Edgar Cayce: Ordinary Man, Extraordinary Messenger

edgar

Mitch Horowitz, New Dawn
Waking Times

The year 1910 marked a turning point in Western spirituality. It saw the deaths of some of the most luminous religious thinkers of the nineteenth century, including psychologist-seeker William James; popular medium Andrew Jackson Davis; and Christian Science founder Mary Baker Eddy. These three figures deeply impacted the movements in positive thinking, prayer healing, and psychical research.

Their death that year was accompanied by the rise to prominence of a new religious innovator – a figure who built upon the spiritual experiments of the nineteenth century to shape the New Age* culture of the dawning era.

In autumn of 1910 The New York Times brought the first major national attention to the name of Edgar Cayce, a young man who later became known as the “father of holistic medicine” and the founding voice of alternative spirituality.

The Sunday Times of 9 October 1910 profiled the Christian mystic and medical clairvoyant in an extensive article and photo spread: Illiterate Man Becomes a Doctor When Hypnotized. At the time Cayce (pronounced “Casey”), then 33, was struggling to make his way as a commercial photographer in his hometown of Hopkinsville, Kentucky, while delivering daily trance-based medical “readings” in which he would diagnose and prescribe natural cures for the illnesses of people he had never met.

Cayce’s method was to recline on a sofa or day bed, loosen his tie, belt, cuffs, and shoelaces, and enter a sleep-like trance; then, given only the name and location of a subject, the “sleeping prophet” was said to gain insight into the person’s body and psychology. By the time of his death in January 1945, Cayce had amassed a record of more than 14,300 clairvoyant readings for people across the nation, many of the sessions captured by stenographer Gladys Davis.

In the 1920s, Cayce’s trance readings expanded beyond medicine (which nonetheless remained at the core of his work) to include “life readings,” in which he explored a person’s inner conflicts and needs. In these sessions Cayce employed references to astrology, karma, reincarnation, and number symbolism. Other times, he expounded on global prophecies, climate or geological changes, and the lost history of mythical cultures, such as Atlantis and Lemuria. Cayce had no recollection of any of this when he awoke, though as a devout Christian the esotericism of such material made him wince when he read the transcripts.

Contrary to news coverage, Cayce was not illiterate, but neither was he well educated. Although he taught Sunday school at his Disciples of Christ church – and read through the King James Bible at least once every year – he had never made it past the eighth grade of a rural schoolhouse. While his knowledge of Scripture was encyclopaedic, Cayce’s reading tastes were otherwise limited. Aside from spending a few on-and-off years in Texas unsuccessfully trying to use his psychical abilities to strike oil – he had hoped to raise money to open a hospital based on his clairvoyant cures – Cayce rarely ventured beyond the Bible Belt environs of his childhood.

Since the tale of Jonah fleeing from the word of God, prophets have been characterised as reluctant, ordinary folk plucked from reasonably satisfying lives to embark on missions that they never originally sought. In this sense, if the impending New Age – the vast culture of Eastern, esoteric, and therapeutic spirituality that exploded on the US national scene in the 1960s and 70s – was seeking a founding prophet, Cayce could hardly be viewed as an unusual choice, but, historically, as a perfect one.

* The term “New Age” is often used to denote trendy or fickle spiritual tastes. I do not share in that usage. I use New Age to reference the eclectic culture of therapeutic and experimental spirituality that emerged in the late-twentieth century.

A Seer in Season

It was this Edgar Cayce – an everyday man, dedicated Christian, and uneasy mystic – whom New England college student and future biographer Thomas Sugrue encountered in 1927. When Sugrue met Cayce, the twenty-year-old journalism student was not someone who frequented psychics or séance parlours. Sugrue was a dedicated Catholic who had considered joining the priesthood. Deeply versed in world affairs and possessed of an iron determination to break into news reporting, Sugrue left his native Connecticut in 1926 for Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, which was then one of the only schools in the nation to offer a journalism degree to undergraduates. (Sugrue later switched his major to English literature, in which he earned both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in four years.)

As a student, Sugrue rolled his eyes at paranormal claims or talk of ESP. Yet Sugrue met a new friend at Washington and Lee who challenged his preconceptions: the psychic’s eldest son, Hugh Lynn Cayce. Hugh Lynn had planned to attend Columbia but his father’s clairvoyant readings directed him instead to the old-line Virginia school. (The institution counted George Washington as an early benefactor.) Sugrue grew intrigued by his new friend’s stories about his father – in particular the elder Cayce’s theory that one person’s subconscious mind could communicate with another’s. The two freshmen enjoyed sparring intellectually and soon became roommates. While still cautious, Sugrue wanted to meet the agrarian seer.

Edgar and his wife Gertrude, meanwhile, were laying new roots about 250 miles east of Lexington in Virginia Beach, a location the readings had also selected. The psychic spent the remainder of his life in the Atlantic coastal town, delivering twice-daily readings and developing the Association for Research and Enlightenment (A.R.E.), a spiritual learning centre that remains active there today.

Accompanying Hugh Lynn home in June 1927, Sugrue received a “life reading” from Cayce. In these psychological readings, Cayce was said to peer into a subject’s “past life” incarnations and influences, analyse his character through astrology and other esoteric methods, and view his personal struggles and aptitudes. Cayce correctly identified the young writer’s interest in the Middle East, a region where Sugrue later issued news reports on the founding of the modern state of Israel. But it wasn’t until Christmas of that year that Sugrue, upon receiving an intimate and uncannily accurate medical reading, became an all-out convert to Cayce’s psychical abilities.

Sugrue went on to fulfil his aim of becoming a journalist, writing from different parts of the world for publications including the New York Herald Tribune and The American Magazine. But his life remained interwoven with Cayce’s. Stricken by debilitating arthritis in the late 1930s, Sugrue sought help through Cayce’s medical readings. From 1939 to 1941, the ailing Sugrue lived with the Cayce family in Virginia Beach, writing and convalescing. During these years of close access to Cayce – while struggling with painful joints and limited mobility – Sugrue completed There Is a River, the sole biography written of Cayce during his lifetime, now available in a new edition. When the book first appeared in 1942 it brought Cayce national attention that surpassed even the earlier Times coverage.

Documenting the Prophet

Sugrue was not Cayce’s only enthusiast within the world of American letters. There Is a River broke through the sceptical wall of New York publishing thanks to a reputable editor, William Sloane, of Holt, Rinehart & Winston, who experienced his own brush with the Cayce readings.

In 1940, Sloane agreed to consider the manuscript for There Is a River. He knew the biography was highly sympathetic, a fact that did not endear him to it. Sloane’s wariness faded after Cayce’s clairvoyant diagnosis helped one of the editor’s children. Novelist and screenwriter Nora Ephron recounted the episode in a 1968 New York Times article.

“I read it,” Sloane told Ephron. “Now there isn’t any way to test a manuscript like this. So I did the only thing I could do.” He went on:

A member of my family, one of my children, had been in great and continuing pain. We’d been to all the doctors and dentists in the area and all the tests were negative and the pain was still there. I wrote Cayce, told him my child was in pain and would be at a certain place at such-and-such a time, and enclosed a check for $25. He wrote back that there was an infection in the jaw behind a particular tooth. So I took the child to the dentist and told him to pull the tooth. The dentist refused – he said his professional ethics prevented him from pulling sound teeth. Finally, I told him he would have to pull it. One tooth more or less didn’t matter, I said – I couldn’t live with the child in such pain. So he pulled the tooth and the infection was there and the pain went away. I was a little shook. I’m the kind of man who believes in X-rays. About this time, a member of my staff who thought I was nuts to get involved with this took even more precautions in writing to Cayce than I did, and he sent her back facts about her own body only she could have known. So I published Sugrue’s book.

Many literary journalists and historians since Sugrue have traced Cayce’s life. Journalist and documentarian Sidney D. Kirkpatrick wrote the landmark record of Cayce in his 2000 biography Edgar Cayce. Historian K. Paul Johnson crafted a deeply balanced and meticulous scholarly analysis of Cayce with the 1998 Edgar Cayce in Context. And the intrepid scholar of religion Harmon Bro – who spent nine months in Cayce’s company toward the end of the psychic’s life – produced insightful studies of Cayce as a Christian mystic in his 1955 University of Chicago doctoral thesis (a groundbreaking work of modern scholarship on an occult subject) and later in the 1989 biography Seer Out of Season. While Harmon Bro died in 1997, his family has a long – and still active – literary involvement with Cayce. Bro’s mother, Margueritte, was a pioneering female journalist in the first half of the twentieth century who brought Cayce national attention in her 1943 profile in Coronet magazine: “Miracle Man of Virginia Beach.” Bro’s wife June and daughter Pamela actively teach and interpret the Cayce ideas today.

There exist many other works on Cayce – it would take several paragraphs to appreciate the best of them. But it was Sugrue, an accomplished print journalist who worked and convalesced with Cayce for several years, who fully – and this word is chosen carefully – captured Cayce’s goodness.

Sugrue’s historical Edgar Cayce is the man who grew from being an awkward, soft-voiced adolescent to a national figure who never quite knew how to manage his fame – and less so how to manage money, often foregoing or deferring his usual $20 fee for readings, leaving himself and his family in a perpetual state of financial precariousness. In a typical letter from 1940, Cayce replied to a blind labourer who asked about paying in instalments: “You may take care of the [fee] any way convenient to your self – please know one is not prohibited from having a reading… because they haven’t money. If this information is of a divine source it can’t be sold, if it isn’t then it isn’t worth any thing.”

Sugrue also captured Cayce as a figure of deep Christian faith struggling to come to terms with the occult concepts that ran through his readings beginning in the early 1920s. This material extended to numerology, astrology, crystal gazing, modern prophecies, reincarnation, karma, and the story of mythical civilisations, including Atlantis and prehistoric Egypt. People who sought readings were intrigued and emotionally impacted by this material as much as by Cayce’s medical diagnoses. What’s more, in readings that dealt with spiritual and esoteric topics – along with the more familiar readings that focused on holistic remedies, massage, meditation, and natural foods – there began to emerge the range of subjects that formed the parameters of therapeutic New Age spirituality in the latter twentieth century.

READ: 80 Years Ago Edgar Cayce Predicted Putin’s Role in Stopping WW3

Esoteric Philosopher

Cayce did more than assemble a catalogue of the dawning New Age. The spiritual ideas running through his readings, combined with his own intrepid study of Scripture, supplied the basis for a universal approach to religion, which, in various ways, also spread across American culture. Sugrue captures this especially well in chapter fifteen, which recounts Cayce’s metaphysical explorations with an Ohio printer and Theosophist named Arthur Lammers. Cayce’s collaboration with Lammers, which began in the autumn of 1923 in Selma, Alabama, marked a turn in Cayce’s career from medical clairvoyant to esoteric philosopher.

Licking his wounds after his failed oil ventures, Cayce had resettled his family in Selma where he planned to resume his career as a commercial photographer. He and Gertrude, who had long suffered her husband’s absences and unsteady finances, enrolled their son Hugh Lynn, then sixteen, in Selma High School. The family, now including five-year-old Edgar Evans, settled into a new home and appeared headed for some measure of domestic normalcy. All this got upturned in September, however, when the wealthy printer Lammers arrived from Dayton. Lammers had learned of Cayce during the psychic’s oil-prospecting days. He showed up at Cayce’s photo studio with an intriguing proposition.

Lammers was both a hard-driving businessman and an avid seeker in Theosophy, ancient religions, and the occult. He impressed upon Cayce that the seer could use his psychical powers for more than medical diagnoses. Lammers wanted Cayce to probe the secrets of the ages: What happens after death? Is there a soul? Why are we alive? Lammers yearned to understand the meaning of the pyramids, astrology, alchemy, the “Etheric World,” reincarnation, and the mystery religions of ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome. He felt certain that Cayce’s readings could part the veil shrouding the ageless wisdom.

After years of stalled progress in his personal life, Cayce was enticed by this new sense of mission. Lammers urged Cayce to return with him to Dayton, where he promised to place the Cayce family in a new home and financially care for them. Cayce agreed, and uprooted Gertrude and their younger son, Edgar Evans. Hugh Lynn remained behind with friends in Selma to finish out the school term. Lammers’s financial promises later proved elusive and Cayce’s Dayton years, which preceded his move to Virginia Beach, turned into a period of financial despair. Nonetheless, for Cayce, if not his loved ones, Dayton also marked a stage of unprecedented discovery.

Cayce and Lammers began their explorations at a downtown hotel on 11 October 1923. In the presence of several onlookers, Lammers arranged for Cayce to enter a trance and to give the printer an astrological reading. Whatever hesitancies the waking Cayce evinced over arcane subjects vanished while he was in his trance state. Cayce expounded on the validity of astrology even as “the Source” – what Cayce called the ethereal intelligence behind his readings – alluded to misconceptions in the Western model. Toward the end of the reading, Cayce almost casually tossed off that it was Lammers’s “third appearance on this [earthly] plane. He was once a monk.” It was an unmistakable reference to reincarnation – just the type of insight Lammers had been seeking.

In the weeks ahead, the men continued their readings, probing into Hermetic and esoteric spirituality. From a trance state on 18 October, Cayce laid out for Lammers a whole philosophy of life, dealing with karmic rebirth, man’s role in the cosmic order, and the hidden meaning of existence:

In this we see the plan of development of those individuals set upon this plane, meaning the ability (as would be manifested from the physical) to enter again into the presence of the Creator and become a full part of that creation. Insofar as this entity is concerned, this is the third appearance on this plane, and before this one, as the monk. We see glimpses in the life of the entity now as were shown in the monk, in his mode of living. The body is only the vehicle ever of that spirit and soul that waft through all times and ever remain the same.

These phrases were, for Lammers, the golden key to the mysteries: a theory of eternal recurrence, or reincarnation, that identified man’s destiny as inner refinement through karmic cycles of rebirth, then reintegration with the source of Creation. This, the printer believed, was the hidden truth behind the Scriptural injunction to be “born again” so as to “enter the kingdom of Heaven.”

“It opens up the door,” Lammers told Cayce. “It’s like finding the secret chamber of the Great Pyramid.” He insisted that the doctrine that came through the readings synchronised the great wisdom traditions: “It’s Hermetic, it’s Pythagorean, it’s Jewish, it’s Christian!” Cayce himself wasn’t sure what to believe. “The important thing,” Lammers reassured him, “is that the basic system which runs through all the mystery traditions, whether they come from Tibet or the pyramids of Egypt, is backed up by you. It’s actually the right system…. It not only agrees with the best ethics of religion and society, it is the source of them.”

Lammers’s enthusiasms aside, the religious ideas that emerged from Cayce’s readings did articulate a compelling theology. Cayce’s teachings sought to marry a Christian moral outlook with the cycles of karma and reincarnation central to Hindu and Buddhist ways of thought, as well as the Hermetic concept of man as an extension of the Divine. Cayce’s references elsewhere to the causative powers of the mind – “the spiritual is the LIFE; the mental is the BUILDER; the physical is the RESULT” – melded his cosmic philosophy with tenets of New Thought, Christian Science, and mental healing. If there was an inner philosophy unifying the world’s religions, Cayce came as close as any modern person in defining it.

Cayce’s “Source”

Religious traditionalists could rightly object: Just where are Cayce’s “insights” coming from? Are they the product of a Higher Power or merely the overactive imagination of a religious outlier? Or, worse, are his phrases the type of muddle-fuddle produced by haunts at Ouija board sessions?

Cayce himself wrestled with these questions. His response was that all of his ideas, whatever their source, had to square with Gospel ethics in order to be judged vital and right. Cayce addressed this in a talk that he delivered in his normal waking state in Norfolk, Virginia, in February of 1933, just before he turned fifty-six:

Many people ask me how I prevent undesirable influences entering into the work I do. In order to answer that question let me relate an experience I had as a child. When I was between eleven and twelve years of age I had read the Bible through three times. I have now read it fifty-six times. No doubt many people have read it more times than that, but I have tried to read it through once for each year of my life. Well, as a child I prayed that I might be able to do something for the other fellow, to aid others in understanding themselves, and especially to aid children in their ills. I had a vision one day which convinced me that my prayer had been heard and answered.

Cayce’s “vision” has been described differently by different biographers. Sugrue recounts the episode occurring when Cayce was about twelve in the woods outside his home in western Kentucky. Cayce himself places it in his bedroom at age thirteen or fourteen. One night, this adolescent boy who had spoken of childhood conversations with “hidden friends,” and who hungrily read through Scripture, knelt by his bed and prayed for the ability to help others.

Just before drifting to sleep, Cayce recalled, a glorious light filled the room and a feminine apparition appeared at the foot of his bed telling him: “Thy prayers are heard. You will have your wish. Remain faithful. Be true to yourself. Help the sick, the afflicted.”

Cayce did not realise until years later what form his answered prayers would take – and even in his twenties it took him years to adjust to being a medical clairvoyant. As his new powers took shape he laboured to use Scripture as his moral vetting mechanism. Yet he consistently attributed his information to the “Source” – another subject on which he expanded at Norfolk:

As a matter of fact, there would seem to be not only one, but several sources of information that I tap when in this sleep condition. One source is, apparently, the recording that an individual or entity makes in all its experiences through what we call time. The sum-total of the experiences of that soul is “written,” so to speak, in the subconscious of that individual as well as in what is known as the Akashic records. Anyone may read these records if he can attune himself properly.

Cayce’s concept of the “Akashic records” is derived from ancient Vedic writings, in which akasha is a kind of universal ether. This idea of universal records was popularised to Westerners in the late nineteenth-century through the work of occult philosopher, world traveller, and Theosophy co-founder Madame H.P. Blavatsky.

A generation before Cayce, Blavatsky told of a hidden philosophy at the core of the historic faiths – and of a cosmic record bank that catalogs all human events. In Blavatsky’s 1877 study of occult philosophy, Isis Unveiled, the Theosophist described an all-pervasive magnetic ether that “keeps an unmutilated record of all that was, that is, or ever will be.” These astral records, wrote Blavatsky, preserve “a vivid picture for the eye of the seer and prophet to follow.” Blavatsky equated this archival ether with the “Book of Life” from Revelation.

Returning to the topic in her massive 1888 study of occult history, The Secret Doctrine, Blavatsky depicted these etheric records in more explicitly Vedic terms (having spent several preceding years in India). In the first of her two-volume study, Blavatsky referred to “Akâsic or astral-photographs” – inching closer to the term “Akashic records” as used by Cayce.

Cayce was not the first channeller to credit the “Akashic records” as his source of data. In 1908, a retired Civil War chaplain and Church of Christ pastor named Levi H. Dowling said that he clairvoyantly channelled an alternative history of Christ in The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ. In Dowling’s influential account, the Son of man travels and studies throughout the religious cultures of the East before dispensing a message of universal faith that encompasses all the world’s traditions. Dowling, too, attributed his insights to the “Akashic records,” accessed while in a trance state in his Los Angeles living room.

Cayce, like Blavatsky, equated akasha with the Scriptural Book of Life. This was an example of how Cayce harmonised the exotic and unfamiliar themes of his readings with his Christian worldview. In a similar vein, he reinterpreted the ninth chapter of the Book of John, in which Christ heals a man who had been blind from birth, to validate ideas of karma and reincarnation. When the disciples ask Christ whether it was the man’s sins or those of his parents that caused his affliction, the Master replies enigmatically: “Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him” (John 9:3). In Cayce’s reasoning, since the blind man was born with his disorder, and Christ exonerates both the man and his parents, his disability must be karmic baggage from a previous incarnation. Cayce made comparable interpretations of passages from Matthew and Revelation.

In another effort to unite the poles of different traditions, Cayce elsewhere associated his esoteric search with Madame Blavatsky’s. On four occasions he reported being visited by a mysterious, turbaned spiritual master from the East – one of the mahatmas, or great souls, whom Blavatsky said had guided her.

The Legacy

Neither Cayce nor Sugrue lived long enough to witness the full reach of Cayce’s ideas. The psychic died at age sixty-seven in Virginia Beach on 3 January 1945, less than three years after There Is a River first appeared. Sugrue updated the book that year. After struggling with years of illness, the biographer died at age forty-five on 6 January 1953 at the Hospital for Joint Diseases in New York.

The first popularisations of Cayce’s work began to appear in 1950 with the publication of Many Mansions, an enduring work on reincarnation by Gina Cerminara, a longtime Cayce devotee. But it wasn’t until 1956 that Cayce’s name took full flight across the culture with the appearance of the sensationally popular book The Search for Bridey Murphy by Morey Bernstein. Sugrue’s editor Sloane, having since warmed to parapsychology, published both Cerminara and Bernstein.

Bernstein was an iconic figure. A Coloradan of Jewish descent and an Ivy League-educated dealer in heavy machinery and scrap metal, he grew inspired by Cayce’s career – partly through the influence of Sugrue’s book – and became an amateur hypnotist. In the early 1950s, Bernstein conducted a series of experiments with a Pueblo, Colorado, housewife who, while under a hypnotic trance, appeared to regress into a past-life persona: an early nineteenth-century Irish country girl named Bridey Murphy. The entranced homemaker spoke in an Irish brogue and recounted to Bernstein comprehensive details of her life more than a century earlier.

Suddenly, reincarnation – an ancient Vedic concept about which Americans had heard little before World War II – was the latest craze, ignited by Bernstein, an avowed admirer of Cayce, to whom the hypnotist devoted two chapters in his book.

In the following decade, California journalist Jess Stearn further ramped up interest in Cayce with his 1967 bestseller, Edgar Cayce,HYPERLINK “http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0553260855/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0553260855&linkCode=as2&tag=wakitime09-20&linkId=CNHZBUYEZZ2C4PYS” The Sleeping Prophet. With the mystic sixties in full swing, and the youth culture embracing all forms of alternative or Eastern spirituality – from Zen to yoga to psychedelics – Cayce, while not explicitly tied to any of this, rode the new vogue in alternative spirituality. During this time, Hugh Lynn Cayce emerged as a formidable custodian of his father’s legacy, presiding over the expansion of the Virginia Beach-based Association for Research and Enlightenment, and shepherding to market a new wave of instructional guides based on the Cayce teachings, from dream interpretation to drug-free methods of relaxation to the spiritual uses of colours, crystals, and numbers. Cayce’s name became a permanent fixture on the cultural landscape.

The 1960s and 70s also saw a new generation of channelled literature – Cayce himself originated the term channel – from higher intelligences such as Seth, Ramtha, and even the figure of Christ in A Course in Miracles. The last was a profound and enduring lesson series, channelled beginning in 1965 by Columbia University research psychiatrist Helen Schucman.

A concordance of tone and values existed between Cayce’s readings and A Course in Miracles. Cayce’s devotees and the Course’s wide array of readers discovered that they had a lot in common; members of both cultures blended seamlessly, attending many of the same seminars, growth centres, and metaphysical churches.

Likewise, a congruency emerged between Cayce’s world and followers of the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. Starting in the 1970s, twelve-steppers of various stripes became a familiar presence at Cayce conferences and events in Virginia Beach.

Cayce’s universalistic religious message dovetailed with the purposefully flexible references to a Higher Power in the “Big Book,” Alcoholics Anonymous, written in 1939. AA cofounder Bill Wilson, his wife Lois, his confidant Bob Smith, and several other early AAs were deeply versed in mystical and mediumistic teachings. Whether they viewed Cayce as an influence is unclear. But all three works – the Cayce readings, A Course in Miracles, and Alcoholics Anonymous – demonstrated a shared sense of religious liberalism, an encouragement that all individuals seek their own conception of a Higher Power, and a permeability intended to accommodate the broadest expression of religious outlooks and backgrounds.

The free-flowing tone of the therapeutic spiritual movements of the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries had a shared antecedent, if not a direct ancestry, in the Cayce readings.

Sugrue provided an irreplaceable record of Cayce’s development as a spiritual messenger and pioneer. The biographer captured the seer as the person who Cayce himself said he was: An ordinary man who struggled with his apparent psychical abilities and the universal religious ideas that travelled through him.

But Sugrue’s work accomplished more than just that. His portrait of Cayce, in its own right, became a formative document of New Age spirituality. In exploring Cayce’s career, Sugrue highlighted and popularised core themes from the Cayce readings – including past-life experiences, alternative medical treatments, the imperative of the individual spiritual search, and the idea of religion as a practical source of healing.

Sugrue demonstrated how Cayce – a committed Christian, a Sunday school teacher, and, by his own reckoning, an everyday man – developed into the founding prophet of Aquarian Age spirituality. In capturing the drama and events of Cayce’s journey, Sugrue elevated the clarity and endurance of the seer’s message.

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„This article is adapted from Mitch Horowitz’s introduction to the reissue of There Is a River: The Story of Edgar Cayce (Tarcher/Penguin and A.R.E. Press, 2015). The book is available from all good bookstores and online retailers.

About the Author

MITCH HOROWITZ is a PEN Award-winning historian and the author of Occult America andOne Simple Idea: How Positive Thinking Reshaped Modern Life. He has written on alternative spirituality for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post, and is the host of the new web series Origins: Superstitions (www.OriginsTheSeries.com). Visit him @MitchHorowitz and www.MitchHorowitz.com.

The above article appeared in New Dawn 150 (May-June 2015)

© New Dawn Magazine and the respective author.

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Beyond Left & Right: Escaping the Matrix

WIKI-Matrix-01

The defining dramatic moment in the film The Matrix occurs just after Morpheus invites Neo to choose between a red pill and a blue pill. The red pill promises “the truth, nothing more.” Neo takes the red pill and awakes to reality – something utterly different from anything Neo, or the audience, could have expected. What Neo had assumed to be reality turned out to be only a collective illusion, fabricated by the Matrix and fed to a population that is asleep, cocooned in grotesque embryonic pods. In Plato’s famous parable about the shadows on the walls of the cave, true reality is at least reflected in perceived reality. In the Matrix world, true reality and perceived reality exist on entirely different planes.

The story is intended as metaphor, and the parallels that drew my attention had to do with political reality. This article offers a particular perspective on what’s going on in the world – and how things got to be that way – in this era of globalization. From that red-pill perspective, everyday media-consensus reality – like the Matrix in the film – is seen to be a fabricated collective illusion. Like Neo, I didn’t know what I was looking for when my investigation began, but I knew that what I was being told didn’t make sense. I read scores of histories and biographies, observing connections between them, and began to develop my own theories about roots of various historical events. I found myself largely in agreement with writers like Noam Chomsky and Michael Parenti, but I also perceived important patterns that others seem to have missed.

When I started tracing historical forces, and began to interpret present-day events from a historical perspective, I could see the same old dynamics at work and found a meaning in unfolding events far different from what official pronouncements proclaimed. Such pronouncements are, after all, public relations fare, given out by politicians who want to look good to the voters. Most of us expect rhetoric from politicians, and take what they say with a grain of salt. But as my own picture of present reality came into focus, “grain of salt” no longer worked as a metaphor. I began to see that consensus reality – as generated by official rhetoric and amplified by mass media – bears very little relationship to actual reality. “The matrix” was a metaphor I was ready for.

In consensus reality (the blue-pill perspective) “left” and “right” are the two ends of the political spectrum. Politics is a tug-of-war between competing factions, carried out by political parties and elected representatives. Society gets pulled this way and that within the political spectrum, reflecting the interests of whichever party won the last election. The left and right are therefore political enemies. Each side is convinced that it knows how to make society better; each believes the other enjoys undue influence; and each blames the other for the political stalemate that apparently prevents society from dealing effectively with its problems.This perspective on the political process, and on the roles of left and right, is very far from reality. It is a fabricated collective illusion. Morpheus tells Neo that the Matrix is “the world that was pulled over your eyes to hide you from the truth…. As long as the Matrix exists, humanity cannot be free.” Consensus political reality is precisely such a matrix. Later we will take a fresh look at the role of left and right, and at national politics. But first we must develop our red-pill historical perspective. I’ve had to condense the arguments to bare essentials; please see the annotated sources at the end for more thorough treatments of particular topics.

Imperialism and the Matrix

From the time of Columbus to 1945, world affairs were largely dominated by competition among Western nations seeking to stake out spheres of influence, control sea lanes, and exploit colonial empires. Each Western power became the core of an imperialist economy whose periphery was managed for the benefit of the core nation. Military might determined the scope of an empire; wars were initiated when a core nation felt it had sufficient power to expand its periphery at the expense of a competitor. Economies and societies in the periphery were kept backward – to keep their populations under control, to provide cheap labour, and to guarantee markets for goods manufactured in the core. Imperialism robbed the periphery not only of wealth but also of its ability to develop its own societies, cultures, and economies in a natural way for local benefit.

The driving force behind Western imperialism has always been the pursuit of economic gain, ever since Isabella commissioned Columbus on his first entrepreneurial voyage. The rhetoric of empire concerning wars, however, has typically been about other things – the White Man’s Burden, bringing true religion to the heathens, Manifest Destiny, defeating the Yellow Peril or the Hun, seeking lebensraum, or making the world safe for democracy. Any fabricated motivation for war or empire would do, as long as it appealed to the collective consciousness of the population at the time. The propaganda lies of yesterday were recorded and became consensus history – the fabric of the matrix.

While the costs of territorial empire (fleets, colonial administrations, etc.) were borne by Western taxpayers generally, the profits of imperialism were enjoyed primarily by private corporations and investors. Government and corporate elites were partners in the business of imperialism: empires gave government leaders power and prestige, and gave corporate leaders power and wealth. Corporations ran the real business of empire while government leaders fabricated noble excuses for the wars that were required to keep that business going. Matrix reality was about patriotism, national honour, and heroic causes; true reality was on another plane altogether: that of economics.Industrialisation, beginning in the late 1700s, created a demand for new markets and increased raw materials; both demands spurred accelerated expansion of empire. Wealthy investors amassed fortunes by setting up large-scale industrial and trading operations, leading to the emergence of an influential capitalist elite. Like any other elite, capitalists used their wealth and influence to further their own interests however they could. And the interests of capitalism always come down to economic growth; investors must reap more than they sow or the whole system comes to a grinding halt.

Thus capitalism, industrialisation, nationalism, warfare, imperialism – and the matrix – coevolved. Industrialised weapon production provided the muscle of modern warfare, and capitalism provided the appetite to use that muscle. Government leaders pursued the policies necessary to expand empire while creating a rhetorical matrix, around nationalism, to justify those policies. Capitalist growth depended on empire, which in turn depended on a strong and stable core nation to defend it. National interests and capitalist interests were inextricably linked – or so it seemed for more than two centuries.

World War II and Pax Americana

1945 will be remembered as the year World War II ended and the bond of the atomic nucleus was broken. But 1945 also marked another momentous fission – breaking of the bond between national and capitalist interests. After every previous war, and in many cases after severe devastation, European nations had always picked themselves back up and resumed their competition over empire. But after World War II, a Pax Americana was established. The US began to manage all the Western peripheries on behalf of capitalism generally, while preventing the communist powers from interfering in the game. Capitalist powers no longer needed to fight over investment realms, and competitive imperialism was replaced by collective imperialism (see sidebar below). Opportunities for capital growth were no longer linked to the military power of nations, apart from the power of America.

In his  Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II  (see recommended reading), William Blum chronicles hundreds of significant covert and overt interventions, showing exactly how the US carried out its imperial management role.In the postwar years matrix reality diverged ever further from actual reality. In the postwar matrix world, imperialism had been abandoned and the world was being “democratised”; in the real world, imperialism had become better organised and more efficient. In the matrix world the US “restored order,” or “came to the assistance” of nations which were being “undermined by Soviet influence”; in the real world, the periphery was being systematically suppressed and exploited. In the matrix world, the benefit was going to the periphery in the form of countless aid programs; in the real world, immense wealth was being extracted from the periphery.

Growing glitches in the matrix weren’t noticed by most people in the West, because the postwar years brought unprecedented levels of Western prosperity and social progress. The rhetoric claimed progress would come to all, and Westerners could see it being realised in their own towns and cities. The West became the collective core of a global empire, and exploitative development led to prosperity for Western populations, while generating immense riches for corporations, banks, and wealthy capital investors.

Glitches in the Matrix, Popular Rebellion, and Neoliberalism

The parallel agenda of Third-World exploitation and Western prosperity worked effectively for the first two postwar decades. But in the 1960s large numbers of Westerners, particularly the young and well educated, began to notice glitches in the matrix. In Vietnam imperialism was too naked to be successfully masked as something else. A major split in American public consciousness occurred, as millions of anti-war protesters and civil-rights activists punctured the fabricated consensus of the 1950s and declared the reality of exploitation and suppression both at home and abroad. The environmental movement arose, challenging even the exploitation of the natural world.

In Europe, 1968 joined 1848 as a landmark year of popular protest. These developments disturbed elite planners. The postwar regime’s stability was being challenged from within the core – and the formula of Western prosperity no longer guaranteed public passivity. A report published in 1975, the Report of the Trilateral Task Force on Governability of Democracies, provides a glimpse into the thinking of elite circles. Alan Wolfe discusses this report in Holly Sklar’s eye-opening Trilateralism (see recommended reading). Wolfe focuses especially on the analysis Harvard professor Samuel P. Huntington presented in a section of the report entitled “The Crisis of Democracy.” Huntington is an articulate promoter of elite policy shifts, and contributes pivotal articles to publications such as the Council on Foreign Relations’s Foreign Affairs (see recommended reading).

Huntington tells us that democratic societies “cannot work” unless the citizenry is “passive.” The “democratic surge of the 1960s” represented an “excess of democracy,” which must be reduced if governments are to carry out their traditional domestic and foreign policies. Huntington’s notion of “traditional policies” is expressed in a passage from the report: To the extent that the United States was governed by anyone during the decades after World War II, it was governed by the President acting with the support and cooperation of key individuals and groups in the executive office, the federal bureaucracy, Congress, and the more important businesses, banks, law firms, foundations, and media, which constitute the private sector’s ‘Establishment’.

In these few words Huntington spells out the reality that electoral democracy has little to do with how America is run, and summarises the kind of people who are included within the elite planning community. Who needs conspiracy theories when elite machinations are clearly described in public documents like these?

Besides failing to deliver popular passivity, the policy of prosperity for Western populations had another downside, having to do with Japan’s economic success. Under the Pax Americana umbrella, Japan had been able to industrialise and become an imperial player – the prohibition on Japanese rearmament had become irrelevant. With Japan’s then-lower living standards, Japanese producers could undercut prevailing prices and steal market share from Western producers. Western capital needed to find a way to become more competitive on world markets, and Western prosperity was standing in the way. Elite strategists, as Huntington showed, were fully capable of understanding these considerations, and the requirements of corporate growth created a strong motivation to make the needed adjustments – in both reality and rhetoric.

If popular prosperity could be sacrificed, there were many obvious ways Western capital could be made more competitive. Production could be moved overseas to low-wage areas, allowing domestic unemployment to rise. Unions could be attacked and wages forced down, and people could be pushed into temporary and part-time jobs without benefits. Regulations governing corporate behaviour could be removed, corporate and capital-gains taxes could be reduced, and the revenue losses could be taken out of public-service budgets. Public infrastructures could be privatised, the services reduced to cut costs, and then they could be milked for easy profits while they deteriorated from neglect.

These are the very policies and programs launched during the Reagan-Thatcher years in the US and Britain. They represent a systematic project of increasing corporate growth at the expense of popular prosperity and welfare. Such a real agenda would have been unpopular, and a corresponding matrix reality was fabricated for public consumption. The matrix reality used real terms like “deregulation,” “reduced taxes,” and “privatisation,” but around them was woven an economic mythology. The old, failedlaissez-faire doctrine of the 1800s was reintroduced with the help of Milton Friedman’s Chicago School of economics, and “less government” became the proud “modern” theme in America and Britain. Sensible regulations had restored financial stability after the Great Depression, and had broken up anti-competitive monopolies such as the Rockefeller trust and AT&T. But in the new matrix reality, all regulations were considered bureaucratic interference. Reagan and Thatcher preached the virtues of individualism, and promised to “get government off people’s backs.” The implication was that everyday individuals were to get more money and freedom, but in reality the primary benefits would go to corporations and wealthy investors.

The academic term for laissez-faire economics is “economic liberalism,” and hence the Reagan-Thatcher revolution has come to be known as the “neoliberal revolution.” It brought a radical change in actual reality by returning to the economic philosophy that led to sweatshops, corruption, and robber-baron monopolies in the nineteenth century. It brought an equally radical change in matrix reality – a complete reversal in the attitude that was projected regarding government. Government policies had always been criticised in the media, but the institution of government had always been respected – reflecting the traditional bond between capitalism and nationalism. With Reagan, we had a sitting president telling us that government itself was a bad thing. Many of us may have agreed with him, but such a sentiment had never before found official favour. Soon, British and American populations were beginning to applaud the destruction of the very democratic institutions that provided their only hope of participation in the political process.

Globalisation and World Government

The essential bond between capitalism and nationalism was broken in 1945, but it took some time for elite planners to recognise this new condition and to begin bringing the world system into alignment with it. The strong Western nation state had been the bulwark of capitalism for centuries, and initial postwar policies were based on the assumption that this would continue indefinitely. The Bretton Woods financial system (the IMF, World Bank, and a system of fixed exchange rates among major currencies) was set up to stabilise national economies, and popular prosperity was encouraged to provide political stability. Neoliberalism in the US and Britain represented the first serious break with this policy framework – and brought the first visible signs of the fission of the nation-capital bond.

The neoliberal project was economically profitable in the US and Britain, and the public accepted the matrix economic mythology. Meanwhile, the integrated global economy gave rise to a new generation of transnational corporations, and corporate leaders began to realise that corporate growth was not dependent on strong core nation-states. Indeed, Western nations – with their environmental laws, consumer-protection measures, and other forms of regulatory “interference” – were a burden on corporate growth. Having been successfully field tested in the two oldest “democracies,” the neoliberal project moved onto the global stage. The Bretton Woods system of fixed rates of currency exchange was weakened, and the international financial system became destabilising, instead of stabilising, for national economies. The radical free-trade project was launched, leading eventually to the World Trade Organisation. The fission that had begun in 1945 was finally manifesting as an explosive change in the world system.

The objective of neoliberal free-trade treaties is to remove all political controls over domestic and international trade and commerce. Corporations have free rein to maximise profits, heedless of environmental consequences and safety risks. Instead of governments regulating corporations, the WTO now sets rules for governments, telling them what kind of beef they must import, whether or not they can ban asbestos, and what additives they must permit in petroleum products. So far, in every case where the WTO has been asked to review a health, safety, or environmental regulation, the regulation has been overturned.

Most of the world has been turned into a periphery; the imperial core has been boiled down to the capitalist elite themselves, represented by their bureaucratic, unrepresentative, WTO world government. The burden of accelerated imperialism falls hardest outside the West, where loans are used as a lever by the IMF to compel debtor nations such as Rwanda and South Korea to accept suicidal “reform” packages. In the 1800s, genocide was employed to clear North America and Australia of their native populations, creating room for growth. Today, a similar program of genocide has apparently been unleashed against sub-Saharan Africa. The IMF destroys the economies, the CIA trains militias and stirs up tribal conflicts, and the West sells weapons to all sides. Famine and genocidal civil wars are the predictable and inevitable result. Meanwhile, AIDS runs rampant while the WTO and the US government use trade laws to prevent medicines from reaching the victims.

As in the past, Western military force will be required to control the non-Western periphery and make adjustments to local political arrangements when considered necessary by elite planners. The Pentagon continues to provide the primary policing power, with NATO playing an ever-increasing role. Resentment against the West and against neoliberalism is growing in the Third World, and the frequency of military interventions is bound to increase. All of this needs to be made acceptable to Western minds, adding a new dimension to the matrix.

In the latest matrix reality, the West is called the “international community,” whose goal is to serve “humanitarian” causes. Bill Clinton made it explicit with his “Clinton Doctrine,” in which (as quoted in the Washington Post) he solemnly promised, “If somebody comes after innocent civilians and tries to kill them en masse because of their race, their ethnic background or their religion and it is within our power stop it, we will stop it.” This matrix fabrication is very effective indeed; who opposes prevention of genocide? Only outside the matrix does one see that genocide is caused by the West in the first place, that the worst cases of genocide are continuing, that “assistance” usually makes things worse (as in the Balkans), and that Clinton’s handy doctrine enables him to intervene when and where he chooses. Since dictators and the stirring of ethnic rivalries are standard tools used in managing the periphery, a US president can always find “innocent civilians” wherever elite plans call for an intervention.

In matrix reality, globalisation is not a project but rather the inevitable result of beneficial market forces. Genocide in Africa is no fault of the West, but is due to ancient tribal rivalries. Every measure demanded by globalisation is referred to as “reform,” (the word is never used with irony). “Democracy” and “reform” are frequently used together, always leaving the subtle impression that one has something to do with the other. The illusion is presented that all economic boats are rising, and if yours isn’t, it must be your own fault: you aren’t “competitive” enough. Economic failures are explained away as “temporary adjustments,” or else the victim (as in South Korea or Russia) is blamed for not being sufficiently neoliberal. “Investor confidence” is referred to with the same awe and reverence that earlier societies might have expressed toward the “will of the gods.”

Western quality of life continues to decline, while the WTO establishes legal precedents ensuring that its authority will not be challenged when its decisions become more draconian. Things will get much worse in the West; this was anticipated in elite circles when the neoliberal project was still on the drawing board, as is illustrated in Samuel Huntington’s “The Crisis of Democracy” report discussed earlier.

Management of Discontented Societies

The postwar years, especially in the United States, were characterised by consensus politics. Most people shared a common understanding of how society worked, and generally approved of how things were going. Prosperity was real and the matrix version of reality was reassuring. Most people believed in it. Those beliefs became a shared consensus, and the government could then carry out its plans as it intended, “responding” to the programmed public will.

The “excess democracy” of the 1960s and 1970s attacked this shared consensus from below, and neoliberal planners decided from above that ongoing consensus wasn’t worth paying for. They accepted that segments of society would persist in disbelieving various parts of the matrix. Activism and protest were to be expected. New means of social control would be needed to deal with activist movements and with growing discontent, as neoliberalism gradually tightened the economic screws. Such means of control were identified and have since been largely implemented, particularly in the United States. In many ways America sets the pace of globalisation; innovations can often be observed there before they occur elsewhere. This is particularly true in the case of social-control techniques.

The most obvious means of social control, in a discontented society, is a strong, semi-militarised police force. Most of the periphery has been managed by such means for centuries. This was obvious to elite planners in the West, was adopted as policy, and has now been largely implemented. Urban and suburban ghettos – where the adverse consequences of neoliberalism are currently most concentrated – have literally become occupied territories, where police beatings and unjustified shootings are commonplace.

So that the beefed-up police force could maintain control in conditions of mass unrest, elite planners also realised that much of the US Bill of Rights would need to be neutralised. (This is not surprising, given that the Bill’s authors had just lived through a revolution and were seeking to ensure that future generations would have the means to organise and overthrow any oppressive future government.) The rights-neutralisation project has been largely implemented, as exemplified by armed midnight raids, outrageous search-and-seizure practices, overly broad conspiracy laws, wholesale invasion of privacy, massive incarceration, and the rise of prison slave labour. The Rubicon has been crossed – the techniques of oppression long common in the empire’s periphery are being imported to the core.

In the matrix, the genre of the TV or movie police drama has served to create a reality in which “rights” are a joke, the accused are despicable sociopaths, and no criminal is ever brought to justice until some noble cop or prosecutor bends the rules a bit. Government officials bolster the construct by declaring “wars” on crime and drugs; the noble cops are fighting a war out there in the streets – and you can’t win a war without using your enemy’s dirty tricks. The CIA plays its role by managing the international drug trade and making sure that ghetto drug dealers are well supplied. In this way, the American public has been led to accept the means of its own suppression.

The mechanisms of the police state are in place. They will be used when necessary – as we see in ghettos and skyrocketing prison populations, as we saw on the streets of Seattle and Washington D.C. during recent anti-WTO demonstrations, and as is suggested by executive orders that enable the president to suspend the Constitution and declare martial law whenever he deems it necessary. But raw force is only the last line of defense for the elite regime. Neoliberal planners introduced more subtle defences into the matrix; looking at these will bring us back to our discussion of the left and right.

Divide and rule is one of the oldest means of mass control – standard practice since at least the Roman Empire. This is applied at the level of modern imperialism, where each small nation competes with other for capital investments. Within societies it works this way: If each social group can be convinced that some other group is the source of its discontent, then the population’s energy will be spent on inter-group struggles. The regime can sit on the sidelines, intervening covertly to stir things up or to guide them in desired directions. In this way most discontent can be neutralised, and force can be reserved for exceptional cases. In the prosperous postwar years, consensus politics served to manage the population. Under neoliberalism, programmed factionalism has become the front-line defense – the matrix version of divide and rule.

The covert guiding of various social movements has proven to be one of the most effective means of programming factions and stirring them against one another. Fundamentalist religious movements have been particularly useful. They have been used not only within the US, but also to maximise divisiveness in the Middle East and for other purposes throughout the empire. The collective energy and dedication of “true believers” makes them a potent political weapon that movement leaders can readily aim where needed. In the US that weapon has been used to promote censorship on the Internet, to attack the women’s movement, to support repressive legislation, and generally to bolster the ranks of what is called in the matrix the “right wing.”

In the matrix, the various factions believe that their competition with each other is the process that determines society’s political agenda. Politicians want votes, and hence the biggest and best-organised factions should have the most influence, and their agendas should get the most political attention. In reality there is only one significant political agenda these days: the maximisation of capital growth through the dismantling of society, the continuing implementation of neoliberalism, and the management of empire. Clinton’s liberal rhetoric and his playing around with health care and gay rights are not the result of liberal pressure. They are rather the means by which Clinton is sold to liberal voters, so that he can proceed with real business: getting NAFTA through Congress, promoting the WTO, giving away the public airwaves, justifying military interventions, and so forth. Issues of genuine importance are never raised in campaign politics – this is a major glitch in the matrix for those who have eyes to see it.

Escaping the Matrix

The matrix cannot fool all of the people all of the time. Under the onslaught of globalisation, the glitches are becoming ever more difficult to conceal – as earlier, with the Vietnam War. Last November’s anti-establishment demonstrations in Seattle, the largest in decades, were aimed directly at globalisation and the WTO. Even more important, Seattle saw the coming together of factions that the matrix had programmed to fight one another, such as left-leaning environmentalists and socially conservative union members.

Seattle represented the tip of an iceberg. A mass movement against globalisation and elite rule is ready to ignite, like a brush fire on a dry, scorching day. The establishment has been expecting such a movement and has a variety of defences at its command, including those used effectively against the movements of the 1960s and 1970s. In order to prevail against what seem like overwhelming odds, the movement must escape entirely from the matrix, and it must bring the rest of society with it. As long as the matrix exists, humanity cannot be free. The whole truth must be faced: Globalisation is centralised tyranny; capitalism has outlasted its sell-by date; matrix “democracy” is elite rule; and “market forces” are imperialism. Left and right are enemies only in the matrix. In reality we are all in this together, and each of us has a contribution to make toward a better world.

Marx may have failed as a social visionary, but he had capitalism figured out. It is based not on productivity or social benefit, but on the pursuit of capital growth through exploiting everything in its path. The job of elite planners is to create new spaces for capital to grow in. Competitive imperialism provided growth for centuries; collective imperialism was invented when still more growth was needed; and then neoliberalism took over. Like a cancer, capitalism consumes its host and is never satisfied. The capital pool must always grow, more and more, forever – until the host dies or capitalism is replaced.

The matrix equates capitalism with free enterprise, and defines centralised-state-planning socialism as the only alternative to capitalism. In reality, capitalism didn’t amount to much of a force until the Enlightenment and Industrial Revolution of the late 1700s – and we certainly cannot characterise all prior societies as socialist. Free enterprise, private property, commerce, banking, international trade, economic specialisation – all of these had existed for millennia before capitalism. Capitalism claims credit for modern prosperity, but credit would be better given to developments in science and technology.

Before capitalism, Western nations were generally run by aristocratic classes. The aristocratic attitude toward wealth focused on management and maintenance. With capitalism, the focus is always on growth and development; whatever one has is but the seeds to build a still greater fortune. In fact, there are infinite alternatives to capitalism, and different societies can choose different systems, once they are free to do so. As Morpheus put it: “Outside the matrix everything is possible, and there are no limits.”

The matrix defines “democracy” as competitive party politics, because that is a game wealthy elites have long since learned to corrupt and manipulate. Even in the days of the Roman Republic the techniques were well understood. Real-world democracy is possible only if the people themselves participate in setting society’s direction. An elected official can only truly represent a constituency after that constituency has worked out its positions – from the local to the global – on the issues of the day. For that to happen, the interests of different societal factions must be harmonised through interaction and discussion. Collaboration, not competition, is what leads to effective harmonisation.

In order for the movement to end elite rule and establish livable societies to succeed, it will need to evolve a democratic process, and to use that process to develop a program of consensus reform that harmonises the interests of its constituencies. In order to be politically victorious, it will need to reach out to all segments of society and become a majority movement. By such means, the democratic process of the movement can become the democratic process of a newly empowered civil society. There is no adequate theory of democracy at present, although there is much to be learned from history and from theory. The movement will need to develop a democratic process as it goes along, and that objective must be pursued as diligently as victory itself. Otherwise some new tyranny will eventually replace the old.

It ain’t left or right. It’s up and down.
Here we all are down here struggling while
the Corporate Elite are all up there having a nice day!

– Carolyn Chute, author of The Beans of Egypt Maine and anti-corporate activist

Footnotes:

1. Primarily Western Europe, later joined by the United States.
2. See “KGB-ing America”, Tony Serra, Whole Earth, Winter, 1998.

Recommended Reading:

Michel Chossudovsky, The Globalization Of Poverty – Impacts of IMF and World Bank Reforms, The Third World Network, Penang, Malaysia, 1997.

This detailed study by an economics insider shows the consequences of “reforms” in various parts of the world, revealing a clear pattern of callous neo-colonialism and genocide. Definitely red-pill material.

Jerry Mander and Edward Goldsmith, eds., The Case Against the Global Economy and for a Turn Toward The Local, Sierra Club Books, San Francisco, 1996.

This fine collection of forty-three chapters by knowledgeable contributors analyses the broad structure of globalisation, and explores locally based and sustainable economic alternatives. An excellent introduction, textbook, and reference work.

Richard Douthwaite, The Growth Illusion, Lilliput Press, Dublin, 1992.

A fascinating and wide-ranging look at growth and capitalism, their historical roots and their consequences. Offers a healthy dose of common sense, and a vision of stability and sustainability.

Frances Moore Lapp?, Joseph Collins, Peter Rosset, World Hunger, Twelve Myths, Grove Press, New York, 1986.

Another red pill. Debunks Malthusian thinking, among other things. Here’s a sample: “During the past twenty-five years food production has outstripped population growth by 16 Percent. India – which for many of us symbolizes over-population and poverty – is one of the top third-world food exporters. If a mere 5.6 percent of India’s food production were re-allocated, hunger would be wiped out in India.”

Hans-Peter Martin & Harald Schumann, The Global Trap, Globalization & the Assault on Democracy & Prosperity, St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1997.

A best-selling European perspective on globalisation. Recommended for American audiences in order to understand more about the European context.

William Greider, One World Ready or Not, the Manic Logic of Global Capitalism, Simon & Schuster, New York, 1997.

A tour by a superb journalist showing how the global economy operates in various parts of the world. Not much emphasis on political issues or economic alternatives.

James Goldsmith, The Response, Macmillan, London, 1995.

A critique of neoliberal thinking presented as a debate with those who criticised the author’s previous book, The Trap. It may be pointless for the author to attempt logical debate with matrix apologists, but the book is informative for readers.

Third World Resurgence, a magazine published monthly by the Third World Network, Penang, Malaysia,http://www.twnside.org.sg.

This magazine deserves widespread circulation. It covers a wide range of global issues, presents a strong and sensible third-world perspective, and is a very good source of real-world news. Martin Kohr is managing editor and a frequent contributor.

The New Internationalist, a magazine published monthly by New Internationalist Publications, Ltd, Oxford, UK, http://www.newint.org.

Another good source of real news and commentary, with a global perspective.

Holly Sklar ed., Trilateralism – the Trilateral Commission and Elite Planning for World Management, South End Press, Boston, 1980.

This well-researched anthology explains the role in global planning played by such elite organisations as the Trilateral Commission, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Bilderbergers. Examples from various parts of the world are used to show what kinds of considerations go into the formation of on-the-ground policies.

Michael Parenti, The Sword and the Dollar, Imperialism, Revolution, and the Arms Race, St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1989.

One of many red-pill books by a prolific and well-informed author. Here he talks about the reality of imperialism and the matrix of Cold War rhetoric. For an insightful examination of how matrix reality is fabricated, see also his Make-Believe Media, and Inventing Reality, also from St. Martin’s.

Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States, HarperCollins, New York, 1989.

A superlative and well-researched treatment of American history from 1942 to the present. The material on grass-roots social movements provides valuable lessons for present-day movement organisers.

William Blum, Killing Hope, U.S. Military and CIA Interventions since World War II, Common Courage Press, Monroe Maine, 1995.

A comprehensive review of how the US government manages world affairs by force and intrigue when persuasion and economic pressure fail to do the job. A red-pill antidote for anyone who feels tempted to trust the “international community” to pursue “humanitarian interventionism.”

Covert Action Quarterly magazine, published quarterly by Covert Action Publications, Inc., Washington D.C. 1994, http://www.covertaction.org.

Keeps you up-to-date on covert activities, cover-ups, military affairs, and current trouble spots. Contributors include many ex-intelligence officers who saw the error of their ways.

William Greider,  Who Will Tell The People? : The Betrayal Of American Democracy, Touchstone – Simon & Schuster, New York, 1993.

This best seller shows in detail how the American democratic process is subverted at every stage by corporate interests. Greider was a highly respected journalist for many years at the Washington Postand his high-level contacts permit him to present an insider’s view of how the influence-peddling system actually operates. A chilling eye-opener.

Samuel P. Huntington,  The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, Simon and Schuster, London, 1997.

Another classic by one of the foremost spinners of matrix illusion. In the guise of historical analysis, Huntington fabricates a worldview designed to justify Western domination under globalisation. According to The Economist, Huntington’s civilisation-clash paradigm has already become the “sea” in which Washington policy makers swim. The book reveals the backbone structure of modern matrix reality, putting day-to-day official rhetoric into an understandable framework. And it clearly reveals the real intentions of elite planners regarding the tactics of global management through selective interventionism.

Foreign Affairs, a journal published quarterly by the Council on Foreign Relations, New York.

The best source I’ve found to track the latest shifts in the matrix and to glean an understanding of current elite thinking. Some reading between the lines is called for, as the journal frames its analysis in terms of US national interests, failing to make the obvious links between geopolitical and economic regimes.

About the Author

Richard Moore, an expatriate from Silicon Valley, currently lives and writes in Wexford, Ireland. He runs the Cyberjournal “list” on the Internet. Email: richard@cyberjournal.org,http://cyberjournal.org. Address: PO Box 26, Wexford, Ireland.

The above article appeared in New Dawn No. 62 (September-October 2000).

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