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Blog Posted in avatar   Leonard Krivitsky's Blog

Dogmas, "alternate realities" and the evolution of human consciousness

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By Leonard Krivitsky
Posted Jan 17, 2011 in Politics
No beauty is comparable to the beauty of truth - Rene' Descartes
The Real is the Rational, and the Rational is the Real - Georg Hegel
Sometime during the mid-seventies a group of Soviet dissidents gathered at a secret Moscow apartment and raised a toast "for the success of our hopeless affair". No one at that time anticipated the collapse of the Soviet system, neither in the Soviet Union, nor in the West. The Soviet system, based on fear, military might and repression appeared as strong and "monolithic" in the 70-s, as it had 20 years earlier, and yet it collapsed not even 20 years after the dissident gathering just mentioned. For even though the Soviet system was based on fear and repression, there is one more thing that it was based on - "unreality", and that, as far as I am concerned, was the main reason for its undoing.
In fact, there are many theories as to why the Soviet Empire finally collapsed as it did, and most of them probably have some overall merit, but from my point of view, no less important than all the economic, military, ethnic and other problems that plagued the Soviet Empire, the final philosophical defeat of Marxism, and its ideological and economic system, was just as much to blame (or, rather, to credit) for that monumental event of the end of the 20-s Century as all the other theories the "pundits" had to offer.
Whenever any "dogma" is defended by any repressive regime or entity, such a "defense" requires the "alternate reality" to be constructed around the "dogma", so as to give it a "plausibility" that it cannot get from the world of more commonly accepted Reality. The main "guardian" of the Soviet system, the KGB, created many "alternate realities" to justify the otherwise unjustifiable abomination that was the Soviet Empire. For example, right after the war, under the direction of highly paranoid Joseph Stalin, the KGB created an "alternate reality" that supposedly "showed" that Adolf Hitler did not "really" die in the Berlin bunker on April 30, 1945, but was instead "rescued" by the British and the Americans, and was now living in comfort in a "castle" in West Germany, protected by the Western Allies who nevertheless could not hide that "crime" from the brave Soviet intelligence (the KGB, who else)! There were even the "pictures" of the "castle" obtained by the "fearless" Russian agents, aimed to convince any potential "doubter" that Adolf Hitler was still alive and was hiding behind the backs of the "Anglo-Americans". What better excuse did one need to start the "Cold War" which would dominate international relations for many years to come, and which had almost succeeded in bringing about what was known as the "mutually assured destruction".
There were other "alternate realities" constructed by the KGB and its machinery of disinformation, such as its Fifth Chief Directorate. In 1961, the KGB "disseminated" the "alarming news" that West German "spies" were crossing over to the Soviet Occupation Zone called the German Democratic Republic (DDR), and so the Berlin Wall was built practically overnight, serving for the next 27 years as a terrifying symbol of Communist repression. Of course, as we all know now, the Berlin Wall was not built to stem the "infiltration of spies" from the West to the East, but instead to stop the exodus of about 100,000 people a day from the Eastern Occupation Zone to West Berlin in search and pursuit of freedom. It was, of course, not even remotely possible to challenge those alternate realities on the basis that they were simply not true. I could continue with examples of the "alternate realities" used by the KGB to uphold Communist "dogmas", but I think it is clear that such "alternate realities", however ridiculous they appear to our consciousness later on in history, may nevertheless hold a "vividness" and "persuasiveness" that those who construct them can effectively use at that moment in history. Any appeal to the "truth" would have been a suicide for anyone attempting such "revelations".
We can also show that some "alternate realities" have been (and still are) operational in the West, including in the United States. If someone had suggested a 100 years ago that a Black man would become a President of the United States, and that Gay people would, by the agreement of the President and the Congress, be able to serve openly in the US Military, such a person would have been "laughed out of the room" and declared to be in need of a "serious" psychiatric help. Even such great thinkers of the 20-s Century as the writer Erich Remarque and philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre were known for their ridiculing and condemning of homosexuality. In one of his "famous" statements, Erich Maria Remarque even said that "friendship between the US and Russia is just as "possible" as when two homosexuals try to make a baby". Jean-Paul Sartre considered homosexuality as an "example" of "inauthentic behavior" where "a homosexual" would "deny" his own human nature and the personal "existential" choices that he would otherwise make to "change" his homosexuality. As we all know, even in the United States the Gay rights Movement had to travel a long and tortuous road to the status of near-equality that it has now achieved in this country, where only very recently the homophobic preacher Jerry Falwell of the now-defunct "Moral Majority" asserted in all seriousness that AIDS was a "punishment from God" for homosexuality, and that in that assertion he was supported by none other than President Ronald Reagan himself!
If anyone should be able to truly appreciate the fallacy of "alternate realities" constructed for political purposes, it is our President Barack Obama. Look at all the "alternate realities" being built by the right-wing extremists about the President being a Muslim, about him having been "planted" by the terrorists in order to establish the "Sharia Law" in this country and "make sure" that Iran gets nuclear weapons. It is becoming clear to absolute majority of people by now how preposterous these fantasies are, but again, before they are exposed, the alternate realities can do a whole lot of damage.
It is also quite obvious to me that the opponents of the Cannabis/Medicinal Cannabis freedom in the United States are actively engaged in the creation of yet another "alternate reality", this one "dedicated" to convincing the world that marijuana, which has been used by humanity for thousands of years as "medicine" and a "recreational" substance, is somehow a "dangerous drug" without "accepted medical use". In fact, the "alternate reality" about Cannabis was started by one Harry Anslinger and continued by Richard Nixon, although even at that time the "unreality" of their position could be demonstrated based on thousands of years of human history. We all know now about the strong racist overtones underlying Harry Anslinger's views on the subject, and the paranoid ideation of Richard Nixon in following this ideological and public policy blunder.
So, how do we know in this often chaotic world which "reality" is "real" and which one is "alternate"? Because the distinction is not nearly as easily apparent as people may imagine, especially right at the time when one of those "alternate realities" is "constructed". Why would great philosopher Hegel make his statement that the "Real is the Rational and the Rational is the Real", and how can we possibly sort all this out? Well, there are a couple of ways to distinguish the "real" and the "rational" from the "unreal" and the "irrational". This we can attempt to do on both the "material" and the "spiritual" planes. Let's deal with the "material" plane first. When we look back on the past flow of consciousness, be it our own, or a wider "duration" as philosopher Henri Bergson defined it in the beginning of the 20-th Century, we can ask ourselves a simple question as to whether certain events "correspond" with the facts of material reality which is often much easier to do after a time period has elapsed and certain results achieved or not achieved based on the inferences of what was once presented as "true and unalterable" reality are evaluated. We can further show that when the actions are based on verifiable facts of material reality, they lead to much more successful outcomes than the actions not based on such facts.
We can see that the KGB fantasy used to construct the Berlin Wall fell apart after only three decades, as when we look back, we see not a single fact "cited" by the KGB as "justification" for its coming into existence. So then, when the "Wall" came down, there was suddenly no surprise because its very existence was never "rational" or rationally justifiable, and we can all see it now. So when Ronald Reagan said in 1988, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this Wall", he was speaking on the basis of a true reality, the reality of the Wall being a tool of repression, and not at all what the KGB and its alternate reality claimed it to be. The same test will apply to the disaster of the War in Iraq. We know now that that there had never been any "weapons of mass destruction", that the whole "affair" was based on an "alternate reality", and we certainly can now "appreciate" the results that have materialized out of that senseless endeavor. And what about the gay equality, another example that I mentioned earlier? Well, as we look back, we again fail to detect any "facts" that were actually present to justify gay oppression at any point of our history. All the "dogmas" that were used to persecute gays are now seen to be without any factual foundation and, therefore, unreal.
And again, when we look at the persecution of the Cannabis/Medicinal Cannabis users, we fail to see any substantiating facts that could justify this repression. The DEA-created alternate reality in support of a "dogma" that marijuana is a dangerous drug without an accepted medical use" is disintegrating right before our eyes. There are no "facts" to meaningfully support this "dogma". Cannabis is non-toxic, non-physically addictive, very effective in a wide variety of medical conditions and capable of suppressing violent behavior, a property very important for our contemporary society, a fact that is blatantly neglected by the DEA and its Cannabis prohibitionist allies. In justifying Cannabis' (Medicinal Cannabis') "illegality" the DEA and its allies use a perfectly "circular" argument, so that, according to them", Cannabis is illegal because... it is illegal "under Federal Law". When the DEA claims that drug Marinol is the same as the Medicinal Cannabis, it only shows its own scientific and philosophical illiteracy, as Marinol is a synthetic product lacking the "whole" that is the nature-made Medicinal Cannabis. And, just as I showed this to be the case when it comes to Berlin Wall, anti-Gay hysteria, Iraqi "weapons of mass destruction", or our President being an "agent of radical Islam", the consciousness of the future will look with total incredulity at our present day situation surrounding Cannabis/Medicinal Cannabis Freedom in our society. There are absolutely NO facts supporting the persecution, and this will be seen all too well by the individual and collective consciousness of the future. The "need" for anti-Cannabis repression will be seen not to have "corresponded" to the actual material realities surrounding this issue.
But what about the "spiritual plane", what about people that will still say that they are "morally justified" to suppress the Cannabis Freedom (and, especially, the Medicinal Cannabis Freedom)? As philosopher Immanuel Kant taught, we may not be able to see the "Reality" of things, or how the "things are in themselves", other than through "moral experience". It is through "moral experience", according to Kant, that we may be able to "penetrate" the "shifting flux of appearances" in "the world of becoming" and get to the Reality we are trying to "apprehend". Very well, let's see if we can use the Kantian "moral experience" to what has become the struggle for Legalization of the Medicinal Cannabis. National Geographic recently described a person living with HIV who used Medicinal Cannabis in order not to die from the AIDS "wasting syndrome" when the new anti-HIV medications had not yet become available. Let's now assume that for a moment we become "omnipotent beings" with the ability to change certain events of the past, and let us further ask ourselves, individually and collectively if we would consider it "moral" individually and collectively, to deprive that person of the Medicinal Cannabis that obviously saved his life without actually damaging anyone else? Because of the prevailing "goodness" of the people of this country, my hope is that very few people would have actually sided with the prohibitionists and taken Medicinal Cannabis from the person in question. We can go on and apply the Kantian Principle to other examples I made earlier, so we can see that it applies to them as well, be it Berlin Wall, anti-Gay repression, or the War in Iraq.
What is it, some may ask, that makes all despots act almost alike, whether these despots are of the KGB, DEA, "Sacred" Inquisition, National Socialism, Bush's regime, or anti-gay bigotry? What is it that underlies the defense of their "dogmas", including the creation of "alternate realities"? After all, we are talking about the regimes and entities so diverse that many people may question if there is anything that could "unite" them all without attempting to create yet another "alternate reality". What underlies all these historical errors is the philosophy of "radical pragmatism". What this philosophy advocates is that "the truth is what we make it to be" without any regard to correspondence with the facts of material reality or the "moral guidance" proposed by Kant. Radical pragmatists are "big" on such concepts as "might makes right", "end justifies the means", "the greater good" and so forth. A radical pragmatist would have no qualms about suppressing the rights of the few in order to advance what he sees as "benefit (including future benefit) for the many". There is absolutely no problem for a radical pragmatist to disregard and brush off the known facts of reality in order to "uphold" her "dogmas". When it comes to Cannabis Freedom, the radical pragmatists from the DEA simply brush off such accepted facts as that Cannabis suppresses violent behavior, or that the overall drug use and criminality in Portugal were greatly reduced after "personal possessions" of "substances" had been decriminalized in that country. Having dismissed these indisputable facts, the DEA continues instead to wage a brutal "drug war" on the American People in defense of its anti-Cannabis obsession. In other words, there is no truth for a radical pragmatist that does not support the original premise, or "dogma" in need of "upholding".
As we can see upon our reflections on history (including even the most recent history), the philosophy of "radical pragmatism" inevitably breaks down in the end. There have to be "correspondences" with the material facts in the "existing" Reality, as well as in the sphere of moral judgments, for the Truth to be established and defended in the long run. There is no chance that any "truth claim" will survive otherwise, no matter the severity of repression. Just as we have seen with the Berlin Wall, anti-gay persecutions, or War in Iraq, the "truth claims" that have no counterpart in either material or a spiritual Reality are bound to collapse in the end. It is with this realization that we can confidently say that Cannabis, and especially the Medicinal Cannabis" freedom is only a matter of time, only a matter for our individual and collective consciousness to progress sufficiently and to see this current DEA - engendered error the same way we are now able to see many others.

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