Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Musical Interlude: 2002, “Suddenly Yours”; "Sea of Dreams"

2002, “Suddenly Yours” 

2002, "Sea of Dreams"

"A Look to the Heavens"

"The Sleeping Beauty galaxy may appear peaceful at first sight but it is actually tossing and turning. In an unexpected twist, recent observations have shown that the gas in the outer regions of this photogenic spiral is rotating in the opposite direction from all of the stars! Collisions between gas in the inner and outer regions are creating many hot blue stars and pink emission nebula. 
Click image for larger size.
The above image was taken by the Hubble Space Telescope in 2001 and released in 2004. The fascinating internal motions of M64, also cataloged as NGC 4826, are thought to be the result of a collision between a small galaxy and a large galaxy where the resultant mix has not yet settled down."

Chet Raymo, “Try To Remember…”

“Try To Remember…”
by Chet Raymo

“In a sleepless hour of the night, I was trying to remember the last name of a person I have known well for more than forty years. When my spouse stirred in her sleep, I asked her. She couldn't remember either. One again I started mentally through the alphabet. "I think it starts with B," I said. Ten minutes later she rolled over and said, "The next letter is R." Bingo! The name popped into my head. Or I should say, "popped out of my head." Because it was in there somewhere, recorded in a tangle of neurons as materially as if it were written on a piece of paper.

There was a time, back when I was a young man, when some scientists thought memory might be molecular - stored as proteins or RNA molecules that have somehow been modified by experience. The molecule theory of memory rested on experiments with worms (I remember the cover illustration on Scientific American). The worms were taught to navigate a simple maze. Then they were ground up and fed to untrained worms, which seemed to navigate the maze without training. Only molecules, it was thought, could have survived the transfer. Those experiments have been discredited. Scientists now overwhelmingly believe that memories are stored as webs of connections between spider-shaped brain cells called neurons. Each neuron is connected through electrochemical connections to thousands of others. According to the current view, experience fine-tunes the connections, strengthening some, weakening others, creating a different "trace" of interconnected cells for each memory.

But truth be told, memory is still deeply mysterious. How exactly are a lifetime of memories stored and retrieved at will? We know how it works for computers, but how for the human brain? What is self-consciousness? What are dreams? This is the primary scientific agenda for the 21st century. In the middle of the night I go fishing, in that sea of potentiated synapses that are the human soul, for a name that becomes ever more difficult to extract as I get older. I troll the alphabet: A, B, C, D… The name is in there, along with a face and more that forty years of interactions. The Nobel Prizes are waiting.”
Graphic: Salvador Dali, "The Persistence of Memory"

"A Very Fit Consideration..."

“How vast those Orbs must be, and how inconsiderable this Earth, the Theatre upon which all our mighty Designs, all our Navigations, and all our Wars are transacted, is when compared to them. A very fit consideration, and matter of Reflection, for those Kings and Princes who sacrifice the Lives of so many People, only to flatter their Ambition in being Masters of some pitiful corner of this small Spot.”
- Christiaan Huygens, (1629-1695)

X22 Report, “The People Are Going To Be Shocked, 30%-50% Fall In Net Worth Dead Ahead”

X22 Report, “The People Are Going To Be Shocked, 
30%-50% Fall In Net Worth Dead Ahead”
Related followup report:
X22 Report, “Q Anon, A False Flag Attempt Is Headed Our Way”

The Daily "Near You?"

Thanks for stopping by!

Free Download: Charles Dickens, "A Tale of Two Cities"

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way."
- Charles Dickens, "A Tale of Two Cities"
"A Tale of Two Cities" (1859) is a novel by Charles Dickens, set in London and Paris before and during the French Revolution. With well over 200 million copies sold, it is among the most famous works of fiction. The novel depicts the plight of the French peasantry demoralized by the French aristocracy in the years leading up to the revolution, the corresponding brutality demonstrated by the revolutionaries toward the former aristocrats in the early years of the revolution, and many unflattering social parallels with life in London during the same time period. It follows the lives of several protagonists through these events. The most notable are Charles Darnay and Sydney Carton. Darnay is a French once-aristocrat who falls victim to the indiscriminate wrath of the revolution despite his virtuous nature, and Carton is a dissipated British barrister who endeavours to redeem his ill-spent life out of his unrequited love for Darnay's wife, Lucie Manette."
Freely Download, in PDF format, "A Tale of Two Cities" here:

"Not Much Mental Distance..."

“A man who has blown all his options can't afford the luxury of changing his ways. He has to capitalize on whatever he has left, and he can't afford to admit - no matter how often he's reminded of it  -  that every day of his life takes him farther and farther down a blind alley. Very few toads in this world are Prince Charmings in disguise. Most are simply toads, and they are going to stay that way. Toads don't make laws or change any basic structures, but one or two rooty insights can work powerful changes in the way they get through life. A toad who believes he got a raw deal before he even knew who was dealing will usually be sympathetic to the mean, vindictive ignorance that colors the Hell's Angels' view of humanity. There is not much mental distance between a feeling of having been screwed and the ethic of total retaliation, or at least the random revenge that comes with outraging the public decency.”
- Hunter S. Thompson

"The Aristocratic Illusion"

"The Aristocratic Illusion" 
They’re not as smart as they think they are.
by Robert Gore

"If you draw your sustenance from the government - as an employee, contractor, or beneficiary of redistributed funds - the money you receive comes from someone who had no choice whether or not you got paid. Except for those jobs the government mandates, private sector workers’ compensation comes from employers who have freely chosen to pay it. The jobs they perform are worth more to their employers than what they’re paid, or the jobs wouldn’t exist.

Here’s a new definition of aristocrat: a person legally entitled to take money from other people without their consent. This definition focuses on what aristocrats do and have done throughout the centuries, regardless of their labels.

If you’re an aristocrat, the thought that you’re living on somebody else’s dime may cause psychological stress. All sorts of rationales have been concocted to justify this privileged position. The most straightforward is the protection racket. In exchange for their subjects’ money, aristocrats protect them from external invasion and preserve domestic order. It’s not a voluntary trade - the subjects can’t say no - but at least both sides get something from it.

However, “protection racket” doesn’t have quite the moral gloss aristocrats crave. Deities may not have been an aristocratic invention, but they jumped on the concept of divine favor to justify their position. It makes it harder to oppose the rulers if authority is bestowed by the gods or the government is a theocracy. Ultimately, regardless of rationale, the ideology always come down to: The aristocracy is superior to those they rule. The aristocrats have no trouble believing it; they have to psychologically justify their positions to themselves. The trick is to get the subjects to buy in.

In America, the myth is that the aristocracy is a meritocracy. Merit, in this formulation, means degrees from top academic institutions, and employment with government-aligned private sector firms, nonprofit organizations, and the government itself. Those who emerge from these backgrounds and worm their way to the top are the cream…or so the aristocrats like to believe. It can’t be labelled exclusionary, they claim, because many who make it came from modest beginnings: Truman, Eisenhower, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Clinton, and Obama.

The best and brightest notion crested with John F. Kennedy’s administration, stacked with Ivy Leaguers and whiz kids. David Halberstam, in his book The Best and the Brightest, asked how all that brain power managed to get us into the Vietnam mess. Hubris was the easy answer: they were smart but too cocky. However, another explanation surfaced, one the aristocracy resisted. In 2016 and 2017 it exploded into the popular consciousness.

These last two years have revealed a simple truth: regardless of résumés, the aristocrats are nowhere near as bright as they think they are. For instance, the identity politics so many have fecklessly pushed completely undermines their own meritocracy myth.

Barack Obama became president because he was black, not because of anything he had done in academia, as a community organizer, or in politics. Hillary Clinton was next in line because she was a woman. Without her husband, the world would have never heard of her. How, as an aristocrat, can you argue for your own special merit when you’ve replaced the idea of merit with race, gender, and ethnicity? An aristocracy that no longer has its mythical basis is left with the blandishments of power and treasure -and the armed might of the state - and is on its way out. The Divine Right of Kings notion died before Europe’s absolute monarchies crumbled.

In their self-congratulatory isolation, enjoying only the support which they had bought and paid for (with other people’s money), America’s aristocrats had no idea that millions of America’s had rejected their pompous posturing. Hillary Clinton couldn’t convincingly answer why she was running for president, yet she was presented as an exemplar of merit and ability. Even many of her own supporters didn’t buy it, but the aristocrats shut their eyes and foisted her on the voters.

Donald Trump’s greatest achievement has been his exposure of the hypocrisy, corruption, and stupidity of America’s aristocrats. Even as he mowed down Republican contenders and it was clear his message was resonating with substantial numbers of voters, they dismissed him. November 8, 2016 shattered for good the myth - in force since Franklin Roosevelt and his New Deal whiz kids - of the exceptional aristocracy.

If the aristocracy is unexceptional, it has no basis for its pretension and condescension. It takes smarts to graduate from Harvard Law School. But it also takes smarts - which the aristocrats either don’t recognize or disparage - to run a business, operate complicated machine tools, fly a jet, harvest crops, design a semiconductor, or build office towers.

The elite don’t even acknowledge that their sustenance comes from the entrepreneurs, builders, and doers they deride. Nothing could have been more symbolically appropriate than the aristocracy’s take down by a businessman who had never held a government job. Most of the aristocracy knows very little about actual business and the world of real work. (Cocktail parties with Silicon Valley CEOs don’t count.) Trump, on the other hand, has had extensive dealings with politicians, bureaucrats, and the government.

Compounding stupidity, the aristocracy bet on Russiagate in a vain attempt to drive out the interloper and preserve its position. The story was so transparently thin that nobody really believed it, but it was all they had and they were desperate. It has boomeranged disastrously, giving Trump ample ammunition for counterattack. It has also destroyed the credibility of the FBI and the Department of Justice.

Even if the aristocracy recovers and drives Trump from office, there’s no going back. The aristocratic illusion has been shattered. Their claims of superiority are nothing more than self-serving screeches of denial. Contempt has replaced whatever respect Americans once had for their rulers. The bought-and-paid-for’s loyalty extends only to the next payday. When the payola ends, chaos begins. Funded as it is by debt and taxes on increasingly restive producers, the payola will end.

A ruling class that has lost its last vestige of legitimacy has nothing but force and fear to perpetuate its rule. The nation will grow more bitterly fractured as the skims and scams fall apart. The American aristocracy had better be sure its surveillance apparatus is in order, that it has the wherewithal to pay the military and police, and that it has infiltrated the populace with trustworthy informants and quislings, if that’s not a contradiction in terms.

Even with all those “assets,” the aristocracy is vastly outnumbered and has no moral force against the disgusted and the enraged, who every year have less to lose. Force and fear are the last refuges of doomed regimes. It all may collapse of its own unsustainable weight or there may be chaos and bloodshed, but regardless of the ultimate outcome, the aristocracy’s days are numbered. And after the downfall, mercy will be in short supply.”
"Mercy?!" LOL 
Madame Defarge, where are you now that we need you?

"Sex, Lies, and Alfalfa”

"Sex, Lies, and Alfalfa”
by Bill Bonner

"Our main man in Argentina, Pancho, came to Baltimore last week. Dapper and charming, Pancho has become more than just an administrator for the ranch. He has become a trusted adviser to the family. We began the conversation by explaining why we needed his advice: ‘Pancho, you come from one of the biggest, richest families in South America. You’ve seen all the things that can go wrong. We’re counting on you to help make sure we don’t make the same mistakes.’

‘Yes…we lost all our money over four generations. We finally sold the family business in the 1980s and got $200 million for it. You know how much of that money the family kept?’

‘How much?’

‘Zero. By then, everyone was in debt. They had summer houses…winter houses…and spring houses. Ranches…apartments…you name it. Polo fields. Yachts. Servants upstairs and down. Sound familiar?’

‘Uh…sort of…except for the polo fields and yachts. And the servants. But how did you lose so much money?’

‘Well, only one person in the family, my great-grandfather, had a talent for making money. The rest of us had a talent for spending it. There were plenty of bad investments…and bad marriages, too. But Bill, I’m not sure I can help you. I’m one of the ones who knows how to spend.’

Pancho continued with an update from our ranch…

Originario update: ‘I tried to make peace with the originarios [locals claiming native rights to our land]. I just asked for two things. They had to sign our contracts. I wasn’t asking for any rent. We’d forgive it all. But they have to understand and recognize that they’re on our land. And I asked them to take down the fence they put up in our pasture. They refused. I don’t think they ever wanted to settle things.

I went to court and asked a judge for a ruling. I’m not trying to expel them. That’s impossible. But I want the judge to declare that they are not really originarios. None of them were born there. And everybody knows that Rodrigo, the leader, came from Chile. Or somewhere else.

But the good news is that they’re respecting our water rights. We had a very dry winter. We needed every drop of water we could get. And they let us have it. (The little river comes down from the high mountains. Each farm along its course has the right to use the water, but only on specific days. In the past, the originarios upriver have been caught using the water when it was our turn.)  We’ve gotten about two and a half inches of rain so far this year. If that’s all we get, we’ll be in another tough drought situation. But we’re all praying for more rain. Typically, the rains stop in February, so we have a little more time.

And this year, we’ll also have San Martín [our farm lower down with more irrigable land]. We’ll have that planted by April and make our first cut in October. And here’s some more good news. The grapes look exceptionally good. It looks like we might get 60,000 lbs…if they’re not attacked by ants…or bees…or parrots or hail. Keep your fingers crossed.

But there is also bad news on the home front. We asked Juan to come down to the lower farm to clean it up and get it ready for planting more alfalfa. He’s down there during the week and goes back up to his house on the weekend. Apparently, his wife started cheating on him with Pedro. So he retaliated by cheating with Lucretia [we are substituting names here…to protect the privacy of our workers]. And as near as I can tell, now everybody is cheating with everybody else. When the priest comes, the confessions take a long time…’

Lopsided sentiment: Meanwhile, back in the USA… Has it ever been this easy to make money? You just buy stocks and wait - a few weeks at most. The Dow is flying; this month, it is setting records. And the only cloud on the horizon is falling bond prices, which we’ll have more about tomorrow…

Our research department tells us that the last time investors were so bullish was 30 years ago — just before the 1987 crash. Today, sentiment is so lopsided, if all the bullish commuters all crowded onto the same side of the Staten Island Ferry, it would never leave the pier. The old-timers say a bull market ends when the last bear capitulates and joins them. He hastens to the optimistic side of the boat. Then, it tips over and sinks.

The end must be getting close. The stock market is listing badly to starboard…and there’s almost no one left on the port side. When will the end come? We don’t know. (Our market-timing advice may be a bit like Pancho’s wealth-building advice.) For us, a crash is overdue. We take it for granted that a big, nasty bear market in stocks is on its way. One always shows up sooner or later. More interesting is what happens next. Stay tuned!”

"Orange Country 2018"

"Orange Country 2018"
by Santiago Martin

"The stock market hit 26,000 today. Corporations are getting a massive tax cut when their after tax profits are at all time highs. The .1% are partying like it’s 1999. Orange County is one of the wealthiest counties in the USA. Explain this endless tent city if things in this country are so redacted great for the average family.”
Hat tip to James Quinn, The Burning Platform

"How It Really Was"

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

"How Globalists Predict Your Behavior"

"Editor’s Comment: Unless you have gone well out of your way to stay off the grid completely, and out of the regular dealings of society, then you are being tracked, constantly surveilled and monitored – not for misbehavior and criminal activity so much as for behavior, typical activity, mass population movements, and flash points for crisis.

Good predictions require a complete saturation of data and context. It isn’t enough to see the trouble spots; the system must also understand the behavior of norms and averages. People tend towards astonishingly narrow patterns – travel within a few predictable turns, a short radius, typical purchase patterns, repeated diet and consumption patterns. One study found that just four credit card purchases were enough to identify the purchaser anonymously… just imagine what they can do with an entire footprint of data."
"How Globalists Predict Your Behavior"
by Brandon Smith

"The globalists seem to have an overarching obsession with data collection. As we have seen with revelations from multiple government whistle-blowers, the establishment spends most of its time, energy and manpower collecting information not just on known threats to their supremacy, but information on EVERYONE through FISA-based surveillance protocols. This is because the establishment sees every individual as a potential threat.

Thus, the system, without warrant, is programmed to collate data from everywhere, not necessarily to be analyzed on the spot, but to be analyzed later in the event that a specific person rises to a level that poses legitimate harm to the globalist power structure.

There was a time not long ago when this notion was considered “conspiracy theory” by the mainstream, but with multiple exposures from Wikileaks to Edward Snowden it is now common knowledge that the government (and the globalists) spy on us en masse. However, I do not think that many people understand the greater implications or uses for this full spectrum surveillance. This is why you sometimes hear the argument that “if you aren’t doing anything wrong, then you have nothing to worry about…”

The truth is, mass surveillance is not done merely for the sake of surveillance, and it is certainly not undertaken for the sake of public safety. There is a greater purpose, and it is something the elites crave dearly - the purpose of total and PREDICTIVE information awareness. The establishment is not just hoping to observe our present behavior in detail. No, they hope to use today’s data to predict our behavior tomorrow, and at this very moment, they are extremely close to achieving their goal. Lets examine some of the methods they use in the pursuit of this goal…

Internet Macro-Analytics: Web analytics are used by almost everyone with a website of their own, and Google is a primary source for this data. Through analytics you can easily measure web traffic for a particular site, but also where in the world the traffic is coming from, how long these people are staying on your site, how many of them are new visitors versus regular visitors, how your traffic has increased or decreased over a span of months or years, etc, etc. That said analytics are not just useful to someone with a web-based business or a blog, they are very useful to the establishment. Why? Because they allow the establishment to view the behavior of most of a population at any given time.

In fact, Eric Schmidt, the former CEO of Google, is notorious for opening his big mouth and letting slip some of the finer intricacies of the establishment’s information war. In 2010 in a videotaped interview with "The Atlantic", Schmidt said this“With your permission, you give us more information about you, about your friends, and we can improve the quality of our searches. We don’t need you to type at all. We know where you are. We know where you’ve been. We can more or less know what you’re thinking about.”

Now, this statement from Schmidt is not entirely true. The use of analytics to know the thought processes of the individual person is nonsensical because, first, individuals can be highly erratic and unpredictable due to emotion, intuition and abrupt changes in psychological dynamic. The elites do not know what you are thinking, yet.

That said, they do have the tools at their disposal to use what I would call “macro-analytics,” a widely encompassing view of internet traffic, to predict GROUP behavior. The ability to track the web habits of an entire population allows the elites to see shifts in social consciousness in real time. For example, I believe this very method was used to predict the shift of the U.S. population and parts of Europe towards a more conservative or “populist” ideal in 2016. Because of this the elites have acted accordingly.

Instead of attempting to stop the social changes of the group, they have allowed conservative and sovereignty movements to attain a certain level of political power, while also setting those same movements up for epic failure in the next couple of years. I also predicted this move by the elites in advance before the Brexit Referendum (I will go into more detail on this in my next article).

The point is, the elites do not necessarily need to spend the incredible amount of energy required to spy on each individual. When people form into ideological groups their behavior becomes much easier to predict. Through macro-analytics, the establishment can simply watch the traffic numbers of conservative and liberty sites to see how quickly a population is adopting that mindset, or abandoning it. They can read these social movements in advance and move to intercept or co-opt. Even if everyone in a given population found a way to use the web anonymously, this would do nothing to prevent the establishment from collecting wider analytic data and traffic data.

The best strategy for defusing this weapon at the fingertips of the elites would be a decentralized internet; an internet in which analytics are not collected or cannot be collected. Whether this can be done using existing internet infrastructure or if it would require the freedom minded to start all over from scratch, I do not know. All I know is that while the existing system is indeed useful to liberty advocates as a means to spread information and to counter disinformation, it is also highly useful to the elites as a means to view and predict mass behavior. It is a trade-off, and it is hard to say who is getting the better part of the trade.

For the establishment, though, the internet is quickly becoming, for all intents and purposes, the all seeing eye.

Human Integration With The Internet: Here is where Eric Schmidt’s claim of Google “knowing what you are thinking” could actually come true. Yet another statement from Schmidt in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter breaks down exactly what a human integration with the web might entail: “There will be so many IP addresses… so many devices, sensors, things that you are wearing, things that you are interacting with that you won’t even sense it. … It will be part of your presence all the time. Imagine you walk into a room, and the room is dynamic. And with your permission and all of that, you are interacting with the things going on in the room.”

Note that Schmidt keeps bringing up the idea that they will have your “permission” to watch your life and actions in such vivid detail. The elites love the idea of consent, but see consent as an unconscious act.  Meaning, they take joy in tricking people into consenting to their own slavery through misinformed participation. Surely, if the average person knew the extent to which their information would be used by the establishment against them they would not consent to a thing. But the elites figure that your ignorance and participation is enough for them.

Case in point, the “internet of things” which Schmidt is describing, is already here. Not only can spy agencies tap into your web activity and your computer microphone and webcam, but also your cell phone activity. This includes the ability to use cell phone GPS to track every move you make in real time. But cell phones can also be activated while turned off (as long as they have battery power), and your conversations can be recorded while you are none-the-wiser.

The cell phone is also a powerful tool for video surveillance. Cell phone makers are now getting ready to equip products with facial recognition software, allowing organizations like the NSA to not only track you with your own cell phone, but also track you through OTHER people’s cell phones if they happen to capture your face in their own phone camera.  Imagine a world in which the elites have eyes everywhere because nearly everywhere you go someone is holding a cell phone with biometric software.

New products are even more invasive. Amazon’s latest “Echo” technology, featuring “Alexa,” an app which allows the Echo to interpret your commands via microphone and talk back to you, is essentially a highly sensitive listening device (with digital speech interpretation) which people are paying good money for and willingly centralizing in their homes. This is so Orwellian it is astonishing.

Though Amazon claims the Echo only records audio for 60 seconds at a time and has refused to give data to the government in two separate instances for use in court prosecutions, the fact is that Amazon does have the data. And, if Amazon has access, then the NSA has access. It is foolish to assume otherwise. The federal pursuit of warrants to gain the data for use in court cases is nothing more than a show designed to normalize the practice of exploiting these devices and make the idea more palatable to the public. If the data can be used to solve a crime, then how can such surveillance be bad, after all?

What Schmidt envisions, and I think what the globalists envision, are millions of households filled with devices like the Echo. Not only this, but they also envision every human being reliant on the “internet of things” every moment of every day. They want a world in which you can’t accomplish any necessary activity without interacting with the network. They want a world in which everything you say and do is recorded and modeled and profiled. We are not quite there yet, but we are not far off, and if such a world comes to pass, then the elites will, in a sense, be able to predict individual thought and behavior.

Countering The Surveillance Grid: In my next article I will be outlining more methods for countering establishment intrusions into your life. Not only that, but I will also be explaining how you can turn the tables and predict the behavior of the elites. In the meantime, the best solution to the problem is to distance one’s self from the grid wherever possible. This means doing simple things, like leaving your cell phone at home when it is not really necessary. I grew up in an era without cell phones. Trust me, we got by just fine without them.

It also means being more present-minded on the technology in your home and what it does. Do you really need your webcam overlooking your house all day long? Does your computer really need to be operating every second? Do you really need to take pictures of your entire life and post them on Facebook? Can you not limit your desire for every new gadget that happens to come along?

Humanity needs a healthy distance from technology. This doesn’t mean we go back to using a horse and buggy, but it does mean there is wisdom in moderation. Mass surveillance potential by the establishment is not just a threat to people who might be “up to no good”; it is a threat to everyone. For the ability to predict a population’s behavior makes that population highly controllable. NO ONE is morally benevolent enough to be trusted with that kind of power. Anyone deliberately seeking to obtain such power should be treated with the utmost suspicion. Only the worst of men desire the means to intrude on the lives and minds of men.”

Musical Interlude: Deuter, “Music of the Night: East of Full Moon”

Deuter, “Music of the Night: East of Full Moon”

Jeff Bjorck, “Waiting For Farewell”

Jeff Bjorck, “Waiting For Farewell”

"A Look to the Heavens"

"The southern Milky Way appears spectacular in this composite image taken from Mangaia, the most southerly of the Cook Islands. Few sources of light pollution exist here, home to only 500 people.
Click image for larger size.
The two bright stars at the Milky Way’s center are Alpha (left) and Beta Centauri. They point to Crux the Southern Cross. Near the horizon, two of the satellite galaxies of our Milky Way, the Small (left) and Large Magellanic Clouds are easy to spot."

Free Downloads: Ayn Rand, "Anthem", "Atlas Shrugged"

"Anthem: Ayn Rand’s Dystopian Masterpiece"
by Roderick  Long

"In a Leningrad university classroom in the early 1920s, as the professor drones on about orthodox Marxist theory, a young woman with an intense gaze is writing furiously in her notebook. The woman is Alisa Rosenbaum, later to be famous as Ayn Rand, and her jottings do not concern the relationship between dialectical materialism and the dictatorship of the proletariat; they are notes for a play to be called "Ego," about the rediscovery of individuality in a totalitarian society based on the worship of the collective. Over a decade later, having escaped to the United States, Rand would complete the story -now a novella rather than a play - and publish it in 1938 under the title "Anthem".

"Anthem" is perhaps the only work of Rand’s in which the influence of Russian symbolism is greater than that of French romanticism. In its stark, formal style, devoid of colloquialism, and minimalist in characterization, plot, and descriptive detail, Anthem is strikingly different (apart from brief passages in longer works) from anything else that she wrote; it represents a vision stripped to the bare essentials, to the sheer power of simplicity. Its cadences are at times biblical (e.g., “I guard my treasures: my thought, my will, my freedom. And the greatest of these is freedom”). Indeed, while the book is usually described as a novella, Rand confided to fellow novelist and libertarian theorist Rose Wilder Lane that she thought of "Anthem" as a poem; and the very title suggests a sacred song of praise or devotion, in this case to the unconquered self.

The book’s most striking feature, both stylistically and in the substance of the story, is the absence of the first-person singular. The idea of a totalitarian state suppressing subversive ideas by banning or distorting the language needed to express or even formulate it has been made generally familiar by George Orwell’s "Nineteen Eighty-Four," with its fictional language, “Newspeak”; but Rand’s treatment precedes Orwell’s by more than a decade (and may possibly have influenced it).

In Rand’s dystopia, the first-person singular pronoun - the word “I” - has been abolished in order to prevent people from thinking of themselves as individuals with identities distinct from that of the collective. The struggle of Equality 7-2521 (Rand modeled her characters’ names on telephone exchanges of the “Pennsylvania 6-5000” form) to discover his own individuality is mirrored in his, and the text’s, struggle to move from “we” to “I.” (And Liberty 5-3000’s groping after singular pronouns in her declaration “We are one… alone… and only… and we love you who are one… alone… and only,” while it anticipates the statement in "The Fountainhead" that “To say ‘I love you’ one must first know how to say the ‘I,’” also implicitly raises the question whether the loss of the distinction between singular and plural second-person forms in standard English should be seen as likewise problematic, y’all.)

Again like Orwell, Rand would later go on to analyze the political abuse of language in her nonfiction as well, describing “extremism,” for example, as an illegitimate term, or “anti-concept,” designed to blur the distinction between thoroughgoing advocacy of freedom and thoroughgoing advocacy of violence and authoritarianism.

Another distinctive feature of Anthem is the impoverished, nearly primitive nature of the society it depicts - one where the candle is a relatively recent discovery, the inventors of which (a committee, of course) are immortalized in paint on the walls of the Council of Scholars. In most dystopian novels - whether those that preceded "Anthem", such as Zamyatin’s "We" and Huxley’s "Brave New World", or those that came later, such as "Nineteen Eighty-Four" and Bradbury’s "Fahrenheit 451" - the totalitarian regime is depicted as commanding a vast array of high-tech tools for surveillance and manipulation.

But for Rand, the functioning of industrial civilization requires individual initiative and free exchange; any society that suppresses these as thoroughly as the one in "Anthem" does would pay the price of backwardness, and she depicts this result accordingly. (What relations of influence there might be between Anthem and these other dystopian fictions is a fascinating topic, but one where evidence is elusive.)

If the book’s linguistic center is the first-person pronoun, its imaginal center is light - the guttering candlelight of the collectivist dystopia, contrasted with the electric light that the protagonist reinvents, the latter symbolizing the fire that Prometheus of Greek myth stole to give to the human race, and, consequently, symbolizing as well the creative fire of the unfettered individual mind. (The theme of the gift of fire, and the giver’s punishment therefor, would recur in "The Fountainhead" and "Atlas Shrugged" as well.) The world of "Anthem" is in many ways a reflection, or more precisely an intensification and extrapolation, of the setting in which Rand initially conceived it - the Soviet Union under Lenin and Stalin, with its collectivist ideological conformity, economic stagnation, lack of privacy, and general dreariness (vividly portrayed in more literal terms in Rand’s semi-autobiographical novel "We the Living").

Even the universal title of “brothers” in Anthem is an echo of the Soviet “comrades.” By the time Rand completed and published her story, however, she knew all too well that the virus of authoritarian collectivism was not confined to Soviet Russia; fascism and communism, two species of We-worship between which Rand saw little reason to choose, were dividing up Europe between them, while less advanced forms of the same syndrome were well entrenched in her adopted homeland of America. Against these trends Rand held up the vision of Anthem as a warning.

But contemporary ideologies were not Rand’s only target. Rand was a dedicated Aristotelian and a lifelong critic of Plato, and many of the features of Anthem’s dystopia, such as government assignment of professions, state regulation of breeding and reproduction, and abolition of private property and the family, seem drawn from the recommendations in Plato’s Republic. The prohibition of the word “I” in favor of “we” is likewise a natural development of Plato’s dictum in the "Republic" that all citizens should say “mine” and “not mine” about the same things - a proposal criticized by Aristotle, who warns in his "Politics" that the attempt to give a community the same degree of unity as a single individual is doomed to disaster.

Moreover, Equality 7-2521’s journey down into an abandoned subway tunnel to discover an artificial light source turns on its head Plato’s allegory of the cave, in which the wise man ascends from the cave of physical reality, lit by the artificial light of the senses, to discover the “real” world of abstract Forms, lit by a sun of pure ineffable intellect. By reversing Plato’s parable, Rand, in Aristotelian fashion, reorients the pursuit of knowledge away from the supernatural and back to this world, to empirical reality.

There are also passages in "Anthem", however, that seem potentially at odds with the Aristotelian orientation of Rand’s mature philosophy. The protagonist’s courage, integrity, and intellectual curiosity are described in terms that imply that they are innate; for example, he describes himself as having been “born with a curse” that has “always driven us to thoughts which are forbidden.” Such a suggestion clashes with Rand’s later insistence on the decisive role of choice and habituation in determining one’s character.

Moreover, Equality 7-2521, after rediscovering the concept of the ego, declares that “the choice of my will is the only edict I must respect” - a stance that the later Rand would denounce as “whim-worship,” insisting on the normative primacy of reason over will. Likewise, Equality 7-2521’s declaration, quoted earlier, that among “my thought, my will, [and] my freedom,” the “greatest of these is freedom” parts company with the mature Rand, who would surely have said that the greatest of these is thought; after all, in her later years, she would explain: “I am not primarily an advocate of capitalism, but of egoism; and I am not primarily an advocate of egoism, but of reason.”

"Anthem’s" differences from Rand’s later positions may just be nonliteral simplifications for artistic effect, or they may reflect the greater influence of Nietzsche on Rand’s early work. Her full diagnosis and repudiation of Nietzsche’s version of individualism would come in her next novel, "The Fountainhead". But already in Anthem we see a firm rejection of the glorification of domination that represents at least one strand in Nietzsche’s thought, a strand that had found a degree of aesthetic affirmation in some of Rand’s earlier work such as "We the Living" and "Night of January 16th." “I shall choose friends among men,” Equality 7-2521 tells us, “but neither slaves nor masters.”

Clearly, by this point at least, Rand was conceiving of self-interest in Aristotelian terms, as requiring respect for the rights of others.

One aspect of Anthem that seems jarring and distracting, given the book’s overall theme of independence, is the heroine’s attitude of submissiveness toward the hero. It would seem that for Rand, saying “I” does not mean the same thing for women as for men. Indeed, Rand can be found championing women’s independence and women’s submissiveness alternately throughout her career; this is an inconsistency she never seems to have satisfactorily resolved.

Despite the dissimilarities in style and complexity between the two works, Anthem points forward to Rand’s best-known work, "Atlas Shrugged". The hero of "Atlas", John Galt, is also an inventor of something electrical that is unappreciated by a collectivist society, and his invention likewise doubles as a symbol of the power of the individual mind. Like "Anthem’s" protagonist, Galt is explicitly compared to Prometheus; and like "Anthem’s" protagonist, Galt sets out to undermine the ruling order by leading a covert exodus of individualists from it. Equality 7-2521’s promise to protect his citadel of individualism with a “barrier light as a cobweb” prefigures the “screen of light” that hides Galt’s Gulch from the outside world; and Equality 7-2521’s final vow - “I ask none to live for me, nor do I live for any others” — is a first draft of the vow that unites the Gulch’s inhabitants.

When Rand, in "Anthem", has Equality 7-2521 say that “this wire is a part of our body, as a vein torn from us, glowing with our blood,” so that there is no “line to divide this thread of metal” from “our hands which made it,” she is laying the groundwork for her later defense in Atlas of the producers’ right to own what they produce; Dagny Taggart in "Atlas" completes Equality 7-2521’s thought when she comes to the realization that engines and motors “are alive… because they are the physical shape of the action of a living power.”

Throughout "Atlas Shrugged", the specter of "Anthem’s" world is a perpetual threat; without “the power of thought and choice and purpose,” Dagny muses, the “motors would stop,” and “steel cylinders… would become stains of rust on the walls of the caves of shivering savages.” When Dagny feels “sudden, blinding hatred” against a weed she finds growing through a crack in the steps of an abandoned factory and uproots it “in rebellion against the weed’s impertinence, knowing of what enemy this was the scout,” or when the ordinarily mild-mannered Eddie Willers, at the end of Atlas, lunges with “murderous fury” toward the “small gray shape of a rabbit” sniffing at Eddie’s abandoned locomotive “as if he could defeat the advance of the enemy in the person of that tiny gray form,” the world of "Anthem" - the collapse of civilization, through the betrayal of the values on which it rests - is the advancing enemy that they seek to combat.

Even “Directive 10-289,” the regulation in "Atlas" that completes the conversion of the United States into a rigid authoritarian collective well on its way to becoming Anthem’s dystopia, can be converted to the format of the names in Anthem simply by shifting the hyphen one space to the left. Anthem is essentially the future that awaits the world of Atlas Shrugged if its protagonists fail in their struggle - and, Rand suggests, it is the future that awaits all of us if the sacred value of individuality is rejected or suppressed.
The text of Anthem has appeared in various slightly different versions over the years; the version presented here follows Richard Lawrence’s arguments, on his website, concerning the best evidence as to Rand’s intentions."
Original article posted on Laissez-Faire Today

Freely download (PDF) “Anthem”, by Ayn Rand here:
Freely download (PDF) “Atlas Shrugged”, by Ayn Rand, here:

Chet Raymo, "Thank God, It's Doomsday"

"Thank God, It's Doomsday" 
by Chet Raymo

“OK, folks. Here's what's awaiting you. The End Times. The Apocalypse. The Rapture. The Final Reckoning. Oh, I could pick any one of a thousand representations of the Last Days from centuries of Western art. This one is Luca Signorelli's "The Damned Cast Into Hell," in the Capella Nuova chapel of Orvieto Cathedral, painted around the year 1500 (click to enlarge).

Why were these scenes of souls in extremis so common? Exhortations to be good? A reminder of what awaits us if we don't contribute to the Sunday collection? A local bishop trying to scare the bejesus out of his rebellious flock? Or were these scenes of tribulation just plain old popular with ordinary people, early versions of a Hollywood blockbuster armageddon movie? A pre-modern equivalent of the hugely popular "Left Behind" books of LaHaye and Jenkins?

We love Doomsday. I don't know why, but we seem to have a built-in fascination with the end of the world. Yeah, I watched the movie "Deep Impact." Loved it when that comet smashed into the ocean, sending a tidal wave over New York. The good guys survived. The sheep and the goats.

One Christian group or another has been anticipating the Apocalypse virtually every decade since the Guy himself went up into heaven. And it's not just religious folks. Today we have a secular doomsday genre. Cosmic catastrophe. Google "Nibiru." Eight million hits. A rogue planet that swings by Earth every 3600 years. The Sumerians named it. And the time is nigh. This time it's gonna hit. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Or not. But I wouldn't be surprised if a film called Nibiru is not in production. Meanwhile, we can enjoy the approach of the rogue planet even though it doesn't exist, just as the good folk of Signorelli's Orvieto presumably took a vicarious pleasure at seeing the winged demons drag their less virtuous neighbors down to hell. A suspension of disbelief. A bit of cognitive dissonance. That's entertainment.”