Category Archives: Opinion

The Fed Has Triggered A Stagflationary Disaster That Will Hit Hard This Year

By Brandon Smith

I don’t think I can overstate the danger that the U.S. economy is in right now as we enter 2022. While most people are caught up in the ongoing drama of Covid-19, a REAL threat looms over the nation in the form of a stagflationary tidal wave. The mainstream media is attempting to place the blame on “supply chain disruptions,” but this is a misrepresentation of the issue.

The two factors are indeed intertwined, but the reality is that inflation is the cause of supply chain disruptions, not the result of supply chain disruptions. If we look at the underlying stats for price rises in essential products we can get a clearer picture.

Before I get into my argument, I really want to stress that this is a precarious time and I suggest that people prepare accordingly. In just the past few months I have seen personal expenses rise at least 20% overall, and I’m sure it’s the same or worse for most of you. Stocking necessities and safe-haven investments with intrinsic value like physical precious metals are a good choice for protecting whatever buying power your dollars have left…

Higher prices everywhere

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) is officially at the highest levels in 40 years. CPI measurements often diminish the scale of the problem because they do not include things like food, energy and housing which are core expenses for the public. CPI calculations have also been “adjusted” over the past few decades by the government to express a more positive view on inflation. If we look at the inflation numbers at Shadowstats, calculated according to the same methods they used in the 1980s, we see a dramatic increase in CPI which paints a more dire (but more accurate) picture.

U.S. food prices have spiked to levels not seen since 2008 at the onset of the credit and derivatives collapse that brought about tens of trillions of dollars in Federal Reserve bailouts.

If we look beyond the 2008 crisis, food costs do not see a similar jump until the 1980s. Rising food prices in the US are often obscured by creative accounting and “shrinkflation” (shrinking packages and rising prices), but if we look at global food prices the average is a 30% jump in the past year.

Rental and home prices have also gone into the stratosphere. Rental costs went up around 18% in 2021, and this is an extension of a trend that has been prevalent for the past decade. Prices have been rising for a while, it’s just that now the avalanche has accelerated.

Home prices are currently out of the range of most new potential home buyers. Values jumped 16% in the past year alone, with the average property costing $408,000. Home sales continue to remain elevated compared to two years ago despite inflating prices for one reason and one reason only – the mass migration of Americans away from the draconian mandates and bureaucracy of blue states into more conservative states.

I live in Montana, a primary destination for people relocating, and from my experience the majority of these people are conservatives seeking to escape the vaccine and lockdown mandates in places like California, New York and Illinois. They see the writing on the wall and they are trying to get ahead of the economic and social calamity that will surely befall such states.

I would also note that home sales have finally begun to flatten in the past six months but prices are not dropping, which is a trend that I think needs to be explored further because it illustrates the larger issue of stagflation.

When inflation becomes stagflation

Understand that prices are not just rising because of increased demand (demand is starting to fall in many sectors), prices are rising because of increased money supply and dollar devaluation which is not yet being reflected in the Dollar Index.

Take a look at U.S. GDP and you will see that for the past several years it has tracked in tandem with price inflation. Obviously, if prices inflate then this means people are spending more, which then leads to higher U.S. GDP; it’s like magic, right? In other words, inflation makes it seem as though U.S. GDP is always improving.

However, this has not been the case in the past couple of years.

Official GDP has flattened despite the fact that U.S. money supply and inflation have rocketed higher. What does this mean? I believe it is a sign of stagflation and a reckoning in 2022. If we examine inflation adjusted GDP numbers from Shadowstats we see that GDP has declined rather aggressively in the past couple of years.

We can also see odd tendencies in oil and gasoline prices. While it’s true that gas prices have been higher in the past, this does not address the full context of the situation. U.S. travel spending has declined 12% since 2019 and airline travel has dropped at least 21% in the past year. Average gasoline usage dropped after 2019 and still has not recovered. Yet, gas prices continue to rise? In other words, travel demand is stagnant but prices are INCREASING – this is another signal of inflationary pressures and dollar devaluation. Oil is priced in dollars globally, and therefore any inflation in the dollar will be readily visible in oil. This would help explain why pandemic paranoia and reduced travel have not caused gas prices to drop.

If the current momentum continues the majority of necessities in the U.S. will not be affordable for most people by next year. We are looking at a fast-moving decline in production along with a swift explosion in prices. In other words, a stagflationary disaster.

This is the Federal Reserve’s fault

I and many other alternative economists have been warning about the inevitable inflation/stagflation crisis for years, but the most important factor to understand is WHO is responsible this event?

The mainstream financial media is going to protect the government and the Federal Reserve at all costs during this breakdown. They are going to blame Covid, the lockdowns here and overseas as well as the supply chain bottleneck.

The Fed is the true culprit, though.

While there have been many American presidents and other politicians who have supported the Fed in its inflationary activities, the central bank itself needs to be held accountable for the downturn that is about to occur. This is a process that started back at the founding of the Fed, but spread like cancer after the crash of 2008 and the introduction of 12+ years of stimulus and bailout measures along with near-zero interest rates.

The inflationary end-game

The pandemic is the perfect cover for the inflationary end-game. In 2008 the response to the crisis was to print and pump dollars into banks and corporations in the U.S. and around the globe. This money supply was held in corporate coffers and in central banks overseas, which slowed the effects of inflation. This set the precedent for subversive stimulus policies by giving the Fed a blank check to do whatever it wanted.

In 2020, the Fed created trillions more but this time the money was injected directly into the U.S. economy through Covid stimulus checks, PPP loans and other measures. In the alternative economic field we call this “helicopter money.” These dollars triggered a massive retail buying spree in 2020, but with more dollars in the economy chasing less goods prices are now spiking much higher.

The big discussion today is whether or not the Fed will taper their asset purchases, reduce their balance sheet and raise interest rates to counter inflation?

The fact is it won’t matter; inflation/stagflation will continue or even accelerate as the Fed tapers. With a taper comes the threat of a flattening yield curve in Treasury bonds as well as the danger of bonds and dollars being dumped by foreign investors and central banks. If the trillions upon trillions of dollars being held overseas come flooding back into the U.S., inflation will continue at its current pace or erupt even higher. In fact, the world’s ownership of dollars reached a 26-year low recently. The global transition away from the dollar, toward inflation-resistant investments, has already begun.

This is not a policy error

I explained this Catch-22 threat in my recent article The Fed’s Catch-22 Taper Is a Weapon, Not a Policy Error. In that essay I outline the Fed’s documented history of creating economic disasters that conveniently end up benefiting their friends in the international banks.

I also explained (with evidence) how the Federal Reserve actually takes its marching orders from the Bank for International Settlements, a globalist institution which along with the International Monetary Fund and World Economic Forum is openly seeking a one-world economic system and one-world currency system.

I do not believe that the Fed’s actions are a product of ignorance or stupidity or basic greed. I do not believe the Fed is scrambling to keep the U.S. economy afloat. I believe according to the evidence that the Fed knows exactly what it is doing. The pandemic offers a perfect scapegoat for an engineered crash of the U.S. economy which the Fed is trying to facilitate.

Why? Because the more desperate people are financially, the easier they are to buy off with false promises and a loaf of bread. They are easier to control. On top of that, with the U.S. economy reduced to second- or third-world status, it is easier to sell the public on the predetermined solution – total global centralization and far less freedom.

As the stagflationary crash plays out, never forget who was really the cause of the public’s suffering. In the fog of national crisis it is easy for the establishment to shift blame and responsibility and to cloud the truth. The inflation calamity is about to get much worse, and as it does we need to rally newly awakened people to take action against the central bankers and globalists behind it.

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This article was written by Brandon Smith and originally published at Birch Gold Group

GREAT QUESTION: Is There A Way To Prevent Psychopaths From Getting Into Positions Of Power?

Op-Ed by Brandon Smith

Despite a growing resurgence of interest in the science and psychology of narcissistic sociopaths and psychopaths it seems as though society today has lost track of how these people can sabotage the core fabric of a civilization or nation. It is very easy to hyper-focus on collectivist ideologies as the source of our problems and forget that these ideologies do not function in a vacuum; they cannot wreak havoc by themselves, they need psychopathic people directing them to do real damage.

There is something about collectivism that lends itself to projection and hypocrisy (collectivism is organization by FORCE instead of being voluntary). I suppose when your political ideology becomes your religion it’s easy to turn into a zealot. And while zealots find power in their single-mindedness and their cultism they also tend to lack any self-awareness. They literally go insane with devotion to their cause to the point that they lose track of whether or not their cause is fair and just. Their behavior becomes increasingly erratic and disjointed and every person they run into that does not share their views is immediately seen as a heretical enemy that needs to be exposed or destroyed.

To outsiders looking in, zealots are an endless source of comedy. You can’t help but laugh because their ticks and cricks and outbursts are nonsensical and absurd (just check out “Libs Of Tik Tok” for a mountain of examples). As long as they don’t have any real power these people act as a reminder of what happens when human beings abandon reason for madness. They can be frightening but they serve the purposes of entertainment as well as keeping the rest of us grounded. When they do gain power, however, that’s when things stop being funny.

Civilizations throughout history have consistently dealt with the problem of zealots, but the greater threat is the existence of narcissists and psychopaths sneaking into positions of authority and encouraging zealotry among the masses. Generally, psychopaths are seen as an anomaly which is quickly identified and shunned in order to prevent them from climbing too high up the ladder of social influence. The problem is they are not as rare as one might hope and many of them have the ability to hide among the herd.

Around 1% of any given population is made up of psychopaths while another 1% are sociopaths. Around 5% of people are identified as having narcissistic traits. Narcissists are self-absorbed and view themselves as superior to everyone else – They believe they are entitled to adoration and authority. Sociopaths have an inability to feel empathy for others and this makes them impractical as leaders. Psychopaths also exhibit a lack of empathy but also have a propensity for emotional or physical violence. They take joy in the suffering of others and perpetrate a large number of violent crimes.

Even though psychopaths are 1% of the population, they make up 15% to 25% of those incarcerated in prisons. The drag they exert on society cannot be overstated.

There is definitely some overlap among the various types, but in general close to 10% of human beings exhibit dangerous and mostly inherent psychological malfunctions that are often not treatable. Think about that for a moment – 10 out of every 100 people are ticking time bombs waiting to make life miserable for the rest of us.

To be sure, some of them are still able to function in society. Sociopaths in particular can become valuable in fields where less empathy is required in order to accomplish certain tasks. They are particularly well suited as surgeons, EMTs, soldiers, firefighters, and any other job where seeing people in pain is not going to stop them from accomplishing their task. They don’t necessarily take joy in seeing others harmed, but they aren’t emotionally fazed by it either. As long as they are never allowed into positions of influence over large groups of people they can serve some good for the public.

History shows us that vetting and preventing psychologically broken individuals from slipping into institutions that offer power is not so easy. In fact, many monarchies and empires were built on systems that allowed psychopaths and narcissists to flourish because they relied on genetic succession. If a monarch had a son who was predisposed to psychopathy it did not matter, that crazed prince would one day become a king and there was little that could be done about it. There was no vetting process. Also, many such traits are passed on genetically, which means a power structure built on heredity could become progressively more destructive as psychopaths in royalty intermarry. This would help explain why psychopathic behavior is over-represented among monarchs of the past.

The creation of democracy and democratic republics was in part designed to help weed out aberrant individuals by using open elections and the voting process. In other words, let the people scrutinize candidates and remove the crazies from circles of power. Unfortunately, this doesn’t work too well if ALL the candidates are psychopaths and the public has no real choice. By extension, psychopaths have also found ways to circumvent the political process and control it without directly participating in it.

The corporate world and financial institutions allow psychopaths to influence politics from behind the curtain, buying off candidates and their loyalty or vetting candidates and ONLY allowing those with similar sociopathic, narcissistic and psychopathic habits through the selection process and into the political arena.

In tribal societies and in smaller low-tech societies the ability to identify and root out psychologically broken individuals and prevent them from becoming leaders was easier. In the midst of vast empires and technocracy it is much simpler for psychopaths to hide among normal people and blend in. I usually compare invasive psychopaths to mythological stories of vampires for this reason. I really can’t think of a better analogy. They insinuate themselves into a population, take up positions of influence which protect them from suspicion and then systematically bleed the town dry. This is what they do. It is in their nature and they cannot be fixed, they can only be removed as a parasite is removed from host.

These people are the top threats to any given civilization. They are moderators of chaos and they actively conspire to supplant free society. They are what I would call primary organized psychopaths and they do indeed work together for mutual gain, much like a pack of wolves. They represent the 1% of the 1% (i.e. the globalists).

Psychopaths at the top of the pyramid have been organized for a long time, but what about the millions of other people out there with such traits? What happens when they are given a way to congregate?

Modern society and Big Tech social media have created even worse circumstances because now the greater psychopathic community is no longer isolated. The 1% that used to be mostly relegated to quiet corners and the fringes of humanity are now able to organize into aggressive mobs of hundreds of thousands, leading millions of lesser sociopaths and narcissists. This is creating a subculture of what I would call communal insanity – As the old saying goes, the patients are taking over the asylum.

We see this specifically with the political left and the open promotion of narcissism as an acceptable way of life.  This is not to say that psychopaths don’t try to infiltrate conservative circles as well, only that leftists are much more welcoming to their kind. These are people who once felt powerless because they were shunned and now they want revenge.

The thing is, they were originally shunned from influence for a very good reason; they are not psychologically equipped to handle any measure of power. Now they are being handed institutional control and they are being whipped into a frothing frenzy. They see themselves as the underdogs and the “revolutionaries”, but really they are just emotionally stunted and handicapped and they were put in permanent time-out to protect the rest of humanity.

But how is this danger dealt with, not just in the short term but the longer term?

Our culture has to be fundamentally changed with psychopathy and other aberrant traits in mind. We can no longer ignore the effect these people have on humanity as a whole. The first step would require separation from movements and institutions that promote psychopathic and narcissistic behaviors. In other words, we need to return to a model of isolation for the psychopathically inclined instead of treating them as if they are some kind of victim status group that needs special attention and “nurturing.”

As noted, in many cases these characteristics are inherent (inborn) and cannot be treated. There is no fixing the problem because it is not so much an illness as it is a completely different psychological structure. They might as well be a different species, and a predatory one at that. There is no mutual coexistence with them. They see us as food.

Candidates for positions of authority would have to be screened for psychopathy, narcissism and sociopathy. If they have too many of the warning signs then they should not be allowed to pursue those jobs. This is the only answer beyond fundamentally changing the way our election system functions, which I’m not necessarily opposed to either. A random lottery system for government jobs along with strict term limits (not just for normal political positions but also in bureaucratic positions) would at least be better than what we have now. I would rather risk the possibility of less qualified people being randomly chosen for government than have a system that attracts a concentrated culture of malicious parasites.

What better way to discourage psychopaths than to take away any long-term benefits of working in government? What better way to disrupt the influence of corporate elitists than to take away their ability to finance or choose the candidates that end up in office? And even if they were able to buy off some officials, with term limits they would have to start over and over again with the latest crop of new officials.

Some will of course point out that changing the system tomorrow will require getting rid of the psychopaths that run it today. I agree, it’s a dilemma. Sadly, once psychopaths become organized and entrenched history tells us they will not be moved without the force of violence. They don’t care about protests, they are not moved by reason or logic, they don’t care about the suffering of the masses and they will always see themselves as the rightful rulers of us “lesser” peasants.

They derive supremacy from the mobs of the stunted that they lead and exploit; the nearly 10% of the population that when organized becomes an army of raging mad hatters hungry for scraps from the table of power. We can and should continue to separate from the collectivist mob and the zealots, but all psychopaths view separation as defiance and will try to interfere. Eventually there’s going to be a fight, and maybe that’s for the best.

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New Year, New Hope for Gold and Silver Investors

By Clint Siegner

Silver and gold prices way underperformed investor expectations in 2021. Perhaps most frustrating of all, the fundamentals were there, driving unprecedented retail demand for physical bullion.

Inflation fears crept into markets. The Fed maintained ultra-accommodative monetary policy including zero interest rates and massive debt monetization. 2021 was also a nasty year for confidence in major institutions.

Nervous buyers switched paper assets into physical metal at a record pace.

Seasoned metals investors know great fundamentals don’t necessarily mean rising prices. Price discovery in the paper markets is broken. In the short run, it can be totally disconnected from the factors driving supply and demand for physical.

One of the big questions for 2022 is whether we will see better price performance.

In the longer run, fundamentals do matter. That is why gold and silver prices are multiples of what they were twenty years ago. This year the case for owning physical gold and silver promises to get even stronger in the months just ahead.

Price inflation will continue to rage. Higher wages, supply chain troubles, and labor shortages are not going to disappear any time soon. Deliberate government and central bank actions are responsible for the turmoil.

Americans can expect more economic interventions, restrictions, mandates, and artificial stimulus. Officials in Washington DC show little interest in changing their approach.

The moment of reckoning cannot be far off for the Fed. The central bank is caught between spiraling price inflation and markets hopelessly addicted to never ending stimulus.

Fed bankers are trying to maintain the illusion they can quickly step in and control the erosion in the Federal Reserve Note’s purchasing power without putting the US economy into the ditch. They are telegraphing rate hikes starting by midyear.

The central planners at the Fed can’t make a compelling case as to why markets will tolerate higher rates this time. They would like people to forget they have tried, and failed, before. The last attempt ended almost before it began when the stock market puked all over rate hikes in the fall of 2018.

A collapse in confidence in the Federal Reserve Note is not likely in 2022. But that event will draw nearer when Fed bankers once again demonstrate there is no way out of the stimulus trap.

Monetary and political turmoil will drive more Americans to acquire gold and silver.

Futures traders employed by large banks will continue to release massive quantities of paper gold and silver contracts into the market. They will also keep taking the short side of those contracts and pushing paper prices in their favor whenever they see the opportunity.

If global demand to take delivery of physical rises, the paper price of metal will eventually follow.

A breakout is coming. It may be a question of whether it happens in the futures market or after all trust in the futures market evaporates.

Clint Siegner is a Director at Money Metals Exchange, a precious metals dealer recently named “Best in the USA” by an independent global ratings group. A graduate of Linfield College in Oregon, Siegner puts his experience in business management along with his passion for personal liberty, limited government, and honest money into the development of Money Metals’ brand and reach. This includes writing extensively on the bullion markets and their intersection with policy and world affairs.

The Hounding of Julian Assange Leaves Honest Journalism With No Refuge

By Jonathan Cook

It is no accident that Julian Assange, the digital transparency activist and journalist who founded WikiLeaks to help whistleblowers tell us what Western governments are really up to in the shadows, has spent 10 years being progressively disappeared into those very same shadows.

His treatment is a crime similar to those WikiLeaks exposed when it published just over a decade ago hundreds of thousands of leaked materials – documents we were never supposed to see – detailing war crimes committed by the United States and Britain in Iraq and Afghanistan.

These two Western countries killed non-combatants and carried our torture not, as they claimed, in the pursuit of self-defense or in the promotion of democracy, but to impose control over a strategic, resource-rich region.

It is the ultimate, ugly paradox that Assange’s legal and physical fate rests in the hands of two states that have the most to lose by allowing him to regain his freedom and publish more of the truths they want to keep concealed. By redefining his journalism as “espionage”– the basis for the US extradition claim – they are determined to keep the genie stuffed in the bottle.

Eyes off the ball

Last week, in overturning a lower court decision that should have allowed Assange to walk free, the English High Court consented to effectively keep Assange locked up indefinitely. He is a remand prisoner – found guilty of no crime – and yet he will continue rotting in solitary confinement for the foreseeable future, barely seeing daylight or other human beings, in Belmarsh high-security prison alongside Britain’s most dangerous criminals.

The High Court decision forces our eyes off the ball once again. Assange and his supposed “crime” of seeking transparency and accountability has become the story rather than the crimes he exposed that were carried out by the US to lay waste to whole regions and devastate the lives of millions.

The goal is to stop the public conducting the debate Assange wanted to initiate through his journalism: about Western state crimes. Instead the public is being deflected into a debate his persecutors want: whether Assange can ever safely be allowed out of his cell.

Assange’s lawyers are being diverted from the real issues, too. They will now be tied up for years fighting endless rearguard actions, caught up in the search for legal technicalities, battling to win a hearing in any court they can, to prevent his extradition to the United States to stand trial.

The process itself has taken over. And while the legal minutiae are endlessly raked over, the substance of the case – that it is US and British officials who ought to be held responsible for committing war crimes – will be glossed over.

Permanently silenced

But it is worse than the legal injustice of Assange’s case. There may be no hacksaws needed this time, but this is as visceral a crime against journalism as the dismemberment of the Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi officials back in 2018.

And the outcome for Assange is only slightly less preordained than it was for Khashoggi when he entered the Saudi embassy in Istanbul. The goal for US officials has always been about permanently disappearing Assange. They are indifferent about how that is achieved.

If the legal avenue is a success, he will eventually head to the US where he can be locked away for up to 175 years in severe solitary confinement in a supermax jail – that is, till long past his death from natural causes. But there is every chance he will not survive that long. Last January, a British judge rejected extraditing Julian Assange to the US over his “suicide risk“, and medical experts have warned that it will be only a matter of time before he succeeds.

That was why the district court blocked extradition – on humanitarian grounds. Those grounds were overturned by the High Court last week only because the US offered “assurances” that measures would be in place to ensure Assange did not commit suicide. But Assange’s lawyers pointed out: those assurances “were not enough to address concerns about his fragile mental health and high risk of suicide”. These concerns should have been apparent to the High Court justices.

There is no need to speculate about the Americans’ bad faith. It is only too apparent in the myriad get-out clauses in the “assurances” they provided. Those assurances can be dropped, for example, if US officials decide Assange is not being cooperative. The promises can and will be disregarded the moment they become an encumbrance on Washington’s ability to keep Assange permanently silenced.

‘Trapped in a cage’

But if losing the extradition battle is high stakes, so is the legal process itself. That could finish Assange off long before a decision is reached, as his fiancee Stella Moris indicated at the weekend. She confirmed that Assange suffered a small stroke during a hearing in October in the endless extradition proceedings. There are indications he suffered neurological damage, and is now on anti-stroke medication to try to stop a recurrence.

Assange and his friends believe the stroke was brought on by the constant double strain of his solitary confinement in Belmarsh and a legal process being conducted over his head, in which he is barely allowed to participate.

Nils Melzer, the United Nations expert on torture, has repeatedly warned that Assange has been subjected to prolonged psychological torture in the nine years since he fled into Ecuador’s embassy in London seeking asylum from US efforts to persecute him.

That form of torture, Melzer has pointed out, was refined by the Nazis because it was found to be far more effective at breaking people than physical torture. Moris told the Daily Mail:

“[The stroke] compounds our fears about [Assange’s] ability to survive the longer this long legal battle goes on. … Look at animals trapped in cages in a zoo. It cuts their life short. That’s what’s happening to Julian.”

And that indeed looks to be the prize for US officials that wanted him assassinated anyway. Whatever happens to Assange, the lawless US security state wins: it either gets him behind bars forever, or it kills him quietly and quite lawfully, while everyone is distracted, arguing about who Assange is rather what he exposed.

Political prisoner

In fact, with each twist and turn of the proceedings against Assange we move further from the realities at the heart of the case towards narrative distractions.

Who remembers now the first extradition hearings, nearly two years ago, at which the court was reminded that the very treaty signed by Britain and the US that is the basis for Assange’s extradition explicitly excludes political cases of the kind being pursued by the US against Assange?

It is a victory for state criminality that the discussion has devolved to Assange’s mental health rather than a substantive discussion of the treaty’s misapplication to serve political ends.

And similarly the focus on US assurances regarding Assange’s well-being is intended to obscure the fact that a journalist’s work is being criminalized as “espionage” for the first time under a hurriedly drafted, draconian and discredited piece of First World War legislation, the 1917 Espionage Act. Because Assange is a political prisoner suffering political persecution, legal arguments are apparently powerless to save him. It is only a political campaign that can keep underscoring the sham nature of the charges he faces.

The lies of power

What Assange bequeathed us through WikiLeaks was a harsh light capable of cutting through the lies of power and power of lies. He showed that western governments claiming the moral high ground were actually committing crimes in our name out of sight in far-off lands. He tore the mask off their hypocrisy.

He showed that the many millions who took to the streets in cities around the world in 2003 because they knew the US and UK would commit war crimes in Iraq were right to march. But he also confirmed something worse: that their opposition to the war was treated with utter contempt.

The US and UK did not operate more carefully, they were not more respectful of human rights, they did not tread more lightly in Iraq because of those marches, because of the criticism beforehand. The western war machine carried on regardless, crushing the lives of anyone who got caught up in its maw.

Now with Assange locked up and silenced, western foreign policy can return comfortably to the era of zero accountability that existed before Assange shook up the whole system with his revelations. No journalist will dare to repeat what Assange did – not unless they are ready to spend the rest of their days behind bars.

The message his abuse sends to others could not be clearer or more chilling: what happened to Assange could happen to you too.

The truth is journalism is already reeling from the combined assaults against Khashoggi and Assange. But the hounding of Assange strikes the bigger blow. It leaves honest journalism with no refuge, no sanctuary anywhere in the world.

Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are Israel and the Clash of Civilizations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East (Pluto Press) and Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair (Zed Books). His website is www.jonathan-cook.net. This originally appeared in the Middle East Eye.

Source: Antiwar.com

OpEd: Scientific Materialism Is A Busted Philosophy

by Daniel Pinchbeck
Edited by Ryan DeLarme

Scientific materialism posits that the physical universe exists independently of consciousness, and that minds emerge through an accidental process of physical and biological evolution. Materialism — or physicalism — has been the dominant ideology of the last two centuries, pervasively inflecting every aspect of our society.

Idealism proposes, instead, that consciousness is the fundamental reality or the “ontological primitive.” The apparition of the physical universe arises out of this foundational ground of consciousness, like a vast turbulent dream.

In Why Materialism is Baloney and The Idea of the World, philosopher Bernardo Kastrup makes a great case for idealism.

“The physical properties of the world exist only insofar as they are perceptually experienced,” he writes. “There is no ontological ground outside mind where these properties could otherwise reside before being represented in mind.”

As individuals, we are dissociated “alters” of this unbounded, instinctive consciousness.

materialism, philosophy,

Physics experiments have, he notes, “confirmed that, unlike what one would expect if the world were separate or distinct from mind, the observed properties of the world indeed cannot be said to exist prior to being observed.”

He quotes the physicist Anton Zeilinger:

“There is no sense in assuming that what we do not measure [that is, observe] about a system has [an independent] reality.”

In The Idea of the World, Kastrup surveys various counter-arguments against idealism, one by one, and refutes them. He considers the means by which ideologies take root in society and become entrenched as the norm, despite their fallacies, and how to supersede them:

“We are all immersed in myriad unexamined cultural assumptions and conventional patterns of thought. It is the unavoidable task of the idealist to patiently identify and expose these hidden assumptions and faulty thought patterns, one by one, whilst persisting in repeated elucidations of his or her argument. Only in this manner can the logic behind the idealist’s argument eventually pierce through the cultural shield.”

I completely agree with Kastrup. I feel we need something like an army of intellectually rigorous idealists, attacking this from many angles.

I know this still seems far-fetched to many, but I believe that the paradigm shift from materialism to idealism is both crucial and inevitable. The question, for me, is how and when we get there.

It is inevitable because idealism is true while materialism is false (or, as Kastrup puts it, “baloney”). This has been demonstrated again and again, scientifically, and it becomes increasingly sensible as we develop better ways to talk and think about it.

Many other thinkers and scientists have reached this perspective, including the physicist Amit Goswami, author of Physics of the Soul, and biologist Robert Lanza, who coined the term, “biocentrism.”

Investigating the nature of reality, many of the great physicists of the 20th Century discovered that the universe to be a “great thought,” made from “mind stuff” rather than matter. Their discoveries accorded with the basic tenets of Eastern mysticism.

However, it must be said that, in the past, false ideologies and bad ideas often prevailed over true ones. The triumph of idealism is, therefore, not completely certain.

The paradigm shift from materialism to idealism has tremendous implications, on many levels. It is profoundly important for the future of our world. I consider it a necessary evolutionary leap. It is the paradigm shift we have been waiting for. It is the game-changer.

In upcoming essays, I will paraphrase parts of Kastrup’s philosophical argument for idealism. I will then consider the implications of idealism in a number of different areas, ranging from the personal quandary of what it means to live a meaningful life to the collective — social and political — the question of how we reinvent civilization to address wealth inequality, technological control, and ecological catastrophe.

Analytic Idealism gives us the answer to Capitalist Realism, Neoliberalism, and Transhumanism. It has the potential to reshape our relationships with each other and with the world as a whole.

As idealism becomes our interpretive framework, humanity’s attention will turn in a new direction, rescuing us from the abyss of quantification, control, and nihilism in which the vast mass of humanity is currently lost.

Idealism also allows us to fully understand indigenous animism and other ancient cosmologies, integrating them into a comprehensive, integral worldview.

The shift to idealism restores meaning and purpose to the world. Under materialism, the world has no intrinsic meaning. Humanity wanders hopelessly in a wasteland:

“Our culture believes that the semantic value of the world is simply an artifact of human minds. The world doesn’t have a story to tell, a suggestion to make or an insight to convey. It isn’t saying anything. There is nothing meaningful to be gleaned from the world, just utilitarian predictions to be made about its behavior,” Kastrup writes.

But if the world is actually the projection of a universal, instinctive consciousness, then it begs for interpretation and analysis:

“If the world is mental, it points to something beyond its face-value appearances and is amenable to interpretation, just as ordinary dreams. In this case, the project of a Hermeneutic of Everything is metaphysically justifiable.”

If consciousness is the fundamental reality, then, as conscious beings, our ongoing activity of interpreting, understanding, and giving creative expression to the world is not contingent, accidental, or meaningless.

It must be seen as an essential aspect of the world-process, of reality in its unfolding, of the “worlding” of the world. William Blake turns out to be phenomenologically precise when he wrote, “The imagination is not a state: It is the human existence itself.”

I Went To A Socially Distanced Drive-In Rave, And It Was A Depressing Dystopian Nightmare

Tristan Justice
November 2nd, 2020

I went to my first drive-in rave last weekend. After eight months of lockdowns with no live music, no live shows, and no camaraderie of the annual festival season, I expected the event to be a refreshing escape from the pandemic suppression of nearly everything that made life exciting in my early 20s.

I wanted a one-night departure from the drudgery of a fundamentally different world stricken with death, disease, and division driven worse under draconian lockdowns stripping freedoms from a public all-too-eager to hand them over under the guise of safety. A one-night celebration of what things were like in our pre-pandemic lives before being wrecked by a foreign virus bringing the world to its knees. A one-night return to “normalcy.”

There were a lot of reasons why the show failed to meet the expectations I just outlined. The stage was small, the music wasn’t as loud as before, the staff was rude, and the energy present featured a bizarre mix of nostalgia and paranoia complemented by an underlying frustration of what used to be.

In the end however, it was the penetrating reminder that things aren’t normal, and won’t be for quite some time. 

The night started with all the fanfare of a typical evening preparing for the main event. I hopped in the car of some people I met on the Radiate app in Denver, a social media platform that combines the likes of Tinder and Facebook for festival-goers. We left by 6 p.m., and arrived at the racetrack near Colorado Springs soon after 8 p.m. where we then joined a seemingly endless line of cars waiting to get in moving at a snail’s pace. Each time we got out of the car to stretch out legs in line, event staff driving up and down the cars screamed at people get back in. It ultimately took our car two hours to reach the entrance, which at that point gave us merely two hours until the entire show was over.

When we finally got inside, the group wanted to meet up with people from two other cars we traveled with who were mistakenly taken to the VIP section of the parking lot closest to the stage. We snuck in fine even though we weren’t supposed to when several people with loose wristbands handed them off by the general concessions.

Once we got inside however, security was even tighter than it was in the general car lot checking wristbands and yelling at individuals who were dancing too close to other cars. I was eventually kicked out with another person who was in the group since we had given our wristbands back to the people who passed them to us. Other entire groups were bumped from their front-row spot because they weren’t distancing to security’s standards.

On our way to the back of the car lot, people who had been dancing in the open spaces had been cleared out back to their cars. Security in flood lights on the perimeters of the infield were also ensuring there was no crowding anywhere in the entire site. It’s hard to “let go” when big brother is over your shoulder the entire time. Yet no one seemed to care about lines at the concession stands, begging one to ask, what’s even the point? And masks? Mandatory, no matter how many people puffed on one of the same same joints, Juuls, or cigarettes being passed around.

Under all the circumstances, there were still a few moments of a deceptive bliss. Deceptive because each moment left me feeling emptier than before, as if I had been teased with a window into what things used to be.

I spent the whole show not embracing what little was in front of me, but rather pretending I was somewhere else, imagining all the shows I had gone to in the past reminding me of just how important the festivals had become in coping with the challenges of the last two years, especially the Bassnectar shows, because nothing ever compared to a Bassnectar show. There were times this weekend that I found myself just staring at the lights when a certain beat would trigger flashbacks of serotonin flooding my brain at the right drop transporting me into an intimate multi-dimensional experience. Because that’s the cliché open secret about festivals. You’re not paying for three nights of music. You’re buying a lifetime of memories, memories that don’t remind you of what you saw but remind you of exactly, and I mean exactly how you felt. 

I was warned about this predicament. In fact, I played a role in warning others about this predicament.

When reporting on the mental health impact of lockdowns in April, I interviewed East Tennessee therapist Allysen Efferson on the consequences they may have in exacerbating an already existing crisis:

Efferson warned that Americans need to be prepared for life to be different even after states begin to reopen.

‘There is a whole new level of reality out there that’s about to hit people,’ Efferson told The Federalist, pointing out that since we’ve been sheltered in our homes, most people haven’t seen the outside damage that has been done and things won’t return to normal even once stay-home orders are lifted. Their favorite restaurants might be closed for good. Big events such as concerts and sports won’t come back for quite some time, and people’s behavior might remain distant.

‘We don’t know what we’re going to see.’

I’m not sure I should have attended Friday’s drive-in, because I wasn’t prepared.

For all that’s been lost amid the pandemic, it’s these fundamental years that can’t be replaced which have cut deeper than anything else. I turned 23 in June, who knows if we have a vaccine by 24. Even then, I woke up Sunday morning to find a piece in the Washington Examiner quoting health experts saying the U.S. won’t return to “normal” until late 2021 or early 2022.

“Some experts won’t put an actual date to their predictions,” the Examiner reported. “In September, Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University’s School of Medicine, said, “The old normal? I don’t know when that day will be, but it will be in the great and distant future.”

A second wave of lockdowns is already on its way, which runs the risk of being even tighter pending the results of Tuesday’s election. Even if we do get a vaccine by the year’s end, we’ll still be locked down given its likely failure to achieve all that we hope. Americans can still party for sure, if they shell out $1,000 on a trip to Mexico, which is exactly what many of my friends on the East Coast plan to do for New Years. That’s lost cash that could go to desperately struggling businesses here at home.

I’m not blind to the fact tht more than 230,000 Americans have died from COVID-19. I’m also not blind to the fact that we still don’t have a vaccine for many other viruses, and the CDC’s “current best-estimate” for the COVID survival rate is at least 99.98 percent for a majority of the population, while lockdowns and hysteria destroy the nation’s psyche and wreak havoc on immunization rates against diseases we do have vaccines against.

Surely there are better ways to handle the coronavirus, and maybe I’ll spend 24 being 24, but probably not.Tristan Justice is a staff writer at The Federalist focusing on the 2020 presidential campaigns. Follow him on Twitter at @JusticeTristan or contact him at Tristan@thefederalist.com.

MILE MARKERS OF TYRANNY: LOSING OUR FREEDOMS ON THE ROAD FROM 9/11 TO COVID-19

John W. Whitehead
September 08, 2020

“No one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end.”—George Orwell

You can map the nearly 20-year journey from the 9/11 attacks to the COVID-19 pandemic by the freedoms we’ve lost along the way.

The road we have been traveling has been littered with the wreckage of our once-vaunted liberties, especially those enshrined in the Fourth Amendment.

The assaults on our freedoms that began with the post-9/11 passage of the USA Patriot Act laid the groundwork for the eradication of every vital constitutional safeguard against government overreach, corruption and abuse.

The COVID-19 pandemic with its lockdowns, mask mandates, surveillance, snitch lines for Americans to report their fellow citizens for engaging in risky behavior, and veiled threats of forced vaccinations has merely provided the architects of the American police state with an opportunity to flex their muscles.

These have become mile markers on the road to tyranny.

Free speech, the right to protest, the right to challenge government wrongdoing, due process, a presumption of innocence, the right to self-defense, accountability and transparency in government, privacy, press, sovereignty, assembly, bodily integrity, representative government: all of these and more have become casualties in the government’s ongoing war on the American people. In the process, the American people have been treated like enemy combatants, to be spied on, tracked, scanned, frisked, searched, subjected to all manner of intrusions, intimidated, invaded, raided, manhandled, censored, silenced, shot at, locked up, denied due process, and killed.

What the past 20 years have proven is that the U.S. government poses a greater threat to our individual and collective freedoms and national security than any terrorist, foreign threat or pandemic.

In allowing ourselves to be distracted by terror drills, foreign wars, color-coded warnings, partisan politics, pandemic scares, and other carefully constructed exercises in propaganda, sleight of hand, and obfuscation, we failed to recognize that the U.S. government—the government that was supposed to be a “government of the people, by the people, for the people”—has become the enemy of the people.

Indeed, the U.S. government has grown so corrupt, greedy, power-hungry and tyrannical over the course of the past 240-plus years that our constitutional republic has since given way to an idiocracy, and representative government has given way to a kleptocracy (a government ruled by thieves) and a kakistocracy (a government run by unprincipled career politicians, corporations and thieves that panders to the worst vices in our nature and has little regard for the rights of American citizens).

Although the Bill of Rights—the first ten amendments to the Constitution—was adopted as a means of protecting the people against government tyranny, in America today, the government does whatever it wants, freedom be damned.

“We the people” have been terrorized, traumatized, and tricked into a semi-permanent state of compliance by a government that cares nothing for our lives or our liberties.

The bogeyman’s names and faces have changed over time (terrorism, the war on drugs, illegal immigration, a viral pandemic), but the end result remains the same: in the so-called name of national security, the Constitution has been steadily chipped away at, undermined, eroded, whittled down, and generally discarded with the support of Congress, the White House, and the courts.

What we are left with today is but a shadow of the robust document adopted more than two centuries ago. Sadly, most of the damage has been inflicted upon the Bill of Rights.

Here is what it means to live under the Constitution, post-9/11 and in the midst of a COVID-19 pandemic.

The First Amendment is supposed to protect the freedom to speak your mind, assemble and protest nonviolently without being bridled by the government. It also protects the freedom of the media, as well as the right to worship and pray without interference. In other words, Americans should not be silenced by the government. To the founders, all of America was a free speech zone.

Despite the clear protections found in the First Amendment, the freedoms described therein are under constant assault. Increasingly, Americans are being arrested and charged with bogus “contempt of cop” charges such as “disrupting the peace” or “resisting arrest” for daring to film police officers engaged in harassment or abusive practices. Journalists are being prosecuted for reporting on whistleblowers. States are passing legislation to muzzle reporting on cruel and abusive corporate practices. Religious ministries are being fined for attempting to feed and house the homeless. Protesters are being tear-gassed, beaten, arrested and forced into “free speech zones.” And under the guise of “government speech,” the courts have reasoned that the government can discriminate freely against any First Amendment activity that takes place within a government forum.

The Second Amendment was intended to guarantee “the right of the people to keep and bear arms.” Essentially, this amendment was intended to give the citizenry the means to resist tyrannical government. Yet while gun ownership has been recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court as an individual citizen right, Americans remain powerless to defend themselves against SWAT team raids and government agents armed to the teeth with military weapons better suited to the battlefield. As such, this amendment has been rendered null and void.

The Third Amendment reinforces the principle that civilian-elected officials are superior to the military by prohibiting the military from entering any citizen’s home without “the consent of the owner.” With the police increasingly training like the military, acting like the military, and posing as military forces—complete with heavily armed SWAT teams, military weapons, assault vehicles, etc.—it is clear that we now have what the founders feared most—a standing army on American soil.

The Fourth Amendment prohibits government agents from conducting surveillance on you or touching you or invading you, unless they have some evidence that you’re up to something criminal. In other words, the Fourth Amendment ensures privacy and bodily integrity. Unfortunately, the Fourth Amendment has suffered the greatest damage in recent years and has been all but eviscerated by an unwarranted expansion of police powers that include strip searches and even anal and vaginal searches of citizens, surveillance (corporate and otherwise) and intrusions justified in the name of fighting terrorism, as well as the outsourcing of otherwise illegal activities to private contractors.

The Fifth Amendment and the Sixth Amendment work in tandem. These amendments supposedly ensure that you are innocent until proven guilty, and government authorities cannot deprive you of your life, your liberty or your property without the right to an attorney and a fair trial before a civilian judge. However, in the new suspect society in which we live, where surveillance is the norm, these fundamental principles have been upended. Certainly, if the government can arbitrarily freeze, seize or lay claim to your property (money, land or possessions) under government asset forfeiture schemes, you have no true rights.

The Seventh Amendment guarantees citizens the right to a jury trial. Yet when the populace has no idea of what’s in the Constitution—civic education has virtually disappeared from most school curriculums—that inevitably translates to an ignorant jury incapable of distinguishing justice and the law from their own preconceived notions and fears. However, as a growing number of citizens are coming to realize, the power of the jury to nullify the government’s actions—and thereby help balance the scales of justice—is not to be underestimated. Jury nullification reminds the government that “we the people” retain the power to ultimately determine what laws are just.

The Eighth Amendment is similar to the Sixth in that it is supposed to protect the rights of the accused and forbid the use of cruel and unusual punishment. However, the Supreme Court’s determination that what constitutes “cruel and unusual” should be dependent on the “evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society” leaves us with little protection in the face of a society lacking in morals altogether.

The Ninth Amendment provides that other rights not enumerated in the Constitution are nonetheless retained by the people. Popular sovereignty—the belief that the power to govern flows upward from the people rather than downward from the rulers—is clearly evident in this amendment. However, it has since been turned on its head by a centralized federal government that sees itself as supreme and which continues to pass more and more laws that restrict our freedoms under the pretext that it has an “important government interest” in doing so.

As for the Tenth Amendment’s reminder that the people and the states retain every authority that is not otherwise mentioned in the Constitution, that assurance of a system of government in which power is divided among local, state and national entities has long since been rendered moot by the centralized Washington, DC, power elite—the president, Congress and the courts.

If there is any sense to be made from this recitation of freedoms lost, it is simply this: our individual freedoms have been eviscerated so that the government’s powers could be expanded.

Mind you, by “government,” I’m not referring to the highly partisan, two-party bureaucracy of the Republicans and Democrats. Rather, I’m referring to the Deep State—the corporatized, militarized, entrenched bureaucracy that has set itself beyond the reach of the law and is unaffected by elections, unaltered by populist movements, and staffed by unelected officials who are, in essence, running the country and calling the shots in Washington DC, no matter who sits in the White House.

This is a government that, in conjunction with its corporate partners, views the citizenry as consumers and bits of data to be bought, sold and traded.

This is a government that spies on and treats its citizens as if they have no right to privacy, especially in their own homes.

This is a government that is laying the groundwork to weaponize the public’s biomedical data as a convenient means by which to penalize certain “unacceptable” social behaviors.

This is a government that subjects its people to scans, searches, pat downs and other indignities by the TSA and VIPR raids on so-called “soft” targets like shopping malls and bus depots by black-clad, Darth Vader look-alikes.

This is a government that uses fusion centers, which represent the combined surveillance efforts of federal, state and local law enforcement, to track the citizenry’s movements, record their conversations, and catalogue their transactions.

This is a government whose wall-to-wall surveillance has given rise to a suspect society in which the burden of proof has been reversed such that Americans are now assumed guilty until or unless they can prove their innocence.

This is a government that treats its people like second-class citizens who have no rights, and is working overtime to stigmatize and dehumanize any and all who do not fit with the government’s plans for this country.

This is a government that uses free speech zones, roving bubble zones and trespass laws to silence, censor and marginalize Americans and restrict their First Amendment right to speak truth to power. The kinds of speech the government considers dangerous enough to red flag and subject to censorship, surveillance, investigation, prosecution and outright elimination include: hate speech, bullying speech, intolerant speech, conspiratorial speech, treasonous speech, threatening speech, incendiary speech, inflammatory speech, radical speech, anti-government speech, right-wing speech, left-wing speech, extremist speech, politically incorrect speech, etc.

This is a government that adopts laws that criminalize Americans for otherwise lawful activities such as holding religious studies at homegrowing vegetables in their yard, and collecting rainwater.

This is a government that persists in renewing the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which allows the president and the military to arrest and detain American citizens indefinitely.

This is a government that saddled us with the Patriot Act, which opened the door to all manner of government abuses and intrusions on our privacy.

This is a government that, in direct opposition to the dire warnings of those who founded our country, has allowed the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to establish a standing army by way of programs that transfer surplus military hardware to local and state police.

This is a government that has militarized American’s domestic police, equipping them with military weapons such as “tens of thousands of machine guns; nearly 200,000 ammunition magazines; thousands of pieces of camouflage and night-vision equipment; and hundreds of silencers, armored cars and aircraft,” in addition to armored vehicles, sound cannons and the like.

This is a government that has provided cover to police when they shoot and kill unarmed individuals just for standing a certain way, or moving a certain way, or holding something—anything—that police could misinterpret to be a gun, or igniting some trigger-centric fear in a police officer’s mind that has nothing to do with an actual threat to their safety.

This is a government that has allowed private corporations to get rich at taxpayer expense by locking people up in private prisons for non-violent crimes, while providing Corporate America with a source of cheap labor.

This is a government that has created a Constitution-free zone within 100 miles inland of the border around the United States, paving the way for Border Patrol agents to search people’s homes, intimately probe their bodies, and rifle through their belongings, all without a warrant. Incredibly, nearly 66% of Americans (2/3 of the U.S. population, 197.4 million people) now live within that 100-mile-deep, Constitution-free zone.

This is a government that treats public school students as if they were prison inmates, enforcing zero tolerance policies that criminalize childish behavior, failing to teach them their rights under the Constitution, and indoctrinating them with teaching that emphasizes rote memorization and test-taking over learning, synthesizing and critical thinking.

This is a government that is operating in the negative on every front: it’s spending far more than what it makes (and takes from the American taxpayers) and it is borrowing heavily (from foreign governments and Social Security) to keep the government operating and keep funding its endless wars abroad. Meanwhile, the nation’s sorely neglected infrastructure—railroads, water pipelines, ports, dams, bridges, airports and roads—is rapidly deteriorating.

This is a government whose gun violence—inflicted on unarmed individuals by battlefield-trained SWAT teams, militarized police, and bureaucratic government agents trained to shoot first and ask questions later—poses a greater threat to the safety and security of the nation than any mass shooter. There are now reportedly more bureaucratic (non-military) government agents armed with high-tech, deadly weapons than U.S. Marines.

This is a government that has allowed the presidency to become a dictatorship operating above and beyond the law, regardless of which party is in power.

This is a government that treats dissidents, whistleblowers and freedom fighters as enemies of the state.

This is a government—a warring empire—that forces its taxpayers to pay for wars abroad that serve no other purpose except to expand the reach of the military industrial complex.

This is a government that has in recent decades unleashed untold horrors upon the world—including its own citizenry—in the name of global conquest, the acquisition of greater wealth, scientific experimentation, and technological advances, all packaged in the guise of the greater good.

This is a government that allows its agents to break laws with immunity while average Americans get the book thrown at them.

This is a government that speaks in a language of force. What is this language of force? Militarized police. Riot squads. Camouflage gear. Black uniforms. Armored vehicles. Mass arrests. Pepper spray. Tear gas. Batons. Strip searches. Surveillance cameras. Kevlar vests. Drones. Lethal weapons. Less-than-lethal weapons unleashed with deadly force. Rubber bullets. Water cannons. Stun grenades. Arrests of journalists. Crowd control tactics. Intimidation tactics. Brutality. Contempt of cop charges.

This is a government that justifies all manner of government tyranny and power grabs in the so-called name of national security, national crises and national emergencies.

This is a government that exports violence worldwide, with one of this country’s most profitable exports being weapons. Indeed, the United States, the world’s largest exporter of arms, has been selling violence to the world in order to prop up the military industrial complex and maintain its endless wars abroad.

This is a government that is consumed with squeezing every last penny out of the population and seemingly unconcerned if essential freedoms are trampled in the process.

This is a government that believes it has the authority to search, seize, strip, scan, spy on, probe, pat down, taser, and arrest any individual at any time and for the slightest provocation, the Constitution be damned.

In sum, this is a government that routinely undermines the Constitution and rides roughshod over the rights of the citizenry.

This is not a government that believes in, let alone upholds, freedom.

So where does that leave us?

As always, the first step begins with “we the people.”

Those who gave us the Constitution and the Bill of Rights believed that the government exists at the behest of its citizens. It is there to protect, defend and even enhance our freedoms, not violate them. Our power as a citizenry comes from our ability to agree and stand united on certain freedom principles that should be non-negotiable.

It was no idle happenstance that the Constitution opens with these three powerful words: “We the people.” In other words, we have the power to make and break the government. We are the masters and they are the servants. We the American people—the citizenry—are the arbiters and ultimate guardians of America’s welfare, defense, liberty, laws and prosperity.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, we have managed to keep the wolf at bay so far. Barely.

Our national priorities need to be re-prioritized. For instance, some argue that we need to make America great again. I, for one, would prefer to make America free again.

The Price of False Expectations: How “Romantic Culture” from the Past Destroys Relationships in the Present

Romanticism, according to author Alain De Botton, introduced the idea of love, romance, and soul mates into modern culture. Before that, marriage was more about business and procreation, not so much about personal fulfillment. Surely, there are some good things that came from romantic thinking, like the idea that love should be a guiding force inn relationships. But it also introduced several ideas that to this day cause the modern man and women a lot of problems.

Related These Cultural Myths Keep You Emotionally Sick and Unhappy in the Modern-Age

As we laid out in the above-related article, our beliefs and expectations about life greatly affect our sense of fulfillment, along with our goals and values.

For instance, if you assume everyone in life is good, kind, and honest when you encounter a mean, hateful, deceptive person, it will be very difficult for you to handle. Similarly, if you were taught that when learning something new, you’ll always do well in the first attempt, you’ll find it really hard to cope with failure when gaining new skills.

When ideals conflict with reality, they create unrealistic expectations that we assume are valid. We act as if these false ideals are approachable. When we fail to meet them, we’ll suffer the tragedy of low self-worth and self-judgment—because if the ideal is real, then the problem has to be us.

I would argue, this interplay between ideals, expectations, and our sense of fulfillment and satisfaction is one of the most important things to understand as a human being, Relationships and love are no exception.

Romanticism brought forth the idea of a soul mate. But to be clear, this idea isn’t new nor is there only one version.

The romantic concept of a soul mate is, I argue, unrealistic. There are other better definitions and ideals to work with when it comes to soul mate conceptualization. We’re going to focus on the bad one so you can understand why it creates so many issues.

The romantic version of a soul mate is this:

There’s a soul mate out there that was put here just for you. This soul mate will love you completely just as you are. They will know your every need. Satisfy your every whim without having to ask. And they’ll never challenge you, because, well, you’re already perfect. You’ll find your soul mate by feeling and instincts you don’t understand but are unmistakeable. One day, you’ll see them and it will just hit you “that’s my soul mate.” And from that moment on, all of your dreams for life will be within your grasp. They will perfectly and completely satisfy all your needs, without you having to say anything or work on yourself.

If you’re dating anyone and you feel anything less than what I just described, it’s because they aren’t your soul mate. You need to ditch them ASAP because your soul mate is right around the corner!

This is what mass media portrays to the average person, through social engineering via mass media. Granted, I took some liberties to exaggerate certain points, but the way we tend to act in relationships agrees with these characteristics of a romantic soul mate.

Anyone who’s been in a relationship longer than a few months, wherein true connection and soul growth was occurring, knows that the above is completely unrealistic.

Looking through the archives of relationship history, as compiled by historians, psychologists, dating coaches, and radio show call-ins (which, by the way, I review because answering the question of what ideal love is has been of vital importance), one thing becomes abundantly clear.

The above concept of a soul mate is a total myth.

The sheer reality of life is that, while sometimes people do things for you without you having to ask, no one is telepathic and no one should be expected to know your needs and meet them without communication. Expecting them to do so sets an impossible standard, making you feel persistently disappointed as you drive your partner insane trying to meet this irrational ideal.

Looking to common sense, resting on accumulated records of relationship dynamics and the problems they face, coaches report that if your partner isn’t meeting your needs its because either they refuse to do so (antagonism, a wellness issue) or they don’t know how because you haven’t told them (lack of clear communication on your part) or they aren’t sure how to do meet the need, once it’s been presented. For the most part, we generally want to meet our parter’s needs, albeit in a mutually beneficial way. It can be incredibly damaging to the other person why they try with all their might but they just can’t seem to make you happy. In short, this isn’t good for either party.

If we use another situation, like playing with other musicians or working with your colleagues at your job, would it make sense to think they will know automatically how to act for group success? Is it reasonable to assume your co-worker is going to know you’ll be late for work and come in early to cover you? Would your boss expect you to do well without training? Of course not. But in the realm of romance, all sorts of unrealistic ways of thinking seem to guide our lives. And, if you’re like most, you’ve never thought all that much about what you expect of your partner, taking the time to decide whether it’s reasonable or not.

But no more. It’s time to slaughter these sacred cows once and for all.

As one who cares deeply about my fellow humans, it pains me to watch people suffer so much in relationships. It can be a bitter pill to swallow but it’s one you’ll be so much happier with once you’ve come to terms with the truth and grieved the loss of this false ideal.

I admire Botton because he delivers the truth in a fun and captivating way, which makes you laugh at yourself for thinking these things are true. Don’t be too ashamed. We’ve all be duped into thinking like this to a certain extent.

We live in a world with pervasive social engineering and subtle influences. Most of the beliefs we have about romance come from times where we weren’t thinking critically, like watching how our parents interacted as children or zoning out in front of the TV watching a romance in a movie. These influences shape our views of what we think we should be doing in relationships.

As Botton outlines, the truth about these false ideals will set us free, but first, we have to allow ourselves to morn.

Psychologically, we are creatures that need to know how to act. When you tell someone their playbook is wrong and that it’s causing them problems, that is a good start, but we need something to replace it with. Thus, I would suggest, as you review this material, allow yourself the time to think about what it means to you. Go through the exercise of thinking of new ways to express your needs, founded on ideals that are in harmony with reality. In short, strive for ideals but be realistic so that you can replace bad ones with good ones.

In closing, the key to a successful relationship, which is a piece of wisdom shared by a great many throughout history, is communication. Unless you’ve made it clear what you want and work through that negotiation with another carefully, it’s not likely you’ll be satisfied.

In this way, one replaces the false idea that a relationship is perfect at the start with the truer idea that relationships become more perfect with dedicated effort, investment, and a willingness to improve and refine your thinking.

About The Author

Justin Deschamps has been a truth seeker all his life, studying physics, psychology, law, philosophy, and spirituality, and working to weave these seemingly separate bodies of information into a holistic tapestry of ever expanding knowledge. Justin is a student of all and a teacher to some, sharing what he has discovered with those who are ready and willing to take responsibility for making the world a better place. The goal of his work is to help himself and others become better truth-seekers, and in doing so, form a community of holistically minded individuals capable of creating world healing projects for the benefit of all life—what has been called The Great Work. Check out his project Stillness in the Storm to find some of his work. Follow on Twitter @sitsshowFacebook Stillness in the Storm, and minds.com.

OPINION: MIT Scientists Extremely Skeptical of Elon Musk’s Creepy “Neuroscience Theater” Neuralink Chip

EDITORS NOTE: As always, this opinion does not necessarily reflect the beliefs of the Underground Newswire, but it is important to know what others are thinking and saying.

Cassie B.
September 01, 2020

When Elon Musk presented his creepy Neuralink brain implant in a streamed product update on YouTube on Friday, he said he believed that billions of people will be clamoring for it – but real scientists have expressed serious skepticism.

The stated goal of Neuralink is to “implant wireless brain-computer interfaces that include thousands of electrodes in the most complex human organ to help cure neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s, dementia and spinal cord injuries and ultimately fuse humankind with artificial intelligence.”

Other issues it claims to address include seizures, extreme pain, addiction, insomnia, strokes and brain damage.

Musk presented a pig named Gertrude who he claims has had a Neuralink computer chip in her brain for the last two months. Musk said the coin-sized chip was like “a Fitbit in your skull with tiny wires” and would connect to a person’s phone over Bluetooth to be charged wirelessly overnight.

In a critique published in MIT Technology Review, scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology were quick to point out the absurdity of the entire spectacle, calling it “neuroscience theater.” They said that promises like being able to see radar with superhuman vision, playing symphonies in your head, and healing deafness, blindness, mental illness and paralysis are going to be difficult to keep.

The article says that none of the advances mentioned are even close to becoming a reality, and some are extremely unlikely to happen. They also called Musk out for his noncommittal language and lack of firm timelines. They even shrugged off the pig demonstration, saying that it was decades-old technology that some researchers have been using for years.

They also showed that Musk isn’t quite as innovative as he might think, pointing out that researchers have been putting probes in paralyzed people’s brains since the 1990s to show how signals can allow them to move robotic arms or cursors on counters.

In addition, the MIT researchers took issue with the fact that Neuralink and Musk haven’t committed to any of the potential medical applications they touted. They did not disclose any plans to carry out clinical trials, which many believed would be the next logical step. They added that it’s not clear just how serious they are about treating diseases. That’s unfortunate because the presentation has already given some people who are desperate to find solutions to their ailments a degree of false hope.

Robots will perform surgery to implant the chips in people’s brains

Neuralink is working on a robot that will carry out the entire surgical installation process, which entails opening up a person’s scalp, removing a part of their skull, inserting the computer chip and thread electrodes, and then closing the incision. It will somehow be able to dodge blood vessels to prevent bleeding, they claim.

The criticism from the experts at MIT comes not long after the medical industry news website Stat exposed serious turmoil within Neuralink. In the piece, five former employees described a “chaotic internal culture” and an environment akin to a “pressure cooker.”

They recounted how a strong push to move the technology forward led to failures in animal experiments, with one former worker saying that the company moved from rodent experiments into those with primates quicker than one would expect in medical science.

Even if Neuralink is ultimately able to help alleviate some of the health concerns they claim they can address, getting people on board will be another big hurdle. Who would be willing to have a robot drill a hole into their head to remove part of their skull and place a chip inside their brain?

Besides the risk of infection and the potential need for follow-up surgeries to adjust the positioning of the electrodes or install newer versions of the chips, the long-term effects are very much unknown and could be catastrophic. Needless to say, there’s also the potential for hackers to cause serious harm. And when the person behind all this is someone as erratic and untrustworthy as Elon Musk, it’s hard to imagine anyone in their right mind will be signing up.

The Deeper Side of Universal Basic Income That’s Not Often Discussed

 Joe Martino
August 29, 2020

The topic of UBI has surfaced again as Germany gets ready to begin a trial with some of its citizens. Is there a deeper question behind UBI that isn’t often spoken about? A question that begins thinking outside of our current ideologies?

When most people think of universal basic income we go through the standard path of questioning: how would it work? How would it be paid for? Are we really losing jobs that fast that we need this? What happens if people don’t contribute to society? Does it create more government dependency? What ‘ism’ does this fall under?

All good questions, but perhaps ones that don’t truly look at some deeper thoughts behind UBI as a result of our current way of living. What do I mean by this? I go back to a statement Andrew Yang made in relation to why he was presenting UBI as part of his US presidential campaign:

“We could get the boot off of everyone’s throats just like that. And we have to do it, because we’re in the midst of this historic transformation of our economy that is pushing more and more of us to the sideline.”

Before we get more into Yang, we did a segment of The Takeaway where we spoke about the deeper side of UBI. You can watch it below. I’ll continue exploring the subject in writing below the video as well.

Essentially, Yang is saying that he feels too many people are struggling to do even the basics, even when they have multiple jobs, and thus they can’t even think about exploring taking a breath, doing something they love or are interested in simply because they are always just trying to survive. Of course, some people will say, “go get educated and get a better job” as if education is the path to money. This is merely an illusion as our current economic system not only MUST create economic classes by design, but there must always be those who struggle. Constant growth is a must, and so companies are driven to do things more inexpensively year after year, replacing human jobs with automated jobs. Innovation is driven by the need to make things cheaper so companies can survive, thus pushing people out of work.

This seems like a ‘bad’ thing as people won’t have money to survive, but when you think about it in another way, we’ve found ways to have innovation take over having to spend our lives working. The only thing holding us back at this point is an outdated economic system that does not align with the technological advancement our minds have created.

UBI brings up a deep question: in people’s hearts, why is this idea attractive to them? What is the potential deeper inspiration?

Sure, you can choose to gawk at and judge people, saying they are ‘lazy’ or ‘commies’, but I challenge you to open your mind and go deeper. Is it possible that what we’re really asking for behind UBI is not so much getting free money, but that we’re tired of our current ways of living? We’re ready to live a life we know is possible, where we can thrive as a society without having to slave 40 hours a week to make ends meet? Perhaps people are feeling that a radical shift in the way we live is possible, but is being held back by our ideologies and systems built out of them. Maybe the discussion of UBI is really pushing us to re-imagine our entire system?

Like I mentioned above, we had this discussion openly in a segment of The Takeaway. The intention is not to go over all the existing studies and literature on the topic, but more so to appeal to a greater sense of engagement asking how YOU feel.

Watch the segment here.