Our Life of Constant Upheaval

Many historians and political writers have identified the Bernie Sanders movement, the Donald trump movement, and the tea party movement, among many lesser movements, as populist movements. This is not a new phenomenon in US history. In fact, populist rebellions have emerged regularly since the founding of the nation.

Mariner has written many posts addressing populism. There are a few common issues that are present in all populist movements: Most common is the belief that ordinary citizens should have authority over the elitist class; the cause is common to many uprisings – Bernie, for example, is a rerun of the 1890’s uprising that protested the existence of an elitist class and income inequality. Donald Trump sounds exactly like the ‘Know-Nothing’ rebellion – in more ways than one. The rebellion was due to immigration and threats of job security.

In the 1880’s corporations were charging excessive fees to farmers and other labor level citizens (an issue that has a familiar ring in today’s world where corporations are excessively hoarding wealth at the cost of salaries in general) a situation that led to the creation of the ‘People’s Party.’ William Jennings Bryan led this movement through three presidential campaigns and is famous for the quote, “You shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold.”

It is obvious that populist uprisings occur when significant change to the culture is necessary. It is also true that at the voting booth, populists always lose – almost always.

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Standing to the side of history and watching populism not as a process but what the impact is on about a fourth of the population, the disruption to stable daily life is not pleasant. To willingly suffer insecurity, a growing doubt about the future and a willingness to physically challenge authority with little rationality suggests maltreatment by the core society that gives them personal definition. Why does this happen? Why does society drift away from fairness and the psychology of teamsmanship?

Many will surmise that it is the innate nature of Homo sapiens to be competitive and possessive – two characteristics that improve security and survival. This suggests that mitigating these behaviors is why humans created governments. There are only three philosophies of government that can pretend to mitigate base behavior: socialism, communism and democracy. There are many cultural variations, of course, but why hasn’t the world mastered any of these philosophies?

Perhaps we never will. But the current conflict of change includes populism, capitalism, democratic authority, displacement by artificial intelligence, environmental constraint and a world population wavering on dysfunctionality. Governments will not reconcile this massive change by next Christmas.

What is new in context is that an informed and personally responsible electorate must take charge. Not the familiar party-driven, lobby-funded, class-defined society thus far. Not the faux citizenry of Robespierre. It will take management by collective population to stabilize government inadequacy. Unfortunately, we who are alive today will not see success in our lifetimes. Nevertheless, continuous improvement toward that day rides on you. Vote wisely.

Ancient Mariner

Fruited Plains

Guru is with us today to consider international roles, political leadership and global cultural influence in the 21st century. Guru, you may recall, is the futurist among mariner’s alter egos; very much a theorist, his conclusions often have no traceable documentation and often depend solely on logic and the limitations of reality.

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All Americans know the mantra about the new nation called the United States: Freedom, liberty, equality, justice for all, one person, one vote. Stated in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, this was in 1776 to 1791 – 227 years ago. The United States rapidly became a nation among nations; indeed, the United States became the nation around the world. The United States was unbelievably blessed: an entire continent to itself with two vast, profitable and protective oceans on its borders; fruited plains, temperate weather, majestic purple mountains, multinational migrations to energize its culture and economy, and a philosophy of government belonging to its citizens. No aristocracy, monarchs or dictators here – the nation belonged to its citizens. It was a democracy.

The nation is to be lauded for its ability to keep the ship of state on course despite wars (Revolutionary, American Indian, Mexican, Spanish-American, Civil, WW I and II, Korean, Vietnamese, and in recent years a multitude of incursions to protect the world and its capitalist economy, five major economic depressions and 13 notable recessions, two economically devastating droughts in the 1930’s and 50’s, cultural erosion caused by the industrial revolution, technical revolution and information revolution, and last but not least, the birth of investment capitalism in the mid nineteenth century.

Now, as the Nation finds itself in the midst of global changes in economics, environment, computerization, shifting populations, and international transition, the ship of state sails on uncharted seas. The ship of state, like all ships, must endure active wear and tear and eventually take its place in its era to be replaced by newer versions and newer purposes. There are signs this moment approaches. It is time to stop looking backward to the way it was and longing for that time; it is time to reset the sails to fresh winds that will bring a new era.

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Always wealth has brought change. It was so in prehistoric times when the invention of the spear or mastering fire provided new levels of economic superiority over those without. On the first farm, the first field was planted with a crop that extended momentary security into future security; new wealth in agriculture created a massive change in human population and raised the need for a new polity to manage the wealth. It was the politics of nationalism. Speeding through the history of dynasties and empires, the Roman Empire often is used as a model that contemporary society can understand. The power to pursue more wealth came with a very important but subtle authority: the authority to change culture. Enough wealth existed that some could be spent on ancillary subjects like art, music, science, running water and sewer systems, religion, health, technical research from better Roman cement to American trips to the Moon. The ancillary subjects continue today to rewrite cultural understanding and expectation. But always, change rides on the back of wealth.

Wealth, despite its powers, is not well organized. Wealth has no bully pulpit, no respected military, and no ability to organize human motivation. Wealth is motivated only by profit, both real and perceived. Below is a list of nations ranked by their current gross domestic product (GDP) in millions of dollars – a measure of their ability to affect change:

1 United States                    18,624,450

— European Union                16,408,364

2 China                                11,232,108

3 Japan                                 4,936,543

4 Germany                            3,479,232

5 United Kingdom                  2,629,188

6 France                               2,466,472

7 India                                  2,263,792

8 Italy                                   1,850,735

9 Brazil                                  1,798,622

10 Canada                              1,529,760

11 South Korea                       1,411,042

12 Russia                                1,283,162

13 Australia                             1,261,645

14 Spain                                  1,232,597

15 Mexico                                1,046,925

16 Indonesia                               932,448

17 Turkey                                   863,390

18 Netherlands                            777,548

19   Switzerland                          669,038

20 Saudi Arabia                           646,438

Quick assumptions would suggest that the top five or six are the key players in how the future will be shaped economically and culturally. However, due to advances in computerization and telecommunications, wealth is no longer constrained by geography or nationalism. Members of this list are inclined to pursue consortiums of nations that will multiply their ability to pursue greater wealth. Further, a new phenomenon made available by instantaneous telecommunications allows corporations to pursue wealth independent of national influence – at least under current legislative policies. Will the independent wealth of corporations, many of which rank high in the above list, control political issues related to human rights, support of indigent populations and leveraging wars to their advantage? Will corporations even be interested in human issues beyond labor profitability? These questions are at hand today as corporations garner wealth at amazing speeds nations cannot match or control.

Addressing the US perspective, its old Democratic wealth and its culture have waned as corporate wealth drains the natural wealth of the nation, its fruited plains, etc. That Donald Trump has withdrawn the United States from its privileged role as world cultural leader is detrimental to the US position among other nations already responding to the new economic game – and the right to lead cultural change in the future.

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Moving quickly down the GDP list, The United States still is the largest economy in the world but it is not growing very fast. Laxity in cultural discipline has led to business practices that are not beneficial to the US. Many tout the stock market as a sign of a robust economy but significant portions are owned by overseas interests. Further, very large corporations have expanded beyond the nation’s shores not only to pursue profits but to avoid taxes – not only in the US but in any nation around the world. Inside the US, the nation suffers from increasing inefficiency as Federal and state legislatures linger in economic perceptions designed in the 1980’s. These old perceptions do not work in a world of international consortiums, artificial intelligence and instant global markets.

After dozens of international agreements beginning in 1909, the European Union created a visionary, international powerhouse in 1992 when 28 European nations combined their markets and cultural practices, military obligations and political clout. Unfortunately, the EU was not able to unify its economics. Individual nations did not benefit from a combined marketplace and several nations like Greece and Great Britain suffered recessions alone. The fragmented economy cannot respond easily to modern trends in global economics. Like the US, the EU economy is not growing at competitive speeds; individual nations like Germany have had growth but their association with the cultural commitments of the EU will interfere with Germany’s economic future. Germany is taking steps to seek new consortiums to sustain future growth – excluding the Trump-led US.

Similar to the United States in the 1700’s, fate has delivered to China a global advantage in today’s economic world. China has human resources of immense magnitude, a large land mass, the focus of a communist state, and a geographic archipelago of small contiguous nations with which to launch the world’s largest economy. Even at today’s level of wealth, China is investing significant amounts in the aforementioned areas of cultural growth. China likely will be the largest provider of infrastructure services in the world (mariner mentioned in a previous post that China is building Chicago’s new subway system) and has the labor force to build super highways and rapid transit as a means of linking China to Eastern nations including Russia. (China’s Belt and Road plan is a multi-billion initiative aimed at linking Asia with Europe and Africa, and the countries in between.) China is moving rapidly to the top of high tech markets, e.g., the nation already is the largest exporter of drones and competes aggressively for each airline contract. Finally, China is a sophisticated player in world politics. In today’s news, North and South Korea are willing to try peace talks without the United States – something North Korea would not do except with China’s urging.

India is a sleeping giant but is so far behind in culture, infrastructure and government sophistication that it will take time to become a top international player. Some futurists calculate that as India grows in economic power, it may be the nation that unifies nations like Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Myanmar, Thailand and Cambodia but that consortium is highly speculative. India also has interests in Africa.

Japan, long dependent on its relationship with the US, must seek an economic relationship with a major consortium in order to spread its productivity across other markets. The US remains the primary nation if a rewrite of the twelve-member Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) can be reintroduced successfully.

Russia pretends to be a world player but it lost the ability to play with super nations when the USSR collapsed and some key nations affiliated with Europe. Still, fate has cursed Russia with troublesome leadership for centuries. The economy in Russia today is thwarted by oligarchic domination led by Vladimir Putin. Without true economic power, Russia can only meddle in the success of other nations. Russia has agreed to participate in China’s Belt and Road initiative which may benefit Russia in the short term but long term Russia increasingly will be dependent on the Chinese economy.

Aside from Australia, South Africa and a few lesser nations, the Southern Hemisphere did not live the history of the Northern Hemisphere. It benefited from early contributions during and after the exploration age during the 14th-18th centuries but seems not to have escaped Colonialism. Southern Hemisphere countries soon will benefit from consortium relationships – which may be similar to colonial times.

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The silent partner in all this is artificial intelligence (AI). AI will change current perceptions of assets, national intelligence, description of work, and the ways of daily life – but that’s another post.

Ancient Mariner

Governance in Flux

Like many, many folks around the world today, mariner notices not just a few but a majority of nations suffering from disruptions to their cultural and national ideology. Examples of disruption are environment, technology, computerization, population, globalization, shifts in energy sources, and other international product markets affected by political and entrepreneurial winds.

Mariner asks the reader to indulge the following description of nations and their status in the world of nations.

With 197 nations in the world, government concepts could be a real jigsaw puzzle. But it isn’t. If the nations can be categorized only by overall philosophies of government, there are not too many concepts. Consider:

Democracies – United States and many other nations. Mariner found that democracies in general are struggling with competing philosophies of governance. In the US, the nation is very close to being a cross between democracy and corporatocracy wherein a republic form of government exists with legislators and judges but the direction of policy is controlled by corporate interests. Further, many democracies struggle with succession, for example the collaboration of democracies called the European Union, independents like Syria, Turkey, and Iraq in the Middle East, and all the sub-Saharan nations of Africa.

Dictatorships, including variations on the theme such as totalitarianism, Plutocracies, autocracies, and Anarcho-capitalists (Saudi Arabia, Kazakhstan). Africa is overrun with dictatorships preventing affected nations from stabilizing and establishing institutional functions.

Stratocracies (ruled by military) – As one would expect, nations under severe duress often are taken over by military juntas. Recently, a duly elected government in Egypt was thrown out by a military coup. It ruled until another election could be held. Myanmar (Burma) has become a stratocracy where the military has taken control of a powerless government still in place.

Communist Republics – Like democracies, the few communist nations that remain (primarily China) are experiencing philosophical changes in governance. China, while still ruled by one party and one very powerful president, struggles with socialist policies in an effort to improve society enough to compete in the new age of the 21st century.

Socialist Republics – Socialism was a common philosophy at the turn of the 20th century but today only a few socialist governments remain among the Nordic nations. Otherwise, the criterion for being a socialist nation is self-determined. Virtually all active socialist countries actually are variations on communism (Russia and China) or awkward descriptions claiming the rights of citizens as the primary goal of government (Albania, Viet Nam, Laos, Afghanistan and other –stans.

Theocracies – The Holy See or Vatican City is not the only theocracy. Also governed strictly by religious doctrine are Afghanistan, Iran, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Yemen. In a muted way, religious influence exists in most nations and frequently can cause difficulty in governance. The United States has an active minority hardening against the secularist nature that pulls the nation into the 21st century. Islamic nations suffer even more difficulty as 8th century dogma fails to fit modern cultural demands.

Aristocracies and monarchies – Great Britain is a democracy that retains a very weak role for a national monarchy. Monaco is free of French control as long as the royal family in Monaco can produce a male heir. Sweden is a constitutional monarchy but the monarchy has little authority in legislative processes. There are several other nations that have this pattern.

Corporatocracies and oligarchies – In every case where this category has a presence, it is conjoined with another philosophy of government; it doesn’t stand alone because it needs an organized source of cash. Nevertheless, Corporatocracies and oligarchies have a growing advantage as global markets emerge. The new world economy can easily lose nationalist authority as traditional rules of commerce and outdated concepts associated with Gross National Product lose meaning.

Beyond this list, one wanders into heavily crossbred variations.

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Mariner thanks readers who suffered reading this litany about the changing philosophy of most governments in the world. It is a necessary task to grasp the unbelievably large phenomenon that is washing away old standards of authority in governance and, amid unending change in technology, international relations, free range economies and shifting populations, there are neither precedents to follow nor a part of the world stable enough to be an example for troubled nations.

Always through the history of nations, destabilizing change was local. Even the Roman Empire and the Ming Dynasty were local compared to today’s universal, planet-wide upheaval.

Add to the high storm waves that wash over a nation’s culture the battle for supremacy among the giant nations, e.g., Russia, United States, European Union, China and, in the near future, continental consortiums like Mexico, Canada and the US, or China, South America and the Pacific Rim, or Russia, Brazil and Eastern Europe, or India and Africa.

Then add economic wars like oil versus alternative energy, international control of information, and dozens of money versus culture conflicts (Greece et al). Finally, add the gross changes in jobs and family sustenance affected by artificial intelligence and the control of thought represented by the novel 1984 and the movie, Matrix – already beginning to control our personal decision-making. Beware that piece of candy called a smartphone – it’s the Matrix connection to your life. Yes, mariner is old fashioned but he is intellectually independent.

Well. Don’t expect a solution from mariner. This conundrum reminds him of a gift he received during Christmas. It’s a nine-piece puzzle with imagery so highly redundant that there are over 50 million possible placements for each piece – but only one solution for all nine pieces.

As Roy used to say, “Happy Trails…..”

Ancient Mariner

Touching

Many years ago, mariner wrote a paper about touching. The recent surge of “Me Too” responses from abused women has sparked several conversations that, on the whole, attempt to establish boundaries and definitions about sexual contact and the larger sphere of touching in general.

The premise of mariner’s paper is that touching others is an important bonding gesture. Obviously, unwarranted touching related to sexual expression is not the type of touching under discussion. But let’s not throw the baby out with the bath!

Mariner’s paper is titled “Elderly life – the Touching Desert.”

Consider a typical childhood: parents and children constantly hug, fondle, kiss, touch and otherwise take positions where one is in physical contact with another. How often has one seen a small child hugging its mother’s leg while she is having a conversation? Touching is critical to the development of self-confidence and assuredness that one is loved and appreciated without judgment.

Touching is governed by social circumstance. Lovers have a liberal collection of moments when affection for each other is assured or when reassurance is needed, or simply to acknowledge one another in passing. Consider the holidays when the family gathers together: hugging all around, affectionate posturing, and often an actual need just to make contact; these gestures are a form of renewing the bond between family members. Imagine if everyone visited for the holidays but there was no physical contact between them. An observer would sense that something is wrong.

The geographic region also has an effect on the manner of touching. Mariner wrote his paper while living in a large city on the East Coast; the manner of touching was more easily accepted and one may even feel rejected if they were not touched in a meaningful way, for example a hug and lingering touch on the shoulder. In a social situation, sitting on a sofa together, touching shoulder to shoulder and hip to hip was de rigeuer.

The Midwest is more sensitive about touching – especially in rural areas. Not everyone, of course, but for a notable percentage, a hug when greeting is executed with as little actual touching as possible. If someone touches an arm for a moment or takes a hand to have a conversation, these gestures are noticeably disconcerting. Mariner surmises that the intimate circle, that is, the foot and a half space around one’s body, cannot be encroached upon for suspicion of ulterior motives – whatever they may be.

The paper makes the point that minimizing or even preventing touching establishes isolationism in an individual. Socialization becomes a practiced dance that excludes reinforcement of acceptance from and appreciation for others. An invisible wall eliminates any ‘heart-felt’ feelings one may want to express or have expressed to them. It makes the point, too, that the elderly, simply by their less engaged life style, are victims of isolation because they are seldom touched in an expressive manner. A firm, dare mariner say, an engaging hug will link a mutual bond for a long time. In recent years, men have learned to have expressive hugs with other men. Surely this helps civilization.

Mariner remembers distinctly a family situation where the family gathered for a holiday. The grandfather was at least a generation older, slower moving, and less expressive. Most family members greeted the grandfather in a minimal, respectful way until the four year old great-grandson ran up to the grandfather with open arms to be swept up in a warm greeting. The grandfather came to life as if a light switch had been turned on.

Touching, especially meaningful hugs, is important – especially for the elderly.

Ancient Mariner

 

Gifting – Again

Mariner has written a time or two about gifting. He thinks gifting, as a core habit among daily life, will correct the world’s preoccupation with money, indifference, social abuse, and the pall of inadequacy hanging over each of us. Feel free to use the mariner’s search box to find other posts using the word ‘gifting.’

A quick description of giving versus gifting: Giving is when one authorizes a perfunctory distribution of one’s physical or fiduciary assets for personal reasons; gifting is when one deliberately distributes one’s physical or fiduciary assets founded on a desire to be compassionate and a desire to create positive relations within human nature. Mariner’s frequent example is the behavior known as ‘passing it forward.’ That act is intentional in its desire to make another person’s life a bit better; not because one is aware that it is a form of courtesy.

This seems easily understood. A single individual could alter one’s attitude with practice and become a kinder, gentler and self-confident person while simultaneously improving the lives of others. But this is a global issue. Lack of compassion has infected whole cultures, societies, governments and even belief systems that explain the universe. One cannot simply say, “Everyone . . . be more compassionate!”

We will know compassion is part of American society when –

Health services cease to be a profit market and becomes an obligation to those in need of health services.

Immigration is considered a chance to help those who come to assimilate and receive from them their gift of knowledge and life experience that will enhance the nation.

Commerce has returned to its understanding that commerce has an obligation not to greed but to the wellbeing of communities.

Class prejudice is replaced by a desire to consider every citizen equal in value and importance.

Every citizen maintains loyalty to each other through the machinations of government.

Tax policy is a tool to fairly share the wealth of the nation with every citizen.

Mariner could go on but the reader has the basic idea.

 

REFERENCE SECTION

Now may be a good time to recommend some exceptionally insightful sources:

֍When it comes to theology, religion and its role in society, one cannot find a more enlightened individual than Reza Aslan. Mariner learned of Aslan a few years ago watching an interview on Fox television which tore into him from the outset about how could an Iranian Hindu understand Christianity. He never had the chance to speak about his book or any of his ideas. Aslan has educated himself around the world not only by gaining a stellar educational résumé but by personally visiting every acknowledged religion, every religious culture and with surprising insight, understanding the effect of religion from a sociological perspective. The book mariner recommends is:

God: A Human History, Reza Aslan, Random House, 2017

on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac from Barnes and Noble and Amazon.com $13.99; text hard copy $17.63

One can pass on the book to watch a first class interview about the book on CSPAN. See: https://www.c-span.org/video/?437532-2/god

֍It is more difficult than one may think to find a moderate thinker in the United States today. Mariner has found one in the most unexpected place: CNN – Fareed Zakaria, host of Global Public Square (GPS) on Sunday morning. Mariner recommends his television show on CNN, his column in the Washington Post and his twitter account, @fareedzakaria; his website is https://fareedzakaria.com . Fareed is particularly keen on the subject of a fading United States, suggesting other nations will step in to fill the gap of a dysfunctional US. The recommended book, a nice read, is:

The Post-American World, Release 2.0, Fareed Zakaria, W.W. Norton, 2011

Also available on digital readers.

֍For those with a liberal arts bent, put the following website in your favorites list and subscribe to the email service. Each week you are offered interesting sources from literature and other esoteric subjects:

https://us9.campaign-archive.com/home/?u=8cbd654fc43afe6be9455ae3b&id=bcec0a1a30

Ancient Mariner

Philosophy of Health Management in the United States

Mariner is really old. He is a prime example of why the fiscal conservatives in government don’t like him. He is a drain on the world of dollars. One is not worth existence if one doesn’t generate dollars in some way. Insurance companies and the health industry have found a way to generate dollars in unhealthy people – especially old unhealthy people; the health industry has developed a cash producing model even for useless, expensive old folks like the mariner.

The model is: keep old folks alive for a few more years until their disabilities exceed insurance coverage and they must spend down their assets to continue treatment. Once the health industry has all the patient’s money and the patient is bankrupt, treatment ceases and the patient, who perhaps lived another few years than they might have, dies. After all, the patient is no longer a source of dollars.

Mariner recently had the experience of being prescribed a medicine that would slow the advancement of his disability, giving him another few years before the end. The prescription was administered in a matter of fact way by the physician with no warnings about the prescription being irregular in any way. Mariner and his wife stopped by the pharmacy to have the prescription filled.

“We can’t fill this prescription,” the pharmacist said. “It must come from a special pharmacy.”

Turns out the prescription will cost ten thousand dollars each month! That’s right – $10,000.00 each month. This is a good service because now the mariner can accurately project his life expectancy by dividing $120,000.00 per year into his total assets.

Even Big Pharma realized the cost was a bridge too far. A special charity will pay the monthly fee less copay. Mariner was advised by his insurance company that the copay is just under $3,000 each month. Whew!

To the mariner, this is blatant disregard for human value and respect. Jimmie Kimmel had it right when he admonished the health industry and Congress for making dollars more important than human life. Mariner researched the annual salary of CEOs for Big Pharma. They receive an average annual salary of $42 million. Apparently, health management has reverted to its mid-19th century practice of applying leeches.

Because of religious reasons, that is, believing in human life as the measure of supreme value, he will not take this drug – especially he will not allow anyone, charity or otherwise, to send this many dollars to prop up a leech’s salary.

Ancient Mariner

Church v State

In the early days church v state was not an issue. Before Jesus the government function known today as the ‘upper house’ (House of Lords?) was occupied by a collection of anthropomorphic gods. The lower house and the executive branch spent most of their time trying to guess what the gods were going to do next in their own interests and what twists of fate would they impose on the citizenry. The Old Testament in the Holy Bible spends a significant amount of time trying to have a relationship between Israel and one god, let alone a pantheon of gods. In Greece, military leaders had to visit an oracle to get the final say on whether the next war was worthwhile.

In the western world, Christianity took hold as the major religion. During the Roman Empire era and the expansion of Christianity into Europe, Christianity dominated human politics; all governments were theocracies to the point that the Pope could depose Kings with a thumb pointed downward. To realize how dominant church was over society, read about the Spanish Inquisition or the first oligarchs AKA Christian monasteries or the life and times of Galileo imprisoned because he said the Earth was not the center of the Galaxy or the Universe. However, human self-interest would not go away. Remember Henry VIII?

In the far reaches of Northern Europe, beyond the original advances of Rome and its theocracy, early Christianity was more of a wild card. Theology and theocracy were owned by local kingdoms like Scotland, Wales, England and Ireland. Along with the Nordic countries, these emerging nations lived on a frontier of war for centuries. Eventually, especially in England, the barons found they were spending too much on war and sought an agreement that would limit the power of the King and assure a degree of political independence within each baron’s territory.

They had a big meeting in 1215 and signed the Magna Carta Libertatum[1].

Church v state was born.

The Magna Carta was a deal between human factions. For the first time, human rights were based on common agreement rather than religious proclamation. The Magna Carta had a profound influence on Western political governance. In the United States, one can see the direct and overwhelming influence in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. The United States is a nation based on the rule of law – not the beliefs of a given religion. Nevertheless, in all the documents, religion is granted the practice of religious principles without restriction.

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Nothing in history is automatic. In fact, mankind does everything it can to muddy the waters of change. From the start, religious authority is implied because God is printed on all US money. Citizens are warned to tell the truth by God’s standards (so help you God…). How quickly we ignored the Christian guide book in Matthew 20:21 that says …”give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

What clobbered the clear principles of US founding documents was the Reformation. America simultaneously was populated and grew with opportunists and religious zealots. The church led early settlement across the nation as it moved west and insisted on strict commitment to the faith. On the other hand, opportunists wanted as little regulation and interference from the government as possible. Generations of citizens grew up with close scrutiny by their parish leadership and virtually none from the government. Consequently, threads of theocratic governance persist to this day. The rule of sanctuary in a religious building still is granted credence; the Amish have their own justice system. Ironically, a beautiful, poetic religion was obliterated when the US destroyed the culture of the North American Indian.

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So here the US is today – having to go to the Supreme Court to interpret the line between church and state. Not just once but for every piddling conflict: abortion, gays and trannies, commercial restrictions, race, non-Christian religious practices, wedding cakes, and marriage licenses. Amos grows tired of tolerance.

The simple rule is a person is allowed to practice and express their religion in ritual, within family, within any realm of personal possession or likeminded group – even in their personally owned business (without violating state law). On the other hand, that person cannot deny the right of others or the state to have beliefs and legislation of their own that may not be compatible with that person’s religion.

It sounds blunt but if one doesn’t believe in abortion don’t practice it. On the other hand, one cannot dictate the beliefs or rules of others or the state where there are differences in practice.

Mariner leaves it to the reader to decide the rights of Kim Davis who is an elected clerk in a state government post who denies marriage licenses to gays. Do we need the Supreme Court to determine Kim’s responsibility to the freedom of religion clause or the state to act independent of religious proclamation?

Ancient Mariner

[1] (Great Charter of Liberation) For a full and helpful translation of the Magna Carta, see: http://www.magnacartaplus.org/magnacarta/

Migration – the Great Culture Changer

Mariner was watching the weekend television information shows, which are informative shows, not news shows. He noticed a comment, just one sentence on GPS, the Global Public Square with Fareed Zakaria, that today virtually the entire planet suffers the pressure of large migrations of humans.

The comment prompted mariner to remember migration as a major culture changer. Humans have had major migrations since prehistoric times. 60 thousand years ago a great migration of early humans left Africa likely due to a major climate shift. It was responsible for starting populations in every direction in Europe, the Middle East, and east into India and Southern Asia. That migration certainly brought change to Europe as immigrants overwhelmed the resident Neanderthal population and essentially replaced them. In the process, newer hunting methods and different social capabilities brought a different culture to Europe.

15 thousand years ago, a short ice age caused another migration into Northern Asia and eventually across the Bering Strait to populate North and South America.

10 thousand years ago improved farming induced a population explosion that added more immigrants into Europe and Asia and down to Australia.

Migrations are launched because of imbalances in safety, food, disruptive weather and overcrowding. The Middle East has suffered two great droughts – suffering the latest one since 1998. Today’s drought in the region is 50% drier than the last drought 500 years ago and the driest in 900 years.

Today’s drought shows no signs of letting up and continues south into Northern Africa where government conflict and social unrest continue to grow.

As a result, migration continues to grow.

Given the patterns of migration in human history, natural drought patterns are the most common cause and likely are intensified by climate change. Cultural stress disrupts governments leading to revolution, terrorism and rampant populism. Unlike Sub-Saharan Africa where 20 million face starvation, the Middle East has oil. The vagaries of imbalance as seen in Syria, Libya, Iraq, Egypt, Yemen and Iran have launched a migration from that region. Combine the Middle East migration with other migrant groups from South and Central America and cultural change seems a certain experience in our future – virtually guaranteed in Europe.

The US is experiencing homophobic behavior because Donald promotes it. His base, those who feel they are being pushed out, easily adopt homophobic behavior. However, immigration is not a bad thing. In fact, the US is far better off as “the great melting pot” than it would be otherwise. Besides, in a nation of 350 million, even a million immigrants will not have a disruptive effect but they may, as in past US history, contribute to positive change. If for no other reason than rebalancing the lopsided US demographic profile, they should be welcomed.

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Don’t blame the turmoil of cultural change just on immigration. Toss in computerization, the internet, and the devious smartphone. The smartphone is eliminating the rich culture based on human-to-human contact and virtually eliminates group processes like clubs, community service, a strong sense of self and an absence of accountability to one’s community. The net result is a culture of blasé. From whence do we derive our ethics, morals, compassion and empathy? These are the energies that make us human. A photograph on Facebook does not make one a living, incorporated human being.

Perhaps being responsible to care for our new immigrant citizens will reset our human values.

Blasé is bad.

Ancient Mariner

 

Merry Christmas

Mariner is sorry that the Christmas season occurs during such torment and unstatesmanlike conduct in our government. We must endure; it is our duty as citizens. These are times of dramatic change in our society. Automation and artificial intelligence loom in our future; the collapse of the Reagan economy on the right; the future of our children on the left. The United States is a tumbling society at the moment. Our status as a champion among nations, as a symbol of wellbeing within a world of conflict, is fading because we cannot govern our own nation.

It is a time for stamina, for the strong will of the people. Our government has been infected with greed. We must step in and erase this infection. Our government, both state and Federal has forgotten the founding principles of our nation: equality for all.

Do not be dissuaded by the goballygook of corporate giants flexing their innocence as we move into global economy. It is about humans, not profits. Our collapsed Federal Government, including the House, the Senate, and indeed our President, has left the voting citizen with a serious problem which threatens to destroy our nation. We must clean up the mess. We must undo the gerrymandering that eliminates half our voting power. We must elect representatives that espouse the will of the common citizen. We must create a government based on the definition of a human being, not that a human is worth nothing more than a profit source.

Do have a merry Christmas – we need it! But return to your minuteman responsibility to “Make America Great Again.”

Ancient Mariner

 

Attack on Tribal Culture

As a sociology major in college, mariner studied many types of society. There are many reasons for a unifying culture to come into being. When the age of agriculture gave way to industrialism around 1760, the information age around 1960, and now the globalization age beginning around 1914 with the League of Nations, economics has become the measure of worth even to the value of a human being. Today, the world around, philosophy of life and its scruples are measured in dollars.

Where does tribalism fit into this?

First, mariner must update the anthropology of tribes. Do not think of Native American tribes with about 100 individuals. Native American tribes had a two-tiered culture consisting of clusters bound in size by terrain and environment and a larger tier consisting of politically related tribes whose individuals could number in tens of thousands. A good example is when Native Americans gathered for a bison kill. Also observe that an individual Indian did not need food stamps to acquire some bison meat. Native Americans distributed the kill equally among tribe members – a tribal characteristic.

What defines tribe behavior is a strong commitment to a common member value. The attacks today on groups of people who are in defiance of the dominant economic power structure are considered to be organized “tribes” and enemies of the state. The relationship between the state and defiant groups is acknowledged but mariner takes issue with the judgment that tribes are a bad thing. In fact, vocal dissent is a good thing, a healthy thing and is key to evaluating the inherent worth of citizens.

Tribalism is a level of organization that occurs when the group is relatively small and comparatively vulnerable to outside circumstances. As a consequence, a spirt of common good prevails that equally protects all tribe members.

Think about the Amish. The culture has a tier comprised of small congregations each free to describe its own values as long as the basic premise of their religious heritage is followed. On the higher tier is the entire Amish movement which holds to a given theology, economy and anti-secularism that existed in Europe in the late 1600’s. Today, a middle tier is growing that represents different flavors of the Amish faith; think of Christian Protestants as an example. A loyalty exists across tiers of tribes that sustains the common good.

These models of tribalism are, more or less, based on geography as a natural restraint to size. Mariner lives in a small Iowa town of less than 1,000 citizens. During the era of agriculture, the town behaved as a tribe would behave. The common ethic was sustaining family wellbeing. In fact, most of the virtues even among local merchants were family-centric, assuring that families with misfortune were taken care of by everyone. This behavior often is referred to as ‘the common good’, reflecting the desire to support survival of the tribe.

Then industrialism changed the focus from tribal self-sustenance to economic collaboration with its steam and oil machines. John Henry died proving that the value of a human being was no longer inherent; it was the economy that was more valuable.

In the United States today, with its priority toward economic objectives rather than the human condition, government policy has isolated many citizens to the point that it is obvious citizens are no longer important enough to be sustained by the economically driven government. The ethic of sustaining families or for that matter any common human value is absent.

The prevailing economic polity sees tribal behavior as a populist movement – consider governmental and corporate reactions to tribal resistance by the Standing Rock Lakota Sioux Nation to the Dakota Access Pipeline. The word ‘tribe’ is misused in this respect. Further, it is true that economically supportive classes are exclusive in nature and foster prejudicial rejection of societies that support the tribal virtue of equality among members.

The strength of a common ideal over other idiosyncrasies explains why Donald’s base does not care about Donald’s behavior; it is Donald’s interference with the economic establishment that is the overarching value. Unfortunately, commitment to Donald and his personality disorders is a high price to pay even for his base.

As the world migrates toward globalism driven by economic values instead of human values, many scholars have reservations. At some point, society must reconstruct the inherent value of a human being. Otherwise, they believe, humans are well on their way to a life of human meaningless – to be nothing more than a battery in a coffin in a Matrix world.

REFERENCE SECTION

Mariner’s wife, a complete, forty year professional librarian, often is a silent partner in mariner’s posts. She provides the following source of a writer of similar persuasion albeit many magnitudes more in importance:

John Ralston Saul, CC OOnt (born June 19, 1947) is a Canadian award-winning philosopher, novelist and essayist. He is a long-term champion of freedom of expression. Saul is most widely known for his writings on the nature of individualism, citizenship and the public good; the failures of manager-led societies; the confusion between leadership and managerialism; military strategy, in particular irregular warfare; the role of freedom of speech and culture; and his critique of contemporary economic arguments. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Ralston_Saul#Non-fiction for his nonfiction bibliography.

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Yes, Virginia, there is the word divers.

Mariner thinks sometimes a more accurate count of viewers can be had from using a fine but little used word. He does admit that he is a bit of an archivist when choosing words that have precise meaning instead of using a simpler word augmented by a preposition. To bear witness, he provides a reference from the Grammarist[1]. Nevertheless, in deference to his readership, mariner went back and added the ‘e’.

Ancient Mariner

[1] For entertainment derived from language and grammar, see: http://grammarist.com/