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How to Turn the Tables on Authority Like a Fucking Genius

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“In the act of provoking people to think differently, philosophers make it clear that we are not fated to live within the often-stifling systems of thought that we inherit. We can change the subject.” ~Raymond Geuss

Are you sick and tired of TV talking-heads babbling their way through political propaganda and scapegoating each other through underhanded claptrap that does nothing more than keep outdated bipartisan “authority” entrenched in the minds of the people?

If not, have you ever asked yourself why you just go along with it? Have you ever questioned the nature of authority itself?

Ask yourself: what makes a person an authority? The answer seems simple: a bunch of other people “believe” that person to be an authority. Usually arbitrarily, without questioning the legitimacy of the authority and believing it only because the majority believes it. Or blindly believing in some outdated “social contract” reasoning that strong-arms everyone into obeying.

Have you ever asked yourself how much of your belief in authority is merely culturally conditioned, societally brainwashed or merely indoctrinated? How much of the authority surrounding you is made up of prestigious and courageous individuals who have actually earned it through the merit of their own blood, sweat and tears; and how much of it is made up of individuals who were merely pigeonholed into positions of power by an outdated system of indoctrination void of courage and prestige?

Tough questions, for sure. But only you can answer them. Because the secret to overcoming authority like a fucking genius is realizing that you are the authority. The only person you can control is you. So it’s on you to become the most badass authority (author of self) that you can become.

Your authority is paramount, because only your authority can decide the authority others have over you. Your authority alone must decide if another person’s authority is legit or not. Nobody else can decide for you. It’s your responsibility alone to either become your own authority or to allow the authority of others to control you.

Others claiming to be an authority can choose to violate the golden rule, or the non-aggression principle, or attempt to block your freedom, but that’s on them. That’s their bad conscience to wrestle with. You can’t control them. You can only control how you act as an author of self in the face of their violation.

It’s a psychosocial quagmire, for sure. This is because we are foremost social creatures. More so, we are imperfect social creatures who are prone to mistakes. So. The secret to overcoming authority is to become a badass authority: an author of self.

But, here’s the thing, becoming a badass author of self will require a shitload of self-improvement and self-overcoming. Beginning with embracing the inherent fallibility of the human condition…

Understand that we are all fallible:

“Mastery is an asymptote. You can approach it. You can home in on it. You can get really, really close to it. But you can never reach it. Mastery is impossible to realize fully.” ~Daniel H. Pink

Here’s another secret: Nobody knows what the fuck is going on. Nobody has it figured out. We’re all confused. We’re all a member of a fallible, prone to mistakes, clumsy, fumbling species going through the motions of living a short life within an unfathomably ancient universe.

Any authority claiming to have it figured out and using that claim to attempt to control you is not a legitimate authority but a tyrant.

It’s your responsibility as a free human being to maintain your own freedom. That means having the ability to question authority while also improving upon your own authority: author of self.

Understanding that we are all fallible is vital towards overcoming authority precisely because it helps keep in perspective just how arbitrary authority is. As George Carlin ingeniously quipped, “I have as much authority as the Pope. I just don’t have as many people who believe it.”

Anybody can claim to be an authority, but only earned authority should be respected. And even earned authority should be questioned. Especially since, as Lord Acton observed, “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

I could claim that I’m an authority on unicorns, but I better come correct with my knowledge. And it would also help if unicorns existed. But the point is this: If enough people “believe” that I’m an authority on unicorns, and they “believe” that I have dissected a unicorn and revealed the magical quality of its insides that causes it to shit rainbows, then I’ll not only have violated truth, I’ll have violated the minds of others and taken advantage of their ignorance.

But, and here’s the rub, it’s their fault for not questioning my authority. As Albert Einstein said (himself an authority in the field of physics), “Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth.” So if we’re correct to question Einstein’s revolutionary theories, then we’re exponentially correct to question my theory on unicorns.

Respecting a prestigious authority or taking into consideration important knowledge gleaned by someone who claims authority in a particular domain of knowledge is fine. It’s even okay that sometimes we allow people to violate our minds. We allow artists to do it all the time. Problems arise when we “believe” in authority, when we blindly follow a perceived authority. That’s when things go wrong.

Blind belief in authority is dangerous because people are fallible. And it’s doubly dangerous when the majority of people are under its spell. Which is precisely why we should take that sixth grader’s advice: “Question authority, including the authority that told you to question authority.”

Learn self-discipline and act with confidence:

“It is not society that is to guide and save the creative hero, but precisely the reverse. And so every one of us shares the supreme ordeal––carries the cross of the redeemer––not in the bright moments of his tribe’s great victories, but in the silences of his personal despair.” ~ Joseph Campbell

If only immoral people indoctrinated by a profoundly sick society are controlling the social narrative, then the kind of authority you’re going to get is an immoral dictation that sustains the profoundly sick society.

Which is why you should work on becoming a badass author of self. By confidently becoming your own authority, you can make a bold attempt at changing the narrative. A person who has the ability to question authority and themselves will be better able to rise out of the sick society with vital medicine.

The trick is being bold enough to claim you have medicine. People will continue to believe the authority that keeps the sick society propped up until you convince them that you have a healthier alternative. So it’s on you to become an author of self, have the discipline to question authority and to refine your own authority by becoming a leader.

Decide you are a leader. Own it. Take control of the narrative by creating the narrative and then have the confidence to declare to any and all so-called authorities that you own yourself.

Real leaders don’t follow power; they learn how to turn the tables on power, even their own, so that power does not corrupt. Real leaders don’t kowtow to tyranny or authoritarian rule; they question it, despite the “rank and order” and outdated narrative that props it up.

The social narrative is a bucking bronco. It takes discipline to get it under control. It takes audacity to admit that there’s no trademark on the voice of authority. There’s no patent on influence. It’s all up for grabs. And it’s up to you to grab it. Grab the social narrative by the reins by declaring confidently and assertively what needs to happen.

Be confident. Learn self-discipline and self-overcoming. Question the lot. Then have the courage to wrestle the narrative into submission and give it your own healthy voice. Just be responsible with your power and only use it to transform the “profoundly sick society” into a healthier one. Easier said than done, certainly. But, as Spinoza said, “All things excellent are as difficult as they are rare.”

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Inspirational

Be Your Own Revolution

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I made the mistake of involving myself in a sectarian Twitter spat when I was halfway through my morning coffee today and I instantly felt like an idiot.

People from the Left Twitter faction I’d offended rushed in to push back against the offense I’d caused them, and within minutes I felt it: the all-too familiar sensation of inspiration and creativity draining away from my body. Tension, coldness and defensiveness where previously there was playfulness and the crackling sensation of an exciting new day in which anything was possible.

If you’re active online, you’ve probably experienced this too. The days when you’re involved in sectarian bickering are the days when you are at your least creative, your least inspired, and your least effective at fighting against the machine. At best the drama gives your ego a tickle (as social media platforms are designed to do), after which you feel a bit yuck. The longer you engage in it, the lower the probability that you will produce something creative and inspired that day.

As a general rule, you may find that it works best to reject cliques and factions altogether. When you “belong” to any group you feel compelled to defend it, and to move with it wherever it goes even if that’s not where you feel like the energy is. You get invested in wanting the collective to move in a certain direction, and you get frustrated when it just wants to focus on silly nonsense and sectarian feuds. 

So my advice to you here, which you of course can take or leave, is to just blast off on your own and fight your own revolution in your own way.

The unfortunate fact is that our society is insane, and its madness pervades literally every political faction to varying degrees. Marrying yourself to any group means marrying its madness. Instead, focus on becoming more sane, and then act based on that sanity.

Just blast off. Don’t wait for your comrades. Don’t try to pull them along with you before they are ready. Just blast forward into your own revolution, burning brightly and scorching the machine with your own light. If you shine brightly enough, the others may follow when they are ready.

One of the most frustrating things is seeing where we need to move and not being able to get the collective to come with you. You’re like, “It’s there! Let’s move!”, and they just want to bicker and ego spar. Just blast off into health yourself, and trust that the others will follow if and when they are able.

Be your own revolution. You have all the media access you need to help wake the world up with the power of your own inspired action. Reject cliques, factions and sectarianism, and have the courage to stand on your own two feet attacking the machine with your own unique abilities.

This doesn’t mean you can’t organize and work collectively; you absolutely can. If you see people doing something you want to uplift, uplift it. But when you’re done, don’t stay and become a member of the club. Move on and retain your self-sovereignty. If you’re doing something that people want to help uplift and amplify, let them do so. When they don’t want to anymore, let them go. Don’t try to manipulate them into staying. 

You are free to collaborate with anyone on any issue at any time. You don’t actually need to be a member of the Blah Blah Whateverist Club to do this. And when nothing is happening that you want to collaborate with others on, you can attack the machine on your own, using your own unique set of tools based on your own inspiration. You are not owned or bound.

All these debates we’re seeing lately over who should be let into and kept out of the Revolution Club, how the Revolution Club should act, who should lead the Revolution Club etc are based on the assumption that there has to be a Revolution Club in the first place, and there just doesn’t. Organize and collaborate on a case-by-case, issue-by-issue basis while remaining sovereign.

Have the compassion to prioritize the needs of the collective and the courage to stand as an individual. Trying to impose your will on exactly how the collective revolution should and should not be moving is a doomed endeavor, because you cannot control the collective, you can only control yourself. So be your own revolution and attack the machine wherever you detect a weak point in its armor.

I’ve avoided all cliques and factions like the plague, and I’ve been far more effective in this fight than I would have been if I’d chosen to glom onto some faction and uphold all its -ists and -isms. It would have killed my ability to move with agility in whatever way is demanded by each present moment, because I would have been binding myself to the movements of a group that isn’t seeing what I’m seeing and can’t move the way I move.

This is just what’s worked for me, and of course your mileage may vary. But if you’re like me and you don’t see the various groups, organizations and factions getting us to where we need to go, consider stepping out of the vehicle, standing on your own two feet, and waging your own revolution.

Republished from CaitlinJohnstone.com with permission

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Good News

UN Chief Calls for Global Ceasefire Amid “Absolutely Devastating” Pandemic

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Global Ceasefire
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(TMU) — The head of the United Nations has issued a passionate appeal for a global ceasefire to take effect across the world that would give authorities and medical professionals alike the ability to focus exclusively on defeating the coronavirus pandemic.

In the appeal issued on Monday, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres demanded that the global truce be adopted for the sake of defeating the threat of CoViD-19 to all of humankind and especially the vulnerable—women and children, the disabled, marginalized, displaced and refugees.

In his address, which was delivered to reporters via live video feed in consideration of social distancing guidelines, Guterres said:

“The fury of the virus illustrates the folly of war.

That is why today, I am calling for an immediate global ceasefire in all corners of the world. It is time to put armed conflict on lockdown and focus together on the true fight of our lives.” 

The comments come as Syria reported its very first confirmed case of CoViD-19, signaling an ugly turn for a country already ripped apart after a decade of war, while other cases continue to emerge in military flashpoints like Afghanistan, the Gaza Strip, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The U.N. chief stressed that the coronavirus doesn’t discriminate on a basis of “nationality or ethnicity, faction or faith.” Instead, “it attacks all, relentlessly.” However, the most vulnerable—those in war zones—would likely face “devastating losses” from the disease due to being caught between a war and a devastating pandemic.

https://twitter.com/antonioguterres/status/1242307653491138562?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Etweet

Additionally, those health systems in countries devastated by war have already been either destroyed or reached the verge of total collapse, ensuring that those health workers brave enough to venture into the field are often placed directly in the line of fire or into the crosshairs of warring parties.

Addressing warfighters across the globe, Guterres said:

“Pull back from hostilities. Put aside mistrust and animosity. Silence the guns; stop the artillery; end the airstrikes.

This is crucial… To help create corridors for life-saving aid. To open precious windows for diplomacy. To bring hope to places among the most vulnerable to COVID-19.”

Continuing, he stressed:

“End the sickness of war and fight the disease that is ravaging our world. It starts by stopping the fighting everywhere. Now. That is what our human family needs, now more than ever.

… If the fighting goes on, we might have an absolutely devastating spreading of the epidemic.”

The U.N. secretary-general has been calling for a global response to the pandemic which he has said places the lives of “millions at risk.” The United Nations will soon unveil a detailed humanitarian relief plan that would be worldwide in scope.

During a question-and-answer session with reporters at the “virtual” press conference, Guterres expressed that he felt “strongly determined” to make the most of the U.N.’s mandate despite the organization’s existing duties in the humanitarian, peacekeeping, diplomatic, cultural, and other fields.

He explained:

“It’s a moment in which the U.N. must be able to address the peoples of the world and appeal for a massive mobilization and for a massive pressure on governments to make sure that we are able to respond to this crisis, not to mitigate it but to suppress it, to suppress the disease and to address the dramatic economic and social impacts of the disease.

And we can only do it if we do it together, if we do in a coordinated way, if we do it with intense solidarity and cooperation, and that is the raison d’etre of the United Nations itself.”

By Elias Marat | Creative Commons | TheMindUnleashed.com

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Inspirational

The Battle Against Bewitchment: Upsetting Settled Minds

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(TMU) Op-Ed — Comfort zones are a curious thing. So warm and secure. So safe and reassuring. So satisfying and certain. Beliefs have a similar effect on us. Especially the core beliefs that we take for granted. But beliefs are comfort zones with reinforced invulnerability; or, at least, the illusion of it. Such reinforcements are like prison bars that most of us are not even aware of. We’re so completely indoctrinated, so utterly pre-programmed, that we don’t even know that we don’t know that we’ve been conditioned to blindly believe in something simply because enough people convinced us it was true.

The problem with reinforced comfort zones is that there is no growth. A regular comfort zone, you can stretch. A reinforced comfort zone, you’re usually not even aware it needs to be stretched. A regular comfort zone allows for trial and error, it allows for questioning, and so there is at least potential for self-improvement and self-overcoming. But a reinforced comfort zone does not allow for trial and error. It doesn’t allow for “blasphemous” questioning, because it is taken for granted as already perfect or “simply the way it is.” Regular comfort zones can be healthy, giving us a safe haven, a place where we can heal and lick our wounds. But reinforced comfort zones are unnecessary safety nets based upon fear (of God, the Unknown, Death) placation, and self-pity. It’s a place where cognitive dissonance rules and any notion of attempting to think outside the box is met with: You simply need to have faith in the “box”. 

The Battle Against Bewitchment:

Philosophy is a battle against the bewitchment of our intelligence by means of language.” –Ludwig Wittgenstein

Self-Inflicted Philosophy is at the forefront of the battle against bewitchment. Self-inflicted philosophy is about upsetting settled minds. It’s about toppling the reinforced comfort zones of blind belief. It’s about flattening the “box” that everyone talks a big game about thinking outside of but when it really comes down to it, they cling to the “box” out of fear of the unknown or out of faith in what they believe they know.

Foremost, self-inflicted philosophy is about questioning the self to the nth degree through self-interrogation. But you can only get so far in such questioning before you are met with the reinforced comfort zone of a blind belief. So, self-inflicted philosophy is also about questioning the layer-upon-layer of cultural, political, and religious indoctrination that led to that reinforced comfort zone to begin with.

When you don the cloak of a self-inflicted philosopher, no belief, no matter how true it may seem, is off the hook for being questioned with ruthless skepticism and unwavering circumspection. In the battle against bewitchment, the destruction of a belief, no matter how powerful, is mere collateral damage to the Occam’s razor of universal truth. Hell, even “universal truth” is not beyond questioning.

When you don the cloak of a self-inflicted philosopher, the concept of belief is nixed from your interpretation of the universe. There is no place for belief here, only thought, only deep inquiry, only imaginative curiosity. You replace all usage of “belief” or “believe” with “thought” or “think”. You don’t believe that you certainly exist: you “think” that you “probably” exist. But you could be wrong. So you remain circumspect, for even your interpretation of your own existence could be an illusion, no matter how “true” it may feel.

There will be those who will say, “You are merely believing that you don’t believe.” But that is patently false, because you are not “believing” in non-belief, you are “thinking/inquiring/imagining” through non-belief, with the understanding, the flexibility that your thinking “could” be wrong. And that’s the rub: it is much easier to alter a thought than a belief. It is almost impossible to alter a belief. You are more likely to question a thought than you are a belief. And so, rather than get trapped in a reinforced comfort zone, you stay ahead of the curve by thinking rather than believing, and then by questioning what you think so that you don’t accidentally begin to believe it. 

In the spirit of upsetting settled minds, you don’t “believe” in having an unsettled mind, you “think” that having an unsettled mind is more productive, more progressive, and more open-minded than having a settled mind (an unquestioning belief). You realize that belief in general is counterproductive, because you understand that the human mind is a delusion-generator rather than a truth-generator. It pumps out delusions like a spider pumps out webs. But, unlike the spider it tends to get caught in them. Thereby, you understand that the only window to truth is through a questioning, circumspect, and a skeptical mindset, not through an unquestioning, dogmatic, and certain mindset.

The only solution to a delusion-generator is a question-generator. Luckily, the human brain is both. As a self-inflicted philosopher, you don’t believe that this is certainly true; rather, you think that this is probably true. And you’re willing to question everything to “prove” it. Indeed, you’ve transformed Descartes’ “I think therefore I am” into I think, therefore I question.

Tapping into the question-generator

“It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.” –Carl Sagan

The problem with the human brain is that is never knows when it has been duped by a delusion, so it is almost always better to not believe anything just in case it’s a delusion. A kind of reverse Pascal’s Wager. It’s almost always better to, as Aristotle suggested, “entertain a thought without accepting it.” Just take it all into consideration and let it pass through the sieve of probability. Then, whatever doesn’t insult your soul, think about it, dissect it, inquire about it. Be curious about it. Just don’t make the mistake of believing it.

You are more likely to grasp the universe “as it really is” by questioning it than by believing it. You don’t believe the universe is certainly a certain way; rather, you think the universe may be a certain way, but you’re willing to question further so as to get you closer to the way the universe “really is”. If you cling to a particular belief of how the universe is, then you block yourself from ever getting closer to the universe “as it really is.” Better to simply not have a belief in the first place. Better to simply think and keep the motor running on the question-generator so as to keep the delusion-generator in check.

The opposite of belief is neither disbelief nor doubt, but clarity of a thought. Without beliefs reinforcing the comfort zone, you are liberated to stretch it. You are clear enough to think outside it, you are courageous enough to question it. When the reinforcements fall away, the comfort zone becomes a sacred rather than stagnant place. It is free to grow through self-improvement rather than remain stuck in self-reassurance. Indeed, without beliefs cluttering the mindset, you’re finally able to drop the “set” and move into “mind.” 

Free of the “mindset” of a settled mind, you move into the mindfulness of a questioning mind. You become a walking, talking, question-generator, able to consistently counter-balance the delusion-generator of the human condition. You’re ahead of the curve, surfing Aslam’s Infinite Circle on the surfboard of Occam’s razor. In absolute awe over the beautiful unfolding of an ultimately unknowable universe. On the edge of your own curiosity, questioning all “answers” countering all beliefs, elusive of all delusions. You’re a self-inflicted philosopher, and not even God is safe from your ruthless inquiry.

By Gary Z McGee | Creative Commons | TheMindUnleashed.com

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