Category Archives: politics

Europe’s political ‘earthquake’ 2014 and the EU’s downfall

The results are in from the EU elections and  most mainstream commentators appear stunned at the fact that ‘far right’ anti-EU parties did so well. In particular, the Front National in France, led by Marine Le Pen,  scored a smashing victory over Francois Hollande’s lame socialist party. Across the pond, the UK Independence Party, led by Nigel Farage,  scored a huge victory. It won more votes than any other party in the European parliament elections. This marked the first time in a century that a party other than Labour or Conservatives had won a nation-wide election. Farage predicted this will change British politics fundamentally.

What’s to be surprised about? The EU experiment is a failure, as all such grandiose schemes are destined to be. Nation states themselves,  usually comprised of vast numbers of different tribes, ethnicities, groups and identities, with national boundaries drawn with a ruler on a map, are unwieldy and artificial enough. Then they try to take these inorganic entities and group them into even bigger conglomerations like the EU, ASEAN, MERCOSUR, and so many others and you have a recipe for disaster.

UnknownWhich countries have benefitted from the EU? For Spain, Portugal, Ireland, and Greece, the EU has been a disaster. For most of the other countries, the experiment has been tolerable, at best. For countries which resisted the EU carrot, such as Norway, they count their blessings. There is nothing surprising about these elections. We will see more of this anti-EU sentiment in the near future – much more.

The corporate and zionist controlled press will, as usual, try to paint these various movements with epithets such as ‘protectionist’, ‘xenophobic’, ‘far right’, ‘reactionary’, and so on. This is predictable.  But the pro EU forces can only go against nature for so long. Even nation states themselves will crumble in the not- too -distant future. Humans are tribal creatures. We exist in the ‘local.’ Trying to group 300 million Europeans into a political and economic union  is looking more laughable each passing day. Let us celebrate the EU’s downfall, not mourn it.

 

Protestors, not fans, greet the Brazilian national team in Rio

World Cup Count Down Photo GalleryThe people of Brazil are doing what the people of England (2012), South Africa (2010,) China (2008), Greece (2004), and Australia (2000) should have done when their countries held mega sports events.  Protest!  Good for the Brazilians!

The latest news coming from Brazil: protestors of world cup spending  have met the Brazilian national team not with adulation and worship, but with anger. The team couldn’t even make it from the airport to their training facility in Rio without encountering a rowdy group of protestors who plastered the bus with anti-world cup stickers. When the team left the hotel in Rio, they again had to run a gauntlet of protests.

_75113003_75112998I imagine that the government of Dilma Rousseff is praying that once the tournament actually begins, the Brazilian people will gather ’round the television with family and friends and concentrate their energies on rooting for the home squad instead of plotting mayhem and mischief. And indeed that may happen. Football is a religion in Brazil and the fact that these protests are occurring in what is maybe the most football-mad country in the world shows us how deep the discontent goes.

This is a very important story to follow. The protests in Brazil over the world cup and olympics, resulting from extravagant spending, corruption,  hubris and incompetence, will shine a bright spotlight on these wasteful and meaningless mega sporting events, which serve only to line the pockets of a few stars and advertisers while predictably distracting the population from the systemic problems facing their economies.

http://sports.yahoo.com/news/protests-brazil-stars-arrive-world-cup-camp-211414433–sow.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2639318/PICTURED-Brazil-countdown-World-Cup-start.html

Boko Haram: the new bogeyman.

Have the higher-ups in the pentagon realized that the ‘threat’ of Al-Qaeda no longer sends shivers down the spines of naive Americans as it once did? Or, are more Americans learning how the U.S. government is working with Al-Qaeda in Syria and in other places? Have more people caught onto the fact that Al-CIA-da was a creation of U.S. intelligence all along? Whatever is going on, one thing is clear- a new bogeyman is needed to send a  wave a fear crashing over the landscape of America and beyond and to justify more imperialistic and militaristic global adventures. Hence, we have BOKO HARAM.

Expect to see more- a lot more- bombings, kidnappings, killings and mayhem in the days, weeks and months ahead, attributed to this shadowy group based in Nigeria. This crap could only have been cooked up deep in the belly of Washington neo-con think tanks, and mossad war rooms. ‘Let’s create a new ‘terrorist’ group. We shall base them in Nigeria. They live not in Lagos, but up in the Northern regions, where they are hard to track. Yes, good. And of course, they are Muslim. Their goals are unclear, but they are jihadist for sure, and hate everything about the good people of the Western world.’

So, this string of car bombings taking place in Nigeria is all conveniently blamed on Boko Haram, even though of course we never see a BK representative on television claiming anything. The sheeple are just  supposed to take the word of some government official, or a BBC or CNN reporter. Just like in Syria, Libya, Egypt, Iraq, Afghanistan, Bali, London and elsewhere, these bombings have all the earmarks of the Mossad.

“Cui Bono?” Who benefits from this? If this Boko Haram group really exists, what would they stand to gain from slaughtering innocent bystanders in Lagos? Nothing.  Western powers however, stand to gain much from a breaking up and fracturing of Western Africa. There’s a whole lot of resources there for the taking.

Boko Harma, the new bogeyman hiding under your bed:

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As the violence in Nigeria and Mali ratchets up, right on cue Barry Sotero announces the sending of the U.S. military to Africa, supposedly to help find some kidnapped schoolgirls. This is the script of a bad Hollywood ‘B’ movie. The grand chessboard in being played out on the African continent between China and the United States, with the help of NATO.  As the U.S. adopts a more open, and aggressive, military strategy in Africa, it will need new cover stories and new bogeymen to throw at the populace. Not that the elites in Washington DC and London and Tel Aviv care what you think anyway. But they need to say something. It wouldn’t be proper to just say, “We’re going in to get the gold, copper, oil, and manganese.”

Emma Goldman’s legacy in the 21st Century

I recently came across a copy of Anarchism and Other Essays by Emma Goldman. It, along with Living my Life, her two-volume autobiography, is a book that has been on my reading backlog for far too long. Originally published in 1910, this collection of writings is a wonderful introduction to the philosophy and ideas of a woman who was once one of the  most polarizing and magnetic figures in America.

Emma Goldman (1869-1940) was a famous anarchist, activist, lecturer, writer, and philosopher. During the latter years of the 19th century and the first two decades of the 20th century, she was a well-known public figure, constantly giving fiery speeches to hundreds or thousands of people, speaking out against the greed and excesses of the capitalist system. She encouraged the burgeoning worker class in America to fight for its rights, using the tools and tactics of direct action, namely strikes and protests.

emmaEmma Goldman’s name is connected to many of the major events in American history during this period: the assassination of President McKinley by Leon Czolgosz, the Selective Service  and Espionage Acts during World War I, the woman’s rights movement and the Spanish Civil War.

Reading the essays, I was struck by how modern they sound. Emma  Goldman was way ahead of her time on every important social and political issue. Not surprisingly, she was relentlessly attacked  (and imprisoned) by the government and vilified by the corporate press. Somewhat surprisingly, she was also often attacked or abandoned by those who had been her allies, those activists within the anarchist movement who could not, or would not, go along with her when she became ‘too radical.’

As a true anarchist, Goldman never believed that humanity’s condition could be improved through any system of big government:

“It may be claimed that men of integrity would not become corrupt in the political grinding mill. Perhaps not; but such men would be absolutely helpless to exert the slightest influence on behalf of labor, as has indeed been shown in numerous instances. The State is the economic master of its servants. Good men, if such there be, would either remain true to their political faith and lose their economic support, or they would cling to their economic master and be utterly unable to do the slightest good. The political arena leaves one no alternative, one must either be a dunce or a rogue.”

UnknownIn the chapter titled “Minorities versus Majorities”, she wrote, “Our entire life- production , politics, and education- rests on quantity, on numbers. The worker who once took pride in the thoroughness and quality of his work, has been replaced by brainless, incompetent automatons, who turn out enormous quantities of things, valueless to themselves, and generally injurious to the rest of mankind. Thus quantity, instead of adding to life’s comforts and peace, has merely increased man’s burden.”

Does that sound like our modern world? Indeed it does, and such prescience is found throughout her writings. A staunch individualist, Goldman celebrated the free and independent spirit, in contrast to the stultifying conformity and group-think of the masses. She wrote, “Today, as then, public opinion is the omnipresent tyrant. Today, as then, the majority represents a mass of cowards, willing to accept him who mirrors its own soul and mind poverty.”

In the chapter titled “The Psychology of Political Violence”, she  wrote ,  “I would say that resistance to tyranny is man’s highest ideal. So long as tyranny exists, in whatever form, man’s deepest aspiration must resist it as inevitably as man must breathe.”

goldman-speaking-4.2.141In the following chapter, “Patriotism”, she dissected the ruling classes’ ability to instill the concept of national patriotism into unwitting children’s minds. Goldman lamented the swelling military budget not only of the United States, but also of all the major Western powers. At the time, the United States was spending the huge sum of $400 million on ‘defense.’ She clearly saw a worrying trend there. In 2011, the United States spent $718 billion on military spending, more than all other countries of the world combined. She was writing this in the  years preceding America’s entry in World War I. President Wilson, who was re-elected on a platform of keeping us out of the war, not only got America into WWI, but also  set about to vigorously hunt down and prosecute those who tried to avoid the draft or speak out against it.

The chapters on ‘Woman Suffrage’ and ‘The Tragedy of Woman’s Emancipation’ are eye-opening. While the vast majority of progressive women thinkers of the day were rallying for the right of women to vote, Goldman stood virtually alone in agitating against it. Her reasoning, which must have sounded perplexing to progressives, was sound nonetheless. Because she stood rooted in such a firm foundation of anarchist thought, Goldman was not about to throw away her core principles for the temporary and illusory victory of  woman suffrage. She understood, rightly, that giving women the right  to vote and to gain political office would do nothing to change the nature of politics and government. Women, she wrote, do not have supernatural powers and their entrance into the political arena would not be able to cleanse and purify that bastion of corruption and expediency. (See Jeanne Kirkpatrick, Madeline Albright, Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, et al.) Indeed, she encouraged women to achieve their emancipation in other, more effective and original means.

As for women gaining the right to enter the workplace, she thought this would be merely trading one form of slavery (property of her husband) for another (property of the factory owner). Working for 12 to 16 hours a day for slave wages and the ruination of the body and mind was not something that Emma Goldman saw as ‘progress.’

Emma Goldman is a writer and thinker whose ideas still resonate in today’s world, remarkably so. The fact that the feminist movement of the 1970s and the anarchist movement in the present century resurrected her memory and ideas is proof of that. Likewise, the descendants of those who slandered her during her life are alive and well today, and continue the slander and misrepresentation. Just recently, I read an article where the writer lamented how America started going downhill in the late 19th century when people like “Red Emma” and other agitators started entering the country en masse from Europe.

Perhaps she will always be a polarizing figure. But for those who seek the liberation of the human mind, body, and soul, Emma Goldman’s writings stand out as a clarion call to humanity.

Hunter S. Thompson’s ghost lives on

In front of me sits a first person article, published in a slick magazine geared toward wealthy expats, about a man who goes on a one day caffeine binge and chronicles his experiences.  I’ve just finished reading an article in well-designed online magazine for Asian expats in which the author writes about his journey through Kuala Lumpur. Writing in a ‘gonzo’ style, which, by the way, the magazine encourages, the author breathlessly relates his rather mundane experiences in a staccato writing style.  Last week, I came across a blogger who attempted to regale his reading audience with tales of late night shenanigans in the heart of Phnom Penh’s red light district.

What strikes me reading all of these articles, and many, many more like them, is the fact that Hunter S. Thompson’s legacy continues to live on, perhaps more strongly than ever.

Hunter S. Thompson, (1937-2005) was an American journalist and author who, during the 1960s and 1970s, invented a new style of journalism called ‘gonzo.’ Writing in the period of the New Left journalism, Thompson’s  unique and unprecedented writing style emphasized writing in the first person and beyond that, even actively involving himself  directly in the story which he was reporting on.

Although he wrote a number of books, and hundreds of articles, Thompson achieved most of his fame through two books from the late 60s and early 70s: Hell’s Angels: the Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. 

Hunter S. Thompson
Hunter S. Thompson

Reading today’s young journalists and bloggers, it’s hard to remember that not so long ago, such first person writing was unheard of  in the journalistic establishment. In fact, nobody had ever really done it before Thompson. He changed everything. Especially after the publication and success of Fear and Loathing, the journalistic world in New York City took notice and suddenly every young wannabe-writer was trying to ape Thompson’s style.

Pick up a copy of Rolling Stone magazine from the late 70s and all through the 1980s, as well as Esquire, GQ and others, and you will see dozens of young writers who were influenced enormously by Thompson. There was only one small problem: none of them had his talent. While these young writers attempted to superficially graft Thompson’s style onto their stories, the effect was nowhere near what the true gonzo master achieved in his writings. Instead, readers were subjected to overly long, boring  and meandering interviews and articles in which the author desperately tried to show that he  was as important as the interviewee.

Here we are now in 2014 and the ghost of Thompson lives on. Many young writers especially feel that they are giving their story much more life by writing that they ‘blasted across the water’ when they took a simple hydrofoil trip across a calm, placid river with a bunch of overweight middle aged tourists. Or, they believe that they are writing something original when they tell us that they ‘stumbled bleary eyed across the chaotic road, dodging screaming taxi drivers and prostitutes, barely avoiding death by collision with a bus …..and so on.

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Hunter Thompson is one of my literary idols. When I was 19 years old, somebody slipped me a tattered copy of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and I took it to my room and didn’t come out until I finished it. It’s one of the few books that I’ve ever read which I finished in one sitting.  I laughed so hard that I cried. I remember the book falling out of my hand I was laughing so hard. After completing the book, I picked it up again the next week and re-read it cover to cover. In the intervening years, I’ve gone back to it dozens of  times. Few authors have given me more pleasure  than Thompson. However, I find it unfortunate that his legacy has bequeathed so many writers who feel that getting intoxicated and writing in a gruff first person account is, in and of itself, entertaining. They forget that for all his gonzo madness, Thompson was a first rate writer who had ideas and opinions on the most important topics of his day. He had something to say and his gonzo style was the vehicle he used to get his ideas across. That so many aspiring writers want to copy the style, without the necessary skill and substance behind it, is a poor way to honor the memory of one of America’s great journalists of the 20th century.

More drama as Brazil prepares for the World Cup

The news coming out of Brazil regarding preparations for the world cup and the olympics isn’t good. As I discussed in a previous post. hosting the olympics and other mega sports events typically does not turn out well for the host city and country. In fact, the results are often crippling financial losses and a host of other issues.

The Brazilian police and military have moved into the favelas around Rio de Janeiro in yet another effort to ‘pacify’ them, this time to try to secure the city before the start of the world cup in June. I bet that’s a reassuring picture to send the world and especially the thousands of tourists and spectators who will soon be pouring into the city. Imagine if you have a hotel room booked near Copacabana in June, and you read that  the military is in bloody confrontations in Rio, using armored personnel carriers among other tools. Feeling safe?

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The PR nightmare that the Brazilian government is suffering, and which is sure to become much worse in the months ahead, is happening alongside huge logistical problems in the preparations for the cup and the olympics. The situation has become so critical that recently the IOC sent down a special task force to help get things moving. It is appearing less and less likely that the country will have everything built, manned, and functional in time.

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Reading these stories which are coming out almost weekly now fills me with dread and a sense of anguish for Brazilians. I have visited that lovely country twice and to watch this unfolding predictable drama and know which way it’s headed is sobering. The Brazilian people will absorb all of the costs and very little, if any, of the benefits of these spectacles. All of the sophisticated police state apparatus being constructed will stay in place after the olympics end. Any talk of the new surveillance systems being ‘temporary’ is pure rubbish.

When the final bill is tallied up in a couple more years, the government ministers will tell the people, with long, sorrowful faces, that “We made a mistake. But we must not dwell on past mistakes. Let us move forward. But in order to do so, we must pay back the loans to the banks and be responsible. So, we regret to inform you that taxes are being raised, pensions are being frozen and bank accounts are being raided.”

Remember, Brazil is no longer a small player on the world stage. She has an enormous economy (7th largest by GDP) and is a founding member of the BRICS organization. A serious crisis in Brazil will have global implications.

 

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2014-04-11/sports/chi-ioc-belatedly-coming-to-grips-with-rio-olympics-mess-20140411_1_rio-olympics-international-olympic-committee-summer-games

http://edition.cnn.com/2014/04/29/sport/brazil-rio-olympics/index.html?iref=allsearch

http://edition.cnn.com/2014/04/24/sport/football/brazil-world-cup-favela-slums/

Demographic collapse and the willful blindness of the NY Times

In an article titled “Bye-Bye, Baby”  posted April 4th in The New York Times  , the (toilet) paper of record, authors Michael S. Teitelbaum and Jay M. Winter contend that the crashing birth rates seen around the world are nothing to be worried about.

I once thought it would be fun to rebut all the garbage printed in the New York Times, but that would be a full-time job, and someone else is already doing it:

http://www.tomatobubble.com/anti_new_york_times.html

Whereas in a previous blog post here I contended that the issue was receiving far too little attention, according to Teitelbaum and Winter, who work at Harvard and Yale, the issue is receiving too much attention and causing hysteria. In order to buttress this claim , they name three  publications that have written recently on this topic, although I’m not sure that a few articles appearing in the Times and the Economist constitutes a wave of hysteria.

The authors go on to conflate the dire predictions of the Ehrlichs and the over-population crowd  with the new warnings about the dearth of births, trying to show how they are two sides of the same misguided fear coin. Our Ivy League professors  opine that writers and bloggers and even politicians who are sounding alarm bells are just “chicken littles” , and that we are suffering from a massive and unnecessary case of anxiety.

They do take one paragraph to discuss Russia’s near catastrophic population decline in the 1990s, but they assure us that the overall decline in population was only ‘modest’ and that besides, her birth rate has now climbed back to 1.6, so everything should be just fine.

Teitelbaum and Winter state that, while falling fertility poses challenges, it also has rewards-  more rights and opportunities for women. While women may or may not gain greater economic opportunity from having fewer children, too many women entering the workforce and postponing and even forgoing altogether family life clearly does not bode well for our collective future.

In their summary, the Ivy Leaguers declare that ‘population doom’ is a recurring fad that should be ignored and that we should focus on our real problems. Given that this was printed in the Times, I guess that ‘real’ problem would be how to send even more money to Israel?

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/05/opinion/sunday/bye-bye-baby.html?hp&rref=opinion&_r=0

Left-wing Gatekeepers: Maddow, Maher, Cockburn, Stewart, McKenna

The so-called ‘Left’ in America is populated with numerous gatekeepers. In a previous piece, I mentioned three of the most prominent: Noam Chomsky, Amy Goodman, and Michael Moore.  Let’s look at a few more.

1) Rachel Maddow.

She’s young, she’s hip, she’s smart, she’s liberal, and… she’s a lesbian. (cool!) She criticizes the government, especially those in government who are on the Republican team.  She is anti-war and anti-imperialism. Not surprisingly, she has attracted a following of young, liberal, urban hipster types with a political bent.

She graduated from Stanford University, the training ground for so many of America’s cold warriors and military-industrial-media-financial elite. From there, she was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship and went on to obtain a PhD from Oxford. The people who award Rhodes Scholarships do not like to waste their money, and they bring in young people who are smart and willing to be groomed to be future leaders. If you are fundamentally opposed to the way the world is currently organized and structured, you will not be awarded things like Rhodes Scholarships and Oxford PhDs. Just something to keep in mind when judging people like Maddow.

 

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Most of what she says about government malfeasance stands up  well. But, when it comes to the ultimate litmus test for gatekeepers- 9/11- , Maddow shows who she is really working for. Addressing the issue, she practically hyperventilated, and went off on – you guessed it- ‘conspiracy theorists.’ What’s wrong with those people anyway, she asked. Don’t they have anything better to do with their time? Those conspiracy people obviously have some misplaced wiring in their brain. The rant went on and on as she bashed Alex Jones and others.  People just shouldn’t question government lies about 9/11. Question government about everything else, but for the major event of the last 20 years… let’s just go along with the story and let it go. Her employer by the way is MSNBC,  owned by NBCUniversal, one of the largest media companies in the world.  Rachel Maddow is a fraud and a tool for the elite.

2) Bill Maher.

It’s difficult for me to watch this guy for more than a minute or two. I don’t know what bothers me the most: His nasally Jewish voice, his unrelenting sarcasm, his “I’m smarter than you” smirk, or his lack of any defining ideology. He uses his show, “Real Time with Bill Maher” to invite on his celebrity  buddies and shoot the shit about politics and religion. He pokes fun at religion, but George Carlin did that much better and long before Maher.

Considering that he has a large platform from which to speak and reach a large audience, and considering that he’s based in New York, and considering that he claims to be highly informed about politics, some folks asked him why  he didn’t bring up the issue of 9/11 and the flimsy government story. And what about Building 7, ?  Well, Bill wasn’t having any of that ‘conspiracy‘  talk and once again fell into lock- step with the other gatekeepers, bringing out the tried and true insults like ‘conspiracy nuts’ , ‘wackos’,  and so on. Bill Maher has never stood for anything, and his job is to be  controlled opposition, a harmless release valve for the ever suffering masses.

3) Alexander Cockburn.

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The late writer for The Nation magazine, who wrote the popular column ‘Beat the Devil’ , was a talented political writer, fierce critic of the Bush presidency and American imperialism.  He was also  a shameless gatekeeper and peddler of absurdities such as the Oswald ‘lone nut’ assassination theory, sold to the American public by the Warren Commission (with of course the full and willing complicity of the national news media)   When I read his pathetic attempt at a refutation of the 9/11 truth movement, I was shocked that a man who could, and did, write eloquently and persuasively on many political subjects, would stoop to such sloppy, nonsensical and vitriolic arguments.  He viciously attacked and mocked anyone who was investigating 9/11 as kooks, not real writers and journalists, like he was. Those crazy folks just see a conspiracy under every rock. Why bother with them?  Cockburn was another controlled opposition fraud, meant to keep the Left docile, uninformed, and helpless.

 

4) Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz.

Another good Jewish boy , working for the ‘Man.’ Oh, Jon Stewart, how many have you deceived with your quick wit, goofy smile, and acerbic intellect?  Quite a few, I see. Your adoring fans tune in every night to watch you mock  the idiot bureaucrats, political buffoons, and corporate hucksters with your talented team of writers.

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There’s something strange going on here, though. What’s up with the guests? Why does Jon bring on so many of the very people that he professes to despise for friendly chats? Ostensibly, he invites them on his show to grill them with hard questions, something he says the MSM never does.

But what these little ‘interviews’ and chats really do is give these monsters a human face, and in the end it’s all just theatre- warm smiles all around, a lot of hand shaking and back slapping and you get the impression that after the show when the cameras are off, they all pile in the limo together to go out to have  drinks and watch strippers.

Need I say that Jonathan Leibowitz, (oh, sorry, ‘Jon Stewart’) disses the 9/11 truth movement? Oh yes. Don’t look there, there is nothing to see. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. Yes Jon,  you can hold up your sign saying “9/11 was an outside job” and your brain- dead sycophantic audience will giggle and laugh stupidly, but not all of us are fooled, Jon. And we’re not laughing. You think we don’t know that Comedy Central is owned by MTV Networks Entertainment Group, which is owned by Viacom, one of the ‘big six’ media conglomerates which control 90% of the media in the U.S.?  Those are some serious people signing your paycheck, Jon. We’re talking BIG business. You’re in bed with the devil.  According to recent media reports, you make 30 million USD a year to host The Daily Show. I’m sure that’s enough to make you toe the line, eh Jon? You actually get your audience to believe that you’re just like them, one of the 99%. Nice one! And let’s not forget that his brother is the CEO of the New York Stock Exchange. The family seems to be good at making money.

5) Terence McKenna

Philosopher, ethnobotanist, lecturer, and author, Terence Mckenna (1946-2000) was an underground legend for years in the late 1980s and early 1990s in the psychedelic and rave community before he broke (somewhat) into the mainstream with a number of books published by HarperCollins and Bantam. Those books included The Archaic Revival, True Hallucinations, Food of the Gods, and The Invisible Landscape. 

I read all of his books in the 1990s with fascination. His theories about psychedelic plants, psilocybin mushrooms, the evolution of language, the ‘return to the archaic’, ufos, elves, rave culture, the IChing,  and the year 2012 were fascinating.  None of his theories could be proven, not even remotely, yet they were fun to contemplate.

In 1998, a friend gave me a series of audio tapes of his lectures, some 10 hours of talks at informal seminars. I listened to them many times over the next year and became increasingly uncomfortable with what he was saying to his audience.

mckenna

The ‘lecturer’ McKenna was different from the ‘author’ McKenna. When he spoke, he drew in his audience not only with the captivating nature of the material, but also with his charm, quirky humor, and unique ability to turn a phrase.

There’s an advantage to listening to talks on tape. You can focus on the words and the message, and not be sidetracked with the speaker’s visual appearance, or how the audience around you is reacting. One thing I immediately noticed was how adoring and unquestioning McKenna’s audiences were. There was little to no real give and take, and they were just mesmerized by his seeming vast knowledge of all subjects. More worrisome though, was McKenna’s breezy and offhand dismissal of spiritual disciplines like yoga and meditation. For ‘real’ knowledge, he claimed you must ingest the plants. He once referred to the entire Indian subcontinent as ‘one giant scam.’

Furthermore, he often liked to say, in questions regarding global conspiracies, that in reality, “Nobody is in charge.” The world is too big, too complex and too slippery for any group or cabal to ever get ahold of. He implicitly and explicitly encouraged his fans to not bother searching into conspiracies.

For all his verbal wizardry and ethnobotanic knowledge, most of McKenna’s message just led his followers in circles. Now, years after his death, a recording has surfaced from a talk at Esalen Institute where he admits to working as a CIA agent for years after he was busted for smuggling hashish. Suddenly, much of his writing and lectures take on a new light.