Towards Better Democracy

Good words, well written, better the world. Good literature betters the world immeasurably.

The Mind Is Not the Brain


The brain is a physical organ, the mind a concept. If we didn’t have a mind we would not be aware that we did not have one. The mind is a construct to name this phenomena of awareness that we all, as humans, to lesser or greater extents, have.

That the word mind is a metaphor is probably a misnomer since a metaphor refers to something else. The mind is selfreferential and therein lies its fragility.

The fragility of the mind lies in the fact that our awareness of it can diminish without our awareness that this is necessarily happening.

Our sense organs are connected to the brain but quite how they are connected to what we refer to as the mind is not understood and our understanding of what constitutes the mind less so.

And this may always be the case. The mind is within us and cannot be examined by others nor, on occasion, by ourselves.

The mind is a fragile thing. We may not be aware of its deterioration. To lose awareness is just that. A lack of recognition of the mind’s loss of awareness.

Senses have to be separated from a discussion of the mind. We can retain all our senses but those senses that function biologically may not be impaired at all despite a deterioration of the mind.

The difference between heath of the mind and sickness of the mind is at present not possible to determine. A highly competent psychiatrist with whom I had recently consulted stated,

“We don’t have a health model.”

That poses the question, do  you really have a sickness model?

The study of the mind has traditionally been the province of philosophers who, to say the least, are not concerned with the real world. And, whatever it is, the mind exists in the real world.

A very great expenditure is at present being made into the study of the brain. This is all well and good. Benefits are likely to accrue. An understanding of each of organ of the body has brought humankind untold benefits.

A constant preoccupation of this writer has been, and continues to be, the view that we as a species are sick. That there is something fundamentally wrong with us as a species. There are many indications of this too numerous to mention.

Few appear to hold this view far less ask questions and seek answers on whether we are indeed sick, and if so, in what way.

We appear to be the only species which has the power to take deliberately destructive acts.

At the heart of this is the awareness on the part of this writer that few of us are fully realized human beings. Why is this so. Why, when such a state is the natural one, is that state not more prevalent.

Some of us appear to have an awareness that we, any one individual, is not fully realized but find it insuperably difficult to address the problems that the awareness brings to mind.

Why is so difficult to become a full human being. Yet, those of us who know this state are unable to say why it is that they are and others not. And that if a journey was necessary to achieve this state quite how they went about it.

Would a book really explain. Is that person’s knowledge, discovery, overcoming the difficulties they encountered and how these might be universal. Usually they are not.

It would appear, therefore, that a whole different basis is required for a study of the mind that is of use to ordinary people. Particularly those who do not feel they are afflicted such they they require the services of the helping professions.

What that basis might be would benefit from further discussion.

 

 

Filed under: Culture

Deniability


The title of this blog is not necessarily intuitive. Were this the case there would likely not be a need for it. World wide there would an awareness that democracy is not a static concept and that in practice there be continual improvement in its practice.

World War Two was fought largely on the basis of upholding democracy and safeguarding those states and nations which held, and still do, democracy dear to their way of life. One notable exception was the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics. Since that time many laws, on an international and nation level, have been passed which have greatly reinforced and expanded democracy as a practice.

That is true.

By far and away the largest practice is of representational government. Such a system is fundamentally unsound.

At the heart of this blog is the belief that every adult anywhere in the world of sound mind is responsible for themselves. To hand over power to others is to cease to be fully responsible for yourself. And to hand over power to anyone else is to expose oneself to demands that one in no sense whatsoever wishes. And are frequently detrimental to the individual. Not a few, but very large sectors of societies.

~ ~ ~

Who would have thought that when computers came into our lives that they would so permeate into our societies, of whatever kind, and so deeply affect our lives. Not only have they, but they will continue to do so at an ever increasing rate. A sort of Moore’s Law of impact on society at large.

The world wide web could not exist without the computer. The computer too has spawned a myriad of devices with allow access to that web on a minute by minute basis. The effects of the changes this is having on all of our lives is barely comprehended and the changes threaten to exceed both the ability to realize the extent of them and our desire to limit or control those changes.

We have for the first time in our existence on this planet potentially created a force over which we have no power other than perhaps switching the damn off, which is neither likely nor possible. Unless we choose to exercise that power.

The answers to the questions as to what affect these forces may not be forthcoming since we are not asking the questions, the most fundamental of which is, do we want this or that change?

Our situation is akin the atomic bomb. After Hiroshima and Nagasaki it seemed relevant to ask, do we want to continue to use the atom bomb freely for whatever reason? We unleashed a terrible power that we have since sought to control and, in some quarters, diminish.

There seems no reason for having any at all. Beat them all into ploughshares.  All that it requires is willpower and desire to rid ourselves of them.

The explosion of the combination of computers and the world wide web unleashes a power greater than any atom bomb for the reason that the combination is universal. No corner of the globe is exempt from connection to it and its effects. While that power does not demolish cities and kill millions to say nothing of the effects of fallout, it threatens to fundamentally change our very nature. For us to function as sentient beings. The prospect looms large with, it would appear, no one willing or wishing to ask the question, do we really wish to be ruled by robots? Do we really wish to hand over the great majority of work presently done by humans to robots?

What then will we do? With no work or little work to do?

Has anyone begun to ask the question? Has anyone even thought to ask?

The soviets envisioned a society of plenty, of a superabundance, of the abolition of work. Is that our vision?

~ ~ ~

A direct benefit of the power being referred is the series of substantial leaks that we have been witnessing over the last five or more years, arguably begun with the Wikileaks. There have, it is true, been leaks in the past, but what we now witness is both the extent and depths of those leaks. The latest, what are referred curiously to as the Panama Papers, is breathtaking in the scale of the leaks, 11 million documents, and the number of so called powerful people mentioned.

No such activity could conceivably take place without the huge data drives which hold this scale of information. That one person, potentially, can in the palm of their hand procure millions of documents would have been, up till very recently, inconceivable.

The benefit of such leaks to the expansion of democracy is incalculable. And unforeseeable. Those not held accountable for their acts, particularly harmful acts, was a blight wherever and whenever it existed. Denial was, and still is, the recourse of the wrongdoer. And for those in power, untouchable, beyond the reach of normal recourse.

Now, with overwhelming evidence to hand, such deniability becomes less and less possible.

~ ~ ~

That we can reap only the benefits of the greater than atomic bomb power and dispense with its ill effects remains in question.

If the question is even being asked. If any of us even wish to ask.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Filed under: Culture

Two Countries Divided By?


Our two countries are divided by wars
Contrary to what Churchill said
The British impoverished themselves
Of both money and men in two world
Wars. And lost an Empire along the way.
Caution in war was learnt at the Somme.

Or was it? No, it took Suez. That brought
The Imperium to a halt. And woke Britain
From its dream.

But no. Defence of the Realm
Loomed large when the Argies
Threatened the Falklands,
One of the shreds of a glorious
Globe made red by the United Kingdom
Of Scotland, England, Wales and
Northern Ireland.

Still, caution erred when Her
Majesty’s Navy, once the mightiest
“Ruled the waves,” and took
Eight weeks to get there
In a Supersonic Age.

And are now reluctant to fight
In any war. Reduced their
Armed forces so that they can’t.

The US cautiously entered both
World Wars late, and made a great
Deal of money from both. And
Along the way became a new
New Imperium to replace the
Old. The former foe.

But lost men nonetheless
And were decisive in both
Being won.

The new self-appointed
Wold’s Policemen
Strongmen flexing their muscles
At the weak
Whose only strength is rhetoric.

Met their Waterloo
In Vietnam. No
Cautious strategy
Just throw the Joes
At the enemy till they’re
Done. Either side.

That caused military sobriety
Of a kind.
Vast and vastly expensive
Armaments, for a show
Of force.

Bombers that would have been
Cheaper to build out of
Gold bullion. Too expensive
To use in a real war are
Used only to frighten the
Natives in desert skirmishes.

Each generation of fighters
More stealthy than the last
Hiding the fact that
That they are ineffective
Can just barely fly.

Sell them to the world
You can’t use them in anger
Nobody can.

Fighting other people’s wars
Became unpopular
Led to too much bloodshed
Coming home.

So, no boots on the ground
Bomb them instead
Makes for good television
People feel that something is
Being done.

But bombing day and night Germany,
In which the US played such an
Important part, showed
That boots on the ground
Are the only way to conquer
A people propelled by a
Madman to
Suicide’s end.

Likewise carpet bombing in the Far East
Was equally ineffective in winning that
War.

Now, still the World’s Policeman
The objective is not to win wars
But simply perpetuate them
Bully for the arms industry
It makes the country great
Does it not?

Malcolm D B Munro
4 April, 2016

Filed under: poetry

Good Work


Work is what we humans do
It keeps us alive and keeps
Us fit and healthy
And enables us to lead
Long lives.
Good work, done well
Is rewarded
More that in
Kind.

Such work rewards
Others and not just
Ourselves.

And adds to the world’s
Stock of wealth.

Malcolm D B Munro
5 April, 2016

Filed under: poetry

Nothing Else Is Required


Sanity comes from
Full mental health
And with that one
Becomes a full person.

Being a person is easy
It is natural
No effort necessary
Nothing else is required.

Malcolm D B Munro
5 April, 2016

Filed under: poetry

I Woke Up One Morning


I woke up one morning
And it was gone
That black, black shadow
Than has haunted me
For so long.

Malcolm D B Munro
5 April, 2016

Filed under: poetry

Taking It All Back Home


I have a goal
In life.

Now,
At last.

To return to my childhood
Home.

From whence I have come
Traveled all these years.

So I will return
When my work is done.

I will complete the circle
Taking it all back home.

Malcolm D B Munro
5 April, 2016

Filed under: poetry

In a Dream


Alice, when in a dream,
Went down to the Palace
Dressed in red, alas,
To visit the Queen.

When the Queen, offended,
At the sight of the girl in red,
Said, “Cut off her head!”
Alice went to bed
Instead.

Malcolm D B Munro
4 April, 2016

Filed under: poetry

Where’s There’s No Poetry There Is No Drama. Or the Vme Channel


 

The Vme channel is running downstairs unwatched
Endlessly, the channel shows men with guns, cars rammed
Violent explosions sufficient to fell a block.

And women weeping and wailing and sobbing.
And weeping and wailing and sobbing
Mostly in bed curled up to a man who is
Consoling.

Public television how impoverished you are?
Or is this “Give the people what they want?”
Bread and circuses, to those of bull fighting fame.

Malcolm D B Munro
4 April, 2016

Filed under: poetry

The Ineffable Love of Concrete


Why can’t the New Romans build roads
Have they never heard of Tar Macadam
They are wedded to concrete.

The highways are always being torn up
And expanded which will then immediately
Choke worse than before.

The concrete is striated laterally
To allow the water to run off
Which creates impenetrable spray
The windscreen drenched by passing
Eighteen wheelers whose drivers
Can of course see where they are going.

Concrete cracks when cold and when hot
White stripes on white concrete at night
Are invisible and wear out in next to no
Time.

The softest suspension drubs
In tiny hammer blows, thousands
A minute, wearing out the occupants
Who then are exhausted after two
Or three hours of driving on
Such roads. The noise of the tyres
Deafens once quiet neighbourhoods,
day and night.

Find an old back state highway
A blacktop and drive for an hour
Or two. You will recall how
Pleasant it used to be to drive.
You will also be on your own.
Nobody drives those old roads
Any more. So don’t look for fast
food along the way. And often the
towns have gone as well.

While the roads in towns and cities
Are full of holes. Repairing concrete
Is expensive. Patch is cheap.
Bit of Tar Macadam’s fine.
Chalk on cheese. Patched up by
The local city crew, they reappear
The moment the crew has gone

Only to have them come back in
A week or two to patch again.
Over the old patch, of course.

Local politicians run on saying,
“We’ll fix your roads.”
But politicians make pie crust
Promises. “Leave it to Uncle Sam.”
But Uncle Sam only pays for
Interstates.
And leaves your local roads
Alone.

Malcolm D B Munro
4 April, 2016

Filed under: poetry

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