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Chalmers Johnson at UCLA Mon., Carolyn Baker: A Rapid Unraveling

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  • Ed Pearl
    www.globalvoicesforjustice.org Dear Friends, Chalmers Johnson, author of Blowback , The Sorrows of Empire , and Nemesis , will be speaking on the topic of
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 1, 2008

      Dear Friends,

      Chalmers Johnson, author of "Blowback", "The Sorrows of Empire", and
      "Nemesis", will be speaking on the topic of "American Empire" at UCLA,
      Bunche Hall, Room 6275. The event is on Monday, June 2nd, and starts
      at 2 PM. There will be plenty of time for (smart, concise, and
      engaging) questions after the lecture.

      This is a special opportunely to meet and hear Mr. Johnson since he
      does not travel due to health issue.

      Be there, and bring a friend, in solidarity, and to express your
      gratitude for Chalmers Johnson's contribution to the anti-war and
      peace movement.

      For your information, parking lot #3 is the closes to Bunche Hall and
      it costs $8--carpool and save more than just (depreciated) money.

      Please visit www.globalvoicesforjustice.org (home page) for more
      information or call Mansoor at 310.283.0885.



      PS: I am audio and video taping this event.



      Rapid Unraveling and the Demise of Adolescent America

      by Carolyn Baker
      carolynbaker.net (May 23 2008)

      Well here it is folks - the great unraveling so many of us have been
      forecasting during the past five years as we've read the tea leaves and
      researched the unprecedented convergence of myriad natural, political,
      economic, and environmental realities. As most of you know, I'm
      traveling, yes on the road, across this country. I was going to wait
      until arriving at my final destination before writing about my
      experience, but with oil rapidly heading for $200 a barrel, it feels
      important to do so sooner rather than later because our lives have just
      changed more dramatically than we can imagine, and we will only be able
      to comprehend to what extent as the repercussions of the end of the age
      of oil reverberate through what is left of industrial civilization.

      In my travels I've seen exactly one RV on the road, a few SUVs and vans,
      a number of small cars and motorcycles, and lots of eighteen-wheelers
      going 55 miles per hour. Motels have a record low number of guests, and
      few people are eating in restaurants. I thought about writing an article
      entitled "Ghost Town USA: Echo Across America", but that was before oil
      reached a new record of $135 yesterday. The speed of collapse is taking
      even a seasoned collapse-watcher like me by somewhat of a surprise, and
      I feel compelled to talk about it as it unfolds in this moment.

      Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of what we are witnessing - and there
      are oh so many, is the ubiquitousness of blame. Attending almost every
      report on skyrocketing gas prices is the question: "So whose fault is
      it?" I certainly am not surprised by this, but I find it unsettling to
      say the least. Because Americans in particular have been absolutely
      recalcitrant and incapable of looking at collapse, they are being and
      will continue to be increasingly blindsided by it. Sadly, when humans
      are traumatized, their functioning becomes progressively more primal and
      animal-like, and their capacity for taking in and assimilating new
      information is markedly reduced.

      When Peak Oil experts first began sharing their research, they told us
      that food, perhaps more than any aspect of our lives, would be impacted
      by it, and so it is. The double-barreled trauma now hitting Americans
      which is putting both gasoline and food out of their reach, is certain
      to result in reactive, vindictive behavior that will irrationally target
      a plethora of scapegoats. Add to this a foreclosure or two, a
      bankruptcy, car repossession, job loss or loss of health insurance and
      you have a recipe for mayhem. Such behavior, understandable as it may
      be, is adolescent in nature and therefore, untempered and unwizened,
      making acting-out individuals exceedingly dangerous to themselves and

      Like me, you are probably witnessing the barrage of blame in your
      community and nationally if you are paying attention to mainstream news.
      Dmitry Orlov has given us a treasure-trove of information about human
      behavior in the throes of collapse chaos. What is and will be different
      from the collapse of the Soviet Union for Americans, however, is the
      level of violence that is likely to proliferate as collapse accelerates.
      Russians were never intoxicated with affluence and entitlement as
      Americans are. Their history has been replete with suffering; ours
      marinated in privilege reinforced by gun culture and firearm fetishes.

      What those of us who comprehend collapse must understand as we navigate
      the daunting days ahead is that what is happening to America and the
      human species is an initiatory experience similar to those which have
      been structured and honored by indigenous peoples for thousands of
      years. The very best explanation I have read of this process is Nature
      And The Human Soul: Cultivating Wholeness And Community In A Fragmented
      World (2007), an extraordinary book by psychologist Bill Plotkin in
      which he illuminates the stages of human development and emphasizes how
      they have been skewed by a capitalistic, consumer-driven culture - and
      how each stage might be lived in fulfillment in the context of a
      holistic community. The current planetary initiation differs from the
      traditional, tribal initiation in that the former is involuntary and
      unwanted, whereas the latter is perceived as essential for the well
      being of the initiate and the tribe.

      In tribal cultures young people have the opportunity to experience
      ritual rites of passage from adolescence to adulthood, that is, an
      initiation, which involves some type of ordeal created and supported by
      the tribe's elders. Ordeals may include rugged endurance challenges in
      the wilderness, treacherous hunting experiences, or isolation for a
      period of time in nature. In all instances, the experience is one of
      discomfort and danger and literally sets up a brush with death for the
      initiate. Many traditional societies, and some psychologists such as
      Carl Jung, believe that the human psyche requires initiatory experiences
      in order to develop in a functional manner and that without them, one's
      emotional and spiritual development is impaired.

      Since cultures are comprised of individuals, it follows that when the
      individuals of the culture have not been initiated, the culture itself
      is likely to remain in an adolescent state. Many cultures that have
      experienced collective suffering such as protracted wars, famines, and
      disease have in the process, experienced a collective initiation which
      may produce some of the results of an individual initiation. This may be
      the reason that some European countries that endured two world wars
      appear to have a more mature relationship with the earth community. For
      example, many of those countries are far more aware of environmental
      issues and have taken more profound steps to live consciously in harmony
      with the ecosystem as noted in a recent National Geographic survey which
      ranks the US last in environmentally conscious behavior.

      I believe that the collapse of civilization, now accelerating at
      dizzying speed, is indeed a collective, planetary initiation of the
      human species. It involves all of us, not just those "clueless Americans
      out there", and it will deliver to each of us countless unwanted ordeals
      on every level-physical, emotional, financial, social, and spiritual.
      What traditional cultures which practice ritual initiation understand
      about it is that what matters most in the initiatory process is not
      whether the initiate survives physically, but that that person's
      consciousness is transformed - for her own enhancement and for that of
      the tribe.

      What I want to reinforce for all of us is how imperative it is in the
      days ahead for us to walk consciously, cautiously, and compassionately
      through the fires of this long, protracted initiation. Beyond our
      physical, financial, and logistic preparations, we must continuously
      work - and it will be work - to open our hearts and minds to the larger
      purpose behind the ordeals. We must ask ourselves what each particular
      experience wants to reveal to us, how it comes to us to open our eyes
      and cleanse the doors of our perception. We will be incessantly reminded
      that civilization has come to all this - depletion and exhaustion of the
      earth community and all of the suffering that attends that. In a sense,
      I believe, we are fortunate to be living in this time and on this planet
      because something greater than our finite human egos is delivering a
      message with unmistakable clarity: Living estranged from the earth
      community as if we are the only and the most important species on earth
      does not work, and collapse wishes to make certain that we understand
      unequivocally and irrevocably that our only survival and our only
      serenity will be found in living as if we and the earth are one.

      Moreover, because we and the earth community are one, it is imperative
      that we reach out to our neighbors and community members. Their
      awareness may range from totally clueless to that of fellow collapse
      watcher, but bonds must be made and trust built - for our well being and
      for theirs. In the days ahead, we will need them, and they will need us.
      The more familiar we are with each other, the less likely that any of us
      is scapegoated or victimized by panicked, hungry people who feel
      victimized and powerless to cope with what they perceive they have been

      The time for a sense of entitlement is over. We are not entitled to
      anything; I repeat: We are not entitled to anything. Each day, each
      moment, each breath, each bite of food and drop of water, each smile or
      warm hand on our shoulder, if we are fortunate enough to have them, are
      precious gifts to be savored, treasured, and given thanks for.

      As I have been writing in recent months, I hold a vision of possibility
      - the potential for small pockets of survivors to create local outposts
      of conscious community in which individuals can live compassionately,
      practicing out of necessity and choice, those behaviors that sustain
      themselves and the earth. Those who have already begun this process may
      have an advantage, but none of us will be immune - nor should we be, in
      my opinion. It appears that this momentous initiation is the only way in
      which humans can fully and finally comprehend the toxicity of civilization.

      Many citizens of the former Soviet Union discovered through the
      experience of collapse what ultimately mattered most. Yes, there was
      violence, crime, paranoia, hunger, thirst, deprivation, and astounding
      loss, but unprecedented compassion, trust, bonding, cooperation, and
      support flourished in the midst of total societal disintegration. For
      me, collapse is the opportunity for an outpouring of the latter
      qualities that causes me to at least partially welcome the demise of all
      that has prevented us from living and sharing them. Perhaps finally,
      amid a frightening unraveling, we will grow up - becoming mature human
      beings who ultimately find it impossible to tolerate anything remotely
      resembling industrial civilization because we will at last have become


      on the word "comment" highlighted at the end of the version of this
      essay posted at http://billtotten.blogspot.com/

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