Gaia is the word for "unity-of-life-processes". The experiment here is to unify the various threads of voice and sense of self together into an undivided unity. Spirituality, economics, politics, science and ordinary life interleaved.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Social entrepreneurship and the passion test

Just a week after I wrote out the answers to a mini-inventory called 'The Passion Test', I am finding myself in a degree of cognitive dissonance.

The Passion Test asks you to list then rate the things you most love to do. Doing so, however, reveals for me some really fascinating patterns.

Key here is the distinction between pleasure and joy. Pleasure involves sensory and physical satisfactions, necessarily transient and insubstantial by nature. Joy, on the other hand, is permanent and stable, like the time you shared your slice of birthday cake with someone else.

The two don't necessarily conflict. One can witness pleasures arise and fall over time without attachment. That's not the issue. What IS the striking, even startling outcome of my having done the Passion Test is the degree to which service and spirituality inspire me.

So today I started to dig into the pragmatics of this service business. I've spend the last hour looking around this social entrepreneurship phenomenon, and I'm pleasantly pleased to find it's not all shit. In fact some of it is cool.

But I'm not sure where to find the answers to my questions right now: what education or experience will lead me in a position to be able to use all my gifts and talents and serve others most appropriately? It's a big question, and I'm in no hurry to answer it. After all, it's arisen to be answered by how I live, rather than being answered by the finance reports of microlending startups which I have been so busy downloading the last hour.

Thanks for reading. I'll keep y'all posted.

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Monday, October 29, 2007

On Western Societies: a response to Christopher Hitchens' 'An Anglosphere Future'.

I am writing this short piece in response to Christopher Hitchens' piece on the Anglosphere. I believe the West has declined in its overall level of consciousness by virtue of the use of force for selfish ends in occupied countries. It now seems essential the West back away from its democracy-fostering efforts, to avoid further corruption.

Hitchens' article delineates the force-based characteristics of the West and rationalises them as okay. He writes that the anglosphere is defined by common language, military alliance, and opposition to tyrants. Which all sounds okay from an ordinary point of view, but he ingores how the context of the situation has shifted in recent days.

First, language: English is a world language—the language of business and the Internet and air-traffic control, as well as of literature. Evoking Orwell, he says the English language provides defense against tyranny. For example:

"The Soweto revolt in the 1980s, which ultimately spelled apartheid’s downfall, exploded after the Nationalist regime made the medium of school instruction exclusively Afrikaans, banning the classroom use of English, along with Xhosa and Zulu."

But the language he uses is itself quite obscure. His writing is hard to understand. He rambles into nostalgic personal anecdotes and historical asides. He neglects the key point in the present day - that English is a form of force that open traditional cultures to the world. Tribal and feudal populations resent this imposition of language, seeing it as a manifestation of imperialism. The implication here is that not only does our language, but our presumptions about human nature, get enforced on dissident populations. Most of the people the West seeks to influence do not want democracy, education, or the edifice of scientific rationalism: they want jobs, community, shelter and clothing. So the mostly good predominance of English language can be used as a tool of oppression also.

Second, military force:

Hitchens writes that the anglosphere's use of military force makes us a good influence on the world. In other words, might makes right but that's okay because the might is that of the anglosphere, so it is right. Isn't that circular logic? And, what would Gandhi say?

Hitchens further rambles to obscure this fascist notion. I summarise:

Post-September 11 has shown the anglosphere's military alliance in practice. When Australian forces also went to Iraq, and Australian prime minister John Howard was attacked domestically he said that in times of crisis, there wasn’t much point in being 75 percent a friend.

But Hitchens writes concisely here:

"Howard’s statement has a great deal of history behind it. The anglosphere alliance defeated German Wilhelmine imperialism in 1918, the Nazi-Fascist Axis in 1945, and international Communism in 1989. This long arc of cooperation means that a young officer in, say, a Scottish regiment has a good chance of having two or even three ancestors who fought in the same trenches as did Americans and New Zealanders. No military force evolved by NATO, let alone the European Union, can hope to begin with such a natural commonality, the lack of which was painfully evident in Europe’s post-1989 Balkan bungling (from which a largely Anglo-American initiative had to rescue it)."

He contrasts Western military might with that of the United Nations, NATO and the European Union. We have consensus, whereas they do not, he points out. But consensus against our enemies is no consensus of friends; it is a cabal of warlords. The problem is not that the West has military predominance but that we see military predominance as the answer to creating a stable world situation. Again, I would reiterate that the people ruled by the West's enemies do not want democracy of Western culture; they want good work, shelter, and enough food to feed their children.

This is not to ignore the primitive nature of the West's enemies, to whom vengeance is justice and the idea of God an excuse for hatred. But these folk need to be contained by economic sanction and clearly exposed by their fruits. We are in no position to judge just because the West is the most effective war-maker on the planet today.

The meaning of Hitchens' essay seems to be that the anglosphere is good because it is dominant in military and language. I disagree.

The anglosphere is good because it has most effectively institutionalised the spiritual principles taught by Jesus, and most effectively secularised society so that these principles' origins are anonymous and accessible to everyone regardless of religion or walk of life. Accountability, responsibility, lovingkindness, forgiveness - these are part and parcel of the English-speaking West due to the noble efforts of generations of law-makers to institute them.

But the anglosphere has pockets of totalitarianism. It has aspects of life which are barbaric. And it also has folk on the same level as our enemies' people - the West has many who don't give a damn for democracy, but only want good work, shelter and enough food for their kids. We are just like our enemies, if we bother to look.

The West needs to clean house. We need to own up to the intellectual vanity of supposing we can impose democracy on people who don't need it. We need to accept responsibility for our own poor and disadvantaged.

We cannot deal with the poor of the West without confronting the inequity of the capitalist system. Nor can we confront the capitalist system without becoming aware of our own gluttony and lack of restraint in regards to our personal desires and wants.

We ARE capitalism. There is no distinction between the behavior of the system and the behavior of the individual, of you and I. The test of an ethical capitalism is our personal restraint, prudence, and philanthropy: in other words, how we treat the humblest Westerners dictates how we treat our enemies.

Dealing with recalcitrant, victim-addicted, resentment-filled poor folk in our own nation is the litmus test for how we handle international relations. Hitchens ignores the context of Western use of force, and thus fails not only to be true to the principles of Western culture, but also appears to be offering excuses for the West.

If, as Hitchens writes, the greatness of the West is in imposition of force through langage and military might, then it is not a very great thing to be a Westerner. I am not that kind of Westerner, and I request that Mr Hitchens recognise the sordid excuses and vainglory of his piece as a false representation of the West. We need to take the plank out of our own eyes before we can focus on the speck of dust in our enemies' eyes.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Five truths about Gandhian Economics:

This is a clarification of an academic article entitled "Five Myths aabout gandhian economics." The original was written in a needlessly defensive way that did not facilitate comprehension of the principles invoked.

1. The law of prosperity. All humans have the right to needful things: food, shelter and clothing. True prosperity means this. If any human lacks those needful things, in truth our prosperity is ill-gotten.

2. The law of happiness. Prosperity that increases wants leads to unhappiness. Restraint of desires and giving away surplus prosperity to others leads to happiness.

3. The law of the individual creativity: mass production must be replaced by production by the masses. Mass production enslaves and diminishes our humanity; small crafts support and ennoble us. Mass production is destructive to society, nature, human rights, national relations, and decent work. Production by the masses supports civil society, honors nature, funds human rights, creates peaceful national relations, and provides good work.

4. The law of freedom: all humanity is equal not by nature but by having been created by One God. By nature we appear more or less worthwhile and valuable, but in truth we are all loved and loveable. All religion which denies the law of freedom is invalid and must be disobeyed.

5. The law of stewardship: wealth and talent are gifts from God and belong to God alone. Gifts are only loaned from God. Therefore, an integrous capitalism ought to legislate so that the wealthy and talented steward their abilities for the good of all. Love must be legally endorsed as a replacement for greed as a motivation for capital accumulation and investment.

Put together, Gandhian economics posits the following:

- centrally-controlled capitalist democracy which

- forces capital to serve society by legislation,

- forces mass production to serve people through individual creativity,

- forces restraint of desires and generosity to serve human happiness and integrity, and

- forces religious tolerance by asserting our loveable true nature in the eyes of One God.

This might be extrapolated into a program:

1. Restrain personal desires, live simply, and behave generously.

2. Earn a living through individual craftsmanship and creativity.

3. Treat all people as equal partners in serving the truth, willingly suffering harms from them as a way of awakening their true nature of love and freedom.

4. Systematically withdraw all support from violence, mass production, and systems which reward non-stewardship based wealth.

5. Systematically support others in restraint, developing good work for themselves, and discovering the truth for themselves of their loveable natures.

Gandhian economics reverses the action of tradition economics. Instead of working on the world, it works on oneself. Instead of making presumptions about how human nature works and thereby creating inequity and injustice, Gandhian economics presumes we are worthwhile and loveable in the eyes of God and enjoins us to discover this truth for ourselves by empirical experiments.

The basic Gandhian scientific experiment is based in sure hypotheses. The laws are invariable throughout time.

If you live simply and give generously, you will be happy.

If you have good human work, you will be creative and fulfilled.

If you steward your gifts and talents for the good of the world, society will be more stable.

If you withdraw support for violence and voluntarily suffer the consequences without complaint, you will be loved and ennobled.

These are the fundamental Gandhian experiments on which his economics is founded. Their proof is in the practice.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

How to Prevent the Diseases of Affluence: Heart Disease, Cancer and Diabetes

Here are my five Observations On The China Study, apropos of resolving the diseases of affluence:

How come the China study is not being trumpeted from the rooftops in the media? Because there is no public interest in this kind of study at present. But this lack of interest begs the question: what kind of study is the China study?

Here are five things the China study demonstrably is:

1. Authoritative. The China study is authoritative. It would seem to be frankly the most authoritative study ever done on nutrition, disease and lifestyle. Because of its authoritative nature, questions about nutrition are answers conclusively. They are answered once and for all.

2. Wisdom and Insight. The results of the China study signify not simply erudition but wise insight also. The hallmark of this study is a complete recontextualization of nutrition as a phenomenon greater than the sum of its parts. The core conclusion states:

“Don’t worry too much about single nutrients, single foods, or single supplements. Simply eat from the right food groups (whole foods, like vegetables, legumes, fruits, nuts and seeds...) and you will have a diet that is exceptionally rich in health-promoting factors.”

3. Simplicity and Sophistication. It’s not simply about food nutrition values but about food combinations and groups. This simple insight is in the order of a first principle of nutrition. By understanding this wisdom one can apply it to a thousand different eating patterns and food combinations and never grow tired of the variety. There is the power of a new paradigm in the simplicity of the China study.

4. Truthful. This is the main reason why the China study will not become a fad or a hit: it tells the truth about our eating habits. By drawing clear correlations between dairy consumption and prostate cancer, for instance, it enables a clear and informed choice on relative risks to be made. People who are invested in ritual or cultural mythologizations of food are not interested in an honest review of the consequences of their eating.

5. Extraordinary Good Value. Last but not least, this book provides that most rare of publishing phenomena: extraordinary good value to the reader. Not only does it provide all the above, it also delves into the fascinating biochemistry of Vitamin D and provides key insight on why our ancestors had plenty of vitamin B12 – and it shows how and why we can use this information for our health and wellbeing. Furthermore, it provides dozens of sophisticated analyses of food groups, cultural mores, disease vectors, and other patterns, making it a treasure trove of insights into the human food ecology.

The China Study cannot compare favourably to the other books of its kind on the market. Have a look:

China Study: Diet Books:

Authoritative Marketing-driven.
Wise and insightful advice Extreme, imbalanced advice.
Simple, sophisticated Complicated and “user-friendly”
Truthful and unpalatable Pursuasive and marketable
Extraordinary good value Hype, glamourization, faddish

As you can see, there is little chance the mass media will latch onto the amazing China Study diet craze in the near future. Fortunately, however, this wonderful book is available everywhere now and the summary of findings is uploaded in PDF format at

To your health!

Which Way Science Fantasy?

I was reflecting on Orson Scott Card’s fantasy novel Magic Street as I entered Borders bookshop yesterday, and it occurred to me that his fantasies and science fiction genre novels do not gel precisely because the paradigm of the two genres have diverged so greatly since the seventies.

Card’s sci-fi is mystically fantastic and his fantasy feels really hard-edged like a science fiction novel. The book of Card’s I love the most subsume the fantastic elements into a game-playing trope – his novel Ender’s Game being the canonical example of a hard SF Card novel.

No, Card’s gritty, hard-edged fantasy doesn’t work for me. Why? Because that’s not what fantasy books are for anymore! Science fiction and fantasy have parted ways since the seventies, and I have only just noticed.

Back to the Science Fantasy Future.
The Grand Conjunction of Science Fiction and Fantasy must be the Conan mythos, while the Grand Triune of Science Fantasy was for me the marvellous stream of trilogies from Michael Moorcock, Hawkmoon and Count Brass and the two Corum trilogies and many other superb science fantasies which are presently forgotten and lost to the moment. I love Moorcock’s crazy strangeness from those far off days!

But since then the genres have parted ways. First there has been a feminisation of fantasy as a legitimate female genre. Sexy heroines have been replaced by kickass female heros. Which might suit the more masochistic male readers, but not I. I prefer to thing of it as the pussification of the fantasy genre. It has become the realm of pussies and limpdicks, with one noble exception. And that is:

Online Gaming.
Fantasy is in the grip of an attractor field, a singularity located in the near future whose presence skews the genre toward virtuality.

The entire fantasy genre, starting with the grand Lord of the Rings computer-generated-image-filled films and contining to Worlds of Warfare and the numerous other realms online, is drawn towards a fuller realisation of the escape from the real. The route of this escape, then, is on the web.

Hard Science Fiction and Realism.
Realism, realpolitik, current political, economic and social events increasingly feedforward into science fiction. In contrast to the fantastical release from constraint, sci-fi is the most constrained, yet most outrageous and liberating of twenty-first century genres. Not even musical genres can create such astonishing tropes of transformation and change as hard science fiction can.

Hard science fiction is the twenty first century version of the sonnet sequence – an epic demonstration of reproductive and time-binding fitness. While fantasy spirals into hyperspace, science fiction extracts the distilled facts of a moment of knowing through action and drama.

The future is SF-hard but the web is fantasy-soft. The real world is becoming science fictional, while the web is becoming fantasy-like.

The radical divergence of the aims of the two genres is perhaps the fore-view of a future conjunction or triune. Maybe in the 2090s a new Conan will be gaming online with earthers while in reality he solar sails through an intensely scientific asteroid landscape. Or perhaps a new version of the Eternal Champion will ride forth in the 22nd century, simultaneously science fictional and fantastic.

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