re not burning government property, but instead they’ve chosen to loot or destroy private property and businesses. This isn’t a group seeking change or trying to defeat the current crop of politicians, but a deliberate act of class warfare, against business, against property.  In Europe protests usually result in riots and destruction of property but  rarely in the United States do protests lead to violence.  Perhaps in America we have a sense of hope that the European youth lack, or disregard. We protest our politicians, not our neighbors or their property.

According to Sheldrake, author of numerous scientific books and articles, memory does not reside in any geographic region of the cerebrum, but instead in a kind of field surrounding and permeating the brain. Meanwhile, the brain itself acts as a “decoder” for the flux of information produced by the interaction of each person with their environment.

In his paper “Mind, Memory, and Archetype Morphic Resonance and the Collective Unconscious” published in the journal Psychological Perspectives, Sheldrake likens the brain to a TV set—drawing an analogy to explain how the mind and brain interact.

“If I damaged your TV set so that you were unable to receive certain channels, or if I made the TV set aphasic by destroying the part of it concerned with the production of sound so that you could still get the pictures but could not get the sound, this would not prove that the sound or the pictures were stored inside the TV set. However, neurologists have discovered that the brain is not a static entity, but a dynamic synaptic mass in constant flux— all of the chemical and cellular substances interact and change position in a constant way. Unlike a computer disc which has a regular, unchanging format that will predictably pull up the same information recorded even years before, it is difficult to maintain that a memory could be housed and retrieved in the constantly changing cerebrum…..”

I usually open my lectures with the premise that the brain is very similar to other electronic devises such as a television, radio and a computer. And then we discuss how the brain is different from those devices. Sheldrake’s theory is interesting and brings up a premise I had not before considered, and should have.  The computer does everything the same every time like clockwork, but the human brain retrieves differently at different times, places, situations and context.

I hadn’t thought of this as one of the key differences between computers and people but it is indeed one of the variables that makes people “human” and why researchers and engineers in their attempt to make a robot, or a computer chip more human, will find that the variable of emotion and context is not something that can be programmed, at least not authentically. Responding to a surrounding, for a human, is always in the context of individuation- which is vast and not all that predictable as much as behavioral scientists would like it to be.

But conditioned as we are to believe that thinking is contained within our heads, the idea that memory could be influenced or exist outside our brains  or links to a greater collective appears at first to be somewhat confusing; but in the same manner that a photo or a series of words travel from one cell phone to another along an EM wave, and could be lost, or dropped or diverted or spied on,  so too do our thoughts travel and then it doesn’t seem unreasonable at all that our thinking might be  somewhere out there traveling too.

Artificial Intelligence or Transmigration of Thought, Mind and Soul?

The movie, Avatar to some students, is a boring movie with blue smurfs cast in a repetitive theme reminiscent of  Pocahontas. Childish. Inconsequential.  In other words, both thumbs down. To them I say, when you’re a little older- watch it again. And then again.

I agree with them that elements of the movie are taken from Indian culture- the naturalists’ idea of love the earth that feeds you and provides for you,  the inter-dependence  that exists between nature, man and beast.  Beyond the American Indian theme, it reminds me of the Buddhist dogma of “do no wrong”  as well. I  love the movie. Two thumbs up. -And not because of the all too obvious jab at capitalist lust and greed for limited resources, and thus the creation of perpetual war -I’m not that snarkey or pessimistic-or political, but because it’s a story of the struggle for courage and morality achieved through the unlikely means of transmigration- from one state of mind and existence to the other, from one reality to another.

In a very subtle but artistic manner, Avatar introduces to a young audience the big ideas that have been debated for centuries. When we dream do we escape the reality of our very ordinary life, travel to distant lands and return to ourselves, and maybe as a better person?  Or are dreams just memories and a reprocessing of the days events; are they a creative means of escape that is otherwise not possible?

In a bed with who-know-what wired to his brain, Sully falls to some kind of sleep or coma condition and his mind connects to its avatar. Is he  dreaming a dream and in a dream state, or is he alive and awake and actually in an avatar body and enjoying all the freedoms and sensations the same as his human body? Philosophically,  this is a good example of Descartes’ Cartesian dualism, and being captain of the ship, but separate from the ship body.  Which life is real? The one in the bed, or the avatar?  Is he human or is he machine? Scientifically, when I ask the class if they think this transmigration of sorts is possible, the majority answer, yes. Indeed.

I attended the MIT symposia, Minds, Brains and Machines hoping to learn new ideas and data about how the brain works. Instead I learned more details about the direction for AI. Artificial Intelligence had been on my mind but usually in reference to robotics. I think robots will settle the moon for example, not humans.  But there was little talk of robots and what their function will be throughout society. Not putting intelligence and programming into robots, the future seems to be the opposite- putting intelligence and programming into us. We are moving toward an AI integration, not sooner or later, but sooner. To that point, is science and research merely following Hollywood scripts?  Will we be Sully someday, in two places at the same time , enjoying life and all its freedoms, living two different experiences? It appears that we are  moving toward that frontier.  As super-humans we’ll be machinated and immortal, but will  we forget we once thought without programming? Machines, robots and AI  have a place in an industrialized economic society, but we are humans, not machines.  We are a unique species and we should embrace our mortality and all our imperfections and leave it to the machines to be machines.

Does the dream end?

If a dream inside a dream is a dream,   does the capability of the lucidity of existing in three places and three realities at the same time end when the dreamer wakes from the dream?

Is life an illusion we create for the sake of reality?

These questions  have simple answers, but they’re fun to debate because we all know that whatever we give as an answer is theoretical and therefore open to argument.  Each generation questions its place in society – from the individuated perspective and from the perspective of the greater collective, and each generation changes the answer in some way from the generation before them.  Nothing is carved in stone- nothing! I think our  eagerness to argue and redefine what has already been defined is because we don’t want to be our parents;  we don’t want to be those who were before us. We want to be ourselves, – so we seek ways to create that distinction.  However slight the separation between the past and the present  perspectives and theories may be, they do act as a reflection of who we are and  the culture in which we live.  Like the rings of a tree trunk tell the story of the tree’s existence, the ever-modifying answers to existential questions are a reflection of the times,  and society’s perspective of how we perceive knowledge.

However, it is also true that the majority consensus  says one thing, while an individual silently believes another. – It is that individual, in the circle of change who will forge the path for future generations to follow.

At Commentary Magazine, Jonathan Tobin has an article about anti-Semitism. Full article at  Contentions:

Should the federal government intervene when an American university permits its campus to become unsafe for Jews? When the prevailing atmosphere on campus is hatred against Israel and all things associated with the Jewish people?After a long and involved debate, the Obama administration finally did the right thing last October and stated definitively that such conduct is impermissible at institutions that receive federal funding. While that ruling, which was prompted by an epidemic of anti-Semitic harassment of Jewish students at the University of California at Irvine, ought to have been welcomed by both academia and the organized Jewish world, it has now been challenged by the American Association of University Professors. In a newsletter on the AAUP website, Cary Nelson (the association’s president) and Kenneth Stern of the American Jewish Committee contend that recent events on American university campuses—at Berkeley, Santa Cruz, and Rutgers in addition to Irvine—do not rise to the level of a “working definition” of anti-Semitism. Calls for redress by Jewish students and professors are nothing more, they conclude, than an unscrupulous effort to “censor anti-Israel remarks.”

For my experience I’ve not heard of antisemitism or antisemitic actions on any of the Fenway campuses, in fact it’s been the opposite with a great diversity and tolerance. I can say the same for Harvard and MIT. However, I made a very deliberate choice to not attend Smith College because of the intolerance.  I made my choice; rather than change the campus, the students  and the professors who propagate intolerance I elected to attend a campus where I felt at home. Yes, Smith had a program I very much wanted to study, but not enough that I was willing to sacrifice who I am and what I hope to be that I would make myself over to reflect their politics . I have to assume that those who do attend universities such as Smith where Israel can’t seem to do anything “right”  in the eyes of the professors, attend knowing the politics in advance and feel as much at home as I felt alienated. I have said many times, we seem to be unremembering everything we should have learned.  I have no answer as to why anti-Semitism  is on the rise in the US,  except it has to be taught; that it’s coming from our college campuses- therein lies the tragedy. Not to be forgotten is that in many cases this fervor against Israel is purchased, not inspired. The same for environmentalism and political campaigns.    If you’re young and looking for a good job this summer in the Boston area, Craigslist is listing many opportunities for activists at Downtown Crossing.  The positions are paid- not volunteer- and well above minimum wage.  I don’t know the source(s) of this fountain of money. But how easily the heart and mind of these “activists” are purchased is something I’ve yet to see put into a chart or analyzed by an academic institution.  No doubt we’d be shocked. Shocked! The UN is the bigger problem, if not the root.   Not only is there little interest in protecting democracy and nurturing  freedoms it has become incapable of it. Few politicians stand up to their intolerance  or dares debate the depth and breadth of the problem. Evidently the importance of  not offending world opinion, even when it supports and propagates oppression and destruction, has become more valuable than the importance of truth,tolerance,  ethics and equality.  America has a unique history as a stalwart and steady voice for democracy so we should not be surprised that leftists and socialists want that  history tarnished and the future altered, but what is surprising is the degree to which they are able to achieve it and to the peril of this once great  country.

Am I dreaming, or is this reality?

Nihilism.  Is life a nothingness where we don’t exist, there is no spoon and humanity is just imaginary?

Or, are we a play with actors and puppets and those who pull the strings?

Or, is The Matrix synchronicity? Are we an  awareness,- the quantum theory that we exist in many places and many times at the same?

We are the spoon, we are the man, we are the matrix.

 

Because hallucinations and visions are experienced with so much emotion they seem more real than life and it becomes difficult to discern what is reality and what is not. The movie skates along that overlap of reality and vision.

Can nightmares drive a person to insanity, to the point he sees visions?

When nightmares become real, what is the difference between nightmares, visions, and reality?

Music by Max Richter: The Nature of Daylight

Link to music and video  clip

from Shutter Island