Our plans miscarry because they have no aim. When a man does not know what harbor he is making for, no wind is the right wind.
Our plans miscarry because they have no aim. When a man does not know what harbor he is making for, no wind is the right wind.
With permission from
by Dylan Charles, Waking Times
Feb 20, 2017
What would it look like if our culture died out, as it was dying out, somewhere between coherency and harmony and the end point of chaos and dissolution?
Would it perhaps resemble the divisive, vitriolic, excessively controlling, self-destructive world we live in today?
Often pondering the future, contemporary sage Terence McKenna spoke on this matter in many of his talks and writings, frequently chastising culture as a supplanted psychic operating system which dooms us by failing to incorporate the novel and chaotic elements of the human experience.
“This is something, culture is not your friend. Culture is for other people’s convenience and the convenience of various institutions, churches, companies, tax collection schemes, what have you. It is not your friend. It insults you. It disempowers you. It uses and abuses you. None of us are well treated by culture.” ~ Terence McKenna
Elaborating on the future and the stultifying effects of culture, McKenna sat down with Ralph Abraham and Rupert Sheldrake in a talk at Esalen in 1992.
Some 25 years ago, his remarks at this conference are particularly prescient and ironic against today’s backdrop of social insanity.
“As we approach the millennium its going to be increasingly important to, if not control, certainly regulate and monitor the irrational element among us. Which is a curious concept because largely we are the irrational element.” ~ McKenna
His premise is that Western culture will ultimately obliterate itself for lack of meaningful change and for failure to adequately react to the problems we face as we create them.
As he points out, the 20th century produced almost zero new meaningful social philosophies to adapt to the changes brought about in our world by the industrial and technological revolutions, thus limiting our vision of the future, hindering our evolution, and aiding in societal entropy.
“It’s the disgrace of 20th century social philosophy that the only two innovative social ideas the 20th century can claim as its own are Freudian psychoanalysis… and fascism. These are the two authentic ideological contributions of the 20th century.” ~ McKenna
As scholar Joseph Campbell is famous for affirming, myth, symbol, and story, beyond language, are the universal communicative tools of the human psyche, a realization which helps to understand the development of the individual and of the collective.
The images and symbols on which we are focused, whether consciously or subconsciously, are the foundation of whatever future we construct, be it a livable future or otherwise.
McKenna understood that the guiding images and symbolism of today have been regressive for far too long, indicating the historically inevitable descent towards ruin.
At present, the music, entertainment and propaganda industries are rife with images of violence and spiritual annihilation.
Our institutions, even our currencies, are polluted with the dark symbolism of the occult, and zooming out a bit, our collective conscience is fixated on images of domination, destruction and death, which drive even our technological evolution.
“What we’re really caught in is a clash of values, where the traditionalist side is getting an unhealthy handicap because of calendrical coincidence. Just being born or living through the clothes of the second millennium poses all kinds of problems for societies that are trying to preserve humanist social values.
“For centuries now, we’ve been focused on symbols of destruction, guided by symbols that look only to the past, not to the future, therefore our psychic awareness is antiquated and incapable of adaptation.” ~ McKenna
But who among us is capable of renewing our vision, when the highest social institutions of our day are so obviously and backwardly misguided and corrupt?
“I think the recent election in England, and the election we’re enduring here prove that we cannot expect to hear any kind of meaningful reformist rhetoric from politicians and have there be any hope of it actually being winning at the polls. So that leaves dissidents like ourselves to try and offer something other than, you know, UFO rescue or utter despair as the two poles of the political dialogue.” ~ McKenna, 1992
The answer is the individual. It is you.
In the absence of meaningful leadership, and in the presence of mutually assured destruction, we are free to engage in individualism as the last stand against the rise of a technocratic control matrix.
In this light, the demise of the present culture is our greatest opportunity to incorporate everything the human race has thus far learned and achieved on planet earth, and to employ it in the creation of something extraordinarily more livable than we have now.
“We have to create culture, don’t watch TV, don’t read magazines, don’t even listen to NPR. Create your own roadshow.” ~ Terence McKenna
About the author: Dylan Charles is a student and teacher of Shaolin Kung Fu, Tai Chi and Qi Gong, a practitioner of Yoga and Taoist arts, and an activist and idealist passionately engaged in the struggle for a more sustainable and just world for future generations. He is the editor of WakingTimes.com, the proprietor of OffgridOutpost.com, a grateful father and a man who seeks to enlighten others with the power of inspiring information and action. He may be contacted at email@example.com.
Pic above taken from my eternal ex entity’s condo overlooking Victoria
Man, Trump here, Putin there, China wants a piece of the action, everybody lies, nothing new under the Sun, just like in ancient Rome. As it’s been said, history will repeat itself ad nauseum. Ya, we are all going to die. Soon.
I am sitting here in Victoria, BC, Canada, enjoying a snow blanket over my city. It’s gorgeous. As I am kind of snowed in with about 4 inches of snow ( 250,000 centimeters), the decision was made to practice my guitar skills because my old friend James wants to jam and play in a few days. He also has a label company with 16 acts or so. So the pressure is on. Of course, my album will go to the top and make my friend James a millionaire.
That being said, I must go back to the roots. The Gypsy Kings “Djobi Djoba” song is awesome. It inspires me to play again.
So far, I’ve got “Rebel” by Bowie, “Passengers” by Iggy Pop, and I am now contemplating trying the Jimmy Page again. I don’t understand how he does it. He’s either a guitar genius or an alien. My guess goes towards the alien theory. No human can do what Jimmy does.
Anyway, I Thought I’d make this blog more personal by including nonsense like this.
(By the way, do you know why it gets harder as you get older? It doesn’t. It’s not true. It gets easier as you get older. In yer head anyway. We still have to figure out how to keep the body keeping up with the mind. But I digress.)
Oh, after Jimmy, I will try Angus from AC/DC. His guitar work is something else.
Hope all you fellow humans are surviving the battle and winning!
Yup, I’ve got this one. Who wants to be in my band?
By the way, do you realize how difficult it is to be creative in the world we live in today?
With permission from Lasha Darkmoon
Feb 3, 2017
Based on an original article (see here) by Timothy Matthews.
Abbreviated and adapted with additional material by Lasha Darkmoon.
Let’s begin by considering the corrosive work of the Frankfurt School: a group of German-American scholars, mostly Jewish, who developed highly provocative and original perspectives on contemporary society and culture, drawing on Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, Freud, and Weber.
Their idea of a “cultural revolution” was not particularly new. Joseph, Comte de Maistre (1753-1821), who for fifteen years had been a Freemason, had this to say: “Until now, nations were killed by conquest, that is by invasion. But here an important question arises: can a nation not die on its own soil, without resettlement or invasion, by allowing the flies of decomposition to corrupt to the very core those original and constituent principles which make it what it is?”
What was the Frankfurt School?
Well, in the days following the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, it was believed that a Workers’ Revolution would sweep into Europe and, eventually, into the United States. It failed to do so. Towards the end of 1922, the Communist International (Comintern) began to consider the reasons for this failure.
On Lenin’s initiative, a meeting was organized at the Marx-Engels Institute in Moscow. The aim of the meeting was to throw light on the meaning of Marx’s Cultural Revolution. What did “cultural revolution” entail? What was it all about?
First, among those present, was Georg Lukács, a Jewish Hungarian aristocrat and son of a banker. He had become a Communist during World War I. A good Marxist theoretician, he had developed the idea of “Revolution and Eros” — sexual instinct used as an instrument of destruction.
Then there was Willi Münzenberg, another revolutionary Jew whose proposed solution to the problems besetting society was “to organize the intellectuals and use them to make Western civilization stink. Only then, after they have corrupted all its values and made life impossible, can we impose the dictatorship of the proletariat.”
“It was”, said Ralph de Toledano (1916-2007), the conservative author and co-founder of the National Review, “a meeting more harmful to Western civilization than the Bolshevik Revolution itself.”
Lenin died in 1924, but by that time Stalin had risen to power and was beginning to look on Willi Munzenberg, George Lukács and other Jewish revolutionaries (like Trotsky) as dangerous Marxist “revisionists”, introducing concepts into Marxism that were alien to Marxism and which served only a Jewish agenda.
In June 1940, on Stalin’s orders, Münzenberg was hunted down to the south of France by a NKVD assassination squad and hanged from a tree.
In the summer of 1924, after being attacked for his writings by the Fifth Comintern Congress, Lukács moved to Germany. Here he chaired the first meeting of a group of Communist oriented sociologists. This gathering was to lead to the foundation of the Frankfurt School.
This “School”, designed to put flesh on their revolutionary program, was started at the University of Frankfurt in the Institut für Sozialforschung. To begin with, school and institute were indistinguishable. In 1923, the Institute had been officially established, and funded by Felix Weil (1898-1975). Weil, born in Argentina into a wealthy Jewish family, was sent to attend school in Germany at the age of nine. He attended the universities in Tübingen and Frankfurt, where he graduated with a doctoral degree in political science. While at these universities he became increasingly interested in socialism and Marxism.
Carl Grünberg, the Institute’s Jewish director from 1923-1929, was an avowed Marxist, although the Institute did not have any official party affiliations. But in 1930 Max Horkheimer (also Jewish) assumed control. He believed that Marx’s theory should be the basis of the Institute’s research.
When Hitler came to power, the Institute was closed and its members, by various routes, fled to the United States and ended up as academics at major US universities: Columbia, Princeton, Brandeis, and California at Berkeley.
LD: The fact that they spoke very poor English was no disqualification. They were Jewish, and so they managed to obtain prestigious academic appointments through Jewish influence, i.e., through networking — a system that works exceptionally well even today and which accounts for the huge and unfair preponderance of Jews in academia.
The School included among its members the 1960s guru of the New Left Herbert Marcuse — denounced by Pope Paul VI for his theory of liberation which “opens the way for [sexual] licence cloaked as liberty” — Max Horkheimer, Theodor Adorno, the popular writer Erich Fromm, Leo Lowenthal, and Jurgen Habermas. All these individuals except Habermas were of Jewish origin.
Basically, the Frankfurt School believed that as long as an individual had the belief — or even the hope of belief — that his divine gift of reason could solve the problems facing society, then that society would never reach the state of hopelessness and alienation that they considered necessary to provoke a socialist revolution.
Their task, therefore, was as swiftly as possible to undermine the “Judaeo-Christian legacy.”
LD: “Judeo-Christian” is an oxymoron, a contradiction in terms, given that Judaism and Christianity are at opposite ends of the religious spectrum. Since most Jews are actively hostile to Christianity, and since Talmudic Jews actually take pleasure in the thought of Christ being boiled in excrement in hell, to speak of the “Judeo-Christian legacy” is clearly nonsensical.
To undermine Western civilization, the Frankfurt School Jews called for the most negative and destructive criticism possible of every sphere of life. To de-stabilize society and bring it to its knees, to engineer collapse, to produce crisis and catastrophe — this became the aim of these maladjusted and mentally sick Jewish revolutionaries masquerading as high-powered intellectuals.
Their policies, they hoped, would spread like a virus — “continuing the work of the Western Marxists by other means”, as one of their members noted.
To further the advance of their “quiet” cultural revolution, the Frankfurt School made the following twelve recommendations — all of them calculated to undermine the foundations of society and create the dystopia we now see all around us:
1. The creation of racism offences and hate speech laws.
2. Continual change to create confusion (e,g., in school curricula).
3. Masturbation propaganda in schools, combined with the homosexualization of children and their corruption by exposing them to child porn in the classroom.
4. The systematic undermining of parental and teachers’ authority.
5. Huge immigration to destroy national identity and foment future race wars.
6. The systematic promotion of excessive drinking and recreational drugs.
7. The systematic promotion of sexual deviance in society.
8. An unreliable legal system with bias against the victims of crime.
9. Dependency on state benefits.
10. Control and dumbing down of media. (Six Jewish companies now control 96 percent of the world’s media. LD).
11. Encouraging the breakdown of the family.
12. All all-out attack on Christianity and the emptying of churches.
LD: In the Soviet Union, under Stalin and his Communist Jews, the emptying of churches was accomplished by the simple expedient of burning the churches down—thousands of them.
(See here, here, here, here and here for more details on the systematic destruction of Christian churches and the persecution of Russian Christians under the Jewish leaders of the Russian Revolution. See also extended endnote.)
Coincidentally, most of the 12 aims and objectives mentioned above were set out prominently in the pages of that alleged “forgery”, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. The Jewish philosophers of the Frankfurt School, it seems, had been heavily influenced by the Protocols. They were clearly impressed by what they read there and decided to implement its recommendations in their own sinister agenda.
One of the main ideas of the Frankfurt School was to exploit Freud’s idea of “pansexualism”: the search for indiscriminate sexual pleasure, the promotion of “unisex”, the blurring of distinctions between the sexes, the overthrowing of traditional relationships between men and women, and, finally, the undermining of heterosexuality at the expense of homosexuality — as, for example, in the idea of “same-sex marriage” and the adoption of children by homosexual couples.
Willi Münzenberg summed up the Frankfurt School’s long-term operation thus: “We will make the West so corrupt that it stinks.”
WILLI MUNZENBERG, JEWISH REVOLUTIONARY OF THE FRANKFURT SCHOOL
“We must organise the intellectuals and use them TO MAKE WESTERN CIVILIZATION STINK! Only then, after they have CORRUPTED ALL ITS VALUES AND MADE LIFE IMPOSSIBLE, can we impose the dictatorship of the proletariat.” (Emphasis added)
LD: According to Sean McMeekin’s The Red Millionaire: A political biography of Willi Münzenberg, Münzenberg was “the perpetrator of some of the most colossal lies of the modern age…. He helped unleash a plague of moral blindness upon the world from which we have still not recovered.”
The Frankfurt School believed there were two types of revolution: (a) Political revolution and (b) Cultural revolution. They were more concerned with cultural revolution, the demolition of the established order from within. “Modern forms of subjection are marked by mildness”, they taught. So-called “reforms” were to be made so slowly and subtly that these changes for the worse were barely perceptible. The School saw the undermining of the social order as a long-term project.
LD: The systematic erosion of Christian moral values and the promotion of sexual perversion is known as cultural Marxism. Today, thanks to the efforts of organized Jewry which controls 96 percent of the world’s media, cultural Marxism has largely triumphed and Christianity lies in ruins. To many dispassionate observers, society has now reached its rockbottom moral nadir — as Jewish Marxists such as Willi Munzenberg (see quote above) would have been only too happy to witness — had he been around today.
These iconoclasts kept their sights firmly fixed on the family, education, media, sex and popular culture. Each of these would be their target. If things did not go from bad to worse, year after year, they were not succeeding. To these revolutionary Jewish thinkers, bad was good — and worse was better.
The Destruction of the Family and the Promotion of Feminism
The School’s Critical Theory preached that the “authoritarian personality” was a product of the patriarchal family — an idea directly linked to Engels’ Origins of the Family, Private Property and the State, which promoted matriarchy.
Already Karl Marx had written, in the Communist Manifesto (1848), about the radical notion of a “community of women”. In The German Ideology (1845), he had written disparagingly about the idea of the family as the basic unit of society. This was one of the basic tenets of the Critical Theory: the need to break down the family unit.
LD: All families were essentially evil, these thinkers believed — even happy families — so they had to be destroyed. It was better if children had no parents, or did not know who their parents were. Or if they were orphans of the state. It was better if romantic love between the sexes, leading to stable long-term marriages, were destroyed in favor of short-term, unstable, promiscuous relationships. After all, the former might lead to happiness for all concerned, and that was clearly impermissible — for the whole point of the Cultural Revolution was “to create a culture of pessimism” (Lukács) and “to make life impossible for everyone.” (Münzenberg).
The Institute scholars therefore preached that “Even a partial breakdown of parental authority in the family might tend to increase the readiness of a coming generation to accept social change.”
LD: These neo-Freudian Marxist philosophers of the Frankfurt School were clearly out to create trouble: to drive a wedge between parent and child and sow division in the family. Whatever was good in human relationships simply had to be destroyed. If people didn’t have problems, then problems would have to be manufactured “to make life impossible.” (Munzenberg).
All this prepared the way for the warfare against the masculine gender promoted by Marcuse under the guise of “Women’s liberation” and by the New Left movement in the 1960s. They proposed transforming our culture into a female-dominated one.
LD: The idea that women should run society and wear the trousers, telling men what to do, had an enormous appeal to certain bossy types of women with a surplus of testosterone, particularly to butch lesbians and man-hating matriarchs. Many of these misguided females were to become evangelists for radical Feminism, some even proposing to cut themselves off from the male sex completely and live in communes of their own. Curiously enough, the number of Jewish feminists is huge—out of all proportion to their percentage in the population.
In 1933, Wilhelm Reich, an honored and adulated member of the Frankfurt School, wrote in The Mass Psychology of Fascism that matriarchy was the only genuine family type of “natural society.” He was, as such, to be an inspiration to the feminists.
LD: Reich, incidentally, a compulsive masturbator and sexual pervert, had entertained incestuous longings for his own mother and practiced bestiality with horses while still a child. (See here).
This versatile sexual deviant, now a cult figure on the left, along with the equally sex-obsessed Herbert Marcuse—popularizer of the slogan MAKE LOVE, NOT WAR—were to be godfathers of the Sexual Revolution of the 1960s as well as the patron saints of the Feminist movement.
Bertrand Russell was to join the Frankfurt School in their efforts at mass social engineering. He spilled the beans in his 1951 book, The Impact of Science on Society. He wrote:
The social psychologists of the future will have a number of classes of school children on whom they will try different methods of producing an unshakable conviction that snow is black. Various results will soon be arrived at. First, that the influence of home is obstructive. Second, that not much can be done unless indoctrination begins before the age of ten. Third, that verses set to music and repeatedly intoned are very effective. Fourth, that the opinion that snow is white must be held to show a morbid taste for eccentricity.
But I anticipate. It is for future scientists to make these maxims precise and discover exactly how much it costs per head to make children believe that snow is black, and how much less it would cost to make them believe it is dark gray.
When the technique has been perfected, every government that has been in charge of education for a generation will be able to control its subjects securely without the need of armies or policemen.
LD: The irony is unmistakable, but that is beside the point. Russell was all for turning the world upside down and ushering in Brave New World: atheism, feminism, and “sexual liberation” i.e., the green light to promiscuity, perversion, and abortion on demand.
The devaluation of values so sought after by the luminaries of the Frankfurt School has now largely been achieved through sex education and media propaganda: in particular, by the promotion of masturbation, pornography, and the systematic high pressure salesmanship of homosexuality in schools.
LD: This, then, is the secret agenda of organized Jewry as represented by the Cultural Marxists of the Frankfurt School: the destruction of traditional values, the destruction of the moral order, the destruction of the family unit, the destruction of religion, the destruction of meaning and purpose, and, finally, the destruction of happiness itself.
These are the people who now rule over us. They are in control. They create new wars with the same rapidity that a stage magician pulls rabbits from a hat. And they make sure that the people they rule over, their subject populations, are either demoralized debt slaves in insecure jobs or unemployed bums living on state benefits and a diet of junk food and sleazy junk entertainment laid on by the Jews.
Satan’s Secret Agents have been only too successful in creating a New World Order that bears a remarkable resemblance to hell.
American historian Edwin Schoonmaker writes:
Fifteen years after the Bolshevist Revolution was launched to carry out the Marxist program, the editor of the American Hebrew could write: “According to such information that the writer could secure while in Russia a few weeks ago, not one Jewish synagogue has been torn down, as have hundreds—perhaps thousands of the Greek Catholic Churches… In Moscow and other large cities one can see Christian churches in the process of destruction… the Government needs the location for a large building,” (American Hebrew, Nov. 18, 1932, p. 12) Apostate Jews, leading a revolution that was to destroy religion as the “opiate of the people” had somehow spared the synagogues of Russia.” (“Democracy and World Dominion,” 1939, p.211).
Wikipedia tells us that the Communist state after the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution was “committed to the destruction of religion”, and destroyed churches, mosques and temples — no mention of synagogues being destroyed — and that it “ridiculed, harassed and executed [Christian] religious leaders, flood[ing] the schools and media with atheistic propaganda.”
Since the Russian Revolution was essentially a Jewish revolution, with an overwhelmingly high percentage of its leaders being Jewish, one can understand why synagogues were NOT destroyed. The animosity of the Jewish leadership was directed almost exclusively toward the Christian clergy and their churches. Monks, nuns and priests were put to death in large numbers, often after being cruelly tortured in the process, their eyes gouged out and in some instances being boiled alive. (For graphic details of the systematic torture of Christians under the Bolsheviks, see here and section 7, “Fiendish tortures devised by the Jewish cheka”, here).
According to the Atlantic, September 1991, p.14, “In 1919, three-quarters of the Cheka staff in Kiev were Jews, who were careful to spare fellow Jews. (See footnote 21, here)
Russian-born Jewish writer Sonya Margolina goes so far as to call the Jewish role in supporting the Bolshevik regime the “historic sin of the Jews.” She points, for example, to the prominent role of Jews as commandants of Soviet Gulag concentration and labor camps, and the role of Jewish Communists in the systematic destruction of Russian churches. Moreover, she goes on, “The Jews of the entire world supported Soviet power, and remained silent in the face of any criticism from the opposition.”
In light of this record, Margolina offers a grim prediction:
“The exaggeratedly enthusiastic participation of the Jewish Bolsheviks in the subjugation and destruction of Russia is a sin that will be avenged. Soviet power will be equated with Jewish power, and the furious hatred against the Bolsheviks will become hatred against Jews.” (Cited here)
Perhaps every country should have a Ministry of Happiness like Bhutan:
Gross National Happiness
In the 1970s, developing countries were focused on increasing economic success to help develop prosperity. Bhutan‘s King, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, however, believed an economic approach dehumanized the development process. Wangchuck instead decided to focus on a concept that he called “Gross National Happiness”. In Bhutan, happiness was to be pursued by limiting access to foreign culture. The success of a country would be measured by its remaining citizens’ happiness.
With permission from
Jan 31, 2017
It helps prevent heart attack and stroke, staves off dementia, enables people to sleep better, have better sex and live longer. Oh, and it’s free.
SOMETHING to live for. This simple idea is at the heart of our greatest stories, driving our heroes on. It is the thread from which more complex philosophies are woven. As Nietzsche once wrote, “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how”. How A Greater Purpose In Life Protects Your Memory and Other Thinking Skills
As human beings, it is hard for us to shake the idea that our existence must have significance beyond the here and now. Life begins and ends, yes, but surely there is a greater meaning. The trouble is, these stories we tell ourselves do nothing to soften the harsh reality: as far as the universe is concerned, we are nothing but fleeting and randomly assembled collections of energy and matter. One day, we will all be dust.
One day, but not yet. Just because life is ultimately meaningless doesn’t stop us searching for meaning while we are alive. Some seek it in religion, others in a career, money, family or pure escapism. But all who find it seem to stumble across the same thing — a thing psychologists call “purpose”.
The notion of purpose in life may seem ill-defined and even unscientific. But a growing heap of research is pinning down what it is, and how it affects our lives. People with a greater sense of purpose live longer, sleep better and have better sex. Purpose cuts the risk of stroke and depression. It helps people recover from addiction or manage their glucose levels if they are diabetic. If a pharmaceutical company could bottle such a treatment, it would make billions. But you can find your own, and it’s free.
The study of how purpose influences our health largely began with Viktor Frankl, an Austrian psychiatrist who survived four Nazi concentration camps. He noticed that some of his fellow prisoners were far more likely to survive than others. “Woe to him who saw no more sense in his life, no aim, no purpose, and therefore, no point in carrying on. He was soon lost,” he later wrote. After the second world war, Frankl dedicated his work to understanding the role of purpose and developed a therapy based on his findings.
Today, researchers define purpose as a sense of direction in life — a long-term goal set around one’s core values, that makes life worth living, and shapes daily behaviour. It is a component of broader measures of subjective well-being or happiness, in which there has been a surge of interest in the past two decades. That’s why, in 2012, then United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-moon commissioned the first ever World Happiness Report, which has been updated annually since.
Measures of happiness can reflect broader social issues such as inequality, but when researchers look at the individual elements that make up well-being, they find purpose on its own has a unique influence on health.
Of course, teasing out whether it is actually purpose itself, and not the fact that purposeful people may exercise more or eat better, can be difficult. But over the past 10 years, the findings about the health benefits of purpose have been remarkably consistent — revealing that, among other advantages, alcoholics whose sense of purpose increased during treatment were less likely to resume heavy drinking six months later, that people with higher purpose were less likely to develop sleep disturbances with age, and that women with more purpose rated their sex lives as more enjoyable. These findings persist “even after statistically controlling for age, race, gender, education, income, health status and health behaviours”, says Victor Strecher, a public health researcher at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and author of the book, Life on Purpose.
In an analysis of 7000 middle-aged people in the US, even small increases in sense of purpose were associated with big drops in the chances of dying during a period of 14 years. A study of more than 9000 English people over 50 years old found that — even after adjusting for things like education, depression, smoking and exercise — those in the highest quartile of purpose had a 30 per cent lower risk of death over nearly a decade compared with those in the lowest quartile. Other studies show higher purpose cuts risk of heart disease by 27 per cent, stroke by 22 per cent and Alzheimer’s disease by half.
The only reason purpose isn’t a top public health priority, says Strecher, is because it somehow feels too vague or ephemeral. “It’s not a construct that feels scientific enough,” he says. “If this were a physical issue or a new drug or a gene, you would see lots of funding going into it.”
Some of the scepticism has to do with concerns that purpose is merely a stand-in for opportunity in life, or wealth. Indeed, in recent research, Patrick Hill, now at Washington University in St Louis, did find that people with a stronger sense of purpose tended to have more money to begin with, and earn more over the period studied.
So how does that meaning, that sense of purpose, actually improve your health? In part, it may be because greater purpose makes people more conscientious about maintaining their health. But Steven Cole at the University of California, Los Angeles, thinks there’s more to it. “If people are living longer, there’s got to be some biology underpinning that,” he says. Cole has spent years studying how negative experiences such as loneliness and stress can increase the expression of genes promoting inflammation, which can cause cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s or cancer.
In 2013, Cole examined the influence of well-being instead. He focused on two types: hedonic, from pleasure and rewards, and eudaemonic, from having a purpose beyond self-gratification. These two aspects were measured by having participants note down their well-being over the previous week, how often they felt happy (hedonic) or that their life had a sense of direction (eudaemonic), for example. Although scoring highly in one often meant scoring highly in the other and both correlated with lower levels of depression, they had opposite effects on gene expression. People with higher measures of hedonic well-being had higher expression of inflammatory genes and lower expression of genes for disease-fighting antibodies, a pattern also seen in loneliness and stress. For people scoring highest on eudaemonia, it was the opposite. “There were surprises all around,” Cole says. “The biggest surprise being that you can feel similarly happy but the biology looks so notably different.”
Cole suspects eudaemonia — with its focus on purpose — decreases the nervous system’s reaction to sudden danger that increases heart rate and breathing and surges of adrenaline. Over-activation of this stress-response system, as you see with chronic stress, causes harmful inflammation. “There may be something saying ‘be less frightened, or less worried, anxious or uncertain’,” says Cole.
Strecher says to consider what you would like to be said about you at your memorial, or to identify people you would like to emulate. He is also developing an app called Jool that he hopes can eventually serve as a kind of “purpose pill”. Users begin with an assessment, and then get encouragement and guidance as they go on. It is currently being tested by companies to help employees hone their sense of purpose — and boost productivity. His team has been following an initial group of users for over a year, and they will begin randomised studies in the coming months.
There are also more formal therapies that foster purpose and meaning in life for people with conditions such as depression. For example, Dolores Gallagher-Thompson at Stanford University in California, has found that cognitive behavioural therapy can promote meaningfulness. She encourages patients to consider their legacy and how they might provide a good example for children and grandchildren.
Purpose isn’t a fixed entity — it waxes and wanes with changes in life. Many people experience a drop in purpose following retirement, for instance, but can regain it by engaging in the community, helping others and remaining sociable. And, as Hill found, the health effects of purpose are apparent whether someone is 20 or 70. “To me, that’s evidence suggesting that whenever one finds a purpose it can still imbue benefits,” he says. In other words, it’s never too late to start seeking the meaning of life.
Nick Parkins – Is the term ‘psychopath’ even sufficient to describe those in power today?
Nick Parkins, New Dawn
“Our society is run by insane people for insane objectives. I think we’re being run by maniacs for maniacal ends and I think I’m liable to be put away as insane for expressing that. That’s what’s insane about it.” ~John Lennon (1940-1980), English singer and songwriter
Lennon and others externalise the apparent paranoia that wells up inside us. “The world has gone mad!” More often than not we partition this voice off, content to view the world as others prescribe it. But who are these others, and what do they want?
The term psychopath is often criminally misjudged, thanks largely to unhelpful portrayals of sick, twisted and violent psycho-character types in the popular media. This has led, by way of public ignorance, to the common belief that the psychopath has no function, role or place in open society. A swift offload that allows us, the apparent sane majority, to circumvent our worst fears.
Any notion that the psychopath is incapable of functioning in open society is, according to M.E. Thomas1 – a self-confessed sociopath – flawed. The question is not the capacity to function, but rather what capacity or form that function takes. As Thomas says, psychopaths and sociopaths share an intertwined clinical history; both can function, they just do so differently. And though we are left to muse on what mask that function may take, in many social situations they excel.
Jean-Baptiste de Lamarck was a French biologist who advocated a theory of evolution widely rebuked in establishment circles. Lamarck’s major work was published in the same year Charles Darwin was born – who would go on to supplant Lamarck’s theory 50 years later. In Lamarck’s world cooperation prevailed over Darwinian competition as the driving mechanism of evolution.
According to authors G. Greenberg and M.M. Haraway,2 it was Darwin’s view that served to reflect and sustain a Victorian society tied to free market, capitalist and imperial values. His model supported a dog-eat-dog, life is hard, code of practice; the scientific valediction of the natural world as played out on a brutal, cold and insensitive landscape. Arguably the perfect environment for the aspiring modern day psychopath, and a prevailing view that the poet Tennyson described as nature, red in tooth and claw.
Although diagnosing definitive psychopathy in individuals remains somewhat of a grey area, attempts have been made to categorise psychological traits that set psychopathic personalities apart. Most prominent is the diagnostic check-list devised by renowned Canadian psychologist Robert Hare that is used to determine a categorical diagnosis of clinical psychopathy, or at best a category score.
According to Hare’s list, psychopaths display superficial charm, unbridled ego, and pathological lying and cold, calculated cunning to entrance their prey. They are often impulsive and irresponsible, and exhibit an absence of empathy and remorseless lack of guilt. These and other attributes, such as criminal versatility and a marked capacity to manipulate, deceive and control, mark them out as dangerous. These are traits that enable psychopaths to move into high-ranking positions of power and influence.
“We know much less about corporate psychopathy and its implications,” explains New York psychologist Paul Babiak, “in large part because of the difficulty in obtaining the active cooperation of business organisations for our research.”3 A dilemma that Hare disclosed to Jon Ronson, author of The Psychopath Test. “Prisoners are easy,” states Hare. “They like meeting researchers. It breaks up the monotony of their day. But CEOs, politicians…”4 According to Hare, these sharks are a different kettle of fish.
A rare study on psychopathy in the workplace conducted by Babiak, Neumann and Hare5 suggests that 1 in 25, or 4 per cent, of corporate executives display significant personality traits typical of psychopathy – an incidence four times that estimated in the general population. The study supports the claim that psychopaths can and in fact do achieve high ranking corporate status. We are left to speculate, but Hare concedes Wall Street may harbour 1 in 10 attracted to lucrative watering holes that are poorly regulated. Factor this in and it’s not hard to see how the very lifeblood and identity of corporations and financial institutions can often run cold.
Arguably most startling, the study indicates that despite being classed as substandard managers, team players and attracting poor performance appraisals, executives that met the clinical threshold of psychopath were valued by their immediate superiors as creative and innovative, as good communicators and strategic thinkers.
In short, they may not always fly under the radar. Despite the blips, it is clear to American psychiatrist Hervey Cleckley7 that psychopaths possess the communication, persuasion and interpersonal skills to override any negative impacts on their career. A finding supported by the Babiak study: “some companies viewed psychopathic executives as having leadership potential, despite negative performance reviews and low ratings on leadership and management by subordinates.”8 According to the authors, this shows a proficiency to manipulate decision makers, a point made by psychologist Dennis Doren who observed in institutions the psychopath’s unerring ability to seek out and foster relationships with those of highest authority and demonstrate tremendous skill at influencing them.9
In many instances the chameleon-like ability of the psychopath to mimic its surroundings by reading and influencing colleagues through the art of deception, be it through self promotion or subtle persuasion, allows the snake charmer to hide his true skin and pass unchecked through social customs. Studies suggest psychopathy, in body or by proxy, can entrench itself at the top, but is this phenomenon relatively isolated, or has this scenario over the course of human history always prevailed?
As vice president and director of Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution, Darrell West analyses business and law school curricula, specifically, according to West “because business and law schools train the leaders of tomorrow.”10 In the course of his research West reviews course syllabi and conducts interviews with faculty members. He has also surveyed data on business and law school student perceptions. What he found was troubling.
“The social responsibility of business is to increase its profits,” states West, taking his lead from the title of a 1970 New York Times magazine article written by the highly-influential American economist and statistician, Milton Friedman. The article was unequivocal: according to Friedman, maximising shareholder value was a company’s sole responsibility.11
“Many schools do not require stand alone courses that provide broad conceptions on the purpose of the corporation in society,” says West. Of those that do, “many focus on the purpose of the corporation, with emphasis on how to maximise shareholder value, especially in law schools.”12 Instruction therefore is key, notes West, and will colour a student’s view of the world. In fact, West concludes, “business school surveys show that after completing school, students are more likely to see shareholder value as the most important goal of the corporation.”13
It was not that Friedman was a prophet. In hindsight, according to West, he helped shape the outlook of numerous business leaders, academics, and thought-leaders that ultimately served to affect America’s modern sense of purpose of the corporation. An inherent identity that helps shape the way business and law school students view their, often times, lack of responsibility to society even today.
In the real world, inevitable coldly-calculated equations play out on the one side to maximise profit and on the other to minimise loss. And like most mathematical equations they make little or no sense to the layman.
“Can you buy what you already own?” This was the equation facing all concerned when Canadian-based Nautilus Minerals Inc. purchased the licence in 2011 from the “Independent State of Papua New Guinea” (PNG) to mine deep-sea vent fields in sovereign waters off the country’s coastline. The answer, morally, of course, is no.
According to Sir Julias Chan, current Governor of New Ireland province in PNG, ethics are an intangible commodity, and unlike cold hard currency rarely stack up. “First, the state cedes exploration and production rights to foreign companies for next to nothing,” says Chan. In the case of PNG 10,000 kina, equivalent to US$4,000. “For this pittance, the foreign developer gets full control of all the wealth that can be taken from the ground.”14
“The next step is for the state to seek equity in the project, usually 30 percent in a mining project and 22.5 per cent in an oil or gas project,” explains Chan. “The state has ‘given away’ the entire resource to a foreign company, and now returns to buy what was already legally its own property, for a 30 percent interest in the project.” To PNG this meant 300 million kina, or US$118 million. “And, to do so, the state usually takes out a commercial loan rate that puts the country further into debt at high interest.”15 Today a common event whereby the state acts to castrate itself and its people to high finance.
Joel Bakan is a professor of law at the University of British Columbia, Canada. While those that run corporations are for the most part, good, moral people, says Bakan, the duty of the corporate executive is to the corporation’s business interests first and foremost. “The money they manage is not theirs,” explains Bakan. “They can no sooner use it to heal the sick… or buy a villa in Tuscany.” In the corporate world, good people are encouraged to behave badly. In fact, the sum of corporate parts are “singularly self interested and unable to feel genuine concern for others in any context. The corporation, like the psychopathic personality it resembles, is programmed to exploit others for profit.”16
Under such terms it is not difficult to envisage how a system can soon come to value and mimic its most deviant parts. Equally, how the parts over time can come to be shaped by the whole.
According to philosopher and author Aaron James, while the psychopath feigns moral action as a tool to manipulate others, the arsehole could well be a butt of equal contention. Unlike the prototypical psychopath, says James, the arsehole “traffics in and is moved by moral justification,” which leads to an “entrenched sense of special entitlement.”17
The perfect example, according to James, is Apple founder Steve Jobs who saw his sole obligation to society as implicitly tied to producing the products his consumers desired. James notes what Jobs’s best friend, Jony Ive, once told Business Insider: “when he’s frustrated… his way to achieve catharsis is to hurt somebody. And I think he feels he has a liberty and license to do that,” said Ive. “The normal rules of social engagement, he feels, don’t apply to him.”18
Worryingly, James says, “the arsehole’s reasoning is shaped by the moral justification his surrounding culture makes available to him.”19 For instance, according to Hare, many white-collar criminals are psychopaths. “They flourish because the characteristics that define the disorder are actually valued,” asserts Hare. “When they get caught, what happens? A slap on the wrist, a six-month ban from trading, [oh] and don’t give us the $100 million back.”20
Accordingly, not only does corporate culture control net arsehole production, but the quality of butt-heads produced. And, depending on the culture, says James, “an arsehole can be better or worse behaved than a psychopath.”21 A consoling thought.
Arguably it is no more comforting to know that the psychopath you had fingered all along is really an arsehole nurtured by a system that is, by way of inherent nature, socially deviant. If the reasoning of a typical arsehole is moved by moral justification, taken from his surrounding environment, then the ability of a psychopathic culture and/or system to shape its own governing class is implied.
The enduring strength of psychopathy lies in its ability to manipulate how others perceive it. But the innate ability of the psychopath or the system to shape our perceptions is not, in itself, entirely the reserve of the clinical psychopath.
We all play our part in the masquerade. Many of us partake in cosmetic enhancements and props that support our ego’s waltz through this porcelain world. Whatever the score, the Hare check-list has a number picked out for us all. In its pursuit of ultimate control, this is the greatest achievement of psychopathy; after all, what better way to predict by response a person or group, than to give them your mind?
The competitor’s urge to win at all cost is certainly pervasive. So, too, the trend of irresponsibility, most evident in the compensation culture that has crept into the social mindset, thanks to laws that restrict a person’s capacity to develop by way of ethics and moral concepts of right and wrong. How can you take responsibility for thoughts and concepts that are not your own? In the broad, rules and regulations teach us to hand over our power, a transaction that re-enforces itself in society according to Thomas. She says that given the choice between having power and giving it up to a ‘trusted’ entity, people often choose to give it up rather than take the responsibility that comes with it.22
In its apparent, endless quest to reinvent society in its own image, psychopathy perhaps has more than one expression. Recent research into social media habits throws up disturbing correlations between heavy Facebook use and socially aggressive narcissism. In one study users that scored highly on a Narcissistic Personality Inventory questionnaire, reports Damien Pearse, “had more friends on Facebook, tagged themselves more often and updated their news-feeds more regularly.” The research, the report states, “comes amid mounting evidence that young people are becoming increasingly narcissistic, and obsessed with self-image and shallow friendships.”23
In the same breath the media have ‘jokingly’ jumped on those abstaining from Facebook as highly suspicious and suspect – they could have something to hide. Facebook use is, of course, prevalent and ‘normal’.
An infinite number of media streams exist that entice us to see our reflection, drawing us into powerful undercurrents, and buffeting us from one bank to the next. We surface only to take breath, disorientated and confused, disconnected from our natural cues. But perhaps that’s the idea. Certainly it is the innate need to control and the power to wield it, at whatever cost, and without care, that fractures the pathological mind from the rest of us.
“Those who rise to power in the corporatocracy, are control freaks, addicted to the buzz of power over other human beings.” ~Bruce Levine, social critic & psychologist
In a competitive world there will always be those who actively seek out, justify or embrace traits of psychopathy as a route to success. For a surgeon, a cold detachment and cool head has its place. But glorifying the psychopath is a perilous path to tread. According to psychologist Linda Mealey, competition only serves to increase the use of antisocial and Machiavellian strategies and counteracts any increase in pro-social behaviour after success.
Spiralling societal separation, and re-enforcing detachment, sets a dangerous precedent, what James refers to as a sense of “entitlement born of cosmic grandiosity.”24 He cites oil baron John D. Rockefeller who viewed his wealth not in some Wild West American capitalist context that gave him free rein, but unapologetically, by divine right: “God gave me my money,”25 said Rockefeller.
This sense of divine entitlement, being chosen, as apart from society, has deeply disturbing parallels to contemporary wealth.
Jeff Greene is a multi-billionaire property investor and entrepreneur, and owns reportedly America’s most expensive home. Greene, who made his fortune betting on sub-prime mortgages, says Americans need to have “less things”: “America’s lifestyle expectations are far too high and need to be adjusted, so we have less things and a smaller, better existence,” lectured the 60-year old, who lets out the $195 million palatial estate in Beverly Hills to royal families and international dignitaries for hundreds of thousands of dollars a month.26
At its heart, assuming it had one, departments within the system, be they political, corporate or financial, select by lineage this mind; one willing to create, support and maintain it. “Figures such as J.P. Morgan, Randolph Hearst, and Mayer Rothschild,” argues author Stefan Verstappen, “are professional psychopaths that reach the pinnacle of the financial stage where they cause no less misery and destruction as their political counterparts.”27
As a result, examples of psychopathic conduct in high office are commonplace. Robert Kirkconnell is a decorated US Air Force combat veteran of 27 years, and an outspoken critic of the US government MK-ULTRA program that conducted a battery of callous psychological or ‘mind control’ tests on its own citizens. In American Heart of Darkness, Kirkconnell charges the presidential Rockefeller Commission, set up to investigate the CIA’s activities, which he says funded the program. Kirkconnell no longer sees his home as a constitutional republic, but as a pathocracy run by psychopaths.
“I had to win at all costs, sometimes allowing the costs to flow unchecked, just to see the volume of my power.” ~M.E. Thomas
“Power is all I have ever really cared about in my life,” states Thomas. “Physical power, the power of being desired or admired, destructive power, knowledge, invisible influence. I like people enough that I want to touch them, mould them, ruin them,” says Thomas. “I want to exercise my power.”28 It’s nothing personal. It’s dietary. The idea of ruining people, she says, is simply delicious.
Thomas is not unique. The psychopath invariably plays with its food. In the process actively seeking to visit misfortune or suffering on others. Thomas regards herself as a white tiger – a beautiful and exotic pet but inherently dangerous. And whilst in her own words she considers herself tamed, inside she continues to grapple with a primal urge to destroy.
This mindset is not lost on society. In fact, it is a worldview captured succinctly in Michael Ellner’s personal state of the world address: “Just look at us,” he asks. “Everything is backwards, everything is upside down. Doctors destroy health, lawyers destroy justice, psychiatrists destroy minds, scientists destroy truth, major media destroys information, religions destroy spirituality and governments destroy freedom.” You can see his point. But to what extent does this world talked of by Ellner stem solely from blind pursuit of power and profit?
Is there a hidden systemic malevolence that creates fear and uncertainty; the chaos to warrant this chase? Is the malevolent mist, that evil intent we ascribe to heinous acts and misdeeds, illusory, an epiphenomena, a by-product of the psychopath brain? Or is it real, autonomous, and guiding the program? And does this distinction matter? Does it help us interpret, say, the rise in chronic illness, its origins and how the healing profession has become, as critics claim, a public relations buzz-term; managing symptoms for profit?
The world of Kirkconnell swings into focus. Are we all victims of systemic programming; of disorientation; an imbalance the predator incites in us to maintain and enforce its position and status?
Like a god, so much of what psychopathy is and does hides in plain sight. The psychopath appeals to its prey’s sense of empathy and faith in humanity. He is the blank slate onto which people project their hopes and ideals.
This realisation must dawn if we are to expose systemic psychopathy and confront wildly sinister possibilities, not least the darker identities and underlying motives upon which it is based.
Darwin Dorr is the director of research into psychopathology at Wichita State University, Kansas. “The majority of paedophiles are psychopathic,” says Dorr, “or at least manifest to a significant degree the psychological characteristics of psychopathy.”29
Such ties that bind power to its perversions are historic, endemic and persist to this day. Investigations surrounding an elite Sydney paedophile ring are only the tip of a cold and callous iceberg that threatens to sink a titanic raft of untruths. In the UK, the reputation of once respected DJ, television presenter, and establishment confidante, Jimmy Savile, sank when his penchant for children, dead bodies, and satanic rituals and foreplay was disclosed to a shocked population.
Questions are now being asked outside UK Home Office circles and its curious taste for celebrity trash cans. All of a sudden the term psychopath seems no longer sufficient. Are such people, the system they represent, and the entities they mimic and worship, beyond a check-list? Certainly UK and wider establishment attempts to stymie the truth only serve to disclose further the covert means and amoral control by which psychopathy operates as an integral part of the system.
Nick Parkins has a master’s degree in philosophy of the mind and likes to live outside the box. To read his work, or if you have a strange or unexplained experience you would like him to cover visit www.nickparkins.co.uk.
The above article appeared in New Dawn 152 (Sept-Oct 2015).
Self-determination, freedom of thought, choice of risk arguably have freed society, but then there’s inequality, ill-health and narcissism.
“Our choices are free only if our thought is free, and our thought is free only if it is properly informed.”
Senior Lecturer in Philosophy, University of Central Lancashire
Jan 19, 2017
In the early 21st century, Western-style freedoms are often presented as an ideal template for the rest of the world. Yet supposedly free democracies are also marked by substantial and growing disparities of wealth, power and status. Fellow citizens seem to be increasingly socially-disengaged, individualistic and narcissistic, and suffer record levels of psychological ill-health, reflected in (among other things) high suicide rates. So is this vaunted freedom simply an illusion?
Many would argue that the gross inequalities characteristic of Western societies compromise its freedom. Upbringing, education and family background still dramatically affect the opportunities available to citizens, and it may seem that the underprivileged are inevitably less free. But tempting though it may be to equate freedom with opportunity, and desirable though equality of opportunity may be as a general political goal, freedom and opportunity are not the same.
My freedom is not measured by the breadth of the options available to me, but by how I am equipped to choose between those options: am I in reality the author of my own choices? Hence Sartre’s initially paradoxical-sounding remark: “Never were we freer than under the German occupation.” Liberté and égalité are both worth fighting for, but they are not the same.
Philosophers have long questioned whether freedom, thus understood, is even possible. Human acts are events in the physical world and all such events are held to have determining physical causes. Every natural event follows from other precursor events, such that if the precursors occur the event must follow. Modern physicists have complicated this debate by arguing that nature is ruled by chance rather than causal necessity. But neither the advocates of chance nor the advocates of necessity have so far succeeded in persuading us that we are not really the authors of our own actions.
In recent decades, philosophers have sidestepped these somewhat sterile debates by asking a more subtle question: freedom is something we say we want, but what sort of freedom would be worth wanting?
Take freedom of movement for instance. Whether or not I might end up living in another country is of relatively little interest to me if that outcome can only come about through some deterministic (or alternatively random) process that I am powerless to influence. The freedom I want is the freedom to make my own thought-through decisions about where I live; and these decisions must make sense from my own particular standpoint. To generalise, then, the type of freedom worth wanting appears to be self-determination or “autonomy”.
Construing freedom as autonomy seems to chime with the way we understand our freedoms in practice. I am free to give money to charity, or withhold it, in line with what I consider to be important. My list of favoured charities may have nothing in common with yours, but neither of us gives or withholds our contributions randomly. Equally, I am free to engage in extreme sports, to drink alcohol and smoke cigarettes, despite the serious attendant risks and the possible disapproval of others, if doing so makes sense from my standpoint.
The philosopher who provided the main theoretical foundations for modern liberalism – John Stuart Mill – famously argued in On Liberty (1859) that it is the mark of a civilised society that it only seeks to actively curtail the options available to people where taking up those options would risk significant harm to others. Are societies that succeed, as far as possible, in abiding by Mill’s principle, consequently free?
There is an important further factor we need to consider. As Mill recognised, the “liberty of thought and discussion” has a vital role to play in any free society. If my freedom consists of being able to select those options that make most sense from my standpoint, I will be free only insofar as my choices are properly informed.
Mill championed freedom of speech on the basis that the airing of unpopular and controversial views will ultimately enhance freedom. He reasoned that the critical public discussion that follows will lead us all closer to the truth and equip us to make better-informed choices. Here Mill seems to have been dangerously overoptimistic.
In this era of “post-truth” – and more recently the proliferation of “fake news” – reliable information on the issues that matter most (for example, climate change) seems harder and harder to come by. Many of our most important choices seem to be made on the basis of more or less deliberate misinformation.
Bizarrely, such misinformed choices are sometimes themselves defended in the name of freedom. But there is a world of difference between a well-informed choice that we happen not to agree with and a choice that is significantly misinformed. I may (conceivably) respect your choice to smoke 40 cigarettes and drink a bottle of whisky every day if I am persuaded that you understand the risks involved, but I cannot respect your choice if I know that you have been seriously misinformed about those risks.
Our choices are free only if our thought is free, and our thought is free only if it is properly informed.
Freedom of thought does not, it seems, arise naturally from freedom of discussion. The idea that it does may stem from confusing the freedom of thought (which consists in making good sense of the world) with freedom of speech (which seems to be interpreted as an entitlement to say whatever we want, within the limits of legality, however misleading it may be).
We cannot properly assess the quality of our freedom until we have established whether and to what extent the choices we make are based on adequate understanding. Perhaps, then, the roots of the apparent two-facedness of Western-style freedoms lie in this: that while the majority of people in those societies have access to a wider range of choices than their grandparents could have imagined, this development has been accompanied by a growing disregard for individual and collective abilities to properly understand those choices and their broader context.