Sunday, March 6, 2022

The One Thing I've Learned in 10 Years of Blogging

You have to be really dedicated or really stupid to keep writing a blog for 10 years that virtually no one reads. Yet here we are, on the 10-year anniversary of Eggshells.

This blog is technically a combination of at least three different ones I've started over the years. But the content has largely been the same, so to save a lot of hassle, they eventually got collapsed into this one. 

I enjoy writing. I always have. But I write about things that have limited audiences, like progressive rock, and outside-the-box politics and religion. I pour my heart into my writing, and I think I do a pretty good job of organizing my ideas and taking thoughtful stands on things that don't just parrot mainstream views. In that regard, I've always been an outsider looking in. So I can't really expect more than a tiny handful of readers, I suppose.  

The only thing I've written that's ever even gone semi-viral is a post reminiscing about my hometown. In sharing some history and some personal anecdotes, I got quite a few people thanking me for sending them down memory lane. 

I've also done some concert reviews along the way, and I salvaged from the Internet archives the pages of The Yes Chronicles, a website of Yes album reviews that I wrote close to a quarter-century ago. But mostly, I talk religion and politics. Lately, the religion has overshadowed the politics because I got burned out on politics, as the world got more woke and our leaders used a virus to exert tyrannical control over the entire planet.

Now, as I write this, the world is in the grips of anti-Russian hysteria, seething with wild-eyed fundamentalist rage. The global hive mind that's developed around this situation, and the ease with which it came about, is absolutely horrifying. It certainly doesn't say much for the future of free, critical thought -- but it does say a whole lot about how well propaganda continues to work.

I admit to being a longtime Russophile, so I find this mindless idiocy especially irksome. I have an affinity for the literature and music of Russia. I'm fond of Russian Orthodoxy and wear a gold pendant every day depicting the Holy Protection of the Theotokos, with a Russian inscription on the back. I used to run a page called Siberian Mind, indicative of a mind in exile, which is how I've always felt in the world -- now being one of those times. I like a lot of Russian foods. And I'm a copious consumer of White Russians and Moscow Mules -- fully aware that neither one has any actual Russian connection. (Not that that's stopping some people from renaming both drinks, Freedom Fries-style.) 

As for Russia's current leader? I can't say I have any strong opinion on him one way or another. But as the world turns him into another Saddam Hussein, it seems likely that the ex-KGB strongman is just looking out for his own nation's interests. For years, the Western media and leftist politicians have been trying to cement in Americans' minds a correlation between Republicans, conservatives, and Putin's Russia. And I think that's why there's so much unbridled hysteria over Russia's invasion of Ukraine. It's as if the masses who've suffered from Trump Derangement Syndrome over the past five or so years now have a place to channel their woke cancel-culture outrage. 

Certainly, the reaction we're seeing is not rational in the slightest, but a typically emotional response to media and government propaganda that predictably turns up in times of war. Any thinking person, after all, understands that the idea that Putin just decided to wake up one day and invade Ukraine for no reason whatsoever is patently absurd. And yet the narrative of the "unprovoked invasion" is being fed nonstop to the people, and most of them appear to be uncritically lapping it right up. 

You'd think that after two years of politicizing a virus to control world populations, regulate behavior and free movement, and disguise narrative control as "misinformation fact-checking," the masses wouldn't so easily fall in line again. But they've gone and done just that. Ukraine good, Russia bad. People in power say so, so it must be true. (And of course, deliberate misinformation is perfectly OK if it promotes a pro-Ukraine narrative. No fact-checks for bald-faced lies, only for inconvenient facts.) 

Of course, what this is really about is propping up Western economic and military interests, in the pursuit of maintaining American and EU hegemony around the globe. Russia is a threat to Western domination, and therefore it has to be neutralized. That's really what this all boils down to. Because why else would you be told to care about it so intensely, especially when there are so many other horrors going on around the world? Hundreds of thousands, including thousands of children, have died as a result of the U.S.-backed Saudi bombing of Yemen. Where is the media-manufactured outcry for its dead children? Where is the outrage over the political imprisonment, forced labor, forced sterilization, and religious and cultural suppression of the Uyghurs in China? Is anyone clearing out made-in-China goods from the shelves of their local Walmarts? (Of course not, because there would be nothing left.) I could go on, about the Palestinians, or about the plight of Syria, Somalia, Libya, Iraq, and more. 

So again, why does everyone care about this one particular situation in Ukraine and no others? Because they've been told to. And what is it that makes this situation supposedly so much worse? Well, you tell me. Never mind that the United States has a long and sad history of launching unprovoked invasions of other nations. No, we won't think about that. Nor can we point out China's human-rights abuses, because we rely too much on China's cheap labor, which corporate greed outsourced to the Communist nation decades ago, leaving our own manufacturing base decimated. And of course we can't point out what's happening in Yemen because of our role in facilitating it. The West is always killing someone, somewhere. But it's OK when we do it. 

So pay no attention to any of that. Russia bad. Putin bad. 

Let's not even consider the fact that the leaders of Ukraine are essentially puppets of the West, installed in 2014 with American financial support. (As ever, America's reckless, meddlesome, self-serving foreign policy of lesser-evilism creates a monster abroad, leaving others to clean up the mess.) No, let's not consider that Ukraine has a literal neo-Nazi battalion in its military ranks, and that those forces have both burned protesters alive and contributed to the death of scores of Russians in the eastern part of the country. (Little wonder that Ukraine was one of only two nations to refuse a UN proposal to denounce fascism. And yes, the facts on the ground prove it is obviously possible for a Jewish president to have Nazis in his own military.) Let's also not consider that Putin doesn't want Ukraine to join NATO, which would leave hostile military forces on Russia's doorstep. 

No, no. Russia bad. Putin bad.

It is entirely possible for there to really be no good guys in this situation -- and that includes the United States, in all its arrogance and naked hypocrisy, pissed off because Putin won't bend the knee to us and has the balls to attack America's puppet government in Ukraine. 

On the other hand, you could just as easily see this conflict as a matter of Russia's attempt to defend its own national interests, as it finds its own people being killed by a foreign military and it faces something not unlike our own Cuban Missile Crisis. But the Western corporate media only wants you to see its spin. In fact, it's going out of its way to silence any dissenting opinions -- just as it's been doing for two years of virus fearmongering. We know that masks don't do much of anything; we know that the experimental vaccines prevent neither illness nor transmission; we know that cheaper but effective drugs don't line the pockets of the pharmaceutical industry and so have to be villainized; we know that the vast majority of the population isn't at risk of death and that all the vaccine passports have therefore been a hysterical overreaction, creating an apartheid society and causing people to lose their livelihoods. And after years of being "fact-checked" into oblivion, those of us who never masked and never got jabbed are standing back and saying "I told you so" as mandates start to magically disappear, now that there's a new crisis to fixate people's minds on. You may now take off your masks and pick up your Ukrainian flags. 

But what's not going away is the control over people's lives. It's as if COVID was the dry run for what's going to follow. Consider how Justin Trudeau responded to a peaceful trucker protest in Ottawa. He suspended civil liberties under an emergency edict that conscripted towing companies to haul the big rigs away, allowed police to arrest peaceful protesters, and authorized the freezing of bank accounts of not just the protesters but anyone who so much as donated to them. This is the kind of social control that China exercises on its people for disobeying the government, and it's exactly what makes people like Trudeau, Michigan's Gretchen Whitmer, and so many other leftist control freaks so dangerous to liberty. 

And yet where was the U.S. media coverage of Trudeau's dictatorial behavior? Well, what little coverage it got was mostly framed to characterize the truckers as wild-eyed "fascists" who use "freedom" as a buzzword for their "hateful white supremacy." 

The Left: Workers of the world unite!

Also the Left: Not like that!

The following illustration really drives it home, as the cartoonist evidently perceives free speech as an existential threat to democracy -- signaling far more about himself than about the truckers.

This is literally how our institutions of power are characterizing people who stand up for individual freedom in the face of government overreach. The freedom-loving truckers are the fascists, not the psychopaths in power who are micromanaging our lives. 

Remember, these are the people currently feeding the Russia-Ukraine narrative to you.

People at the beginning of the COVID drama were saying that the powers-that-be would program the masses to think of defending their freedoms as selfish. And as we can see, that's exactly what has happened. "Freedom" is now a dirty word. "Safety" and control will be enforced by any and all means necessary. The U.S. trucker convoy will predictably be conflated with the so-called "insurrectionists" at the Capitol as being enemies of America. And by demonizing Putin, with whom the Left has worked tirelessly to associate with the American Right, they can all be smeared and marginalized in one fell swoop. Don't like your government? What are you, some kind of traitorous Putin lover? That's already happening. Rolling Stone, for one, couldn't wait to jump on the bandwagon after the invasion of Ukraine to point out the conservatives who weren't being properly loyal to the narrative -- which somehow, in the woke minds of Rolling Stone's editorial department, made them Putin loyalists.

It's always the "tolerant" "liberals" who pull this crap. They now have their Woke War, with an Evil White Guy as their villain, and they're enlisting everyone in their cause -- and doing pretty well so far. Senator Mark Warner, ever an enemy of liberty, has done his part by writing to the big social-media outlets and telling them to silence Russian "propaganda" -- proving, as I've said for years, that the government simply uses its corporate masters to engage in censorship by proxy. If the government is limited by the Constitution, then it'll just do a corporate end-run around the First Amendment. This is why massive multibillion-dollar corporations are as much of a danger to human liberty as governments are, and why the endless argument that "private companies can do whatever they want" is completely irresponsible and short-sighted. 

Funny, isn't it, how much censorship we need in the fight for "freedom" in Ukraine?  

With all the ongoing effects of cancel culture in mind, think about all the sanctions on Russia that are piling up. (Sanctions only ever hurt ordinary people who have nothing to do with their government's actions, but I guess that's beside the point.) Think in particular about all the major corporations that are lining up to refuse to do business with Russia. Think, too, of all the banks freezing Russia out of international commerce. And think of how the U.S.-led media narrative is creating a worldwide ostracization of one nation. Then stop to think about this: If they can do all this to a nation, what's to stop them from doing it to you if you step out of line? Trudeau has already shown how this cancel-culture-gone-wild orgy can be applied to ordinary people. Disobey and we'll freeze your bank accounts, get you fired, maybe even seize your assets. We'll starve you. Obey us or die.

"The myth about the inviolability of private property on which the legal system of the United States and the EU rests upon has been ruined," Russian State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Vodin says. "Properties, bank accounts, and prepaid goods are confiscated on account of nationality." He's not wrong. The situation is deeply alarming in its ramifications for the future of freedom of thought. What good is the First Amendment, after all, if governments can use their corporate allies to compel you to obey by canceling your ability to function in society?

This is why it's so crucially important for people to think for themselves, and to actively defend the right to do so. Don't let your elected leaders, a political party, motivational speakers, talking heads on TV, your favorite celebrities or athletes, your favored religious authorities, or your crazy uncle do your thinking for you. Moreover, don't think it's OK if someone else is being canceled, because eventually the cancellers will come for you. So do your research, think for yourself, and resist in whatever way you can. This is the most crucial thing in the world, if you ever expect the world to get better. I know I'm probably shouting into the wind, but it needs to be said.

When I started this blog a decade ago, on my 41st birthday, I could never have imagined things would ever get this bad when I turned 51. We're living in a real-life dystopia, and human liberty hangs by a thread. Yes, people were just as irrational during the 1991 Gulf War and in the aftermath of 9/11. I remember well. The difference between then and now is the extent to which the Woke Left has taken over every major institution of power. And we know that the Woke Left will use its power to cancel anyone with an unorthodox point of view. The technological advancements between then and now also give them almost complete power to control narratives and ruin lives. (And rig elections in broad daylight, but rampant corporate censorship doesn't allow us to talk about that.)

And what I've learned from 10 years of blogging is this: Human beings are depressingly predictable. They are tribal animals who will always fall in line and obey, especially when provoked by fear or majority opinion. They are, for the most part, mindless sheep. People are very easily propagandized, and I have to think this is something genetic within most of us, something embedded deep within the primitive human psyche. Perhaps it goes back to the day when being booted out of the tribe meant you were left to fend for yourself against the wild animals, with no protection from the tribe. Today, that takes the form of being cancelled, leaving yourself no support network and no job with which to support yourself and your family. It's a shame that we can't move past this mindset, that people who oppose those in power won't stand up, realize that we outnumber those in power, and unite, despite our differences, and demand to take back control over our own lives. 

But that requires engaging in critical thought, and it involves risking a lot, personally, socially, financially. And that's why it doesn't happen. 

And so the misfits like me look on, shaking our heads, as the masses dutifully wave their blue and yellow flags, seemingly oblivious to the fact that they're being manipulated into backing the very same powers that will exert more and more control over their lives. And one day they might wake up and realize that maybe the people who were speaking out about the creeping loss of human liberties weren't dangerous right-wing neo-Nazi white supremacist extremists after all, but just people who put freedom and critical thought over the illusion of security and the institutional demand for conformity of thought. 

But probably not. If this blog is still around a decade from now, I dread to think of what the world will look like then. I'm just amazed this blog has lasted as long as it has. Had I ever had any significant audience, I have no doubt it would have been canceled long ago. 

When I was 18, the Berlin Wall came down and a single man took on a Chinese tank in Tiananmen Square. Two years later, the Soviet Union collapsed. The spirit of human freedom was in the air as I ventured into adulthood. Three decades on, the government orders masks and vaccinations over a virus with a 2% mortality rate, being white makes you racist, protesting for freedom makes you a fascist, and challenging the institutional narrative will cause you to lose your livelihood. And now a slowly expiring empire expects everyone to fall in line with its pathetic attempt to hold on to its fading power, even as doing so will push Russia into the arms of the Chinese, on whose manufacturing base we have become completely dependent in our shortsighted greed. The West is like a dying bully, trying one more time with all its might to exert its will on the rest of the world with a final gasp of air. One day it will all be over, and so much will have been squandered away. The Great American Experiment has traded individual liberty for money, power, and control. America has become the empire it once threw off. And like all empires, it will crumble and die, leaving much misery in its wake. That hour is not far away. I lament that my daughter will live to see it.

We never seem to learn. Maybe humans are simply incapable of doing otherwise.

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