Today I finished the book “A people’s tragedy” by Orlando Figes. It’s about the Russian revolution between 1891-1924. It is a really good book and I can recommend it if you are interested in that part of history.
The grownups of this world decided to go to war again, people still hate each other and don’t understand that we only have this life, and that we shouldn’t discard it so easily. The people in power are as ignorant as we all are the only difference is that they are in power. The air of knowledge and certainty hanging around them is a mirage originating from our own mind. What can we do? Not much. I read books to learn and think about it, write about it. But that’s about it, or not? Walking outside you don’t realize that the human world is a rotten place, it’s quite nice and the little lambs are walking around already, would the warmonger feel something when they see something like this? Natures clock is just ticking on regardless it’s children that don’t see its beauty.
I have a pile of books on my nightstand, I have a short attention span. There are some sailing books, books about Nietzsche, the autobiography of Krushev, a Nazi encyclopedia, a book about climbing the mount Everest and a good book by Sabastian Haffner called Germany 1939 Jekyll & Hyde about German society in the year the war started. I just started the biography of Willem Vos, a well-known Dutch ship builder who made a replica of the Batavia. I learned my trade working on that project and I met him, but did not work with him, he was already retired. The book I put away for now is Fire and fury, the Trump book. Besides my short attention span when it comes to reading books I get kind of tired of this whole Trump thing. The good thing about trumps is, that it puts a magnifying glass on the American political system and it is kind of disgusting what you see. I wrote in an earlier post about the time I turned eighteen and that I thought that I would finally enter the land of the rational people and leave the children that surrounded me at school behind me. How wrong was I, we are not rational, we just climbed out of the tree and barely learned not to bash each other’s heads in when we feel the urge, but we still like to throw feces at each other. I only voted ones in my life, I don’t like compromises when it comes to my ideals and from the beginning I realized that people, including politicians, never tell the truth if they try to sell you something. The party I voted for was more of a protest party, they were called the “idealistic party” (I think) and they had some idealistic ideas on how to organize a country, knowing that it would never happen. What I see now in America, and it probably happens everywhere, is a bunch of snake oil salesman selling promises while there are qualified people standing on the sideline trying to show the real medicine. How stupid do you have to be if one scientist tells you that there is no global warming and you believe him and not the 99 other scientist that warn you that there might be a problem. Democracy has brought us westerners some good and to get on the right track as a society it is important that there is a vote on its trajectory. But the ultimate outcome of each society should be a one-party rule because everybody will eventually realize what is good for everybody. Look at economics, first there were no rules, then they came up with different ones, they fine tune them, learn from mistakes and one day their will be a consensus on what the rules of economics are. If those rules are widely accepted, you don’t need to fight over them in a multiple party system. If we follow this logic we would eventually end up with consensus on all topics. Call it the Star Trek system, or the idealistic system.
The president of the united states of America is not known for his wise words but he knows how to grab attention. In the beginning I sometimes compared him with Hitler, but I would not say that anymore. Hitler was also a disturbed man, but he had a few strong ideals that guided him and Trump has no idea. So, luckily there is no Hitler, or the kind of followers he had, in today’s society. For the people that are interested in it you can find many books on how he rose from humble scum to a powerful one. Hitler has written about his success and how he got there, he is quite honest about it to and if you read the following quotes you might wonder why his followers were not offended.
–How fortunate for governments that the people they administer don’t think.
-Strength lies not in defense but in attack.
-The broad masses of a population are more amenable to the appeal of rhetoric than to any other force.
-The art of leadership… consists in consolidating the attention of the people against a single adversary and taking care that nothing will split up that attention.
-In the first quote he tells you that the people you govern don’t think. It all depends what you include in the thinking process. Most people vote for what their “thinking”, there gut, tells them, if that is mostly self interest than you can debate if that is real thinking. Maybe thinking must include the consequences of your vote beyond your own and immediate self-interest. If Hitler means that that looking beyond yourself is missing than he is right. People that only think about themselves are easier to manipulate. But overall it is a generalization that superficially seems to be true.
-The second quote sound like it comes directly from a movie script and a lot of people praise the person who doesn’t role over but attacks. But you can also see it as coming from insecurity, a fear of immanent failure where the attack is the only way out. Attacking is most of the time the easiest route to follow because it is mostly fueled my ancient urges and instincts. A defense on the other hand is more a cerebral exercise and needs more time to get in motion. That Hitler associates it with strength is probably because it comes naturally to him, he is famous for hating intellectuals (with their sound arguments).
-The third quote goes together with my conclusion of the first, that selfish people are easier to manipulate, and the second that most people attack instead of defend when attacked. Rhetoric is the art of juggling with words till the people are in awe of you. It doesn’t matter so mush what the words are you use, what matter is the emotions it generates in the masses. As I told you before I think that most people vote for what is immediate in their own interest, but if it comes to choosing we are all insecure and then it will help if you are in a group, one of the masses. It’s easier to go right if everybody goes right, you have to be strong if you want to go the opposite way, group pressure is a well-known psychological mechanism.
-The fourth quote is more of a rhetorical trick and everybody that was part of a group knows how this goes.
Hitler was not a stupid man, but I doubt that he came up with these observations himself. There have always been rulers that used their skills of rhetoric and manipulation to gain power and some of them were probably aware of what they did and how they did it. But as I am happy that we have no Hitler today, but we have a nice example in our modern politics in the form of Trump, who probably would claim that Hitler stole these quotes from him. And to be clear, Trump is maybe like Hitler, but he fortunately misses one key aspect and that is an ideology, as long as he doesn’t start a nuclear war it is all just hot air and forgotten in a couple of years. If I am wrong than we are in trouble because Trump has way more power than Hitler ever had.
One who deceives will always find those who allow themselves to be deceived. Niccolo Machiavelli
When somebody challenges you, fight back. Be brutal, be tough. Donald Trump
After the elections in America in 2016 I was upset to say the least so to vent some of my anger I started making Photoshopped pictures with a message. By coincident we had just visited family in America that summer, so I had a lot of pictures to work with. With some of the pictures it is pretty clear what the message is with others you have to look a little closer. I’m curious if you find the messages that are hidden.
As long as I remember, around Reagan’s appearance in Spitting Image, I found American politics way more interesting than our own. In the Netherlands there is also happening a lot but on the world stage the impact is like a mosquito bite compared to America’s elephant foot on a to. Reagan became president when I was around 8 and we only had two Dutch speaking TV-channel, every week they had Spitting Image on and my young mind was confronted with those crazy characters. My mother made us also aware at that young age that if those crazy characters, American and the Soviet Union started shooting atomic bombs at each other and us that we would go to the biggest city, so we would die instantly instead of slowly, heavy stuff for a 10 yer old boy.
There was that kind of fear in the beginning of the eighties and my mother was no communist, but she was also no fan of Reagan, who according to most leftists started bumping his chest and provoking the Soviet Union after the relative peaceful 70s. Luckily the Soviet Union imploded under its own weight and failure, so America could unload their frustrations somewhere else and disturb central America instead of kids in Holland. After Reagan you had Bush the first who I don’t remember besides the war with Iraq over Kuwait, I guess he left no impression and maybe that’s for the best and why he only stayed for one turn. Then there was flashy boy Clinton who also accomplished nothing beside showing what Americans are good in and that his hypocrisy. But for the rest I don’t know, for Europeans these so-called democrats are like what we call the right wing. The economy was booming but there was no improvement of (economic) justice. But when Bush the second stole the presidency I started paying attention. I remember Bush as a comedic figure and a puppet that, in mine opinion, should be locked up for mass murder together with his cronies. For me, America was becoming this big fat general that for some reason thinks it can bully the world. Imagine if Russia or Germany had military basis all over the world like America has, it’s crazy. I don’t mind America as a big power but with a little bit more intelligence please. Well, after comedic Bush and the decapitation of the economy we got Obama. Obama seems to me a genuine decent guy that was somewhat naïve in thinking he could do anything good in a country that still has one foot in the wild west. Because of his stalemate with congress his presidency was pretty disappointing to me. The thing that sticks in my memory is the killing with remote controlled drones, something a decent person would see as the first step in desensitizing warfare*. After Obama I thought that Clinton the second would win, and America would go on standing still like it is doing since the seventies. Bernie Sanders was off course in my eyes a good guy that was more genuine than all the other suits you see shuffling around in American politics, but I have my doubt if America is willing to change… And off course they won’t, they elected Trump. I don’t want to offend my American Family and friends any more, but I really start to doubt the general level of basic education in that country, it’s like you need lots of money to get a somewhat decent education over there. Americans are proud, like children of their new drawing, of their country and like to say that they live in the “land of the free”, or in other words: I don’t give a fuck about others. Bush might be a war criminal, but he could make fun of himself and that quality shows that he knows that we are all stupid and ignorant and trying. The Trump as president has nothing genuine or humble about him and that is the greatest crime you could do as a human being.
No one on earth has a user manual for living on planet earth. We are all figuring it out, and it’s ok if you think what that button does but that doesn’t say you know what that button does.
Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance. Confucius
Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance. George Bernard Shaw
The greatest enemy of progress is the illusion of knowledge. John Young
*After Vietnam, the people back home complained about the more than 50 000 deaths and that let to the first gulf war where mush more was accomplished with less cost. The problem is that the millions of Vietnamese that died will never be an argument for not going to war. Look at the second gulf war where there were also relative view casualties on the American side but several hundred thousand casualties among Iraqi civilians. If you have drones that fight for you, and you have only the cost of bullets that stops you from going to war, the chance is that there will be more wars.
I translated a Dutch song, for some reason I wanted to share it today. Like the stairs in this picture, the conflict described in this song is also seemingly going nowhere.
Fresku – Omgekeerde wereld (upside down world)
I hear you say, you are a citizen of the world
Why are you closing your eyes now?
Just won “Best Artist” Frisse
Better keep your eyes closed now.
What would I be worth as a famous rapper?
Even though I just do not offer any resistance?
How can people call this a war?
Gaza does not even have an army man.
How can a man take the life of a child?
How can I continue to entertain you in the meantime?
Imagine that you live in those regions.
What would you do if you wanted to live?
If we, the West, do not offer the Palestinians an army,
tell me this, how should Hamas choose for peace now?
Politics is dirty, I see how many lie
no principles, is this a war or genocide?
War or genocide, would this be the choices?
Would this be the choices, would this be my choice?
Looking forward? Dear brother, I feel helpless.
Oh dear sister, forgive me that I chickened out.
I am buried in my own fears.
Fears that you dream to ever have.
The oppressor makes your home a cage.
Which he then throws flat with his rockets.
I saw a father crying for his baby.
And his baby was not even a year.
Is that how warfare is going today?
Bombing? innocent people live there.
The British took land and lives from the Indians
Now these people call themselves Americans
Now they support Israel to do this too?
in 2012? Obama should be ashamed of himself.
Now there are deaths from both sides.
Countries watch how bodies fall.
Misled by all the lies, we become more confused.
Most of them barely understand how it is and chose to close their eyes,
because they are going crazy, as Palestinians succumb to the stress.
and are now willing to kill because of lack of hope
and to die for, with the hope to create new hope again
Open the hell and pay them back with a bunch of rockets
in the name of God. Kill people in the name of God
until hatred makes me what I hate and I break your state.
Israel, you took everything away from me.
My food, shelter, my sons just shot down
Sorry that I chose to talk like that
Words that I do not support
but I can not choose, to choose nothing, while people die
Or do you prefer that I make jokes in the meantime?
I do not want to entertain you.
Speak to you as a father
If I close my eyes to this,
consider me as a perpetrator
Of course we are hoping that things will get better
and we want peace there, everyone is against hatred
Easy talking for us, we are not at risk
meanwhile, Palestine is turning into a reservation.
They want peace but do not believe in it
and I understand that, I also value my home and family
To call civilians terrorists so you can pick them up
to then put Israeli in their homes
Believe that you count inspiration is a means
Believe that you count inspiration is a means
Believe that you count inspiration is a means
For all my people in the opposite world.
Where many parents have to bury their children
to callout their names and call for mercy for far too long
where small children are the product of hatred and anger
praying that the perpetrators pay and seek revenge with stone
however sacred your land may be, children are more holy
I am a terrorist? you are trying to hurt my child
can it still be more hypocritical? Take a good look at how I live
my population is shrinking by the day, yours is still growing
I do not want to say stupid things
but I can not live longer and bottle this up
My mind must predominate
because if I want to resist, than it is better to do something
for people with fewer rights, rather than resist me
against the perpetrators then conferm your prejudice
So you can say: “Fresku you are an angry Muslim.”
and I distract, no, I avoid that useless collision.
I prefer to turn this pain into compassion
I come into action, lovingly and chose my role tactically
all fighters, keep up hope and love, is my advice
and if that hatred can comes to you, do not go in reaction
But make a step-by-step plan
unite and make a step-by-step plan
I also doubt but hope that it is possible
be a leader for your supporters
But victims have no patience
because they always call for help
And the people who can help them have no idea
they say: “Why should I help, hell will also breaks out here.
Where two fight, two are to blame. ”
But if two dogs fight for one bone
then the third dog goes with it
Assad kills his own people and we focus on Palestine
Is there someone who now sympathizes with Syria?
And I do not want to ask anyone to have a side
but no one can lose their children and land
No one. And that is why I am on the side of love.
Because love is the only thing that destroys hatred and fear.
Destroyed. And love transcends religion.
And you can not transcend anything without love in your vision
Love transcends religion.
You can not transcend anything without love in your vision.
But make a step-by-step plan
unite and make a step-by-step plan
I also doubt but hope that it is possible
being a leader for your supporters is my train of thought
I tried today to find out why I think that Donald Trump is such a joke and why others seem to like his childish charm. I can understand that you dislike all the political correctness that you see so much, I don’t like that kind of weaseling around either. But if I look at the way he communicates, something his supporters can not brush away or say it’s fake news, you start to wonder. What if my doctor would talk to me like that, would I still take him seriously. Imagine telling what’s wrong with you and you see the doctor’s eyes slowly roll and loosing interest. It is so embarrassing for America, I feel it when I ask Americans about it, it’s like asking a friend how it goes with his child molesting father, you don’t want to bring it up. On the other hand, there are still close to a hundred million Americans who support Trump and recognize some qualities in him. I have never met the guy, I know him from the news and I read 3 books about him. My gut never aloud me to watch his tv show because of the disgust his persona brought up in me, something my feminist mother taught my gut when I grew up. I guess he could be more charming if he made some fun of his own strange habits, some self-reflection is always a good quality in my book. But I guess that is too much to ask, his base likes him for his discrimination, male chauvinism, and money and not for his intellect. It is strange that a lot of people dislike intellectuals and at the same time praise their freedom, their rights and democracy, all products of intellectuals.
This is a picture of a rusty pipe. With some adjustments it looks cool, if I may say so. Like colorful lava floating around, breaking away…Yesterday I wrote about America and the innocent lives that got destroyed because of an unnecessary war. I wondered, in that story, how people could live in a country like that. Someone asked me what I would do…Well, I live In Norway, I moved here from the Netherlands about 10 years ago. There are several reasons why I chose for Norway and to move away from Holland, but the reason that I left is complicated. It all started (well most of it) when I came back from Cambodia, where I worked as a Dutch* Marine. Working in a country where the people had nothing besides a bamboo hut and a hole in the ground to cook on, and then coming back to a country where even the poorest have all the basics checked, and hear everybody complain, and complain… And it was not a money thing, poor vs rich or injustice. It was the lack of perspective. The problems we have in a rich country like Holland are not real problems. If everybody in the world has a meal, a school education and something to live for, then we “can sweat the small stuff”. It is difficult to describe what I felt but its like that naked king story and no one says something about it. I didn’t understand how we could live our lives knowing that the world was broken. I didn’t understand why not everybody was talking about that. And I studied it, and started to learn why it is, but knowing reasons for it didn’t take away the unrest I had. I didn’t belong there any more, there was a black hole in front of me where there should be a future. I sometimes jokingly say that I am a political refugee, and if you extend the fear of bodily harm to mental harm that society inflicts on you because of your ideas, then there is some truth in that joke. I moved to Norway because that was something I talked about for years. I restore wooden boats, my nearest neighbor lives 2 kilometers away and the best thing is that I am a guest here, and if you are someone’s guest you don’t complain about their way’s, well not too much, I’m still Dutch.
*I am Dutch, and I live in the Netherlands or Holland, but historically Holland is the name of the two provinces in the western part: Noord-Holland and Zuid-Holland. As a Dutch-man we mix those two but officially it is: I live in the Netherlands. As a Dutch-man we can also say: Ik spreek Nederlands (I speak Netherlands), or ik spreek Hollands (I speak Hollands), but a foreigner can only say: I speak Dutch. To make it more complicated: if you speak Dutch you can also say that you speak Belgium, or Flemish, that’s what the people in Belgium do when they get asked what languish they speak, some might even say that they speak Dutch. I don’t know why it is so complicated, if you know an other country that is similar I would like to know.
I wanted to no more about civilian casualties of war, or Collateral damage. While doing research on the internet I came upon this site from the Watson Institute. The article goes about civilian casualties in wars that America started. They did research that shows that “The wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan have taken a tremendous human toll on those countries. As of March 2015, approximately 210,000 civilians have died violent deaths as a result of the wars.” There are other numbers to, if you search for Casualties of the Iraq War you will find among others this wiki page that reads: “Official estimates of Iraq War casualties range from 110,000 to 460,000. Other estimates, such as the 2006 Lancet study, and the 2007 Opinion Research Business survey, put the numbers as high as 650,000 and 1.2 million respectively”. If even big institutes and universities can’t make up their mind with all their available resources than I, sitting behind my computer, will of course never find out the truth. But if you assume it is the lowest number, and only for the war that America started in Iraq in 2003, than 110,000-civilian’s casualties are still a lot.
Maybe I am crazy, but I immediately see in front of me a dull meeting room. In this room there is some bad lightning, lukewarm coffee and numbers scribbled on a board. There are a couple of people sitting at a big table, It looks like all middle-aged white man. They discuss the tolerated number of casualties of the war they are about to start. They sit there all smug. Probably thinking in themselves: “look at me, sitting here at the big table, making big decision, I am so serious, I am so important…wonder what’s for dinner tonight”. But it’s true, there was a table like that, in a room like that, with just a few old, probably fat and white, guys deciding over the willful killing of thousands of civilians, and every war kills civilians. They might claim it’s the state that goes to war, and they are just the tools that do it, but…
Picture this: try to see everybody naked in a big field. Naked we are all the same, without all the bells and whistles you will never know if that person is a hairdresser, a plumber or a congressman. We are all the same in that imaginary naked world but for some reason these fat white men started pointing at some people by a tree with a comfortable couch. The fat men give the order to kill them, they want the couch. These followers do that and… some bystanders get also killed. If you take away all the bells and whistles you end up with this picture. Collateral damage is what they call it, but at the end that is not what it is, It’s just a bunch of people that wanted something no matter the cost they, don’t care that some bystanders might die. Observing a group of naked people doing this ritual would surely make you wonder, put them some cloth on and call them president and general and it suddenly makes more sense…sadly, now it fits in a whole familiar narrative.
Every person that died in such an unjust war is murdered.
I’m not against war, if in the imaginary field full of naked people someone start beating his neighbor to death and you send your strongest friend there to stop him, first with words off course, and he accidentally hit the murderers younger brother that was standing to close. You might cal it collateral damage where an innocent bystander got hit, but there was a good cause. (I know, where do you draw the line, but morals without a line are no morals, passivism is no solution) It is generally agreed on that the Iraq war was not necessary and if there was a stronger power than America we would have seen some self-righteous American statesmen on the stand in Den Haag. Every person that died in such an unjust war is murdered. Nietzsche has this idea that morals get their value from the powerful, and he is right in that, America is not punished for the murder of more than 100,000 innocent bystanders because they are the most powerful country and can make the rules. Most Americans still go to bed without thinking about that, they just don’t seem to care. Would you stay in a country that murdered 100,000 man, woman and children?
If the Nuremberg laws were applied, then every post-war American president would have been hanged. Noam Chomsky
I struggle with these things, I like America, my fiancé is from America, I’ve been there several times, I wouldn’t mind living there for a while, I like going to the zoo. Its a beautiful country. Hollywood has softened my critical mind. The “idea of America” is almost always influenced by the media at large. Movies, comedy shows, news and so on. They all paint a picture, positive or negative, but they paint it. America is a big country, friendly people, racism, hamburgers, religious, funny presidents, ridiculous wealthy people, red
necks, new Yorker’s, guns, American dream, poverty, and off course their wars. And If you slightly lift the Hollywood vail in front of your critical mind, you also see that Americans are not really interested in the rest of the world, I see this fake “Hollywood America” that is as narcissistic, nihilistic and schizophrenic as can be, but also has an air of innocence and naivete over itself. That’s how I see America, and that is a different picture than I have of a Hitler-Germany, a Stalin-USSR or a Mao-China, but they have something in common. They all rationalize their murderers rule over there subjects. And yes, I think we are all, the whole world, subjects of America. They have by far the most powerful military and culture in the world. They can pollute what they want, bully other countries, and start wars when they see fit. That kind of power corrupts and they are masters in rationalizing it. In 500 years, when their power and culture is no longer dominant, they will write about America in the 21st century in a similar way as we now write about Genghis Khan or the Conquistadors. We write about these murderer’s figures and groups, there adventures and complement it with some hard facts about them, including a list of there wars and casualties. That’s it, in 500 years America will be reduced to some anecdotes in a corner of a history book, and a list next to it of all the peoples it murdered.
I know (of) a lot of good Americans but I don’t think it matters when the current is so strong against them, they will also be judged by time an get lost…maybe we all are.
“What I relate is the history of the next two centuries. I describe what is coming, what can no longer come differently: the advent of nihilism. . . . For some time now our whole European culture has been moving as toward a catastrophe, with a tortured tension that is growing from decade to decade: restlessly, violently, headlong, like a river that wants to reach the end. . . .” Friedrich Nietzsche
“Nihilism is a natural consequence of a culture (or civilization) ruled and regulated by categories that mask manipulation, mastery and domination of peoples and nature.” Cornel West
I have made some drawings in the past and they all came alive because of overflowing thoughts and philosophies and the urge to visualize them. The lack of words, and listeners, to express myself put my fantasy at work and I started these drawings. I have no talent for drawing or ambition in that direction. I only judge my work, and deem it finished, in so far as it pleases my eye and sense of proportion. I will now try to describe some of these drawings and tell something about the thoughts behind it. Bear in mind that some drawings are almost 20 years old and that my thoughts about them now compared to my intentions then can differ now, but I hope only in details and nuances and not in the core meaning.
We see here a checkerboard floating through space. This checkerboard resembles your life and is part of an underlying construction. On the checkerboard stands a depiction of you. The mechanical cross stands for religion and/or a constructed governing force that holds the checkerboard in place and can tilt it, so to slide you to one side unknowingly. In the background you see a similar contraption where the other person, like you, is consuming parts of other people’s lives or at least the places where you could go. Underneath the main checkerboard hangs a large construct that you don’t see at the other one. This constrict works like a counterweight, and is made of knowledge, and dampens the effect of the steering crosses. I made it with a pen you couldn’t erase, to simulate life, when I made a little mistake I turned it in a flower as a sign of hope.
If we get born, we are “thrown” into a specific situation. You are born in a specific country, class, religion, age, political system and so on. All these situations play a great role in your life if you want it to or not. If you are born in China in 1968 you cannot pretend to be only influenced by Brazilian culture when your 4 years old. What happens around you has a strong influence on you and how you will become when you grow up. You can go along with your culture and or rebel against it, but in both cases, you react to the situation you were “thrown” in at your birth. The checkerboard represents the life you are in and all the possibilities available to you in that life. You have a limited choice in where you stand but it all depends on where you grew up. The construction where the checkerboard rest on represents the constructed nature of most of the things and situations that influence us. Your are born in a specific family, there are many different forms of family life through the ages and in all the different cultures. You can have a typical 21st century western family with a mom and dad and two kids or, a family from 300 years ago in another part of the world where you live in a big building with 10 brothers and sister, uncles, aunts, grandmother, grandfather, and your parents. Both are constructed ways of living together, life, culture and history made these groups the way they are, nature has not so much to do with it. It is not hard to imagine what an effect these two different groups would have on you when you grow up in either one of them. You as a person have no choice in that, you are formed by your circumstances. “Everyone is the other and no one is himself.” Martin Heidegger
The iron crosses.
The iron cross represents the mechanism that has a more steering role after you start making “your own” choices in where to stand on the “checkerboard” that is given to you by your birth. Let’s say you are born in a religious family, then there are only a few places on your checkerboard where you can go to, to become an atheist. If you remain in a country that is heavily controlled by religious rulers than this “iron cross” represent these rulers and will tilt you on the checkerboard to a place where you will stay religious. Let’s say that you now move to a secular country, you will still be bound by the checkerboard or possibilities given to you by birth but now the “iron cross” or authorities will not steer you away from the little secular squares you have, but steer you towards it. Another way of reaching the few secular squares you have, in this example, is by studying and gaining knowledge. This knowledge might work as a counterweight to the forces in your religious country have on the direction of your life, and thus might steer you to the secular spaces on your checkerboard. This is most likely not a conscious move on your part, if you by coincidence start reading the “wrong” books this so-called counterweight might form without you knowing it. This iron cross is not only representing religion but all man-made constructs that steer your life, like the form of government or social structures you live under. All of these, steer your life towards their wishes. Remember that these constructs are not controlled by humans, they might be invented by them, but they live a life of their own and steer you as well as the so called rulers that are proclaiming and defending that system.
The others, or other people in your life, take away pieces of your checkerboard or life. We do the same thing when we are in the vicinity of others. Let’s take the religious person from before as an example. If I, an atheist, would become a friend with a religious person and we start talking and discussing life I will slowly eat away from their religious side of their checkerboard till I potentially consume, enough religious parts that they have no choice and land on a secular square despite the pull of the “cross” or system they live under. They will also feast on my secular squares and it depends on their quality and the pull of the system where I live under to see if and when in the end I will give.
You are born in specific circumstances that will give you a limited amount of choices. Society will guide your future choices, by the way of social pressure or laws but self-education can make you more independent. Other people will take away choices like someone telling you, while growing up, what you can’t do, and this will make it harder and harder to reach that goal that you desire.
Where is the free will?
I think that our free will is encapsulated in an imaginary tiny box. In that box we have free will but just outside that the box is everything we do in the world and determent by the world. Free will is something we think, but we act deterministic. We think we made a choice, and that is the limit of our freedom, we can think.
Let’s say you agree with me that we are thrown into the world and that YOU have had no choice in that. You had no choice in the circumstances you grew up in, it is determent for you. So, you might think that you choose that school later in life, but that choice was already made by the time and place you were born. You can choose from different schools, that all belonged to that specific time and place, you were born. That you choose the technical school was probably because of an example or someone talked you into it and don’t forget your genetic makeup. It is impossible to prove that there was a single point in your life where you decided to go to that school without influences from outside. Even if you stubbornly choose the opposite of all that surrounds you it still just the opposite of what was already determined. Like I said, it feels like a choice, but it isn’t. There are all kinds of forces steering us forward. This doesn’t mean that you than give up. If you know that life is like that you can use that little freedom in your head to prepare yourself for the movements of life. I can give you an example of that: in my training as a Marine we learned certain fighting skills whereby you use the force of your opponent to defeat him. A little guy could, by accepting the forces around him, the powerful swing going towards his face, and stepping aside and lightly guide the powerful blow in a direction where the opened my stumble by means of his own forward momentum, and thus using these forces to beat a towering hulk. Your freedom rest in excepting the forces around you and not get overwhelmed by it. Your freedom lies, encapsulated, in that little box in your mind, and only there you can be free as long as you are not overwhelmed by the forces around you.
I grow up with a mother that brought us to large demonstrations against American and Russian aggression. There were posters with peace signs on the wall and I remember that she told us, when we were young and in the early eighties, that if “the bomb” would fall we would go to the big city, so we would die quickly. There was a real scare that time for an atomic war and all because of that dumb actor and his war loving buddies in America that thought it was smart to taunt a dying bear. So, it’s clear that I didn’t grew up in a militaristic family, but me and my brother still choose to join the military. I was drafted, and I could have refused but I wasn’t sure why I was against war.
Why are rich individuals and large companies trying to evade paying taxes in the country that gave them the stable climate and infrastructure that was necessary to grow their businesses. If they are so smart that they think it’s all because of them that they and their company succeed let them try the same thing in a poor country without a decent infrastructure and a well-educated labor force.
Why are people so upset about paying taxes? Countries that are famous for their high tax rates are also high on the list of happiest countries. Paying taxes makes everybody happier. Countries are also better as a whole when the gap between the higher and lower incomes are small.
I think it’s laziness if people defend rich people and companies with the argument that I often here, companies like Apple and Google/Alphabet need so much money and pay high salaries because of all the things they invent. If I remember correctly, lots of companies like this were founded by people with little money and resources and their first products were more revolutionary than everything they invented after that. Money was not the only thing that drove these people, they had ideas and vision and worked with that. That spirit disappears often when a company gets big and fat, by than they need all the incentives they can get to move.
Companies can pay more taxes, if they cut wages on the top management, that obviously only works for the money and not because they believe in something or have a vision. High income individuals can also pay more taxes till we spread the wealth we have better. The generations that live now are born in this wealth, we have done nothing for it except maintaining it. This wealth is made the last few hundred years and in big parts by entrepreneurs that bought cheap or stole from peoples that were not ready for this kind of trade and power and could not resist. They got rich exploiting the poor and uneducated.
In many cultures money is still the number one motivator and that’s a shame because if it wasn’t and we would stick our heads together as a world we could solve a lot of problems.
“Those who wish to seek out the cause of miracles and to understand the things of nature as philosophers, and not to stare at them in astonishment like fools, are soon considered heretical and impious, and proclaimed as such by those whom the mob adores as the interpreters of nature and the gods. For these men know that, once ignorance is put aside, that wonderment would be taken away, which is the only means by which their authority is preserved.”Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677)
I have not done the research on how often politicians break their promises after elections, but it’s looks like it is part of the trade. Promises are often not lined up with reality out of fear that the truth will not be believed, wanted, or wished. These same politicians are in the spirit of the quote from Spinoza, the “interpreters of nature and the gods” and looked upon by the “mob”. All these lofty promises are thus dressed up in certainties, and proclaimed to be rules of nature or the will of god. The product they sell is not that what’s thought to be true but what ought to be true. Because of the nature of their promises it must be sold with deception and trickery.
If a candidate can win with a strong mandate, the people that voted for this person will forgive, if reality shows its face and leaves all the promises forgotten in the corner. If the candidate wins narrowly or must work with others, reality will be blamed on the other or the chest get pumped up one more time to make sure the “wonderment would” not “be taken away” and there will be a stalemate between this “wonderment” and reality.
This is one way you can interpret part of this quote but there is even a more sinister interpretation in it. In today’s (2017) politics we see a tendency to ridicule the opponent and deny excepted science. This practice is off coarse as old as that there are governments formed, but in a modern democracy it is normally done with a bit more class.
“Those who wish to seek out the cause of miracles and to understand the things of nature as philosophers, and not to stare at them in astonishment like fools, are soon considered heretical and impious, and proclaimed as such by those whom the mob adores as the interpreters of nature”
Times change, but we don’t, as individuals we can be great but as a group we’re still dumb as hell.