Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Revolution Baby

A really fun song by Transvision Vamp from over 20 years ago...

Are the protestors just there to have fun?

No, they have a vision too...

But Zižek warns in this very insightful article that they are the beginning, not the end, so should not be trapped into specific demands, thus providing content for existing structures of domination because it is the structures themselves that are the target of the protest. The content can and will come later if they succeed.

If success means exposing a capitalist core to our democracy which is rotten, then they will only hasten its inevitable collapse. This will not be pretty. If success means reaffirming our core is democracy, then (unlike Zižek) I think capitalism could continue to thrive and serve us well, but this can only happen after a realization.

The protestors therefore pose an important question. Has capitalism taken over? If so, we need to breathe fresh life into democracy and reassess our priorities. It is not trying to change the system from within. It is trying to change the system itself, to refuse or even break it so that it may be built better from fresh foundations.

Emancipation of society is a bit like meditation if you think about it. If patience and resilience are the order of the day, I think fun plays an important role too.

Thanks to Jon:
Thanks to Hille:


  1. BTW, I'm on a mobile and have to admit to not having seen the video yet, so I'm hoping it lives up to the song which I have on CD.

  2. Hi Okei,

    Two reactions. One to the music - sorry, couldn't bear to listen to more than the first few bars. The lyrics might be interesting but the noise was not for me.

    Then the article. - When I used to take a daily paper it was the Guardian. This article reminds me why. An intelligent and interesting assessment with its own thoughts and recommendations.

    I'm finding it almost impossible to say what I mean here. Even those who know what they're talking about at first hand, as it were, find it difficult. I think we live in a layered reality. What we see as reality is what Carse, Adyashanti and the like call the dream state. There is another order of reality, underlying this one, in which everything just unrolls, coming into existence perfectly and effortlessly. One is reminded of the Tao.

    We have to do our best. That's what oils the wheels and allows the dream to unfurl, so it's no good us sitting around being fatalistic, but the results, one way or another, will be what the dreamer dreams.

    I think that we are in the early stages, not of a revolution, but of an evolution. I think each of us must do his or her best in the circumstances in which we find ourselves. But then we should let go of any attachment to outcomes. I think that in this process through which humanity is going the hermit, praying nine hours a day in her cell, is as important as the occupying activist lying uncomfortable in his tent.

    I have not said this well but maybe it gives a flavour of my thoughts.

  3. I agree, sounds a lot like the Tao! The writer of the article is a famous philosopher. He's a bit extreme sometimes, but this made a lot of sense. Sorry about the music. I needed a yin-yang balance of serious & silly. :-) Still haven't seen it, need to get myself to a computer.

  4. Laozi talks about the emperor who rules by "doing nothing" from within his palace. This was terribly misinterpreted by later dictators.

  5. Doing our best within our layer and given our circumstances. Yes, thanks Jon for the insightful remarks!

  6. Indeed, Okei. Doing nothing is badly misunderstood.

    Here is on aspect of it - this is one of a series of clips by Master Lam Kam Chuen, who teaches in London, demonstrating "standing like a tree."

  7. The original video came out good, but yeah, it's very teenage-y, lol. Lyrics here...

    When I said misunderstood, I meant much worse than that... There was some emperor of China who thought he was following the Tao by literally staying in one room of his palace whilst ordering his subordinates to burn all books, kill all enemies etc. while he "did nothing". I am certain also that the dictators of North Africa had read the Tao Te Ching, the likes of Gaddafi and Mubarak. For example, Mubarak always referred to the Egyptian people as his "children", exactly as Laozi advises an emperor to treat his people...

    That's a very beautiful and calming video you've posted and I'm just going to take some time out to watch it. Thanks! I really would love to learn this stuff one day...

    Thanks also for "calming down" this thread!!!

    I would like to leave you with this in return from verse 26 of the Tao Te Ching, because I have a sense that she is standing "heavy and still in herself", and so "the world becomes light".

  8. Aye, there have been some pretty awful dictators and many of them have mis-used spiritual wisdom for their own purposes, though I didn't know about the emperor you quote until now.

    Master Lam's video is one of, I think, ten. He has now moved to the States.

    I really like the picture. Still and serene and beautiful.

  9. One thing I'm curious about... in the next video, he breathes out as he raises his hands, and in as he lowers them. This feels opposite to my instinct to breathe in on expanding, and out on contracting?

  10. By the way, I found it very interesting how the markets apparently plummeted today on the news that the Greek prime minister was going to hold a referendum, and now that he might lose his job because of it. This is yet another example of capitalist structures asserting themselves over democratic ones when it should be the other way round, just the thing I was trying to get at in this blog!!!

    Edit: But yes, as you silently suggested, this is all distraction...

    Much metta, Jon!

  11. Lol, I added that edit whilst listening to "Windmills of Your Mind" on Lilith's site. ;^)

  12. In Chi Gong we direct the chi with the breath. Here Lam is directing chi upwards through his body and extending it to heaven.

  13. It's a complex old business. I'm sure the Greeks feel, as indeed do I, that they don't want to suffer in order to make a bunch of ****** bankers even richer than they now are. On the other hand, it's well known that the Greeks just don't pay their taxes anyway. If they had payed reasonable taxes in the past, would they now be in such a parlous position? I dunno. Thank God I don't have to sort it out.

    Something else I don't know - Is it really democracy versus capitalism? Is it not more greed for wealth and power versus compassion? I'm not in favour of any political 'ism' against others. They all fail when power has no opposition.

    What I hope for is a sea change in the way people behave towards each other. That's what might work. imo.

  14. Democracy is much more than having the right to vote for sure! Iraqis and North Koreans voted under dictatorship. But a point Zižek was making in his article is that he doesn't blame greed or the way people act....he blames the systems that encourage greed etc. Ultimately we are responsible for our own thoughts and actions. But we are also responsible for creating an environment that fosters responsibility.

    Lam is directing Chi on the out breath to Heaven. Thanks! So, would you do this in the evening, and waking up in the morning, one would do the opposite to ground oneself? In terms of the chakras, I'm thinking they are like pools of qi. Do you move qi from the core to the higher chakras usually, or it depends... and then qi somehow doesn't obey conservation laws, so moving it harnesses it?

  15. I would disagree with him then, Okei. It's people who created and maintain those systems, by force if necessary.

    In these short videos Lam is introducing people to the basics. It would take months of doing this work daily to build a good quantity of chi. Having done that one would then have a system which would flow chi through all the organs and cahnnels. For example . . .

  16. Suppose the Greek prime minister wanted to change the system. He cannot. The rest of Europe come knocking at his door to get back into line. Even the most powerful cannot change the system. It really does have to be a united effort. Otherwise, each says I don't want this, e.g. bail out the banks, but the system already agreed dictates it. And it does! In our system, bailing out the banks was the right thing to do. But it highlights a flaw in the system that this could have been allowed to happen. On a micro scale, I know someone moving from industry into banking, just this year, because the money is too good to refuse and he has a family... He's making the compassionate choice under the current system...

    Look forward to checking out the video when I get to a computer. Have a great November, Jon!

  17. Thanks for sharing that article, very well written! To be honest here in Ireland all the protest leave me disappointed, as did the Occupy movement. First I heard that they were very strict and didn't allow any people with political history, which is soo pointless- you cannot be exclusive when you want to be global. But here they really DO go out just to have a good time, at least thats the impression, there is no urgency, no passion, its all about meeting people and hearing bands play, what is life here if there isn't fun, everything is done in a half-arsed way, a care-free attitude I in other ways like about the irish, and I live here cause I like the people, but in this way no- fun ends at some point or nothing will ever change.
    I was quite depressed I have to say hearing EU asked for a bail-out from China. Scared even, and very hopeful they will decline, cause we do not want to be puppets to a system who at every chance spits on human rights and tries to obliterate Tibet, who at this point are making more and more suicide protests. It makes me sick, this selling of souls and inability to admit the Euro has failed. Lets start over, oh my god.
    I also feel sick for my selfish decision of voting for joining the EU, just cause it changed MY life around and made it easy to live here. A lesson learned, the bigger picture should come first at times.
    Much metta and thanks for the great blog.

  18. Still the best song on this theme for me.. :)

  19. Thanks Hille! It was very interesting to hear your perspective.

    I agree the current system has failed, or is doomed to fail, but it's not immediately obvious if this means the euro is doomed to fail also. Ok, maybe it is. (By the system, I mean things like variable-debt which stifles the very growth that is needed in order to pay it back when it gets above some "critical percentage level"... truly the European countries are beginning to suffer the same economic oppression that the Third World has suffered for the last half-century now that I think of it!)

    I've always been against Britain adopting the euro for the reason that it's important to be able to adapt to one's own circumstances. So I guess that means a euro-idea can only succeed in the same way as the dollar succeeds in the U.S. if richer parts of the union are willing to give away their hard-earned wealth to poorer parts. Put like that, it could be a very selfless idea, except that the transfer of money will inevitably come with the expectation of the transfer of power in the reverse direction... So yes, I guess I agree with you then. It is very nice though to have open borders and the same currency in the eurozone. No more being ripped off by exchange bureaus for example, no more stupid visa requirements etc. Europe in many ways would like to see itself as a model for the rest of the world. Definitely the lesson learnt is that money must be kept compartmentalized. It's exactly the global nature of the money markets that makes any crisis in one area wreck the global economy.

    As for whether the personal preferences or the bigger picture comes first, hmmm... I really think this is where legislation is required to make sure that personal preferences will never jeopardize the bigger picture (for example, the balancing of power so that those elected by the people serve not just the majority who elected them, but the whole population). I don't believe people are very good at taking responsibility for the bigger picture, but that responsibility must be taken very seriously by the selected representatives who are elected. For them, it is a big responsibility. Maybe referendums are not really the best form of democracy in that sense.

    I'm not sure what I think of the Beatles song. It is rightly reflective of the pitfalls of revolutionary movements though. But it doesn't offer any positive message itself either, lol.

  20. Thanks for reading! :)

    This is totally off-topic, but being Italian, I think you'll enjoy. :)

  21. thats the crux isn't it, and the thing that is missing. It makes no sense to expect the same level from countries who never got out of the economic failure, but are the richer well-off parts like Germany really helping and investing in these parts, I don't know.

    You're right about the Beatles song hehe, never realized, I guess it sort of fit very well with my own usual attitude of seeing through things but thinking its all for the best and will work itself out, to not notice the lack of positive message. :)