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Warming the Stone Children
The Bible’s Cover Stories Revealed: The Golden Keys That Unlock History
Remembrances of Times Past
Millennial Harvest: Life and
Wearing the Spider
A View from the Cheap Seats
How to Start a Virtual
The People of the Sea
Melinda and the Wild West
It’s time to move on from the limitations and dogma of traditional religion and evolve to a higher level of consciousness as practiced in pantheism and Buddhism.
By J. F. Miglio
Famed mythologist Joseph Campbell once remarked that being a member of an organized religion is a sure-fire way for a person not to have a spiritual experience. In other words, many people get so hung up on the rituals and traditions of their religion (or their rejection of it, as with atheists), they miss the most important aspect of the religion itself: a chance to achieve a higher level of consciousness and commune with the source of life.
To make matters worse, millions of individuals around the word take their holy books (the Old Testament, New Testament, Koran, etc.) literally and justify all kinds of close-minded and destructive behavior, from damning disbelievers to hell to torturing or killing them for their opposing views or beliefs.
It is beyond all scope of logic and reason how individuals in the 21st century can read their respective holy books and interpret them literally, especially since these books were compiled centuries ago as collections of myths, parables, and didactic stories.
In contrast, does anyone today take the Greek myths literally? Does anyone believe that Hercules performed super human feats of strength during his 12 labors, like choking the Nemean lion to death or capturing Cerberus, the vicious guardian of Hades?
Perhaps once upon a time in ancient Greece the masses believed in those myths as literal truth, but I doubt very seriously if the disciples of Plato or Aristotle did. And I haven’t met any modern-day Greeks who want to damn me to hell or blow my brains out because I don’t believe in the 12 labors of Hercules as literal truth.
Yet today’s fundamentalist Christians do just that. Their most vocal leaders, like the late Jerry Falwell– God rest his smarmy soul!– routinely blamed all of society’s ills on gays and liberals, and Pat Robertson, the mean-spirited religious huckster who once ran for president, actually encouraged the CIA to assassinate Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Needless to say, they were both strong supporters of George W. Bush and his unnecessary and destructive war in Iraq.
Even more supportive of the war were neoconservative Jews like William Kristol and Richard Perl, who egged Bush into invading Iraq in the first place. I don’t know if these guys believe in a literal translation of the Old Testament, but they may as well, given their bellicose brand of politics and alliance with fundamentalist Christians and right-wing Israelis.
Not to be outdone, Islamic fundamentalists have one-upped their Christian and Jewish counterparts by becoming suicide bombers and killing innocent civilians in the name of Allah.
The truth is, it doesn’t matter which religion these proponents of hate and war represent, they all share the same feature– a misguided and dangerous pathology that their religious/political beliefs are right because God is on their side.
This is where the militant atheists come in. Madeline Murray O’Hair was the first atheist I remember to make a big splash on the American scene back in the 1970s. She debated many religious leaders at the time and basically told all of them they were full of shit and that only idiots believed in an irrational sky God. Ironically, Ayn Rand, the goddess of “free trade” conservatives, was also an atheist, and once admonished William F. Buckley Jr. for essentially the same thing. …read more
Globalization and Democracy:
By Michael Parenti
The goal of the transnational corporation is to become truly transnational, poised above the sovereign power of any particular nation, while being served by the sovereign powers of all nations. Cyril Siewert, chief financial officer of Colgate Palmolive Company, could have been speaking for all transnationals when he remarked, “The United States doesn’t have an automatic call on our [corporation’s] resources. There is no mindset that puts this country first.”1
With international “free trade” agreements such as NAFTA, GATT, and FTAA, the giant transnationals have been elevated above the sovereign powers of nation states. These agreements endow anonymous international trade committees with the authority to prevent, overrule, or dilute any laws of any nation deemed to burden the investment and market prerogatives of transnational corporations. These trade committees–of which the World Trade Organization (WTO) is a prime example—set up panels composed of “trade specialists” who act as judges over economic issues, placing themselves above the rule and popular control of any nation, thereby insuring the supremacy of international finance capital. This process, called globalization, is treated as an inevitable natural “growth” development beneficial to all. It is in fact a global coup d’�tat by the giant business interests of the world.
Elected by no one and drawn from the corporate world, these panelists meet in secret and often have investment stakes in the very issues they adjudicate, being bound by no conflict-of-interest provisions. Not one of GATT’s five hundred pages of rules and restrictions are directed against private corporations; all are against governments. Signatory governments must lower tariffs, end farm subsidies, treat foreign companies the same as domestic ones, honor all corporate patent claims, and obey the rulings of a permanent elite bureaucracy, the WTO. Should a country refuse to change its laws when a WTO panel so dictates, the WTO can impose fines or international trade sanctions, depriving the resistant country of needed markets and materials.2
Acting as the supreme global adjudicator, the WTO has ruled against laws deemed “barriers to free trade.” It has forced Japan to accept greater pesticide residues in imported food. It has kept Guatemala from outlawing deceptive advertising of baby food. It has eliminated the ban in various countries on asbestos, and on fuel-economy and emission standards for motor vehicles. And it has ruled against marine-life protection laws and the ban on endangered-species products. The European Union’s prohibition on the importation of hormone-ridden U.S. beef had overwhelming popular support throughout Europe, but a three-member WTO panel decided the ban was an illegal restraint on trade. The decision on beef put in jeopardy a host of other food import regulations based on health concerns. The WTO overturned a portion of the U.S. Clean Air Act banning certain additives in gasoline because it interfered with imports from foreign refineries. And the WTO overturned that portion of the U.S. Endangered Species Act forbidding the import of shrimp caught with nets that failed to protect sea turtles.3
Free trade is not fair trade; it benefits strong nations at the expense of weaker ones, and rich interests at the expense of the rest of us. Globalization means turning the clock back on many twentieth-century reforms: no freedom to boycott products, no prohibitions against child labor, no guaranteed living wage or benefits, no public services that might conceivably compete with private services, no health and safety protections that might cut into corporate profits.4
GATT and subsequent free trade agreements allow multinationals to impose monopoly property rights on indigenous and communal agriculture. In this way agribusiness can better penetrate locally self-sufficient communities and monopolize their resources. Ralph Nader gives the example of the neem tree, whose extracts contain natural pesticidal and medicinal properties. Cultivated for centuries in India, the tree attracted the attention of various pharmaceutical companies, who filed monopoly patents, causing mass protests by Indian farmers. As dictated by the WTO, the pharmaceuticals now have exclusive control over the marketing of neem tree products, a ruling that is being reluctantly enforced in India. Tens of thousands of erstwhile independent farmers must now work for the powerful pharmaceuticals on profit-gorging terms set by the companies. …read more
A bone-chilling political
Listen to J.F. Miglio discuss Sunshine Assassins and other issues on