Saturday, February 16, 2008
The pheromonal reek of political fever is in the air. It's as if the entire body politic turns into a bitch and goes into heat once every four or five years, and the streets are overrun with growling, salivating mutts each desperate to lay genetic claim on every fecund female in sight. Apart from the maddening noise at night, mating season amongst canines is really a routine affair and can be fairly entertaining to watch. In the human sphere, unfortunately, these ritual mindfuckfests often have dire consequences.
As polling day approaches, opinions fly around the blogosphere and in coffeeshops everywhere. The only place where meaningful debate is conspicuously absent is, alas, the mainstream media. You will find no alternative views on the pages of the national dailies or on any TV channel (all controlled by the incumbent political party, Barisan Nasional, through its capitalist cronies). But that's pretty obvious to anybody with even half a brain cell to call his or her own.
Last week in a coffeeshop I heard someone say something utterly inane: "In Asian countries only a dictatorship will work. We need a strong leader like Dr M!" This was no daily-paid menial laborer, mind you, this man was obviously well educated and from a comfortable middle-class background. We were discussing the tragic and ruinous legacy of Dr Mahathir and the sorry mess the country is in today, largely owing to his megalomanic ambition to crown himself emperor of an evil empire ruled through fear and greed.
Granted, the carrot-and-stick management method has been effectively utilized since the Year Dot: wave a carrot at the donkey to appeal to its greed; and if it refuses to succumb to temptation, wield the stick, inflict pain and instil fear. This approach to government assumes the intrinsic asininity of the electorate.
Judging from the geopolitical state of affairs on this planet, the bulk of humanity certainly appears to be no more than a beast of burden. The word "sheeple" - though overused to the point of ineffectuality (since a great number of humans who subscribe to Christian doctrine seem perfectly content to be likened to a flock of woolly white sheep guided by a Good Shepherd) - is still particularly apt.
Nevertheless I choose to accept the occasional disappointment of overestimating - rather than risk underestimating the intelligence of others. It is in this spirit that I offer my own insights on the true nature and purpose of power, and why each of us has no real option except to consciously reclaim our power from all existing institutions and external authorities.
The whole idea of needing a strong guiding hand - whether you call it dictatorship or shepherding - is in effect a handing over responsibility to somebody else to decide your destiny and future. Now that's fine if you're a child who hasn't reached voting age and you have to depend on Mummy and Daddy for food and shelter. But sooner or later you're going to outgrow your dependency and claim your adulthood. No harm lending an ear to whatever good advice your parents might have to offer - but the ultimate choice is yours.
NO CRIME NO PUNISHMENT
Take the absurdity of drug laws, for instance. Has declaring various substances illegal effectively curbed "substance abuse"? On the contrary, drug addicts now form a growing subculture worldwide - more than 13 million injecting drug users reported, plus an unknown number of unregistered addicts probably ranging in the tens of millions - enough at any rate to fill the continent of Australia to the brim.
The criminalization of any substance serves one purpose only - and that's to inflate its market price a hundredfold. Declare soap illegal and the cost of a single bar could shoot up to RM50. Any streetwise individual can tell you that almost every consignment of marijuana that hits the streets has passed through police hands. On the global level one can state with a fair amount of certainty that the biggest distribution network for cocaine and heroin is controlled by covert agencies like the CIA, working with powerful triads and underworld syndicates, in many cases laundering the staggering profits through Vatican-owned and Mafia-operated banks. Do I have "concrete proof" of these wild allegations? Of course not. However, use your common sense: the drug trade is massive and involves precisely the sort of cloak-and-dagger operation that covert agencies are designed to carry out.
What would happen if trading in all sorts of substances was decriminalized? Well, prices would fall so dramatically that dealing in drugs will no longer be as lucrative. Within a matter of years the supply will fizzle out - along with the demand. Why? Because drug addicts are for the most part rebellious types for whom the prime attraction is the element of danger associated with drug use. Without the romantic appeal of doing something very naughty a lot of drugs will lose their glamor. I mean, if I tell you there's a chemical in cicak* shit that can get you high, you might try it a couple of times out of curiosity. But picking cicak shit off the table and ingesting it isn't a particularly adventurous notion. You might as well get off on sniffing bicycle seats or women's underwear stolen off clotheslines. These might be habit-forming behaviors, it's true - but ones easily outgrown and forsaken. In any case, they pose as much threat to national security and personal health as nail-biting, nose-picking, and masturbating. Imagine: if wanking was declared a criminal offence, our prisons would be bigger than cities like Bangkok, Jakarta and Tokyo. I'd be blogging from jail for sure!
In effect, external government (as opposed to self-government) rules through fear to enforce the outward appearance of Law and Order. At the same time it forces the spirit of freedom underground where it turns into a variety of antisocial tendencies, mostly destructive. Most people have been brainwashed into believing that without strict laws governing social behavior there would be sheer chaos everywhere. Little do they realize that the chaotic or disruptive behavior is a direct result of law enforcement. Authoritarian rule breeds mindless rebellion on all levels. Autonomy, on the other hand, only exists when an individual or organization has attained sufficient self-awareness and maturity to monitor its own behavior and make constant adjustments towards achieving coherence and integrity. In short, you can govern yourself only when you've become a master navigator and are able to steer yourself safely through life.
The ultimate goal of self-governing autonomous individuals living symbiotically within self-governing communities requires that we constantly strive to reduce the influence, dismantle the machinery and abolish the concepts of external authority and government. Part of the process requires that we replace dysfunctional government with one that functions well enough to choreograph a conscious evolution towards the day when its job is done and it can go on permanent vacation, leaving us to govern ourselves as sentient adults.
* cicak (pronounced "chi-chak") = common Malaysian household lizard
Thursday, February 14, 2008
My Funny Valentine
(Lorenz Hart & Richard Rodgers arr. Keith Jarrett)
Keith Jarrett (piano)
Gary Peacock (bass)
Jack DeJohnette (drums)
Live in 1996
Keith Jarrett has been a tremendous inspiration to me over the decades. Love his touch!
Keith Jarrett: Last Solo in Tokyo (1984)
Keith Jarrett & Chick Corea play Mozart
Concerto For 2 Pianos & Orchestra In E-Flat Major, K. 365 (K. 316a): III. Rondeaux: Allegro