Constitutional Court # 23-10 Human Consciousness Rule-of-Law Freedom Charter “I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason and intellect; has intended us to forego their use” – Galileo Galilei
Brincibia SumMary of a Bushido Dischordian Futilitarian
Lysistrata Tsedeq Rule-of-Five Eco-Family Consciousness
If the only ultimate check on the growth of population is misery, then the population will grow until it is miserable enough to stop its growth. If something else, other than misery and starvation, can be found which will keep a prosperous population in check, the population does not have to grow until it is miserable and starves, and it can live ecologically and lovingly, and be stably prosperous. To advocate for human rights, peace & social justice; while ignoring their ecological basis -- a stable human population at the eco-system’s long term carrying capacity -- is intellectual dishonesty & hypocrisy.
Constitutional Court of South Africa Case No. CCT 23/10 In the Matter Between: THE CITIZEN 1978 (PTY) LIMITED
And ROBERT JOHN MCBRIDE
And LARA JOHNSTONE
First Amicus Curiae
THE FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION INSTITUTE
Second Amicus Curiae
THE SOUTH AFRICAN NATIONAL EDITORS FORUM
Third Amicus Curiae
Subject to Petition for Declaratory Order: Ubuntu Brief of Amicus Curiae Lara Johnstone, Bushido Dischordian Futilitarian In Support Of: Radical Honesty Common Sense Population Policy Social Contract Interpretations of Promotion of National Unity & Reconciliation Act, 34 of 1995
Outline & Index: Issues: Amicus Curiae Brief: “Pressures resulting from unrestrained population growth put demands on the natural world that can overwhelm any efforts to achieve a sustainable future. If we are to halt the destruction of our environment, we must accept limits to that growth.” -- World Scientists' Warning to Humanity, signed by 1700 leading scientists from 70 countries, including 102 Nobel Prize laureates, November 18, 1992, Union of Concerned Scientists
Index & Summary of Argument I. II.
Note: Argument in Simple Justice: Re: Petition for Declaratory Order1 Ubuntu Radical Honesty Amicus: Summary & Overview of Argument2
AA. A PURPOSIVE SUI GENERIS ABSURD NECESSITY
A. NECESSITY: I AM NOT SURE OF MY EXISTENCE, BUT I AM SURE OF MY INTENTIONS
Critical Literacy’s role in Purposive Legal Interpretation
Secrecy and Deception as Strategic & Tactical Meme’s of Conquer & Multiply Memeplexes
Political Necessity of Freedom of Speech: ‘TRC was a fraudulent PR publicity stunt’
Civil Disobedience Free Speech Necessity Defence
‘I am, therefore I think’ Common Law Reasonableness Test Skills & Competencies
‘I am, therefore I think’ Common Law Radical Hon(our)sty Reasonableness Test Skills
Dr. Blanton vs. SA’s Political & Media Elite: ‘TRC was a fraudulent PR publicity stunt’
Population Policy Common Sense: Exponential Functions, Eco-Laws & Eco-Literacy: Limited World, Limited Rights
Lysistrata Tsedeq: Ecolaw 101: Laws of Sustainability
Radical Honesty Law of Limited Competition Code: ‘I am not sure of my existence, but I am sure of my intentions’
Practicing Radical Honesty: Being Specific about Anger & Methodology of Forgiveness
Judicial Enquiry: Simple Justice Tribal Consciousness
BB. SUI GENERIS ME-ISM SYCOPHANCY DECEPTION
B. DIGNITY: RIGHT TO PSYCHO-INFANCY DECEPTION
Dignity: Abstract conceptual belief in a Existential Self
Philosophical Concepts of Self: ‘I think, therefore I am’ et al
Sui Generis: Word Stays the Same, Meaning Changes?
Sui Generis (I think, I am Unique) Meme Dream
Respondents ‘Dignity’ Meme not Sui Generis,
C.C. CORP-ABSTRACTISM JUST WARHOOD DECEPTION
C. RIGHT TO ‘FREE SPEECH’ PROPAGANDA PROFITS DECEPTION
Corporations Intentions: Power and Profit
How Corporations Became Cogito Ergo Sum People!
Corporate News as Discourse
News Reports & the Reproduction of Memeplexes
Engineering of Consent: Adult Citizens to Infant Consumers & Cultural Commodification
PDF: www.scribd.com/doc/32892738/10-06-08-CCT-23-10-1st-Amicus-Curiaes-Note-Re-Declaratory-Order PDF: www.scribd.com/doc/32739573/CCT-23-10-Ubuntu-Brief-of-Amicus-Curiae-I-Summary-Overview 3 PDF: www.scribd.com/doc/32739370/A-Purposive-Sui-Generis-Absurd-Necessity-Existential-Intentions 4 PDF: www.scribd.com/doc/32739383/B-Sui-Generis-Me-Ism-Sycophancy-Deception 5 PDF: www.scribd.com/doc/32739403/C-Corp-Abstractism-Just-Warhood-Deception2
‘If it Bleads, It Leads,’ Editorial Maxim
How and Why Journalists Avoid Population-Environment Connection
Freedom of the Press vs. Intellectual Prostitutes
DD BRINCIBIA JUST WAR MEMEPLEX SUMMARY
D. GREAT TRIBAL FORGETTING: SALVATION FROM LAW OF LIMITED COMPETITION
The Truth About All Cultures & Their Mythologies
Judaism X Manifesto Mythology: Divine Law of Melchizedek – Ecological War
Eve’s Mission Impossible: Cracking the Lebensraum Right-to-Breed Code
An ABC’s of Ecology Systems Approach to a Sui Generis Agriculture Mythology When did We become We?
Identity and Dignity in Ubuntu Mythology
Black Liberation Mythology and Black Power
Liberating Black Victim Theology
Black Liberation Theology: Kairos & Reconciliation
EE. RADICAL UBUNTU HONESTY INTERESTS OF AMICI
E. SOCIO-LEGAL-POLITICAL ILLEGITIMACY OF TRC SOCIAL CONTRACT
Cultures of Secrecy: Unconscious and Conscious Secrets
Definitions : Fundamental Concepts Not Defined
Did Amnesty mean Amnesty, or was legal meaning changed?
Was Truth and Reconciliation Seen to be Done?
Rainbow Truths: Were all Contextual Struggle Violence Truths Told?
Cold War Ethno-Cultural Psychological Warfare
FF: TSEDEQ LOVE THEOREM INTEREST OF AMICI
F: TRC SECRET: APARTHEID: A JUST WAR FOR DEMOGRAPHIC SURVIVAL FROM ‘MARXIST’ ‘SWART GEVAAR’
Population Explosion Concerns During Apartheid
Population Pressures & Apartheid Political Fears
Does Africa have an Overpopulation Problem?
Apartheid, the Struggle, Just War Doctrine & Competitive Exclusion Principle
Radical Honesty Analysis: TRC ACT written by People who can’t, or don’t know how to handle their anger, forced SA’s to make Politically Correct Agreements, while still angry
CONCOURT 23-10: PDF FILES:
1st Amicus: Court Filings 9 1st Amicus: Evidentiary Documents10
PDF: www.scribd.com/doc/32739488/D-Brincibia-Just-War-Memeplex-Summary-Great-Tribal-Forgetting PDF: www.scribd.com/doc/32739548/E-Radical-Ubuntu-Honesty-Tsedeq-Love-Theorem 8 PDF: www.scribd.com/doc/32739548/E-Radical-Ubuntu-Honesty-Tsedeq-Love-Theorem 9 PDF File: www.scribd.com/my_document_collections/2303313 10 PDF File: www.scribd.com/my_document_collections/2308879 7
DD: Brincibia Just War Memeplex SumMary Imagine two or three or five aborigine tribes in the Australian outback, Kalahari dessert, Amazon or Papua New Guinea Jungle, conscious about the importance of maintaining their ecological and political balance and the law of limited competition. Chief Cain and Chief Abel’s tribes know the ecological carrying capacity limits of their tribe’s population. When – for whatever reason -- more births than deaths are occurring in either or both their tribes, then a ‘war party culling feast’ is arranged. If – for example – Cain’s tribe has been over breeding, but Abel’s is stable, then at the war-party culling feast, a lucky draw will be made and a required number of men from Cain’s tribe will become members of Abel’s’ tribe for the warparty culling feast; so they both have the same number of one-on-one gladiator warriors. The individuals who participate in the ‘war culling feast’ rituals, could even be brothers; their gladiator-fighting with one another is not based on hate and anger, but their manhood ritual and to determine their social-status identity in their old or new tribe. They are those with greater aggression, the fight-club testosterone alpha’s. The war culling gladiator feast is similar to a boxing match, but the fight is only stopped if one party shows the peace sign and acknowledges defeat, or once the required deaths have occurred, then the gladiator aspect of the feast ends. If not, it is a fight to the death. Any warrior who hangs in the peace towel, is granted his life. His new social identity role is that he shall be castrated and become one of the tribes eunuch civil administrators. The warriors who won their battles would be considered the warriors, who would have fathering rights, but they would be subject to the eunuch administrators, in regards to village administrative matters. Those who fought to the death would be remembered by the next first born male being given the warriors name, and the warrior being considered as a ‘god father ancestor’ to the new born. The war party culling feast ritual consequently does not require any politician to rally the tribe towards a hate-filled war of the other tribe, based upon the tribe’s alleged superiority to the inferior other tribe. Nor does the war-culling-feast have any aims of conquering each other. It is a totally pragmatic, honest and realistic manhood ritual, kinesthetically educating the total tribe about the importance of ecological and political balance; and the necessary sacrifices made by all, for the tribe to remain in such ecological and political balance. Warriors who fourght to the death, were remembered as important ancestors, warriors who won their gladiator fight-club, received fatherhood rights, and were required to make political obedience sacrifices by submitting to those they defeated, as the eunuch administrators. Those warriors who lost their gladiator fight, by hoisting the white flag and not fighting to the death, agreed to sacrifice their biological manhood, by being castrated and thereby being more rational in their leadership decision-making as eunuch tribal administrators. The entire tribe undergoes a kinesthetic experience of the responsibilities of sacrifice required for ecological and political balance. Such tribes who maintain each others ecological and political balance, through tribal warfare rituals, practice culturally equivalent Just War practices. Both sides have the same descriptions , meanings, definitions and rituals attached to enabling each other to cull excess populations and to do so in a manner that educates the entire tribe of the importance of rights, responsibilities and sacrifices that are commensurate with living in ecological and political balance.
D: The Great Tribal Forgetting: Salvation from the Law of Limited Competition “Mankind has […] been suffering from a psychological and spiritual imbalance. Imbalance causes frustration, and frustration causes fear. And fear makes for a bad trip. Man has been on a bad trip for a long time now. The human race will begin solving its problems on the day that it ceases taking itself so seriously” -- Curse of Greyface, Dischordianism ***** But here is one of the most amazing occurrences in all of human history. When the thinkers of the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries were finally compelled to admit that the entire structure of thought in our culture had been built on a profoundly important error, absolutely nothing happened. Obviously they didn't care to do anything. They didn't care to go back to all the foundation thinkers of our culture and ask how their work would have changed if they'd known the truth about our origins. I fear the truth is that they wanted to leave things as they were. They wanted to go on forgetting , , , and that's exactly what they did. The foundation thinkers of our culture didn't hesitate to assume that the whole of the human story was all leading up to "Us" -- the people of our culture -- and this is the way it's been taught in our schools every since. Unfortunately, like so much of the thinking that was done at this point, this was so grotesquely false to facts as to make flat-earth cranks look like intellectual giants. -- Daniel Quinn, The Story of B ***** “History cannot be understood apart from perceptions of sexual difference. One of the primary objectives of Eve’s Seed is to explain how people’s views of sexual difference have shaped history. …. Karl Marx had it wrong. Class has, to be sure, been a major factor in history; but class itself is a derivative concept that is based on the ultimate causative power in history: sex. Marx’s famous formulation must be revised: The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of struggles based on the division of our species into two sexes, jealousies emanating from this division, exaggerations of the differences between the sexes, misunderstandings about sexual reproductive power, and metaphors derived from sex. Together, these closely related matters constitute the most important, but largely neglected, set of motive forces in human history. Control -- or the claim of control -- over the means of reproduction has been even more fundamental to history than has control of the means of production. The real importance of insecure masculinity, again, is that those men who suffer from it are most apt to seek power in order to compensate for their self doubts. Sexually linked motivations have been evident in men engaging in war since the earliest times. -- Robert McElvaine, Eve’s Seed: Masculine Insecurity, Metaphor, and the Shaping of History; and Eve’s Seed: Biology, the Sexes and the Course of History *****
D.1: The Truth About All Cultures & their Mythologies Albert Camus wrote that Sisyphus' condition of being condemned to roll a big boulder up a mountain and have it roll back down again for all eternity was a perfect analogy for the human condition. We are all condemned to engage in completely futile tasks that require all we've got. Sisyphus, who used to be a hero like Hercules when he was on Earth, was thrown into this hell forever just as we, who were once happy as children, have been thrown into the hell of the meaningless meaning-making machine of the mind and the obligations of adult life. If we are to discover the secret to happiness as human beings, said Camus, we must be able to imagine a way Sisyphus could come to be a happy man in that hell. We catch a glimpse of him just as he turns to walk back down that mountain to find his rock and push it up again, and we see a beaming smile on his face. How could that be? Sisyphus was condemned to the hell of rolling that rock up and having it fall back down, for all eternity, as his punishment, and he conquered hell by transforming his relationship to what he was condemned to do by choosing to do it. Sisyphus decided to choose to do what he was condemned to do. He said, this is my job, this is what I do for a living, I am good at it; it is what I do. I roll my rock up my mountain and back down again. This is what I do and I'm doin' it. -- Brad Blanton, Practicing Radical Honesty According to the Pope of No Hope, the actions of a people are founded on their mythologies; hence to see the motivations of the legislators of the TRC SOCIAL CONTRACT, we would have to delve into their mythologies. In Practicing Radical Honesty11 he states: Cultures operate consistently with a mythology that allows them to focus the energy of their members toward certain ends. The benefits of this include creating things, conditions, and institutions to benefit the people of the culture. Cultures live in the minds of individuals. You have a mind within which the culture we live in, lives. It is a mind full of hopelessly obsolete subsets of ignorant prejudice that compete with each other for dominance. I know this from personal experience with lots of parents and with lots of neurotic adults like yourself. I also have made plenty of mistakes of my own and produce my fair share of misleading data every day. We live in illusions that
Chapter 4: The Truth About All Cultures, excerpt: Practicing Radical Honesty, by Brad Blanton, Ph.D.
direct our attention to certain things and also block our view of what is out there in reality, other than what we are looking for. The reason I know you are living in an illusion is because we all are, all the time. It's just that most of us don't know it, and for that reason we are living out a script written years ago that determines almost everything we do, including how we raise our children and how we treat each other. Illusions can be our friends if we can just get one point: illusions are for creating, not for self-assurance. Living in a story is what we all must do because we are human. Human beings live in the real world, but always in a way consistent with some story. Most of us live in stories that were created for us by the conditions of life we started out in and survived in as children and the cultural prejudices we were born into. Some of us grow beyond that and, as adults, actually design the story we live out of. There are not really a lot of us, but those of us who have transcended our raising have found that living in a story of our own conscious creation is a lot less miserable than living in the survival story we came out of childhood with. Most of us live our entire lives trapped in a story we desperately contrived so we could endure circumstances of middle, or lower, or upper-class child abuse in the culture in which we were raised. When we shed the delusional system that tells us life has a particular meaning, or that we must be careful to avoid symbolic dangers, or we should compete to overcome our adversaries, or be polite above all else, or maintain our belief in God or God will die, or any of the thousands of outdated, misleading, and actually damaging beliefs of any kind that people have been selling as reality in our culture for centuriesâ€”when we get over attachment to the image or the illusion of who we are, then we get to create some new illusions for the future. We don't have any choice not to live by illusions, but we can choose which illusions we live into. It is our given destiny to be delusional. It's out of these illusions of a possible future that we live the creative and intentional life, and that we heal the damage done by our previous attachments to beliefs that don't work anymore and haven't for a long time. Creation of the future with conscious illusions (called visions) works best if the illusions meet two criteria: they have to involve making a contribution to other people in some way, and they have to closely match the survival skills from the individual's past, because the skills of maintenance and upkeep for those are already developed, and the habit structure can be used. A person who understands the use of illusion from a position of transcendence or detachment (that is, a person who uses illusions, but doesn't believe in them) has a much happier and fulfilled life. If I am disappointed about an image I just dreamed up in the first place, it's quite different than feeling like dying because somebody was disappointed with, or rejected, the image of whom I truly believe myself to be. All those folks who jumped out of the window when the stock market crashed were doing so to escape the negative meaning of the crash in a very limited view of life. When people can use illusions to design their future in a playful and creative way, they can design a life and education for their children in cooperation with the children themselves, and at the same time model for the children what creating with illusions consists of.
D.2: Judaism X Manifesto Mythology Divine Law of Melchizedek — Ecological War Imagine for a minute the Judaism mythology was the foundation for the legislators of the Promotion of National Unity and Reconciliation Act, with principles of Tsedeq and ecological and political balance, as described by Yakov Rabinovich, in Stairway to Nowhere:
Divine Law My political interest in scripture, however, is scripture as a bill of rights. Here the anarchists are at a great disadvantage. Without a creator to endow one with them, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are not rights, but merely matters of luck. The same problem arose early last century, in the Coke-or-Pepsi controversy between Fascism, Communism and Capitalism. All three ideologies were brutally materialist. Fascism was candid about the brutality. Communism was candid about the materialism. Capitalism was candid about nothing whatsoever. Hitler’s greatest victory came when he mocked western liberalism’s values and got only silence in reply. That the only answer to Fascism came out of a gun-barrel was a statement of moral bankruptcy. Now that Communism has been added to the evolution chart, Capitalism is showing it's true amoral colors. Why shouldn’t it? There are no longer any alternatives. Not that there ever were. All three were eerily alike from the start, in their architecture, their indifference to human rights, and their naive belief in power. … Against all three stands the western Liberal tradition, with its steady assertion that the limitation of government, protection of the individual’s rights, and the exaltation of free speech are the political dimensions of moral good taste.
Melchizedek — Ecological War “Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.” In ancient Rome one was declared an outlaw with this formula: “he shall be denied fire and water,” that is, one was to be refused all the simple necessities of human existence, such as firewood and drinking water, which nature offers free to all. By slow degrees of degradation we have been brought to where we buy clear water by the bottle and pay a week’s wages to heat a modest home for a month. In some ways we’re far worse off than Rome’s outlaws, who at least breathed clean air! And we don’t even seem to realize that, when every element — earth, air, fire and water — is fouled around us and offered back at a price, we’re outlaws and warred upon. As always, organized religion has failed us. The the most forward-looking bureaucrats of the Book, in a desperate last-ditch effort to make themselves presentable, may now try to show they care about the planet. But in fact, the official scriptures, by the official reading,
have nothing useful to say. The Quran of the mullahs views nature only as a demonstration of God’s fine qualities: Nature’s value is purely intellectual, and it isn’t even meant to last. Everything’s to be effaced on the imminent Last Day. Official Christianity is similarly eager for the end, when irreparably fallen nature will be improved into a paved city, the New Jerusalem. Conventional Judaism has a sane relation to nature, but a neutral and pragmatic one with nothing to add to the ecology debate. Yet religion is indeed what we need to mobilize forces for the earth, and we have to sieze back the scriptures from their unworthy stewards. Those who have translated and interpreted the scriptures for us have been men of conventional faith, whose piety censored and misrepresented the texts. But the great prophets of our shared traditions, Moses, Isaiah, Jesus and Mohammed, were archetypal dissidents, in every way alien to the committees that have translated them into English from the time of King James and George Sales on to the present day. There is, for instance, a Hebrew word for ecological balance, and one of the most commonly occurring words in the Bible: tsedeq. It is translated, perfunctorily, as “righteousness,” because to translate it fully and fairly, with its dazzling range of meanings, would have revealed an unacceptable degree of “paganism” in the Bible. At root, it means “rainfall in due proportion,” and meanings like “rightness,” “justice” and “righteousness” arose as extensions and expansions of the original meaning. This is no surprise. For the archaic societies of the ancient near east, important concept words are always deeply rooted in the realities of physical life. Abstractions, even for things like colors, don’t enter the vocabulary of Hebrew, until well into period A.D. We’ll get a clearer understanding of how tsedeq evolved by examining the parallel Egyptian world ma’at. It comes from the verb ma-a which originally meant “to rightly measure,” and referred to the resurveying of the fields after the Nile’s floodwaters withdrew each spring. The existence of private property depended on an accurate ma-a of the siltcovered land. There is a large choice of glyphs with the same phonetic value in Egyptian, so the ones which are chosen can often signify a word’s meaning. Ma-a is spelled with a mound of earth emerging from under floodwaters, a scythe, and an arm. This notion of rightness, evidently grew right out of the well-worked riverside acres. The word was early on made an abstract feminine noun, Ma-at, which means rightness both in the agricultural and moral sense. Israel depended on rainfall as Egypt did on the Nile’s flooding. Like ma’at, tsedeq came to take on a more general sense, but it evolved in ways far more profound and meaningful for us than ma’at. The genius of the Hebrews was to always adopt the best poetic and religious conceptions of their neighbors, but then deepen them with moral meaning. It was the chief god of the farming Canaanites, the storm god Baal, who guaranteed tsedeq, rainfall and crop growth. The Hebrews, who adopted so many features from this Canaanite Zeus, took over tsedeq as well, but enlarged it to create a view of the moral and natural worlds as inseparable. (Very unlike we Americans, who see ecological devastation as not a crime, but merely a pity.)
The word tsedeq, in its fullest sense, can mean “world in balance” both ecologically and politically. The eighty-fith psalms says: He’s quick to save those who regard him with awe, his glory shines across their country like sunlight, fairness and generosity meet in how God treats a just people, the balance of the scales of justice, the balance of nature (tsedeq) coincide, sweetly they meet, like a kiss, the land brings forth abundant wheat, abundant honesty beneath a sky clear as a conscience. If God will grant us the power to be good, the land will give us good things. The ecological balance of the ancient near east was not the exclusive responsibility of the gods. The king, as vice-regent of the sky god, guaranteed his people the benevolence of earth and sky. The kings of Israel were monarchs on this sacerdotal model with a special moral dimension, as we see in the seventy-second psalm. … The god of the Hebrews appropriated not only specialized vocabulary from the Canaanites, but myths and images too. One can see something parallel in Milton’s Paradise Lost, where the God of the Bible is sometimes referred to as “Jove,” and Hesiod’s battle of the titans was adapted to become the war of the rebel angels. The most important Canaanite myth Yahweh absorbed was that of Baal, the god of rain, who is every year defeated by Mot, the god of death and drought. Each autumn Baal returns with the autumn rains, to restore tsedeq. ….. Melchizedek appears for the first time in Genesis 14, in a scene set around 1800 B.C. Abraham has just rescued his nephew Lot, captured during a war between the city-states immediately south of Jerusalem. Returning victorious from battle, Abraham is acknowledged as ruler of the region by Melchizedek, king of Jerusalem, who utters this blessing The Hebrews saw themselves as a continuation of Canaanite civilization, just as the Germanic barbarians who became the kings of Europe saw themselves as the heirs of Rome. The Hebrew kings were all Melchizedeks just as the Tsars and Kaisers were Caesars. And in the course of time Melchizedek became, as Caesar has in European literature, an independent mythological figure. The Dead Sea Scrolls, the first-century A.D. library of the Essenes discovered in 1947, contains a scroll of Melchizedek. The Essenes practised a pure form of communism, and their scroll, written in the context of Israel’s struggle against Roman domination, describes Melchizedek as an eschatological hero who will fairly redistribute property, defeat the armies of evil, and sound the ram’s horn to announce abolition of all debts (the Jubilee). The scroll is valuable because it shows that the Melchizedek myth was drawn on as an important source of spiritual strength in Israel’s struggle to the death against the Roman Empire. A struggle which was obviously anti-imperialist, and from the viewpoint of the Essenes, anti-capitalist.
So important a part of the national mythology was Melchizedek, that Paul acknowledges him in his letter to the Hebrews, written at roughly the same time as the Melchizedek scroll. (Though of course Paul is only mentioning Melchizedek to bolster the prestige of Jesus.) …. There is an Apocalypse of Mechizedek, preserved in the fourth-century A.D. library of Gnostic manuscripts found in Nag Hammadi, Egypt, in 1945. This book contains revelations made to Mechizedek by various angelic messengers. The fourth-century Cypriot bishop Epiphanius, in his book Against the Heresies, tells us enough to confirm that there was a Mechizedekian Christian sect and that the book from Nag Hammadi is theirs. This late account of Melchizedek is of interest to us because it provides an esoteric (though equally epic) counterpart to the Melchizedek of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Paul. This Melchizedek describes his own experience of gnosis, or ultimate self-recognition ….. We are called to use the concept of tsedeq, (world in balance) to bring to the ecological struggle powers which are only unleashed by religious belief. In doing this we are entitled to the name of Melchizedek. The title of the old Canaanite priest-kings who guaranteed the land’s tsedeq was more fully understood by Old and New Testament period prophets. It came to be the title of a royal warrior who defends sacred ecology and resists the forces of capital. The Gnostic Melchizedek of Nag Hammadi further deepens the figure into a one whose ultimate heroic act is that of achieving self-awareness: the understanding that he is the Melchizedek, that he has the annointed King, the Messiah, the Christ, within him. We are all called to this new order or mystical chivalry, the Order of Melchizedek. Kingship is a powerful metaphor and has a long tradition of democratization and esoteric reinterpretation. The Stoics, who made it their ideal to live in accord with nature, secundam naturam, used to say that only the wise man deserves to be called a king, solus sapiens rex. This is the sort of kingship I have in mind, a gnostic one, that need only be realized to be made real, a royalty that can be shared by all, like that of Tennyson’s Arthur: But when he spake and cheered his Table Round With large, divine, and comfortable words, Beyond my tongue to tell thee — I beheld From eye to eye through all their Order flash A momentary likeness of the King . . . This is the kingship of which Isaiah spoke, a royal defense of the whole natural world. His vision begins with the vindication of an injured tree, and expands into universal harmony of human with human and with every other species.
D.3: Eve’s Mission Impossible: Cracking the Lebensraum Right-to-Breed Code Control -- or the claim of control -- over the means of reproduction has been even more fundamental to history than has control of the means of production. Put differently, insecure masculinity, whether capitalist and particularly communist Ecolaw illiterate, promote the Conquer and Multiply Right to Breed slave and cannon fodder memeplex; and avoid like the plague Ecolaw 101: ‘Thou shalt not transgress the carrying capacity.’ “After reading Eve's Seed you'll never look at a farm, the bible, feminism, rock 'n' roll lyrics, mass consumption, or Bill Clinton in the same way.” -- Paul R. Ehrlich, Bing Professor of Population Studies, Stanford University, and author of Human Natures: Genes, Cultures, and the Human Prospect
Masculine Insecurity: A Causal Procreation Factor Shaper of Conquer and Multiply History? “The raging monster upon the land is population growth. In its presence, sustainability is but a fragile theoretical construct.” -- E.O. Wilson Bridging the Great Divide: Eve’s Seed and the Quest to Bring Together Biology, Anthropology, Religion and History: Some leading academics see Eve's Seed as a revolutionary work of major importance in how we understand human development, history, religion, and the sexes. World historian William H. McNeill calls Eve's Seed "a powerful, learned and provocative work" that "is a radical revision of traditional visions of human history." "As Marx turned Hegel upside down," Pulitzer Prize-winning Stanford historian Carl Degler has written, "so McElvaine overturns, among others, Aristotle, Marx, Freud, and even Darwin in showing how biological and cultural evolution need no longer see men and women as opposites or unequal." In a rare case of agreement, feminist pioneer Betty Friedan and Harvard sociobiologist Edward O. Wilson both see Eve's Seed as a ground-breaking work that will change the way we see the human condition. "Eve's Seed signals a significant paradigm shift,” Friedan wrote, and Wilson said, "a new field is stirring to life" with the book.
In a starred review, Publishers' Weekly said that McElvaine's "challenging overview" is "daring": which “throws down the gauntlet to academics and nonspecialists alike, daring a radical rethinking of the basic 'truths' on which cultures have been constructed." McElvaine's concept of biohistory has been explored in articles in the New York Times and the Chronicle of Higher Education, and his interdisciplinary reinterpretation of the human experience has been the subject of panels at meetings of the American Historical Association, the American Anthropological Association, the International Freud Conference, the International Society for the History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Biology, and the Organization for the Study of Communication, Language, and Gender. A major international, interdisciplinary conference on the McElvaine Thesis, "Bridging the Great Divide: Robert S. McElvaine's Eve's Seed and the Quest to Bring Together Biology, Anthropology, Religion, and History," was held in 2002. In Deepening the History of Masculinity and the Sexes, a review of Robert McElvaine’s Eve’s Seed: Biology, the Sexes and the Course of History, writes: The turn of the twenty-first century has brought a tentative yet potentially seismic shift in feminist studies towards re-integrating biology into critical understanding of the behavioral differences between women and men. Until Robert S. McElvaine's book, this movement has barely registered among historians of women and gender. For at least the last thirty-five years, academic historians have made a sharp, principled distinction between sex as a physiological designation and gender as the contingent mental traits, behaviors, social conventions, and institutions that have formed around sex difference. A few important historical works do consider the issue of whether biology influences more than primary sexual characteristics: Gerda Lerner's The Creation of Patriarchy (1986) maintains that the initial division of labor between women and men emerged from different roles in sexual reproduction; Carl Degler's In Search of Human Nature: The Decline and Revival of Darwinism in American Social Thought (1991) provides a valuable analysis of the recent social scientific scholarship that finds innate psychological and behavioral differences between the sexes; and David Courtwright's Violent Land: Single Men and Social Disorder from the Frontier to the Inner City (1996) explains the exceptional levels of American violence through the "sociobiological impulses" of the nation's inordinately large number of un-married men. But, as its title suggests, McElvaine's Eve's Seed: Biology, the Sexes and the Course of History resynthesizes the full sweep of human history around the concept of sexual difference; it also offers a timely account of what historians risk in continuing to ignore advances in evolutionary biology. Through its attempt to apply "biohistory" to twentieth-century U.S. masculinity, Eve's Seed may presage a second-wave of men's historiography. McElvaine bases his understanding of modern American masculinity on "deep history"—sociobiologist E. O. Wilson's term for the evolution of the human species. The middle chapters of Eve's Seed survey some 94 centuries of human history, stretching from 8,000 B.C.E. and the invention of agriculture through the Middle Ages. Vitally important to early economic and political history (bringing such changes as the creation of substantial material surplus and the rise of large states and war), agriculture—what McElvaine describes as the first of two "megarevolutions"—also sparked a massive male "backlash," as the female invention of planting crops and animal husbandry undermined the male role as hunter. Among the masculinist responses, men took over agriculture and invented war, as
women became relegated to increasing the population needed for the new social order. At the same time that men started to dominate agriculture, the "conception misconception" arose: the belief that men held all procreative power, with women being considered as simply the fertile field for the male seed. In addition to developing the association of women with inert matter and nature, the conception misconception "led," McElvaine writes, "to the assumption that The Creative Force—God—must be male" (p. 135). But within his synthesis, Christianity also exemplified feminine virtues such as love and charity, which worked against such Roman values as controlled violence and the concentrated power of the state. To be sure, just as they had done with agriculture, men came to control the Church, although McElvaine underlines the mediating feminine influences in Christianity such as the twelfthcentury veneration of the Virgin Mary. McElvaine's second megarevolution began in the sixteenth century with the acceleration of geographic and social mobility and the rise of the marketplace, developments which produced a close equation between manhood and individualism and which culminated in the nineteenth-century United States. As in the other sections of Eve's Seed, this part draws from a good amount of earlier scholarship in making a clear and provocative argument. The highly mobile, possessive individual American man depended upon what McElvaine labels "the sexual bi-polar disorder," the radical separation of the masculine sphere of business and politics from feminine domesticity (p. 240). In one of his better examples of applying biohistory, McElvaine points out that since Hobbes, solitude and self-reliance have been considered man's natural state, but individualism is inconsistent with the masculine propensity toward association and cooperation formed during the sex's long preoccupation with hunting in groups. The last six chapters of the book concentrate on the twentieth-century United States and increasingly desperate attempts to express "real manhood" amidst feminine consumerism, corporate conformity, and feminist equality. While McElvaine's brief consideration of body building, the cult of John Wayne, and Rambo movies offers nothing new, his treatment of the mid-twentieth-century white middleclass embrace of African-American hypermasculine sexuality exhibits an uncommonly deft touch in extracting historical meaning from popular culture. In Eve’s Seed: Masculine Insecurity, Metaphor, and the Shaping of History12, Robert McElvaine, introduction to masculine insecurity, is the debate over Zulu male leaders and their Zulu cultural virginity tests. It is his introduction to “If I had to reduce history to one sentence, it would be: ‘Hell hath no fury like a man devalued’,” for his argument “How that history has unfolded has been influenced enormously by insecure masculinity and another metaphor that is based upon it, which can accurately be termed the Master Metaphor.”: The question that must be asked is why such traditions and values of ancestors arose. There is, of course, nothing unique to Africa about male insistence on female virginity—or about the many other traditions that consign women to positions of subordination. We are all aware of the horrible treatment of women under the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, for example. Similar, if not quite as harsh, mistreatment of women exists in Iran. But there is nothing unique to Islam about male insistence on the subordination of and male control over women and their bodies. 12 Eve’s Seed: Masculine Insecurity, Metaphor, and the Shaping of History, by Robert S. McElvaine, Department of History, Millsaps College, Jackson, Mississippi
The problem with the misogynistic rulers of the regimes that most mistreat women is often said to be that they are religious fanatics. This is true, but we need to be careful that we properly identify what their religion is. It is not Islam. Rather, it is what Woody Allen’s character in his 2001 movie, The Curse of the Jade Scorpion identified as his religion: “insecure masculinity.” Insecure masculinity is a malady that has been a—perhaps the—major force in many of the horrors of history—and one that Christians and Jews should realize is also deeply imbedded in their religions. That insecure masculinity is an important part of our religions should not be surprising, because it is imbedded in almost all aspects of our culture—including, most significantly, our language. It is, I believe, a primary source of what Sigmund Freud referred to as civilization’s discontents. Roots While the fear of male biological inferiority and the resulting tendency to insist that the sexes are “opposite” is the essential starting point for exploring the ways in which women have been subordinated and what the wider consequences of that subordination have been, it is just the beginning. This factor has always been present, although the degree of their impact has varied as other circumstances have changed. It is in those changing circumstances—history—that we must seek more complete answers to questions about why, how, and when females were subordinated and how sex has shaped history. The most important events in the shaping of human history occurred before the point at which we in the historical profession have usually begun our stories. The critical development in so-called prehistory was the invention of agriculture. It is only in the past two decades that it has become widely believed that women invented agriculture. There is not time here to go into detail on the reasons for this conclusion, but they include the fact that plant food had been women’s responsibility in hunter-gatherer societies, in horticultural societies studied in modern times, women do the farming, and that in many ancient myths, the imparting of the knowledge of how to farm is attributed to a goddess, rather than a male god. Among the ancient stories that describe women’s invention of agriculture, I argue in Eve’s Seed, is the story of Adam and Eve in Genesis. Eve eating from the Tree of Knowledge represents women gaining the knowledge of how to grow crops. It was an offer that men, represented by Adam, could not refuse, but in long-term retrospect, the consequences came to look much less beneficial to men. Agriculture greatly devalued the traditional roles of men. Hunting ceased to be important when breeding of animals followed the intentional production of plant food. And the other male role of protecting of the group against predator animals became less important, because agriculture necessitated a sedentary way of life, and predators came into settlements infrequently. Eventually men found themselves working in the fields, doing “women’s work” with plants. All of this is reflected in chapters 3 and 4 of Genesis. The woman’s obtaining of the new knowledge is said to have lost a paradise in which people could simply gather food that grew naturally. As a result, man had to go forth from this paradise and “till the ground” and 14 earn his bread by the sweat of his brow. Once agriculture had become established, it was impossible to return to a hunter-gatherer existence because the larger population could not
be fed without planting crops. This, too, is reflected in Genesis, with the man not being able to return to Eden once he has been expelled from it. Finally, in Chapter 4, the male God has 15 no regard for the offering of plant food presented by Cain, “the tiller of the ground.” In effect, God says to Cain: Get away from me! Don’t insult me by bringing your girlish stuff, you wimp! Seeds When men eventually took up the “woman’s work” of farming and began to use the plow, an irresistible metaphor arose—one that seems so obvious that it appears to have developed independently wherever plow agriculture was practiced. This metaphor has been a major basis for male power and domination throughout recorded history. The belief that a seed planted in the furrowed soil is analogous to a man planting a seed in the furrowed vulva of a woman totally reversed the view of which sex has procreative power. Men were elevated from the bystanders in reproduction to the all-powerful creators. Women were reduced from the all-powerful creators to the soil in which men plant their seeds. Or, to put it less politely, women were reclassified as dirt. Women still had all the work of reproduction, but men now took all the credit. The classification of women as soil is one of the reasons why female virginity is so prized by men. They want to be sure that theirs are the only seeds that are planted in “their” soil. Male Procreation Means a Male Creator It is the belief that males hold exclusive procreative power that has given them much of the social power throughout history. The belief in male procreative power inevitably led in turn to the conclusion that the supreme Creative Power must also be male. The combination of the belief that God is male with the notion that humans are created in God’s image yielded the inescapable inference that men are closer than women to godly perfection. The belief, given its classic expressions by Aristotle, Aquinas, and Freud, that women are deformed or “incomplete” men followed logically. There is no telling how much evil throughout history might have been averted or eased had the growth of this vine of thinking somehow been nipped in the bud. It wasn't, and the rest is history—just about all of it. If I had to reduce history to one sentence, it would be: Hell hath no fury like a man devalued. Verbal Mounting How that history has unfolded has been influenced enormously by insecure masculinity and another metaphor that is based upon it, which can accurately be termed the Master Metaphor. Sexually insecure men often seek validation of their manhood by pursuing power. This is one of the reasons that the notawoman definition of manhood has had such an impact throughout history. All men do not suffer from such sexual insecurity, but those who do have frequently made their way into positions of power and so have had a disproportionate influence on the shaping of cultures and institutions.
The basic means by which insecure men demonstrate their claims that they are "notwomen" is through a sexual metaphor. The ultimate sources of this metaphor must be sought deep in our past: beyond what is usually called “history”—in fact, back beyond what is generally thought of as human “pre-history.” The origins of the master metaphor predate the evolution of Homo sapiens; indeed, they predate the emergence of hominids. The idea that other animals use metaphorical behavior may be surprising, but it is plain that this is what is going on when a dominant male among several species, including mountain sheep and macaques, mounts a subordinated male and simulates intercourse with him. The former is, in effect, “saying” to the latter: I am so dominant over you that I can treat you like a female. Such male animals apparently have some concept of “male-hood” in terms of being “notafemale.” Such symbolic mounting is an unexplored but highly significant aspect of human male behavior. It is, obviously, a means of asserting a vertical distinction between individuals; it provides an answer to the question: Who’s on top? Accordingly, it is similar to another practice we use to categorize people.. One of the more consequential human tendencies is that toward pseudospeciation: falsely treating another member of our species as if he or she were a member of a different species. It is this capacity that allows us to turn off our natural identification with other members of our species and so be able to kill them. It is difficult to brutalize and kill human beings, but it is not so hard to commit atrocities against “Gooks,” “Niggers,” “Honkies,” “Spics,” “Micks,” “Nips,” “Krauts,” or other creatures we have used language to dehumanize. Clearly this ability to engage in pseudospeciation is a major part of the basis for warfare. The Master metaphor is based on a similar, but generally unnoticed, process that can usefully be termed pseudosexing—falsely treating another member of the same sex as if he were a member of the other sex. This is what men do when they subordinate other men by symbolically treating them as women. The reason for pseudosexing is the same as that for pseudospeciation: to “otherize,” to dichotomize, to distinguish in a dualistic manner of “us” and “them,” so that dominance or hierarchy can be established. Sometimes the human practice of pseudosexing is as direct and literal as it is among some animal species. Man Over Woman: The Basic Model for All Forms of Domination When it is realized how ubiquitous the use of this metaphor is, it becomes clear that the assumed superiority of man to woman is the model upon which all other domination / subordination relationships, including colonialism, racism, slavery, class, are based. The real importance of insecure masculinity, again, is that those men who suffer from it are most apt to seek power in order to compensate for their self doubts. Sexually linked motivations have been evident in men engaging in war since the earliest times. They can be seen from Alexander the Great through Adolf Hitler and several American presidents. Hitler presents a remarkable example of a man whose sexual insecurity may have played an important role in leading him to lust after power, desire to dominate others, and seek war. A 1945 Soviet autopsy on a body later confirmed by dental records to be that of Hitler showed that the Nazi dictator had only one testicle. Some have contended that this may have been a primary source of his insecurity. From 1919 onward, Hitler carried a
Walther pistol in a special pocket he had sewn into all his trousers. This enabled him to “feel its barrel pressed reassuringly against his thigh.” The Führer’s fear of sexual inadequacy presumably played a part in his decision to take injections that included an extract from bull testicles. Conclusion “Our language and history have been molded by masculine insecurities and the “notawoman” definition of manhood and “prehistoric” events that devalued what men had traditionally done. And language and the thinking on which it is based in turn perpetuate the ideas of male superiority on which it was founded. At its base, I think it is fair to say, all of these problems stem from the insecurities many men have felt because “only women bleed.”
D.4: An ABC’s of Ecology Systems Approach to a Sui Generis Agriculture Mythology: When did we Become We? ‘I am the thoroughly rational, inquisitive extra-terrestrial from Cuckoo’s Nest, who asks earthlings to explain what they do in terms that can be understood by an intelligence completely free of all traditional terrestrial beliefs, assumptions, and prejudices.’13 -- Lysistrata Valentine’s Code Red October Clover
New tribalists believe in the New Tribal Revolution outlined in the Ishmael series by Daniel Quinn, meaning that the tribe fulfills an important role in human life, and that the dissolution of tribalism with the spread of civilization has come to threaten the very survival
Limited World, Limited Rights, by Garrett Hardin, Rights and Liberties, Society, 17 May/June 1980
of the species. New tribalists seek to mimic indigenous peoples by organizing their own "tribes" based on underlying principles gleaned from ethnology and anthropological fieldwork. An important expression of this movement is the trend towards modern eco-villages. Ecoregional Democracy and peace movement advocates are also often new tribalists as well, as the groups share common ideals. In The Story of B14, is one of the philosophical bibles for the Tribal Deep Ecology Ishmael community, wherein Daniel Quinn looks to tribal societies as models for future societies because they exhibited 3 million years of societal evolution before being overtaken by the totalitarian agriculturalist. Quinn specifically looks at tribal law as a basis for law in the future. In hunter/gatherer tribes, there are no formal laws, only inherent practices that determine the identity of the tribe. Tribes do not write or invent their laws, but honor codes of conduct that arise from years of social evolution. Quinn rejects the modern idea that there is one set moral standard for people to live by. Instead, he argues that the laws and customs that arise from each tribe are sustainable and “right” in their own way because they work for the tribe. He also provides a deep ecology worldview for the idea of salvation. It was only after man invented totalitarian agriculture with its historical evolution of overpopulation and culling by means of wars and famine, that he invented the need for humanity’s salvation. Prior to civilization and war, man had no inherent need for a Savior. The following is the speech by B15, an itinerant New Tribalist Ishmael preacher, who takes us along the mythological journey of our history, and out of the lies. Forget everything you ever learned. It's all a lie. Here he explains the origins of Conquer-and-Multiply Totalitarian Agricultural cultural mythology, as a result of refusal to adhere to the Law of Limited Competition, and the systemic historical consequences on man’s character development, which provides a Population Policy perspective to how population pressures nurtured what Hobbes finally referred to as the "nasty, brutish, and short" in his justification for the need of social contract political authority. The Boiling Frog: 18 May, Schauspielhaus Wahnfried, Radenau Systems thinkers have given us a useful metaphor for a certain kind of human behavior in the phenomenon of the boiled frog. The phenomenon is this. If you drop a frog in a pot of boiling water, it will of course frantically try to clamber out. But if you place it gently in a pot of tepid water and turn the heat on low, it will float there quite placidly. As the water gradually heats up, the frog will sink into a tranquil stupor, exactly like one of us in a hot bath, and before long, with a smile on its face, it will unresistingly allow itself to be boiled to death. We all know stories of frogs being tossed into boiling water—for example, a young couple being plunged into catastrophic debt by an unforeseen medical emergency. A contrary example, an example of the smiling boiled frog, is that of a young couple who gradually use their good credit to buy and borrow themselves into catastrophic debt. Cultural examples 14 15
The Story of B, by Daniel Quinn; New York: Bantam Books. 1997 P 258 –287: The Story of B, by Daniel Quinn; New York: Bantam Books. 1997
exist as well. About six thousand years ago the goddess worshiping societies of Old Europe were engulfed in a boiling up of our culture that Marija Gimbutas called Kurgan Wave Number One; they struggled to clamber out but eventually succumbed. The Plains Indians of North America, who were engulfed in another boiling up of our culture in the 1870s, constitute another example; they struggled to clamber out over the next two decades, but they too finally succumbed. A contrary example, an example of the smiling-boiled-frog phenomenon, is provided by our own culture. When we slipped into the cauldron, the water was a perfect temperature, not too hot, not too cold. Can anyone tell me when that was? Anyone? Blank faces. I’ve already told you, but I’ll ask again, a different way. When did we become we? Where and when did the thing called us begin? Remember: East and West, twins of a common birth. Where? And when? Well, of course: in the Near East, about ten thousand years ago. That’s where our peculiar, defining form of agriculture was born, and we began to be we. That was our cultural birthplace. That was where and when we slipped into that beautifully pleasant water: the Near East, ten thousand years ago. As the water in the cauldron slowly heats, the frog feels nothing but a pleasant warmth, and indeed that’s all there is to feel. A long time has to pass before the water begins to be dangerously hot, and our own history demonstrates this. For fully half our history, the first five thousand years, signs of distress are almost nonexistent. The technological innovations of this period bespeak a quiet life, centered around hearth and village—sundried brick, kiln-fired pottery, woven cloth, the potter’s wheel, and so on. But gradually, imperceptibly, signs of distress begin to appear, like tiny bubbles at the bottom of a pot. What shall we look for, as signs of distress? Mass suicides? Revolution? Terrorism? No, of course not. Those come much later, when the water is scalding hot. Five thousand years ago it was just getting warm. Folks mopping their brows were grinning at each other and saying, “Isn’t it great?” You’ll know where to find the signs of distress if you identify the fire that was burning under the cauldron. It was burning there in the beginning, was still burning after five thousand years . . . and is still burning today in exactly the same way. It was and is the great heating element of our revolution. It’s the essential. It’s the sine qua non of our success—if success is what it is. Speak! Someone tell me what I’m talking about! “Agriculture!” Agriculture, this gentleman tells me. No. Not agriculture. One particular style of agriculture. One particular style that has been the basis of our culture from its beginnings ten thousand years ago to the present moment—the basis of our culture and found in no other. It’s ours, it’s what makes us us. For its complete ruthlessness toward all other life-forms on this planet and for its unyielding determination to convert every square meter on this planet to the production of human food, I’ve called it totalitarian agriculture.
Totalitarian Agriculture & Law of Limited Competition Ethologists, students of animal behavior, and a few philosophers who have considered the matter know that there is a form of ethics practiced in the community of life on this planet—apart from us, that is. This is a very practical (you might say Darwinian) sort of ethics, since it serves to safeguard and promote biological diversity within the community. According to this ethics, followed by every sort of creature within the community of life, sharks as well as sheep, killer bees as well as butterflies, you may compete to the full extent of your capabilities, but you may not hunt down your competitors or destroy their food or deny them access to food. In other words, you may compete but you may not wage war. This ethics is violated at every point by practitioners of totalitarian agriculture. We hunt down our competitors, we destroy their food, and we deny them access to food. That indeed is the whole purpose and point of totalitarian agriculture. Totalitarian agriculture is based on the premise that all the food in the world belongs to us, and there is no limit whatever to what we may take for ourselves and deny to all others. Totalitarian agriculture was not adopted in our culture out of sheer meanness. It was adopted because, by its very nature, it’s more productive than any other style (and there are many other styles). Totalitarian agriculture represents productivity to the max, as Americans like to say. It represents productivity in a form that literally cannot be exceeded. Many styles of agriculture (not all, but many) produce food surpluses. But, not surprisingly, totalitarian agriculture produces larger surpluses than any other style. It produces surpluses to the max. You simply can’t outproduce a system designed to convert all the food in the world into human food. Totalitarian agriculture is the fire under our cauldron. Totalitarian agriculture is what has kept us “on the boil” here for ten thousand years.
Food Availability and Population Growth The people of our culture take food so much for granted that they often have a hard time seeing that there is a necessary connection between the availability of food and population growth. For them, I’ve found it necessary to construct a small illustrative experiment with laboratory mice. Imagine if you will a cage with movable sides, so that it can be enlarged to any desired size. We begin by putting ten healthy mice of both sexes into the cage, along with plenty of food and water. In just a few days there will of course be twenty mice, and we accordingly increase the amount of food we’re putting in the cage. In a few weeks, as we steadily increase the amount of available food, there will be forty, then fifty, then sixty, and so on, until one day there is a hundred. And let’s say that we’ve decided to stop the growth of the colony at a hundred. I’m sure you realize that we don’t need to pass out little condoms or birth-control pills to achieve this effect. All we have to do is stop increasing the amount of food that goes into the cage. Every day we put in an amount that we know is sufficient to sustain a hundred mice—and no more. This is the part that many find hard to believe, but, trust me, it’s the truth: The growth of the community stops dead. Not overnight, of course, but in very short order. Putting in an amount of food sufficient for one hundred mice, we will
find—every single time—that the population of the cage soon stabilizes at one hundred. Of course I don’t mean one hundred precisely. It will fluctuate between ninety and a hundred ten but never go much beyond those limits. On the average, day after day, year after year, decade after decade, the population inside the cage will be one hundred. Now if we should decide to have a population of two hundred mice instead of one hundred, we won’t have to add aphrodisiacs to their diets or play erotic mouse movies for them. We’ll just have to increase the amount of food we put in the cage. If we put in enough food for two hundred, we’ll soon have two hundred. If we put in enough for three hundred, we’ll soon have three hundred: If we put in enough for four hundred, we’ll soon have four hundred. If we put in enough for five hundred, we’ll soon have five hundred. This isn’t a guess, my friends. This isn’t a conjecture. This is a certainty. Of course, you understand that there’s nothing special about mice in this regard. The same will happen with crickets or trout or badgers or sparrows. But I fear that many people bridle at the idea that humans might be included in this list. Because as individuals we’re able to govern our reproductive capacities, they imagine our growth as a species should be unresponsive to the mere availability of food. Luckily for the point I’m trying to make here, I have considerable data showing that, as a species, we’re as responsive as any other to the availability of food—three million years of data, in fact. For all but the last ten thousand years of that period, the human species was a very minor member of the world ecosystem. Imagine it—three million years and the human race did not overrun the earth! There was some growth, of course, through simple migration from continent to continent, but this growth was proceeding at a glacial rate. It’s estimated that the human population at the beginning of the Neolithic was around ten million—ten million, if you can imagine that! After three million years! Then, very suddenly, things began to change. And the change was that the people of one culture, in one corner of the world, developed a peculiar form of agriculture that made food available to people in unprecedented quantities. Following this, in this corner of the world, the population doubled in a scant three thousand years. It doubled again, this time in only two thousand years. In an eye blink of time on the geologic scale, the human population jumped from ten million to fifty million—probably eighty percent of them being practitioners of totalitarian agriculture: members of our culture, East and West. The – overpopulation colliding with scarce resources -- water in the cauldron was getting warm, and signs of distress were beginning to appear. Signs of distress: 5000-3000 B.C.E.: It was getting crowded. Think of that. People used to imagine that history is inevitably cyclical, but what I’m describing here has never happened before. In all of three million years, humans have never been crowded anywhere. But now the people of a single culture— our culture—are learning what it means to be crowded. It was getting crowded, and overworked, overgrazed land was becoming less and less productive. There were more people, and they were competing for dwindling resources. The water is heating up around the frog—and remember what we’re looking for: signs of distress. What happens when more people begin competing for less? That’s obvious. Every
schoolchild knows that. When more people start competing for less, they start fighting. But of course they don’t just fight at random. The town butcher doesn’t battle the town baker, the town tailor doesn’t battle the town shoemaker. No, the town’s butcher, baker, tailor, and shoemaker get together to battle some other town’s butcher, baker, tailor, and shoemaker. We don’t have to see bodies lying in the field to know that this was the beginning of the age of war that has continued to the present moment. What we have to see is warmaking machinery. I don’t mean mechanical machinery—chariots, catapults, siege machines, and so on. I mean political machinery. Butchers, bakers, tailors, and shoemakers don’t organize themselves into armies. They need warlords—kings, princes, emperors. It’s during this period, starting around five thousand years ago, that we see the first states formed for the purpose of armed defense and aggression. It’s during this period that we see the standing army forged as the monarch’s sword of power. Without a standing army, a king is just a windbag in fancy clothes. You know that. But with a standing army, a king can impose his will on his enemies and engrave his name in history—and absolutely the only names we have from this era are the names of conquering kings. No scientists, no philosophers, no historians, no prophets, just conquerors. Again, nothing cyclic going on here. For the first time in human history, the important people are the people with armies. Now note well that no one thought that the appearance of armies was a bad sign—a sign of distress. They thought it was a good sign. They thought the armies represented an improvement. The water was just getting delightfully warm, and no one worried about a few little bubbles. After this point military needs became the chief stimulus for tech-nological advancement in our culture. Nothing wrong with that, is there? Our soldiers need better armor, better swords, better chariots, better bows and arrows, better scaling machines, better rams, better artillery, better guns, better tanks, better planes, better bombs, better rockets, better nerve gas . . . well, you see what I mean. At this point no one saw technology in the service of warfare as a sign that something bad was going on. They thought it was an improvement. From this point on, the frequency and severity of wars will serve as one measure of how hot the water is getting around our smiling frog. Signs of distress: 3000-1400 B.C.E.: The fire burned on under the cauldron of our culture, and the next doubling of our population took only sixteen hundred years. There were a hundred million humans now, at 1400 B.C.E., probably ninety percent of them being members of our culture. The Near East hadn’t been big enough for us for a long time. Totalitarian agriculture had moved northward and eastward into Russia and India and China, northward and westward into Asia Minor and Europe. Other kinds of agriculture had once been practiced in all these lands, but now—need I say it?—agriculture meant our style of agriculture. The water is getting hotter—always getting hotter. All the old signs of distress are there, of course—why would they go away? As the water heats up, the old signs just get bigger and more dramatic. War? The wars of the previous age were piddling affairs compared with the wars of this age. This is the Bronze Age! Real weapons, by God! Real armor! Vast standing armies, supported by unbelievable imperial wealth!
Unlike signs of war, other signs of distress aren’t cast in bronze or chiseled in stone. No one’s sculpting friezes to depict life in the slums of Memphis or Troy. No one’s writing news stories to expose official corruption in Knossos or Mohenjo-Daro. No one’s putting together film documentaries about the slave trade. Nonetheless, there’s at least one sign that can be read in the evidence: Crime was emerging as a problem. Looking out into your faces, I see how unimpressed you are with this news. Crime? Crime is universal among humans, isn’t it? No, actually it isn’t. Misbehavior, yes. Unpleasant behavior, disruptive behavior, yes. People can always be counted on to fall in love with the wrong person or to lose their tempers or to be stupid or greedy or vengeful. Crime is something else, and we all know that. What we mean by crime doesn’t exist among tribal peoples, but this isn’t because they’re nicer people than we are, it’s because they’re organized in a different way. This is worth spending a moment on. If someone irritates you—let’s say by constantly interrupting you while you’re talking— this isn’t a crime. You can’t call the police and have this person arrested, tried, and sent to prison, because interrupting people isn’t a crime. This means you have to handle it yourself, whatever way you can. But if this same person walks onto your property and refuses to leave, this is a trespass—a crime—and you can absolutely call the police and have this person arrested, tried, and maybe even sent to prison. In other words, crimes engage the machinery of the state, while other unpleasant behaviors don’t. Crimes are what the state defines as crimes. Trespassing is a crime, but interrupting is not, and we therefore have two entirely different ways of handling them—which people in tribal societies do not. Whatever the trouble is, whether it’s bad manners or murder, they handle it themselves, the way you handle the interrupter. Evoking the power of the state isn’t an option for them, because they have no state. In tribal societies, crime simply doesn’t exist as a separate category of human behavior. Note again: There’s nothing cyclical about the appearance of crime in human society. For the first time in history, people were dealing with crime. And note that crime made its appearance during the dawning age of literacy. What this means is that, as soon as people started to write, they started writing laws; this is because writing enabled them to do something they hadn’t been able to do before. Writing enabled them to define in exact, fixed terms the behaviors they wanted the state to regulate, punish, and suppress. From this point on, crime would have an identity of its own as “a problem” in our culture. Like war, it was destined to stay with us— East and West—right up to the present moment. From this point on, crime would join war as a measure of how hot the water was becoming around our smiling frog. Signs of distress: 1400-0 B.C.E. The fire burned on under the cauldron of our culture, and the next doubling of our population took only fourteen hundred years. There were two hundred million humans now, at the beginning of our “Common Era,” ninety-five percent or more of them belonging to our culture, East and West.
It was an era of political and military adventurism. Hammurabi made himself master of all Mesopotamia. Sesostris III of Egypt invaded Palestine and Syria. Assyria’s Tiglath Pileser I extended his rule to the shores of the Mediterranean. Egyptian pharaoh Sheshonk overran Palestine. Tiglath Pileser III conquered Syria, Palestine, Israel, and Babylon. Babylon’s Second Nebuchadnezzar took Jerusalem and Tyre. Cyrus the Great extended his reach across the whole of the civilized west, and two centuries later Alexander the Great made the same imperial reach. It was also an era of civil revolt and assassination. The reign of Assyria’s Shalmaneser ended in revolution. A revolt in Chalcidice against Athenian rule marked the beginning of the twenty-year-long conflict known as the Peloponnesian War. A few years later Mitylene in Lesbos also revolted. Spartans, Achaeans, and Arcadians organized a rebellion against Macedonian rule. A revolt in Egypt brought Ptolemy III home from his military campaign in Syria. Philip of Macedon was assassinated, as was Darius III of Persia, Seleucus III Soter, the Carthaginian general Hasdrubel, social reformer Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus, the Seleucid king Antiochus VIII, Chinese emperor Wong Mong, and Roman emperors Claudius and Domitian. But these weren’t the only new signs of stress observable in this age. Counterfeiting, coinage debasement, catastrophic inflation—all those nasty tricks were seen regularly now. Famine became a regular feature of life all over the civilized world, as did plague, ever symptomatic of overcrowding and poor sanitation; in 429 B.C.E. plague carried off as much as two thirds of the population of Athens. Thinkers in both China and Europe were beginning to advise people to have smaller families. Slavery became a huge, international business, and of course would remain one down to the present moment. It’s estimated that at the midpoint of the fifth century every third or fourth person in Athens was a slave. When Carthage fell to Rome in 146 B.C.E., fifty thousand of the survivors were sold as slaves. In 132 B.C.E. some seventy thousand Roman slaves rebelled; when the revolt was put down, twenty thousand were crucified, but this was far from the end of Rome’s problems with its slaves. But new signs of distress appeared in this period that were far more relevant to our purpose here tonight. For the first time in history, people were beginning to suspect that something fundamentally wrong was going on here. For the first time in history, people were beginning to feel empty, were beginning to feel that their lives were not amounting to enough, were beginning to wonder if this is all there is to life, were beginning to hanker after something vaguely more. For the first time in history, people began listening to religious teachers who promised them salvation. It’s impossible to overstate the novelty of this idea of salvation. Religion had been around in our culture for thousands of years, of course, but it had never been about salvation as we understand it or as the people of this period began to understand it. Earlier gods had been talismanic gods of kitchen and crop, mining and mist, housepainting and herding, stroked at need like lucky charms, and earlier religions had been state religions, part of the apparatus of sovereignty and governance (as is apparent from their temples, built for royal ceremonies, not for popular public devotions).
Judaism, Brahmanism, Hinduism, Shintoism, and Buddhism all came into being during this period and had no existence before it. Quite suddenly, after six thousand years of totalitarian agriculture and civilization building, the people of our culture—East and West, twins of a single birth—were beginning to wonder if their lives made sense, were beginning to perceive a void in themselves that economic success and civil esteem could not fill, were beginning to imagine that something was profoundly, even innately, wrong with them. Signs of distress: 0-1200 C.E. The fire burned on under the cauldron of our culture, and the next doubling of our population would take only twelve hundred years. There would be four hundred million humans at the end of it, ninety-eight percent of them belonging to our culture, East and West. War, plague, famine, political corruption and unrest, crime, and economic instability were fixtures of our cultural life and would remain so. Salvationist religions had been entrenched in the East for centuries when this period began, but the great empire of the West still saluted its dozens of talismanic deities, from Aeolus to Zephyrus. Nonetheless the ordinary people of that empire—the slaves, the conquered, the peasants, the unenfranchised masses—were ready when the first great salvationist religion of the West arrived on its doorstep. It was easy for them to envision humankind as innately flawed and to envision themselves as sinners in need of rescue from eternal damnation. They were eager to despise the world and to dream of a blissful afterlife in which the poor and the humble of this world would be exalted over the proud and the powerful. The fire burned on unwaveringly under the cauldron of our culture, but people everywhere now had salvationist religions to show them how to understand and deal with the inevitable discomfort of being alive. Adherents tend to concentrate on the differences between these religions, but I concentrate on their agreements, which are as follows: The human condition is what it is, and no amount of effort on your part will change that; it’s not within your power to save your people, your friends, your parents, your children, or your spouse, but there is one person (and only one) you can save, and that’s you. Nobody can save you but you, and there’s nobody you can save but yourself. You can carry the word to others and they can carry the word to you, but it never comes down to anything but this, whether it’s Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity, or Islam: Nobody can save you but you, and there’s nobody you can save but yourself. Salvation is of course the most wonderful thing you can achieve in your life—and you not only don’t have to share it, it isn’t even possible to share it. As far as these religions have it worked out, if you fail of salvation, then your failure is complete, whether others succeed or not. On the other hand, if you find salvation, then your success is complete—again, whether others succeed or not. Ultimately, as these religions have it, if you’re saved, then literally nothing else in the entire universe matters. Your salvation is what matters. Nothing else—not even my salvation (except of course, to me). This was a new vision of what counts in the world. Forget the boiling, forget the pain. Nothing matters but you and your salvation. Signs of distress: 1200-1700 It was quite a vision—but of course the fire burned on under the cauldron of our culture, and the next doubling of our population would take only five hundred years. There
would be eight hundred million humans at the end of it, ninety-nine percent of them belonging to our culture, East and West. It’s the age of bubonic plague, the Mongol Horde, the Inquisition. The first known madhouse and the first debtor’s prison are opened in London. Farm laborers revolt in France in 1251 and 1358, textile workers revolt in Flanders in 1280; War Tyler’s rebellion reduces England to anarchy in 1381, as workers of all kinds unite to demand an end to exploitation; workers riot in plague-and famine-racked Japan in 1428 and again in 1461; Russia’s serfs rise in revolt in 1671 and 1672; Bohemia’s serfs revolt eight years later. The Black Death arrives to devastate Europe in the middle of the fourteenth century and returns periodically for the next two centuries, carrying off tens of thousands with every outbreak; in two years alone in the seventeenth century it will kill a million people in northern Italy. The Jews make a handy scapegoat for everyone’s pain, for everything that goes wrong; France tries to expel them in 1252, later forces them to wear distinctive badges, later strips them of their possessions, later tries to expel them again; Britain tries to expel them in 1290 and 1306; Cologne tries to expel them in 1414; blamed for spreading the Black Death whenever and wherever it arrives, thousands are hanged and burned alive; Castile tries to expel them in 1492; thousands are slaughtered in Lisbon in 1506; Pope Paul III walls them off from the rest of Rome, creating the first ghetto. The anguish of the age finds expression in flagellant movements that foster the idea that God will not be so tempted to find extravagant punishments for us (plagues, famines, wars, and so on) if we preempt him by inflicting extravagant punishments on ourselves. For a time in 1374, Aix-la-Chapelle is in the grip of a strange mania that will fill the streets with thousands of frenzied dancers. Millions will die as famine strikes Japan in 1232, Germany and Italy in 1258, England in 1294 and 1555, all of Western Europe in 1315, Lisbon in 1569, Italy in 1591, Austria in 1596, Russia in 1603, Denmark in 1650, Bengal in 1669, Japan in 1674. Syphilis and typhus make their appearance in Europe. Ergotism, a fungus food poisoning, becomes endemic in Germany, killing thousands. An unknown sweating sickness visits and revisits England, killing tens of thousands. Smallpox, typhus, and diphtheria epidemics carry off thousands. Inquisitors develop a novel technique to combat heresy and witchcraft, torturing suspects until they implicate others, who are tortured until they implicate others, who are tortured until they implicate others, ad infinitum. The slave trade flourishes as millions of Africans are transported to the New World. I don’t bother to mention war, political corruption, and crime, which continue unabated and reach new heights. There will be few to argue with Thomas Hobbes when, in 1651, he describes the life of man as “solitary, poore, nasty, brutish, and short.” A few years later Blaise Pascal will note that “All men naturally hate one another.” The period ends in decades of economic chaos, exacerbated by revolts, famines, and epidemics. Christianity becomes the first global salvationist religion, penetrating the Far East and the New World. At the same time it fractures. The first fracture is resisted hard, but after that, disintegration becomes commonplace. Please don’t overlook the point I’m making here. I’m not collecting signals of human evil. These are reactions to overcrowding—too many people competing for too few resources, eating rotten food, drinking fouled water, watching their families starve, watching their families fall to the plague. Signs of distress: 1700-1900
The fire burned on under the cauldron of our culture, and the next doubling of our population would take only two hundred years. There would be one and a half billion humans at the end of it, all but half a percent of them belonging to our culture, East and West. It would be a period in which, for the first time, religious prophets would attract followers simply by predicting the imminent end of the world; in which the opium trade would become an international big business, sponsored by the East India Company and protected by British warships; in which Australia, New Guinea, India, Indochina, and Africa would be claimed or carved up as colonies by the major powers of Europe; in which indigenous peoples all around the world would be wiped out in the millions by diseases brought to them by Europeans— measles, pellagra, whooping cough, smallpox, cholera—with millions more herded onto reservations or killed outright to make room for white expansion. This isn’t to say that native peoples alone were suffering. Sixty million Europeans died of smallpox in the eighteenth century alone. Tens of millions died in cholera epidemics. I’d need ten minutes to list all the dozens of fatal appearances that plague, typhus, yellow fever, scarlet fever, and influenza made during this period. And anyone who doubts the integral connection between agriculture and famine need only examine the record of this period: crop failure and famine, crop failure and famine, crop failure and famine, again and again all over the civilized world. The numbers are staggering. Ten million starved to death in Bengal, 1769. Two million in Ireland and Russia in 1845 and 1846. Nearly fifteen million in China and India from 1876 to 1879. In France, Germany, Italy, Britain, Japan, and elsewhere, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands died in other famines too numerous to mention. As the cities became more crowded, human anguish reached highs that would have been unimaginable in previous ages, with hundreds of millions inhabiting slums of inconceivable squalor, prey to disease borne by rats and contaminated water, without education or means of betterment. Crime flourished as never before and was generally punished by public maiming, branding, flogging, or death; imprisonment as an alternate form of punishment developed only late in the period. Mental illness also flourished as never before—madness, derangement, whatever you choose to call it. No one knew what to do with lunatics; they were typically incarcerated alongside criminals, chained to the walls, flogged, forgotten. Economic instability remained high, and its consequences were felt more widely than ever before. Three years of economic chaos in France led directly to the 1789 revolution that claimed some four hundred thousand victims burned, shot, drowned, or guillotined. Periodic market collapses and depressions wiped out hundreds of thousands of businesses and reduced millions to starvation. The age also ushered in the Industrial Revolution, of course, but this didn’t bring ease and prosperity to the masses; rather it brought utterly heartless and grasping exploitation, with women and small children working ten, twelve, and more hours a day for starvation wages in sweatshops, factories, and mines. You can find the atrocities for yourself if you’re not familiar with them. In 1787 it was reckoned that French workers labored as much as sixteen hours a day and spent sixty percent of their wages on a diet consisting of little more than bread and water. It was the middle of the nineteenth century before the British Parliament limited children’s workdays to ten hours. Hopeless and frustrated, people everywhere became rebellious, and governments everywhere answered with systematic
repression, brutality, and tyranny. General uprisings, peasant uprisings, colonial uprisings, slave uprisings, worker uprisings—there were hundreds, I can’t even list them all. East and West, twins of a common birth, it was the age of revolutions. Tens of millions of people died in them. As ordinary, habitual interactions between governed and governors, revolt and repression were new, you understand—characteristic signs of distress of the age. The wolf and the wild boar were deliberately exterminated in Europe during this period. The great auk of Edley Island, near Iceland, was hunted to extinction for its feathers in 1844, becoming the first species to be wiped out for purely commercial purposes. In North America, in order to facilitate railway construction and undermine the food base of hostile native populations, professional hunters destroyed the bison herds, wiping out as many as three million in a single year; only a thousand were left by 1893. In this age, people no longer went to war to defend their religious beliefs. They still had them, still clung to them, but the theological divisions and disputes that once seemed so murderously important had been rendered irrelevant by more pressing material concerns. The consolations of religion are one thing, but jobs, fair wages, decent living and working conditions, freedom from oppression, and some faint hope of social and economic betterment are another. It would not, I think, be too fanciful to suggest that the hopes that had been invested in religion in former ages were in this age being invested in revolution and political reform. The promise of “pie in the sky when you die” was no longer enough to make the misery of life in the cauldron endurable. In 1843 the young Karl Marx called religion “the opium of the people.” From the greater distance of another century and a half, however, it’s clear that religion was in fact no longer very effective as a narcotic. Signs of distress: 1900-60 The fire burned on under the cauldron of our culture, and the next doubling of our population would take only sixty years—only sixty. There would be three billion humans at the end of it, all but perhaps two tenths of a percent of them belonging to our culture, East and West. What do I need to say about the water steaming in our cauldron in this era? Is it boiling yet, do you think? Does the first global economic collapse, beginning in 1929, look like a sign of distress to you? Do two cataclysmic world wars look like signs of distress to you? Stand off a few thousand miles and watch from outer space as sixty-five million people are slaughtered on battlefields or blasted to bits in bombing strikes, as another hundred million count themselves lucky to escape merely blinded, maimed, or crippled. I’m talking about a number of people equal to the entire human population in the Golden Age of classical Greece. I’m talking about the number of people you would destroy if today you dropped hydrogen bombs on Berlin, Paris, Rome, London, New York City, Tokyo, and Hong Kong. I think the water is hot, ladies and gentlemen. I think the frog is boiling. Signs of distress: 1960-96
The next doubling of our population occurred in only thirty-six years, bringing us to the present moment, when there are six billion humans on this planet, all but a few scattered millions belonging to our culture, East and West. The voices in our long chorus of distress have been added a few at a time, age by age. First came war: war as a social fixture, war as a way of life. For two thousand years or more, war seems to have been the only voice in the chorus. But before long it was joined by crime: crime as a social fixture, as a way of life. And then there was corruption: corruption as a social fixture, as a way of life. Before long, these voices were joined by slavery: slavery as world trade and as a social fixture. Soon revolt followed: citizens and slaves rising up to vent their rage and pain. Next, as population pressures gained in intensity, famine and plague found their voices and began to sing everywhere in our culture. Vast classes of the poor began to be exploited pitilessly for their labor. Drugs joined slavery as world trade. The laboring classes—the so-called dangerous classes—rose up in rebellion. The entire world economy collapsed. Global industrial powers played at world domination and genocide. And then came us: 1960 to the present. Of what does our voice sing in the chorus of distress? For some four decades the water has been boiling around the frog. One by one, thousand by thousand, million by million, its cells have shut down, unequal to the task of holding on to life. What are we looking at here? I’ll give you a name and you can tell me if I’ve got it right. I’m prepared to name it . . . cultural collapse. This is what we sing of in the chorus of distress now—not instead of all the rest, but in addition to all the rest. This is our unique contribution to our culture’s howl of pain. For the very first time in the history of the world, we bewail the collapse of everything we know and understand, the collapse of the structure on which everything has been built from the beginning of our culture until now. The frog is dead—and we can’t imagine what this means for us or for our children. We’re terrified. Have I got it right? Think about it. If I’ve got it wrong, there’s nothing more to say, of course. But if you think I’ve got it right, come back tomorrow night, and I’ll continue from this point.
Cultural Collapse: The Collapse of Values: 19 May, Schauspielhaus Wahnfried, Radenau Before our era, the chorus of distress that had assembled over the ten thousand years of our cultural life consisted of nine voices: war, crime, corruption, rebellion, famine, plague, slavery, genocide, and economic collapse. Beginning in 1960, our own era found a tenth voice to add to the chorus, a voice never heard before, and this is the voice of cultural catastrophe—a voice that wails of loss of vision, failure of purpose, and the collapse of values. Every culture has a defining place in the scheme of things, a vision of where it fits in the universe. There’s no need for people to articulate this vision in words (for example, to their children) because it’s articulated in their lives—in their history, their legends, their customs, their laws, their rituals, their arts, their dances, their stories and songs. Indeed, if you ask them to explain this vision, they won’t know how to begin and may not even know Page D.27
what you’re talking about. You might say that it’s a kind of low, murmurous song that’s in their ears from birth, heard so constantly throughout their lives that it’s never consciously heard at all. I know that many of you are familiar with the work of my colleague Ishmael, who called the singer of this song Mother Culture and identified the song itself as nothing less than mythology. The famous mythologist Joseph Campbell lamented the fact that nowadays the people of our culture have no mythology, but, as Ishmael showed us, not all mythology comes from the mouths of bards and storytellers around the fire. Another sort has come to us from the mouths of emperors, lawgivers, priests, political leaders, and prophets. Nowadays it comes to us from the pulpits of our churches, from film screens and television screens, from the mouths of clergy, schoolteachers, news commentators, novelists, pundits. It’s not a mythology of quaint tales but a mythology that tells us what the gods had in mind when they made the universe and what our role in that universe is. A people can no more function without this sort of mythology than an individual can function without a nervous system. It’s the organizing principle of all our activities. It explains to us the meaning of everything we do. It can happen that circumstances may shatter a culture’s vision of its place in the scheme of things, may render its mythology meaningless, may strangle its song. When this happens (and it’s happened many times), things fall apart in this culture. Order and purpose are replaced by chaos and bewilderment. People lose the will to live, become listless, become violent, become suicidal, and take to drink, drugs, and crime. The matrix that once held all in place is now shattered, and laws, customs, and institutions fall into disuse and disrespect, especially among the young, who see that even their elders can no longer make sense of them. If you’d like to study some peoples who have been destroyed in this way, there’s no shortage of sites to visit in the United States, Africa, South America, New Guinea, Australia—wherever, in fact, aboriginal peoples have been crushed under the wheels of our cultural juggernaut. Or you can just stay at home. You no longer need to travel to the ends of the earth to find people who have become listless, violent, and suicidal, who have taken to drink, drugs, and crime, whose laws, customs, and institutions have fallen into disuse and disrespect. We ourselves have fallen under the wheels of our juggernaut, and our own vision of our place in the scheme of things has been shattered, our own mythology has been rendered meaningless, and our own song has been strangled in our throats. These are things that we all sense. It doesn’t matter where you go or who you talk to—a rancher in Montana, a diamond merchant in Amsterdam, a stockbroker in New York, a bus driver in Hamburg. I’m just old enough to remember a time when it wasn’t so, and certainly my parents remember that time, as do yours. I’m certainly not talking about “the good old days” here. The chorus of distress was in full voice—heaven knows it was, since I’m talking about the decades following the most destructive and murderous war in human history. Even so, in the late forties and fifties, the people of our culture still knew where they were going, were still confident that a glorious future lay just ahead of us. All we had to do was to hold on to the vision and keep doing all the things that got us here in the first place. We could count on
those things. They were the things that had brought us universities and opera houses, central heating and elevators, Mozart and Shakespeare, ocean liners and motion pictures. What’s more—and you must mark this—the things that got us here were good things. In 1950 there wasn’t the slightest whisper of a doubt about this anywhere in our culture, East or West, capitalist or communist. In 1950 this was something everyone could agree on: Exploiting the world was our God-given right. The world was created for us to exploit. Exploiting the world actually improved it! There was no limit to what we could do. Cut as much down as you like, dig up as much as you like. Scrape away the forests, fill in the wetlands, dam the rivers, dump poisons anywhere you want, as much as you want. None of this was regarded as wicked or dangerous. Good heavens, why would it be? The earth was created specifically to be used in this way. It was a limitless, indestructible playroom for humans. You simply didn’t have to consider the possibility of running out of something or of damaging something. The earth was designed to take any punishment, to absorb and sweeten any toxin, in any quantity. Explode nuclear weapons? Good heavens, yes—as many as you want! Thousands, if you like. Radioactive material generated while trying to achieve our Godgiven destiny can’t harm us. Wipe out whole species? Absolutely! Why ever not? If people don’t need these creatures, then obviously they’re superfluous! To exercise such control over the world is to humanize it, is to take us a step closer to our destiny. Listen: In 1948 Paul Müller of Switzerland received a Nobel Prize for his wonderful work with dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, considered the completely ideal chemical means of wiping out unwanted insect species. Perhaps you don’t recognize it by that melodic name, dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane. I’m talking about DDT. In the 1950s and 1960s DDT flowed across the earth like milk and honey, like ambrosia. Everyone knew it was a deadly poison. Of course it was a deadly poison, that was the whole point of it! But we could use as much of it as we liked, because it couldn’t harm us. The earth, doing its job, would see to that. It would swallow all that wonderful, deadly poison and give us back sweet water, sweet land, and sweet air. It would always and forever swallow all the radioactive wastes, all the industrial wastes, all the poisons we could generate, and give us back sweet water, sweet land, and sweet air. This was the contract, this was the vision itself: The world was made for Man, and Man was made to conquer and rule it. This is what we’d been about from the beginning: conquering and ruling, taking the world as if it had been fashioned for our exclusive use, using what we wanted and discarding the rest—destroying the rest as superfluous. This was not wicked work (please note again), this was holy work! This is what God created us to do! And please don’t imagine that this was something we learned from Genesis, where God told Adam to fill the earth and subdue it. This is something we knew before Jerusalem, before Babylon, before Catal Hüyük, before Jericho, before Ali Kosh, before Zawi Chemi
Shanidar. This isn’t something the authors of Genesis taught us, this is something we taught them. Let me say again, as I must on every occasion, that this was not the human vision, not the vision that was born in us when we became Homo habilis or when Homo habilis became Homo erectus or when Homo erectus became Homo sapiens. This is the vision that was born in us when our particular culture was born, ten thousand years ago. This was the manifesto of our revolution, to be carried to every corner of the earth. The truth of this manifesto wasn’t doubted by the builders of the ziggurats of Ur or the pyramids of Egypt. It wasn’t doubted by the hundreds of thousands who labored to wall off China from the rest of the world. It wasn’t doubted by the traders who carried gold and glass and ivory from Thebes to Nippur and Larsa. It wasn’t doubted by the scribes of the Hittites and the Elamites and the Mitanni who first pressed the record of imperial conquest into clay tablets. It wasn’t doubted by the ironworkers who carried their potent secrets from Babylon to Nineveh and Damascus. It wasn’t doubted by Darius of Persia or Philip of Macedon or Alexander the Great. It wasn’t doubted by Confucius or Aristotle. It wasn’t doubted by Hannibal or Julius Caesar or Constantine, Christianity’s first imperial protector. It wasn’t doubted by the marauders who scavenged the bones of the Roman Empire—the Huns, the Vikings, the Arabs, the Avars, and others. It wasn’t doubted by Charlemagne or Genghis Khan. It wasn’t doubted by the Crusaders or by the Shiite Assassins. It wasn’t doubted by the merchants of the Hanseatic League. It wasn’t doubted by Pope Alexander VI, who in 1494 decided how the entire world should be divided among the colonizing powers of Europe. It wasn’t doubted by the pioneers of the scientific revolution—Copernicus and Kepler and Galileo. It wasn’t doubted by the great explorers of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries—and it certainly wasn’t doubted by the conquerors and settlers of the New World. It wasn’t doubted by the intellectual founders of the modern age, thinkers like Descartes, Adam Smith, David Hume, and Jeremy Bentham. It wasn’t doubted by the pathfinders of the democratic revolution, political theorists like John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. It wasn’t doubted by the countless inventors, tinkers, dabblers, investors, and visionaries of the Industrial Revolution. It wasn’t doubted by the Luddite gangs who smashed up factories in the Midlands and north of England. It wasn’t doubted by the industrial giants who built the railroads and armed the armies and rolled out the steel—the Du Ponts, the Vanderbilts, the Krupps, the Morgans, the Carnegies. It wasn’t doubted by the authors of the Communist Manifesto, by the organizers of the labor movement, or by the architects of the Russian Revolution. It wasn’t doubted by the rulers who plunged Europe into the maelstrom of World War I. It wasn’t doubted by the authors of the Treaty of Versailles or by the architects of the League of Nations. It wasn’t doubted by the Fellowship of Reconciliation or by the signers of the Oxford Pledge. It wasn’t doubted by the scores of millions who were jobless during the Great Depression. It wasn’t doubted by those who struggled to establish parliamentary democracy in Germany or by those who ultimately defeated them. It wasn’t doubted by the hundreds of thousands who labored in an industry of death created to rid humanity of “mongrel races.” It wasn’t doubted by the millions who fought World War Il or by the leaders who sent them to fight. It wasn’t doubted by the hardworking scientists and engineers who exerted their best skills to rain down terror on the cities of England and Germany.
The world was made for Man, and Man was made to conquer and rule it. This manifesto certainly wasn’t doubted by the rival teams that raced to split the atom and build a weapon capable of destroying our entire species. It wasn’t doubted by the architects of the United Nations. It wasn’t doubted by the hundreds of millions who in the postwar years dreamed of a coming utopia where people would rest and all labor would be performed by robots, where atomic power would be limitless and free, where poverty, hunger, and crime would be obsolete. But that manifesto is doubted now, ladies and gentlemen . . . almost everywhere in our culture, in all walks of life, among the young and the old, but especially among the young, for whom the dream of a glittering future in which life will become ever sweeter and sweeter and sweeter, decade after decade, century after century, has been exploded and is meaningless. Your children know better. They know better in large part because you know better. Only our politicians still insist that the world was made for Man, and Man was made to conquer and rule it. They must, as a professional obligation, still affirm and proclaim the manifesto of our revolution. If they want to hold on to their jobs, they must assure us with absolute conviction that a glorious future lies just ahead for us—provided that we march forward under the banner of conquest and rule. They reassure us of this, and then they wonder, year after year, why fewer and fewer voters go to the polls. Silent Spring and beyond I’ve said that this new era of the collapse of values began in 1960. Strictly speaking, it should be dated to 1962, the year of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, the first substantive challenge ever issued to the motivating vision of our culture. The facts Carson brought forward to detail the devastating environmental effects of DDT and other pesticides were astounding: DDT didn’t just do its intended job of killing unwanted insects; it had entered the avian food chain, disrupting reproductive processes and breaking down egg structures, with the result that many species had already been destroyed and many more were threatened, making it not unthinkable that the world might someday wake to a silent spring— a spring without birds. But Silent Spring wasn’t just another sensational exposé, welcome in any publishing season. With a single powerful blow, it shattered for all time a complex of fundamental articles of our cultural faith: that the world was capable of repairing any damage we might do to it; that the world was designed to do precisely this; that the world was “on our side” in our aggrandizement, would always tolerate and facilitate our efforts; that God himself had fashioned the world specifically to support our efforts to conquer and rule it. The facts in Silent Spring plainly contradicted all these ideas. Something presumably beneficial to us was not being tolerated and facilitated by the world. The world was not supporting our cultural vision. God was not supporting our cultural vision. The world was not unequivocally on our side. God was not unequivocally on our side.If the matter had ended with Rachel Carson and DDT, our cultural vision would surely have cleared up and recovered, but as we all know, Rachel Carson and DDT were only the barest beginning. Carson was just the first to look, the first to show us that there was something new here to be seen. Dozens, hundreds, thousands have looked since then, and the more they’ve looked, the more they’ve shattered our cultural faith. I won’t review it for you. In an evening I could
barely scratch the surface, and I’d only be telling you things discoverable in any encyclopedia. It comes down to this: In our present numbers and enacting our present dreams, the human race is having a lethal impact upon the world. Lakes are dying, seas are dying, forests are dying, the land itself is dying—for reasons directly traceable to our activities. As many as a hundred and forty species are vanishing every day—for reasons directly traceable to our activities. Listen, I hear you squirming in your seats—but I’m not saying these things to make you feel guilty. That’s not my purpose here at all. I’m here tonight to figure out . . . what’s gone wrong here. Theories: What’s gone wrong here? Every year more and more children are born out of wedlock. Every year more and more children live in broken homes. Every year more and more people are bruised and battered by crime. Every year more and more children are abused and murdered. Every year more and more women are raped. Every year more and more people are afraid to walk the streets at night. Every year more and more people commit suicide. Every year more and more people become addicted to drugs and alcohol. Every year more and more people are imprisoned as criminals. Every year more and more people find routine entertainment in murderous violence and pornography. Every year more and more people immolate themselves in lunatic cults, delusional terrorism, and sudden, uncontrollable bursts of violence. The theories that are advanced to explain these things are for the most part commonplace generalities, truisms, and platitudes. They are the received wisdom of the ages. You hear, for example, that the human race is fatally and irremediably flawed. You hear that the human race is a sort of planetary disease that Gaia will eventually shake off. You hear that insatiable capitalist greed is to blame or that technology is to blame. You hear that parents are to blame or the schools are to blame or rock and roll is to blame. Sometimes you hear that the symptoms themselves are to blame: things like poverty, oppression, and injustice, things like overcrowding, bureaucratic indifference, and political corruption. These are some of the common theories advanced to explain what’s gone wrong here. You’ll hear others. Most of them have to be deduced from the remedies that are proposed to correct them. Usually these remedies are expressed in this form: All we have to do is . . . something. Elect the right party. Get rid of this leader. Handcuff the liberals. Handcuff the conservatives. Write stricter laws. Give longer prison sentences. Bring back the death penalty. Kill Jews, kill ancient enemies, kill foreigners, kill somebody. Meditate. Pray the Rosary. Raise consciousness. Evolve to some new plane of existence. I want you to understand what I’m doing here. I’m proposing a new theory to explain what’s gone wrong. This is not a minor variation, not a smartening up of conventional wisdom. This is something unheard of, something entirely novel in our intellectual history. Here it is: We’re experiencing cultural collapse. The very same collapse that was experienced by the Plains Indians when their way of life was destroyed and they were herded onto reservations. The very same collapse that was
experienced by countless aboriginal peoples overrun by us in Africa, South America, Australia, New Guinea, and elsewhere. It matters not that the circumstances of the collapse were different for them and for us, the results were the same. For both of us, in just a few decades, shocking realities invalidated our vision of the world and made nonsense of a destiny that had always seemed self-evident. The outcome was the same for both of us: Things fell apart. It doesn’t matter whether you live in tepees or skyscrapers, things fall apart. Order and purpose are replaced by chaos and bewilderment. People lose the will to live, become listless, become violent, become suicidal, and take to drink, drugs, and crime. The matrix that once held all in place is shattered, and laws, customs, and institutions fall into disuse and disrespect, especially among the young, who see that even their elders can no longer make sense of them. And that’s what’s happened here, to us. The frog is dead. Circumstances have at last shattered our mad cultural vision, have at last rendered our self-aggrandizing mythology meaningless, have at last strangled our arrogant song. We’ve lost our ability to believe that the world was made for Man and that Man was made to conquer and rule it. We’ve lost our ability to believe that the world will automatically and inevitably support us in our conquest, will swallow all the poison we can generate without coming to harm. We’ve lost our ability to believe that God is unequivocally on our side against the rest of creation. And so, ladies and gentlemen, we’re . . . going to pieces.
We are Not Humanity At last, good news A woman recently told me she wanted to bring a friend to hear me speak, but her friend said, “I’m sorry, but I can’t stand to hear any more bad news.” [Laughter] Yes, it is funny, because you know that, oddly enough, you’re here in this theater listening to me because you absolutely know that I’m a bringer of good news. Yes, that’s so, and because you know it’s so, you laugh. You’re already feeling better! You’re absolutely right to feel better, and here’s why. It’s really quite simple. Here is my good news: We are not humanity. Can you feel the liberation in those words? Try them out. Go ahead. Just whisper them to yourselves: We . . . are not . . . humanity. We are not humanity. I want you to understand what these four words are. They are a summary of all that was forgotten during the Great Forgetting. I mean that quite literally. At the end of the Great Forgetting, when the people of our culture began to build civilization in earnest, those four words were practically unthinkable. In a sense, that’s what the Great Forgetting was all about: We forgot that we’re only a single culture and came to think of ourselves as humanity itself. All the intellectual and spiritual foundations of our culture were laid by people who believed absolutely that we are humanity itself. Thucycdides believed it. Socrates believed it. Plato believed it. Aristotle believed it. Ssuma Ch’ien believed it. Gautama Buddha believed it. Confucius believed it. Moses believed it. Jesus believed it. St. Paul believed it. Muhammad believed it. Avicenna believed it. Thomas Aquinas believed it. Copernicus believed it. Galileo
and Descartes believed it, though they could easily have known better. Hume, Hegel, Nietzsche, Marx, Kant, Kierkegaard, Bergson, Heidegger, Sartre, and Camus—they all took it for granted, though they certainly didn’t lack the requisite information to know better. But you’re bound to be wondering why it would be such bad news if we were humanity? I’ll try to explain. If we were humanity itself, then all the terrible things we say about humanity would be true—and that would be very bad news. If we were humanity itself, then all our destructiveness would belong not to one misguided culture but to humanity itself—and that would be very bad news. If we were humanity itself, then the fact that our culture is doomed would mean that humanity itself is doomed—and that would be very bad news. If we were humanity itself, then the fact that our culture is the enemy of life on this planet would mean that humanity itself is the enemy of life on this planet—and that would be very bad news. If we were humanity itself, then the fact that our culture is hideous and misshapen would mean that humanity itself is hideous and misshapen—very bad news indeed. But we’re not humanity, we’re just one culture—one culture out of hundreds of thousands that have lived their vision on this planet and sung their song—and that’s wonderful news, even for us! If it were humanity that needed changing, then we’d be out of luck. But it isn’t humanity that needs changing, it’s just . . . us. And that’s very good news.
Population: A Systems Approach: 21 May, Stuttgart Because the ideas I’m going to be presenting here have proved to be so unsettling for people, I’ve learned to approach them cautiously, from a good, safe distance—a good, safe distance being in this case about two hundred thousand years. Two hundred thousand years ago is when a new species called Homo sapiens first began to be seen on this planet. As with any young species, there were not many members of it to begin with. Since our subject is population, I’d better clarify what I mean by that. We have an approximate date for the emergence of Homo sapiens because we have fossil remains—and we have fossil remains because a sufficient number of this species lived around this time to provide those fossil remains. In other words, when I say that Homo sapiens appeared about two hundred thousand years ago, I’m not talking about the first two of them or the first hundred of them. But neither am I talking about the first million of them. Two hundred thousand years ago, there was a bunch. Let’s say ten thousand. Over the next hundred ninety thousand years, Homo sapiens grew in numbers and migrated to every continent of the world. The passage of these hundred ninety thousand years brings us to the opening of the historical era on this planet. It brings us to the beginning of the agricultural revolution that stands at the foundation of our civilization. This is about ten thousand years ago, and the human population at that time is estimated to have been around ten million.
I want to spend a couple minutes now just looking at that period of growth from ten thousand people to ten million people. As it happens, what this period of growth represents is ten doublings. From ten thousand to twenty thousand, from twenty thousand to forty thousand, from forty thousand to eighty thousand, and so on. Start with ten thousand, double it ten times, and you wind up with about ten million. So: Our population doubled ten times in a hundred ninety thousand years. Went from about ten thousand to ten million. That’s growth. Undeniable growth, definite growth, even substantial growth . . . but growth at an infinitesimal rate. Here’s how infinitesimal it was: On the average, our population was doubling every nineteen thousand years. That’s slow— glacially slow. At the end of this period, which is to say ten thousand years ago, this began to change very dramatically. Growth at an infinitesimal rate became growth at a rapid rate. Starting at ten million, our population doubled not in nineteen thousand years but in five thousand years, bringing it to twenty million. The next doubling—doubling and a bit—took only two thousand years, bringing us to fifty million. The next doubling took only sixteen hundred years, bringing us to one hundred million. The next doubling took only fourteen hundred years—bringing us to two hundred million at the zero point of our calendar. The next doubling took only twelve hundred years, bringing us to four hundred million. The year was 1200 A.D. The next doubling took only five hundred years, bringing us to eight hundred million in 1700. The next doubling took only two hundred years, bringing us to a billion and a half in 1900. The next doubling took only sixty years, bringing us to three billion in 1960. The next doubling will take only thirty-seven years or so. Within ten or twenty months we’ll reach six billion, and if this growth trend continues unchecked, many of us in this room will live long enough to see us reach twelve billion. I won’t attempt to imagine for you what that will mean. At a rough guess, my personal guess, take everything bad that you see going on now— environmental destruction, terrorism, crime, drugs, corruption, suicide, mental illness— violence of every kind—and multiply by four . . . at least. But, believe it or not, I’m not here to depress you with gloomy pictures of the future. We have a population problem. There are a few people around who think that everything is fine, and we don’t have a population problem at all, but I’m not here to change their minds. I’m here to suggest that the angle of attack we’ve traditionally taken on this problem is ineffective and can never be anything but ineffective. After that, I want to show you a more promising angle of attack. But right now I’d like to read you a fable that I think you’ll find relevant. It’s about some people with a population problem of their own and the way they go about attacking it. It’s called “Blessing: A Fable About Population.” Blessing: A Fable About Population It happened once, on a planet not much different from our own, that researchers at a drug company got lucky with a substance they were testing as a pain reliever. Ingesting this substance, called D3346, pain-ridden mice began to exhibit signs of relief: They were friskier, they mated more often, their appetites improved, and so on. Human tests made company officials ecstatic. D3346 outperformed much more powerful drugs and had no deleterious side effects (aside from imparting to the subject an objectionable odor that soon disappeared when the drug was discontinued).
The new drug worked so well that the marketing department knew they had more than a mere painkiller on their hands. People put up with a host of small aches and pains more or less all the time, and simply by getting rid of them, D3346 gave users a feeling of well-being so intense that it almost amounted to a “high.” The name Blessing was adopted for the new product without discussion, as was its slogan: “Works on pain you didn’t even know you had!” The drug was initially marketed in pill and liquid forms, but in less than a year someone had the bright idea of packaging it as a powder in disposable shakers designed to take their place beside the salt and pepper on the dining-room table. Within months, all “medicinal” forms had disappeared from store shelves, and Blessing was no longer “taken for pain.” It had become just another beneficial food additive, like a vitamin. No one was surprised when, nine months after the introduction of the drug, the birth rate began to climb. This had been predicted, and everyone understood the reasons for it. Blessing didn’t increase fertility or sexual appetite; it wasn’t an aphrodisiac. People using it just felt better—more playful, more affectionate, more outgoing. It was predicted that the birth rate would soon level off—and it did . . . at about ten percent above the old rate. On this planet, the people I’ve been talking about did not constitute a dominant world culture, as we do—but they soon began to be noticed globally. In the first place, they smelled bad, which earned them the name by which they became known all across the world: the Stinkards. In the second place, responding to internal population pressures, they were incorrigible trespassers and encroachers. Nonetheless, the Stinkards usually managed to do their encroaching without violence . . . by sending Blessing ahead of them. It didn’t matter that no one wanted to end up smelling like the Stinkards. The Blessing was there, and few could resist taking just an occasional dose for a sore back or a headache, and before long they were using it like table salt. People began by loathing the Stinkards and passionately resisting their encroachments, but ended up becoming Stinkards themselves. After a few hundred years the Stinkard expansion came to an end—because there were no new lands to expand into. The entire planet was Stinkard. Farsighted leaders realized that population was soon going to be an urgent problem, but a century passed without significant action being taken. The human population, having no reason to do anything else, continued to grow. Famine became a familiar feature of life in certain parts of the world, and in some quarters the problem came to be understood not as one of curbing growth but as one of increasing food production. Another century passed, and the human population continued to expand. In informed circles, people began to practice and advocate various population-control strategies, ranging from birth control in one form or another to school programs designed to reduce teenage pregnancies, but none of these initiatives had any measurable effect. As more and more people became aware of the crisis, sociologists and economists began to probe more deeply for its causes. They noted, for example, that in many parts of the world, having children was a means of financial success; lacking other economic opportunities, especially for women, people brought children into the world to serve as unpaid workers and guarantors of old-age security.
One biohistorian by the name of Spry tried to draw people’s attention to the fact that, before the appearance of Blessing, the human population of the planet had been virtually stable, but his listeners had a hard time seeing the connection between the two things. Dr. Spry tried to explain. “If you introduce Blessing into the diet of any species,” he said, “the result will be the same: The birth rate will increase. Without any offsetting increase in the death rate, the species’ overall population will inevitably increase as well.” The professor’s listeners really had no notion of what he was getting at, since Blessing had been a constant feature of the human diet for a thousand years, and they couldn’t begin to imagine how it felt to live without it. He had to explain very patiently that, without a constant intake of Blessing, everyone would experience a whole host of minor aches and pains, and experiencing these minor aches and pains, they would be slightly less frisky, slightly less playful, slightly less affectionate, slightly less outgoing —-and slightly less inclined to mate. As a result, the birth rate would go down, and the population would soon become stable once again. “Are you saying that the solution to our population problem is to live in pain?” people asked him incredulously. “That’s a complete exaggeration of my point,” the professor said. “Before Blessing came along, people didn’t think of themselves as ‘living in pain.’ They were not living in pain. They were just living.” Others said, “This is really all beside the point. Dr. Spry has already pointed out that Blessing isn’t an aphrodisiac and doesn’t in itself increase fertility. The fact that we use Blessing doesn’t compel us to mate more often. We can mate as little or as much as we want. What’s more, we can also use any number of contraceptive methods to avoid pregnancy. So it’s hard to see what Blessing has to do with the matter at all.” “It has this to do with it,” Dr. Spry replied. “If you make Blessing available to any species, the members of that species will mate more often, and their birth rate will rise. It’s not a question of what you or I will do—whether you or I will elect to use contraceptives, for example. It’s a question of what the species as a whole will do. And I can demonstrate this experimentally: The birth rate of any species with free access to Blessing will increase. It doesn’t matter whether it’s mice or cats or lizards or chickens—or humans. This isn’t a matter of what individuals do, this is a matter of what whole populations do.” But the professor’s audiences always indignantly rejected this observation. “We’re not mice!” they would yell. “We’re not cats or lizards or chickens!” Increasingly regarded as a crank and an extremist, Dr. Spry eventually lost his teaching post and with it his credibility as an authority on any subject, and was heard from no more. The population crisis mounted. Environmental biologists estimated that the human population had already exceeded the carrying capacity of the planet and was headed for a catastrophic collapse. Even former scoffers and optimists began to see that something had to change. Finally the heads of state of the major world powers convened a global conference to study and discuss the issues. It was an impressive event, unprecedented in human history.
Thousands of thinkers from dozens of disciplines came together to put the problem under scrutiny. The concept of control soon emerged as the overriding theme of the conference. Population control, of course, was the subject itself. But achieving control of population implied control on all sorts of levels and in all sorts of ways. New economic controls would encourage couples to control family size. In backward lands, where women were little more than breeding machines, new social controls would release their creativity to enhance family prosperity. Birth-control devices, birth-control substances, and birth-control strategies needed wider dissemination. Naturally, on the level of the individual, personal control needed to be improved. Educational controls were hotly debated, with some arguing that controls were needed to keep children ignorant about sex while others argued that controls were needed to make children aware of sex. Control, control, control—it was a word heard ten thousand times, a million times. Unlike the word Blessing. At the Stinkards’ great global conference on population, Blessing wasn’t a major topic— or even a minor topic. In fact, Blessing wasn’t even mentioned once. People who hear this parable naturally want to know how to interpret it. They can see that the Stinkards were fundamentally irrational when they refused to acknowledge the connection between Blessing and their population explosion. The connection seems obvious. The Stinkards’ population explosion began exactly with the introduction of Blessing, and the introduction of Blessing would clearly produce the result observed. Logic and history combine to indict Blessing as the cause of the Stinkard population explosion. Logic and history combine to suggest that removing this cause would end the explosion and restore population stability. But what in our own culture corresponds to Blessing? I’ll answer an easier question first and tell you that my role here today corresponds exactly to the role of the unfortunate Dr. Spry. I will name to you the cause of our population explosion—with far more evidence and plausibility than Dr. Spry was able to muster in the case of Blessing—and then we’ll see. I’m used to people becoming enraged with me on this issue. They become enraged because, like Dr. Spry, I’m indicting what is perceived to be the very foremost blessing of our culture—a blessing far more essential to our way of life than any mere pain reliever. Growth and the ABCs of ecology Among life-forms found on the surface of our planet, all food energy originates in the green plants and nowhere else. The energy that originates in green plants is passed on to creatures who feed on the plants, and is passed on again to predators who feed on plant eaters, and is passed on again to predators who feed on those predators, and is passed on again to scavengers who return to the soil nutrients that green plants need to keep the cycle going. All this can be said to be the A of the ABCs of ecology.
The various feeding and feeder populations of the community maintain a dynamic balance, by feeding and being fed upon. Imbalances within the community—caused, for example, by disease or natural disasters —tend to be damped down and eradicated as the various populations of the community go about their usual business of feeding and being fed upon, generation after generation. Viewed in systems terms, the dynamic of population growth and decline in the biological community is a negative feedback system. If you’ve got too many deer in the forest, they’re going to gobble up their food base—and this reduction in their food base will cause their population to decline. And as their population declines, their food base replenishes itself—and since this replenishment makes more food available to the deer, the deer population grows. In turn, the growth of the deer population depletes the availability of food, which in turn causes a decline in the deer population. Within the community, food populations and feeder populations control each other. As food populations increase, feeder populations increase. As feeder populations increase, food populations decrease. As food populations decrease, feeder populations decrease. As feeder populations decrease, food populations increase. And so on. This is the B of the ABCs of ecology. For systems thinkers, the natural community provides a perfect model of negative feedback. A simpler model is the thermostat that controls your furnace. Conditions at the thermostat convey the information “Too cold,” and the thermostat turns the furnace on. After a while, conditions at the thermostat convey the information “Too hot,” and the thermostat turns the furnace off. Negative feedback. Great stuff. The A of the ABCs of ecology is food. The community of life is nothing else. It’s flying food, running food, swimming food, crawling food, and of course just sitting-there-andgrowing food. The B of the ABCs of ecology is this, that the ebb and flow of all populations is a function of food availability. An increase in food availability for a species means growth. A reduction in food availability means decline. Always. Because it’s so important let me say that another way: invariably. An increase in food availability for a species means growth. A reduction means decline. Every time, ever and always. Semper et ubique. Without exception. Never otherwise. More food, growth. Less food, decline. Count on it. There is no species that dwindles in the midst of abundance, no species that thrives on nothing. This is the B of the ABCs of ecology. Defeating the system’s controls With the A and the B of ecology in hand, we’re ready to go back and look again at the origin of our population explosion. For a hundred and ninety thousand years our species grew at an infinitesimal rate from a few thousand to ten million. Then about ten thousand years ago we began to grow rapidly. This was not a miraculous event or an accidental event or even a mysterious event. We began to grow more rapidly because we’d found a way to defeat the negative feedback controls of the community. We’d become food producers—agriculturalists. In other words, we’d found a way to increase food availability at will.
This ability to make food available at will is the blessing on which our civilization is founded. It’s also the blessing that the pain reliever in my parable stands for. The ability to produce food at will is an undoubted blessing, but its very blessedness can make it dangerous—and dangerously addictive—just like the analgesic in my fable. “At will” is the operative expression here. Because we could now produce food at will, our population was no longer subject to control by food availability on a random basis. Anytime we wanted more food, we could grow it. After a hundred and ninety thousand years of being limited by what was available, we began to control what was available—and invariably we began to increase what was available. You don’t become a farmer in order to reduce food availability, you become a farmer to increase food availability. And so do the folks next door. And so do the folks farming throughout your region. You are all involved in increasing food availability for your species. And here comes the B in the ABCs of ecology: An increase in food availability for a species means growth for that species. In other words, ecology predicts that the blessing of agriculture will bring us growth—and history confirms ecology’s prediction. As soon as we began to increase the availability of our own food, our population began to grow—not glacially, as before, when we were subject to the community’s negative feedback controls— but rapidly. Population expansion among agriculturalists was followed by territorial expansion among agriculturalists. Territorial expansion made more land available for food production— and no one goes into farming to reduce food production. More land, more food production, more population growth. With more people, we need more food. With more food available, we soon have more people—as predicted by the laws of ecology. With more people, we need more food. With more food, we soon have more people. With more people, we need more food. With more food, we soon have more people. Positive feedback, this is called, in systems terminology. Another example: When conditions at the thermostat convey the information “Too hot,” the thermostat turns the furnace ON instead of OFF. That’s positive feedback. Negative feedback checks an increasing effect. Positive feedback reinforces an increasing effect. Positive feedback is what we see at work in this agricultural revolution of ours. Increased population stimulates increased food production, which increases the population. More food, more people. More people, more food. More food, more people. More people, more food. More food, more people. Positive feedback. Bad stuff. Dangerous stuff. The experiment run 10,000 times What is observed in the human population is that intensification of production to feed an increased population invariably leads to a still greater increase in population. I’ve seen this called a paradox, but in fact it’s only what the laws of ecology predict. Listen to it again: “Intensification of production to feed an increased population invariably leads to a still greater increase in population.” Objections
I’ve been surprised by how challenging people find these ideas. They feel menaced by them. They get angry. They feel I’m attacking the foundation of their lives. They feel I’m calling into question the blessedness of the greatest blessing of civilized life. They somehow feel I’m questioning the sacredness of human life itself. I’d like to deal with some of the objections people make to these ideas. I do this not to discourage you from expressing objections of your own but because I can express these objections as rudely as I like to myself without making anyone nervous. I’ll deal with the most general objection first, which is that humans are not mice. This is of course absolutely true, especially at the individual level. Each of us as an individual is capable of making reproductive choices that mice absolutely cannot make. Nonetheless—and this is the point that ecology makes and that I’ve made here today—our behavior as a biological population is indistinguishable from the behavior of any other biological population. In defense of that statement, I offer the evidence of ten thousand years of obedience to this fundamental law of ecology: An increase in food availability for a species means growth for that species. I’ve been told that it doesn’t have to be this way. I’ve been told that it’s possible for us to increase food production and simultaneously reduce our population. This is basically the position taken by birth-control advocates. This is basically the position taken by well-intentioned organizations that undertake to improve indigenous agricultural techniques in Third World countries. They want to give technologically undeveloped peoples the means of increasing their population with one hand and birth-control aids with the other hand—even though we know full well that these birthcontrol aids don’t even work for us! They’re certain that we can go on increasing food production while ending population growth through birth control. This represents a denial of the B in the ABCs of ecology. History—and not just thirty years of history but ten thousand years of history—offers no support whatever for the idea that we can simultaneously increase food production and end population growth. On the contrary, history resoundingly confirms what ecology teaches: If you make more food available, there will be more people to consume it. Obviously the matter is different at the individual level. Old Macdonald on his farm can increase food production and simultaneously hold his family’s growth to zero, but this clearly isn’t the end of the story. What’s he going to do with that increase he produced on his farm? Is he going to soak it in gasoline and burn it? If so, then he hasn’t actually produced an increase at all. Is he going to sell it? Presumably that is what he’s going to do with it, and if he does sell it, then that increase enters the annual agricultural increase that serves to support our global population growth. I’m often told that even if we stop increasing food production, our population will continue to grow. This represents a denial of both the A and the B of the ABCs of ecology. The A in the ABCs of ecology is this: We are food. We are food because we are what we eat— and what we eat is food. To put it plainly, each and every one of us is made from food. When people tell me that our population will continue to add new millions even if we stop increasing food production, then I have to ask what these additional millions of people will be made of, since no additional food is being produced for them. I have to say, “Please
bring me some of these people, because if they’re not made of food, I want to know what they are made of. Is it moonbeams or rainbow dust or starlight or angel’s breath or what?” Almost invariably someone asks if I’m not aware that population growth is much slower in the food-rich North than in the food-poor South. This fact seems to be offered as proof that human societies are not subject to the laws of ecology, which (it is assumed) predict that the more food the faster the growth. But this is not what ecology predicts. Let me repeat that: Ecology does not predict that the population in a food-rich area will grow more rapidly than the population in a food-poor area. What ecology predicts is: When more food is made available, the population will increase. Every year more food is made available in the North, and every year the population increases. Every year more food is made available in the South, and every year the population increases. Then I will be told very emphatically that more food is not being made available in the South. The population is growing like wildfire, but this growth is not being supported by any increase in food. All I can say about this is, if what you say is true, then we are clearly in the presence of a miracle. These people are not being made from food, because, according to you, no food is being made available for them. They must be made of air or icicles or dirt. But if it turns out—as I strongly suspect it will—that these people are not made of air or icicles or dirt but ordinary flesh and blood, then I’ll have to say, what do you think this stuff is? [Here B grabbed the skin on his arm.] Do you think you can make this flesh and blood out of nothing? No, the existence of the flesh and blood is proof that these people are being made out of food. And if there are more people here this year, this is proof that there is more food here this year. And of course I have to deal with the starving millions. Don’t we have to continue to increase food production in order to feed the starving millions? There are two things to understand here. The first is that the excess that we produce each year does not go to feed the starving millions. It didn’t go to feed the starving millions in 1995, it didn’t go to feed the starving millions in 1994, it didn’t go to feed the starving millions in 1993, it didn’t go to feed the starving millions in 1992—and it won’t go to feed the starving millions in 1996. Where did it go? It went to fuel our population explosion. That’s the first thing. The second thing is that everyone involved in the problem of world hunger knows that the problem is not a shortage of food. Producing more food does not solve the problem, because that’s simply not the problem. Producing more food just produces more people. Then people will ask, “Don’t you realize that our agricultural base is already being destroyed? We’re eliminating millions of tons of topsoil every year. Even the sea isn’t yielding as much food as before. Yet the population explosion continues.” The point of the objection is contained in that last sentence: Our food production capacity is declining, yet the population explosion continues. This nonfact is offered as proof that there is no connection between food and growth. Once again, I’m afraid I must insist that this is magical thinking. Our population explosion can no more continue without food than a fire can continue without fuel. The fact that our population continues to grow year after year is proof that we’re producing more food year after year. Until people start showing up who are made of shadows or metal filings or gravel—when that happens, then I’ll have to back off this point.
When all else fails, it will be objected that the people of the world will not tolerate a limit on food. That may be, but it has nothing to do with the facts I’ve presented here. No one has ever specifically asked me what I have against birth control, but I’ll answer the question anyway. I don’t have a thing against birth control as such. It just represents very poor problem-solving strategy. The rule in crisis management is, Don’t make it your goal to control effects, make it your goal to control causes. If you control causes, then you don’t have to control effects. This is why they make you go through airport security before you get on the plane. They don’t want to control effects. They want to control causes. Birth control is a strategy aimed at effects. Food-production control is a strategy aimed at causes. We’d better have a look at it.
D.5: Identity and Dignity in Ubuntu Mythology … as the Bible is to Christianity, so is ubuntu to an African person. Ubuntu is therefore an “Isintu Bible”. This “Isintu Bible” is an oral Bible, since our forefathers lived in a prescientific age. To have ubuntu is to have what is expected of a human person, which is to embrace family values, the community values and today we can add that it embraces the values of Christ. Jesus could rightly be said that he had the value of ubuntu in its totality. In as much as he embraced our human form, so he also embraced this value. -- Mthokozisi Maseko16 “One of the High Laws of the Bantu is the law of revenge...The result of this law is that there are blood-feuds going on all over Africa which show no sign of dying out. Some of these have been going on for generations. The Zulus have been feuding with the Basutus (Sothos), and also with the Shanganes of Portuguese East Africa (Mozambique), for more than a century. The feud between the Baluba and some of its neighbouring tribes has been going on for nearly six hundred years, while the feud between the Masai and the Wakambi in Kenya has now entered its tenth century.”. --Credo Mutwa “My People” (1969), Page 24417
a: Ubuntu & Challenges of Multiculturalism in South Africa In Ubuntu and the Challenges of Multiculturalism in post-apartheid South Africa18, themes also repeated in Ubuntu an African Assessment of the Religious Other19, Dirk Louw, of Dept of Philosophy, University of the North writes: Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu.20 Motho ke motho ka batho. These are, respectively, the Zulu21 and Sotho versions of a traditional African aphorism, often translated as: "a person 16 The dignity of the human person: A contribution of the Theology of Ubuntu to theological anthropology, by Mcunu, TN, 2004; Unpublished Masters Thesis. Pretoria. UNISA (2004:32) 17 My People-The writings of a Zulu witch-doctor, by Credo Mutwa. (1969) ISBN 014003210X 18 Ubuntu and the Challenges of Multiculturalism in post-apartheid South Africa © Dirk J. Louw, Department of Philosophy, University of the North, Private Bag X1106, Sovenga 0727, South Africa 19 Ubuntu: An African Assessment of the Religious Other, Louw Dirk J, Philosophy in Africa, University of the North 20 Alternatively: Umuntu ungumuntu ngabanye abantu. 21 Which is also the Xhosa version, though Xhosa equivalents usually exclude the “u” after the “m” to make: Umntu ngumntu ngabantu (cf. for example Goduka & Swadener, 1999:38) or Umntu ungumntu ngabanye abantu. Thanks to Thobeka Daki for pointing this out.
is a person through other persons" (Ramose, 1999:49f; Shutte, 1993:46). Its central concept, “Ubuntu”, 22 means “humanity”, “humanness”, or even “humaneness”. These translations involve a considerable loss of culture-specific meaning. But, be that as it may, generally speaking, the maxim umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu articulates a basic respect and compassion for others. 23 As such, it is both a factual description and a rule of conduct or social ethic. It not only describes human being as "being-with-others", but also prescribes how we should relate to others, i.e. what "being-with-others" should be all about. The 1997 South African Governmental White Paper on Social Welfare officially recognises Ubuntu as: The principle of caring for each other’s well-being…and a spirit of mutual support…Each individual’s humanity is ideally expressed through his or her relationship with others and theirs in turn through recognition of the individual’s humanity. Ubuntu means that people are people through other people. It also acknowledges both the rights and the responsibilities of every citizen in promoting individual and societal well-being.24 …… Ubuntu and religion The first important overlap between Ubuntu and a decolonising assessment of the other, has to do with a fundamental presupposition of such an assessment in cases where the other happens to be religious, viz. the fact that Ubuntu respects the religiosity or religiousness of the religious other. While many strands in Western Humanism tend to underestimate or even deny the importance of religious beliefs, Ubuntu or African Humanism is resiliently religious (Prinsloo, 1995:4; 1998:46). For the Westerner, the maxim "A person is a person through other persons" has no obvious religious connotations. S/he will probably interpret it as nothing but a general appeal to treat others with respect and decency. However, in African tradition this maxim has a deeply religious meaning. The person one is to become "through other persons" is, ultimately, an ancestor. And, by the same token, these "other persons" include ancestors. Ancestors are extended family.25 Dying is an ultimate homecoming. Not only the living must therefore share with and care for each other, but the living and the dead depend on each other (Van Niekerk, 1994:2; Ndaba, 1994:13-14). ….. In fact, even the faintest attempt at an “original”26 or indigenous understanding of Ubuntu can hardly overlook the strong religious or quasi-religious connotations of this concept. According to traditional African thought, “becoming a person through other persons” involves going through various community prescribed stages and being involved 22 The word “ubuntu” is also used in other Bantu languages, for example Xhosa and Ndebele. Some Southern African equivalents include: “botho” (in Sotho or Tswana), “(h)unhu” (Shona), “bunhu” (Tsonga), and “vhutu” (Venda). 23 Many definitions of Ubuntu have already been given, all of which relate closely to the one given here (cf. for example Broodryk, 1995:5f; 1997a:1-2; 1997b:27f; Bhengu, 1996:1-12; Prinsloo, 1994; 1995:2; 1998:41-43; Sindane, 1994:1-2; 1995:8-9; Teffo, 1995:1-2; Pityana, 1999:144-145). 24 Cf. also the Government Gazette, 02/02/1996, No.16943, p.18, paragraph 18, as cited by Broodryk (1997a:1). 25 For an explanation of the Ubuntu conception of "extended family", cf. Broodryk (1997a:14; 1997b:70f; Shutte, 1998a:18). 26 As Ramose (1999:133-134) rightly points out, it is impossible to restore the so-called “original” version of Ubuntu. Our understanding of Ubuntu can at best be an innovative reconstruction of traditional conceptions. But, whatever traditional understandings and applications of Ubuntu might have been (or still are), surely the more important question has to be: Given the current call and need for an African Renaissance, how should Ubuntu be understood and utilized for the common good of all Africans, and of the world at large? (cf. Ramose, 1999:163-164; Shutte, 1998a:20).
in certain ceremonies and initiation rituals. Before being incorporated into the body of persons through this route, one is regarded merely as an “it”, i.e. not yet a person. Not all human beings are therefore persons. Personhood is acquired. Moreover, initiation does not only incorporate one into personhood within the community of the living, but also establishes a link between the initiated and the community of the living-dead or ancestors (Ramose, 1999:81, 88). Through circumcision and clitoridectomy blood is spilled onto the soil, a sacrifice is made which binds the initiated person to the land and consequently to the departed members of his [or her – DJL] society. It says that the individual is alive and that he or she now wishes to be tied to the community and people, among whom he or she has been born as a child. This circumcision blood is like making a covenant, or a solemn agreement, between the individual and his [her] people. Until the individual has gone through the operation, he [she] is still an outsider. Once he [she] has shed his [her] blood, he [she] joins the stream of his [her] people, he [she] becomes truly one with them (Mbiti, 1975, in Ramose, 1999:88; cf. also Kimmerle, 1995:42). …………… Ubuntu and consensus A second important overlap between Ubuntu and a decolonising assessment of the other, pertains to the extremely important role which agreement or consensus plays within this assessment. Without a common scale, i.e. without an agreement or consensus on criteria, the beliefs and practices of the other simply cannot be judged without violating them. Ubuntu underscores the importance of agreement or consensus. African traditional culture, it seems, has an almost infinite capacity for the pursuit of consensus and reconciliation (Teffo, 1994a:4). Democracy the African way does not simply boil down to majority rule. Traditional African democracy operates in the form of a (sometimes extremely lengthy) discussion or indaba (Shutte, 1998a:17-18; Du Toit, 2000:25-26; Boele van Hensbroek, 1998:186f, 203f). Although there may be a hierarchy of importance among the speakers,27 every person gets an equal chance to speak up until some kind of an agreement, consensus or group cohesion is reached. This important aim is expressed by words like simunye ("we are one", i.e. "unity is strength") and slogans like "an injury to one is an injury to all" (Broodryk, 1997a:5, 7, 9). However, the desire to agree, which - within the context of Ubuntu - is supposed to safeguard the rights and opinions of individuals and minorities, is often exploited to enforce group solidarity. Because of its extreme emphasis on community, Ubuntu democracy might be abused to legitimize what Themba Sono calls the "constrictive nature" or "tyrannical custom" of a derailed African culture, especially its "totalitarian communalism" which "...frowns upon elevating one beyond the community" (1994:xiii, xv). The role of the group in African consciousness, says Sono, could be ...overwhelming, totalistic, even totalitarian. Group psychology, though parochially and narrowly based..., nonetheless pretends universality. This mentality, this psychology is stronger on belief than on reason; on sameness than on difference. Discursive rationality is overwhelmed by emotional identity, by the 27
According to some authors no such hierarchy is assumed (cf. Kimmerle, 1995:110).
obsession to identify with and by the longing to conform to. To agree is more important than to disagree; conformity is cherished more than innovation. Tradition is venerated, continuity revered, change feared and difference shunned. Heresies [i.e. the innovative creations of intellectual African individuals, or refusal to participate in communalism] are not tolerated in such communities (1994:7; cf. also Louw, 1995).
b: Ubuntu, as ‘I participate, therefore I am’ In Validation of Individual Consciousness in Strong Artificial Intelligence: An African Theological contribution28, Dion Angus Foster’s Ph.D thesis, he provides an indepth example of how a believer of Ubuntu, belief in the principles of Ubuntu defines his sense of self, where he attains his sense of dignity from: More directly to point, and of cardinal value to the central thrust of this research, du Toit writes the following about ubuntu in relation to this research: In Africa, a person is identified by his or her interrelationships and not primarily by individualistic properties. The community identifies the person and not the person the community. The identity of the person is his or her place in the community. In Africa it is a matter of ‘I participate, therefore I am’… Ubuntu is the principle of ‘I am only because we are, and since we are, therefore I am’. Ubuntu is African humanism. (du Toit 2004:33). Koka (2002:7) provides the following defining characteristics of ubuntu drawing from various sources: A non-racial philosophy or value system through which all people are regarded as and treated as human beings. It is the art of ‘being human’. A philosophy of tolerance and compassion. A philosophical concept that accepts the unity of humankind as an integrated whole which is comprised of varied racial groups. A supreme ‘goodness’ which was breathed into matter (particularly human persons). In relation to the human person, this act transformed the human person into a being called ‘human’, who reflects the image of God. A quality and dignity of human personhood.
28 Validation of Individual Consciousness in Strong Artificial Intelligence: An African Theological contribution, by Dion Angus Forster, Ph.D thesis for Doctor of Theology in the subject of Systematic Theology, Unisa; June 2006.
D.6: Black Liberation Mythology and Black Power Give a young boy — 16 years old — from the ghetto of Soweto, an opportunity to drive a car for the first time in his life. This boy is from a poor working class family. Give him money to buy any type of liquor and good, expensive clothes. This boy left South Africa during the Soweto schools uprising in 1976. He doesn't know what is an employer. He never tasted employer-exploitation. Give him the right to sleep with all these women. Give him the opportunity to study in Party Schools and well-off military academies in Eastern Europe. Teach him Marxism-Leninism and tell him to defend the revolution against counter-revolutionaries. Send him to the Stasi to train him to extract information by force from enemy agents. He turns to be a torturer and executioner by firing squad. All these are the luxuries and the dream-come-true he never thought of for his lifetime... This Security becomes the law unto itself. -- Olefile Samuel Mngqibisa, a former soldier in the ANC army Umkhonto we Sizwe, describes the education of an Imbokodo officer, which he presented to the Commission of Inquiry into human rights abuses in ANC detention camps, chaired by Mr Sam Motsuenyane29
a: What is Black Liberation Theology & Black Power? “The goal of black theology is the destruction of everything white.” -- James H. Cone, A Black Theology of Liberation “Victimology condones weakness in failure. It tacitly stamps approval on failure, lack of effort, and criminality. Behaviors and patterns that are self-destructive are often approved of as cultural or are presented as unpreventable consequences from previous systemic patterns.” -Anthony Bradley, Liberating Black Theology According to James. H. Cone and others, black liberation theology was the theological arm of black power seeking to relate the black struggle for freedom to the biblical claim regarding the justice of God. Black power itself was the political challenge to the nonviolence preached by Martin Luther King. Decision making in favour of violence, was provided for within the tenets of black liberation theology. Modern American origins of contemporary black liberation theology can be traced to July 31, 1966, when an ad hoc group of 51 black pastors, calling themselves the National Committee of Negro Churchmen (NCNC), bought a full page ad in the New York Times to
29 Women in the ANC and SWAPO: sexual abuse of young women in the ANC camps, by Olefile Samuel Mngqibisa, October 1993, Searchlight South Africa, No 11, Pages 11-16 (ISSN 0954-3384)
publish their “Black Power Statement,” which proposed a more aggressive approach to combating racism using the Bible for inspiration.
b: A Black Theology of Liberation According to A Black Theology of Liberation30, by James H. Cone: Oppressors never like to hear the truth in a socio-political context defined by their lies. That was why a Black Theology of Liberation was often rejected as racism in reverse by many whites, particularly theologians. For example, Father Andrew M. Greeley referred to my perspective on black theology as a "Nazi mentality," "a theology filled with hatred for white people and the assumption of a moral superiority of black over white."' White reactions to black theology never disturbed me too much, because Malcolm X had prepared me for them. "With skilful manipulating of the press," said Malcolm, "they're able to make the victim look like the criminal and the criminal look like the victim."' (p.xii)
“If we’d been born where they were born and taught what they were taught, we could believe what they believe.” – Sign inside N. Ireland church
It is unthinkable that oppressors could identify with oppressed existence and thus say something relevant about God's liberation of the oppressed. In order to be Christian theology, white theology must cease being white theology and become black theology by denying whiteness as an acceptable form of human existence and affirming blackness as God's intention for humanity.(p.09) Black theology will not spend too much time trying to answer its critics, because it is accountable only to the black community. Refusing to be separated from that community, black theology seeks to articulate the theological self-determination of blacks, providing some ethical and religious categories for the black revolution in America. It maintains that all acts which participate in the destruction of white racism are Christian, the liberating deeds of God. All acts which impede the struggle of black self determination-black power-are anti-Christian, the work of Satan. (p10) 30
A Black Theology of Liberation, by James Cone (1970, ISBN 0-88344-685-5). Orbis Books, Maryknoll, NY, Printed June 2008
That white America has issued a death warrant for being black is evident in the white brutality inflicted on black persons. Though whites may deny it, the ghettos of this country say otherwise. Masters always pretend that they are not masters, insisting that they are only doing what is best for society as a whole, including the slaves. This is, of course, the standard rhetoric of an oppressive society. Blacks know better. They know that whites have only one purpose: the destruction of everything which is not white. (p.11) In this situation, blacks are continually asking, often unconsciously, "When will the white overlord decide that blackness in any form must be exterminated?" The genocide of Amerindians is a reminder to the black community that white oppressors are capable of pursuing a course of complete annihilation of everything black. And the killing and the caging of black leaders make us think that black genocide has already begun. (p.11) With the assurance that God is on our side, we can begin to make ready for the inevitable-the decisive encounter between black and white existence. White appeals to "wait and talk it over" are irrelevant when children are dying and men and women are being tortured. We will not let whitey cool this one with his pious love ethic but will seek to enhance our hostility, bringing it to its full manifestation. Black survival is at stake here, and we blacks must define and assert the conditions necessary for our being-in-the world. Only we can decide how much we can endure from white racists. And as we make our decision in the midst of life and death, being and nonbeing, the role of black theology is to articulate this decision by pointing to the revelation of God in the black liberation struggle. (p.12) Black thinkers are in a different position. They cannot be black and identified with the powers that be. To be black is to be committed to destroying everything this country loves and adores. Creativity and passion are possible when one stands where the black person stands, the one who has visions of the future because the present is unbearable. And the black person will cling to that future as a means of passionately rejecting the present. (p.20) The black experience is the feeling one has when attacking the enemy of black humanity by throwing a Molotov cocktail into a white-owned building and watching it go up in flames. We know, of course, that getting rid of evil takes something more than burning down buildings, but one must start somewhere. (p.25) Being black is a beautiful experience. It is the sane way of living in an insane environment. Whites do not understand it; they can only catch glimpses of it in sociological reports and historical studies. The black experience is possible only for black persons.(p.25) Blacks need to see some correlations between divine salvation and black culture. For too long Christ has been pictured as a blue-eyed honky. Black theologians are right: we need to dehonkify him and thus make him relevant to the black condition. (p.28) And yet, what other name is there? The name of Jesus has a long history in the black community. Blacks know the source from which the name comes, but they also know the reality to which that name refers. Despite its misuse in the white community (even
the devil is not prohibited from adopting God's name), the black community is convinced of the reality of Jesus Christ's presence and his total identification with their suffering. They never believed that slavery was his will. Every time a white master came to his death, blacks believed that it was the work of God inflicting just judgment in recompense for the suffering of God's people. Black theology cannot ignore this spirit in the black community if it is going to win the enthusiasm of the community it serves. (p.37) Black theology must realize that the white Jesus has no place in the black community, and it is our task to destroy him. We must replace him with the black messiah, as Albert Cleage would say, a messiah who sees his existence as inseparable from black liberation und the destruction of white racism. (p.38) What does the name (Christ) mean when black people are burning buildings and white people are responding with riot-police control? Whose side is Jesus on? The norm of black theology, which identifies revelation as a manifestation of the black Christ, says that he (Christ) is those very blacks whom white society shoots and kills. The contemporary Christ is in the black ghetto, making decisions about white existence and black liberation. Of course, this interpretation of theology will seem strange to most whites, and even some blacks will wonder whether it is really true that Christ is black. But the truth of the statement is not dependent on white or black affirmation, but on the reality of Christ himself who is presently breaking the power of white racism. This and this alone is the norm for black-talk about God. (p.38) According to black theology, the sin of the oppressed is not that they are responsible for their own enslavement-far from it. Their sin is that of trying to "understand" enslavers, to "love" them on their own terms. As the oppressed now recognize their situation in the light of God's revelation, they know that they should have killed their oppressors instead of trying to "love" them. (p.51) It is not the task of black theology to remove the influence of the divine in the black community. Its task is to interpret the divine element in the forces and achievements of black liberation. Black theology must retain God-language despite its perils, because the black community perceives its identity in terms of divine presence. Black theology cannot create new symbols independent of the black community and expect blacks to respond. It must stay in the black community and get down to the real issues at hand ("cutting throats" to use LeRoi Jones's phrase) and not waste too much time discussing the legitimacy of religious language. (p59) The legitimacy of any language, religious or otherwise, is determined by its usefulness in the struggle for liberation. That the God language of white religion has been used to create a docile spirit among blacks so that whites could aggressively attack them is beyond question. But that does not mean that we cannot kill the white God, so that the presence of the black God can become known in the black-white encounter. The white God is an idol created by racists, and we blacks must perform the iconoclastic task of smashing false images. (p.59)
The goal of black theology is the destruction of everything white, so that blacks can be liberated from alien gods. The God of black liberation will not be confused with a bloodthirsty white idol. Black theology must show that the black God has nothing to do with the God worshiped in white churches whose primary purpose is to sanctify the racism of whites and to daub the wounds of blacks. (p.62) Because blacks have come to know themselves as black, and because that blackness is the cause of their own love of themselves and hatred of whiteness, the blackness of God is the key to our knowledge of God. The blackness of God, and everything implied by it in a racist society, is the heart of the black theology doctrine of God. There is no place in black theology for a colorless God in a society where human beings suffer precisely because of their color. The black theologian must reject any conception of God which stifles black self-determination by picturing God as a God of all peoples. Either God is identified with the oppressed to the point that their experience becomes God's experience, or God is a God of racism. (p.63) In contrast to this racist view of God, black theology proclaims God's blackness. Those who want to know who God is and what God is doing must know who black persons are and what they are doing. This does not mean lending a helping hand to the poor and unfortunate blacks of society. It does not mean joining the war on poverty! Such acts are sin offerings that represent a white way of assuring themselves that they are basically "good" persons. Knowing God means being on the side of the oppressed, becoming one with them, and participating in the goal of liberation. We must become black with God!. (p.65) Black theology cannot accept a view of God which does not represent God as being for oppressed blacks and thus against white oppressors. Living in a world of white oppressors, blacks have no time for a neutral God. The brutalities are too great and the pain too severe, and this means we must know where God is and what God is doing in the revolution. There is no use for a God who loves white oppressors the same as oppressed blacks. We have had too much of white love, the love that tells blacks to turn the other cheek and go the second mile. What we need is the divine love; as expressed in black power, which is the power of blacks to destroy their oppressors, here and now, by any means at their disposal. Unless God is participating in this holy activity, we must reject God's love. (p.70) Black theology will accept only a love of God which participates in the destruction of the white oppressor. With Fanon black theology takes literally Jesus' statement, "the last will be first, and the first last:" Black power "is the putting into practice of this sentence."" (p.72) That is why it is necessary to speak of the black revolution rather than reformation. The idea of reformation suggests that there is still something "good" in the system itself, which needs only to be cleaned up a bit. This is a false perception of reality. The system is based on whiteness, and what is necessary is a replacement of whiteness with blackness. God as creator means that oppressed humanity is free to revolutionize society, assured that acts of liberation are the work of God. (p.74) Certainly if whites expect to be able to say anything relevant to the selfdetermination of the black community, it will be necessary for them to destroy
their whiteness by becoming members of an oppressed community. Whites will be free only when they become new persons-when their white being has passed away and they are created anew in black being. When this happens, they are no longer white but free, and thus capable of making decisions about the destiny of the black community. (p.97)
c: Freedom and Blackness According to A Black Theology of Liberation31, by James H. Cone: What does freedom mean when we relate it to contemporary America? Because blackness is at once the symbol of oppression and of the certainty of liberation, freedom means an affirmation of blackness. To be free is to be black-that is, identified with the victims of humiliation in human society and a participant in the liberation of oppressed humanity. The free person in America is the one who does not tolerate whiteness but fights against it, knowing that it is the source of human misery. The free person is the black person living in an alien world but refusing to behave according to its expectations. (p.101) Being free in America means accepting blackness as the only possible way of existing in the world. It means defining one's identity by the marks of oppression. It means rejecting white proposals for peace and reconciliation, saying, "All we know is, we must have justice, not next week but this minute" Nat Turner, Gabriel Prosser, and Denmark Vesey are examples of free persons. They realized that freedom and death were inseparable. The mythic value of their existence for the black community is incalculable, because they represent the personification of the possibility of being in the midst of nonbeing-the ability to be black in the presence of whiteness. Through them we know that freedom is what happens to blacks when they decide that whitey has gone too far and that it is incumbent upon them as the victims of humiliation to do something about the encroachment of whiteness. Freedom is the black movement of a people getting ready to liberate itself, knowing that it cannot be unless its oppressors cease to be. (p.101) Black empowerment is the black community in defiance, knowing that he who has become one of them is far more important than threats from white officials. The black Christ is he who nourishes the rebellious impulse in blacks so that at the appointed time the black community can respond collectively to the white community as a corporate "bad nigger," lashing out at the enemy of humankind. (p121) To be a disciple of the black Christ is to become black with him. Looting, burning, or the destruction of white property are not primary concerns. Such matters can only be decided by the oppressed themselves who are seeking to develop their images of the black Christ. What is primary is that blacks must refuse to let whites define what is appropriate for the black community. Just as white slaveholders in the nineteenth century said that questioning slavery was an invasion of their property rights, so today they use the same line of reasoning in reference to black self-determination. But Nat Turner had no 31
A Black Theology of Liberation, by James Cone (1970, ISBN 0-88344-685-5). Orbis Books, Maryknoll, NY, Printed June 2008
scruples on this issue; and blacks today are beginning to see themselves in a new image. We believe in the manifestation of the black Christ, and our encounter with him defines our values. This means that blacks are free to do what they have to in order to affirm their humanity. (p.123) The kingdom is not an attainment of material security, nor is it mystical communion with the divine. It has to do with the quality of ones, existence in which a person realizes that persons are more important than property. When blacks behave as if the values of this world have no significance, it means that they perceive the irruption of God's kingdom. The kingdom of God is a black happening. It is black persons saying no to whitey, forming caucuses and advancing into white confrontation. It is a beautiful thing to see blacks shaking loose the chains of white approval, and it can only mean that they know that there is a way of living that does not involve the destruction of their personhood. This is the kingdom of God. (p.124) The kingdom is what God does and repentance arises solely as a response to God's liberation.(p.125) That is why Jesus compared the kingdom with a mustard seed and with yeast in dough. Both show a small, apparently insignificant beginning but a radical, revolutionary ending. The seed grows to a large tree, and the bread can feed many hungry persons. So it is with the kingdom; because of its small beginning, some viewers do not readily perceive what is actually happening. The black revolution is a continuation of that small kingdom. Whites do not recognize what is happening, and they are thus unable to deal with it. For most whites in power, the black community is a nuisance-something to be considered only when the natives get restless. But what white America fails to realize is the explosive nature of the kingdom. Although its beginning is small, it will have far-reaching effects not only on the black community but on the white community as well. Now is the time to make decisions about loyalties, because soon it will be too late. Shall we or shall we not join the black revolutionary kingdom? (p.126) The interpretation of salvation as liberation from bondage is certainly consistent with the biblical view. (p.127) Because the work of God is not a superimposed activity but a part of one's existence as a person, pious frauds are caught in a trap. They are rejected because they failed to see that being good is not a societal trait or an extra activity, but a human activity. They are excluded because they used their neighbor as an enhancement of their own religious piety. Had they known that blacks were Jesus, they would have been prepared to relieve their suffering. But that is just the point: there is no way to know in the abstract who is Jesus and who is not. It is not an intellectual question at all. Knowledge of Jesus Christ comes as one participates in human liberation. (p.135)
d: Black Theology and Black Power
According to Black Theology and Black Power32, by James H. Cone: The same is true of the words "Black Power:" To what "object" does it point? What does it mean when used by its advocates? It means complete emancipation of black people from white oppression by whatever means black people deem necessary. The methods may include selective buying, boycotting, marching, or even rebellion. (p.06) One of the most serious charges leveled against the advocates of Black Power is that they are black racists. Many well-intentioned persons have insisted that there must be another approach, one which will not cause so much hostility, not to mention rebellion. Therefore appeal is made to the patience of black people to keep their "cool" and not get too carried away by their feelings. These men argue that if any progress is to be made, it will be through a careful, rational approach to the subject. These people are deeply offended when black people refuse to listen and place such white liberals in the same category as the most adamant segregationists. (p.12) It is interesting that most people do understand why Jews can hate Germans. Why can they not understand why black people, who have been deliberately and systematically dehumanized or murdered by the structure of this society, hate white people? The general failure of Americans to make this connection suggests that the primary difficulty is their inability to see black men as men. When Black Power advocates refuse to listen to their would-be liberators, they are charged with creating hatred among black people, thus making significant personal relationship between blacks and whites impossible. It should be obvious that the hate which black people feel toward whites is not due to the creation of the term "Black Power." Rather, it is a result of the deliberate and systematic ordering of society on the basis of racism, making black alienation not only possible but inevitable. For over three hundred years black people have been enslaved by the tentacles of American white power, tentacles that worm their way into the guts of their being and "invade the gray cells of their cortex." For three hundred years they have cried, waited, voted, marched, picketed, and boycotted, but whites still refuse to recognize their humanity. In light of this, attributing black anger to the call for Black Power is ridiculous, if not obscene. "To be a Negro in this country," says James Baldwin, "and to be relatively conscious is to be in rage almost all the time." (p.13) And James Baldwin was certainly expressing the spirit of black hatred when he said: The brutality with which Negroes are treated in this country simply cannot be overstated; however unwilling white men may be to hear it. In the beginning-and neither can this be overstated-a Negro just cannot believe that white people are treating him as they do; he does not know what he has done to merit it. And when he realizes that the treatment accorded him has nothing to do with anything he has done, that the attempt of white people to destroy him-for that is what it is-is utterly gratuitous, it is not hard for him to think of white people as devils. (p.15)
Black Theology and Black Power, by James Cone (1969), Orbis Books, Maryknoll, NY (printed 2008)
But the charge of black racism cannot be reconciled with the facts. While it is true that blacks do hate whites, black hatred is not racism. (p.15) White people should not even expect blacks to love them, and to ask for it merely adds insult to injury. "For the white man," writes Malcolm X, "to ask the black man if he hates him is just like the rapist asking the raped ... `Do you hate me?' The white man is in no moral position to accuse anyone else of hate." Whatever blacks feel toward whites or whatever their response to white racism, it cannot be submitted to the judgments of white society. (p.21)
e: How Does Black Power Relate to White Guilt? According to Black Theology and Black Power33, by James H. Cone: When white do-gooders are confronted with the style of Black Power, realizing that black people really place them in the same category with the George Wallaces, they react defensively, saying, "It's not my fault" or "I am not responsible." Sometimes they continue by suggesting that their town (because of their unselfish involvement in civil rights) is better or less racist than others. (p.23) Second, all white men are responsible for white oppression. It is much too easy to say, "Racism is not my fault," or "I am not responsible for the country's inhumanity to the black man." The American white man has always had an easy conscience. But insofar as white do-gooders tolerate and sponsor racism in their educational institutions, their political, economic, and social structures, their churches, and in every other aspect of American life, they are directly responsible for racism. "It is a cold, hard fact that the many flagrant forms of racial injustice North and South could not exist without their [whites'] acquiescence," 47 and for that, they are responsible. If whites are honest in their analysis of the moral state of this society, they know that all are responsible. Racism is possible because whites are indifferent to suffering and patient with cruelty. (p.24)
f: Black Power and the White Liberal According to Black Theology and Black Power34, by James H. Cone: In time of war, men want to know who the enemy is. Who is for me and who is against me? That is the question. The asserting of black freedom in America has always meant war. When blacks retreat and accept their dehumanized place in white society, the conflict ceases. But when blacks rise up in freedom, whites show their racism. (p.26) The liberal, then, is one who sees "both sides" of the issue and shies away from "extremism" in any form. He wants to change the heart of the racist without ceasing to be his friend; he wants progress without conflict. Therefore, when he sees blacks engaging in civil disobedience and demanding "Freedom Now," he is disturbed. Black people know who the enemy is, and they are forcing the liberal to take sides. But the 33 34
Black Theology and Black Power, by James Cone (1969), Orbis Books, Maryknoll, NY (printed 2008) Black Theology and Black Power, by James Cone (1969), Orbis Books, Maryknoll, NY (printed 2008)
liberal wants to be a friend, that is, enjoy the rights and privileges pertaining to whiteness and also work for the "Negro." He wants change without risk, victory without blood. The liberal white man is a strange creature; he verbalizes the right things. He intellectualizes on the racial problem beautifully. He roundly denounces racists, conservatives, and the moderately liberal. Sometimes, in rare moments and behind closed doors, he will even defend Rap Brown or Stokely Carmichael. Or he may go so far as to make the statement: "I will let my daughter marry one," and this is supposed to be the absolute evidence that he is raceless. But he is still white to the very core of his being. What he fails to realize is that there is no place for him in this war of survival. Blacks do not want his patronizing, condescending words of sympathy. They do not need his concern, his "love;" his money. (p.27) Moreover, it seems to me that it is quite obvious who is actually engaged in the task of liberating black people from the power of white racism, even at the expense of their lives. They are men who stand unafraid of the structures of white racism. They are men who risk their lives for the inner freedom of others. They are men who embody the spirit of Black Power. And if Christ is present today actively risking all for the freedom of man, he must be acting through the most radical elements of Black Power. (p.40) If the riots are the black man's courage to say Yes to himself as a creature of God, and if in affirming self he affirms Yes to the neighbor, then violence may be the black man's expression, sometimes the only possible expression, of Christian love to the white oppressor. (p55) Black Power, then, is God's new way of acting in America. It is his way of saying to blacks that they are human beings; he is saying to whites: "Get used to it!" Whites, as well as some blacks, will find the encounter of Black Power a terrible experience. Like the people of Jesus' day, they will find it hard to believe that God would stoop so low as to reveal himself in and through black people and especially the "undesirable elements." If he has to make himself known through blacks, why not choose the "good Negroes"? But, that is just the point: God encounters men at that level of experience which challenges their being. The real test of whether whites can communicate with blacks as human beings is not what they reply to Ralph Bunche but how they respond to Rap Brown. (p.61) It is important to remember that the preaching of the Word presents a crisis situation. The hearing of the news of freedom through the preaching of the Word always invites the hearer to take one of two sides: He must either side with the old rulers or the new one. "He that is not far me is against me:" There is no neutral position in a war. Even in silence, one is automatically identified as being on the side of the oppressor. There is no place in this war of liberation for nice white people who want to avoid taking sides and remain friends with both the racists and the Negro. To hear the Word is to decide: Are you with us or against us? (p.67)
There is a need for a theology of revolution, a theology which radically encounters the problems of the disinherited black people in America in particular and the oppressed people of color throughout the world in general. (p.88) It (the black church) is revolutionary in that it seeks to meet the needs of the neighbor amid crumbling structures of society. It is revolutionary because love may mean joining a violent rebellion. (p.113) Just as the black revolution means the death of America as it has been, so it requires the death of the Church in its familiar patterns. (p116) If eschatology means that one believes that God is totally uninvolved in the suffering of men because he is preparing them for another world, then Black Theology is not eschatological. Black Theology is an earthly theology! It is not concerned with the "last things" but with the "white thing." Black Theology like Black Power believes that the self-determination of black people must be emphasized at all costs, recognizing that there is only one question about reality for blacks: What must we do about white racism? Because Black Theology is biblical theology seeking to create new value-perspectives for the oppressed, it is revolutionary theology. It is a theology which confronts white society as the racist Antichrist, communicating to the oppressor that nothing will be spared in the fight for freedom. It is this attitude which distinguishes it from white American theology and identifies it with the religionists of the Third World. (p.135) Whether the American system is beyond redemption we will have to wait and see. But we can be certain that black patience has run out, and unless white America responds positively to the theory and activity of Black Power, then a bloody, protracted civil war is inevitable. There have occasionally been revolutions -massive redistributions of power without warfare. It is passionately to be hoped that this can be one of them. The decision lies with white America and not least with white Americans who speak the name of Christ. (p.143) The coming of Christ means a denial of what we thought we were. It means destroying the white devil in us. Reconciliation to God means that white people are prepared to deny themselves (whiteness), take up the cross (blackness) and follow Christ (black ghetto). To be sure, this is not easy. But whoever said the gospel of Christ was easy? Obedience always means going where we otherwise would not go; being what we would not be; doing what we would not do. Reconciliation means that Christ has freed us for this. In a white racist society, Christian obedience can only mean being obedient to blackness, its glorification and exaltation. (p.150) Therefore, God's Word of reconciliation means that we can only be justified by becoming black. Reconciliation makes us all black. Through this radical change, we become identified totally with the suffering of the black masses. It is this fact that makes al white churches anti-Christian in their essence. To be Christian is to be one of those whom God has chosen. God has chosen black people! (p.151)
D.7: Liberating Black Victimology Theology vic·tim·ol·ogy noun: .status as a victim; specif., such status arising from membership in an ethnic, religious, etc. group regarded as historically victimized: usually an ironic or dismissive usage. -- Webster's New World College Dictionary ***** Victimology: a view to foster and nurture an unfocused brand of resentment and sense of alienation from the mainstream; not of forging solutions. It is a subconscious psychological gangrene that, has become a keystone of cultural blackness to treat victimhood not as a problem to be solved but as an identity to be nurtured -- John H. McWhorter , Losing the Race: Self-Sabotage in Black America *****
“Victimology condones weakness in failure. It tacitly stamps approval on failure, lack of effort, and criminality. Behaviors and patterns that are self-destructive are often approved of as cultural or are presented as unpreventable consequences from previous systemic patterns.” -- Anthony Bradley, Liberating Black Theology ***** Those of us who have discovered our own authority in our lives have compassion for those who haven't, but we don't buy into their tales of woe-is-me. We often make fun of each other as much or more than we feel sorry for each other. When we get over the stories about the past that we have been living in, what used to be tragic often turns out to be more funny than tragic. -- Brad Blanton, Practicing Radical Honesty
a: Liberating Black Theology: Victimhood & Insecurity In Liberating Black Theology: The Bible and the Black Experience in America35, Anthony Bradley uses the principles enunciated by John McWhorter, in his book Losing the Race: Self Sabotage in Black America 36: John McWhorter’s articulation of victimology will be used in this study to denote a more robust understanding of the victimologist’s way of thinking. McWhorter’s description provides a critical context for comprehending the long-term effects of reducing the black experience to that of victim. In the end, victimology perpetuates a separatist and elitist platform that provides no opportunity for racial reconciliation. 35 36
Liberating Black Theology: The Bible and the Black Experience in America, by Anthony B. Bradley, Crossway Books (2010) Losing the Race: Self Sabotage in Black America, by John McWhorter, linguistics professor at the University of California, Berkeley
Victimology is the adoption of victimhood as the core of one’s identity. It is a subconscious, culturally inherited affirmation that life for blacks in America has been in the past and will be in the future a life of being victimized by the oppression of whites. In today’s terms, it is the conviction that, forty years after the Civil Rights Act, conditions for blacks have not substantially changed. It is most clearly seen in racerelated policy and through interpersonal evaluation among blacks. Ironically, notes McWhorter, the forced desegregation of the United States in the 1960s actually exacerbated victimology. During this time period, it became acceptable for blacks to confront whites with their frustration and resentment. This freedom of expression gained in the 1960s, coupled with a postcolonial inferiority complex, provides the historical basis for victimology. McWhorter raises good concerns about grounding one’s identity in the condition of being a victim despite abundant evidence to the contrary. The overall result, says McWhorter, is that “the remnants of discrimination hold an obsessive indignant fascination that allows only passing acknowledgment of any signs of progress.” Many blacks, infused with victimology, wield selfrighteous indignation in the service of exposing the inadequacies of the “other” (e.g., white person) rather than finding a way forward. The perpetual belief in a racial identity born out of self-loathing and anxiety often leads to more time spent inventing reasons to cry racism than working toward changing social mores and often inhibits movement toward reconciliation and positive mobility. Focusing on one’s victimhood often addresses a moral desire—it is a salve for insecurity. McWhorter maintains that many blacks are rarely able to see racial issues outside of the victimologist milieu and are trapped into reasoning racially in terms of the permanent subjugation of blacks by whites. He concludes that holding so tightly to the remnants of discrimination often creates more problems than it solves. McWhorter goes on to explain that victimology often perpetuates racial tension. Blacks are encouraged by one another to “know your history.” The communicative function of said mantra is not aimed toward knowledge per se but toward remembering oppression and iniquity so it does not happen again. The irony of victimology is its tendency toward revisionist histories and creating an ethos that, a hundred years ago, would have precluded racial equality. Victimology, in other words, is perpetuating problems for black America, not solving them.
McWhorter articulates three main objections to victimology: (1) Victimology condones weakness in failure. It tacitly stamps approval on failure, lack of effort, and criminality. Behaviors and patterns that are self-destructive are often approved of as cultural or are presented as unpreventable consequences from previous systemic patterns. (2) Victimology hampers progress because, from the outset, it focuses attention on obstacles. For example, in black theology the focus is on the impediment to black freedom because of the Goliath of white racism. (3) Victimology keeps racism alive because many whites are constantly painted as racist with no evidence provided. These charges may create a context for backlash and resentment, which may fuel attitudes in the white community not previously held or articulated. Perhaps the most significant tragedy of a victimologist’s approach, in McWhorter’s view, is that it creates separatism. Separatism is a suspension of moral judgment in the name of racial solidarity that is an integral part of being culturally black in America today. The black experience is the starting point and the final authority for interpreting moral prescriptions, both personally and structurally. Separatist morality is not a deliberate strategy for accruing power; rather, it is a cultural thought—a tacit conviction that has imbued the culturally black psyche. Separatism is a direct result of victimology because whites are viewed in eternal opposition to the black experience; black America construes itself (albeit in many cases unintentionally) as a sovereign, cultural authority. Separatism generates a restriction of cultural authority, a narrowing of intellectual inquiry, and the dilution of moral judgment. In doing so, he squelches intellectual curiosity (a basic good) outside the purview of the black American agenda.14 Separatism is the sense that to be truly black, one must restrict his allegiance to black-oriented culture and assent to different rules of argumentation and morality. Few blacks, however, would admit that this is true. The truth, writes McWhorter, is that “the culturally black person is from birth subtly inculcated with the idea that the black person—any black person—is not to be judged cold, but considered in light of the acknowledgment that black people have suffered.”15 In the victimologist’s worldview, black suffering is the proper lens through which all else is to be evaluated. Ultimately, McWhorter warns against separatism. Separatism has, in the name of selfprotection, encouraged generations of blacks to set low goals. Blacks have settled for less, not just in respect to racial integration, but also in respect to being human persons. What James Cone and those who followed him came to develop is not only a theology predicated on the autonomous black person as a nearly permanent victim of white aggression but also a separatist theological system, all in the name of contextualization. This newly developed theology, based on victimology, not only jettisons orthodox Christianity but also impedes opportunities for ecclesial reconciliation.
D.8: Black Liberation Theology: Kairos & Reconciliation “The fact that so many people are surprised to hear that anger in some of Reverend Wright’s sermons simply reminds us of the old truism that the most segregated hour in American life occurs on Sunday morning.” -- Barack Obama37
a: ANC Theology: “We are engaged in something too urgent to wait for the approbation of the West or those who would blindly follow western standards of acceptability and play western games using western rules.” -– Bishop Tutu, shortly after Pan-African Conference of Third World Theologians, December 17–24, 1977
b: Kairos Document, 1985 & Reconciliation: Much of the Kairos Document38 published in 1985, and allegedly initiated by Rev. Frank Chicane, which was founded on African and Black Liberation Theology principles, calls for, as the IFP said ‘the violence of the ANC’. Succinctly, its views on Reconciliation, were that forgiveness would only be given, once complete and utter repentant submission had been provided; for no negotiations should be allowed with the Apartheid Devils: “'Church Theology' takes 'reconciliation' as the key to problem resolution. It talks about the need for reconciliation between white and black, or between all South Africans. 'Church Theology' often describes the Christian stance in the following way: "We must be fair. We must listen to both sides of the story. If the two sides can only meet to talk and negotiate they will sort out their differences and misunderstandings, and the conflict will be resolved." On the face of it this may sound very Christian. But is it? “The fallacy here is that 'Reconciliation' has been made into an absolute principle that must be applied in all cases of conflict or dissension. But not all cases of conflict are the same. We can imagine a private quarrel between two people or two groups whose differences are based upon misunderstandings. In such cases it would be appropriate to talk and negotiate to sort out the misunderstandings and to reconcile the two sides. But there are other conflicts in 37
1“Obama’s Church Takes On Wright Controversy,” Associated Press, March 23, 2008, MSNBC (i) South African Christianity: The Kairos Document, 25 September 1985; A Challenge to the Church, allegedly by Frank Chicane and Beyers Naude; and (ii) Violence: The New Kairso: Challenge to the Churches, 1990, An Institute for Contextual Theology Publication; (iii) Theologies: Liberation vs. Submission, by Jean-Pierre Cloutier (Initially published in the Spring of 1987 in the Haiti Times) 38
which one side is right and the other wrong. There are conflicts where one side is a fully armed and violent oppressor while the other side is defenseless and oppressed. There are conflicts that can only be described as the struggle between justice and injustice, good and evil, God and the devil. To speak of reconciling these two is not only a mistaken application of the Christian idea of reconciliation; it is a total betrayal of all that Christian faith has ever meant. Nowhere in the Bible or in Christian tradition has it ever been suggested that we ought to try to reconcile good and evil, God and the devil. We are supposed to do away with evil, injustice, oppression and sin--not come to terms with it. We are supposed to oppose, confront and reject the devil and not try to sup with the devil. “In our situation in South Africa today it would be totally unChristian to plead for reconciliation and peace before the present injustices have been removed. Any such plea plays into the hands of the oppressor by trying to persuade those of us who are oppressed to accept our oppression and to become reconciled to the intolerable crimes that are committed against us. That is not Christian reconciliation, it is sin. It is asking us to become accomplices in our own oppression, to become servants of the devil. No reconciliation is possible in South Africa without justice. “What this means in practice is that no reconciliation, no forgiveness and no negotiations are possible without repentance. The Biblical teaching on reconciliation and forgiveness makes it quite clear that nobody can be forgiven and reconciled with God unless he or she repents of their sins. Nor are we expected to forgive the unrepentant sinner. When he or she repents we must be willing to forgive seventy times seven times but before that, we are expected to preach repentance to those who sin against us or against anyone. Reconciliation, forgiveness and negotiations will become our Christian duty in South Africa only when the apartheid regime shows signs of genuine repentance. Theologies: Liberation vs. Submission, by Jean-Pierre Cloutier39:, says: Liberation Theology, like it or not, is a fact of life in Latin America. But it is also present in South Africa where apartheid, white minority rule supported by armed repression, is being fought by some progressive sectors of the clergy. South African theologians issued in October, 1985, the Kairos (Moment of Truth) document. It asserted that "Both oppressor and oppressed claim loyalty to the same Church. It concludes: “Liberation versus Submission. The balancing act is proving hazardous. Either the Church endorses Liberation Theology in clear and un-ambiguous terms, or it risks losing its membership to more active and radical ways of effecting change. With or without Rome, the trend is too strong be be halted now and looks likely to be a determining factor until the current state of things becomes more oriented towards a better repartition of wealth and resources, a trend that seems bound to carry us through to the turn of the twentieth century.”
Theologies: Liberation vs. Submission, by Jean-Pierre Cloutier (Initially published in the Spring of 1987 in the Haiti Times)