The Promise of Interregnum

Into the Future

Can you see the way forward?

Some of the next few posts are a departure but are related to the essence of the blog Cusp of Reality but also the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy. This is not a time of clear stability, to put it mildly, and one of the underpinnings of the Trilogy is that we are shortly to embark upon a very new era. This perception has led me to do broader explorations. And what I found is fascinating.

It would be simple to sit back and observe recent events and shake our heads at the seeming futility and foolishness. We are beset by a political cycle in which the key elements are pandering and manipulation. We may view it as futile or may see in it a transition. There is talk about politics but it is reasonable to take a larger view and that we are seeing a new wave developing regarding not just the United States but the world.

Below you will see a quote from Jonathan Taplin in which he indicates that his view relates to the last gasp of the “establishment” and that we are in what he calls an interregnum. I believe in the essential validity of his perceptions.

And in the next post I include commentary on two items drawn from Wikipedia which relate to defining and describing neoliberalism and neoconservatism. The evidence is right before us. We see in these descriptions a great deal which gives us clarity about recent events. And later I will present material from Paul Mason’s book Postcapitalism. The case he builds for what is coming is supported by much of what we have already seen.

As difficult as these times are, this material presents the idea that this is a transition of great importance. Gradually all its components will be revealed including the role of women in the future.

Interregnum article:
View story at Medium.com

The Establishment’s Last Gasp By Jonathan Taplin
“The Italian philosopher, Gramsci defined the concept well:”The old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum many morbid symptoms arise.” This sense of being trapped between a dying establishment and a new order that is not quite formed, plays itself out in four areas. In our domestic politics we see a populist dead end battle as an older, whiter America invests its hopes in Donald Trump and such people as Ted Cruz to stave off the multicultural state filled with immigrants and young people in which they are no longer the majority of citizens. In the world of business we see the giants of the carbon economy (Exxon Mobil, Koch Industries, Peabody Coal) fighting to preserve their businesses in a world that must transition to a clean energy economy. In fact that economy is well on its way. Similarly, the giants of Wall Street and Silicon Valley are fighting against real regulation of their businesses and serious taxation of their billions in capital gains. And finally in the world of international affairs we see the forces of the military industrial congressional complex battling to keep an $800 billion military budget in order to preserve America’s status as the sole hegemon, even as they realize that the future is a multipolar world.”

Do you feel trapped, hope or something else?

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

 

Adventures in the World Pt 1

 

Engaging Europe

About here I thought a change of pace and focus might be desirable. And so let me begin with some observations from times my family visited Europe when I was young. It began just after World War II. I was very young during the war and could not grasp the horror. I saw films but in person it was quite different.

Awakening

Of course there were no Nazis goose-stepping around. There were people working to put their lives back in order. In London we had dinner with a doctor friend of my father and his family. It was cold cuts. There was still rationing and meat was precious.

London itself was a shock. Yes, I had seen pictures, but walking through cleared streets with great piles of rubble on all sides was humbling.The people were pleasant and welcoming but, even after all these years, I have to say there was a sense of silence as if they were trying to regain a view of what the future might be.

Rather than go into greater detail and sequence, let me just touch on some recollections.

Vignettes

Paris was pristine and beautiful. I mentioned earlier seeing a haunted shop girl and I’m sure there was an undercurrent I could not appreciate. It has to take time to recover from such a dreadful occupation. I know the answer but thought about the absence of a statue in a square to thank the German general who declined to act on Hitler’s orders to destroy Paris.

In a later trip we went to Germany. By then repair was well under way. The people were generally welcoming. I think the fact that the Marshall Plan helped them recover must have been crucial. In Munich I saw my father talking at length with a man he was buying a camera from who was deeply scarred. He had been a tank commander during the war and was forthright. Outside I could see deeply scarred buildings sitting next to glossy new buildings. Scars of all kinds were everywhere.

We encountered another component of lasting conflict. We went to a restaurant for lunch and were seated. Nothing else happened. We were ignored. We finally simply left understanding that not everyone was going to be welcoming after such a conflict. Devastation of all kinds can be enduring.

Dreams

Looking back I can see that those trips were unlike anything else I experienced. Too often we simply go somewhere and hang out at a resort. On those trips we had in depth experiences for ourselves and those around us. We could not know the full extent of the personal suffering nor did we really want to know.

But the richness of cultures in Europe ofter lead us to dreams. Depending upon your age there will be dreams which are touched and enhanced. In Rome I loved to see the Alfa Romeos streaking around the streets. Their guttural sound was stirring. Of course there were the romantic films at the time. And so at night I could lie in bed listening to the echoes of the sounds of these sprightly cars and dream of driving one someday while I appreciated the lovely young woman next to me.

I’ll leave it there. I just seemed to have needed to share a little of things from long ago which give glimmers of our lives, who we are, and instruct us. They deserve gathering and consideration.

What are your most precious memories?

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

 

Risk From an Unfamiliar Culture

Lessons in Life

Usually I stay away from the political arena but it’s often hard because the line between the political arena and the rest of our lives gets frayed. The roots of this commentary come from the book Red Notice by Bill Browder. I made mention of it previously and the deeper I got into it, the more I found what he wrote has broad implications.

Once again I have to say I am stunned by this book. In one sense it feels like it is a compellingly interesting novel, but it is really his story. There are times when I simply gulp at the import. I also find it is stirring memories and his experiences and conclusions mesh with so many components of our world.

The Focus

But let me focus on the central point of this post which relates to the reality of Russia. Our world is growing smaller and our interfaces more complex. Here in North America we have our differences but are functioning reasonably well. But in other parts of the world there is much more drama and issues that lead into deep conflict.

A Reprise of a Story

In two previous posts I wrote about a man by the name of Nicolai Kokhlov. I met Nicolai while I was working on my doctorate at Duke many years ago and the experience was unforgettable. He brought a bridge to another reality I have never forgotten.

Nicolai was the head of Russian intelligence in Eastern Europe and, to put it mildly, it was not a nice job. He didn’t just gather intelligence. He also had to have people killed. The fact of what he had done was startling because he was a mild mannered man of substantial grace. He seemed so gentle and humble. One evening we fed him vodka and heard the depth of his story.

On that evening he talked about some of his work in detail and there was an utter disconnect from his demeanor and what he had done. In the end he could not endure the life and he made arrangements with American intelligence to defect. He was to go on Radio Free Europe and announce his defection. At the same time our people were to take his wife and children and spirit them out of the country. He made his announcement, but we did not go for his family. They were taken by Russian intelligence. In the end they were not murdered but he never saw them again. At the time off our meeting he had remarried and had children with his second wife.

The Russians poisoned him with a radioactive substance and our German military hospital saved him. It was clear he had a morality very different from much of Russia.

The Point

On that evening we heard in detail about a very different culture and how we too often betray our promises. Now comes Bill Browder’s book. He is a brave and determined man who opened investing in Russia as the communist empire collapsed. But at one point his investment business was attacked. But it was attacked in a way that the attackers were going to take huge personal loses to their own investments. To us it seems curious but Browder quoted an old Russian proverb and summarized the import this way: “The moral is simple: when it comes to money, Russians will gladly—gleefully, even— sacrifice their own success to screw their neighbor.”

Now the Conclusion

We have a curious story unfolding about Trump and his family and their enmeshment with Russian oligarchs. What Browder spells out in Red Notice is the risk which there is not just to the Trump family but to our nation as well. We do not understand this component of the Russian culture but it comes down to the fact that they may seek serious damage to us even while damaging themselves. To that we need to give serious attention.Did this issue even occur to you?

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

Struggle Eternal

 

Do you view yourself as struggling?

Many Forms of Struggle

There are so many things to explore in life. Of course we go looking for things like friends and a mate. We hope for success and seek joy and happiness. What we often seem to miss is the basic fact that life, in one form or another, is a struggle.

Of course the struggle is not just a personal one. We struggle as groups, as countries. And our literature is full of struggle. Romance isn’t pure joy and fulfillment. There is generally a struggle of one form or another. The outcome of romance may be an enduring relationship and that involves risk and effort. Is this person really right for me?

Less Than Total Control

There are many guideposts. One thing we are often told is that if we fail in our struggle or the outcome is less than we might have hoped for it is surely our fault and we may even have intended it. After my decades as a psychologist my response is—balderdash! Yes, sometimes we sabotage ourselves, but we also cannot be entirely sure of the outcome of anything. There are chance factors. Maybe some people find it reassuring to think that if it goes badly that was our inner intention. Life is simply not like that. You did not construct the asteroid that is right now streaking toward your village.

Boredom Versus Enrichment

Struggle is inevitable. And, since we are animals, we participate in the quest for survival in all its forms. It is not without purpose. Wouldn’t it be dull to be stuck in the Garden of Eden. We sought knowledge and enriched our lives—at a price. Certainly there were risks for Adam and Eve but the struggle actually enriched the world of humankind and the enrichment goes beyond mere survival. Of course, other than for the basics, you don’t have to have high goals to find growth resulting from your struggle. You get to choose.

A Higher Purpose

One of the themes I address in the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy is whether there may be a higher purpose for our struggle. As beings we have come a long way from the trees in Africa. Struggle was no doubt instrumental in our development, even our acquisition of language. In writing this trilogy, one of the things which came to mind is whether there is another purpose for our struggle. Will we one day reach some kind of a transformation?

Have you found yourself making sudden gains, if not a transformation?

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

Women and Our Future Pt. 5

Is That All It Is?

Confronting Possibilities

What key memories do You have?

Long ago I remember standing in front of a cathedral in France. I was ten years old and looking around at a new world with new people. At that age I had little perception about what Europe had just endured nor the reach of its history. I recall my mother placing a handkerchief on her head before entering. I asked her why and she said it was “customary”.

Being who I was then and am now I didn’t press it further but for me it opened questions and they remain unasked in so many ways. The true answer and the depth of meaning remains to be probed. Of course, there are answers many people accept, but I find them shallow and lacking of substance. Possibilities always present themselves.

The Polar Bear

There are many interesting documentaries on television and recently I saw one about polar bears. I’ll put aside the barren environment in which they live and how it is now endangered along with their future.

Almost the entire documentary focused on the males search for a mate and the conflict involved. It seemed fraught in so many ways including his initial contact with the female with whom he wanted to mate. I had to think “Is that all It is?“ I doubt many people view our struggles as just about continuity as a species.

Power and Submission

In later posts I’ll go more deeply into the issues of power and submission but for now let me raise the question. I’ll just call it “Is that all it is?” which means are we simply in a battle between men and women about dominance and submission related to reproduction? I failed to see the greater purpose involved in a woman covering her hair in church and I fail to see a greater purpose in subjugating women. To me a better question to focus is whether we as a species have a larger mission.

The world of animals is fascinating in its diversity and their struggle for survival shows tenacity. From the struggle comes increased complexity, a culling process and new futures. Looking back at human history we can see something of a similar process but we also see something else. We acquired language and mastered the development and balancing of culture.

What’s Next

I am always asking what i might call my life question. Is the struggle to survive and gain a mate all there is? But does the acquisition of language and culture suggest that there may be other fascinating possibilities in our future. And how might an end to the subjugation of women fit in? “Possibilities” attend my life and I have to raise them again in this context.

We have hopes and dreams which alone suggest there may be interesting ways forward. And fundamental for me is the question about what may happen when we empower women which I firmly believe is to happen. And some of that is what has fostered my efforts in writing the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy.

How would you define the essence of our future as beings?

 

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

Women and Our Future Pt. 4

Broad Based Opposition

 

(I know this picture may seem a little strange in this context but I couldn’t resist. She is holding out something glowing and wondrous to all of us.)

Some Women Object

Seregon in her comments pointed out the opposition of some women to feminism. I have to say I haven’t been attacked for expressing my support, but then I haven’t spent much time in public making declarations. But I do have to wonder if men can declare support and other men simply dismiss them. But when women declare their independence it seems that is a threat and the opposition is made public.

The Threat of Change

But the threat is not just to the patriarchy. The threat may well be to the stability of the system which will affect women as well. As a psychologist I have had to conclude that people hate change. Doesn’t that sound awful? But the fact is I spent much of my career dragging people toward their future. There is good reason for the resistance in terms of internally established systems which I won’t go into here. But at one level we can see how the fight for women’s liberation is truly broad based. It is actually exceedingly complex.

Cultural Opposition

One of the things we have to face is what the anthropologist Leslie White called the extrasomatic stream. Even my computer hates the term and stubbornly refuses to keep it the one word it is. There is something for everyone to love and hate in culture which is what that stream is. It lies outside of ourselves and requires our attention in a demanding fashion.

When women stand up for themselves, they demand change which affects us all. Some people have insufficient perspective to accept an exploration that change often brings benefits and an enhanced future. And they construct excuses, as is the case in regard to women’s reproductive rights, so they can deny women those rights. Some may be uncomfortable but we have to look at what might then be. Of course, that is something, with my personality type, I love. Possibilities are the luscious fruit of my existence. But it does have to be found and tended.

Justice

Understandably some women will stand in opposition to these changes and it is our purpose in having discussion and dialogue to open the view of benefits and, yes, justice. I introduce the word justice because it is at issue. When you don’t have rights, or not all rights, then you do not receive justice. We see it in the cries from the black communities and from women as they look at their own possibilities.

The True Meaning of Resistance

And what we face is not an abstraction. As women emerge from subjugation there are many changes both subtle and glaring. They appear at the head of corporations and ask to breast feed their child in public. I have never understood why a discrete woman is to be prevented from tending her infant. And then at church their heads are covered. As I child when I first saw it, I asked but received no acceptable or, to me, meaningful answer. I understand the rationale now but find it still absurd.

The resistance to the change takes so many forms and it seems most of it does not go to the true meaning of the resistance.

Yes, we face change and have to step back and ask, why not and what are the benefits?

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

How Are You America? Part 3

 

Small waterfall along a gorge trail.

Receiving Instruction

The people in the western mountains have the opportunity to instruct us. Not that they want that opportunity, but we can learn lessons if only because we imagine what their lives were like and are like now. But it is almost as if there are those who are asking, “why should we care?”

The answer is simple. We should care because we will surely be instructed. And the instruction is important because, like it or not, the world is changing faster and faster and we need to respond. When we begin to seek vision and answers we serve all our citizens and their futures.

Noting and Facing Challenge

Wherever they came from, whatever their stories, it is clear that their lives are challenged. It certainly looked like there were probably limitations of skills. That does not mean absence of talent or the capacity to learn and build new possibilities.

The bottom line is that in so many areas of our country we need to look at the need and possibility for educational opportunities and assessment of the skills which will be needed. It almost sounds like an abstract idea, but looking ahead we should be clear these kinds of challenge are widespread now and will expand in the future. One of the challenges will be not just looking at what may be needed but how to offer what people may not think they need. If they don’t need it, their children almost surely will. The assessment of what is happening and where it will lead and what is needed will take time. Unfortunately I hear very little about such explorations. It may exist but it is not prominent.

Receiving Instruction – Mental Health

There were two times in my past when I received instruction about some of the issues related to mental health. One of them was when I went into the inner city of Baltimore. I learned that these people did not need mental health services as much as instructions and help in managing a stressful environment and the offering of resources they did not know were available or that they might need.

In our “treatment” of them they gained self management skills in addition to being offered resources. The management extended to the self but also to the environment. Unfortunately many of the lessons were lost because of narrow-minded conservatism among the professions and the fact that resources disappeared as the “poverty Program” ended.

But as the perception of mental health is changing now and there is increased focus on management we have an opportunity but we also need to attend to resources.

Receiving Instruction – Vocational Evaluation

The other thing I found instructive was vocational assessment and retraining. In our mental health program, each of our units had a Division of Vocational Rehabilitation counselor. We worked closely with them to provide training and support. And the potential of people in entrenched poverty was often truly inspiring. We simply needed to open the world.

I was part of the assessment team and when I left the inner city, I continued to work to evaluate people who needed evaluation and training. There were other lessons I learned—up shortly.

 

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt