Monday, April 25, 2011

Inventing God

The very notion of a male god is a very recent innovation. Prior to the invention of writing, agriculture, animal husbandry, and militarized (genocidal) states, the very idea or concept of a god being male was quite literally inconceivable.

Because the importance and function of a divine being was to produce and cultivate life and to "bring forth" the universe or the world, it went without saying that, naturally, this deity would be female, in that a female deity would "give birth" to the phenomenal world we see around us. It was preposterous to the human imagination that a male deity would "give birth" to anything-- let alone the cosmos! This means that there was always a Creatrix, but only recently was it possible to conceive of a Creator (as a metaphorical extension of "builders" crafts and monument-ism).

This explains why "gods" are so recent chronologically, being predated most often by numerous goddesses the world over. Human societies for most of human history worshipped either animals, spirits of nature, and once divine beings come into the picture, goddesses. Most of humanity lived this way, with male gods showing up on the scene very recently. Yet, though such deities are undeniably the youngest, they ironically often set themselves up, or are conceived of as "eternal", "all-powerful", "universal", or "singular and true" sky gods, above and beyond all lesser such divine beings. So it's important to understand that although male gods are factually the youngest dieties in human imagination, they arise in contexts of power that need for them to be what they are not: eternal, the oldest dieties around, omnipotent, because this is the all-encompasing (often termed "universal") nature of the imagination that created them (specifically: in relations to State Power).

So, with the advent, as stated, with militarized states that engaged in ritual genocide do we see male gods, who first, marry more important or more ancient goddesses, then later, these new gods often even just kill off the older goddesses in gory and brutal myth-stories. This development of new mythologies mirrored historical changes in the means of production in human societies from those that privileged "female capacities" to those that privileged male "muscle power". (Specifically: moving from a hunter-gatherer society to settled agricultural ones starting at around 10,000 BCE).

So, for example, at the dawn of the rise of "noble" families we begin to see the beginnings of "kings," who were usually the brother(s) of the queen, whom he would then marry to legitimate his "kingship" and finally be able to receive inheritances of wealth and power, which before had always passed from mother to daughter (all societies were MATRILINEAL at this time). This practice of marrying one's sister in wealthy families precedes the later concept of social taboos such as incest, of which I know of no evidence that there existed any such taboo at this time, but did represent the most common and typical way nascent "kingships" came to usurp the previous "matriarchies". Later, the kings take over human societies outright. Then we have the beginnings of "writing" and the invention of "history."

"History" as far as I know only and always is related to, arise out of, and is connected to States and is a form of Power. At least one reason for this is that States need to create an "us-and-them" mentality with their neighbors, an inherently difficult task considering an enemy is still just as human as they. So States must create an identity. Once this identity is established, then an "other" can be constructed which will be UNlike the constructed "us" in important ways (such as "they" eat babies). It is important to note here that throughout (recorded) history facts rarely play any particularly important role in human reasoning, but nearly every type of insanity and lie has consistently been terrifyingly effective at motivating nearly all members of any sort of group to engage in the most horrific sorts of all manner of unspeakable violence. This pattern of human behavior is so common as to be nearly predictable and even expected. Typically this process entails labeling these "others" as "barbarians" or other such denigrating titles. So long as any group or neighbor can become an "other" the battle is all but won, since all that's left to do is the fun, "pro-active" stuff such as annihilating them, stealing everything, incorporating/ co-opting whatever you please, and settling the area where they once lived.

It's difficult to see how goddesses could condone such behavior (the beings that give life even in the midst of the ultimate sacrifice of death), but every god I've ever known or heard of not only loves such practices, but typically models, commands, and receives as worship such deeds. Consider for example the Hebrew term "Shabbat" often translated as "to utterly destroy". This was God's command to commit such a complete genocide that even the heathen's technology of animal husbandry was to be completely annihilated. This made God smile, or at least grin. For this reason Noam Chomsky, whose father was a scholar of Hebrew, considers the Old Testament "one of the most genocidal books ever written."

A psychological diagnosis of the behavior of gods in our mythological systems would be interesting, appropriate, even crucial, such as the textbook narcissism of YHWH of the Old Testament described as a "jealous god" that demanded the "holy" and "sacred" sacrifice of entire peoples.

Monotheism is yet a more powerful and extremist a development than just the initial introduction of psychopathic gods into a pantheon, such as Zeus, the habitual rapist, murderer, and raging narcissist. Such personality traits seem critical to the development, establishment, maintenance, and success of States. This leads to the seemingly contradictory development of "laws" to prevent the behavior that is made possible by the increased anonymity of complex societies, indeed complex societies may help cultivate the conditions which not only give rise to such behavior but allow them to thrive. (We can just chalk such an analysis as an example of a "postmodern" contradiction).

A good example of this development is the law of Karma. As cities began to develop in the 6th Century BCE in the plains of Northern India, behaviors such as rape, theft, and murder (once kept in check in small village or tribal societies, which not only lacked the requisite anonymity to "get away" with such behavior, but which probably also lacked the requisite amounts of alienation to produce such extreme pathologies), began to see such atrocious practices. As a result a new "law" or "ethical imagination" developed, that if you do someone dirty, then either in this life (but mostly understood to be "paid" in the next incarnation), such things will just come right back to you. Victimizer will become the victimized in ever increasing cycles of misery and violence.

One of the important symbols of the goddess is the snake (or serpent in the Old Testament). The snake was one of the most important religious symbols because it represented the cycles of life: birth, death, and renewel, as seen every time it sheds its old skin (and dies) which then gives birth to a new life (the new, bright, larger snake). Women (and therefore goddesses) also often displayed this important pedagogical symbol as women commonly died in childbirth, or the menstrual cycles (the bleeding, "dying", and renewel all of which life-giving) also "taught" us this life lesson. For this reason, the demonization of snakes is critical if your new god is to usurp the important religious imaginations of the goddess-dominated worlds. This is why snakes appear in the oldest "layers" of many religions, such as village deities in Hindu "Untouchable" castes or the Nagas of Buddhism.

Given this is such an enormous topic, I will leave you with just this taste and will continue to elaborate on this (pre-)history of gods and goddesses.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A Solution to this Mess

A plan to get us out of the mess we find ourselves in:

I propose we organize underemployed ex-offenders by training them in careers that will give us what our civilization under crises needs (sooner or later anyway). We can both employ them (taking them off the streets), as well as give us what we all need urgently.

This underutilized, often forgotten, usually for forsaken, always scapegoated population can be mobilized to rebuild our social infrastructure, re-energize disintegrating civic culture, advocate for social justice, educate on sustainability, to help create genuine community that humans find a necessary foundation for an integrated life.

This model can be a win-win situation, as it addresses the increasing population of the permanent underclass, while also giving our civilization the badly needed "shot in the arm" that we need to take back our world from the corporate oligarchs and their political lackeys and military henchman who hurl our world headlong into destruction, collapse, and implosion.

Ultimately my thinking on this is to insist that there is no other way but to do it all the way. Both my personal life, civilized existence, and ecological urgency (for the same reasons) all require that the time for cosmetic repairs and reformist attitudes are invariably too little, way too late. Our inaction on repairing our broken world, healing the dying ecosystem, and the cultivation of our own personal lives (mental, spiritual, physical) has brought us to a point in history, where we have to get serious about humanity's next step forward.

This will also address several issues in a fresh, imaginative, and revolutionary way:

By equipping this population to "re-integrate" into society is not inspirational, since it completely begs the question of "reintegrate into WHAT?!" Society and our social-economic configuration already creates tremendous alienation, dissatisfaction, and exploitation, degradation, and humiliation as it is. We cannot rightfully expect any sort of "reintegration" to have a large appeal for this population or for anyone with any dignity, humanity, or authenticity left in their soul.

Such programs to reintegrate this population only serves to actually in the end STRENGTHEN the current corrupt, unjust, unforgiving, racist, and inhumane criminal "justice" system, as it will in the end (if completely successful), take away the negative social and cultural consequences of such a vicious system. That is, if reintegration is made to be 100% successful, then it will not only take away the impetus and reason to change the system, but will strengthen this institution by rendering it effectively unproblematic (from a societal, albeit not an ethical or moral, point of view).

Also, there is nothing expressly religious about the program as I envision it. Homeboy Industry, Detention Ministries, and the Ex-offender Action Network in Southern California are funded and run by religious organization, and to varying degrees have EXPRESSLY religious practices contained within them. This is (rightfully) odious to a sense of justice, democracy, and ethics not informed by historically and institutionally religious forms of ethical imaginations.

Some sources:

Grace Lee Boggs has a discussion with Thomas Frank (What's the Matter with Kansas and Wrecking Crew), and your boy Jim Wallis (on his hunger strike). What she suggests in her new book is that we have to have a "cultural revolution" that rebuilds what's been taken from our humanity. Rebuilding community, interacting with one another in genuinely human ways, and advocating for justice that will help address the powerlessness (that is very real).

2) The Right to Useful Unemployment (Ivan Illich, a clergyman and radical thinker)
The idea that what we really need is unpaid work that is what makes life worth living (artistic, cultural, social movements that make our world a better place that's outside the industrial system)

3) Pedagogy of the Oppressed
Paulo Friere suggests that the purpose of education should be to equip underprivileged and poor to advocate for their own social justice, etc.

4) Beyond Civilization:
The functioning of "tribes" to bring about vast social change by reinventing and reinvigorating culture to "go back" to a sustaining, nourishing life that can also produce the repair that we need.


Julian Assange debates "Do Whistleblowers make us safer?"


Whistleblowers Make the World Safer

Climate Deniers

Here are the facts: The ONLY issue that is "debated" by climatologists is the range, scope, and severity of global climate change NOT whether it is happening or not, or how much of it is anthropogenic. The only ones that are doubting it is man made at all or that it is a hoax are not skeptics, they are CRANKS.

Quite literally, some of the same scientists that "proved" that cigarettes are healthy and nutritious are the same being paid by the oil industry to mislead the hysterical and ignorant.

Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming

Climate Cover-Up: The Crusade to Deny Global Warming

The root core is that too many in the public are far too suceptible to "experts" who have lots of letters after their name. They will whip up hysteria of things that are not even a real threat, while misleading from issues that are pressing and urgent.

Doubt is Their Product: How Industry's Assault on Science Threatens Your Health