The Six Grand Illusions That Keep Us Enslaved

28 07 2016

Just HAD to share this……. Sigmund Fraud, like me, is onto the Matrix and we agree on the metaphor.

I’ve been incognito for several days as I drive yet another ute to Tasmania, but keep your eyes peeled, you will get a full report soon enough!

By Sigmund Fraud / themindunleashed.org

For a magician to fool his audience his deceit must go unseen, and to this end he crafts an illusion to avert attention from reality. While the audience is entranced, the deceptive act is committed, and for the fool, reality then becomes inexplicably built upon on a lie. That is, until the fool wakes up and recognizes the truth in the fact that he has been duped.

Maintaining the suspension of disbelief in the illusion, however, is often more comforting than acknowledging the magician’s secrets.

We live in a world of illusion. So many of the concerns that occupy the mind and the tasks that fill the calendar arise from planted impulses to become someone or something that we are not. This is no accident. As we are indoctrinated into this authoritarian-corporate-consumer culture that now dominates the human race, we are trained that certain aspects of our society are untouchable truths, and that particular ways of being and behaving are preferred.

Psychopaths disempower people in this way. They blind us with never ceasing barrages of suggestions and absolutes that are aimed at shattering self-confidence and confidence in the future.

Bansky, the revered and elusive revolutionary street artist, once commented:

“People are taking the piss out of you everyday. They butt into your life, take a cheap shot at you and then disappear. They leer at you from tall buildings and make you feel small.They make flippant comments from buses that imply you’re not sexy enough and that all the fun is happening somewhere else. They are on TV making your girlfriend feel inadequate.They have access to the most sophisticated technology the world has ever seen and they bully you with it. They are The Advertisers and they are laughing at you.” – Banksy

Advertising is just the tip of the iceberg. When we look further we see that the overall organization of life is centered around the pursuit of illusions and automatic obedience to institutions and ideas which are not at all what they seem. We are in a very real sense enslaved. Many call this somewhat intangible feeling of oppression ‘the matrix,’ a system of total control that invades the mind, programming individuals to pattern themselves in accordance with a mainstream conformist version of reality, no matter how wicked it gets.

The grandest of the illusions which keep us enslaved to the matrix, the ones that have so many of us still entranced, are outlined below for your consideration.

1. THE ILLUSION OF LAW, ORDER AND AUTHORITY

For so many of us, following the law is considered a moral obligation, and many of us gladly do so even though corruption, scandal, and wickedness repeatedly demonstrate that the law is plenty flexible for those who have the muscle to bend it. Police brutality and police criminality is rampant in the US, the courts favor the wealthy, and we can no longer even lead our lives privately thanks to the intrusion of state surveillance. And all the while the illegal and immoral Orwellian permanent war rages on in the background of life, murdering and destroying whole nations and cultures.

The social order is not what it seems, for it is entirely predicated on conformity, obedience and acquiescence which are enforced by fear of violence. History teaches us again and again that the law is just as often as not used as an instrument of oppression, social control and plunder, and any so-called authority in this regard is false, hypocritical, and unjust.

When the law itself does not follow the law, there is no law, there is no order, and there is no justice. The pomp and trappings of authority are merely a concealment of the truth that the current world order is predicated on control, not consent.

2. THE ILLUSION OF PROSPERITY AND HAPPINESS

Adorning oneself in expensive clothes and trinkets, and amassing collections of material possessions that would be the envy of any 19th century monarch has become a substitute for genuine prosperity. Maintaining the illusion of prosperity, though, is critical to our economy as it is, because its foundation is built on consumption, fraud, credit and debt. The banking system itself has been engineered from the top down to create unlimited wealth for some while taxing the eternity out of the rest of us.

True prosperity is a vibrant environment and an abundance of health, happiness, love, and relationships. As more people come to perceive material goods as the form of self-identification in this culture, we slip farther and farther away from the experience of true prosperity.

3. THE ILLUSION OF CHOICE AND FREEDOM

Read between the lines and look at the fine print, we are not free, not by any intelligent standard. Freedom is about having choice, yet in today’s world, choice has come to mean a selection between available options, always from within the confines of a corrupt legal and taxation system and within the boundaries of culturally accepted and enforced norms.

Just look no further than the phony institution of modern democracy to find a shining example of false choices appearing real. Two entrenched, corrupt, archaic political parties are paraded as the pride and hope of the nation, yet third party and independent voices are intentionally blocked, ridiculed and plowed under.

The illusion of choice and freedom is a powerful oppressor because it fools us into accepting chains and short leashes as though they were the hallmarks of liberty.

Multiple choice is different than freedom, it is easy servitude.

4. THE ILLUSION OF TRUTH

Truth has become a touchy subject in our culture, and we’ve been programmed to believe that ‘the‘ truth comes from the demigods of media, celebrity, and government. If the TV declares something to be true, then we are heretics to believe otherwise.

In order to maintain order, the powers that be depend our acquiescence to their version of the truth. While independent thinkers and journalists continually blow holes in the official versions of reality, the illusion of truth is so very powerful that it takes a serious personal upheaval to shun the cognitive dissonance needed to function in a society that openly chases false realities.

5. THE ILLUSION OF TIME

They say that time is money, but this is a lie. Time is your life. Your life is an ever-evolving manifestation of the now. Looking beyond the five sense world, where we have been trained to move in accordance with the clock and the calendar, we find that the spirit is eternal, and that the each individual soul is part of this eternity.

The big deception here is the reinforcement of the idea that the present moment is of little to no value, that the past is something we cannot undo or ever forget, and that the future is intrinsically more important than both the past and the present. This carries our attention away from what it actually happening right now and directs it toward the future. Once completely focused on what is to come rather than what is, we are easy prey to advertisers and fear-pimps who muddy our vision of the future with every possible worry and concern imaginable.

We are happiest when life doesn’t box us in, when spontaneity and randomness gives us the chance to find out more about ourselves. Forfeiting the present moment in order to fantasize about the future is a trap. The immense, timeless moments of spiritual joy that are found in quiet meditation are proof that time is a construct of the mind of humankind, and not necessarily mandatory for the human experience.

If time is money, then life can be measured in dollars. When dollars are worth less, so is life. This is total deception, because life is, in truth, absolutely priceless.

6. THE ILLUSION OF SEPARATENESS

On a strategic level, the tactic of divide and conquer is standard operating procedure for authoritarians and invading armies, but the illusion of separateness runs even deeper than this.

We are programmed to believe that as individuals we are in competition with everyone and everything around us, including our neighbors and even mother nature. Us vs. them to the extreme. This flatly denies the truth that life on this planet is infinitely inter-connected. Without clean air, clean water, healthy soil, and a vibrant global sense of community we cannot survive here.

While the illusion of separateness comforts us by gratifying the ego and and offering a sense of control, in reality it only serves to enslave and isolate us.

illusions

CONCLUSION

The grand illusions mentioned here have been staged before us as a campaign to encourage blind acquiescence to the machinations of the matrix. In an attempt to dis-empower us, they demand our conformity and obedience, but we must not forget that all of this is merely an elaborate sales pitch. They can’t sell what we don’t care to buy.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sigmund Fraud is a survivor of modern psychiatry and a dedicated mental activist. He is a staff writer for WakingTimes.com where he indulges in the possibility of a massive shift towards a more psychologically aware future for mankind.

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The lies of happiness: living with affluenza but without fulfilment

23 06 2015

Clive Hamilton

This article is the first in a new series, On Happiness, examining what it means and how it might be achieved in the 21st century.


In a short story, Grief, Anton Chekhov tells of a wood-turner named Grigory Petrov, a drunkard and bully who for 40 years regularly beat his wife. One night he arrives home drunk and brandishing his fists. This time, instead of shrinking from him, his wife gazes at him sternly, “as saints do from their icons”, wrote Chekhov.

It was her first and last act of defiance.

Now driving a sled through a blizzard, Petrov is taking his dying wife to the doctor. He curses and whips the horse. He is seized by grief for a life wasted, and wonders how he will live without this woman who has sustained him for so long.

I may have been a drunkard and ne’er-do-well, he mutters to himself, but that was never the true man, and now my wife is dying on me, she will never know my better nature. I beat her, it’s true, but never out of spite. Am I not rushing her to the doctor because I feel sorry for her?

In Chekhov’s story, Petrov engages in grotesque rationalisations. His dignity will not allow him to face the truth of the sort of man he is. He engages in a litany of self-deceptions, even though the truth threatens to overwhelm him.

The myriad ways humans lie to themselves is a recurring theme of literature. Because we all engage in self-deception, we recognise ourselves in the characters. We are forever composing stories about ourselves and our world so as to smooth a path through life.

Benign fictions and the loss of freedom

The psychologist Shelley Taylor calls them “benign fictions”: the lies we deploy to defend our happiness. For a long time I have believed that if we deceive ourselves about our strengths and weaknesses, creating a veil that distorts our vision of the world so as to render it more agreeable, we may actually be sacrificing the opportunity to find a more authentic self from which to live.

But is that chasing a phantom? Does it really matter if we find contentment by deploying benign fictions?

The philosophers have always told us that happiness should be discounted if it floats on a mirage of lies. But maybe the thinkers are deceiving themselves, rationalising away their melancholy and inflating the value of their solemnity.

Perhaps. Yet there is another reason to question happiness built on self-deception. It opens us up to manipulation.

When we are not truthful with ourselves, we are driven by forces of which we are unconscious, but our real motives and desires can be discerned by others – advertisers, for instance. They can smell weaknesses to be exploited.

So, I am willing to argue, those whose happiness rests on fabrications risk surrendering their freedom. Happiness at the price of freedom is not worth it, unless the limits to one’s freedom are freely chosen after careful reflection.

But is the truth always to be preferred?

The Trade Practices Act outlaws deceptive and misleading conduct by companies making claims about their products. But what if we want to believe the lies? The essence of branding is that by identifying ourselves deeply with a brand – an Apple computer, Diesel clothing, a Volvo car – we take on the image associated with it.

We accept these commercially provided identities because our societies no longer offer other means of creating a sense of self that satisfies. And we are bored.

Increasingly, our attention is seen as a scarce commodity. As always, anything that is scarce has a value, and some are willing to pay for it.

There is even a new branch of economics called “attention economics”. When others thrust information upon us it can be regarded as a form of pollution. We sometimes try to stop this pollution harming us with devices like spam blockers, television mute buttons, “Do not call” registers and “No junk mail” stickers.

However, I think many of us watch television and listen to iPods to avoid paying attention to aspects of our lives that are uncomfortable. And we want our attention to be captured because we have developed a strong aversion to boredom.

It seems to me that the flight from boredom means our society as a whole is suffering from a form of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Movies and television programs have shorter scenes and more action to keep us “glued to the set”. Yet in order to transcend boredom it is necessary to get beneath the superficial self that is entertained by television and a thousand other distractions.

Is a more authentic life possible?

It is one thing to recognise that money and the consumer life are in some way shallow; it is quite another to find out what a more “authentic” life would be. Sometimes I doubt whether there can be such a thing in our secular societies. Are we destined to live out selves wholly given to us by the social conditions in which we find ourselves?

Still, there must be some identity more authentic than those constructed for us by the clever manipulators who make brands and produce popular culture. At a minimum, we must fight hard against those influences, for if we do not we will end up as mere cyphers.

Creating the illusion of independence is the most potent tool of the contemporary advertisers’ trade, but the irony is generally lost because most people are too busy congratulating themselves on “being their own person”. The essential ideology of modern consumerism is that we can all live freely and independently.

This is an idea that emerged from the marriage of modern consumerism and the ideology of the liberation movements of the 1960s and 1970s. We now hear it expressed in inane phrases such as “be true to yourself” and “you are responsible for your own happiness”. So instead of pledging allegiance to God, nowadays a Girl Guide promises to be “true to myself”, a vapid pledge that nevertheless resonates with the inherent nihilism of individualised societies.

In Australia over the past 13 or 14 years we have engaged in a national conversation about happiness and how to get it. This was in large part stimulated by the work of my former colleagues and I at the Australia Institute, building on the work of Richard Eckersley.

When parents spend more time in traffic than playing with their children, is it worth it?
Shutterstock/gemphoto

From the early 2000s we asked whether national wellbeing was rising along with rates of economic growth. We found that the answer was “no”. We built the Genuine Progress Indicator as a substitute for GDP.

We showed how advertisers were persuading us to go into debt and how they were increasingly targeting children. We pointed to an epidemic of overwork and estimated that one-third of Sydney fathers spend more time in their cars commuting than at home playing with their children. We measured the value of stuff that we buy and then throw out unused (billions of dollars worth).

We discovered a deep vein of discontent, with oppressive levels of debt, marriages under stress, overwork leading to illness and depression, children being neglected and a pervasive anomie. And then we uncovered the reaction against it all by describing the remarkably large numbers who had decided to downshift – that is, to voluntarily reduce their incomes and consumption in order to take back some control over their lives.

For a time we had some success, but then something happened. The 2008 global financial crisis brought to a sudden end the zeitgeist and the happiness debate that was part of it. The crash was the direct result of excessive consumption, unsustainable debt and the industries that made them possible; in other words, everything we had criticised.

I always saw the happiness debate we triggered as no more than a prelude to the real task of opening people to an examination of some deeper sense of meaning in their lives, and to precipitate reflection on the moral basis and behavioural structure of our society.

Yet here we are, in the embryonic stages of the next consumer boom, with no collective lessons learned from the last one.


This article is based on an essay in the collection On Happiness: New Ideas for the Twenty-First Century (UWA Publishing, June 2015).

The Conversation

Clive Hamilton is Professor of Public Ethics, Centre For Applied Philosophy & Public Ethics (CAPPE) at Charles Sturt University.

This article was originally published on The Conversation.
Read the original article.





I’d be happier if I didn’t write this stuff!

20 08 2014

Kurt Cobb

A guest post from Kurt Cobb who kindly gave me permission to reproduce this piece from his own blog.  In reply to my email, Kurt wrote…:

I think we are already in the crisis. The economy is not growing very much and in some places it is contracting.  For 90 percent of the people on planet Earth, growth has stopped.  Their material well-being is either stagnant or declining.  Many more people are finding it difficult if not impossible to afford the things they used to afford before 2008.  I don’t believe we are facing a definitive one-off event, but a serious of periodic crises which the public and government will respond to with measures designed to get us back to business-as-usual.  Of course, for the vast majority of people, these measures will be insufficient because our objective circumstances have changed.  We now face high energy prices and a wobbly financial system that is stressed because of the high energy prices.
There is a better path forward, but it won’t come from the top.  We must build it ourselves from the bottom up.

Thus happiness depends, as Nature shows,
Less on exterior things than most suppose.

                  –William Cowper

For years my father–who is a really great guy–has been telling me that I’d be a happier person if I didn’t write about all the converging threats bearing down on the human race. Turns out he’s right!

Here’s what a new study said on the matter:

Recent evidence suggests that a state of good mental health is associated with biased processing of information that supports a positively skewed view of the future. Depression, on the other hand, is associated with unbiased processing of such information.

Let me translate: If you fool yourself about what you are really seeing in the world and convince yourself that it will lead to a good future for you and whomever else you care about, you’ll maintain good mental health. If, on the other hand, you look reality squarely in the eye, you are more likely to get depressed. Life, as it turns out, isn’t a bed of roses.

Now, I would put the “positively skewed” person in the same category as turkeys. You may be familiar with philosopher Bertrand Russell’s story of the turkey. A farmer feeds this turkey every morning. Using inductive reasoning, the turkey becomes more and more convinced each day that the morning feedings will extend indefinitely. One day the farmer appears with an ax, demonstrating the weakness of inductive reasoning.

It’s easy to see that the turkey is happier up to the point of slaughter NOT knowing what is coming. (I’m assuming the turkey, in this case, would be powerless even with foreknowledge to prevent his own demise.) Not knowing, he is better adjusted to his surroundings, and he’s not busily writing columns about the impending turkey slaughter that all turkeys should be aware of. This lack of knowledge certainly prevents stress and stress-related diseases, both mental and physical. One has to admit that the turkey has a good life (for a turkey) up to a certain point.

We should also note that there is no way that examining his past–i.e., previous feedings–would allow the turkey to understand the danger. The slaughter of turkeys is nowhere to be found in the time series of his feedings or his life in general. (The analogy for the human race would be the last 150 years or so in which the notion of perpetual progress has become entrenched in the human psyche.)

We can learn two things from the turkey’s story. First, if you are a turkey, it is better to be ignorant of your own demise if you are be unable to do anything about it (even with foreknowledge). Second, information about the nature and timing of your demise may not be available through an examination of your past–though an examination of the past of many turkeys might shed light on the situation.

Let’s expand on this. Since I am, in fact, not a turkey, or more particularly the turkey in the story above, it is possible that I might be able to do something to avoid my premature demise if I have information about it. But, of course, anyone who writes about our converging environmental and resource-related threats, isn’t really writing about individuals, but about humans as a species.

So, it is possible that one path to relative happiness is to remain ignorant of such challenges so as not to suffer anxiety about them. Then, if society cannot head off these catastrophes, at least you wouldn’t suffer anxiety about them prior to their arrival at your doorstep. And, it’s possible they may never reach your doorstep during your lifetime. This, however, sounds more like a dereliction of one’s civic duty than a path to enlightenment.

That’s because if my efforts and the efforts of millions of others around the globe are able to move the needle of society toward sustainability, those uninvolved and untroubled by our problems would be getting a free ride. We sustainability types do all the work and then have to share the benefits.

But, the more people who join in the work of moving society toward sustainability, the more likely it is that this work will succeed. The failure to achieve a sustainable society might be the direct result of too few participants trying to achieve it. The free ride problem just got a lot more deadly.

There is also the problem of the definition of “good mental health” or more speculatively, the meaning of “happiness,” and whether these ought to be one’s goals in life. Human life, no matter how materially advantaged, is bound to be filled with pain, disappointment and loss. The unpredictability of our lives makes it certain that you cannot plan to have a happy life. You may get what you believe to be a happy existence. But it is likely to be the result of luck more than choice and planning.

And, if the definition of happiness includes all kinds of unhappiness experienced in the pursuit of one’s goals–even if those goals are achieved–I would say that such a definition is drained of all intelligibility. It may have some mystical significance that I don’t understand. The everyday meaning of happiness, so far as I know, does not include excessive suffering, pain and loss.

But back to my father. He also contends that he is very good at dealing with “reality.” And, he is. He’s one of those rare people who, when he looks at what he has to do each day, realizes that the task which seems most disagreeable is probably the most important.

I take this as a clue that he has not pursued happiness as his main goal in life. Rather, he saw his highest calling as his duty to others, to his family, to his friends, to his community, to his country, to the people who worked for him while he was running several companies. There is a certain satisfaction in living this way, some might even say a certain joy in the commitment itself. But it is not a path that leads to a persistent state of happiness.

It really should be no surprise to him that “being happy” is not my highest priority, and that his wish for all his children to “be happy” could easily turn into a curse of ignorance. Admittedly, trying to understand the world around us can end up being burdensome, especially if one concentrates on the human prospect in the face of the emerging multiple threats to the stability of our civilization.

But trying to understand our place in the universe and on the Earth can also be exciting and stimulating. And, trying to move society in a more sustainable direction in concert with others can be both rewarding and fun. It turns out that even people who don’t put their personal happiness first on their list of priorities can have a good time in this world. And, sometimes they can even be happy!

P.S. Doing something which gives our lives a broader meaning can give us a kind of satisfaction that the “pursuit of happiness” can never provide. I am reminded of Swiss psychologist Carl Jung’s story about a meeting with the religious leader of the Taos pueblo. The leader related the following:

“The Americans should stop meddling with our religion, for when it dies and we can no longer help the sun our Father cross the sky, the Americans and the whole world will learn something in ten years’ time, for then the sun won’t rise any more.”*

The leader and his people were not just doing their ceremonies to the sun for themselves. They were doing them for the whole world.

P.P.S. This excellent cartoon nicely summarizes one of the main points of this piece.

*From The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious, Volume 9,I of The Collected Works of C.G. Jung. p. 22.

Kurt Cobb is an author, speaker, and columnist focusing on energy and the environment. He is a regular contributor to the Energy Voices section of The Christian Science Monitor and author of the peak-oil-themed novel Prelude. In addition, he has written columns for the Paris-based science news site Scitizen, and his work has been featured on Energy Bulletin (now Resilience.org), The Oil Drum, OilPrice.com, Econ Matters, Peak Oil Review, 321energy, Common Dreams, Le Monde Diplomatique and many other sites. He maintains a blog called Resource Insights and can be contacted at kurtcobb2001@yahoo.com.





I have been to the Mountaintop, and I have seen the Promised Land….

18 08 2014

Nic Marks

The title of this post is a Martin Luther King quote from a speech he made on the eve of his assassination.  I picked it up from an amazing Ted talk I discovered on FB….

The speaker, Nic Marks, starts off by accusing ‘environmentalists’ of spreading fear about the future.  Guilty as charged.  He claims that people simply ‘freeze’ when faced with news of apocalypse, and they end up clamming up and doing nothing….. the deer in the headlights syndrome.  Personally, it was precisely discovering that the future would be apocalyptic if nothing was done that spurred me to change our lifestyle.  And campaign on the issue for decades now..  I thought, maybe stupidly, that if it worked for, surely it would work for everyone…  I now realise I made the same mistake politicians make all the time by assuming others would be like them…. in their case, hungry and ambitious to consume the planet to death!  The populace obviously aren’t like at all, they’re still out there driving SUVs and shopping ’til they drop.  People who work on Wall Street, for example, would never consider a lifestyle like ours.  But will they have any choice, if/when the apocalyptic future arrives?  Because of their choices no less….

Many times, I have enjoyed replying to people on various internet forums discussing sustainability by telling them I did not live in a cave, but rather an award winning house.  Nor do I wear a hair shirt!  (WHAT on Earth is a hair shirt anyway?)  But still, I have had little impact on society.  Even members of my own family who have been here, seen how we live, think I’m just a layabout because I don’t ‘work’.  I don’t know what you’d call keeping this place going, except ‘work’, but there you go.  They’re not like me…. and I have to accept that I guess.

Perhaps the real problem in the end is that we are in fact so different….. some of us ‘get it’, some won’t, and some will fight for their right to consume to the death…  And frankly, I see so little movement at the station regarding change that it’s going to take some momentous event to remove the apocalyptic outcome from my field of view.  Yes, I have been to the Mountaintop, and I have seen the Promised Land…. but when I turn around, I still see the apocalypse.

So all you nutters who think it’s me who’s the nutter……  wake up to yourselves.

Here is Nic’s Ted talk.  Keep the comments rolling in folks…. you are keeping me sane!