The Consciousness Revolution

Graham Hancock for Russell Brand in the New Statesman.

THE CONSCIOUSNESS REVOLUTION

Consciousness is one of the great mysteries of science – perhaps the greatest mystery. We all know we have it, when we think, when we dream, when we savour tastes and aromas, when we hear a great symphony, when we fall in love, and it is surely the most intimate, the most sapient, the most personal part of ourselves. Yet no one can really claim to have understood and explained it completely. There’s no doubt it’s associated with the brain in some way but the nature of that association is far from clear. In particular how do these three pounds of material stuff inside our skulls allow us to have experiences?

…later, he continues…

I refer here to the so-called “war on drugs” which is really better understood as a war on consciousness and which maintains, supposedly in the interests of society, that we as adults do not have the right or maturity to make sovereign decisions about our own consciousness and about the states of consciousness we wish to explore and embrace. This extraordinary imposition on adult cognitive liberty is justified by the idea that our brain activity, disturbed by drugs, will adversely impact our behaviour towards others. Yet anyone who pauses to think seriously for even a moment must realize that we already have adequate laws that govern adverse behaviour towards others and that the real purpose of the “war on drugs” must therefore be to bear down on consciousness itself.

Read the full article here, on Graham Hancock’s website.

Extract from The Drugs Problem, chapter 27 of the book   –

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“It seems a reasonable desire for people to find some means to get “out of their heads” from time to time—to take a totally different perspective on life. Perhaps some new perspectives are needed in the world today, and the attraction to drugs is evolution trying to happen. We should be pleased that many of today’s generation are avoiding the trap of alcohol addiction, together with the anti-social behavior, depression, trivia worship, and middle-age burnout that abusers risk. When not abused, alcohol can be an enjoyable and stimulating drug that is beneficial to our health and well-being. Alcohol has a well-earned place in our culture, but that place does not deserve to be defended by state legislation and turned into a drug monopoly.

Drugs are an integral part of our culture and, as we learned in school, they made up the core of the early international business that brought the world’s differing cultures into trade with each other. Those products of trade included tobacco, alcohol, opium, tea, coffee, chocolate, cocaine, and sugar. Tea was such a costly drug in the pre-revolutionary US that users would season and eat the dried leaves after drinking the strong tea. Prior to the discovery of sugar cane, the sweetening for Europe had been expensive honey; the intense sugar hit was once a luxury drug. Today, we are made addicts from childhood, with many seeing it as a child’s inalienable right to consume large quantities of sugary things. Yet it is clear that the effects of sugar consumption are more damaging than many illegal drugs, and that for many, sugar is a harder drug to kick. The other major items of trade were pepper and spices, products we might view as virtual drugs to the taste buds of the bland European palate of the mid-millennium. The glorious history of trade in the civilized world was firmly anchored in humanity’s desire for new and diverse drugs and sensory inputs.

People have always sought to include drugs in their life- style for many non-medical reasons: whether to stay awake longer or to fall asleep sooner; whether to drown their sorrows or to better understand them; whether to enjoy a banter in the bar with friends or have mystic communication with a tree; whether to explore their dark side or say hello to the god within. Some drugs are not an escape from “reality” but a gateway to exploring the very nature of reality. Even the humble drug tea was first discovered by Buddhist monks, who used its stimulatory qualities in their quest for higher consciousness when meditating through the night. One could imagine how dismayed they would be at the level of tea abuse taking place in modern Britain.”

UK plans to build more nuclear

While Germany is scrapping all of its nuclear program and France cutting nuclear back by 33%, the UK announces plans to expand its nuclear program. There have been no nuclear plants built in the UK or USA for over 20 years, with good reason, since no commercial company is prepared to adopt this dangerous and expensive approach to power generation. Now, plans to build a giant new nuclear plant at Hinkley Point have been announced, underwritten by the British, Chinese, and French governments. It is solely our tax revenues and the idiocy of the out-of-date state make this expansion of nuclear power possible – even after the disastrous experiences of Fukushima and Chernobyl.

Full story in today’s Guardian newspaper

from The State of Business, chapter 20

“Government schemes create another major distortion of the natural evolution of business in society. These are designed to protect and promote certain industries—even when they are outdated and delivering overpriced product. Nuclear power was developed for one purpose alone—to supply material for the state’s nuclear weapons. It does not make economic sense and is uninsurable. Not even the most notorious industrialist of the nineteenth century would have jeopardized his entire wealth on such a risk. What company could cover the loss of a city the size of Tokyo or London, the re-location of its residents, and their medical bills for life? That responsibility falls upon the state and we must wonder whether they will be able to cover it. We now know that the evacuation of Tokyo was considered after Fukushima, and have been told that, if all goes well, it will take over forty years to clean up the mess and stabilize the dangerously damaged reactors.”

(get the full ebook online for less than a cup of cappuccino)

Sugar is a drug – don’t you know it?

From the Los Angeles Times

The Los Angeles times reports that “The first step in curing a sugar or fat addiction is, like with any addiction, realize you have it,” said Morley. “This is difficult because we don’t generally think of food as being biologically addictive like a drug, but it can be.”
– – – read the full story

Considering how few include alcohol in their thinking on dangerous drugs, it is, perhaps, not surprising that almost no one includes sugar (the precursor of alcohol). So I am heartened to see this mainstream US newspaper taking up the story. I touch upon it in this paragraph from The Drugs Problem  – chapter 27

“Drugs are an integral part of our culture and, as we learned in school, they made up the core of the early international business that brought the world’s differing cultures into trade with each other. Those products of trade included tobacco, alcohol, opium, tea, coffee, chocolate, cocaine, and sugar. Tea was such a costly drug in the pre-revolutionary US that users would season and eat the dried leaves after drinking the strong tea. Prior to the discovery of sugar cane, the sweeten­ing for Europe had been expensive honey; the intense sugar hit was once a luxury drug. Today, we are made addicts from childhood, with many seeing it as a child’s inalienable right to consume large quantities of sugary things. Yet it is clear that the effects of sugar consumption are more damaging than many illegal drugs, and that for many, sugar is a harder drug to kick.” (get the full ebook online for the price of a cup of herbal tea)

The US media hawks linked to arms industry

In The Washington Post

“Military analysts who made frequent media appearances during the recent debate over a possible U.S. strike on Syria have ties to defense contractors and other firms with stakes in the outcome, according to a new study, but those links were rarely disclosed.The report by the Public Accountability Initiative, a nonprofit watchdog, details appearances by 22 commentators who spoke out during this summer’s Syria debate in large media outlets and currently have industry connections that the group says can pose conflicts of interest.”  full story

The Arms Industry Toilet, chapter 22

“The fundamental difference between the arms industry and the majority of other commercial enterprises is that the value of military product is negative. This is an important concept. Large sums of society’s money are spent manufacturing weapon products that we hope never to use. Assuming the weapons are not put to use, then considerable further sums are wasted looking after them, updating them, destroying old stocks, and maintaining a force of people ready and willing to use them if ever ordered to do so. And even though one country might seem to profit from selling these items to another, our global society as a whole is dragged down by the weight of their uselessness and literally torn apart if they are put to use. For if and when these products are used, an even greater cost becomes apparent. When weapon products are deployed they tend to dramatically decrease the value of other products that we already possess, including our lives.”

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the wheel needs a new hub, not just another revolution

Uncle Sam Shuts Down as “The State Is Out Of Date” launches

Timing doesn’t get much more appropriate than this. On Oct 1st, the very day the US government grinds to a standstill, my book, The State Is Out of Date – We Can Do It Better, is released in its $2.99 Kindle edition by publishers Red Wheel/Weiser.

Could the US be experiencing a dress rehearsal for its own eventual failure as a sovereign state? This slight taste of what would happen if Washington’s credit line ran out is the reason banks receive ransoms to prop up, for a little longer, a clearly unsustainable financial system. It is well to remember that throughout history states have failed, every one of them, eventually.  The Romans never thought their might would crumble; Hitler expected 1000 years; the Brits trickled away their greatness; the sprawling Soviet Union imploded almost overnight. The US…?

Is there an alternative – something more real and effective than changing faces and tweaking the knobs and levers of power? Today’s so-called democratic system enables us to do little more than pick between different flavors of ice cream. Democracy and majority rule are incompatible concepts, and under the latter many are forced to eat flavors they don’t like and didn’t vote for. And if you don’t want any ice cream, well then, you must be some kind of a social deviant.

In fact, we are living much of the alternative already. It is easy to lose sight of the fact that the vast majority of everything that we use, enjoy and rely upon in this world originated outside of the state’s sphere of activities. These life components include air travel, bicycles, literature, phones, computers, clothes, bread, art, milk, music, beer, shoes, screws, axes, houses, hemp, light bulbs, cars, insurance, charity, electricity, houses, and a list of many pages

We are community animals with all the skills needed to co-exist peacefully in this world and look after each other in a co-operative community. We have many examples from history of well-developed cultures, trading goods between cities, without the need of an armed and coercive hierarchy.  The 600 year Tiwanaku empire of South America was non-coercive, combining beer, festivals, hallucinogenic snuff, nature worship and Sun worship with a co-operative community social order. Their empire spread, leaving no evidence of a ruling class, or weapons and warfare. We had enjoyed a few thousand years of civilization and trade before the first sign of a coercive state appeared around 2600 BCE in Mesopotamia. The concept spread slowly, usually carried by armed men or the fear of them.

The coercive states that today run every nation of the world are there, fundamentally, to protect us from other versions of themselves. It is for this alone that they hold power, a power also used to maintain order in the land, protecting us from each other. Fear is the fuel that gives them a reason to exist, and a motivation to keep us scared of all those hazards of life from which they promise to protect us, at great expense. State involvement in the food chain is portrayed as safeguarding the quality of our food supply. In the US that has led to a giant agribusiness industry, spawning factory farms dependent upon intensive chemical use and government subsidies. Oh yeah, and scary food that has led to unprecedented obesity levels and countless other diet-related afflictions.

Coercion is fine when you’re dealing with Napoleon, Hitler, and murderous or thieving sorts. But the “do (or don’t do) this or we will punish you” approach is not what we need when dealing with our food supply, our medical and healing options, how we make commitments to each other, what is a legal working week, or wage, or dwelling. We don’t need coercively-backed legislation covering cucumber shapes and the size of a pasta pack.

We can work this stuff out with industry guilds and trade bodies and consumer groups, connected today as has never before been possible. We have the Fairtrade mark, as well as organic and cruelty-free certifications. In the new online market, traders like eBay and Amazon have developed non-coercive methods of detecting and ejecting dubious vendors and dishonorable buyers. They do it without police, fines, judges or jails. Amazing? No, it’s how we do things naturally.

When contemplating the initial horror of the state’s multiple services being abandoned, we should keep in mind how many of their services produce consequences other than those intended.  Consider also that the total tax take is near to or above half of the wealth we produce, the value we add to the world. Just how much less hardship and economic crisis would there be if that half of the money was still in natural circulation, rather than feeding the insatiable state and underwriting it’s wars and overheads, its schemes and subsidies.

The State Is Out of Date, We Can Do It Better, is based on a simple premise, which is that bottom up organization beats top down control.  Support for this comes with the recognition by chaos theory that self-organization brings about structures such as rainforests, weather systems, the music industry, and the Occupy movement. In fact, wherever we look in the Universe we see the fruits of this phenomenon. It’s all about feedback loops, as everything that happens affects everything else in the system.  When these are replaced with fixed regulation, those mysterious natural organizing skills are disabled.

Yes, we CAN do it better ourselves and this book makes that abundantly clear. First, we must stop hoping that the state will one day get it right, sorting out the problems for which they are largely responsible. We are already building community-based alternatives to the state across the globe.  LETS (local exchange trading schemes), Bitcoins, PayPal and other innovative means of exchange are working. The World Wide Web has provided powerful connectivity that enables a truly democratic governing system to develop at minimal expense.

Though the state cries for more funds to fix society’s ills, it is the wealth they suck from our economy through myriad taxes and fines that is a primary cause of hunger, poverty, bankruptcy, homelessness and unemployment. It’s not a question of whether they are taking orders from corporations, bankers, the military industrial complex, a pope or ayatollah, organized crime, or a private dynasty. Somebody will always be pulling the strings of a body that can demand money from every member of society without needing to show a knife or gun; making laws and regulations governing how we live and interact with each other.  It is every gangster’s dream

Sure, we are in a hugely challenging position, with the state’s tentacles pervading ever-more aspects of our lives, private and public. It is almost impossible to imagine life without the coercive state, but even more difficult to see a sustainable future with it.  This is our future in the balance, and nobody can take responsibility for it more effectively than our selves. As George Orwell put it: “We shall get nowhere until we start by recognizing that political behavior is largely non-rational, that the world is suffering from some kind of mental disease which must be diagnosed before it can be cured.”

Three cheers for ethical mob rule

There are so many ways of exchanging goods and services between people – so many ways of doing business. This simple and effective setup was conceived by my brother Craig, and features in this article.

We used to fear mob rule. But if the ‘mob’ is all nice people who you’d be happy to introduce to your mother, well, what’s wrong with that? Welcome to the Collaborative Economy. I farm 20 acres, mostly woodland and orchard, with 2 acres of organic vegetable production.  I farm people – and they farm me.  They work the vegetable land and they call themselves Stonelynk Community Growers.

continued in Craig Sams’ column in the Natural Product News.

extract from The State of Business, chapter 20

“Many people could run a small venture with ease if freed from the need to keep specific records determined by the needs of the taxman, while keeping abreast of all the changing regulations, and collecting tax on the tax authorities’ behalf. It need not be so difficult to find a way of fitting into our society and providing a useful service or product to others. We are naturally very good at doing this using nothing more than our instincts. I have seen happy ten-year-olds on the beaches of India selling clothes and handiwork to tourists, in five different languages.”

Who runs the state? Strange fruit indeed.

SERCO – the biggest company you’ve never heard of

From prisons to rail franchises and even London’s Boris bikes, Serco is a giant global corporation that has hoovered up outsourced government contracts. Now the NHS is firmly in its sights. But it stands accused of mismanagement, lying and even charging for non-existent work.”    click for full Guardian article

(in the article we discover that, as well as prisons, Serco handles prisoner tagging, runs immigrant removal centres, operates speed cameras, issues and collects fines for local council traffic departments, manages the ballistic missile early warning system and a great deal more in the UK, with many and diverse  global interests)

from Strange Fruit, chapter 25

“One of the most frightening strange fruits to come from the mating of coercion with free enterprise is the increased reliance on privatization of the prison industry. Here we have the state creating a private industry that relies upon the state’s coercive power to supply it with a stream of new customers (inmates). This industry has become a strong lobby in support of maintaining and increasing those laws carrying prison sentences. As the Correctional Corporation of America warned in their 2010 annual report: ‘Any changes [in the laws] with respect to drugs and controlled substances or illegal immigration could affect the number of persons arrested, convicted and sentenced, thereby potentially reducing demand for correctional facilities to house them.‘”

Illegal eating in guerilla restaurants

From CBS, New York

“As you sit down to dinner, this story illustrates eating out like you have never experienced before. We are talking about super-secret, illegal dining experiences hosted in homes. CBS 2 investigative reporter Tamara Leitner went undercover to see firsthand how this underground world works.”

Greg- How bizarre that serving up dinner in your own home and asking people to pay you for the experience is a punishable crime. While this is considered a danger to the public, our high streets and shopping malls abound with outlets serving up all manner of unlabelled foods, much of it recognized as damaging to health. The State of Business, chapter 20:

‘Little resembling a free market remains in most of those major nations that built their greatness on the free market and then regulated it out of reach to those without degrees, certificates, and bank loans. Letting your child go out on the street selling lemonade today (as I did when a boy) might easily result in the toddler being taken into care. We are not free to turn our home into a restaurant or herbal treatment clinic, and require a license or permit to sell anything in a public place. Where a semblance of the free market survives, it thrives, in farmers markets and flea markets, car boot and yard sales, eBay and Craigslist and Silk Road.

The crime of not wasting food

In The Telegraph Sept 6, 2013

When Sacha Hall realised her local Tesco was throwing away thousands of pounds of fresh food following a power cut, she thought there could be no harm in taking some to eat. But to her horror, within minutes of stocking up her fridge with packets of ham, potato waffles and pies, police swooped on her home and arrested her for theft.

Victimless Crimes, chapter 17:

As we have seen, an increasing amount of today’s law is not concerned with our protection at all, but with our conformity to government regulations and permitted behavior. I suggest that the ratio between these two types of laws could be used as an indicator of the degree to which any given state has tipped towards being termed ‘totalitarian.'”

Some sanity? Less madness, perhaps.

The US is running out of prison space and having to take measures. Since most of the pressure is caused by mandatory sentencing for people found altering their mental states with unapproved substances, they may be a lightening up on incarceration of harmless citizens. But it’s an inadequate measure, as this article observes. I wonder what will happen when the private prison industry catches up in its building program.

The Drugs Problem, chapter 27

“Backflow occurred too, in the War on Drugs, when in the early 1980s the CIA are believed to have helped distribute crack cocaine to America’s inner cities in order to covertly fund the Nicaraguan contras. History will undoubtedly judge that the War on Drugs was itself the largest causative factor of America’s downhill slide into dangerous drug abuse. This would not be the first time that coercive state programs have produced opposite results to those intended. This war has clogged courts and jails worldwide with drug cases, creating far more problems than drugs ever posed on their own.”