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Nederlog

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Crisis: Peter Coyote -
"Democrats Need To Clean Up Their Own House" + My Ideals



Sections                                                                     crisis index
Introduction

1. About Peter Coyote
2. "Democrats Need To Clean Up Their Own House"
3. Coyote's Ideals

4. My Ideals

Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Thursday, May 25, 2017.

Summary: This is a crisis log which has just one item.

I have been writing about the crisis since September 1, 2008 (in Dutch) and about the enormous dangers of surveillance (by secret services and by many rich commercial entities) since June 10, 2013, and I probably will continue with it, but on the moment I have several problems with my computer, my modem, the company that is supposed to take care that my site is visible, and my health.

It may be that I'll be off for a few weeks, that is, I will publish nothing or little for a few weeks. I don't know yet, but will keep you informed in Nederlog.

And for today I decided to review only one item, namely "Democrats Need To Clean Up Their Own House", that was published last year after Trump's winning the presidency, and that is by Peter Coyote, who is one of the founders of the San Francisco Diggers, and who is a quite interesting and extra-ordinary man. More in section 1.

And this is the usual about the updating problem that I am now plagued with for more than 1 1/2 years, though now only at one of my two sites:
May 25: As to the updating problem: The Danish site was again on time today. The Dutch site was  once again not on time as it has not been on time most of the time during - "just" - the last 1 1/2 years: It still sticks for me (now) on May 22. Where it is for others I don't know.

They did it well from 1996 till 2015, updating within minutes at most and without any problem, as indeed is the work of ISPs. Now this takes a full week, on average.

I think they totally stopped doing this to limit the readings of my site. I think (but I don't know anything whatsoever about "xs4all") they now update once a week, which means that they are - for me - over 10,000 times worse than they were between 1996 and 2015.

These horrors happen now for the 16th month in succession. And they happen on purpose, because it is extremely simple to do this properly, and it was done properly from 1996 till late in 2015. (If you want these horrors, then sign in with "xs4all.nl"; if not, avoid them like the plague.)

And what changed is that you have to refresh (and refresh and refresh and refresh) to get the latest, which is again NOT as it was before, from 1996 till 2015, and which for me this only serves to make it extremely difficult for naive users to get the latest from my site - that for them may seem to have stuck somewhere in 2016 or 2015.

And I have to add that about where my site on xs4all.nl stuck for others I have NO idea AT ALL: It may be December 31, 2015. (Xs4all wants  immediate payment if you are a week behind. Xs4all.nl has been destroying my site now for over a year. I completely distrust them, but I also do not know whether they are doing it or some secret service is.)
1. About Peter Coyote

I am meanwhile 67, which presumably means that I am old. I do look a lot younger than I am (still), but since I am ill since I was 28, I do not feel younger than I am.

Also, I was born in Amsterdam and lived there most of the time (all the time except for about 6 years), while I have a very radical leftist family background [1], that may explain why I did know a little about the San Francisco Diggers since 1967, but did not pay much attention to them until this year.

First of all: Who were the Diggers (<-Wikipedia)?

To start with, there are two groups of men and women who were known as the Diggers, namely in England around 1650, where they tried to work and farm on the common land that then had been taken by the King and the rich, and where they proposed a wholly different society and also another kind of religion than were practised in England at that time, and also in San Francisco, in the late 1960ies.

One reason for their original name, the Diggers, which was not how they called themselves in the 1650ies, but how they were called, was that they were quite peaceful, whereas their opponents were not, which meant that they were called "diggers" because they were seen to dig graves for their comrades that had been killed the previous night by their opponents.

They were led by an extra-ordinary man, who was both a great writer and a great mind, but who was not an academic, and who is little known today, Gerrard Winstanley (<-Wikipedia). This is from the Wikipedia about him:
Gerrard Winstanley published a pamphlet called The New Law of Righteousness. The basis of this work came from the Book of Acts, chapter two, verses 44 and 45: "All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need." Winstanley argued that "in the beginning of time God made the earth. Not one word was spoken at the beginning that one branch of mankind should rule over another, but selfish imaginations did set up one man to teach and rule over another."
There is a whole lot to be said about Winstanley, some of whose texts I have known since the 1980ies, but this article is not the place.

The second group of Diggers arose in 1966 in San Francisco. These were born as part of discussions of actors from the San Francisco Mime Troupe, in which especially Emmett Grogan, Peter Coyote, Peter Berg and Billy Murcott [2] were prominent, and in which the following bright insight by Billy Murcott seems to have played a foundational role:
People have internalized material values and cultural premises about the sanctity of private property and capital so completely as to have become addicted to wealth and status. This was an enchantment so deep, an identity with jobs so absolute as to have eradicated all contact with inner wildness and personal expression not condoned by society.
And these and some others created in 1966 (and this is quoted from the Peter Coyote lemma on Wikipedia, but without note numbers):
an anarchist group known for operating anonymously and without money. They created provocative "theater" events designed to heighten awareness of problems associated with the notion of private property, consumerism, and identification with one's work. They fed nearly 600 people a day for "free", asking only that people pass through a six-foot by six-foot square known as The Free Frame of Reference. They ran a Free Store, (where not only the goods, but the management roles were free), a Free Medical Clinic, and even a short-lived Free Bank. The Diggers evolved into a group known as the Free Family, which established chains of communes around the Pacific Northwest and Southwest. Coyote was the best known resident of the Black Bear Ranch commune in Siskiyou County, California.
It seems that currently of these four people only Peter Coyote is still alive (and 75). Here are some of the things that make him special:
  • he was born as the son of a brilliant, threatening and abusive father, who was an investment banker, and a mother with problems, which did not provide a happy youth;
  • he was a Digger from 1966 till 1975 and also developed a heroine addiction;
  • he got off heroine in 1975, started meditating, and started acting in 1978, and
  • since then has played in some 120 movies;
  • he continued practicing Zen and got enlightened in 2007, and now is a teacher of Zen Buddhism.
It is rather probable that I will write considerably more about the Diggers in Nederlog, but since I only found the Diggers' site, Coyote's site, and Emmett Grogan's semi-auto-
biographical "Ringolevio" [3] last month, I still have more to read.

But this was a brief introduction to
Peter Coyote. Here is what he wrote briefly after Trump got to be president of the USA:

2. Democrats Need To Clean Up Their Own House

As I explained, there is only one article in today's Nederlog. It was originally published in November 2016 on Daily Kos, after Trump won the presidential elections, and I found it on Coyote's web site:
There are two parts in it. The first part mostly consists of a good description of the enormous amounts of poverty that have been created by the rich since 45 years.

This first part starts as follows:
Over the last 45 years, the Democratic Party and its candidates have gradually estranged millions of voters who should have, could have, or might have voted for Secretary Clinton in 2016’s presidential election.  It may be comforting for the party to blame the Greens, as they once blamed Ralph Nader during Gore vs. Bush, for the defection of voters they considered theirs, but this begs a larger question. Why, if the choices between good and evil, honest and dishonest, or competent and incompetent were as clear as Democrats claimed them to be, was public opinion so closely divided that a third party’s nail parings of 1% of the vote could flip the outcome to the opponent? 
Yes indeed. And the first part ends thus:
Predictably, it all came a crapper. Trillions of dollars of savings, pension funds and personal wealth disappeared into the ethers, and once again, not one CEO, Vice President, or CFO, who took irresponsible risks with investors’ money, was held responsible for the devastating losses. Not one was fined a percent of what they made, and no one but Bernie Madoff went to jail. And the befuddled Democrats are still wondering what happened?

Again: Yes, indeed. And this is very well worth reading, because it sketches the decline of large parts of the USA and also gives some backhround to - e.g. - Chris Hedges' journalism.

3. Coyote's Ideals

As I said, Peter Coyote has been meditating since 1975 and meanwhile also got enlightened (Zen style). Part Two of Coyote's article is about what one can do about politics and other things (if one is wise), in Coyote's opinions.

Here are some of his recommendations:
I am currently an ordained priest and transmitted teacher. (Granted independence by my teacher.) The simplest way to frame the common lessons about success that I garnered from both spiritual and secular realms is that I am my opponent. I am the one I think of as the other. I have to admit that I possess the same capacity for self-righteousness, hasty judgments, greed, ambition, envy, and delusion as those I consider my opponents. Likewise, they possess the same qualities of intelligence, ethics, probity, selflessness and empathy that I would prefer to reserve exclusively as my own.
In fact, I do not think so, for we are each of use unique individuals, and I am neither stupid nor ignorant nor female, while others are. A.s.o. Then again, Coyote is quite right that every other person I see, is seen by me, in my terms and not in his or her terms, and he is also right that we all have deep sides that are not known to us, although they do move us (more or less, depending on mood and circumstances).

There is also this:
 If we believe ourselves to be reflexively good, we will never explore the full range of our motives or the full range of consequences stemming from our actions. We will measure ourselves only by our motives (those we can accept). Because of a lack of deep reflections we will always give ourselves a pass, based on those intentions and thus keep perpetuating actions which will incur future reactions from those we’ve harmed, and so it goes ad infinitum.
I think this is mostly correct, but it may have been better put by Coyote here (in "For Keeps"):
Hindsight has taught me that there is a ravenous, invisible twin haunting each of us. Despite each "good work" and selfless sacrifice for noble causes, without unremitting vigilance, tiny indulgences betray these high aims and deflect nourishment to this gluttonous companion. Unfortunately, not even hindsight frees one of the consequences of such indulgence.
Yes. And finally there is this:
When we observe that self and other are simply different states of the same human entity— like water and steam--we discover that our opposing views may not be as irreconcilable as we had thought. No one in the world is pure, and there is no place to stand outside the messy everyday world to judge others reliably.
I agree no one is pure, but I find it rather impossible to think of others as my self, because only I have my body, only I feel my feelings, and only I think my thoughts,
although I agree that it makes far more sense to respect (or seem to respect)  (non- aggressive) others than to disrespect them.


And I think it is quite likely that these ideas - you are your opponent, you are the other, you and other are "different states of the same human entity" - are very difficult to accept for the vast majority.

4. My Ideals

I am a philosopher and a psychologist who is interested in mysticism and in Zen (since my teens, also) but I am not at all religious, and I am and always was an atheist. [4] Also, while I did have some extra-ordinary experiences (all without any drugs whatsoever), I would not call myself enlightened.

And - indeed as little as I have explained Coyote's ideals, or indeed let him do the explanations - I will only indicate my ideals here, that happen to be quite different from Coyote's.

First, the main differences are that I believe there is real human knowledge; that it was found mostly by philosophers, scientists and writers; and that to acquire some bit of it in a reasonable way does take considerable intelligence and rather a lot of work; that it cannot be had without intelligence and work; and that - so far - at most one in fifty (including academics) has some inkling of it. [5]

And this means that my ideals, although they are different from Coyote's, are also those of - at best - a small minority, at least now.

Second, I can formulate my ideals in four words:
  •    Think rationally! Act reasonably! 
       (And do not pretend that is easy!)

To think rationally is (for the most part) to know and to practice logical and mathe- matical principles. One learns a little of these as one learns language, but to understand more of them and appreciate their power requires reading logic and mathematics.

To act reasonably is to treat
others fairly, not to harm anyone unless one is attacked, and not to deceive people without provocation, and in general to behave towards people according to some schema of values that chart what it is to be virtuous. The least norm
one should have and practice is not to physically harm others (unless provoked [6]), while it is very well to keep in mind Ovid's
"Video meliora proboque; deteriora sequor" that is "I see the better and approve of it, but I follow the worse" (generally because it is personally more pleasurable).

Third, I also have a code of morals, that may be given (and remembered) as follows:

  • Don't be MAD, don't SIN

This is explained as follows:

"MAD" consists of three letters, and abbreviates these characteristics: Do not be mean or greedy - if we all share fairly, both in making things and in consuming things, there will probably be enough for all; do not be angry or aggressive - for while anger is a  natural emotion, it is nearly always mistaken to act angrily or aggressively towards somebody else; and do not be dishonest or deceptive - if we need to cooperate, which we do, we must be able to understand each other, and this is only possible in a realistic fashion if we are honest (and fair).

And "SIN" consists of three letters, and abbreviates these characteristics: Do not be stupid - for the stupid can be deceived by anyone smarter than them; do not be ignorant - for (by and large) the more real knowledge you have, the better you are able to understand things and create them yourselves; and do not be negligent or lazy - for not doing what one thinks one should is one of the main human weaknesses.

Finally, while the first three norms (don't be mad) mostly concern physical behavior, and do not need much knowledge (which does not make them easy to do!), the last three norms (don't sin) both require intelligence, knowledge and persistence to acquire real knowledge.

So I think it is quite likely that these ideas are also very difficult to accept for the vast majority.

--------------
[1] In fact, my mother's parents were both anarchists all their lives; my father's father was a communist and ended his life in a German concentration camp because of his resistance; my father spent 3 years, 9 months and 15 days in four German concentration camps for resisting the Nazis; and my mother was also in the resistance throughout WW II without being caught, and while I have heard many (self-declared) noble Dutchmen with radical backgrounds, I am sorry, but except for my brother I do not know of any other Dutchman with my - very radical - family background.

[2] Billy Murcott remained so anonymous that little seems to be known about him other than his name.

[3] I did not read all of "Ringolevio" but did read page 211 - 498 from it, which can be downloaded from the Diggers-site in one pdf-file of 30 MB: Ringolevio-pdf. I have meanwhile read all of this, and this seems the best documentation about the Diggers (even if it is not wholly true).

[4] For those interested in philosophy: I know well enough that most of the judgements we make are only probable. The reason I am saying I am an atheist is the same as my saying that I know there are no griffins, witches and elves: If it is (mostly) nonsense to say "these may be or may not be", as I agree it is, it is the same with postulating a God.

[5] Perhaps I should add that this is based on over 50 years of reading; on an M.A. in psychology and a B.A. in philosophy (I was kicked out of the faculty of philosophy - illegally - just before being able to take my M.A.); and on an IQ that was rather a lot above 150 (when I was 28). And yes, probably this is "elitarian".

[6] I don't like violence, but I have been very credibly threatened by illegal drugsdealers that had the "personal permission" in writing from mayor Van Thijn of Amsterdam to deal illegal drugs. You do not have to sit and do nothing if you are threatened with murder or serious violence.

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