Thursday, October 23, 2008


October 22, 2008

by Jim Kirwan

Chaos Theory is ‘a revolution not of technology, like the laser revolution or the computer revolution, but a revolution of ideas that began with disorder in nature: from turbulence in fluids, to the erratic flows of epidemics, to the arrhythmic writhing of a human heart in the moments before death.’ James Gleick, from Making a New Science.

The Butterfly Effect that Gleick popularized in Chaos Theory is pivotal now, because it underlies the fact that literally everything is connected: And when any society ignores this fact, the resulting failures lead directly to ruin.

America between World Wars One and Two was a very different place from what exists today. It too was flawed of course, but it had some advantages that we have long since forgotten ever existed. Because of the semi-rural nature of this nation with its heavily centralized cities people understood their need to know a lot about a great many more things – and to the degree that we have now lost this wealth of ‘common knowledge,’ we have trapped ourselves in insular-bubbles of specialty that have obstructed our view of the very nature of life itself.

The ‘seasons’ of nature once ruled all of human existence because the seasons controlled the cycles of life itself: a time to sow, a time to reap; and above all the unspoken time to think about it all. The source of all our food whether animals or plants was directly part of the elements that ruled the seasons, so there were natural rhythms built into the way most people lived.

Occupations were vastly different as well. When I was young there were hundreds of occupations from which to choose, and new professions were always possible for those with new ideas and the will to see them through. Even in the 1950’s going to ‘Business School’ was considered something for those that were virtually unskilled at anything worth doing, because “business” was seen for what it is – a tape-worm of consumption predicated on endless schemes that left little time for either joy or profit, so it was reserved to those of limited vision that generally lacked ‘people skills.’ Of course there were exceptions, like the Robber-Barons that were still fixated upon building their empires without limits; until the Century of the Self was created from their fear-of-failure, in the person of Edward Bernays, who provided ‘business’ with the creative manipulation of people’s most basic desires, in order to elevate profits over all other considerations. (1)

That was the turning point when people began to leave the practical world of necessities and a graduated personal understanding of the world for the far more tempting but very shallow world of instant gratification and radical ideas, in order to live in a dream-world where the basics took a back seat to personal rewards; whether or not there had actually been anything worth celebrating in the lives of these new beings that called themselves “consumers.” And the rest as they say ‘is history.’

In the euphoria that the end of the Second World War brought on, the old ways of hard work and frugal living gave way to faster living and a greater concern for the fleeting moments that supposedly brought excitement into lives that had never thought about those heights: That path was created for the willing by the ideas unearthed in The Century of the Self.

America’s public educational system too has played a huge role in our demise today. Most of the system was modeled upon the factory assembly lines of Henry Ford who built his cars by adding bits and pieces to build a finished car on those assembly lines. Public school students were treated in much the same way – moving from class to class in which each special topic was explored separately, and usually in an unrelated manner to the whole person, or to the connected world in which we all must struggle to survive.

This model made it easy to add or subtract topics from public education, quietly at first, but you can see the results now in the streets and alleys of any town or city in America today. The arts were savaged first, followed by civics and government in the late 50’s to the chaos now where students graduate without being able to read or to comprehend a single compound thought.

Rockefeller designed this system early on, but it was interrupted by the GI Bill of WWII, that saw huge numbers of returning soldiers going to college in search of a better life than what they’d had before the war. So “the Plan” was delayed, but only until the spoiled brats that were born during the war began to fail to challenge themselves, unlike what so many of their parents had done: And instead found themselves chasing the artificial high’s and flashing lights that were apparently preferable to following a much slower course to something larger than just money. From that moment the dye was cast, and America began to settle into this fragmented fallacy that has little to do with those fast-lanes of adventure and ‘connections’ that all those glitzy products seemed to promise. This cul-de-sac was not confined to Americans, as this is a planet-wide phenomenon, a side-effect of the War that few people really understood or studied.

This was briefly exposed during the era of the Gray Flannel Suit, when the Corporatocracy was in its infancy. The segregation of rising corporate-types were brutally initiated into the then burgeoning corporate world. Their loyalties were tested by constant uprooting, and the need to put the corporation not just first, but above all else. Their children and their family lives were skewed in that process that contributed to the tidal waves of flower-children that rebelled against whatever, as a reaction to what they saw in the empty-lies of corporate life. It was a very brief rebellion that was soon co-opted by the corporations that turned it all into even smarter advertising, that finally turned the last die-hards into customers and workers, as well as those politicians that we have come “to know and hate.” It was here that Americans began to embrace all the worst parts of the hive-mind.

In less than a hundred years this country, and a large part of the planet, have gone from struggling people trying to make better lives for themselves and their children, to unrecognizable individuals with nothing in their minds but money and the drugs of self-congratulation as their daily diet for survival. Is it any wonder then that so many cannot even understand the threats which their very way of life creates for them, each and every day?

‘Survival’ was a mainstay in the deep shadows of our collective past: “collective” being the key to understanding what we really lost, both as individuals and as a nation. So much has changed in everything, from our basic views of life itself, to how we associate or not, with the others with whom we must share this ever-shrinking world. And above it all we seem unable to communicate with one another having been divided along so many different fault-lines that it is now almost impossible to breathe, much less survive! (2)

Finally of course it has all begun to come apart, having followed the delusions that each new poisonous wave of self-absorption has generated. This brings us back to Chaos Theory and to that Butterfly Effect that we ignored at our own peril. Everything in this world is ‘connected.’ We as people share what happens to the less fortunate among us, whether we agree with that idea or not, because the sheer numbers of the dislocated and the starving shall begin to overwhelm even the politically correct, along with the money-changers in their hidden chambers of seclusion.

Building the FutureWe have shattered the interconnected mechanisms that once promoted life, and crushed the individuality that once lent greater depth and meaning to our lives. Creativity, imagination, and trust have been casually slaughtered along with any thought of actually building anything that lasts. We have gone from making the finest products to producing crap that barely makes it to the use-by date: and we’re proud of that because of what that means for the Bottom Line that underlies our every thought or deed. We have “settled” for mediocrity and semi-slavery, for we no longer know the taste of reality or the thrill of actual freedom.

We began the twentieth century with a passion for building viable futures, but we began the twenty-first century by reversing ourselves with unspeakable wars that were designed to never end. WWII, for the USA was global and only lasted about five years. WWII cost far less than this nightmare that we’ve been fighting now for six years in just two countries: yet we are going backward still – because we have no time to think on this; while we are losing virtually everything we thought was forever safe – when nothing could be further from the truth.

We have allowed our leaders to throw all the rules away: and our lack of any real depth is a direct reflection of the examples set by the outlaws that we tolerate. Apparently we have even forgotten why: ‘None are so hopelessly enslaved, as those who falsely believe that they are free.’

We continue through our lives with headphones to block out the sound, and cell phones to fill any small vacuum when we are not in-touch with our electronic co-conspirators who are not real; in any sense that matters. But most of all we seem to have lost even the thought of asking questions; so now maybe we shall never understand that it is our choices that make us who we are, and only our determination that can free us once again!

Jim Kirwan


1) The Century of the Self – Edward Bernays 4 part video Back to text
2) Endgame – Revisited 2004


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