Browsing the blog archives for September, 2011.

There are parrots in my back yard


This morning I was awoken by the battle cries of my cat. Apparently, two parrots had intruded into her territory and were sitting on the outside rails of my balcony. The cat was trying to get at them, so I shooed them off. I guess I ruined her morning because the cat is no longer speaking to me.

I’m not very knowledgeable when it comes to psittacines. I mean, I had a parakeet once when I was a kid, but that’s about as far as I got. I live in Athens, Greece, a highly urbanized setting, but my house is thankfully on the borders of one of the last patches of green in the city. A small mountain stream runs ten miles from the highlands down to the center of town, creating a little valley full of life and green in the process. We residents are fiercely protective of our spot of nature, and so far, no idiot has managed to burn down his plot of land so that he can put up a new shopping mall or something. Those who have tried, have gotten caught and arrested. Beaten up once too (I wasn’t there, honest, just ask my attorney). Go team go.  Oh, except for a former Minister of Environmental Protection – she did manage to build an apartment building all the way down to the banks of the stream, but she assured everyone that building was ecological, and she should know, by golly. 

Anyway, parrots. There are literally hundreds of them living in our little valley.  Our yard, like many of the yards bordering the river valley, contains a few palm trees.  Parrots apparently like palm trees.

So this morning I saw a flock of parrots roosting in our palm trees. I thought I was back in northern Africa for a few seconds. Especially with two parrots sitting on my balcony evaluating me in my underwear.

My question is, are we still denying climate change? Because if we are, I’d like someone to explain the African parrots in my yard. To top it all off, I’m sure they’re immigrating illegally, like the hundreds of thousands of African males that come through Greece annually moving north, trying to find work and food.

Are we still denying climate change? I’m not really sure – I think everyone has accepted it by now, but they’re putting it down to natural causes or something. Hell, our proud and patriotic oil companies are even seizing the opportunity to drill in the Arctic and continue in their noble efforts to provide us with more light and power.

And parrots. The parrots are moving north, too, folks. It’s undeniable. I’ve seen them. Maybe we can use them as a food source.

My cat would be happy for sure. Hell, maybe she’ll even forgive me. She was so looking forward to an exotic meal.



Of Men and Mice




Traditional martial arts should offer a simple method of protection and independence for citizens in an age where society has pushed us to become intimidated components of a great machine, comforted only by mass consumption, instead of self-sufficient individuals full of resilience and will as is our birthright. In this brief  essay, we will examine components of a strategy whereby you can become such an indivivdual, and how martial arts can help you achieve this goal.


The points I wish to make are simple:


 1. There can be no such thing as rights without concomitant responsibility. Such

an institution (rights without responsibility) is artificial and cannot survive entropy.


In my book Pammachon, I referred to the Greek word idiotes, a term which describes a private person, someone who does not involved himself in common affairs; this term has become incorporated into the English language as the word “idiot.” The Greeks believed a true citizen must involve himself politically. There were two types of citizens in ancient Greece: those who involved themselves in the public affairs of the “people,” the demos (from hence democracy), and the private ones, the idiotes, who kept to themselves. I will not hesitate to repeat myself repeatedly to stress that the ancient Greeks thought that those who did not involve themselves in politics were blatantly stupid. Today, both involvement and sacrifice are paramount if we are to reverse the trend of social decline; I will outline the reasons below.


The term Power Elite in political and sociological theory refers to a small group of people who control a disproportionate amount of wealth, privilege, and access to decision-making of global consequence. The term was coined by Charles Wright Mills in his 1956 book of the same name, which describes the relationship between individuals at the pinnacles of political, military, and economic institutions. The unity of this elite rests upon their similar world view, i.e., the belief that they are superior to the common man. Behind this psychological unity, lie those institutional hierarchies over which the political directorates, the corporate rich, and the militarily powerful now preside. How each of these hierarchies is shaped, and what relations it

has with the others, determine in large global politics. It is a mistake to think that the Power Elite have emerged as the realization of some global plot; in fact, their existence can be predicted through the mathematical modeling of industrialized societies. They, like many things in life, are the result of auto-organization. The question is, how does one deal with them?


In the past, I have suggested approaching these people as individuals, looking at them as people, ascertaining what their individual needs are, and moving to establish win-win scenarios. This is most certainly one approach. But at the end of the day, to be truly successful, one must also address the matrix within which the power elite operate.


One cannot understand the international system of the world without understanding the interplay of the three fields of business, politics, and military strength. Imperialism has generally meant the political and military protection of businessmen and their interests in foreign lands. The political protection provided need not be the conquest of colonies; the military protection need not involve the establishment of military bases. Regardless of the manner in which the matrix extends itself, the power elite provide for the interplay of economic, political, and military institutions and men. The current war in Iraq is an example of this strategy (as opposed to Afghanistan, which had an actual strategic and tactical basis).


The democratic system of power is usually interpreted as a moving balance of many competing interests. In the 18th and 19th centuries, this balance occurred among a great scattering of individuals and enterprises, and so functioned at its peak. Today, it occurs among a scattering of great interest blocks. The strategy that prevails at the peak of these blocks is that a conglomerate of technological, financial, and military power is required to dominate the other blocks. I call those elite blocks among the Power Elite, the Enclaves, borrowing from a highly prophetic video game published in 1998. (1) In fact, there are many Enclaves, not one, each at the peak of its particular special interest group and geography. But all Enclaves do work together internationally as much as possible, to further the interests of the global Power Elite, except in those instances where their specific interests collide.


Fate can be viewed as a sociodynamic force shaped by our Unconscious Mind. One can accept that or not; if one understands this principle, one can use it both in the macroverse and microverse. But tapping into our Mass Unconscious notwithstanding, the functional shaping of history in our day is the domain of the various Enclaves that are now organized worldwide. Their facility for violence is absolute; their economic systems are autocratic. Politically, each one of them has become a closed world, and in all these spheres their bureaucracies are global. It is not a pretty picture.


In the past, romantic bards would often assert that men are free to make their own history. It would seem in our day that some men are much freer than others to do so, given that such freedom requires access to the means of decision and power by which such history is made. One could argue that this has always been the case, but never has the condition been so well organized and controlled as in our time (a product of our technology). Power itself is a hierarchy, and the shape of this hierarchy has always been subject to historical change. At any given moment in Time, Fate seems to open to different men different opportunities to exercise their wills in the shaping of history. It appears overwhelming, but only if you accept that you have no power to affect change. What to a powerless man is an awe-inspiring event, to a member of the Power Elite is an opportunity to make his personal mark and step upwards in the hierarchy. In our time, the common man has increasingly become the utensil of the Power Elite. But is that all there is to it?


The antidote to this condition is an understanding of the methods and the techniques of personal empowerment. If you are confident in your own personal power, when you understand our social matrix and see it as just that, you also understand how and where to strike to further your own interests within that matrix.


One riddle to solve is that, in this globalized age, there is no longer any one issue that remains exclusively the subject of domestic politics – everything has become international. It would appear, for example, that labor unions would only be concerned with their slice of the pie, and not be interested in the international goings-on of their particular industry. But this has proven to be a false standard – in fact, many labor unions have become obsolete by the simple relocation of their industry. Since labor unions historically have not been concerned with international politics, the result is that what influence they have had on domestic affairs, has often been used quite irresponsibly to their own detriment.


One must look at the situation as it is, rather than as one would like it to be. Today, contrary to the rhetoric espoused by our fearless leaders, the following factors have come to prevail around the world: (2)


1. To assume that democracy is a balance of powers is to assume that the units in balance have more or less equal power and are independent of each other. These assumptions once rested on the historical importance of a large and independent middle class. In the latter part of the 19th century, such a class of farmers and businessmen did indeed exist; they were able to continue their lives independent of global events. But these men lost their rights by becoming economically dependent on larger economic structures. The farmers came to rely on government subsidies rather than their own hard work, and the small businessmen became white collar workers. Neither subsidized farmers nor white collar workers are independent entities – they must make their daily declarations of dependence and fealty in order to survive. Accordingly, the middle class has already been disrupted.


When George Orwell3 published his novel 1984 in 1949 (3), this situation was already maturing, but few had the capability to see it as manifest reality during the boom-time of the 50s and the anthropocentric decade of the 60s. Today, it has become an apparent truth all around the world.


2. Mass communications, media and especially the Internet included, do not link and feed erudite discussion circles. On the contrary, more often that not they convert them into circuses. They do not truly communicate; they trivialize and distract. In addition, they are wide open to external surveillance and influence.


3. Voluntary associations open to individuals and small groups and connecting them to centers of power, are no longer are dominant features of the social structure of western democracies, as they were at the beginning of the 20th century. They have been replaced by Internet chat sites where language is destroyed and grammar is repeatedly raped.


When one takes the above into consideration, he understands that western democracies are no longer comprised of a political public, but rather a politically indifferent mass society. Demotes have become idiotes, surrendering rule to the Enclaves in the process.


So how does one get his personal power back?


By reversing the trend. By becoming internally stronger personally, and as a consequence assuming responsibility for yourself. Once you are a responsible citizen, you will be able to assume more and more of an active role, involving yourself in your society. Practicing martial arts can help with this; it is no coincidence that Vladimir Putin takes time out to actively promote the sport of judo among Russian schoolchildren. Once you are a true demotes, a true member of the society you live in, you will be able to enhance your power base by becoming a living example for others to emulate. In this case, society itself as a whole will become stronger, and the large group of private persons that comprise our world today, will in truth become citizens.


As once they were.


2. The greatest freedom is to be able to say (without fear of reprisal) that two

plus two equals four. If that is given, all else follows. (4)


There is nothing an Enclave member fears more than having made public the news that he is not superior to the rest of mankind. And it is a sad truth that, specifically, in this generation, many Enclave offspring have become flaccid and spoiled. I am not referring to their physical shape, which may appear to be at a peak, but rather to their spirit inside. Alexander the Great fought on the frontlines with his troops, risking all on a toss of the dice in the heat of battle; men died for him willingly. Many Barons and Kings of Medieval Europe did the same. Today, things are different, and paid mercenaries often handle the daily affairs of the pampered elite, financial as well as physical (sadly, even sexual in some cases). However, deficiency among their own kind is something Power Elite Elders fear and watch for, considering it a weakening

of the gene pool. This is leverage of sorts.


An individual who is powerful enough inside can often stand against a younger member of the Power Elite by playing on this fear. I have done so successfully on more than one occasion. The best way to achieve this is by insisting that two plus two equals four.


“No man in the wrong can stand up against a fellow that’s in the right and keeps on acoming” was the motto of Texas Ranger Bill McDonald, who captained a company of Rangers from 1891 to 1907. While this is not exactly true, and many a fellow in the right has been mowed down by those in the wrong, it is a good stance to take if you can prove that two plus two equals four. What I mean by this is simple: at the end of the day, only a small percentage of the population are sociopaths. Most Enclave members and leaders are human beings, and will react to moral stimuli much like everyone else. You will have to work harder to reach the point where negotiations can be made, but, ultimately, two plus two equals four is a good principle to keep dear to your heart.


To reach the point of negotiation, you will have to be strong and have much stamina. Your opposition’s initial strategy will be to wear you down. Once again, martial arts training can provide both the spirit and the stamina required to endure the initial onslaught. But you must persevere. That having been said, always remember that two plus two does equal four. Wishful thinking should be put aside, and one’s own situation reviewed in the clear light of logic. Chances are that you will not be able to stand before superior forces. Accordingly, you must play the game without emotion and without pathos. See things as they are, not as you wish them to be.


3. Develop the heart of a warrior, regardless of your physical condition, age, sex

or social status. A warrior is a common man just like everyone else. To think

otherwise is to believe a delusion that has been developed by Hollywood



Conflict is terrible. Killing any living thing is horrible and should be viewed as such. Killing a human being is an abomination. It is not something to be proud of; on the contrary it is something that should fill you with remorse. And yet, there it is. A true warrior should be a reluctant protector, not a willing executioner. That fine line is what distinguishes the true warrior from the criminal and the sociopath. This statement can be better explained if we review the actual state of affairs regarding modern warfare. Modern war is, in itself, a shadow-play, a reversion. Modern war does not, in fact, exist, and has not existed since 1945, when the first atomic bomb was dropped. Those who have read Orwell’s 1984 will recognize the following quote:


…war is not meant to be won. It is meant to be continuous. The essential act of

modern warfare is the destruction of the produce of human labor.


If the energy and man-hours involved in waging war were spent instead increasing the standard of living of the various nations around the globe, then there would be no need for war. But, if this were the case, then the control of the Enclaves over the rest of humanity would cease. War, then, is the economic basis of a hierarchical society. When one understands this, he understands why he must become a reluctant warrior, if for no other reason than to become a true warrior.


4. Educate yourself continuously. Study something new every day. Never stop learning. A jewel shines only when polished, a rough diamond will never be worn on a ring.


My great-grandfather was a peasant who kept the company of kings. I never understood how this could be possible, and scoffed at the historical anecdotes told to me by my own grandparents. But when I stumbled onto the treasure trove of family documents I discovered in 2003, I was also fortunate enough to find a cache of letters that my great-grandfather had written to my great-grandmother from the United States at the turn of the twentieth century.


These letters are in incredibly erudite classical Greek, so profound that few young Greek adults today could understand them, let alone write them. I was astonished to read them myself, astonished to find that a peasant from a remote village in Turkish occupied northern Greece could write in this type of language. But a further search allowed me to discover the school books used by my grandparents and grand-aunts in the village, and everything became clear. At ten years of age, they were studying Xenophon’s Anabasis. (5) What is even more amazing is that the elementary school in Papingo, my village, had procured these books from Germany, given that at the time the Greek Orthodox Church had forbidden the publication of ancient texts as they were considered “pagan” in nature.


So these denizens of a remote mountain village were very aware that education was the key to a better lifestyle, even if they spent that life farming in said village. Today, this need has become even more crucial. And nowhere is the need more pronounced than in the matter of language.


It would appear that young people all over the world are losing the capacity to fully express themselves in their respective native languages. The Internet is a key contributor to this, due to two factors: 1) books are no longer the primary vehicle for imparting information, and 2) the internet has established its own rules for verbal exchange. But this is dangerous on many fronts, and, once again, brings to mind Orwell’s 1984.


One of the major constructs of Orwell’s novel was a fictional language called Newspeak. In the novel, it is described as being “the only language in the world whose vocabulary gets smaller every year.” Newspeak is closely based on English but has a greatly reduced and simplified vocabulary and grammar. The Newspeak term for the mainstream English language is Oldspeak. The historical seeds of Newspeak can be found in the constructed language Basic English, which Orwell himself promoted from 1942 to 1944 (during World War 2), before emphatically rejecting it in his essay “Politics and the English Language”. In this article he laments the quality of the English of his day, citing examples of dying metaphors, pretentious rhetoric, and meaningless words, all of which contribute to fuzzy ideas and a lack of precise thought. I cannot imagine what Orwell would think of the English vocabulary used by native speakers today. I cannot imagine what he would think if he visited a typical forum on the Internet and read the exchanges posted.


 Reduction of vocabulary was regarded as an end to itself. Newspeak was designed to diminish the range of thought, and this purpose was indirectly assisted by cutting the choice of words down to a minimum. It saddens me to say that this fictional model is taking historical shape in our day and age. While I doubt there is a deliberate plot behind it, one can see it everywhere. In 1982, 56.9 per cent of Americans had read a work of creative literature in the previous twelve months. The proportion fell to fifty-four per cent in 1992, and to 46.7 per cent in 2002. In 1970, according to Editor & Publisher International Year Book, there were 62.1 million weekday newspapers in circulation—about 0.3 papers per person. In 2006 there were just 52.3 million weekday papers—about 0.17 per person. More alarming are indications that Americans are losing not just the will to read but even the ability. According to the Department of Education, between 1992 and 2003 the average adult’s skill in reading prose slipped one point on a five-hundred-point scale, and the proportion who were capable of such tasks (formerly considered commonplace) as “comparing viewpoints in two editorials,” declined from fifteen per cent to thirteen.


Which means that only 13% of Americans can actually digest, understand, and comment on what they are reading. This is frightening. This is staggering. This is un-effing-believable. And this erosion isn’t unique to America. Between 1955 and 1975, the decades when television was being introduced into the Netherlands, reading on weekday evenings and weekends fell from five hours a week to 3.6, while television watching rose from about ten minutes a week to more than ten hours. During the next two decades, reading continued to fall and television watching to rise. By 1995, reading, which had occupied twenty-one per cent of people’s spare time in 1955, accounted for just nine per cent. No wonder Borders went out of business recently.


The most striking results were noticed when comparing generations. By 1995, a Dutch college graduate born after 1969 was likely to spend fewer hours reading each week than an elementary school-level person born before 1950. As far as reading habits were concerned, academic credentials mattered less than whether a person had been raised in the era of television. The patterns are the same in America. Between 1982 and 2002, the percentage of Americans who read literature declined in every age group, even in those moving from youth into middle age, which is often considered the most fertile time of life for reading. We are reading less as we age, and we are reading less than people who were our age ten or twenty years ago.


If television is one culprit, then the Internet is twice so. Both TV and the Web are enjoyable, and I spend hours a day on one or the either. But I read like a maniac as well. This is the way I combat the degradation of thought imposed upon us – I read everything I can get my hands on voraciously, and then take the time to discuss it with my friends, who do the same.


You can do this too. Why is this important? Because the old texts themselves, classic literature that is, contain the breadth of spirit necessary for you to enhance your own mind. This is rarely the case for television series (with some exceptions), or the Internet. You must study the classics in order to understand who you are. How can you understand where you now stand, if you do not read the words of those who have walked before you? The past is your power base. You would be a fool not to use it. You would be even more of a fool to ignore it.


 Keep in mind that the evident degradation of culture prevalent in our time is not unique to the middle classes, but includes the Power Elite themselves. By the middle of the twentieth century, the global oligarchy had become an entirely different breed of men from those who could on any reasonable grounds be considered a cultural elite. By the beginning of the 21st century, they were typified by Paris Hilton and George W. Bush. It occurs to me that what these people fear most, deep in their hearts, is a cultivated man who is unafraid, a man with a powerful heart, a true citizen who sees them not as superior beings, but for what they really are. In the past, there were many such men all around the world. Today, there are few. But this could be a temporary state of affairs. The educated, unafraid man could be making a comeback, if developments in world affairs are an indication. Knowledge and power are not truly united inside the ruling circles, and when men of knowledge or power do come in contact with the circles of powerful men, they come today not as peers but as hired men. It has been my personal experience that these hired men are in the end feared and envied by their very employers for their abilities. This fear and envy is a weak point you can use to your own advantage.


But first you must become cultured, educated, and unafraid.


5. Become independent. Independence is the key to both personal freedom and a

healthy society.


What do we mean by independent? We have stated that an ideal democracy would arise from a balance of powers where the units in balance have more or less equal power and are independent of each other. In the past, a large and independent middle class did indeed exist, and were able to continue their lives unaffected by global events. But the descendents of these men lost the battle by becoming economically dependent on larger economic structures.


When Ghandi set about to liberate India from the British, the first thing he attempted was to foster a spirit of physical independence from the merchandise of the ruling class. The British rulers made very good cloth in their textile mills; rich Indians wanted it, and wore it, to differentiate themselves from the poorer members of their society. Ghandi made homespun cotton cloth a fashion, dealing a powerful monetary blow to textile interests. But what really brought the Indian independence movement home was the boycott on the Salt Tax. For many years, the procurement of salt, a free substance on India’s many coasts, was a monopoly of the British government, heavily taxed. Gandhi chose to disobey the taxation and monopoly laws. He had his reasons for choosing the salt tax. The salt tax was a deeply symbolic choice, since salt was used by nearly everyone in India. It represented 8.2% of the British Raj tax revenue, and most significantly hurt the poorest Indians the most. But what had begun as a Salt Boycott quickly grew into a mass sanction of all British goods. British cloth and goods were increasingly boycotted. Unpopular forest laws were defied. Peasants refused to pay land tax, under threat of losing their crops and land. The British responded with more laws, including censorship of correspondence and declaring the Indian Congress and its associate organizations illegal. None of those measures slowed the civil disobedience movement, which gathered momentum like a locomotive.


The Salt Boycott succeeded in drawing the attention of the world. Millions saw the newsreels showing the march. Time magazine declared Gandhi its 1930 Man of the Year, comparing Gandhi’s march to the sea to defy Britain’s salt tax to the Boston Tea Party. In short, the method worked. Or perhaps those were simply different times.


Today, it is no secret that most of our food is produced and distributed through centralized sources; the small farmer has almost vanished. We most certainly no longer manufacture our own clothing, and carpentry is a lost art. Even manufacturing itself has become all the more centralized, with small factories being bought out and absorbed by large special interest groups, or closing down outright due to the inability to compete financially.  In short, we live in the age of power consolidation, with power being limited to the hands of the very few.


What drives me crazy personally is that this tactic is nothing new, and has failed dismally every time it has been implemented.. In addition, this consolidation is mathematically unstable and cannot exist for long; there are too many factors and forces working in opposition to it. In order for consolidated globalization to work, the people in charge would have to predict every statistical deviation from the system of equations they set in motion for the machine to operate. Anyone who has any experience whatsoever with complex systems understands that this is impossible. As Murphy predicted, whatever can go wrong, will go wrong. There is no way around this. We have not evolved, and most likely will never evolve, to the point where such control is possible. The inevitable result is insurrection and global catastrophe followed by centuries of yet another Dark Age.


Globalization is Mankind’s destiny in the long run and an inevitable result of our evolution, but there is one factor that the Power Elite do not understand, or they are studiously attempting to ignore, and that is this: in order for Globalization to exist, it can be neither consolidated nor hereditary. At the end of the day, in a globalized society, the only system that will withstand the onslaught of time and result in stability, is a merit-based system based not on dependencies but rather respect. This is the point where both Confucius and Plato made the same error, not taking into account natural tendencies towards entropy.


In the 19th century, the world was globalized; it was an Age of Empires after all. And what were the results? Two World Wars, competing systems of financial governance, revolution and insurrection, global disease, a whole slue of regional wars, dictatorships, famine, and finally the Cold War itself, which almost resulted in the nuclear devastation of mankind and our End. It is not the first time this has happened. The myth of Atlantis reflects similar circumstances. During the Bronze Age, as archaeology has established today, the

world economy was globalized. Goods flowed from China to Britain and Sweden to the heart of Africa. The world was divided into the fiefdoms of Great Kings, who considered each other Brothers and all people beneath them fodder for their whims. What happened? The little people eventually rose up, circa the 13th century BC, all over the Mediterranean. Empires crumbled and vanished overnight, and the world was cast into a Dark Age for five centuries. We were lucky to recover as quickly as we did.


It doesn’t work, people. It cannot work, it has never worked historically. Get someone to do the math for you (complexity theory required). Get over it, get used to it, swallow this not-so-bitter pill before your own children face the consequences of mass revolution (again). Remember what happened to the Eastern Bloc countries behind the Iron Curtain; the citizens rose up. Look at the Arab Spring movement; watch was is happening in Greece carefully. The same thing can happen anywhere, has happened everywhere. This is a lose-lose scenario.


When I was a younger man, I always used to wonder why the ancient Greeks never got their act together enough to become a united nation. I mean, the Egyptians did, the Persians did, the Romans eventually did, why not the classical Greeks? I believe it was a deliberate decision due to recollections and stories left over from the Bronze Age. Racial memory told them that the experiment could not work, so they opted for independent centers of power tied together by a common language. That experiment worked well enough to result in an Age of Enlightenment that is still the Ideal Model for what has come to be known as “Western Democracy.” Even in our day and age, then, consolidation can be walked away from. You can still capture a modicum of independence and self-respect by delving into basic needs. I will not get into the creation of an independent homestead; there are many publications out there written by people far more qualified than myself to discuss the subject. I encourage the reader to find these books and follow their advice. On my own part, what I would like to inspire people to do is to plant a small garden for themselves. You will be amazed at how such a simple achievement can empower you. I once fed an entire neighborhood all summer long from the simple garden I had planted in my (very small) back yard.


In a civilized and ideal world, or in a Disney movie, the advice I have given you in this essay would have profound effect on your world. But we must remember always that two plus two equals four, and we must apply this principle first to ourselves. If you take the stance to seek empowerment for yourself and your dignity, there is always a chance you will fail; indeed, the status quo around the world is built upon this fear of failure. I have both succeeded and failed many times; I wish I could say it is easy. It is not.


I am reminded, in closing, of an old Eastern Orthodox Christian parable. A monk is, through his prayers, deemed worthy of being shown both Heaven and Hell. An angel takes him to the Afterlife. He chooses to see Hell first. Hell is a vast hall with an endless table. All manner of food and drink is placed in platters on the table: succulent meats, pastries, pastas, ripe fruits and crisp salads, fresh juices and wines, ice water and succulent deserts. The damned are seated at this table, and in front of them are dishes of gold and goblets of crystal. But the dishes and goblets are empty; the damned cannot eat or drink. They have been given forks and spoons six feet in length with which they must eat; these utensils cannot be grasped from anywhere but their very end, so that the damned cannot bring any food to their mouths. Also, they cannot seem to hold the goblets firmly; they can fill them up alright, but when they try to bring them to their lips to drink, the goblets twist and turn like living beings in their hands and all the liquid dribbles away. The damned are angry, hungry, thirsty and tormented, skeletal in appearance, with bloodshot eyes, foaming mouths, and bellies distended round and tight by starvation.


The monk is then brought to Heaven. It is an identical hall with the same endless table. Once again, all manner of food and drink are placed on the table. Once again, the blessed are seated with plates of gold and goblets of crystal in front of them. Once again, they have been given two meter long forks and spoons with which to feed themselves. But, unlike the damned, the blessed are robust in appearance, laughing, sated, happy, telling jokes, eating and drinking their fill. How do they manage it?


Simple. The forks are just long enough so that one person can feed his neighbor, the goblets have no problem when one man holds them for another to drink. And all seated at that table are willing to do so.


Religion aside, at the end of the day, there are only two types of people in the world: those who think only of themselves, and those who take others into consideration. There is no other distinction that matters, and none is required: every other conceivable distinction belongs to the realm of religious dogma, and is not within the scope of this discussion.


This axiom is the secret behind any successful political and economic system. Warren Buffet understood this, as did Bill Gates in the end. In addition, if one styles himself a warrior, this axiom is the cornerstone of the Warrior’s Path. Self-sacrifice is at the heart of being a warrior; a true warrior is a Protector, one who lays himself in the path of a predator to protect his fellow men, not a predator himself. The Spartans did not die at Thermopylae for themselves; they died there for their brothers, their brethren, their countrymen, and all their fellow Greeks. They died there so that the Enemy would know who he was fighting against, and despair of ever conquering, men who were so free inside as to laugh at Death itself. 


(1)   That would be Fallout 2 by Interplay Studios, which eerily and sadly predicts modern events and future trends. That it was developed in the US during a time of Clintonesque abundance says much for its creators.

(2)  As predicted long ago by the late sociologist C. Wright Mills
(3) George Orwell was the pen name of Eric Arthur Blair.
(4) George Orwell first stated this axiom in his book 1984.
(5) The Anabasis (the Ascent) is the most famous work of the Greek writer Xenophon. The journey itnarrates is his best known accomplishment. Xenophon accompanied the Ten Thousand, a large army of Greek mercenaries hired by Cyrus the Younger, who intended to seize the throne of Persia from his brother, Artaxerxes II. Though Cyrus’s army was victorious in battle, Cyrus himself was killed. Stranded deep within enemy territory, the Spartan general Clearchus and the other Greek senior officers were killed by treachery. Xenophon played an instrumental role in encouraging the Greek army of 10,000 to march north to the Black Sea through Kurdistan and Armenia, eventually achieving safety.