From the Nuclear Bantustan…

Nuclear Issues

Nuclear Mafias,  Cyber-nuclear Terrorism, and the limits of Full Spectrum Dominance

How do they figure that a nuclear Doomsday Machine is any sort of “asset?”

A Chinese-Filipino I hung out with for a few months in 1971 – call him Gene – taught me a lot  about the “Outsider’s” point of view. His father, part of the commercial elite of the Philippines (wholesale food production and trade), sent him to California to go to school.

One of the “gems of wisdom” he enunciated (which later proved all too true) was that “military towns are Mafia towns”, citing San Diego (where he was in the process of moving) as an example. The military demands an authoritarian, business-like culture, education system, etc. No room for radicals or independent thinkers, and some sort of “black ops” or contracted Mafia can take care of them, sparing the taxpayers and elected officials from the embarassment and expense.

Since I had grown up in such a town (Great Falls, MT, with a nuclear strike force of 200 Minuteman missiles at Malmstrom AFB, carrying up to 600 nuclear warheads), it was all too familiar to me, but I’d never seen it from “the Outside.” Although many people here opposed the preparations for nuclear war (focussed clearly by “Dr. Strangelove”, “Fail-safe” and other anti-nuclear “survivor” films and even TV shows in the 1950’s and ’60’s), there was little beyond the mainstream Catholic and Protestant peace sentiments, and they were very subdued. Any sort of “demonstrations” were virtually unheard of.  We also later learned that many foreigners (from “communist” or otherwise “hostile” countries) were prohibited from living here, and if they did, they had to register and place themselves under surveillance.  Thus, we had become “a nuclear Bantustan” on the model of South Africa.

We did have a local free press which was highly critical of this “nuclear enterprise” – the installation of the latest solid-fuel “Minuteman” missiles which could be launched to hit targets in the Soviet Union in a matter of minutes. This was 1962, when Montana Senator Mike Mansfield had replaced LBJ as Majority Leader. Perhaps that had something to do with the Minuteman being sited here – a Mission which every Democrat is still taught was a great thing for our local economy and national security.

A couple of years later, the Tribune was sold to Cowles Media (the Minneapolis Star-Tribune), which might have had a more positive view of the nuclear Doomsday Machine, and better connections to the Military-Industrial Complex. The Vietnam War, which was resisted all over the country by every tribe and class and in every imaginable venue, was basically ignored in Great Falls. We believed whatever the government told us, and no one here ever heard that our sainted Senator, Mike Mansfield, was doing all he could to get us out of Vietnam.  He would have been challenged and defeated by a Goldwater Republican if we had known.

The College of Great Falls employed a number of Berrigan-style Catholics – often Jesuits or from the Catholic Workers tradition, but even this caused a scandal. When we later organized a campaign to block new missile systems, CGF was dropped by the Air Force as an “approved” college for Missile Launch Officers to pursue an advanced degree. That was a big hit to the finances of this quiet Sisters of Providence school, and it later re-organized as “The University of Great Falls” with an emphasis on programs like pre-med, pre-law, and Criminal Justice which would fit in with the needs of local Air Force personnel and veterans, a third or more of whom were “missile cops” guarding the nuclear arsenal.

Our local “peace movement” (for a time re-vitalized in the late 1980’s by the World Beyond War campaigns) was often politically conservative and against abortion and other “liberal” causes, but Christianity is ultimately a “peace religion” at its core, and that remained. We also had a great Bishop – Hunthausen – who later became Bishop of Seattle and was reprimanded for his progressive views. Father Gregori and Ron Haverlandt were also notable peace, justice, and indigenous rights advocates in the Electric City, building on the tradition of Sister Providentia, who succorred local Native Americans for many decades, and at a time when there was little support for such activities.

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UCSB in 1971

I was working in the computer center of UC Santa Barbara in 1971, and living in the student ghetto, Isla Vista – the scene of anti-war riots and a Bank of America branch burned the year before. UCSB was the “party school” of the UC system, with beaches on three sides (mostly nude, in those days), and that was a major reason I took a working-class job there. My various attempts to form lasting relationships with accomplished people had generally failed- nearly always in the case of females- and I thought this might be a good place to gain some social skills.

I actually found the job more or less by chance, and since I already worked part-time in the UCLA computer center, it was easy to move to a full-time job at Santa Barbara – where some of the most advanced remote computing systems were being developed – the fabled “BBN Box” which became the first router, which you could “log on” to. The “N” in BBN was von Neumann, who designed the first framework for digital computers which is still used – the “Von Neumann Architecture” of I-O devices, processing, and storage in RAM and ROM form.

So, I was literally present at the birth of the Internet – both at UCLA and then at Santa Barbara, which had an NSF grant (and probably DARPA, or whatever it was called then) to develop a national network of about 10 engineering schools so they could use our relatively large and fast IBM-360-75. Big deal. I had nothing to do with it. But I was an avid Sci-Fi reader and “futurist”, although that term was itself mostly science fiction (or “prophecy”) in those days.

One contemporary film captured this well – “Collossus: the Forbin Project” in which American military computers hook up with Soviet ones and take over the world. And there was also the recent “2001 A Space Odyssey” (1968) where the computer on a space mission to Jupiter kills the human members of the crew. And there were early Star Trek episodes with a similar theme (1966-69 -exactly shadowing my years at UCLA). So, I was already well-aware of all the dangers of centralized computer control systems, and monitoring of everyone’s “transactions” of whatever kind.

It’s interesting to reflect that “machine thinking” applies to politics just as well as computer hardware. But it’s a particular kind of politics – organized, money-driven, corporate – the same structure found in any sort of dictatorial system, criminal or otherwise (and all are ultimately “criminal” in the sense of being destructive of human values).

During the Vietnam War, and in the midst of strikes and mass demonstrations, university computer centers had been taken over by “student radicals” and “peace activists” who accused them of participating in military planning and procurement, along with police state “pacification” projects, supporting Apartheid in S. Africa, or whatever crimes against humanity were being funded. In one case, they totally demolished the tape-drives and other visible stuff, while leaving the expensive “guts” (core storage, which then cost about $1 a byte, as opposed to maybe $1 a gigabyte which we have, today). A large main-frame computer might have as much as 2 megabytes of core storage (like ours at UCSB, and much of it was still the old “donut/3-wires” system – not even transistorized.) Therefore, we “long-haired computer freaks” (later called “hackers”) were in demand if there was a riot, figuring that we could talk our brethren radicals out of doing anything “stupid.”

Fortunately, no such confrontation ever happened to me. At UCSB, the leading hardware guy was right out of the Charles Manson family, but he was the only one who understood the system and could make it work. Maybe I took a hint from that, when I quit the job after less than a year, ostensibly to return to Montana to help my family.

That was when I met Gene of Manila, or maybe it was Leyte, where my father had wanted to return and start a night club after WWII. Gene was one of the most accomplished people I’d ever met – world-class chess player, a fine classical pianist, and a student of culture in general. He spoke several languages, and was an anglophile, besides. He may have been born during the Japanese Occupation, and many people thought he was part-Japanese. He was also looking for economic opportunities, and social advancement in a very strange time and place – Southern California c. 1970.

When I met him, he had already gone over to the Dark Side, joining car gangs (souped-up VW’s), dealing pot, and when I met him, in the process of joining the beach-van culture of surfers and various criminal elements. But he did it all from a very superior perspective – not someone trying to “work his way up” and finally get into “the Mafia”, which many drug dealers were doing at that time. He was trying to “figure out this culture”, which was very unsettling to him. Although he seemed very “corporate” in his thinking – “grow or die,” “expand the business”, “develop a new territory,” etc., most of his mind-set was classical Chinese philosophy and practice – something which was ubiquitous in the I-Ching-throwing counter-culture, as well as the vast proliferation of other Eastern schools of philosophy and spirituality which had found a foothold in California. Soon, Kung-Fu with David Carradine and all sorts of “martial arts” films and TV series would proliferate like another Cultural Revolution. Indeed, we explicitly thought of ourselves as being “culture freaks” rather than political revolutionaries, without any particular attachment to Mao and the Red Guards. I read somewhere that in the 1970’s, there were 100,000 “Maoists” in Norway (out of a population of about 4 million). So, it was a global phenomenon.

This was Gene’s overseas-Chinese family history (“the Jews of E Asia”), and coming from the Philippines, much of it was military and related to US Imperialism. He had come to the source, in order to better-understand how to function in “the Empire.” He had military ID. He could shop at any US base commissary. He had no revolutionary (or even “reformist”) attitudes or values whatsoever, which took me awhile to figure out. He could have been a highly-trained Intelligence officer, or maybe Counter-Intelligence, infiltrating the radical student elements in California, as well as the then-nascent drug cartels and “Counter-culture” – which seemed a real threat to “Authority” in those days. If so, he did it entirely with an “underworld” rationale and style…. like James Bond infiltrating the Mafia.

We’ve been watching gangster movies since the 1930’s. Some of our biggest, most popular movie stars might appear as an Al Capone or some other “heavy.” It tended to legitimize the whole gangster thing, reverting to a simpler boss-driven tribal society, and real-life gangsters had a lot to do with producing and distributing such films. Chinese gangsters (Tongs) and martial arts cults, along with Ninja, the Filipino martial arts (used in the Bourne films) flourished, and most of it goes back centuries, or even millenia – like our Graeco-Roman wrestling, fencing, etc.

This also explains the origins of “identity politics”. Each tribe, race, class, or other “demographic” (an accurate term, for once) is perceived to have particular interests which must be addressed in political campaigns. The Greens, for one, were supposed to have transcended that conundrum. We were for the interests of all – and for the planet and resources upon which all must live for the rest of eternity. No one seems to get this latter point, but it is the essence of all religions, as well as an open and diverse society.

Native Americans and other indigenous people tend to “get it”, or did before they were corrupted by “White Man’s Thinking.” And that is why it is so troubling to see Native Americans running for office on essentially a “White Man’s platform”, wanting nothing but more “welfare” and “federal support” for the very stuff that’s killing us – like a nuclear arsenal and continuing or expanding fossil fuel use – two policies which cost Denise Juneau the election (for Montana’s lone House seat), in my opinion. She certainly couldn’t compete in the military arena with a decorated Seal Team 6 Commander, who was very measured and sane in most of what he said.

Yet, she basically surrendered the contest to him before it had even begun, saying nothing against war or military spending – let alone the prison system, which she should have been “up in arms” about. Unfortunately, she also holds a law degree from what must be one of the worst law schools in the country – the University of Montana – which has consistantly supported all the ALEC policies to create a domestic Police State with the largest prison population (and the most lawyers, cops, and jailers) in the world. And it has expanded 5-fold since 1971.

Denise Juneau also earned Master’s from Harvard’s School of Education – something which former Dem Gov. Ted Schwinden’s son, Mike, also had, and later moved to Boston to live and work. By emphasizing these personal “accomplishments”, I can well imagine that many Native Americans didn’t care to vote for her, or vote at all, since she was still probably the best Democrat running for a major office in Montana. She wasn’t doing much for her people, but she had done a lot for the education bureaucracy and teacher’s unions, who were funding her campaign.

Ultimately, the Dem “strategists” (using the term loosely) didn’t want her to win. Rep. Zinke could do a lot more for their corporate bosses than Denise, who would follow the NEA line to the letter, and perhaps make further claims for the descendents of people illegally massacred by the Feds, in the process of stealing their lands and resources. No matter how much a Native American claims to favor strip-mining, logging, oil drilling, nuclear warfare or whatever, she’s always suspect, because those activities are the ultimate crime or sin – raping and looting our common Mother which sustains us all.

And so, a close race became a rout. Denise just wasn’t addressing the issues of importance to her own people, let alone the rest of us – peace, sustainable economy, loss of national sovereignty through trade deals and NATO, and ending corporate control of our vital institutions – especially the “criminal justice system” and our local utilities and public services (like education, libraries, public broadcasting, etc) which are constantly under assault from out-of-state (and in-state) corporate interests, as well as “government take-overs” from Washington, D.C.

That’s what no doubt “tipped the scales” from a close race to a rout. The Control Freaks always end up at the same point – they want to keep controlling us, no matter what we believe or which office we hold or organization we belong to. Worse, it’s never their fault, and whatever negative consequences follow from their desires to dominate and control us, it’s always safe to blame the victims, or some imaginary “enemies” like Russia or China.

This is, by the way, the essence of Fascism – total control of the economy and the government by corporate interests, usually with a military emphasis and a desire for war and global “Full Spectrum Dominance”, a police state at home, and prisons in place of health care, food, and housing. Amerika Uber Alles is no longer a slogan. It’s our official “Defense Posture”, and well on the way to being fully-implemented in domestic policy as well. STOP NATO. Peace Now.

The 2016 Peace and Freedom debates

Green Libertarianism

 

Green Libertarianism: the 2016 Stein-Johnson Debates on Tavis Smiley

http://www.pbs.org/wnet/tavissmiley/interviews/presidential-candidates-dr-jill-stein-gary-johnson-pt-1/

http://www.pbs.org/wnet/tavissmiley/interviews/presidential-candidates-dr-jill-stein-gary-johnson-pt-2/

I define myself as a “Green Libertarian” (slightly modified from an earlier system I defined for myself, Social Libertarianism.). I wrote part of this Wikipedia entry, but it needs to be completely redone elsewhere, since the Wiki parameters exclude any original material. But some of the concepts are presented well enough.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_libertarianism

I thought that it was better for Greens and Libertarians to have their own debates rather than participate in the charade of the “official debate” which debated nothing of any importance or relevance to the present campaigns, or the current state of the world.

Stein is a sort of “composite candidate” – the best the fractious Green Party could come up with, and she’s a good example why we probably shouldn’t be running candidates for President – at least until we have a couple of dozen members in Congress (and that simply isn’t going to happen short of a major revolution or different Constitution).

I’ve grown pessimistic about the prospects for any sort of electoral outcomes that aren’t profoundly negative. There simply aren’t any good guys out there, and when they try, they usually don’t get to 1st base. So, the best thing to do is keep trying, and make every campaign an educational one, devoted to exposing the extreme dangers we face from nuclear war and an environmentally ravaged planet. And in this case, Jill is proving to be a very useful “foil” either to Gary Johnson or to Hillary, who shares much of her class and intellectual presuppositions.

Step forward, Gary Johnson. When I first read about him, he didn’t sound very libertarian at all – he seemed like a moderate, sane Republican, much like the Cobb’s in Montana, or the Jeanette Rankin Brigades. Now, most of those people are Democrats, but nothing like the great ones of the past. Usually, they can’t even get a credible candidate to run for Congress.

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After watching both parts of the debate, let me see if I can “iron out” (pun intended) some of the rough spots in the Stein-Johnson campaigns. This is really “a pair to draw to” for our side. (I used the same expression when Ted Cruz chose his “running mate” – Carly Fiorina – the woman who destroyed Hewlett-Packard.)

Jill is really doing well, and needs to be freed of any committments to support some obsolete socialist “line” that more subsidies and “government programs” are going to solve these problems. Academia (and the public employee unions) have had a lock on government policy since long before I was in college at UCLA in the 1960’s. Indeed, UCLA was seen as one of the pre-eminent “trainers” for the elite bureaucratic class – “The Country Club of the liberal jet set,” as one of my YR comrades put it.

So, I know the drill. The Ivy League vs. The Rest of the Country. In the West, it’s more diverse, and universities have their own agendas and alliances. So, we’re the perpetual “outsiders” (isn’t “Utne” Norwegian for that?).

As a Montanan, I’ve been building strong alliances with New Mexico since the 1970’s when I worked with a guy I won’t name from one of the old Mexican families. Taos artists and our own CM Russell were tight – and there’s always Los Alamos, one of the largest Unitarian-Universalist congregations in the Mountain-Desert District. Santa Fe (along with Cut Bank, Montana) is a center for the arts, music, and culture. Is Montana doing its part to advance a truly esthetic and humane lifestyle and agenda for the American West? We hope so.

Gary Johnson was apparently a popular governor (of New Mexico), for he was re-elected. He also vetoed more bills than probably any other governor in history, or so he claimes. He’s a “casual,” hip Westerner – the New Model for a 21st Century President. He doesn’t want war or confrontation. He doesn’t want to build walls. He wants to restore the ancient borders of New Spain, or else remove all borders entirely – the preferred strategy, I believe.

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Libertarian history – more Green than Republican

Prior to, say, 1945, “libertarian” was equated with traditional communitarian anarchism, pacifism, nature worship, and the values and traditions of indigenous people – essentially what the Green Party was originally conceived to be.

The “libertarian” label is ancient – a believer in liberty, not capitalism, wealth, the stock market, or the 1%. It means small, local, self-governing communities, not an empire which encompasses hundreds or thousands of such self-governing communities, and exploits them for political and economic benefits which are rarely shared or “worth the cost.”

People should intentionally govern themselves and their communities instead of being owned and controlled by the State – a respectable theory which maintained that strong central governments and standing armies were inimical to human freedom and prosperity, not to mention survival, itself. Seems harmless enough, doesn’t it?

Except that the politcal/military/imperial forces of both the Left and Right are based on the premise of a Totalitarian State. If any opposition is allowed, the State will collapse. And that is what we have, today. Were it not for Tavis Smiley and an unannounced appearance on American Forum from the University of Virginia (both on PBS), there would have been no national appearances for Johnson at all, and he is on the ballot in nearly every state.

Stein, with a strong base in New England among the highest intellectual elites, hasn’t done any better. In the West, she’s basically unknown, and in Montana, at least, an above-ground Green Party is basically non-existant, although I still try to keep up appearances, just in case a Jill Stein should happen to show up.

I vetted the idea of a Stein-Johnson debate to several GP leaders, including both of her campaign managers, and they encouraged me to contact the Libertarians, since they weren’t about to do that, themselves. So, I asked Ron Vandevender, a leading local Libertarian, if he might present the idea to his party leaders. Next thing I know, abracadabra, it’s on Tavis Smiley. And Tavis did a great job in the limited time available.

There was no posturing or attacks – just a solid discussion of the real issues – peace, military spending, foreign policy of fomenting wars and terrorism, etc. And there was remarkable agreement on most of these. Obviously, these two candidates (and Parties) are on the same side, just as the Republicans and Democrats are on the same side – for total destruction of the planet, just so long as they maintain the 1% monopoly on wealth and power.

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My two closest contacts (not exactly “comrades”) in the Green Party have been Jill’s campaign managers in the past two campaigns – David Cobb and Ben Manski. Cobb, the 2004 Presidential candidate (and General Counsel for Nader in 2000) had previously worked for the Jerry Brown and Jesse Jackson campaigns, and still maintains ties to the PDA. He also started the Move to Amend and Democracy Unlimited in Humbolt County, CA (against corporate power). Ben Manski (recommended to me by Cobb) was a leader of the Campus Greens (at Wisconsin, Madison) when I first became active in 2000. Now he is 42, and a professor at UC Santa Barbara, where I also worked for time.

Ben Manski managed the 2012 campaign, which used as its centerpiece a “Green New Deal”, which is a widely-used metaphor for what we should be doing. Both Clinton and Obama used it (or something similar) as a talking point, but the Obama version sank with a large subsidy to a solar producer which went bankrupt, costing taxpayers $1 billion or so.

Jill and her spokespeople keep saying they can make it work, but after the revelations in Part 1 of the debate on Tavis Smiley, it seems my worst fears were realized.

http://www.pbs.org/wnet/tavissmiley/interviews/presidential-candidates-dr-jill-stein-gary-johnson-pt-1/

http://www.pbs.org/wnet/tavissmiley/interviews/presidential-candidates-dr-jill-stein-gary-johnson-pt-2/
Now we know, as the Daily Beast reported, Jill is a certified capitalist, with an extensive portfolio including many bad companies, which she only recently “divested” from (her word), while her husband is still active in Merck and other major corporate brands. And she advocates all sorts of spending and government programs to address climate change, “picking winners and losers”, as Gov. Johnson puts it (and all Libertarians oppose) – a strategy which is absolutely doomed to failure, as are any sort of taxpayer subsidies to private companies or other “producers.” This is also obvious to the critics of the ACA, which is a vast scheme of taxpayer subsidies to fund compulsory corporate racketeering (in the guise of “Health Insurance” which is nothing of the sort.)

The same is true of producer subsidies anywhere else – agriculture is probably the worst offender. Those who really defend “free markets” (and most Republicans say they do), must be made to understand that any sort of taxpayer subsidies to private corporations totally negates free-market principles and the possibility of a beneficial market economy. Gary Johnson understands this very well, while Jill is still mired in “New Deal” fantasies of “minimum wages,” “full employment,” universal health care and free K-PhD public education.

Doesn’t this require a totalitarian surveillance over all economic activity (just as long as it stays out of our bedrooms and libraries, I suppose), and confiscation of the “social surplus” which is being stolen from the people by corporations? Or is it to promote some ill-defined “social justice” – usually more “government programs” or other state-directed policies to politically benefit those who support the Party, all the while protecting and bailing out the corporate elites. This is where libertarian principles can really make a difference.

The best policy in every case is to tax or prohibit the bad things (nuclear and fossil fuel industries, in this case,) along with chemical agriculture, the Military-Industrial-Education-Medical complex, and other major parts of “government” which are killing and enslaving us on a daily basis. This allows individual firms and co-ops to act as they see fit, subject to the usual general rules of accounting and business practice, torts (they cannot injure their neighbors, workers, or customers), etc.

If anyone needs subsidizing, it’s the poor who have no means to participate in the market economy. Give them some chips so they can play, and provide them with the necessities of life (food, clothing, shelter, health care, cultural enrichment, etc.) Then they won’t be forced into lives of crime, drug abuse, prostitution, and other rackets which depend on poverty and deprivation.

By outlawing all these things, a “black economy” is created based on exploiting others. And our present rules don’t distinguish criminal activities from an “informal economy” of barter and exchange, “under the table” wages, etc., which is absolutely essential for the survival of those excluded from the corporate state and its police power.

Most people only ask to be left alone to do their own thing. They’re not interested in politics, and if they participate at all, they’re usually led by some party officials to vote against their own (and everyone else’s) best interests. Fear is a strong motivation, and that is what the major parties use to maintain their power, along with some grandiose vision of American Full Spectrum Dominance over the entire planet. And that is what is costing us our freedom and threatens our very survival as a species.

“Natural Law” may in this case be taken literally – Nature is sovereign. We, as humans, cannot do anything which permanently alters and destroys the ecosystem on which we all depend for survival. This fundamental principle of Green Libertarianism follows Hayek in distinguishing between two kinds of law, and leaving most human activity to follow general rules and principles (enshrined in the English Common Law and other traditional systems) rather than a myriad of specific laws and regulations which no one knows about or understands.

If we are to be law-abiding, the laws must be simple and self-evident -not created by sold-out and ignorant legislators at the behest of corporate bosses, ALEC, union bosses and other special-interest groups and the courts which are now utterly dominated and overwhelmed by them….

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The Green New Deal

http://www.jill2016.com/greennewdeal

So, what’s wrong with the Green New Deal? I’ve written a lot about it, largely based on Gabriel Kolko’s “Triumph of Conservatism” (describing the original New Deal). But free market economists have always been critical of it, along with the phoney “Keynesianism” which they think underlies it.

In the first place, it’s blatant stealing (or at least unauthorized “borrowing”) from FDR’s New Deal. The Democrats have always charged that Greens are “stealing our votes” and trying to recruit members from within the traditional supporters of the Democratic Party. Now, Jill is verifying that charge.

The Greens are definitely the “idea party” with voluminous solutions to ever policy issue or question. Yet, Stein, acting as though she’s “really just a New Deal Liberal,” piggy-backs on something which all working people, minorities, and leftists in general once identified with. Even WWII veterans and those who think we somehow “won the war” because of FDR’s wise and skillful leadership, will automatically support a “Green New Deal,” won’t they? Not necessarily. That’s traditional political thinking, not Green Politics.

In any case, such people are largely gone. Even in the 1950’s and 60’s, the New Deal didn’t seem like such a good deal after all, so we had a “Fair Deal,” “New Frontier”, “Great Society” (actually a concept taken from Adam Smith), etc. And another war (or series of them) which FDR (an anti-imperialist) would have vehemently opposed, but which Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson pursued “with vigor.”

East vs. West

“Frontier” was the key metaphor in the West, and we continue in that frame of reference, whether it’s in biomedical resarch or space exploration. We don’t want to be “centrists.” We want to be on the edge (das Rand, in German), whatever we’re doing. We want to be unique individuals who work with other rational people for mutual aid and benefit, not to exploit the poor or enslave minorities, or be part of some unthinking herd called Democrats, Republicans, or “the majority.”

The words “New Deal” must always represent State Socialism and a strong central government which will overcome all the evils which exist in the backward rural areas and inner cities – primarily by disarming and imprisoning everyone who resists. Economically, the New Deal is widely reccognized today as American Fascism, and the opposite of anything really Green (“grass-roots Democracy”). It was a corporate deal to save capitalism from the surging socialists and populists who were outraged by the abuses of the 1% and the gangster fiefdoms created by alcohol Prohibition and the establishment of the FBI – a completely unconstitutional abuse of federal power… See any parallels with today?

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Vote your conscience, not your fears…

OK, forget the label “Green New Deal.” Am I voting for Stein? I wouldn’t if I thought a vote for Gary Johnson would be more “effective” or whatever in re-establishing National Sanity. I’ll let you know how I voted after the election. And I would encourage others to vote Green in every case – even if they offer a badly misinformed and misleading candidate. (People thought Obama was essentially Green, anti-war, pro-justice, etc., so few voted Green that year). I will even vote for a good Republican (we still have some in Montana – I need to talk some more with Ed Buttrey) over a bad Green or Libertarian.

Most of what is wrong with Stein is due to her Harvard education (which I must say, has also badly contaminated Denise Juneau, the Democratic candidate for Montana’s lone seat in the House). Indeed, they sound much the same on issues involving the academic elites, the need for more government spending, aggressive foreign policy, and more “success” in the existing educational and other public institutions.

Do we really want our schools and prisons to be more “successful” in establishing a Totalitarian State? That’s a distinction which Juneau, at least, seems to have missed, since she still supports fossil fuels and “Nuclear Deterrence” – easily among the top 5 threats to human life and civilization, and especially indigenous peoples everywhere. The idea of forcing people to spend more time in a dysfunctional “school to prison pipeline” is certainly nothing to be proud of.

I’ve heard nothing from her about less spending on prisons, the military, Homeland Security, or any other aspects of the National Security State. She seems to think she’s “supporting our Warriors” or something. Whatever “Peace Democrats” used to exist in Montana have largely been hunted to extinction. That’s simply not part of their platform anymore, and that’s why we desperately need for the anti-war candidates, whether Green or Libertarian, to be listened to and supported.

Meanwhile, the Montana Democrat and Republican parties continue their insane demands to foment more and more social crises with the War on Drugs and other ALEC initiatives to destroy the environment and any sort of independent politics and media. This is all in the name of “creating jobs” to make sure Montana-educated kids have jobs here at home – except that the most important ones, like manning the nuclear Doomsday Machine, are exclusively under Federal control. I imagine it’s much the same in New Mexico, yet their governor has allied himself with the forces of reason, culture, and peace, instead of the Military-Industrial-Complex.

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My home town of Great Falls, MT is presently being occupied by the most horrendous Doomsday Machine in history – 150-200 strategic nuclear “Minuteman” missiles which can deliver a couple of hundred thousand tons of TNT-equivalent almost anywhere in the world, in less than an hour (hence the name).

Imagine what people think and believe growing up in the midst of such a facility. “It’s just for Deterrence,” we’re told. “They’ll never be used.” But we should spend another trillion dollars to keep a “better version” for another 50 years? Only if we plan to use them, which is the big news apparently being suppressed for election purposes.

The following article from Global Research, a Canadian foreign policy institute, makes specific reference to Montana’s nuclear capabilities, but the numbers and technology is from the 1990’s. Half or more of the world’s nuclear arsenals in Russia and the US have been dismantled, but now there is another nuclear arms race underway….

http://www.globalresearch.ca/war-between-us-and-russia-could-be-sooner-than-later-the-danger-of-a-nuclear-war

Joachim Hagopian
Global Research, October 18, 2016
Region: Russia and FSU, USA
Theme: Militarization and WMD, US NATO War Agenda
In-depth Report: Nuclear War
PHS comments/corrections for this article…

When MIRVed, our Minuteman IIIs had three warheads each, not 8. It is Trident and MX missiles (once deployed in Wyoming, before being cancelled) which carry 8-10 IRV’s, and I believe that treaties have also cut down that number, perhaps to one per missile. Non-MIRVed ballistic missiles are much less destabilizing, since it’s a one for one deal (hard to explain, but everything about strategic nuclear warfare depends on “balance”, counterforce, and the preservation of a “deterrent” – which is really just a mental construct, not an actual military strategy).

Every military operation involves threats to a real or potential enemy. That is what “deterrence” literally means. But if a country is already in a state of hostilities like the fabled “Cold War” between the US and USSR, “deterrence” has no meaning. It becomes, in Helen Caldicott’s pithy phrase, “Missile Envy.”

Which guy has the biggest stuff? Who can intimidate the other in a cosmic game of chicken? That’s really all it is. And when we politicize it, and put it in the hands of the corporate crime syndicates posing as Republican and Democratic Parties, we are certainly asking for disaster, and probably suicide as a civilization, if not the human species, itself.

At some point, we must choose between supporting a military government, coup, or revolution which ends these policies, or the actual Doomsday which Democrats/Republicans are preparing for in the name of “National Security.”

High Frontier Vs Star Wars (Strategic Defense Initiative)

Mensa writings (1985-87)

 

From Mensatana, c. 1987
High Frontier vs. Star Wars

by Paul Stephens

Recently, I saw the results of a poll conducted by Reason Magazine. One of the questions gauged the reader’s interest, pro or con, on the subject of “Star Wars/High Frontier.” If President Reagan or his theoreticians have stolen the title “High Frontier” from Princeton physicist Gerard O’Neill, this fact is not yet widely known to the American people. O’Neill’s conception of a “High Frontier” (the title of his book published in the 70’s) has nothing to do with the Strategic Defense Initiative or “Star Wars.” In fact, they are in direct competition with one another for financial and technological resources, and carrying out one of them virtually precludes the other.

High Frontier, in O’Neill’s formulation, calls for building permanent human habitats in outer space, materially supported by the construction of huge solar micro-wave-transmitting power stations and factories in earth orbit. These power stations would beam down electricity in the form of microwaves to receiver-arrays on earth. Most of the construction materials would come from the moon (having a much smaller “gravity-well”, and being rich in aluminum and silicon). Although far-fetched and still not taken entirely seriously, O’Neil’s plan captured the imagination of science fiction fans and advocates of space development and exploration in the 1970’s. Even environmentalists, pacifists, the Russian followers of Konstantin Tsiolkovsky (who saw earth as “the nest” from which a full-fledged humanity would someday emerge), and others could relate to O’Neill’s humanistic vision of a kind of scientific Utopia for the future.

The Strategic Defense Initiative, on the other hand, is the reductio ad absurdum of militaristic paranoia. Contrary to many existing treaties and common sense, this program would carry the arms race into outer space, costing hundreds of billions or trillions of scarce public dollars, and render obsolete existing weapon systems built, supposedly, to preserve peace through “deterrence.” No tangeable benefits of any kind are envisioned from space-based weapon systems. Instead, a period of destabilization, arms build-ups, mutual suspicion and paranoia would be the inevitable result if we continue to develop and deploy such systems.

By all accounts from reputable, disinterested scientists, the actual technological systems now under development simply aren’t feasible. It is much more costly to fortify against attack than to double or triple the attacking force. Through the use of decoys, atmospheric delivery systems, and other strategies on the part of potential attackers, the space-based defense system can easily be nullified or outflanked, like a kind of space-age Maginot Line. At worst, it could invite or even necessitate attack before it is completed, for it constitutes a return to American arms superiority and the capability of dominating and intimidating other countries— particularly if something like the Reagan Administration is still in power. Precisely because such systems represent a means of strategic intimidation, space-based weapons were long ago outlawed by treaty.
The Reagan Administration’s attempt to revive this discredited thinking and technology is merely one more indication of his (and his advisors’) incompetence, chicanery, and paranoia. Having already usurped the ideals of the cowboy and the American West, Mr. Reagan (because he acted in Hollywood “Westerns,” I suppose) has blithely assumed that anything which pertains to a “high frontier” must have something to do with “star wars” or, for all I know, the gunfight at the O.K. corral. If the American media has fallen for this “package deal,” surely it is up to the rest of us to expose it.

Perhaps this is a case of Mr. Reagan, as auteur. wanting to direct Dr. Strangelove II: Cap the Knife. Or is it another massive payoff to his defense industry friends and supporters in California? Whatever it is, it should be seen as being dangerous, irrational, and foolish.
Implicit (for whatever reasons) in the mindset of the Reaganites is a virtually total disregard for “lower classes” and the universal interests of humanity. To embrace the United Nations; to make peace with the Russians; to rid the world of the threat of nuclear war — these things are simply not priorities for the Reagan Administration. Their mindset requires a “bogey-man” – some “enemy” or malevolent force or ideology which must be fought to the death.

Thus, we are made to believe that it is better to be poised on the brink of nuclear war, hating other nations and their people, than to work for peace. Any suggestion that all nations, cultures, and traditions have an equal moral value, complexity, and legitimacy is likely to face hostility or even violent opposition from this Administration. The most obvious truths must be forever obscure to the Reagan-class mind.

The wise and sane alternatives are obvious: the human species ought to care for itself and its long-term interests. Every nation and race shares a common future, common needs, and very similar aspirations. Peace is the natural state of affairs. It is war which is the irrational, contrived abberation; the expression of self-hatred and species-hatred; the ultimate degradation of all our highest values and aspirations.

War is the triumph of evil over good; of death over life. And it is war which our present political leadership insists we should prepare for, and rely on as an instrument of “policy.” Their view is simple: You don’t like somebody? Then attack him. Invade his country. Overthrow his government. Or support dictatorships which would otherwise be overthrown.

On a practical level, Mr. Reagan and his political allies would murder an Allende while succoring a Marcos or a Somoza. They make it a point to be oblivious to world opinion. With inconceivable arrogance, they see themselves as defending “the free world” and bringing the “benefits of American civilization” (and especially American weapons) to the rest of the world.

This is nothing new. Ever since the Mexican War and especially the Spanish American War of 1898, we’ve had a tradition of stupid jingoism being acted out in spite of every kind of rational, moral, and humanitarian objections. Since building up our vast nuclear arsenals, there is no legitimate “defense.” There is either peace or mutual annihiliation. Right now, there is a “balance of terror” and little else. Is it any wonder that any splinter group of dissidents now sees terrorism as the only efficacious means to bring about change? What are nuclear arsenals but the greatest instruments of terror the world has ever known?

Anyone who acts to perpetuate war and our reliance on it should be regarded with the greatest suspicion. We have no further use for war and its appliances. There is no longer anything to be gained from it. The only thing worth fighting for is a nation’s freedom and its territorial integrity. Those who attempt to take away the freedom or violate the territorial integrity of others cause wars, and they are guilty of the greatest possible immorality.

The only sure way to avoid war is for everyone to refuse to participate in it. And we should begin by refusing to participate in “Star Wars.” Space exploration and habitation is a completely different matter. As Carl Sagan recently pointed out, the financial and technological resources necessary for the development of one regular strategic defense system (like the B-1 bomber or MX missile) would be sufficient to build and carry out a’ manned mission to Mars, with Soviet, European, Japanese, and other nations’ support and cooperation. And this would have all the “spin-off” benefits of SDI, plus the advantages of peaceful cooperation and scientific knowledge in many vital fields, including planetary ecology. Lets work for the future instead of being enslaved by the past.

Paul Stephens,  Great Falls, Montana

Small ICBM deployment-USAF hearing July 1987

Mensa writings (1985-87)

Testimony by Paul Stephens

Reprinted in Mensatana, December 22, 1987
Mensans sometimes wonder how they can use their intelligence for public benefit. Here is an example of how one person responded to an issue of public concern. This testimony was given at a local Environmental Impact Hearing conducted by the US Air Force concerning the deployment of another nuclear weapon system in Montana.

=================
My name is Paul Stephens. I’m a fourth-generation Montanan whose family has lived in this area since 1883.

Our President claims to want to earn a place in history by successfully negotiating real limitations on nuclear arms. If he does so, those following in the next Administration will find themselves scaling back and dismantling the build-up pro­posed here. This suggests another “boom and bust” cycle, or an experience like Conrad, Montana where construction was begun with the ABM system in the 1970’s.

Dr. Paul F. Walker, Co-director of the Institute for Peace and International Security in Cambridge, Mass, spoke here recently informing us that Malmstrom AFB (and indeed, all land-based ICBM’s) are no longer a vital part of our strategic posture. We’d be better-off without them. All are vulnerable to a first-strike, and this, in turn, limits their function and strategic value to that of a first-strike weapon — something which both sides claim they neither want nor need. They are neither an effective deterrent nor a sure means of retaliation.

The pin­point accuracy of the Midgetman and its use of “penetration aids” also characterizes it as a first-strike weapon — something which should be abhorrent to all Montanans. $50 billion could he used much more effectively elsewhere — even for “defense” purposes. Give the State of Montana the $1 billion which the Air Force will spend here, and I guarantee we will spend the money much more wisely and productively than the Air Force will. Our economy will benefit much more from productive investments than non-productive or destructive ones.

It’s true that our state and national economies are in bad shape, but more missiles will not correct the problems. Indeed, high levels of military spending are a large part of our economic problems. Why, then, are we even considering the deployment of the Midgetman System here in Montana, or anywhere? According to Dr. Walker, it is a political “deal,” a “payoff.” The Air Force wants more MX “Peacekeeper” missiles. But the smaller, more expensive “Midgetman” sounds safer, less threatening. The Scowcroft Commission Report compromises, advocating the deployment of 500 Midgetman and additional MX missiles (which incidently  violates the Salt II Treaty, which limits us to one new missile).

Dr. Walker says that if rationality prevails, the Midgetman will be defeated. Yet, this proposal is for Montana to receive 200-250 Midgetman missiles and 8 MX deployed on railroad cars. The very real “growth possibilities” here amount to turning Montana into a nuclear sponge.

Dr. Walker estimates that our present 200 Minuteman missiles are targeted by 400 or more Soviet nuclear warheads. However, the Midgetman would require that 4000-5000 additional Soviet warheads be targeted here, in order to neutralize this new system. Under these conditions, any sort of nuclear exchange would devastate Montana beyond any recovery.

The U.S. Air Force claims its missiles are fail-safe, and incapable of accidental launch or explosion. Are they equally confident about the Soviet missiles and Soviet precautions against accidents or sabotage? Clearly, the only safe course of action is to build down our nuclear arsenals with the intention of eliminating them entirely, rather than deploying newer and ever more complex systems.

We should point out here that at $50 billion, the proposed Midgetman system is the most expensive strategic weapon system in our history. More importantly, it is three times as expensive per warhead as the MX, Minuteman, or Poseidon systems. It is a criminal economic waste in an era of high budget deficits and drastic cuts in civilian public spending.

Among the few people who claim to be informed about the issue, and who still favor Midgetman deployment here are those who imagine that it will help our local economy. Professor Tom Power of the Economics Department at the University of Montana in Missoula addressed this issue very well in a public radio commentary of June 29, 1987. He says, in part, and I quote:

“In 1980, almost 40% of the Great Falls economic base was the military. Now that percentage will increase, and the economy will suffer every time that peace threatens to break out. Residents will quietly pray that world tensions will remain high; that rabid militarists will remain in control of the White House and Congress, and that the anti-nuke forces will fail miserably. There is something perverse going on when the needs of the local economy corrupt people’s vision in this way.”

Concerning the “boom-bust cycle,” Professor Power says:

“We may gear up for the missiles, and either not have them appear, or have them eliminated after they are deployed. This will put Great Palls in a strange moral and political position. Its residents and politicians will find themselves committed to the arms race, and fearful of any serious arms reduction proposals. The militarization of Great Palls will be nearly complete….

“Between 1970-1985, Great Falls’ population declined by about 2000. Its economic base also declined as the military role declined, primary metals shut down, and agriculture withered. Yet, real per capita income rose by almost a quarter. [We] did almost as well as the rest of the state…. There is nothing seriously wrong with the Great Falls economy that needs fixing. There certainly is nothing so wrong that its worth keeping the arms race going for a little local economic stimulation.

“The spokespersons for the Great Falls business community will not see it this way, of course. To them, any growth is good and stability is always bad. Hopefully, others within the Great Falls community will be a little bit more critical, and will not welcome these missiles as an economic blessing when in fact they are part of a much larger curse that weighs down the entire national economy and threatens ours and our children’s futures.”

It is clear enough to me that our best course is to cancel the Midgetman program immediately, and to seriously negotiate towards complete nuclear disarmament. Montana and the rest of the world will all benefit from the elimination of nuclear weapons.

Paul Stephens July 22, 1987

Against the “War on Drugs” (c. 1986)

Mensa writings (1985-87)

Against the “War on Drugs”  (c. 1986)

Like most people who became adults in the 1960’s, I’ve literally “grown up with drugs.” My father was an alcoholic, smoker, and amphetamine addict. So was my uncle. Being raised in the secular, scientific tradition, I was early led to believe that any physical or emotional problem could be solved by ingesting the proper chemical “medicine.” . Being highly-intelligent, 1 soon came to believe that I knew better than others what was best for me. And if I didn’t know, I claimed the right to find out: by reading, questioning, and experimenting with whatever substances were available. I don’t think I ever believed that anyone else had the right to tell me what I could or could not experiment with. And growing up in “lawless Montana,” my respect for .government and its desire to control our personal lives was entirely non-existent.
Thus, I obtained some marijuana from an intelligent colleague in the Philosophy Department at UCLA at my first opportunity. Later, I obtained some mescaline and LSD from another student in the same department. I should say that there was no commercial aspect to these transactions. I merely reimbursed them their cost. And they positively advocated the use of these substances to me. They genuinely believed that I would benefit from using them! Even professors at this time (1969) freely circulated articles from learned journals on the use of psychedelics (mescaline, psilocybin, and LSD), and significant academic research was being devoted to these substances. It no more seemed immoral or illegal to use them than it would be immoral or illegal to read a book or participate in an academic research project.
To be sure, the free access to these substances was already restricted, and one could, technically, be arrested for distributing or using them, but this was rarely if ever known to happen, and to express worry on this account was to risk being labeled “paranoid.”
And so, for several years thereafter, I used marijuana and hashish quite regularly, and psychedelics some 50 times. The most unpleasant experience I ever had was learning afterwards that some close friends of mine had been killed in an auto accident while I was “tripping” on LSD. Because of the psychic, mystical nature of these experiences, one could readily imagine that one was connected to or responsible for catastrophic events happening some distance away, and apparently unconnected to one’s immediate reality. I felt a certain amount of guilt on account of the deaths of my friends, even though I was in no way involved with it. That was the last time I used LSD.
Cannabis (marijuana and hashish), on the other hand, seemed to be something like the mythical Soma of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. Huxley, like many other intellectuals of his time, was himself a strong advocate of the serious, structured use of psychedelics. Hermann Hesse used them extensively, and it was no accident that his books became required reading for the “hippy intelligentsia” of the 1960’s, their predecessors, and successors. The use of hallucinogens is as ancient as civilization, itself, and cannabis (a very mild halucinogen and stimulant of the imagination) is found in warm climates in every part of the world; Indeed, Islam encourages the use of cannabis while absolutely prohibiting the use of alcohol. That, it seems to me, is an accurate evaluation of the merits and dangers of the two substances.
By using cannabis, I was intentionally declaring my solidarity with the Third World, and darker-skinned peoples of the tropics. The white male imperialistic opposition to cannabis (as found in the Reagan Administration, or Nixon’s “Operation Intercept” 15 years ago) seemed to be consistent with our policy in Vietnam or Central America, and thus my use of cannabis v/as a political act as well as a social and intellectual one.
It was this political aspect which convinced many of us that we were doing the right thing. Marijuana, and the collective smoking of it, produced a social camaraderie and solidarity which was new and very satisfying to those of us raised within the confines of an over-intellectualized Protestant individualism. Marijuana in the work-place became a way to better coordinate our efforts by establishing our identity as a crew or team. And most of us discovered that we were actually able to learn quicker, improve our reflexes and physical dexterity, and otherwise upgrade our physical performance and emotional satisfaction through the use of these substances.
To be sure, the scientific evidence for this is ambiguous. Sometimes, it is only that subjectively our performance has improved. And some studies seem to indicate that perpetual use of cannabis over a decade or more may result in brain damage or other harmful effects to the nervous system. I suppose that such consequences are proportionate to the quantity of cannabis in the blood-stream, one’s diet, and other variables —much as alcohol use can be benign in some cases and deadly in others.
I never smoked more than, say, 2 or 3 very small joints a day, but I’ve known people who might have smoked several grams of hashish or 20 large joints a day. Obviously, such quantities could not be described as “beneficial,” and the very act of smoking any organic substance has harmful consequences to the respiratory system, and poses the threat of cancer. Cannabis can also be taken orally, and with purely pleasurable and much less harmful consequences. It is one effect of criminalization that the oral use of cannabis has practically disappeared in this country, since smoking provides the largest dosage in the shortest time of a scarce and expensive substance. (In a free market, cannabis would be no more expensive than lettuce or cabbage, and thus capable of being refined and processed at a very low cost to the consumer).
My experience, then, is that psychedelics should be used carefully and with the greatest respect and most intelligent supervision, while cannabis is the “beer” of the drug-world, widely-used by working-class people, gourmets, intellectuals, and especially artists and other creative people. But it should be used with care and moderation. In both cases, the criminalization of these substances has literally destroyed the social fabric. Millions of lives have been ruined by arrest, punishment, and forced conversion to criminal and underworld values and lifestyles. This, it must be emphasized, is the direct consequence of police-state tactics on the part of governments, and usually for specifically political reasons.
Cocaine, like heroin or other narcotics, may constitute a different kind of problem. The people who use it are, or quickly become, self-destructive. They need to be protected from themselves — not by arrest and prosecution, but by treatment, sympathy, and a structured conversion to healthy values and lifestyles. Here, again, the “war on drugs” promises to be entirely counter-productive, and to make the problem worse instead of better.
It is very strange to me, as a 6th or 7th generation American, that anyone in this country should support a police-state as the solution to any kind of problem! Whatever happened to the ideas of free choice and moral autonomy? Since when has punishment, repression, trade restrictions, invasion of privacy, and other typical old-world, totalitarian methods been acceptable to Americans? Have we all become Puritans, Racists, Czarists, or what? Since when did I give up my God-given rights to gather, harvest, cultivate, or prepare one of God’s sacred creations? I can see passing laws against amphetamines or Valium, but against poppies, bushes, and trees? Isn’t this more than a little bit ridiculous?
The real issue here, it seems to me, is an ethical, moral, and philosophical one. Since when have governments become our masters rather than our servants? Since when have governments received a mandate to harm people, rather than to benefit them? It is particularly ironic that Ronald Reagan, who reached the Presidency on a program which he described as pro-freedom, pro-individual responsibility, pro-^free trade, and even “libertarian” should be the architect of what can only be described as the most fascistic, totalitarian, statist administration in the history of the United States. Taking up where the Roosevelt’s left off, he has re-instituted the gunboat diplomacy of Theodore and the corporate fascism of the New Deal. In fact, he is the first President since Franklin Roosevelt to dare to continue in this direction of elitist authoritarianism. which is so unpopular with the American people. But it is a testimony to the power of the media and propaganda techniques that he is still a popular President and obtained something like a 90% majority of the House for his “war on drugs” legislation. Unfortunately, it will be the American people who will suffer and have to pay for the policies brought forth by these self-serving lies and propaganda.
The philosophical issue arises when one considers why it is so hard for government leaders to respect the moral autonomy of the people? Why do some people feel that they have to dictate and control the lives of others? And most of all, why do some people feel they have to punish and blame others for our common problems?
The first thing one learns in psychotherapy (or religion) is that those who most loudly proclaim their own innocence and virtue, blaming and “correcting” others, are most likely to have the worst problems within themselves. Why does one feel a need to be President, a prison warden, a prosecuting attorney, or a judge? This is the question which we, as Americans, must insist be answered before these people gain power over our lives!
Government, to an American, “derives its just powers from the consent of the governed.” Who, among enlightened, healthy, responsible people has given his consent to this “war on drugs,” aid to the Contras, or any of a hundred other abominations which the Reagan administration has promulgated? How can they get away with this? Who is being fooled by the illusory merits of more punishment and repression? No one that you or (would like to know, I’m fairly sure.

The roots of this problem are deep, and apparently still obscure. Why, then, is there no effort to uncover them? Why are the recommendations of enlightened, responsible people being disregarded? These are the kinds of questions which need to be answered. Whether or not drugs are harmful or beneficial is largely irrelevant to these broader questions, and of much less permanent significance.

Paul Stephens     Great Falls, Montana

Fear of Intelligence and Inertial Resistance to Change (c.1986)

Mensa writings (1985-87)

Fear of Intelligence and Inertial Resistance to Change  (c.1986)
Would-be social reformers have the toughest job in the world. If one actually possesses the vision and intelligence to put forth some dramatic new conception of society and interpersonal relations, one is likely to be persecuted or even martyred, not listened to or even taken seriously enough to be the object of criticism or opposition. Two factors seem to often appear as obstacles: fear of intelligence, and an inertial resistance to change. When I tell people I am a member of Mensa, and that there are some 5 million people in the United States who are also eligible to join, I rarely get a positive response, like: “Oh, isn’t that exciting? Tell me more about it!”
Reactions are more likely to be indifference or embarrassment, like I was admitting some dirty little secret. The fact that seems to require explanation is that there are only 53,000 actual members out of that 5 million.
Feminists have long made the complaint that intelligence in women has not been a social value; that women more often hide their intelligence rather than displaying it and thus (they believe) opening themselves to ridicule and contempt. However valid this may be for women, it seems to be equally valid for men. And those who are proud of their intelligence and freely display it often pay a fearful price in social alienation, ridicule, and outright rejection by lesser minds.
I suppose the reason for this might be a well-learned and carefully-remembered fear of intelligence. Intelligence, here confused with shrewdness or the ability to successfully manipulate others for one’s own purposes, is seen as power in the hands of a real or potential enemy. If one is not intelligent, one tends to fear those who are, just as the physically-underdeveloped person might feel an inferiority, inadequacy, or envy relative to his or her physically more-impressive rivals. Many intelligent people have exactly this attitude towards the athlete or “jock” — an attitude which forgets the principle of balance among physical, intellectual, and artistic capacities. Thus, they should understand why people sometimes resent their intelligence.
This principle of balance, inherited from the Classical Greek world-view, is also found in the Buddhist and Taoist belief-systems of the Far East. If one adopts an experimentalist attitude about one’s own life, one quickly learns this principle. We can only go so far in one direction without neglecting others. We can only develop specific capacities in a limited way by themselves. As we develop the “whole person,” we find that there is little or nothing that we cannot do, and that a carefully thought-out equilibrium can be attained at any level of achievement.
As a classic “under-achiever,” I often marvel at the middle-class professional person’s pursuit of balance, which may include 10-20 scheduled events in a single day, from breakfast, luncheon, and dinner appointments to a round of professional duties, a game of tennis, psychotherapy, a cocktail meeting, and a theater or concert attendance. Typically, I partic­ipate in one or two scheduled, organized events in a day, and often find even that much burdensome. But I also read 20 periodicals, write 20 or 30 pages a week, and always have time for the most trivial or purely social conversations.
I am active in the peace movement, a member of a Unitarian fellowship, and a regular contributor to Mensa events and publications — more than enough for one person, I can assure you! By abandoning other kinds of pursuits and values which are not consistent with my intellectual interests, I have freed myself to pursue whatever is interesting to me. Although my yearly income is probably less than the average teen-ager’s, people still envy or resent my freedom to pursue my own interests, as though their own lives of “quiet desperation” were some sort of universal punishment which everyone should have to suffer!
The problem with living in a society where intelligence is not respected or rewarded is that ignorance prevails. One need only look at government policy, business decision-making, education, or any other area of public concern to realize that this resentment of intelligence is the cause of most social problems. Not only do people get themselves into deep trouble through their ignorance: it seems as though they do so on purpose, thinking perhaps that this will give them (or their professional interests) that much more scope for action; that much more power to control the lives of others. Personal freedom, initiative, and community responsibility are usurped in the process.
Recently, I was attempting to explain my preference for a diversified, decentralized education system to one whom I thought would be receptive to this idea. Instead of school boards and state education bureaucracies, public schools would be organized and maintained by local community school associations of parents and teachers, who would be totally responsible for their particular neighborhood school and its administration including selection of texts, curricula, and educational philosophies. Independent and religious schools would also be encouraged, and students wishing to attend them would receive a comparable subsidy to cover the (reasonable) costs of teachers’ salaries and building maintenance in the form of a voucher which could be used at any school, public or private.
The person I was trying to convince (herself a retired teacher, and the product of a one-room country school), was worried that many parents might choose “inferior” schools or teachers, thus depriving their children of a quality education! A supporter of the present system (here in Montana it works as well as it did anywhere, 30 years ago) she was trained in the “progressive” theories of John Dewey, which she hopes might still be implemented by the state bureaucracies. Although devoutly religious, she maintains that religious schools should get no subsidies, and that only one educational philosophy and social theory should dominate all of public education.
My reply was simply that now, everyone is deprived of the education they want and need, unless a family is rich enough to be able to afford the private school of its choice, in addition to the taxes paid to support the wretchedly inadequate public schools. In a diversified system competing for students and public money, parents depriving their children of a quality education would be virtually impossible. More importantly, the rest of us would have the opportunity to choose the best schools available — the ones which best fit our personal needs and values. Our children would no longer be taken away from us, and educated in ways we disapprove of. Certainly that consideration alone should outweigh all others.
But in the enshrinement of ignorance, such considerations are thought to be anything but relevant. Here again, a false conception of “equality” (the equality of universal mediocrity) is far more compelling than the pursuit of excellence, individual conscience, moral values, religious beliefs, and equality of opportunity. How can this be? I can hardly believe that in the presence of both kinds of systems, any group of voters and taxpayers would fail to choose my system!
The problem may be simple resistance to change. Once the two systems are implemented and compared, the benefits of diversity, community, and decentralization will be obvious to all. Except that most people are afraid of intelligence and change, and anything which seems to result from intelligent thinking; any change which makes comparisons which put bureaucracies, teachers’ unions, and other established interests to shame simply shouldn’t be permitted to happen! And that is why I am not very optimistic about reform in public policy, and why I retain a libertarian desire to minimize government involvement in useful, beneficial human services.
Paul Stephens   Great Falls, Montana

 

 

The Road to Peace (7-17-86)

Mensa writings (1985-87)

 

138+
The Road to Peace (7-17-86)

“We know that wars will probably happen no matter what we do or say. We know we will be persecuted for our refusal to participate in them. We know that the state, our neighbors, and community will do everything possible to destroy our reputations and careers, and punish us in worse ways if we are not able to defend ourselves, or otherwise avoid that fate – often by paying some sort of tribute in money or “service.” It takes a lot more courage to be a pacifist than it does to be a warrior, yet the pacifist is generally thought to be a weakling and a coward.”

——————–
We often hear about peace-making, “conflict-resolution,” “arms negotiations,” and treaties of convenience and mutual interest intended to establish peace in some region of the world, or between what are perceived to be opposing “sides.” Some ages are remembered as being (relatively) peaceful and harmonious, while others are remembered for their devastating wars.

History records the tragedy of the Peloponnesian War in Ancient Greece; the Punic Wars between Rome and Carthage; the Hundred Years War between England and France; the Thirty Years War between Protestantism and Catholicism; and so forth. When the two greatest powers in a region go to war, and the war is protracted, there is literally hell to pay. The amount of suffering, pain, death and deprivation can be staggering. The real costs of war are incalculable, and in the case of a total war, far greater than any possible gains which might be realized from a victory. It is only in the abstract realms of political ideology, religious belief, and/or racial/ethnic division that wars “make sense.” Only the fanatic really believes in it, and willingly participates when one occurs.

Yet, we are taught, about “martial virtue” from our earliest experience. We are taught to march, wear uniforms, choose “sides” or “teams,” regard outsiders with hostility or suspicion, participate in civic rituals designed to create rivalries and conflicts with other communities, etc, etc. Some of us are gravely troubled by this experience, and trace to it every sort of evil associated with war.

If people weren’t conditioned to believe in war; to prepare for it; and to regard it as proper and inevitable, then it seems to me that wars might never happen. Youthful idealism? Liberal foggy-headedness?  The very denial of reality, itself? We’re charged with this, and more. And we know that our numbers are small; that we are virtually powerless in terms of the voter’s influence on government, influence on public opinion, and most of all, influence on history.

We know that wars will probably happen no matter what we do or say. We know we will be persecuted for our refusal to participate in them. We know that the state, our neighbors, and community will do everything possible to destroy our reputations and careers, and punish us in worse ways if we are not able to defend ourselves, or otherwise avoid that fate – often by paying some sort of tribute in money or “service.” It takes a lot more courage to be a pacifist than it does to be a warrior, yet the pacifist is generally thought to be a weakling and a coward.

When I was on the East Coast, I remember hearing Montana environmentalists being characterized as “a breed a part” insofar as they had to stand up to the loggers, miners, oil-drillers, and others who hated them enough to want to fight them. The same may be true of Montana pacifists — it’s’ a little different marching to the gates of Malmstrom AFB [then home to a nuclear strike force of 200 Minuteman missiles carrying up to 600 warheads – today, it’s 150 single-warhead missiles] compared with demonstrating on the Mall in Washington, D.C. or a college campus!

Even the 1960’s hippies, universally known for their doctrine of “peace and love,” took on a rather different character here in Montana. They began to carry large sheath knives, and if you got into a disagree­ment with one of them, it wasn’t likely he’d refuse to go outside and settle the matter in the parking lot, or even with firearms, if it came to that! I was one of the very few who thought he could maintain some self-esteem while politely refusing such invitations. And so it is with the pacifist, today.

If we take our peace and freedom and justice seriously, we’ve got to be prepared to act according to our beliefs, and organize our thoughts, our communications, our budgets, our livelihoods, our lifestyles and even our entertainments in such a way that they will further peace, and whatever else we might believe in. Such is the responsibility of membership in a free society.

How might we better serve this cause of peace? Before we can really do something, we must understand the problem clearly, and be able to relate cause and effect in such a way that our efforts will have the effects desired. Thus, I question the motives of peace “demonstrators” who confront and antagonize, and whose thoughts and reasoning are so esoteric and far-removed from the ordinary person’s understanding that no useful communication takes place. During the Vietnam era, I know it was the case that most people in Montana thought that anyone against the war was anti-American, crazy, a Communist, or worse. The very fact of demonstrating and being against the war on the part of a variety of long-haired, drug-using “hippies” convinced many people that the war was right, and that we should support it!

If one understands what is happening here, and one really wishes to end a war or prevent one, one’s only rational response is to change one’s behavior so that people are affirmed in their suspicion of war-making politicians and generals, and in their desire for peace and harmony with other nations. So peculiar is the American culture that literally millions of people kept marching in the streets and offending the sensibilities of others more or less for the fun of it, or out of a frustration which apparently could not be channeled into any more constructive action. And thus, I sadly believe, the Vietnam war lasted longer and cost much more than would have been the case had no radical demonstrations or civil disobedience occurred!

Teach-ins, constructive use of the media, and traditional political action would have done the job much more quickly and effectively, I’m sure, and the success of fundamentalist conservatism using precisely these methods provides strong evidence in favor of my contention. If intelligence has anything whatsoever to do with the cultivation and application of reason, then we, as intelligent people, should certainly believe that reason is efficacious in political decision-making, and that reason is a universal to which anyone, regardless of intelligence or lack of it, must finally accede.

Some people think that “you can prove anything with reason,” but that is just not the case. Reason isn’t a mechanism so much as it is an attitude; the desire to understand as fully as possible, to use one’s understanding as a guide to future action, and to intend, in every case, the universal good of all. “Reason” that brings harm or destruction is practically a contradiction in terms, and thus not “reason” in any legitimate sense of the term.

All of the foregoing applies to conventional as well as nuclear war. The difference with nuclear war is that it is total and final Once it occurs,, there will be practically nothing left of what we know as civilization. There will be no recovering from it as we have recovered from past wars. Life will have become, indeed, “solitary, cruel, nasty, brutish, and short” as the British philosopher (and Rationalist) Thomas Hobbes said of “the State of Nature.” Following a nuclear war, there will be little, even, of Nature remaining, and the “shortness” may be measured in minutes, weeks, or months instead of years. Such has been our “progress” in technology and politics since the 17th century!

We must remember, though, that Hitler and Stalin were “rationalists”, too. It’s just that they were also psychopaths and intent on destroying something, even if it was their own nation, party, or circle of friends. If they lacked a “spiritual dimension,” it wasn’t because they weren’t superstitious or convinced of their own “God-chosenness” or its materialist equivalent. And thus, the Nazi or Bolshevik “logic” proved to be a sophistry; a means by which a political organization might wield power oblivious to every kind of criticism and opposition. And we are not so very far from this condition in the United States, today.
Paul Stephens
Great Falls, Montana

De-Nuclearization (May 9, 1986)

Mensa writings (1985-87), Uncategorized

 

Chernobyl:

“Besides injury and loss of life, we can expect a general demoralization about the future. There may be major dislocations to the Soviet economy which in turn could jeopardize international stability, international economic relations, cultural exchanges, the peace effort, and so forth. More likely, it will have the opposite effect, allowing us to cooperate and help one another rather than confronting each other as adversaries.”

——————-

Anti-nuclear activists now have some dramatic evidence to place before the court of public opinion. A fission nuclear power plant at Chernobyl near Kiev, The Ukraine, has apparently “melted down” and burned out, with catastrophic release of radioactivity over an area inhabited by millions of people. It is almost a “worst-case scenario” from the standpoint of theoreticians who have attempted to determine the potential hazards of the nuclear industry.

A few years ago, there was an article in Scientific American analyzing potential harm from such accidents. For that writer, the case of a nuclear warhead being exploded directly on a nuclear power reactor facility with on-site storage of spent fuel rods was determined to be the worst possible case of nuclear disaster. The spent fuel rods consist of highly radioactive plutonium, strontium, cesium, and other elements of great longevity, and their vaporization and dispersal over a wide area might result in millions of deaths and the total abandonment and quarantine of thousands of square miles of land — for decades or centuries to come.

Although the Soviet reactor accident is of lesser consequence, it is one of the worst possible disasters short of those involving nuclear weapons. Because it was a graphite, water-cooled design now known to be inherently unsafe, many advocates of nuclear power will want to claim that their own designs are safe, and that nuclear power is a viable energy strategy. This could be a fatal error. One never knows everything that could go wrong until it actually does go wrong. Only then can it be called “an accident” or “a catastrophe.”

It was the combustion of the reactor pile, releasing huge volumes (hundreds to thousands of tons) of highly radioactive fuel rods, coolant, and reactor assembly in the form of smoke and steam that made the Chernobyl disaster so great. This type of reactor utilizes huge masses of graphite to moderate the nuclear reaction (graphite absorbs neutrons, thus slowing the “chain reaction” of uranium fission). But graphite is combustible, and must be cooled — in this case, by ordinary (light) water. (So-called “heavy water” is used as a moderator, as well as a coolant). This may have been the fatal flaw, for when a coolant pipe broke, that part of the reactor overheated, made steam of the water, which reacted with the graphite in burning, and released explosive hydrogen as a by-product. It is thought that a hydrogen and/or steam explosion destroyed the building.

It was not, per se, a nuclear explosion, but the effect was to disperse huge quantities of highly-radioactive materials into the atmosphere. The smoke and steam from the combustion of the reactor provided a mechanism for a continuing release of large quantities of radioactive materials over many days. If there was a total melt-down, much of the heavier uranium metal would have liquefied, pooled, and burned its way into the ground. This material would burn down through any structure into the earth until sufficiently diluted to cool down. It is believed that the initial contact with ground water by this fissioning molten metal would cause a steam explosion, venting another huge dose of radiation into the atmosphere and contaminating the ground water for miles around, including a nearby lake and rivers at Chernobyl.

Besides injury and loss of life, we can expect a general demoralization about the future. There may be major dislocations to the Soviet economy which in turn could jeopardize international stability, international economic relations, cultural exchanges, the peace effort, and so forth. More likely, it will have the opposite effect, allowing us to cooperate and help one another rather than confronting each other as adversaries.

In the early years of the “nuclear age,” scientists, philosophers, statesmen, and other concerned citizens attempted to determine the value and feasibility of “harnessing the atom.” Although nuclear weapons were obviously bad, and a matter for international concern in order to limit or avoid their use, nuclear power and other “peaceful” uses of nuclear energy were welcomed as being “modern,” “futuristic” applications of “high technology.”

Thousands of scientists and engineers soon found employment in the nuclear industry. In Europe and the socialist countries, state enterprises embarked on nuclear power generation programs, often integrated with the production of nuclear weapons. Even in the United States today, it is the Energy Department which finances the construction of nuclear warheads, along with providing vast subsidies and “regulation” for the nuclear power industry. This is dominated by large corporations such as General Electric and Westinghouse, along with a number of engineering and construction firms, defense contractors, etc. Literally hundreds of billions of dollars of scarce public money has been spent on nuclear weapons and nuclear power generation since the 1950’s. It wouldn’t have happened if governments hadn’t favored it, and heavily subsidized those economic interests which stood to profit from it.

On purely economic grounds (where one usually finds nuclear power defended or advocated), there is very little to be said in favor of it. Present projections are that nuclear power is considerably more expensive than conservation or small-scale, renewable technologies. The rigorous studies by Amory Lovins and the Rocky Mountain Institute in Colorado advocate discontinuing nuclear power generation with all reasonable haste. When we consider the future costs of decommissioning reactors after 30-50 years, we find that the present generation is benefiting itself at the expense of its own children and grandchildren — who will have substantially more people and fewer resources to deal with the problem. Expensive as nuclear power plants are to build, the costs of tearing them down and safely disposing of the radioactive structure and spent fuel (which must be done, eventually) is likely to be even greater. Indeed, there is still no foolproof strategy or technology for safely disposing of the radioactive materials! No community in the country wants to serve as a nuclear waste repository, nor is there any acceptable marine disposal strategy. Whatever mechanisms are employed, they must be secure for hundreds of centuries, and are sure to be incredibly expensive.

The risk of a catastrophe like Chernobyl has been the least tangible objection to nuclear power generation up to now. The “experts” could always say: “Nothing’s going to happen, and if it does, it will be someone else’s fault — not ours!” This kind of thinking is not consistent with scientific understanding or the utilization of potentially catastrophic technologies. Accidents happen. They cannot be avoided. And if the consequences include the deaths or injury of millions of people, the tech­nology poses a threat which must be avoided and prohibited in every case.

The fact that nuclear energy is also uneconomical gives lie to the nuclear industry’s claims of “benefit” and “necessity.” Astronomical costs, soaring utility bills, and a very few hazardous jobs are the most obvious “products” of our nuclear industry. One suspects that the vast pro-nuclear lobby is relying on a superstitious awe in the minds of voters and politicians rather than a frank appraisal of costs and benefits. Our future survival may require an outright moratorium on nuclear weapons and power plants for 50-100 years. If “safe, reliable, economical” nuclear technologies are ever developed, our descendants can decide for themselves whether or not to use them. We have no right to make that choice for others, depriving future generations of all options including survival, itself.

-Paul Stephens

Mensatana Writings (1985-87)

Mensa writings (1985-87)

Introduction

The first body of writing I produced covering public issues was written for a publication I edited and produced myself:  a newsletter for the Montana Mensa group called “Mensatana”.  I’ve just been looking them over, and after doing a much more ambitious Montana Green Bulletin (e-mailed weekly) for some 8 years, I only knew that this earlier set of writings had a similar purpose.  I did not then own a personal computer.  Nor did I use one at the library or other venue.  So, this was all literal “cut and paste” with scissors and correcting fluid, and a typewriter which did store and edit text, but little else, nor was it connectable to a modem or other computer.

I recently got my good scanner working again for the first time since about 2006, when I somehow lost the OCR driver disk, and wasn’t doing much scanning anyway, so I didn’t worry about it.  The first things I scanned were some of the best of these Mensatana articles (note the word “satan” in there – which probably didn’t help me to popularize Mensa at all!)  I’ll be adding them here, and posting them on Facebook.  I think I have two FB friends with a background in Mensa, so they should especially enjoy this.

Paul Stephens – Nagasaki Day, August 8, 2016
“Mensa itself holds no opinions…. ” (c. 1986)

One of our members wrote me a short note which began with these words, and it seems appropriate that we should discuss this fundamental principle of the Mensa organisation. In another Mensa publication, it was reported that a 9-year-old had made the comment that this principle is itself an opinion, and so Mensa really does have opinions! Or, at least principles, which are not so very different from opinions.
This reminds me of the philosophical statement: “There are no absolutes,” and that this itself is an absolute. It’s something like Russell’s Paradox of the barber. “No man shaves himself. The barber shaves every man. Who, then, shaves the barber?” These kinds of statements are now handled well by the logic which Russell himself developed, with set theory and the like (although I am certainly no expert in this area, myself). As for Mensa holding no opinions, several observations may be made.

First, Mensa holds no opinions because it is not a thinking, cognitive being! It is a formal membership organization. It is, specifically and abstractly, a table around which we sit and talk. Surely the founders of Mensa did not intend that no Mensan should have opinions, or that no ideas should be discussed (although it isn’t entirely clear that certain American Mensa officers believe this, today!) The whole point of Mensa is that its members certainly have opinions, and discuss and debate them in every imaginable fashion. Here in Montana Mensa, 1 can assert with some confidence that the exchange of Ideas is not a priority, or the reason why most people have joined Mensa, and this is unfortunate for Mensa, for the recalcitrant members, and for those of us who did join for that very purpose.

Apparently, my correspondent believes that I state my own opinions too forcefully, blatantly, or arrogantly. If this is the case, I apologize to her and everyone. I am a feeling, passionate person who has very few other outlets for his passions. I would rather read a book than go to a party or scour the bars for potential romantic entanglements. No doubt this represents some sort of social impairment on my part, but it also leaves me the time and talent to successfully edit Mensatana and correspond with a wide variety of people on an even wider variety of issues. I am also politically active in the peace movement, spiritually active In Unitarian-Universalism, and aesthetically active in my writing, music, and most other arts.

In one sense, nearly everything I do (or anyone else does) is based on OPINIONS – otherwise known as Beliefs, Values, Prejudices, or whatever. It now seems to me that many Mensans may have a confused or improper view of “Mensa itself holds no opinions. . . .” It almost seems as though these people think that no one should have any opinions, or that having opinions is somehow an indication of prejudice and thus incompatible with having high intelligence!

The reason why “Mensa Itself has no opinions . . .” is fairly obvious to me. Mensa has no opinions because if it did, it might alienate those present or potential members who have some different opinions. The point with Mensa (and probably the main reason I belong to it, since many of my opinions are demonstrably unpopular) is that NO ONE SHOULD BE EXCLUDED BECAUSE OF his or her opinions. And that seems to be particularly difficult for many Mensans to understand and live by. The self-righteousness of the highly-intelligent is legendary. Once one has these astronomical test scores, no lesser mortal will ever stand in one’s way. Here is the scientific proof! We are smarter than other people! Show your scores, or keep your mouth shut!

To whatever extent such character malformation exists, we do have a problem. But it won’t be resolved by hinting that no one should too strongly express his or her opinions, believe me.
Paul Stephens

Gifted Underachievers – Self-selection process

Education

High School Gifted and Talented Program Development

[I went back to school in my mid-40’s in order to become a “Gifted Ed” teacher – specifically, to help those who were not happy with high school for various reasons.  I joined Montana AGATE (Association for Gifted and Talented Education) and volunteered to help start a program at CMR High School in Great Falls, where I hoped to be hired to work in it.    After submitting the following piece, the Committee was disbanded… – PHS]

TYPES OF GIFTEDNESS PROGRAM SHOULD ADDRESS (after George Betts, University of Northern Colorado, Greely)

I. Successful.
Gets into programs. Helpful, pleasant, but not creative or autonomous. Takes less risks growing up.

II. Creative and autonomous.
“Troublemaker”. Not successful in school, but more likely to be successful in life.

III. Anxious conformer.
#1 need is to belong. Underground. Hidden giftedness, especially in girls. See Barbara Kerr, Smart Girls, Gifted Women. Most attention in high school goes to intellect­ually-gifted male athletes.

IV.  Resentful, angry, bitter.
Ready to drop out of school because needs aren’t being met. Also sui­cides — dropping out of life. At-risk, signif­icantly out of synch, needs counseling/ther­apy.

V.  Gifted Special Ed.
Emotionally-disturbed and learning-disabled are often gifted. GC’s with learning disabilities: twice excep­tional.

VI. Independent, self-directed learners.
Like skiing through the moguls. Modifies the system to meet personal educational needs. Some are developed through GC programs. Double or triple majors in college.
Learners rather than students.

We can create an environment they need and can thrive in.

Self-esteem is critical. Without it, they will not succeed.
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The above information was taken from my notes from an AGATE Convention several years ago where George Betts was a keynote speaker. Many gifted education experts believe that gifted programs should be available by choice to all who want them, and should be considered prototypes of education for every­one, rather than some elitist form of special (and very expensive) education. Grouping by ability and interests (at least part of the time) is a key to successful learning for any level of ability, as is a curriculum which reflects the prior knowledge and interests of the indi­vidual student.

Thus, I consider these questions to be part of a process for self-selection for gifted programs or more difficult, specialized courses. The “special ed” model of gifted education, although correct and appropriate in many respects, is difficult to defend politically. Every student, in effect, would require an IEP and a student-teacher ratio of maybe 5 to one or better, and that is clearly not feasible, although we can do much better than we are doing now through more self-directed or volunteer-coordinated mentoring experiences and other hands-on learning exercises. I think we need to go back to the model of “alter­native education” rather than “special education,” if only because it’s cheaper, simpler, and easier to justify. Everyone knows we are not all the same, and most sensible people believe that diversity should be cherished and preserved rather than ruthlessly stamped out by standardized, authoritarian systems.

The special qualities of the highly-intelligent, creatively gifted, or otherwise unusual learners and achievers cry out for attention and special recog­nition, yet our society and many of our sub-cultures stigmatize, ridicule, and abuse those who are capable of achieving the most. We must reunite these children with their families and com­munities, and validate their differ­ences and tradi­tions which make their particular gifts and talents possible.

The questions which follow were composed during drama classes comprising an especially spirited, divergent, and often “trouble-making” group of high school students in a school and community with relatively strong traditions of per­formed arts and academic achievement.

1. I often get into trouble because of things I think or say.

2. I dislike authority, and often feel restricted by it.

3. I would rather do something my own way than do exactly what I’m told.

4. I get good grades because I work hard, not because I’m “gifted” or “spe­cial.”

5. I feel older than my years in terms of knowledge and experience.

6. Because of drinking, fighting, or other family problems, I prefer to stay away from home as much as possible.
7. I enjoy watching or listening to news, documentaries, or serious music ­and drama.

8. I listen to public radio and watch educational television rather than commercial entertainment programs.

9. I read a lot and patronize the library and bookstores.

10. I write poetry and/or do art work for my own satisfaction.

11. I prefer to learn from sources outside of school.

12. I would rather work at a job I like than go to school.

13. I think that school as it now exists is a waste of my time and the tax­payer’s money.

14. I want to go to college because I will be able to choose my own classes and teachers, and meet people who share my interests.

15. I discuss books, movies, and current events with my friends.

16. If school were different, I’d learn more, here.

17. I have only a small number of friends, but they share many of my cultural interests.

18. My parents don’t care what I do as long as I pass and stay out of trouble.

19. I know I’m smarter than most people, so I don’t have to prove anything.

20. I would like to take harder or more advanced courses, but I haven’t been allowed to sign up for them.

21. It seems to me that school encourages athletics and social success more than academics.

22. I think I should have skipped one or more grades in elemen­tary or middle school.

23. I am worried that American high school students are far behind European or Japanese students of the same age.

24. Many teachers seem glad to talk with me about my work, my reading, or my other academic interests.

25. I feel comfortable asking teachers for alternative assign­ments or projects which are more challenging or interesting to me.

26. Most teachers seem to have no interest in me or my educa­tional needs and interests.

27. I would like to be a teacher if schools were different.

28. I am worried that our quality of life (the environment, job opportunities, crime rates, disease, etc.) will be much worse in 20-30 years.

29. I like to read science fiction, fantasy, and other futur­istic or “idea” literature.

30. I am often depressed by things that happen in school.

31. Schools are supposed to meet the educational needs of students, but it seems to me that they exist primarily to provide secure, well-paying jobs for teachers and administrators, or to provide order and discipline.

32. School would be much more useful to me if I could choose among different educational methods and philosophies.

33. I feel that many teachers don’t understand me, and discrim­inate against me because I’m different.

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Although some of these questions may strike professional teachers as excessively negative or critical of the education system, I can assure you that such views are widely held among students, and those who hold them most strongly are precisely the kinds of students we are failing to reach, or whose needs have not been served. We need to identify these students and answer their complaints and objections to what is happening to them. The “Type I” gifted students listed above are the only ones traditional gifted ed programs have identified and served, but they would be the natural elite and high achievers in any case. Others may be even more gifted, but often have been dis­couraged and reinforced in negative, self-destructive patterns through family dysfunction, low socio-economic status, learning dis­abilities such as ADD or ADHD, etc. It is certain­ly no secret that our schools often fail to perform miracles in turning these children around, and helping them to adjust and succeed.