Freedom of Choice: Truth or Illusion?

Via on Apr 29, 2012

Free?

Or more like Free to choose your prison?

Click to make huge.

 (Via Reddit)

Still freedom hungry? Let’s make a Noam Chomksy sandwich. I’ll have radical democracy + linguistics + misuse of mass media.

“The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum.”

And…

“All over the place, from the popular culture to the propaganda system, there is constant pressure to make people feel that they are helpless, that the only role they can have is to ratify decisions and to consume.”

And…

Neoliberal democracy. Instead of citizens, it produces consumers. Instead of communities, it produces shopping malls. The net result is an atomized society of disengaged individuals who feel demoralized and socially powerless. In sum, neoliberalism is the immediate and foremost enemy of genuine participatory democracy, not just in the United States but across the planet, and will be for the foreseeable future.”

 

*Bonus: Creative activism. Morgan Spurlock turns himself into an ad.

“You have a couple of choices. One choice is to allow yourself to be co-opted a little bit. You dip your toe in the water. Pretty soon you put your foot in the water, pretty soon you’re swimming. And you don’t think you’re changing, you just say okay, I’ll do it a little more. You end up swimming. That’s what they’re anticipating. The other option is to resist. And maybe end up in Montana, you know, growing your own food.”

~ Noam Chomsky (interview with Morgan Spurlock in The Greatest Movie Ever Sold)

 

But… I am not a product.

“I’m a human being, goddammit. My life has value!”

Network (1976) Howard Beale, the mad prophet of the airwaves. {We’ve got a huge problem when madness rings as true today as it did 40 years ago.}

 

Now is a good time to breathe…

The good news is that real life is still unscripted. And if you don’t like prison, you better spend your time loving and working a way out.

 

~ Like elephant culture & enlightened society on Facebook. ~

About Andrea Balt

Co-Founder / Editor in Chief of Rebelle Society, Wellness Alchemist at Rebelle Wellness & Creativity Curator at Creative Rehab. Unfinished book with a love for greens, bikes and poetry; raised by wolves & adopted by people; not trying to make art but to Be Art. Holds a BA in Journalism & Mass Communication, an MFA in Creative Writing & a Holistic Health Coach degree from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition®. In her work she tries to reflect the wholeness of the human experience by combining Art & Health + Brains & Beauty + Darkness & Brilliance into a more alive, unabridged and unlimited edition of ourselves. She is also on a quest to reinstate Creativity as one of our essential Human Rights to (hopefully and soon) be included in the UN Declaration. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram and sign up for her Monthly Stroke of Renaissance.

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42 Responses to “Freedom of Choice: Truth or Illusion?”

  1. MamasteNJ says:

    I heart your revolution Batman!
    xoxo
    ~Mamaste (yes Mamaste, goddamnit!)

  2. James Vincent Knowles jamesvincentknowles says:

    You've hit the nail squarely on the head. Just remember, we allowed it to become this way. "The masses have never thirsted after truth. They demand illusions, & cannot do without them. They constantly give what is unreal precedence over what is real; they are almost as strongly influenced by what is untrue as by what is true. They have an evident tendency not to distinguish between the two." *S. Freud

    • Andrea Balt Andréa Balt says:

      Agree. But I think the responsibility lies on both sides. First and foremost, on each one of us as a thinking human being. Secondly, on institutions (starting with the family and all the way up to politics), and thirdly on the society as a whole, which is made both of "masses & leaders"…

      But then again, what came first, the chicken or the egg? The Romans said: "bread and circuses"… Surely someone who's fed "bread and circuses" since before they have a change to taste anything else does not hold the same kind of responsibility as someone who's had a chance to develop critical thinking. It's relative, in my opinion, and one responsibility doesn't take out the other. You wouldn't feed your child dirt even if he/she asked you for it…

      (Touche, Monsieur?)

      • James Vincent Knowles jamesvincentknowles says:

        Institutions are not people, despite the U.S.A.'s Supreme Court decision to allow corporations the rights of an individual.

        Perhaps it's time we start thinking of all institutions as being made up of many individual eggs or chickens, rather than entities. We've given over far too much power for any sort of democracy to function honestly. And the powers that be have taken full advantage.

        ps … they took our freedom the minute we saw our "leaders" as a "they." We ought best think of our government here in America as "we." Responsibility is the only way to freedom.

        • Andrea Balt Andréa Balt says:

          Exactly, I don't think we're in disagreement. Institutions exist, and they're not people, but they're supported by people. And they usually succeed at keeping people distracted so that they keep on supporting them. "They" wouldn't exist without "us". And we could exist without "them", but not the same "we"— but a more evolved & conscious "we"— right now, most of "us" are still napping.

          Maybe we still don't understand what our responsibility implies and how much power it includes and can generate.

          • James Vincent Knowles jamesvincentknowles says:

            Yes, we're very much in agreement, Andréa. Your reference to the film NETWORK warmed the cockles of my heart. When the fourth estate became just another money making entity, we the people began losing our ability to see clearly. Most mass media (there's that Freud thing), has become mostly a very powerful propaganda machine under the guise of news & entertainment.

          • Andrea Balt Andréa Balt says:

            And the real devil here (may he rest in not-peace) is none other than Freud's nephew, Edward Bernays, who successfully officiated the marriage of propaganda with psychoanalysis in the 20s. Bravo! The bride's been kissed ever since… {sigh}

          • James Vincent Knowles jamesvincentknowles says:

            hahaha… oh sure, blame it on the devil ~ hahaha…

  3. Eric says:

    "The principal aim of the new liberalism–the ideological belief in the free or self-regulating market–is to legitimate, through democratic institutions, the removal of ANY democratic control over economic life. This metaphysical belief in market forces and self-regulation has gained the upper hand and is slowly beginning to replace, or at least severely limit, the scope of traditional democratic controls…when the Market eclipses both politics and labor, as citizens, might our only obligation to society be to actively and regularly partake in the markets to keep them fluid?" ~Sanford Kwinter

    • Andrea Balt Andréa Balt says:

      I take it as you (through Kwinter) are agreeing with Chomsky then… Would you say that the "eclipse" is already happening and we are—through entrepreneurial activism—partaking in the market? I think so…

      • Eric says:

        "(traditional) democratic controls over economic life" ~I don't think Kwinter is "diametrically opposed" to the ideals of Occupy, in fact, they're the same, again, "democratic control".
        All theorizing aside, here is the main problem: our Democracy doesn't work because people are disconnected and distracted. But we certainly are empowered to consume mindlessly.

        • oz_ says:

          Democratic control under a face to face, direct, participatory democracy is VASTLY different from the concept of so-called 'democratic control' under our current faux-democracy. That is to say, Occupy favors a form of democracy that most definitely does NOT fit into Kwinter's "traditional" notions. And in fact I think in reality, these two forms of what seems to be the same thing are diametrically opposed. It's Orwellian – Newspeak – semantics. Because what we've discovered, to our dismay, is that "traditional democratic controls" – at least the tradition in our American system – is not democratic at all, it is elite control (and has been for a lot longer than Kwinter seems willing to entertain). It is control of the political process by the moneyed elites and it is exactly this that Occupy is attempting to replace with true democratic controls.

          In fact, I would turn your diagnosis upon its head. I don't think "our Democracy (whatever happened to the Republic?) doesn't work because people are disconnected and distracted." I think people are disconnected and distracted because our Democracy doesn't work – for them. And the truth is – it never has. Only it's gotten so egregious now that it cannot be ignored.

          • Eric says:

            In fact, didn't I write, "our democracy doesn't work" (???) Yes, you can certainly turn anything on it's head with semantics. bon chance :)

        • Andrea Balt Andréa Balt says:

          Agree Eric. Disconnected & distracted = the first two steps out of a democratic system (subtle doors).

          Update: I also see Oz's point… so, regardless of what came first (the chicken or the egg—faux-democracy or disconnected-distracted), what should happen next, that is the question… chickens, eggs or….an omelette?

    • Mark Ledbetter says:

      Fascinating quote by S. K. Three points in rebuttal.

      The new liberalism is actually the old liberalism in revival.

      Sadly, belief in self-regulation has not exactly gained the upper hand. Witness the military-industrial complex and crony capitalism. Nobody of any mainstream orthodoxy breathes a word about dismantling either. No gaining of the upper hand here.

      To answer the question (Might our only obligation to society be to… partake in the markets?)…

      Whoops. Too long. Answer will follow.

      • Mark Ledbetter says:

        ANSWER TO S.K.'s QUESTION
        No. When you are free, your are free. You can be anything (with the one caveat that you aren't free to use force to get your way).You can, for example, be a communist under a market system. Get together with some like minded people and just do it. (But don't try a market system under communism or it's off to the Gulag with you!) If most people choose a consumerist society instead of the many alternatives, well, that's because that's what they choose. Who is 'society' or government to tell them they can't? But no one can tell YOU that YOU have to be a consumerist, either. Again, get together with like minded people and have at 'it', whatever your 'it' might be. Just don't look to govt to force everyone to follow your 'it' if it proves not to be super popular.

        • Mark Ledbetter says:

          PS. It looks like these two replies precede what follows. Actually what follows came first. But I guess it doesn't matter. They all relate.

          Have a good one! (Whaterver your 'one' may be!)

          • oz_ says:

            This quote by Kwinter seems to me to offer a distortion of reality, deriving from an unexamined assumption which, upon examination, turns out (IMHO) to be plainly false, and yet it forms the supporting foundation for the superstructure of arguments being put forward or implied. In computer parlance, then, we have a GIGO situation.

            The notion advanced in the quote by SK – that the "principal aim" of neoliberals is an "ideological belief in the free or self-regulating market" is nonsense, as a quick look at reality makes clear. This is merely rhetoric.

            I've long since realized that you cannot have a productive discussion about political issues in this country with people who cannot distinguish between rhetoric and reality. When large corporations run hat in hand to the State, begging for bailouts – or even in less turbulent times, when they lobby for and accept massive subsidies, whether that be legislated socialization of externalities, or tax favoritism, or flat out cash compensation, etc, these actions clearly and starkly state that there is no desire for free and self-regulated markets, mmmmk?

            So when CEOs of mega-corporations TALK about the desire for free and self-regulated markets, and when political leaders TALK about the desire for free and self-regulated markets, and when economic poobahs TALK about the desire for free and self-regulated markets – we can conclude that these are just incantations, if you will. That is, the words coming out of their mouths do not have the meaning they seem to have but are in fact intended to influence the meta-conversation – they appeal to some ideal notions about America which form our cultural mythos. So these words are mean as incantations intended to draw upon that mythos. In essence, these are not *rational* arguments being made, but rather invocations of a sort that in fact *bypass* the neocortex altogether and appeal directly to the parts of our mind that goes to our fundamental identity-as-expressed-through-myth. An apt analogy would be Wagner's operas and the German people. This is crucial to understand because it's a fact that permeates all of America's sociopolitical discourse – to take such rhetoric as literal and rational is the worst mistake one can make if one hopes to ascertain reality, yet it's being made here in spades. Ignore the literal words, look at the actions, identify the dichotomy, and then look to the set of cultural narratives or myths that we've been taught to think with – this will lead you to the reality. In this case, Kwinter seems to have failed even at that first step in the process.

            I hope that's clear. My impression is that it is difficult to understand what I mean by incantations and cultural myths. But I think absent that understanding, ones hopes of understanding political and economic reality are doomed to be dashed.

            In reality, the two entities or *classes* – the economic and political elites – are, as always, working hand in glove, and in fact the integration of the two – as Mark accurately points out – is advancing apace, and has been for well over a century (accelerating in the past few decades for reasons I won't go into here). This is not some 'new' reality which has come to pass in the last decade or three – go back and read AJ Nock's 'Our Enemy, the State,' written the 1930s, in which he describes the mechanisms by which government and business collude for the benefit of each other. As he makes clear, from the very outset, those running the political side of our "democracy" have been very clear that their "principal aim" is to 'help business.'

            So the bugaboo presented by Kwinter isn't really the 'real' bugaboo. In that sense, then, I do not think Kwinter agrees with Chomsky, although frankly, Chomsky has begun recently to contradict some of his earlier positions, so it's unclear exactly where he stands these days in terms of the nuances. But what is clear is that Chomsky sees the sort of principles enshrined by Occupy as an answer – which are diametrically opposed to 'typical' liberal responses such as Kwinter's, which imply that State empowerment to counter "The Market" is the preferred solution. Those Occupy principles include: mutual aid, direct democracy, voluntary association, self-organization, etc. It's difficult to imagine principles further removed from what I take to be those promulgated by Kwinter, because anarchist principles and Statist principles by definition have no common ground.

          • Andrea Balt Andréa Balt says:

            Emphasis on rethorical politics. Agree on all counts.

            Not sure though, that Chomsky would define his views (even when it comes to the Occupy movement) as anarchist. Unless I'm misunderstanding you.

          • oz_ says:

            Andrea, you are not misunderstanding me – you are misunderstanding Chomsky, who has for several decades consistently described his views as anarchistic. From Wikipedia:

            "Chomsky remembers the first article he wrote was at age 10 while a student at Oak Lane Country Day School about the threat of the spread of fascism, following the fall of Barcelona in the Spanish Civil War. From the age of 12 or 13, he identified more fully with anarchist politics."

            If you are interested, I suggest you pick up a copy of 'Chomsky on Anarchism': a "book that shows a different side of this best-selling author: the anarchist principles that have guided him since he was a teenager. This collection of Chomsky’s essays and inter-views includes numerous pieces that have never been published before, as well as rare material that first saw the light of day in hard-to-find pamphlets and anarchist periodicals. Taken together, they paint a fresh picture of Chomsky, showing his lifelong involvement with the anarchist community, his constant commitment to nonhierarchical models of political organization and his hopes for a future world without rulers."

            In point of fact, what I suspect may be confusing you, because it is what confuses most, is what anarchy actually *is*. We've been conditioned to believe anarchy is a lack of order, an embrace of chaos (and the black bloc 'tactics of diversity' approach that the mainstream media loves to insist defines anarchism often do not help). In fact, anarchy is order and it is the present system which is lawless and chaotic.

            In fact, we all live 99% of our lives in anarchy – we just don't realize it – and we manage to bring order – and compassion, and kindness (something rarely found in bureaucracies) – into our interactions with others. And that's really what anarchy is – civil society managing its affairs absent coercion and threats of violence (if we don't behave) from the State.

            It is not widely acknowledged that Occupy was intentionally built – literally – upon anarchist principles such as: direct democracy, mutual aid, voluntary association, self-organization, etc. For more, read it straight from one of the originators of OWS:
            http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2011/11/

            More on Graeber:
            http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/david-graebe

  4. Mark Ledbetter says:

    Good ol' Noam is excellent on identifying the problem, weak on solutions. This is a common defect of people who are so much smarter than the rest of us. They just can't stand contemplating the choices we make, to see us consuming at the malls and wallowing in illusion.

    But what's their solution? For Noam, et al, there are really only two, or a mixture of the two: communism or fascism. Another of those so much smarter than the rest of us, a classical liberal (often called neoliberal here on ele?) is Von Mises. With excellent examples of both right before him in 1930s Europe, he gave us the most elegant definitions. Communism is state ownership of the means of production; fascism is private ownership but with state direction. They lead pretty much to the same thing. Guess which we have now in America, with our wars and nationalism and crony capitalism?

    Beware of this common mistake of intellectual's: blaming crony capitalism (ie, fascism) on neoliberalism. Neo-liberals are the most consistent and powerful voices against crony capitalism, not to mention wars and the American Gulag (the imprisonment of millions for victimless crimes). While liberals are so upset about the petty, consumerist, illusion-bound choices that the not-so-smart common people make, they are lukewarm on these three big issues. That makes liberals de facto supporters or our fascist state.

    • Mark Ledbetter says:

      PS. I will give Noam this. Unlike most liberals, he is not lukewarm in opposition to the warfare state. Nor is he lukewarm on our fascist state (Mises definition of fascism). But because he doesn't have Mises depth of understanding of economics, he proposes more of the same as a solution. I don't know, but I'd guess that Noam, again unlike most liberals, might even oppose, ala neoliberalism, the American Gulag.

    • oz_ says:

      "But what's their solution? For Noam, et al, there are really only two, or a mixture of the two: communism or fascism."

      I've read quite a bit of Prof Chomsky's body of work and this statement simply doesn't fit my understanding of his position, Mark – you've made what I would characterize as a straw man fallacy. In fact, the closest I've been able to pin down Chomsky's "solution" is that it is anarcho-syndicalist in nature, which is pretty far from either of the two Statist approaches you mention.

      Of course, since you are apparently a supporter of anarcho-capitalism (aka right anarchist) – von Mises, Rothbard and the gang – the left-anarchists' views are incompatible with yours, and thus labeling them fascist and communist is the knee jerk response – ironically, you seem guilty of the same crime for which you blame the "intellectuals" when they conflate neoliberalism with State capitalism.

      I don't know if you've been over to mises.org lately, but those folks have become as full throated as the far right of the Republican Party in their core support for/defense of Corporate America. Both have become little more than apologists for a system which is extractive and exploitative by its nature while denying or dismissing either of these characteristics.

      Not to mention, the von Mises gang absolutely, positively, 100 % refuses to acknowledge that human beings are subject to ecological laws and ecological limits, holding 'substitutability' as a fundamental tenet of faith even in the teeth of evidence against (this is one of the tip offs that the ideology is religious – aka dogmatic – in nature). There is no ideology MORE committed to destroying the biosphere via industrialization than the one to which that group holds. Which frankly renders their political views moot, IMO, because we are currently, as a species, up against several hard geophysical limits that in fact any form of liberalism – classical or otherwise – has no solution for. Because these are not 'problems; to be 'solved' – they are predicaments with which we will per force need to come to terms if we wish to survive as a species.

      Note that I'm not saying the "liberals" – with their unfounded faith in the State as magic-wand-solution – have a better handle on things.

      I do think Chomsy – who cannot fairly (or accurately) be described, as you have, simply as 'a liberal' (his views are vastly more nuanced than that label allows and in fact in many areas run directly counter to the typical 'liberal' view, which tends to be rather simplistic and can be summed up as: 'let's empower the government to handle it') – has a solid grasp of the all-important distinction between direct democracy and the sham of democracy we're subjected to today.

      You see, when Chomsky says "neoliberalism is the immediate and foremost enemy of genuine participatory democracy" , your responses here indicate that you are all caught up in focusing on the former concept – that is, neoliberalism, it's 'real' definition, etc – when in fact, the place where the focus belongs is on the *latter* concept: that of "genuine participatory democracy" – and in fact this is how you wind up getting the "solution" thing wildly and utterly wrong. Because genuine participatory democracy is NOT compatible EITHER with communism NOR fascism. Genuine participatory democracy is in point of fact the ANTIDOTE to all Statist approaches AND the antidote to "an atomized society of disengaged individuals who feel demoralized and socially powerless."

      Because, this is, as Andrea has compellingly pointed out in this piece, the fundamental problem of today's society. And von Mises and his peeps do not offer even pretend to a solution to this problem. In fact, it seems quite likely to me that their "solutions" would only exacerbate the problem, because they do not offer any form of COMMUNITY to overcome the atomization. Instead, they atomize further.

      • oz_ says:

        BTW, for anyone desiring to get a glimpse into the left-anarchist vs right-anarchist debate on such issues, take a look at this fascinating post:
        http://tinyurl.com/3goysjg

        Here, David Graeber – anarchist anthropologist and one of the key architects of OWS – takes on (and utterly demolishes) Robert Murphy, one of the leaders of the MIses 'think tank.'

      • Mark Ledbetter says:

        I have to admit, Oz, you've pretty much nailed me, top to bottom. Yes, I've straw-manned Chomsky, tho not intentionally, just ignorantly, not that that is any excuse. As for the rest, I'll take a look at it in more detail tomorrow.

        I will say tho that ignorance of ecological systems by libertarians tends to be just as extreme as ignorance of economic systems by environmentalists. That second part is what I focus on here as there's hardly any need to wax poetic about nature or wax indignant about the destruction of nature.. There are plenty here who can do that much better than me.

        Have a good one all.

        • oz_ says:

          Mark, I think this is brilliant, and I don't think I've ever heard it put better or in a more properly balanced way:

          "ignorance of ecological systems by libertarians tends to be just as extreme as ignorance of economic systems by environmentalists."

          I agree 100% with you that it is crucially important to grasp this fact.

          What it means, in essence, is that solutions proposed by these groups, if implemented, will tend to fall short in important (and predictable) ways, and will as a result necessarily invoke the Law of Unintended Consequences. And then the responses to those consequences will again fall short in predictable ways, leading to further unintended consequences, and so on and so on, ad infinitum.

          Hmmm…I think that together we may just have largely described the past several decades…out of control spending and debt and out of control ecological degradation…

          Anyway, what you wrote is going into my quotes file – thanks! :)

          BTW, if you are not familiar with him, you might enjoy investigating Murray Bookchin, prominent anarchist thinker who broke with the left – a leading pioneer in the ecological movement (publishing 'Our Synthetic Environment' some months prior to Carson's 'Silent Spring') – and one of the founders of Social Ecology. He promoted something he called 'libertarian municipalism' as a political system. Quite appealing. Sort of Chomsky meets Jefferson. Here's an overview:
          http://www.social-ecology.org/1991/04/libertarian

          • Mark Ledbetter says:

            Oz, I'll clip a quote right back atcha: "they appeal to some ideal notions about America which form our cultural mythos. So these words are meant as incantations intended to draw upon that mythos." Truly excellent. Incantations! (For anyone looking, the full context is in Oz's first and longest quote above.)

            Btw, as a linguist, I never read Chomsky. I only read ABOUT Chomsky. Brilliant as he is, wading through his linguistic rhetoric is a chore. Are his political writings better? I'll take a look at the sites you post in a couple o' days. After which, maybe we could talk some Chomsky? Maybe you can explain better than the man himself.

            Unfortunately, I'm handicapped by being unable to put up long posts, so, if a conversation develops, I have to break my observations into small chunks. How do all y'all bypass that requirement?

          • oz_ says:

            Hey Mark – the only book I have by Chomsky that goes into any detail on his own views about viable anarchist systems he'd like to see implemented is 'Chomsky on Anarchism', and that's unfortunately back in AZ, so I don't have access to it, but in that book, he describes his views as largely conforming to anarcho-syndicalist positions. The majority of his work (all of which can be dense and tedious) that I've read has targeted either American foreign policy or domestic propaganda efforts, in many cases, to cover up those foreign policy efforts, which tend to involve visiting violence and oppression and tyranny on peoples in foreign lands, either directly in the form of bombs and bullets, or indirectly in the form of support for brutally repressive regimes, for the benefit of American-based corporate interests.

            As is often the case, Wikipedia does a better job than I could at explaining, in this case, anarcho-syndicalism:
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anarcho-syndicalism

            Simply, you can think if this as confederations of workers councils which are the primary political decision making bodies, the delegates for which are (crucially) readily recallable, as well as being held strictly accountable to the workers networks in other ways.

            As a libertarian, and so presumably pro-private property, and pro-entrepreneur, I'd guess the notions advanced may strike you as anathema (forgive me if I mistake your position – I don't mean to make a straw man out of you!). I would have thought so at one point myself in fact, when I first encountered (and was enamored of) the ideas of Rothbard, von Mises, Hayek and their ilk. I'm not an anarcho-syndicalist per se, but I've become more sympathetic to this philosophy as I have continued to think and study and learn over the years. Certainly, I agree wholeheartedly with their ideas about the need for a radical democratization, and thus the value of real, honest to goodness, direct democracy as is practiced in the general assembly model of the Occupy movement (although I think consensus is not the appropriate form for that model). I continue, however, to have concerns about the lack of a specific ecological ethic in this and most other anarchic philosophies. After all, it does us little good to finally find a form of social organization that seems to be equitable for *humans* if this occurs as a runaway greenhouse effect takes place, or in the midst of a biodiversity crisis that winds up rendering the planet unsuitable for human habitation. Those seemingly burning political questions then become entirely moot. To paraphrase a fairly recent political campaign: it's the biosphere, stupid. The most pressing question, political or otherwise, is how we can bring the entire species into harmony with the ecological laws and limits which are now pressing hard upon us. This is not a problem to be solved, it is a predicament with which our current forms of political organization are sadly failing to grapple.

            At any rate, the point is not to champion Chomsky's ideas here, or to argue for or against, but simply to point out that, since the State is largely absent from them – the State being considered "a profoundly anti-worker institution" – then neither fascism nor communism, as they are commonly thought of, that is to say, as extreme versions of totalitarian States, is applicable.

            Hope that helps.

  5. Suri_K8 says:

    And so the alternative is …become a farmer and make your own toothpaste ?? if living like this is an illusion then waking up and and not living in an illusion would be..???

    • Mark Ledbetter says:

      LOL, Suri.

      And a non-illusory way to live on earth? Excellent question. Llibertarians will leave the answer to each person to decide for him/herself.

      You can't force non-illusion on people, especially when the enforcers are likely the most embedded in illusion of all.

    • oz_ says:

      Suri, this is what's known in logical argument as a 'false dichotomy' fallacy – there are numerous alternatives, in fact, across the spectrum. It's not an either/or situation, even though Chomsy would argue (and has argued) that this is one of the mechanisms by which the current system atomizes people and makes them feel powerless – by conditioning us to see things dichotomously. Psychologists call this black and white thinking, and it's pervasive in America.

  6. Hey, Andrea. Would love to see you tie these ideas directly to contemporary yoga culture. A necessary and “fun” task! Here’s something on a similar kinda note we put up today.

    Love,

    The B

    http://thebabarazzi.com/2012/04/30/yoga-anatomy-t

    • Mark Ledbetter says:

      The site that The B puts up here is a good starting point for those looking for a counter to my series of mini-rants.

      However, don't take the video embedded in this site /If I Wanted America To Fail/ as classical liberalism. It reeks of neo-conservatism. Neocons talk a good free market story when it is convenient. But the waving flags and the fact there is not a peep about foreign wars or crony capitalism is a pretty good hint that this is far from libertarian.

    • Andrea Balt Andréa Balt says:

      Hey Baba,

      That sure sounds like a fun task… adding it to my list. I actually wrote a piece of satire a while back, trying to illustrate some of the contemporary celeb-yoga-mass-culture madness: http://www.elephantjournal.com/2012/03/from-unkno

  7. oz_ says:

    Andrea, thank you so much for posting this controversial piece. Fantastic collation of images, quotes and video. I don't always agree with Chomsky, but when he nails something, he really nails it. And here, he has (IMHO) outlined The Core Problem against which ANY response must be measured:

    "The net result is an atomized society of disengaged individuals who feel demoralized and socially powerless."

    It is so useful to have such 'yardsticks' in mind, so that when someone proposes a "solution," we can ask: does this solution work to undo that atomization, does it incentivize individuals to become engaged, does it empower them AS individuals and does it combat the sense of demoralization?

    In fact, a more concise way of saying this is: does this proposed solution build real community? Because real community does all of this. And public policy in this nation for more than a century – and increasingly egregiously for the past 3 decades – has in fact worked in precisely the opposite direction. Real community is NOT bureaucratic, and it is NOT rigidly hierarchical. Which of course is where Chomsky's advocacy of participatory democracy comes in, on the political side.

    Thanks for bringing such an important and engaging discussion to the table.

    • Andrea Balt Andréa Balt says:

      Thank you so much for participating in this discussion Oz, your brilliant insights are surely appreciated. I agree with most of your ideas & opinion.

      And yes, that Chomsky quote is the cornerstone question—the fire that all possible solution should survive in order to even be used as as an alternative.

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