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True revolution is to take the pretended values of society and make them actual


Terry Murphy

I also like the idea of 'nondual activism,' whatever that may mean. In my 'felt group' it has to do with counter-culture lifestyles, especially those in which people are groping toward ways of life which don't feature materialism as their guiding light or even as a necessary evil.

Nondualism can involve an inherent confusion if people are distracted by contradictions. One of my favorite nondualists is Jesus, who said things like, 'give to those who won't return it' and 'you cannot serve two masters,' referring to God and materialism. Of course we have to eat, but Jesus says that God knows that and will see that we are fed; and he knows that a certain amount of 'wonders and miracles' must be seen before we will believe it.

I'm not going to be wonderful or miraculous here, I'm going to assume that you all have 'seen the light' and need no convincing.

I'm interested in articulating visions ('nondual dialog' ) of how, for example a society could retain the benefits of fair competition (according to the tao te ching, 'the wise man does not begrudge others the fair profit of able dealing') without ending up as slaves to the wealthy or as grossly overworked consumers of shoddy and useless products (ever end up, despite your nondual values, buying a teenager 'air jordans' for over $100 for a $15 pair of shoes so that they wouldn't be ostracized?).

I don't mean to go off on a rant here, but...When I think of the word 'fair,' I think of the old days in medieval England, where every summer 'fairs' would be held, and people would come for miles around to sell their wares or exchange them with others. At these gathering you could get a 'fair' price, because people would compete with each other and their competition would establish a reasonable 'going rate' for a given product. If you were forced by necessity to buy out of season, you were at the mercy of price gougers who could take advantage of your need and charge 'whatever the market would bear' rather than the 'fair' price.

Now we have oil companies, cable companies, airlines, etc etc who are in a position to gouge us because the market is controlled, through corruption such as collusion ('price-fixing') and bribery (which is legal in america, they call it 'campaign contributions' and without them you don't get elected), and we don't get the 'fair' price any longer. This is happening in industry after industry, though the myth of 'fair competition' is maintained with the cooperation of the media, such as newspapers who are nearly always monopolies in their own given markets.

In my view, the government should fix prices ('regulate') or break up large companies in every market that has fewer than, say, 500 competitors. Think of how few goods you buy in such fair markets, and how systematically the 'big boys' drive out the competition through price cutting and then raise the prices to whatever the market will bear. Anti-trust laws could be created (or even just enforced) to ensure fair competition. We can still vote.

Many people believe the people have no power to alter markets, but they do, the power of boycott. All it takes is an aroused populace, an aware populace, *consciousness*. We could live without walmart and costco, and buy and sell from each other without any 'communism' or state-sponsored and run enterprises; all the state - and the government, my friends, despise them as you may, is on your side, like maybe you despise lawyers but in the courtroom your lawyer is the only friend you have - needs to do is to break the power of the price-fixers through reasonable laws which restore honest competition to the marketplace. There is nothing essentially materialistic about a free marketplace, and there is little free about the marketplace as we know it in the world today. We live in a plutocracy, not a democracy, as Carter discovered with big oil and Clinton with health insurance and pharmaceuticals. (Can you imagine Hillary getting elected in 2004? The history books would record the sequence of presidents as Bush - Clinton - Bush - Clinton!)

I want to make the point that being " communist with a small 'c'" as I used to describe it in the old hippie days, or any sort of counter-culturalist, has nothing to do with state control of the means of production and is pefectly compatible with genuine free markets and 'fair' prices. The media are owned by people who deliberately manipulate public opinion in order to keep people ignorant and confused (as Abbott Liebling said in 1960, "Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one").

So, as my initial contribution to the dialog about nondual activism, I want to put in two cents about freeing ourselves from the propaganda we are constantly fed about 'freedom' and 'justice' and 'fairness' and 'honest competition' and 'getting ahead through hard work' which is mostly the standard american bullshit. At least in Russia, no one believes the government propaganda; no one is even expected to believe it. Yet we in america look at fifty different brands of corn flakes which have all different boxes and advertising and prices and are actually all made in the same factory! and we think we have a wide variety of choices. America is drowning in its own bullshit, while the biggest profits are made by those who tell us the most creative new lies, and our quality of life goes down, down, down. It is to the profit of american companies to atomize families; if we can get every individual to divorce his spouse and his children and have each individual live by themselves, we can sell every single one a toaster and a tv and a car and every other household object. Each of us can work harder and harder, and each of us can pay a utility bill for sewers built years ago, a phone bill for calls that cost no more if they are placed to madrid or across the street, a water bill, light bill, heating bill, insurance bill, while those who can't pay swell the ranks of the growing underclass or the gigantic prison long will it take before we start to wise up? The big companies have lobbists, psychologists - they form phony 'grass roots' groups (with the collusion of the media) to insist on more and more sophisticated ways to make us stupid. Now we have private prisons who lobby the legislatures and fund the campaigns of law-and-order candidates to make longer and longer sentences for more and more crimes, while former crimes such as gambling are made legal and profitable by the same firms promoting long sentences for 'failure to appear' or minor 'parole violations.'

The key, my friends, is to wake people up to the truth of how we are screwing the planet and ourselves for the profit a tiny few greedheads who have no scruples whatever. The heartening truth is that the vast majority of us, even the polluters and misusers, the politicians and executives, would do it better if they could, if they had an inkling that there was a better way and that we could change things. First we have to wake up ourselves, then wake up others. We are not going to do this with words alone, either, we have to start doing stuff, living the truth, raising a little hell here and there; cutting the legs out from under the worst of the liars bent on keeping us all down. We have to get together, and quit eating shit. We have to raise children who are hip and see through the myths, kids who won't buy the hype that they are 'good citizens' by allowing themselves to be used to further the interests of the fortune 500.

I don't have all the answers, I have much more than that, I have a lot of good questions. Why 50 brands of cornflakes, each of which is packed in a box that is not only more expensive than the contents, it is actually more nutritious! (Idries Shah refers to a study where a group of rats was fed cereal and another group was fed ground up cereal boxes, and the latter group was literally healthier.) Why the insane advertising budgets? McDonald's spends more than any other company for advertising, and look at Nike and Budweiser: the more they spend for advertising, the less product you are buying for your dollar. Meanwhile the rainforests are being torn down and species driven to extinction to raise beef cattle to meet the demand for american hamburgers, while the flatulence of the cows adds measureably (in the neighborhood of 10%) to the shrinking of the ozone layer. Nike runs sweatshops in southeast asia and creates a totally artifical demand for a relatively worthless product to sell to the most vulnerable segment of society, children. Budweiser hawks beer during sporting events with beautiful girls, in tandem with ford and chevy hawking cars and trucks with beautiful girls; think about it, beer-cars-beer-cars: not a good combination. And they are shitty beer, shitty cars; you pay for all that advertising every time you buy the products.

What can we do? I avoid buying anything heavily advertised, as it is obviously over-priced. But I am hoping we can do more than this, I am hoping we are the tip of an iceberg of awakening individuals who see the whole ratrace as destructive of our core values and are looking for alternative ways to live and work and think.

And we start with little bitty groups like this, eh? Dialog, ok, blunt talk; but more than that, I hope, people ready to pitch the old yessir nuckling under and create new ways to live and work, fulfilling jobs, quality products at fair prices, that sort of thing.

Revolution! True revolution is to take the pretended values of society and make them actual, so that those in power have no handle with which to destroy us. Be *real* competitors, honest businessmen, not the lying cheats who dominate the marketplace currently. Be *real* christians, have *real* family values, show *real* compassion to genuine unfortunates, victims of society, like prisoners and ghetto kids. Create media which tell the truth, do real crafts, art, music...

That's what I'm talking about. Here's my nickel. Ante up...