History is a funny thing. The more I live through the more out of touch with history I have become. There was a time when a first person account of a historical event was deemed primary evidence when assessing both the event itself and the implications that followed from the event. Now eye-witness accounts are treated as 'anecdotal evidence' as if they were some story I made up about what happened even though it happened in front of my eyes and to me. Unless they mesh with the received wisdom or support a political expediency in the present time, which they never seem to do, then the events of my life are cast aside like the world I speak of never existed. Like I never existed. I have become an Orwellian non-person and have been written out of the history of my own life.

Sometimes I want to echo the pathetic cry of Joseph Merrick: "I am a human being!"

When I insist "That's not what happened, I was there, I lived through it" I am met with blank stares "like cows at a passing train."

It is the oddest feeling to be told that I am incompetent to comprehend and assess the events of my own life. I'm sixty-two years old. I have been a part of every political, social and religious movement of the last half of the 20th Century. And, as I would like my epitaph someday to read, "I tried to pay attention."

I have studied furiously in the last thirty years, much harder than I ever did in university and with no credits toward a degree in anything. I studied because I wanted to know the truth.

The truth. There's another word that has lost all meaning. When I dare say there are true and false beliefs about anything, or worst of all declare there is truth and there are lies made up by evil men with evil motivations. When I extend the Biblical line: "The truth will set you free..." adding "...and anyone not telling the truth is trying to keep people in slavery" I might as well be speaking in Latin for all the comprehension in the faces of the people I'm talking to.

I don't give a good Goddamn for all the hard scientists out there who want to hedge their bets by calling truth such wishy-washy names as 'theory' or 'consensus' or 'probability.' That's great for building a career in a university, but it is an act of moral cowardice nonetheless. If you don't believe in what you are asking others to believe enough to call it the truth, then you are half a man and the half that's left isn't worth the gunpowder it would take to blow it up!

I have been fighting tooth and nail for over thirty years now only to see the United States slip further and further into the abyss. I have watched in awe and terror as this country has reached the state where fully half of our citizens are about to vote for the Libertarian/Fundamentalist bloc who openly declare their hatred for democracy. I cannot for the very life of me understand how people are willing to vote to have their own power to vote taken away from them. I cannot understand how their are people who claim to Libertarians and Atheists at the same time.

Is it that they simply don't know their own history? I do. I lived through their history, was a part of it, just like I was a part of Christianity as Fundamentalist mandated political platforms as a necessary part of what it means to be Christian.

I reject both Socialism and Libertarianism and for the same reason: they are both 'isms.' That is to say, they are forms of government based not on the will of and with the permission of the governed but rather are based on ideology. All ideologically based forms of government are dictatorships. They have to be. In order to gain power and survive they have to take away the right of the people to choose their own government. The first thing once they are voted into power is to take away the power to vote from the people.

The only form of government that allows the people governed to change their form of government is a Democracy. Libertarianism wants to tie themselves in with Republicanism just as they want to tie their economics to Capitalism hoping that no one will notice they are neither until it is too late.

Barry Goldwater was the last Republican just as William F. Buckley was the last true Conservative. And they both detested and disavowed Libertarianism as a radical, anarchist born of the Sixties complete with Vietnam war protests, draft-card burning and a platform that consisted of legalizing all drugs on the theory that each man...not woman, they are die hard patriarchal misogynists just like the Mormon front man they are running for president...has the right to put whatever he wants into his body no matter how much damage he does to his family and society.

Most importantly, Libertarianism is Utopian. Their core beliefs have never been tried on a national scale or even on a communal level with success. They want, in spite of the Globalization of the World Economy, to pull us backwards into economic and political isolationism. They want to disband and disarm the federal government turning over all the powers of a legitimately elected government to what they call 'private enterprise.' Think about Zimmerman. Where has he gone in this election? Think about the disbanding of all Federal law enforcement agencies. Think about turning over the state police departments to 'contractors' and the local police to armed Neighborhood Watch groups. Does anyone want to live in such a country? Yet we have Blue State Liberals, of all people, who would be willing to allow the Red States to secede from the Union and undue the work Abraham Lincoln and hundreds of thousands of young me died to preserve. But the Red States don't want to secede, isn't that an historical flip-flop? They want the whole country. Libertarians have openly stated that they want people from both sides of the political aisle to join them. They want and intend to create a nation where there is only one party and that is theirs.

Libertarianism is the policy of the worst of the radical underground right groups, groups that have swollen in numbers during the Bush and the Obama administrations. Obama because he's black and rallied all the racists in the country to unite. Bush because his oxymoron-ically named War On Terror didn't happen to include the terrorists groups in the US like the Posse Commitatus...who were actually given legitimacy by the state of Arizona when they hired them as mercenaries to patrol their borders and enforce their immigration laws... and the militant militia movement whose supreme accomplishment was the Oklahoma City bombing. Ask yourself why in the middle of an alleged War On Terror these groups were given a free pass like the John Birch Society was given by the FBI in the Sixties? More to the point, why did the Supreme Court in this country turn over the plum the NRA backed terrorist groups had been begging for, the radical reinterpretation of the Right to Bear Arms to mean people had a right to stockpile private arsenals to be used, by their own admission, if the Democratically elected government of the US dared to pass much needed gun control laws?

No matter which man wins this election, Obama or Romney, it is the United States that will lose. If Obama wins he will only be kept from doing anything for another four years while the Libertarian/Fundamentalist bloc becomes even stronger and deeper entrenched. If Romney wins then the push for an ideologically based dictatorship will now have the White House as well as the Supreme Court and both Houses of Congress behind their movement.

I'm tired. I've lived too long and, frankly my dear, I don't give a damn any longer. I want to get myself and my family out of this country and back into the Free World again.

If I'd only had the foresight in the Sixties to ask everybody who told me to "Love it or Leave It" for a dollar I'd be rich enough to get out by now.

Anybody up for starting an Atheist Refugee Society?

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Comment by Philip Jarrett on November 4, 2012 at 12:08am

Comment by TNT666 on November 3, 2012 at 11:11pm

I came here with good intent, and all you doll back is insult.  If you are uninterested in conversation, then why on earth did you send us all emails??? If your only interest is to have a monologue... then please don't email us.  Thank you.

Comment by Philip Jarrett on November 3, 2012 at 11:00pm

I wish I remember where I read it, perhaps Steven Cave's Immortality...a philosophical meditation on the subject.  The quote was "There are people who want to live forever but can't think of anything to do on a rainy Sunday afternoon."

When I came out of the dark days of my Charismatic involvement I began to speak about my experiences.  I set up an delivered a two day seminar explaining first what I lived through and second what I had found to be true as a result.  In the days leading up to the seminar I received a call from a Pentecostal minister.  He proposed a debate format in which I defended by beliefs and he defended Charismaticism.  This was the mid-Eighties, so I responded:  "You have entire television networks and millions of dollars promoting your religion.  I think you can afford to let me have one little seminar."

I think I made myself perfectly clear in my post how I feel about the comments you have made.  You want to debate or have a discussion on these subjects, go ahead.

Why is it that people who want to say how bad democracy is defend their beliefs by quoting examples in which democracy has failed and led to bad things?

"As for living too long, it is the most true statement you've made, unknowingly maybe?"

No, it is you who haven't lived long enough.

I am not defending eye witness testimony in a court of law. I am defending the use of eye witness testimony in the writing of history. If I were offering testimony in support of what you believed in then you wouldn't feel the need to make cheap shots.

I am distributing this on a mailing list for people who have experience. Personal experience, since that is the only experience that matters. I write blog posts because I do not have time nor inclination for this sort of nonsensical exchange.

My purpose is to write my own experiences and what I have learned from them. If you do not find them of value, fine enough, ignore me.

Comment by TNT666 on November 3, 2012 at 1:04pm

As for living too long, it is the most true statement you've made, unknowingly maybe? As a biologist, I'll let you into a little science that most humans chose to ignore... in nature, animals do not normally go through menopause, life is usually finished by then. But Homo sapiens is a species obsessed with naval gazing tend to think that we are oh so important, so important in fact that "we simply must do everything in our power to live longer". But what is living longer? For most people it is simply dying longer. More years "in retirement", more years in seniors' homes, more years in hospital beds, more years watching all friends and family die. So yes, we live way too long, and it in no way makes humanity happier, living so long has huge social costs. Youth feel like they don't mean anything, people become parents when they are too old and grumpy to play and give quality time to their kids, the job market doest not want people out of any level of school, the job market wants people with "experience"... as long as they're not over 35!!!! We live in a ridiculous society, one that was shaped by religious insanity, religious morals, religious customs. As atheists, we need to shake the tree entirely, otherwise we're just as useless as the religious themselves.

Comment by TNT666 on November 3, 2012 at 12:56pm

Dear Philip, I found this to be an interesting read, there are parts that I agree with and parts that I disagree with. But a blog comment board is not very functional for a conversation. So I'd invite you to post this somewhere on the forum where we can discuss the many points you raise.

I've lived on large continents, and on small islands, in the south, in the north, in large cities and small communities, in three different linguistic contexts. Through this life experience I have come to the realisation that democracy is about the worst system ever invented. It's simply a way for those who've ALWAYS had power in the first place, to camouflage their power in the guise of "people's will". I do however believe in toppling power as often as possible through revolution.Those rotten apples are ruining the barrel and better to cull them than leave them in power.

As for "I was there I know", call me a naturally critical mind, but Homo sapiens perception is about the worst in the entire animal kingdom. It is perception that gave the world false gods, it is perception that emprisons innocent people. Our perception is much more about ego than truth. I trust the perception of maybe one human in my life, a naturalist living in Ontario, who's spent over 60 years counting, observing and collecting the nature around him, and to an extent across Canada. I am quite glad that the justice system is getting out of the business of human perception, it was a very faulty basis to establish guilt upon. I much prefer immediate justice. If ever someone attempts to rape/maim/kill me, their life will be in game, immediately, on the spot. I would never trust the justice system. IMO the justice system serves power, not the people.

Comment by Philip Jarrett on October 30, 2012 at 9:05pm

I appreciate your comments, Archie and Kalliope.  

I am reminded of a tag line for a DVD I saw recently...didn't see the DVD, just the cover.  It read:

"Truth is not what you know.  Truth is what you believe."

It was such a perfect example of the low status truth has fallen to in these times.  Truth can be known, but only incrementally.  Each piece of truth we find must mesh with all the other pieces like a jigsaw puzzle and each union of several pieces of truth will leave an empty space that guides you to where to look for the next piece.  We grow truth, we don't discover it.

I love the idea of consensus reality.  It is a descriptive of our society, our culture.  The received wisdom.  It is a powerful force.  It is the stuff that history is made of.  It isn't true, but it makes for one hell of a story.  When I was a child I had Night Terrors and Out of Body Experiences.  I know the scientific reality of these events now and am much saner as a result.  But there was a time when I took these events at face value.  I believed I could leave my body, not to float in the physical world, but to become one with a universal consciousness.  I came to the conclusion that, rather that going Out of My Body, I was actually going deeper within.  I likened it to the college I first attended that had a central heating furnace from which electricity and heat was pumped into the outlying buildings through a octopus like system of underground tunnels.  I saw each person as a building connected through the unconscious mind to all the other buildings.  I kept exploring these ideas, going what I thought was deeper into a group consciousness until, one day, I realized there was nothing in the least supernatural about what I was experiencing.  That we are all connected through families, friends, religious, political and social groups of all kind.  That this union was called our Culture and there were many such Cultures bumping up against each other, merging and splitting and evolving. I came to understand there was the potential for a Global Culture although we are still in the earliest stages of its development.

Truth is hungry.  Truth demands to be fed with knowledge.  Without constant feeding truth withers and dies and kills the body...or worse, becomes a vestigial organ the use of which has been passed over by evolution

I would not denigrate such words as 'belief' or even, the old demon, 'faith.'  Belief to me is functional truth.  Faith is reproductive truth.  Belief is the driving force to take the truth out of the laboratory and onto the streets, to see if what we hold to be true can actually function outside ourselves, in the real world.  Faith is the force that drives us to convince others of the truth we have found, to replicate the truth in our minds in the minds of others.

I am not a Humanist, but I am a poet and author.  I strongly believe that religion is an act of the human imagination and God a work of art.  I believe the way to supplant religion in the minds of men is to write a better story.  Yes, I am angry with the hard scientists...angry and frightened, especially by the idea proposed by Sam Harris and others that science can produce morality.  Morality exists, it is a functional part of our society, our culture.  Religion is a way of cheating moral law, a way of achieving personal salvation...which, along with personal enlightenment is one of the most lazy and egocentric ways of wasting your life...right up there alongside playing video games.  Morality is not dictated by religion or science.  As Christians have rightly put it:  "Morality is who you are and what you do when no one else is looking."

Kalliope, I admire your willingness to stake a claim and make a commitment to 'anarcho socialism' even though you need to educate me further on what that means...that is, if you have the time and inclination.  I have no problem with you disagreeing with me.  I find I disagree with myself from post to post depending on my blood-alcohol level and mood.  And yes, I understand that this is a worldwide conflict not limited to Amerika.   We are a self-centered bunch.  I recently watch a 'found footage' movie along the lines of Cloverfield in which a good-old fashioned Monster (I believe that was the title) attack on Tokyo was passed of as a 7.8 on  the Richter Scale earthquake.  One of the opening scenes was a American news media coverage of the event that went:  "Seven thousand Japanese were killed in the earthquake ..and 30 Americans!"  I laughed and cringed at the same time.  We are such bastards.  I burned the American flag in the Sixties not in protest to the Vietnam War but because I wanted disavow my US citizenship and become a citizen of the world.  I've tried to get out of the US all through the Seventies and Eighties.  I'm still trying, but I'm constrained by poverty.  One of the things you learn being poor...even in the richest nation of the world...is if you can't afford to live where you are you can't afford to move somewhere else.

I don't know what your situation is, and I apologize for my naivete.  I do not mean to offend you.  I am an old man, not in years as much as in 'mileage' as they say.  I would like to live out my remaining years in peace.

Comment by Archie Robertson on October 30, 2012 at 6:29pm

Very interesting, Philip!

Like you, I get impatient with people trying to rewrite history—and while I know about human memory rewriting itself as we remember events, some remain forever graven: the assassination of JFK, the funeral of Winston Churchill, watching Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walking on the Moon, and on and on. 

I particularly like Elliot Sober's comments on truth:
"Whether a statement is true is an entirely different question from whether you or anybody believes it. ...  There can be truths that no one believes.  Symmetrically, there can be beliefs that are not true. ...  The expression "It's true for me" can be dangerously misleading.  Sometimes saying this... means that you believe it.  If that's what you want to say, just use the word "belief" and leave truth out of it.  However, there is a more radical idea that might be involved here.  Someone might use the expression "true for me" to express the idea that each of us makes our own reality and that our beliefs constitute that reality.  I will assume that this is a mistake.  My concept of truth assumes a fundamental division between the way things really are and the way they seem to be to this or that individual mind."

Elliot Sober (1991) in Parsimony, Evolution and Inference, Cambridge, MA, MIT Press, pp. 15-16

My degree is in physics, and I have spent much of my working life with computers. There is no room for "opinion" or "consensus" in either field. It's true, or it's false. End of story.

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