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PROVOCATIONS

an opportunity to be challenged - as I was




Fur-lined Teacup by Meret Oppenheim. Photo Jeffrey Newman

The Discourse on Peace -  Jacques Prévert

Near the end of an extremely important discourse
the great man of state
tumbling on a beautiful hollow phrase
falls over it
and undone with gaping mouth
shows his teeth
and the dental decay of his peaceful reasoning
exposes the nerve of war
the delicate question of money.

NAOMI KLEIN - Disaster Capitalism


A Patriot

A patriot is a person who protects his country from its government.      - Pieter Dirk-Uys, South African humourist.



Victory of the Loud Little Handful by Mark Twain

The loud little handful - as usual - will shout for the war. The pulpit will - warily and cautiously - object... at first. The great, big, dull bulk of the nation will rub its sleepy eyes and try to make out why there should be a war, and will say, earnestly and indignantly, "It is unjust and dishonorable, and there is no necessity for it." Then the handful will shout louder. A few fair men on the other side will argue and reason against the war with speech and pen, and at first will have a hearing and be applauded, but it will not last long; those others will outshout them, and presently the antiwar audiences will thin out and lose popularity. Before long, you will see this curious thing: the speakers stoned from the platform, and free speech strangled by hordes of furious men... Next the statesmen will invent cheap lies, putting the blame upon the nation that is attacked, and every man will be glad of those conscience-soothing falsities, and will diligently study them, and refuse to examine any refutations of them; and thus he will by and by convince himself that the war is just, and will thank God for the better sleep he enjoys after this process of grotesque self-deception.

Mark Twain -  from The Mysterious Stranger & Other Stories, 1910


Scientists  by   R Buckminster Fuller

 . . . scientists are the most confused and irresponsible human beings now alive. They lay "eggs" - and the businessman sells the "eggs" to the politicians and the politicians "scramble" or "drop" or "easy-over" those eggs as we hurtle towards oblivion. If our lives are left to their care we will all soon be dead."

-  from Utopia or Oblivion: The Prospects for Humanity, 1969


The US Model   by Blair Gibb

In the US model, much more than in other countries, society exists to serve the individual and allow the fullest possible self-expression. Extremes of wealth and poverty, profligacy with natural resources, high crime levels, and other features of society that would be considered unacceptable elsewhere are tolerated in the US in the name of individual freedom. The creativity and economic power this tolerance has created may be a source of envy and admiration, but for many outside the US, the social price paid for these benefits simply looks too high.

- from "The Futures of Human Rights" (Dec. 1997) in Deeper News - quoted in Whole Earth, Summer 1999.


A national delusion by Joe Bageant

Nearly 40% of households surveyed making less than $30,000 a year believe they are in the top 10% of Americans when it comes to income! In a similar, though more extreme national delusion, millions of North Koreans eating wild grass soup during the winter under Kim Jong-Il, believe they live in the richest nation on earth, and that America wants to attack them out of jealousy. Such are the results of successful propaganda.

- talk in Philadelphia, April 2007. Author of Deer Hunting with Jesus: Dispatches from America's Class War

The Markets   by Amory Lovins

The markets make a good servant but a bad master, and a worse religion.


Shopping   by Jerry Brown, mayor of Oakland (California)

From a market point of view, one of the most dangerous possibilities in contemporary cities would be if the majority of people had deeply satisfying relationships. If people actually enjoyed one another's company, that would be devastating to shopping.

- speech on Sustainable Development at the General Assembly of Bay Area Governments, April 1999


Belief Systems   by Tom Robbins

". . . no matter how valid, how vital, one's belief system may be, one undermines that system and ultimately negates it when one gets rigid and dogmatic in one's adherence to it."

- from Fierce Invalids Home From Hot ClimatesTom Robbins: Fierce Invalids Home From Hot Climates


Transitions From Big to Small
   by Richard Heinberg

How can individuals assist the transition? Support the small, local alternative, even if it entails inconvenience. And often it will. The big, mainstream standbys (big banks, chain stores etc.) are often subsidized in hidden ways to make them more convenient, and to make them seem to the individual consumer to be more economical. According to dominant theory, bigness implies an "economy of scale" through mass production and bulk purchasing. But the real costs of added transportation resulting from centralized production and control (including extra pollution and its cascading environmental effects) are rarely factored into the accounting. Also we must learn always to question the ideology of efficiency, since many human needs and interests are only degraded by its ruthless, myopic calculus (should one, after all, strive to be an "efficient" parent, giving a minimum of love for a maximum of obedience?).

Museletter, July 1999.


Economics, Real and Imaginary by Richard Heinberg

From an ecosystem point of view, an economy that does not heavily tax the extraction of non-renewables is like a jobless person rapidly spending an inheritance. As Gary Gardner and Payal Sampet put it in their 1999 World Watch Institute State of the World report, "An extraterrestrial observer might conclude that conversion of raw materials into wastes is the real purpose of human economic activity."

- from Museletter, August 1999.


Toward a History of Needs by Ivan Illich

...growing dependence on mass-produced goods and services gradually erodes the conditions necessary for a convivial life.

- from Toward a History of NeedsToward a History of Needs by Ivan Illich

The money trap


School by Ivan Illich

School pretends to break learning up into subject "matters", to build into the pupil a curriculum made up of these prefabricated blocks, and to gauge the results on an international scale. People who submit to the standard of others for the measure of their own personal growth soon apply the same ruler to themselves. They no longer have to be put into their place but put themselves into their assigned slots which they have been taught to seek, and in the very process, put their fellows into their places too, until everybody and everything fits.

- from Deschooling SocietyDeschooling Society - Ivan Illich, 1970.


Overspecialization, US foreign policy, man's stories by Tom Robbins (through the character, Switters)

. . . extinction is a consequence of overspecialization. It's a cardinal law of evolution, and many a species has paid the price. Human beings are by nature comprehensive. That's been the secret of our success, at least in evolutionary terms. The more civilized we've become, however, the further we've moved away from comprehensiveness, and in direct ratio we've been losing our adaptability.

and:

American foreign policy invites opposition. It invites terrorism . . . . Terrorism is the only imaginable logical response to America's foreign policy, just as street crime is the only imaginable response to America's drug policy.

and again:

Human societies have always defined themselves through narration, but nowadays corporations are telling man's stories for him. And the message, no matter how entertainingly couched, is invariably the same: to be special, you must conform; to be happy, you must consume.

- from Fierce Invalids Home From Hot Climates, 2000.


US response to September 11 attacks by Joseph Stiglitz

Joseph Stiglitz is one of the world's most best-known economists and most out-spoken critics of George Bush. In an exclusive interview with Sky News he likens America's response to 9/11 to a headless chicken, he says the billions of dollars spent on the "War on Terror" has been "more than wasted", and warns we'll be paying the price for the next 40 years.


Now, if you haven't already done so, you might want to take a look at my page of Inspiring Quotes

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