“Are not the dominant parties managed by the ruling classes, that is, the propertied classes, solely for the profit and privilege of the few? They use us millions to help them into power. They tell us, like so many children, that our safety lies in voting for them. They toss us crumbs of concession to make us believe they are working in our interest. Then they exploit the resources of the nation not for us, but for the interests which they represent and uphold. We, the people, are not free. Our democracy is but a name. We vote? What does that mean? It means that we choose between two bodies of real, though not avowed, autocrats. We choose between Tweedledum and Tweedledee. We elect expensive masters to do our work for us, and then blame them because they work for themselves and their class.” (Manchester Advertiser, March 3, 1911; Reprinted in New York Call, May 14, 1911.)
She also wrote, in her speech titled “A New Light is Coming” to the Sociological Conference in Sagamore, Massachusetts:
We are marching toward a new freedom. We are learning that freedom is the only safe condition for all human beings, men and women and children. Only through freedom, freedom for all, can we hope for a true democracy. Some of us have imagined we live in a democracy. We do not. A democracy would mean equal opportunity for all. It would mean that every child had a chance to be well born, well fed, well taught and properly started in life. It would mean that every woman had a voice in the making of the laws under which she lives. It would mean that all men enjoyed the fruits of their labor. Such a democracy has never existed.
But some of us are waking up. We are finding out what is wrong with the world. We are going to make it right. We are learning to live by each other, and that the life for each other is the only life worth living. (New York Call, July 8, 1913.)
I would like to believe that’s true, that enough of us in this increasingly inexplicable world we live in today (particularly in the US), are waking up, and working to change our reality. There’s a lot of evidence that concerted movements for change have been ignited across the country, whether in quests to end the funnelling of big-money into politics (e.g., via Move to Amend, Common Cause, Public Citizen, 99Rise), get those GMOs labelled, curb industrial pollution, halt fracking, limit the power of the big central banks, expose the truth about industry invasion of all our Federal agencies, expose the lies and “party lines” run by mainstream media (see Chris Hedges’ op-ed: The Myth of a Free Press), start new media organizations focused on truth (see We are Change, Nation of Change, BellingCat, Waking Times, Truthout, Freedom of the Press Foundation, Wikileaks), demilitarize the alarmingly-militarized police (see Facing Tear Gas, the campaign by the War Resisters League), disband the privatized incarceration industry, resist the mindless drive to war and more war, challenge the legality of profoundly harmful laws and statutes which permit corporate pollution (eg., fracking, toxic waste storage) in communities, and which sign off glibly on invasion of privacy, censorship and self-censorship (gag orders), surveillance, and rampant COINTELPRO state-sponsored terrorism–in the name of “national security.”
“Terrorism” has become a manufactured commodity–perhaps it’s always been that way; today we see it as such. (See Noam Chomsky’s article: America, the World’s Leading #1 Terrorist State.) We’ve become a bit more savvy as a nation as to what’s been served to us under cover of “terrorism”–essentially, the legalized termination of our individual human and civil rights; essentially, the legalized imposition of totalitarian doctrine on our speech, actions, communities.
There are other Rights though, Rights through the acknowledgment of which perhaps we can recover our own powers of individuality and personhood, separate from the disempowerments we currently suffer at the hands of the State. These are Rights of Nature; “Rather than treating nature as property under the law, rights of nature acknowledges that nature in all its life forms has the right to exist, persist, maintain, and regenerate its vital cycles. And we – the people – have the legal authority and responsibility to enforce these rights on behalf of ecosystems. The ecosystem itself can be named as the defendant.” (See What is Rights of Nature.)
Did you know that in 2008, Ecuador became the first country to give legal Rights to Nature in the Constitution, and that Bolivia moved forward, starting in 2010, to give legal rights to Earth–the Law of Mother Earth?
Today, I am profoundly heartened to read that Mendocino County, in California, has become the first county in the US “and only the second county in the country to pass into law a very powerful local ordinance that declares local self-governing rights in their communities over state and federal jurisdiction.” This ordinance calls for waters free from toxic trespass, bans fracking, establishes a Community Bill of Rights and gives power to “the Rights of Nature to exist and flourish without toxic trespass whereas previously Nature had no standing in the court of law.” See this must-read article by James Lee on challenging law and changing law and reclaiming rights.
Hopefully, these actions of reclaiming rights and challenging laws will spread. Morphic Resonance, biologist Rupert Sheldrake’s notion of collective memory informing the Jungian collective unconscious and creating independent spread of action, and assistive thereby in evolution (illustrated rather vividly in the story of non-local bluetits opening milk cartons in identical fashion in the ’20s and ’40s in different parts of Europe–see his paper here)–suggests it might. But perhaps we writers have a part to play in extending this possibility.
Many people do not know the extent of the dangers currently facing us, not merely as a country, or a planet, but as individuals. Each day it seems, we wake up to revelations of a new horror. With the dramatic advances of science and technology of the last few decades, in addition to advances kept secret by massively-funded military research, we’re literally at a point where humanity as we know it is on the brink.
Toxic nano-particulates of heavy metals such as aluminium, barium, and strontium, along with viruses, molds, and fungi rain down on us via long chemical streamers of aerosol laid down by planes, alluded to in government documents as Solar Radiation Management and Geoengineering, as attempts to overcome atmospheric pollution (with more pollution), while mainstream media maintains a complicit silence or paints Geoengineering in a neutral light. (See Aircrap.org, GeoengineeringWatch.org, AgricultureDefenseCoalition.org.)
Various departments of the military, directly or through Defense contractors, and in conjunction with Universities and research institutions, are currently testing Directed Energy Weapons on human subjects (see this 7-year, 2013 Air Force contract; see the revealing Hengst slideshow) to pursue Bio-Behavioral Research or the “human effects” of radiation discharge; military scientists worry over the difficulty in quantifying “individual behavioral responses” to such discharge. (See this Air Force research abstract on plans in this area.) Directed-Energy Weapons, also euphemistically titled Non-Lethal Weapons, essentially use electromagnetic radiation at specific frequencies to injure brains, organs, muscles, bones, and nerves; this subject, like many others, is scantily covered in the mainstream, while patents abound (see U.S. Patents/Inventors; Directed Energy Weapons 101 – Infrasonic, Sonic, Microwave, and Laser) and hundreds, if not thousands of individuals both here in the US and all over the world report experiencing the effects of pulsed radiation on their persons, pointing to covert assaults on human bodies and brains (See Technologies and Histories of Directed-Energy Weapons; see Non-Consensual Human Experimentation. (This is an interesting article on the subject: Means of Information War Threaten Democracy and Mankind by Mojmir Babacek.) There are others: Neuroweapons: Inside Story of the Mind Control Project; The Soft-Kill Fallacy: The Idea of Non Lethal Weapons is Politically Attractive and Purposively Misleading, by Steven Aftergood, Federation of American Scientists; Non Lethal Weapons Put Humanity at Risk (op-ed by Barbara Hatch Rosenberg and Mark L. Wheelis, L.A. Times))
The Human Brain and the Human Nervous System have been hacked, and can be influenced remotely. Brains can now be read: thoughts, intentions, feelings can be both picked up and put in. Intellectual property—including your thoughts–is about to undergo a sea-change. Neuroscientists are conferencing on “regulating human mental capacity.” Writers, poets, artists, musicians, scholars, scientists–are we concerned yet? (This video lecture by a neuroscientist is revealing, as also this agenda at a recent neuroethics conference.)
Robotics and Artificial Intelligence (AI) research, while worrying some (See Elon Musk Compares Artificial Intelligence to Nukes) has currently spawned the National Robotics Initiative, which seeks “to accelerate the development and use of robots in the United States that work beside or cooperatively with people.” (See the 2015 solicitation.)
Behind the scenes, military research with AI and Neuroscience connections with Supercomputing, and their connections with Microwave Radiation and Global Mind Control are discussed in exposes from insiders such as The Matrix Deciphered and Project Soulcatcher by Robert Duncan; their use in current covert COINTELPRO assaults against activists is discussed in such analyses as New World Wars: Revolutionary Methods for Political Control, by Mark M. Rich.
We’ve all heard of Supersoldiers by now, whose emotions, among other things, will be suppressed and altered: US Supersoldiers of the Future will be Genetically Modified Transhumans Capable of Superhuman Feats.
“Transhumanism,” a concept and philosophy seeking to beat death and take us all “beyond human” via neuroimplants/nanotechnology/genetic engineering/electromagnetic stimulation is believed by such as Ray Kurtzweil, Google’s Director of Engineering as necessary and inevitable for “human evolution,” and many scientists think it is a marvellous idea (See What is Transhumanism or What Does it Mean to Be Human; A World Future Society; The Dark Side of Ray Kurtzweil’s Transhumanist Utopia.)
All of which is probably just the tip of the iceberg. We seem to have stepped way beyond Orwell and Huxley into a randomized science fiction scenario that seems to have no stops, curbs, or limits. Talk of bioethics and neuroethics is alarmingly insider-oriented; our laws no longer seem to protect us; we as a country, globe, or species are not engaging in impassioned public debate about any of this. There’s coverage to some extent in alternative media–but where is the public debate?
Which is where perhaps we as writers can set up some positive morphic resonance maybe, if only, to start with, of enquiry and awareness. I know we write out of our own private obsessions, we write out of our response to the world, we write for so many profound reasons–and many of us write in genres like fiction or poetry or memoir that can take years of private gestation, rumination, research, revision. Then there’s the mountain of publishing to climb–don’t we all have manuscripts we’ve been spending years trying to publish? (I do, too.)
But maybe we need to stick our necks out a bit more today, and also write to challenge the moment–write to express, write to counter, write to resist the horrific mass surveillance and censorship we are commonly living under, to hold back the tide of rogue or simply undiscussed science and technology that threatens to overwhelm us, challenge the undemocratic forces that threaten to curtail, control, and suppress us. Maybe we need to make some blog posts, some social media noise, some op-ed furore. Maybe we need to speak up and speak out online, for all those thousands out there who do not play with the written word like we do, who do not work with voice, expression, and form as a matter of course, as we do, who possibly self-censor twice as nicely as we do.
It’s our words that Illegitimate Power is afraid of. Consider–I kid you not–The Joint Doctrine for Military Deception which lays out strategies for Deception of a civilian populace, including extensive “PsyOps,” a tome that surely belongs in some Dostoevskian Ministry of the Unreal–here, now, in the US for real. Consider MOOTW–Military Operations Other Than War--which include “Information Operations.” The NSA, which reads all our emails, and rifles through all our computers, and the Military, which wants “Full Spectrum Dominance” sees the freeflow of thought through language today as hostile. They call it “Information Warfare.” Activists are seen as “Non-State Actors.” Communication is seen as “Information War.” Writers are probably referred to as “Enemy Combatants.”
Not so long ago, a group of several well-known writers wrote to the US Senate, with the message: Mass Surveillance Is Censorship. We could keep that impetus going. As writers, speaking, if we each worked on speaking–unconventionally, continually, online, in our own personal ways–the sheer numbers of us involved, unafraid to speak, unafraid to write, unafraid to question, unafraid to challenge, would inevitably create a change. Think of all those ripples, non-locally, zinging along to make little waves. Our words could rock the world.
Language is our playing field. Why not play?
In Dave Eggers’ Guardian article last December, US Writers Must Take a Stand Against NSA Surveillance, screenwriter Walter Bernstein closes with the words: “All I can say is that you need to resist. Resist. Resist. Resist. Resist.”
I’d like to close with words from Helen Keller once more, at whose accomplishments we cannot fail to marvel: “The wise fools who sit in the high places of justice fail to see that, in revolutionary times like the present, vital issues are settled, not by statutes, decrees, and authorities, but in spite of them. Like the Girondins in France, they imagine that force can check the onrush of revolution. Thus they sow the wind, and unto them shall be the harvest of the whirlwind.” (New York Call, April 24, 1919.)
Deaf, mute, and blind from the age of two, her entire life spent in physical darkness yet, in other ways, remarkable light as she carved her own future through determination & strength of spirit, a woman who used her platform of renown to speak out unflinchingly on issues of labor, war, human rights, women’s rights, and who repeatedly spoke truth to power, Helen also wrote: “The power of effecting changes for the better is within ourselves, not in the favorableness of circumstances.” She believed this sincerely.
Surely there is power and truth in the thought. We could act on it.