Vic Bishop, Staff Writer
When government controls a resource, that resource will be sold to the highest corporate bidder and will be exploited at the expense of any plants, animals or people living in the area. The battle for stewardship of our forests is one of the most important questions of our time, and in Indonesia, home to a significant portion of the world’s remaining rainforests, control of a number of disputed areas was recently returned to the indigenous populations which inhabit them.
As European colonialism in the 1800’s overtook the thousands of sprawling islands which now make up Indonesia, Dutch state rule over the millions of acres of forests in the region was hotly disputed, even flatly rejected, by many of the native tribes in the region. Having been a region of intense conflict for generations, a recent move by Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo will end clashes over this matter by returning authority of some rainforest areas to indigenous people.
“President Joko Widodo has bestowed the right to manage customary forests on nine indigenous communities, heralding the end of decades of uncertainty and the beginning of a new era of secure right to land.” [Source]
In a ceremony dubbed theDeclaration of Recognition of Indigenous Forests in December 2016, President Widodo formally handed over land titles to some disputed regions in Indonesia’s vast wild lands.
“The recognition of customary management of forests is not restricted to the acknowledgment of communities’ rights as stated in the 1945 Constitution. Recognition also means an appreciation of Indonesia’s original values and its identity as a nation.” ~President Widodo
Furthermore, the accord is an expression of the rights of indigenous peoples, who are suffering the world over under corporate colonialism.
“The recognition of the right of indigenous people to manage forests by the Indonesian Government is an important step in agrarian reform as part of the Nawa Cita, Widodo’s program of nine main strategies to address long-term problems afflicting rural communities, such as poverty, inequality and lack of paid employment. Widodo also pointed out that transferring management of customary forests to indigenous people was a small part of Indonesia’s social forestry program that wants to bring 12.7 million hectares under community management.” [Source]
This is a promising model for management of many of the earth’s rainforests, as traditionally, indigenous cultures have always a deeper connection to the land, and a spiritual recognition that honors symbiosis and sustainability, ensuring there will always be abundant food, shelter and medicines for the simple populations whom live in and near the rainforests.
“Saputra, in his acceptance speech in response to the handover of title by Widodo, noted that, ‘Our traditional wisdom has played an important role in managing and preserving our forests. This has contributed to keeping our Earth greener and reducing the negative impacts of climate change” [Source]
The wanton destruction of the ‘lungs of the earth,’ our rainforests, will either end when they’ve all been cut and sold off, or when we return to a sane policy of proper stewardship of these lands. This small victory is a sign that progress can be made.
About the Author
Vic Bishop is a staff writer for WakingTimes.com and OffgridOutpost.com Survival Tips blog. He is an observer of people, animals, nature, and he loves to ponder the connection and relationship between them all. A believer in always striving to becoming self-sufficient and free from the matrix, please track him down on Facebook.
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If there’s one thing we’ve learned so far from election 2016 it’s that the American people do not understand their government.
The perception is that we have a democracy, and that in this democracy we the people have vested power in our government which we exercise through the act of voting. ‘Throw the bastards out,’ has long since been the war cry of the impotent democrat, yet we no longer even have a democracy to cling to, and although most people choose to ignore it, this fact of life has been visible for decades.
An oligarchical government is a form of rule in which a small group of wealthy individuals have control over the critical mechanisms of state power, industry and economy. These people are unelected, unaccountable and they exercise control on behalf of their personal financial interests, drawing on the productive power of a nation to support their lifestyles and geopolitical ambitions. The ruling class in such a nation is often comprised of dynastic families who pass the baton of power back and forth between themselves, managing the illusion of change and evolution while never actually ceding their franchise over the masses.
The Bush, Clinton, Bush, Clinton phenomenon is a contemporary example of this exchange.
In 2014, a Princeton study in the academic journal Perspectives on Politics published their conclusion that America had officially transitioned to an oligarchy. Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter has even recently made comments to this effect, telling Oprah Winfrey and her audience that ‘now it’s just an oligarchy.’ These two warnings follow decades of comments and public admissions by former presidents and key political figures warning us that our country was being taken over by shadowy financial interests.
Inarguably, there is an invisible government running America, yet we are still urged to cast our vote for president every four years. Why do they allow us to participate in this charade if they know our vote doesn’t make any difference?
Voting as a Tool to Create the Illusion of Consent
Even many true dictatorships hold political elections as tools to manufacture the illusion of consent for their party. Stalin is perhaps the most astounding example of this, for, during his rule, while the people of the nation were being brutalized by The Red Terror, election results came in showing over 99% support for the Communist Party.
Saddam Hussein also used this tactic to great effect in a 1995 in a referendum aimed at creating the illusion of public support for his reign, with 99.9% of the population voting in favor.
China’s Mao, arguably the greatest murderer of all time, also forced his subjects into the ballot booth, using the results as propaganda to support his totalitarianism.
America is not yet a dictatorship, it is but an oligarchy with big dreams of becoming one. As such, we are still transitioning out of the ideology of personal liberty and self-rule, and are still dependent on the ritual of voting as acknowledgment of this heritage, even though selecting a president does nothing to favorably influence the direction of the nation.
The oligarchy still needs us to believe that we are free so that we won’t get serious about revolution, and voting is the best tool for maintaining this illusion. It serves the dual purposes of providing an outlet for our righteous indignation, pacifying our anger and sapping our political drive, and of acting as a survey to determine which policies will meet the least amount of popular resistance.
If you’re one of the few Americans who hasn’t already committed yourself, heart and soul, to one of the two majorly phony political parties dominating the U.S., and are still trying to decide which taste of bitters you’ll go for on election day, consider this: there is no Constitutional requirement that you vote.
There is not yet a law in America that obliges you to consent to the corruption, lies, criminality, war-mongering, fear, hate, stupidity, tyranny, surveillance and self-destruction being championed by today’s candidates. You are still free to opt-out and explore the moral highroad of conscientious objection, should your value system be so utterly insulted by the fake election process taking place before us.
“The American people are being guilted, bullied, pressured, cajoled, intimidated, terrorized and browbeaten into voting. We’re constantly told to vote because it’s your so-called civic duty, because you have no right to complain about the government unless you vote, because every vote counts, because we must present a unified front, because the future of the nation depends on it, because God compels us to do so, because by not voting you are in fact voting, because the “other” candidate must be defeated at all costs, or because the future of the Supreme Court rests in the balance.
You are under no moral obligation to vote for the lesser of two evils. Indeed, voting for a lesser evil is still voting for evil.” ~John W. Whitehead
About the Author
Dylan Charles is a student and teacher of Shaolin Kung Fu, Tai Chi and Qi Gong, a practitioner of Yoga and Taoist arts, and an activist and idealist passionately engaged in the struggle for a more sustainable and just world for future generations. He is the editor of WakingTimes.com, the proprietor of OffgridOutpost.com,
Irwin Ozborne, Contributor
“The love of possessions is a disease with them [Americans]. They take tithes from the poor and weak to support the rich who rule. They claim this mother of ours, the Earth, for their own and fence their neighbors away. If America had been twice the size it is, there still would not have been enough.” – Sitting Bull
Knock. Knock. Knock.
Open the door and see the armed Gestapo at your doorstep demanding you turn over the rights of your children and toddlers. They no longer belong to you as mandated by federal law.
You see the fear in your toddler’s eyes as you are no longer capable of protecting them and are forced by law to give up your children to the police. They sit them on a bus to be shipped away to a school hundreds of miles away in which they will be trained to forget every value, tradition, and characteristic you have tried to teach. They will be disciplined with abuse, torture, starvation, and rape. If you ever see them again, they will not be the innocent child you once knew.
This did not happen in a far away land, this did not happen a long-long time ago. This happened in the “greatest country on Earth” in fairly recent history. This was the policy of the United States government in an effort to assimilate American Indian children in a boarding school system that peaked in the 1970’s.
“And Indians should get over this, it happened so long ago,” states an American Indian Education Specialist with a highly sarcastic tone, “And it really wasn’t that long ago and we’re talking about everyone in Indian country is a product or their parent, or grandparent, was a product of boarding schools. Which was institutionalized by the United States Government. And our families were destroyed, our mothers did not have legal rights to their children, at any given time foreigners, strangers, could come in and take your children without any recourse. And this was the policy of the United States Government.”
The boarding schools were designed with the slogan, “Kill the Indian, Save the Man” in an attempt to Christianize or Americanize the Indian population. They targeted children as they believed the adults were too set in their ways. In 1879, the schools were brought off the reservations to avoid children from attempting to run away and to ensure that if they went back home they would not return to their traditional lifestyle.
Forcibly taken from their homes, forbidden to speak Native languages or practice traditions, the children were overcrowded, starved, and victims of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse. The rationale for the cultural genocide was because it was cheaper to “educate” the Indians into mainstream culture than to try to wage war.
This is never taught in American school systems. History books are censored from speaking the truth of how this nation was formed on genocide of the American Indians. Now, representing less than one-percent of the population they are the last race that it is socially acceptable to discriminate against.
“The racism is rampant but nobody wants to look at it,” stated our interviewee, “I guess because we’re America’s dirty laundry.”
Pine Ridge Reservation
Although not written until 1948, it almost appears as if the United States took the United Nations definition for Genocide and used it as a checklist in their treatment of the indigenous people of the land. It reads:
In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
While the boarding school system described above was just one piece of the strategy, those who did “survive” were left on reservations in third-world conditions despite being between borders in one of the richest countries on the globe.
Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota is the poorest area in the United States with a per capita income of less than $4,000 per year and 97-percent of residents living below the Federal poverty lines. The dilapidated houses are overcrowded as they try to take in family members and friends without a roof over the head. The average home will host 17 people (two to three bedrooms); whereas some homes that are built for six to eight people have 30 people living in them currently.
More than a third of these homes have no water, sewage, insulation, heating or electricity. Families have to carry contaminated water to the home for personal use. More than 60-percent of these homes are infested with the Stachbotrys (a potentially fatal black mold). With no technology, industrial, or commercial infrastructure on the reservation more than 85-percent of the residents are unemployed. The high school dropout rate is more than 70-percent with the teacher turnover at 800-percent higher than the national average.
On Pine Ridge Reservation, the life expectancy is around 45 years – which is the second lowest in the Western Hemisphere (behind only Haiti). This has to do with alcoholism, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, suicide, and malnutrition. Some of the healthcare facts include:
Alcoholism rates are estimated at 80-percrent
Alcohol related deaths are 300-percrent higher than the national average
Nearly 95-percent of all crimes are alcohol related
One in four infants are born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
The rate of diabetes is eight times the national average
Estimated 50-percent of adults over 40 have diabetes
37-percent of the entire reservation has diabetes
The rate of Tuberculosis is eight times the national average
The suicide rates is more than twice the national average
Teenage suicide rates is four times the national average
Infant mortality is the highest on the continent and about three times the national average
The rate of Cervical Cancer is five times the national average
The rate of Heart Disease is twice the national average
This is due to many of the residents being without adequate healthcare. In most treaties between Indian nations and the United States, the government agreed to provide medical care for Indians in return for vast quantities of land. The Indian Health Services was established in 1787, based on Article I, Section 8 of the United States Constitution. However, what is administered is very small compared to the need and the IHS is understaffed and ill-equipped to handle the crisis in these Indian communities.
“The administration is responsible for providing and delivering health services to American Indians and Alaska Natives across the country. Their federal obligation mandates that they promote health and safe Indian communities while honoring tribal governance. This is not happening,” said Wyoming Republican Senator John Barrasso, who chairs the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs – in a February 2016 article with NBC News.
“You may have heard the phrase ‘Do not get sick after June,’ because if you do, you will not be able to get care. This, to me, is a rationing of health care — care that is guaranteed by treaty. If we start funding IHS at levels commensurate with need, I believe we will solve a lot of the issues revealed in the 2010 report and the ones occurring elsewhere in this country,” said former Senator Byron Dorgan, chairman of The Center for Native American Youth at The Aspen Institute – in the same NBC News article.
Not living up to the agreements of the IHS is pretty standard for the course in United States policy. In all, 370 treaties were signed between the United States Government and Indian Nations.
And all 370 were broken by the United States.
“Yeah, none of them have been lived up to. But everybody is living on our land and nobody knows that,” continued the American Indian Education specialist, “Part of that is the socialization so whenever you up treaty rights, the reason there is so much backlash in this country like, ‘Why do those Indians have special rights? Why do they have stuff we don’t have?’ It’s because nobody is teaching these kids what a god damn treaty is! A treaty is an agreement between nations. Some nations choose to live up to them, some nations violate them.”
They are still doing it today with the controversy of the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline which would cut through the heart of tribal lands.
“But when we DO end up winning in the court of the conqueror – mind you the enemies court – when we do end up having small gains, and I’ll say for every twenty cases we maybe have one that goes our way. Every time that happens, when we win, ‘why do these Indians get these special rights?”’ he continued, “Because these folks do not understand what a damn treaty is. Nobody in St. Paul knows what treaty their land is on. It’s the treaty of 1805. First treaty ever signed with the nation of Sioux Indians was the treaty of 1805. So, nobody in the Twin Cities is learning that they are living on Treaty of 1805. Nobody knows that, and because they don’t know that, when a treaty case comes Indian people are met with bigotry and hate. ‘Why do you all get to do this? Why do we get to do that?’ Well, it’s not our fault that America didn’t educate their children about article six of the constitution is that treaties are the law of the land.”
The 1851 Fort Laramie Treaty clearly defined boundaries owned by the Lakota people which covered a large part of the upper Midwest between Minnesota and Montana. However, it was the Great Emancipator, President Abraham Lincoln, who allowed white settlers onto this land by signing the Homestead Act in 1862. Treaty rights were violated and the Indian people were forced to move once again to the most inhospitable lands. In retaliation, some Sioux attacked white settlers which is referred to as the “Sioux Uprising.”
Uprising is defined as an act of resistance, rebellion, or revolt. They were not resisting, they were retaliating. But the terminology is done intentionally to spread propaganda of the Sioux that are rebelling, although it was Lincoln who violated the treaty.
This led to the largest mass execution in United States History when President Lincoln ordered to hang 38 Santee Sioux in Mankato, Minnesota – a week later he signed the Emancipation Proclamation.
“Minnesota has a shitty-ugly history, but we can’t talk about it because in Minnesota everything nice happened,” our interviewee continues, “Even if you deal with Minnesota Historical Society, they don’t even want to tell the god damn truth. They call it ‘controversial history.’ Any history that is uncomfortable is controversial. Anytime Minnesota gets a little bit of mud on its face, that’s called controversial history and they won’t tell that story. But the problem with that is that pathology of denial that this state has means that it can happen again. To somebody else. Who’s next?”
The Second Fort Laramie Treaty was signed in 1868 which designated the sovereignty of the Lakota people and prohibited outside settlers to ever occupy their lands. All this changed, though, in 1874 when gold was found in the Black Hills and in other areas held sovereign by the Lakota and non-Indian miners swarmed the Black Hills. Consequently, the federal government reneged on the Fort Laramie Treaties and took total control of the Black Hills again, only a decade after signing the second treaty.
This led to more wars, breaking up of the reservations, and once again tribes being forced off any land that the United States found valuable. Then in this same area, the Black Hills, in which the Lakota people found sacred which was stolen from them after a broken treaty, the Federal Government added a slap in the face by imprinting a message on their land with Mount Rushmore. A memorial of United States Presidents serves as a constant reminder of the people who stole their land and killed their people.
Understanding the Reservation System
The reservation system in America is widely misunderstood and completely fabricated in the educational system.
Originally, the settlers agreed to give the Indians all land West of the Appalachian Mountains. But after the American Revolution, the whites continued to break treaties and push the Indians off their land. In 1830, President Andrew Jackson – nicknamed “Indian Killer” – signed the Indian Removal Act which was designed to forcibly remove Indians and march them to the newly designed “Indian Country” in Oklahoma.
This was somewhat documented in the notorious “Trail of Tears” in which Indians marched for hundreds of miles at gunpoint. If they could not continue to walk, they were left for dead. If anyone refused, they were brutally murdered in front of the group. Pregnant woman had their stomachs sliced open or they would drown infants or club toddlers against trees in a means of intimidation of anyone who would not comply. Again, policy of the United States.
By the middle of the nineteenth century, the Indian Reservation System emerged. The government would move tribes onto specifically reserved land for the tribes.
“Reservations are not land that they gave us, by the way.” Our interviewee pointed out, “Reservations mean they were reserved. A lot of folks say, ‘well we gave you some land.’ No, bullshit we were here first. You are the invader! You may have taken a lot of things but reservation, in the English language if you look it up, it means “reserved”. So that’s land the nations reserved for themselves. And it has been whittled down through lies, policy, and deceit all at the hands of the United States Government and companies that wanted to make money. Timber companies, mining companies, etc., etc, Ranchers, but those are reserved. Those weren’t given to us, we reserved those. That’s another common mythology in America.”
This all served as a precursor to the Holocaust of World War II. Many parallels exist between the mistreatment of American Indians and the Nazi treatment of the Jewish people. This include death marches, concentration camps, mass graves, destroying old cultures, blaming one group of people for the problems, etc. In fact, in a couple biographies of Adolf Hitler, he credits the United States for his ideas of genocide.
On page 202 of John Toland’s book titled Adolf Hitler:
Hitler’s concept of concentration camps as well as the practicality of genocide owed much, so he claimed, to his studies of English and United States history. He admired the camps for Boer prisoners in South Africa and for the Indians in the wild west; and often praised to his inner circle the efficiency of America’s extermination—by starvation and uneven combat—of the red savages who could not be tamed by captivity.
He was very interested in the way the Indian population had rapidly declined due to epidemics and starvation when the United States government forced them to live on the reservations. He thought the American government’s forced migrations of the Indians over great distances to barren reservation land was a deliberate policy of extermination. Just how much Hitler took from the American example of the destruction of the Indian nations is hard to say; however, frightening parallels can be drawn. For some time Hitler considered deporting the Jews to a large ‘reservation’ in the Lubin area where their numbers would be reduced through starvation and disease.
Pine Ridge Reservation is a dry reservation, meaning it is illegal to possess or consume alcohol. However, across the border in Nebraska, there lies a town with a population of 12 people. Yet, within that town of 12, there are four liquor stores. These stores sell millions of cans of beer per year and profit millions of dollars – mostly to the Oglala Sioux.
Unlike other Nebraska communities, Whiteclay exists only to sell liquor and make money. It has no schools, no churches, no civic organizations, no parks, no benches, no public bathrooms, no fire service and no law enforcement. Tribal officials have repeatedly pleaded with the State of Nebraska to close these liquor stores or enforce the State laws regulating liquor stores but have been consistently refused.
Coincidentally, the town of Whiteclay is located in Sheridan County. A county named after a war criminal in Philip Sheridan who slaughtered men, women, and children like game. Sheridan was once quoted stating “The only good Indian is a dead Indian.”
So the county is living up to the man it is named after by continuing to knowingly sell an illegal drug to people which is causing the majority of problems on their land. The state of Nebraska has refused to close these liquor stores and has no problem with the destruction done to their neighbors.
However, the state of Nebraska does not like when bordering states allow people to purchase, possess, and transport illegal drugs into their state. Once Colorado legalized recreational marijuana, there was in influx in people possessing marijuana – illegal in Nebraska. They have went as far as attempting to sue the states of Colorado because of the increased traffic, possession, and use of marijuana.
America’s Dirty Laundry
Most of mainstream America is unaware of this history and current state with the Indian people in this country. Or they do know, but they just sweep it under the rug and try not to think about it. People are living in third-world conditions because of broken promises and lack of follow through. Yet, when other countries break treaties, we become the world police.
I believe in the power of the people. Once they know what is going on in the world, they stand up for justice. This is what ended the Vietnam War. Last week, social media exploded over the death of a gorilla. Imagine the good we could do and the justice that is deserved for the people that we have killed, destroyed, lied to, put into poverty, and lacking resources that they were promised.
We are talking about generational trauma. Trauma that has been handed down from generation-to-generation at the hands of our ancestors and the policies of the United States Government. Recovery has to start somewhere and the first step is for mainstream America to realize the problem they created.
About the Author
An avid historian, Irwin Ozborne (a pen-name) is a survivor of childhood abuse and torture over a period of 13 years, and a recovered alcoholic. As a mental health practitioner, today Irwin practices holistic care and incorporates eastern philosophy into his work with clients. He is available for speaking engagements as well, and can be contacted via email: email@example.com. Please visit www.takingthemaskoff.com.
(ANTIMEDIA) Tel Aviv, Israel — The state of Israel today receives contempt from some and is condoned by others for its apartheid structure and its brutal oppression of indigenous Palestinians. However, beyond this notorious conflict, there exists an underlying epidemic of racism within the State of Israel.
Israel, with a population little over 8 million, has a minority of Ethiopians Jews which account for approximately 135,000 of its citizens. It is beyond the shadow of a doubt that the Ethiopian Black Jews in Israeli society are marginalized and treated much differently than the majority Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews.
There have been numerous instances of nationalist rioters that have vandalized and harassed Ethiopian majority neighborhoods. This discrimination isn’t just loosely based on a few extremists as even members of the Israeli Knesset (Parliament) have demonized African Immigrants. A prominent member of Israel’s right wing Likud party, Miri Regev, called black immigrants a “cancer in our body.” Beyond the racist rhetoric, the facts exemplify the discrimination. 30% of those incarcerated under the age of 18 happen to be Ethiopians. 40% of all Ethiopians in the Israeli military (All men of age in Israel are conscripted by law) have served time in prison.
In 1996, thousands of Ethiopian Jews protested and clashed with Police when they found out the blood they had donated was thrown out because of fear it was contaminated with AIDS. Even more heinous to note is the fact that it has been found that Ethiopian Jewish women have been administered Depo-Provera, a hormonal contraceptive WITHOUT their consent or knowledge, to prevent them from having children. Ethiopians immigrants, when interviewed by an investigative journalist, said they were intimidated and told the injections were just protocol vaccinations. Curiously, this sort of eugenic practice was mastered by none other than Nazi Germany.
On April 27th, a video emerged of an Ethiopian citizen being brutally beaten by two police officers. This led to thousands of Ethiopians marching on the streets of Israel’s capital city demanding justice for not only the police brutality incident, but the general oppression Ethiopian and other African Jewish immigrants face daily as well. Some chanted “Police state, police state” while one Ethiopian man stated last Sunday that “My brother is in Golani [an army unit] and so was I, but I can’t get a job; I face racism when I want to move into an apartment.”
Interestingly, not only have Israeli politicians remained quiet about these incidents, but even the left wing Israeli parties that claim to support civil rights for minorities have refused to utter a word.
It is even more shocking to realize that the State of Israel bases its justification for existence on the historical discrimination the Jews faced as a minority in Europe, yet they don’t seem to have a problem with discrimination as long as they are the perpetrators. Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past.
The recent events and protests happening in Israel are a microcosm of what is happening internationally. The turmoil — whether in Ferguson, Baltimore, Kurdistan, Myanmar or Tel Aviv, all exemplifies the violence the state exudes against its poorest and most disadvantaged citizens.
According to an archeologist who recently participated in archeological work in Mexico, One of the most ancient civilizations in the Americas, the Black (Negritic) Olmecs developed a calendar that goes back to about 3,113 years Before Christ. The archeologist who appeared on the Art Bell show made that point.
The ancient "Olmecs" of Mexico and Mesoamerica are one of the most intriguing civilizations of the Americas. In fact, they are the first civilization in Mexico and it was from them that all other civilizations in Mesoamerica followed.
Yet, the fact that the Olmecs were most likely a Black civilization of African origins has not been made public and the "Indian" elements in Mexico have gained more prominence to the extent that the Negroid substrata of the ancient Mexican/Mesoamerican civilizations has been kept hidden.
Yet, over the past many years, various levels of proof have been found linking the "Olmecs" to Africans in the Western part of Africa:
Studies done by researchers such as Ivan Van Sertima (They Came Before Columbus), Alexander Von Wuthenau (Unexpected Faces in Ancient America), Runoko Rashidi and others have presented evidence that clearly show that the Olmecs were not Indians with "baby faces," or Indians who looked like Blacks (although a few Olmecs did mix with the Native Americans). They were Africans no different from Africans found in the Mende regions of West Africa.
Studies done by Clyde Winters show that the Olmecs used the Mende script, a writing system used among the Mandinkas and other Africans in West Africa. When the writings on Olmec monuments were translated, it was found that the language spoken by the Olmecs was Mende.
The Olmecs practiced a religion and astronomical sciences identical to those practiced by Africans in the Mali region and Nigeria today. The Olmecs studied the Venus Complex in astronomy. Today, the Ono and Bambara who are famous sea and river travelers have studied that same complex for thousands of years. In fact, another group the Dogon are well known for their tracking and mapping of the Sirius star system and their accurate results.
The Olmecs also had a religious practice of Thunder worship where the ax was a prominent feature. In West Africa, the ax is also a prominent feature in connection with the Shango or Thunder God worship. Both the Olmecs and the Shango worshippers in West Africa placed an emphasis on the religious significance of children in their religious practices.
The Olmecs Were Related To Blacks Of The Mende Group Of West Africa
The Olmecs carved about twenty-two collosal stone heads in the southern parts of Mexico and their influence have been found in Guatemala and further south. Olmec type sculptures have also been found in parts of the U.S., (the Washitaw Nation of Louisiana; www.hotep.org ), where another prehistoric Black nation (who still has members and land today) existed.
The Olmecs and Washitaw, Black Californians, Jamassee, Califunami and other pre-columbian Blacks of the Americas were part of a prehistoric trade network that began in Africa and spread worldwide over 100,000 years ago and at various periods afterwards. According to the book, Susu Economics The History of Pan-African Trade, Commerce, Money and Wealth, these Blacks found in the Americas, as well as remnants of their ancient civilizations are not a myth or fairytale.
The ancient Blacks of the Americas are the missing pieces of a large puzzle that would be solved if many of today's writers, scientists, historians and archeologists were not as biased or "embarrassed," like the Mexican archeologists who found out without a doubt, that the Olmecs of Mexico were Black Africans and they introduced the first astronomical calendar to Mexico about 3,113 years Before Christ.
Not only is there an ancient Black African presence and contribution to the creation of civilization and culture in prehistoric and ancient America, but there also is such a presence and contribution in Mesopotamia (Nimrod a son of Kush developed the region, it is said), Sabea/Arabia, India, Cambodia, Southern China and Melanesia/South Pacific region.
African Cultural Similarities
The Olmecs used an African practice that is very common in Africa and to some extent in Melanesia. That practice is body scarification and specifically facial scarification as practiced in West Africa. Many of the facial scars seen on the Olmec terracotta faces, such as "dot" keloids and "lined" patterns are identical to Africans such as the Dinka of Sudan and the Yoruba and others of West Africa. (Dinka scarification can be found in old copies of National Geographic. Olmec scarification can be found in the text by "Alexander Von Wuthenau, Unexpected Faces in Ancient America."
African hairstyles such as cornroes are found on many of the Olmec terracotta found in Mexico. Both kinky hair carved into one of the collosal stone heads of basalt, as well as the cornroed style wearing tassels (see African Presence in Early America, by Ivan Van Sertima; Transaction Publishers), have been found.
The "cornrow" factor clearly shows that these Blacks who were in Mexico in prehistoric times most likely came from the West Africa/South Sahara region, rather than Melanesia. It is in West Africa that cornroes are very common and have been since prehistoric times.
Olmecs Introduced The First Aspects Of Meso-American Civilization
The Black Olmecs were the first to build "pyramids" in Mexico, although these were built of mud and one was more cone-shaped then actually pyramidal. The Olmecs apart from carving 22 collosal stone heads dating to about 1100 B.C., also created thousands of work of art throughout Mesoamerica. Olmec terracotta art show people involved in a variety of activities from wrestling to pottery making.
In retrospect, there is no doubt that the ancient Olmecs of Mexico and the Olmec language, religion, culture were of African origins and specifically of the Mende group of West Africa. Still it is sad that essays on the Olmecs are not presented in publications, when the African origins of this Mesoamerican civilization is presented, including the latest findings. There is hope, however that the most recent findings of the ancient Olmec calendar and the similarities in race, culture and language with Africans in West Africa will be brought out and made available to those who see an obvious African influence and presence in early America.
Irwin Ozborne, Contributor
Thanksgiving: Celebrating all that we have, and the genocide it took to get it.
Thanksgiving is one of the most paradoxical times of the year. We gather together with friends and family in celebration of all that we are thankful for and express our gratitude, at the same time we are encouraged to eat in excess. But the irony really starts the next day on Black Friday. On Thursday we appreciate all the simple things in life, such as having a meal, a roof over our head, and the connection with those close to us. But in less than 24 hours, we literally trample over others in a mad dash to accumulate as many material possessions as possible at bargain-prices.
So what is the true history of Thanksgiving? Well, just like we have stories of Easter in which a magical bunny hops around the world and hides baskets of goodies for us to find, or stories of Christmas where Santa Claus travels the globe in one night to leave presents under the tree for good boys and girls – Thanksgiving, too, has its traditional myth which we share with our children. We recount stories of the Indians and Pilgrims getting together for a magical feast of brotherly love and appreciation. The only problem is that, unlike the other holidays, we never reveal the truth about Thanksgiving to our children as they grow older. In fact, most of us don’t understand its bloody history ourselves…
The first actual proclaimed “Day of Thanksgiving” came in 1637 in a meeting between the Pequot Indians and English religious mercenaries. The Pequot were celebrating their annual Green Harvest Festival, which resembles modern-day Thanksgiving. On the eve of the festival, the English demanded that everyone comes out of their homes, puts their weapons on the ground, and surrenders by converting to Christianity.
Those who obliged with these terroristic demands were either shot dead or clubbed to death. Those who stayed inside their longhouses – including women and children – were burnt to death. In all, more than 700 Pequot men, women, and children were slaughtered that day.
The “victory” was celebrated by the Governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony holding a feast and trumpeted this as a “Day of Thanksgiving.” During the celebration, they cut off heads of Natives and put them on display publicly; including beheading the Wampanoag Chief and impaling his head on a pole in Plymouth which stayed on display for the next 24 years.
New Family Values
I was in third grade and playing in my back yard, when I noticed a moving truck in the parking lot beyond the fence. We lived in a middle-class suburban community, but right beyond our fenced in yard, there was a Section 8 Housing Community.
As I stood and watched, a young boy around my age came running over to the fence to greet me.
“Hi, My Name is Doug,” he said, “We are moving in next door.”
It’s funny as kids, we are so free and we see someone our age and we just want to be friends. Someone we can spend time with. This shows the natural desire of human connection.
Doug and I became pretty good friends instantly. We spent time at each other’s house often, mostly playing Nintendo or throwing the ball around in the yard.
Until one day, one of my favorite video games was missing. No idea what happened, but the game was gone. We always had anywhere from three to 10 people over at our house and there is no way of knowing what happened to the game or if it was simply misplaced.
“No more going over to that Indian’s house,” my Dad told me, “He took your game.”
Indian? What’s an Indian? I remember thinking that to myself. To me, Doug was just my friend. Now, just like that, he was my Indian-friend. I knew very little about other races at that time. Sure, we saw that people looked different, but never attached a label like that.
The only thing I knew about Indians, I learned in school. And the things I learned in school, was just being passed down from what our teacher’s learned in school with no adjustments to the curriculum. We learned how to sit “Indian-Style,” we learned how to sing “Ten Little Indians,” learned what it meant to be called an “Indian-Giver,” and we learned to play “Cowboys and Indians.”
I can honestly remember in First or Second grade around Thanksgiving, we made headdresses and colored feathers to dress up like Indians. Then they told us how to do war-cries by putting your hand over your mouth and yelling, “Ahh-Ahh-Ooh-Ooh.”
They instructed the class that the Pilgrims came over from Europe to escape religious persecution. Upon arriving in America, they realized that there were already people living here. The brave Europeans encountered the Indians, who wore headdresses, make weird noises, and were uncivilized. So, the Pilgrims decided to help them out and they had a giant feast together. Everyone got along and then for every year since then, we celebrate Thanksgiving.
But, Doug didn’t do any of those things. I never met an Indian, he was just a normal kid. But, I was told not to trust him. The irony of a white person not trusting an Indian is too much to even comprehend.
“Doug, do you have my video game?” I asked him, “And, I am not allowed to come over here anymore and you can’t come over to my house.”
“No, I don’t have it. Why would I take it? You always let me use it whenever I want,” he replied, “But I understand. I won’t come over anymore.”
As the next couple years went by, I start seeing more movies with Cowboys and Indians with the natives viewed as hostile savages and the cowboys save the country. I am now in fifth grade and have been trained and brainwashed to hate a race of people and believe that I am good and they are wrong. And, still no one has given me an answer as to what happened to all the Indians that lived here?
Then, I gained perspective from the oddest of sources – the comedy movie, “Addams Family Values.” In the movie, the children were at some type of summer camp in which they are putting on a play for their parents, reenacting the first Thanksgiving. All the rich-white privileged kids at the camp were playing the role of the wholesome pilgrims; whereas, the outcasts of the camp were stuck playing the part of the “uncivilized” Indians. As the pilgrims invited the Indians for a meal together, Wednesday Addams –playing the role of Pocahontas (although this is historically inaccurate as Pocahontas lived near the Jamestown Settlement) – decides to go off the script just prior to sitting down for the meal:
“Wait, we can not break bread with you. You have taken the land which is rightfully ours. Years from now my people will be forced to live in mobile homes on reservations. Your people will wear cardigans, and drink highballs. We will sell our bracelets by the road sides, and you will play golf. My people will have pain and degradation. Your people will have stick shifts. The gods of my tribe have spoken. They said do not trust the pilgrims. And especially do not trust Sarah Miller. For all these reasons I have decided to scalp you and burn your village to the ground.” [view scene]
I remember watching this scene and my friends were laughing hysterically, but not me. I was more in shock and awe. It all made sense. I realized that everything I had been told about history was a lie. And I have been searching for the truth ever since.
A National Day of Mourning
We are very impressionable as children and take what elders, parents, and teachers tell us as fact. It gets very difficult to break these thoughts that shape our identity. However, the story of Thanksgiving described above has only a small semblance of truth. The Pilgrims and Indians got together for a giant feast – one time. And in all recorded history of that time, there are actually only two documents of record reporting this event, over the total of three paragraphs – indicating the very minor significant of this event.
Thanksgiving Day is also known as The National Day of Mourning among Native American Tribes. In 1970, there was a huge celebration in Massachussets to celebrate the 350th anniversary of the landing of the Pilgrims. Today, there are still Wampanoags living in the area. On the day of the celebration, they asked one of them to speak:
“Today is a time of celebrating for you — a time of looking back to the first days of white people in America. But it is not a time of celebrating for me. It is with a heavy heart that I look back upon what happened to my People. When the Pilgrims arrived, we, the Wampanoags, welcomed them with open arms, little knowing that it was the beginning of the end. That before 50 years were to pass, the Wampanoag would no longer be a tribe. That we and other Indians living near the settlers would be killed by their guns or dead from diseases that we caught from them. Let us always remember, the Indian is and was just as human as the white people.
Although our way of life is almost gone, we, the Wampanoags, still walk the lands of Massachusetts. What has happened cannot be changed. But today we work toward a better America, a more Indian America where people and nature once again are important.”
The Lies of Thanksgiving
To get started, the Pilgrims were not seeking religious persecution – they already had that in Holland by 1608. However, they did not like the work and demands of Holland and wanted to seek commercial ventures overseas. However the Pilgrims also had no money or resources, so they had to borrow a loan from the Virginia Company of London and Plymouth. The agreement stated that they were to take all the money earned over the first seven years and put it into a common stock – sounds like Communism.
So, the communist Pilgrims sailed across the sea in September of 1620. Yet, it is also important to note that they did not call themselves Pilgrims. They were originally referred to as Separatists as they no longer followed the Church of England. Yet, they referred to themselves as God’s Chosen People, in which they called themselves “Saints.”
The rest of England, considered them “religious dropouts.”
The Pilgrims were also not farmers, nor woodsmen; they were mostly city people and artisans that had no clue how to survive in the Wilderness. It would be like if a group of broke-hipsters decided to move to a remote jungle in South America to start their own civilization because they do not fit in with mainstream society. Yet, they don’t have money, so they take out a loan from the government to set up their little expedition.
They were not just being persecuted for religious beliefs either, they were revolutionaries who intended – and in fact, did in 1649 – overthrow the English Government.
On November 20, 1620, they landed at Cape Cod – not Plymouth Rock. A winter storm had sent them off-course and they were many miles north of their destination in Virginia. They landed in a desolated area in which the Patuxet used to live – but were completely wiped away by disease in 1617. The Pilgrims raided the land for corn, beans, and robbed the gravesites at Corn Hill to steal as much winter provisions as they could handle.
It wasn’t until another month later that they landed at Plymouth Rock. In which, the crew was decimated and the settlers were either dead or dying from starvation, malnutrition and disease. Only 53 of the remaining 102 members of this ship made it through the winter. In March, they were greeted by two English-Speaking Indians – Samoset and Squanto.
While this tale seems miraculous, in fact Plymouth Governor Bradford referred to Squanto as “a special instrument sent from God.” However, it was not that simple.
Squanto had been captured in 1605 and sold into slavery in England, in which he was forced to learn English. Then they sent him back to America, only to serve as a guide for the explorers to further ravage his land. In 1614, he was captured again and shipped to Spain. This time “rescued” by friars who tried to control the slaves and convert them to Christianity. He jump-shipped again and made his way back to his homeland in 1619, only to see that every member of his tribe had perished to disease. Hence, Squanto was the last living Patuxet and was forced to live with the nearby Wampanoag.
This is the man that helped the Pilgrims survive – enslaved twice, forced to learn English, attempted to be forced to convert to Christianity, then to return home and find everyone he loved was dead. If it were not for Squanto, all historians agree that the Pilgrims would have starved to death and had quite a different impact on American history.
As Governor Bradford explained:
“Squanto continued with them and was their interpreter and was a special instrument sent of God for their good beyond their expectation. He directed them how to set their corn, where to take fish, and to procure other commodities, and was also their pilot to bring them to unknown places for their profit, and never let them till he died.”
The Pilgrims were living in dirt-covered shelters, had no food, and nearly half of them had died during the winter. They obviously needed help and the two men were a welcome sight. Squanto, who probably knew more English than any other Indian in North America at that time, decided to stay with the Pilgrims for the next few months and teach them how to survive in this new place.
Squanto had orchestrated a treaty between the Pilgrims and Indians to protect each other from neighboring tribes.
By Fall of 1621, things had greatly improved for the Pilgrims. They put together a feast to celebrate their harvest – a common custom of the day in all parts of the world. This was celebrated back in Europe for many years, as well as the local tribes had six different “Thanksgiving” feasts throughout the year.
As they Pilgrims were shooting their guns in the air – likely with a mixture of the hefty amounts of alcohol they consumed – they were met by ninety or more Wampanoags. As the story goes, they invited the Indians to join them. However, it is more likely that the Indians rushed over to see what all the gunfire was about and then were asked to join. They had a three-day feast, in which the Indians provided the majority of the food.
This was never called “Thanksgiving” and it was not the beginning of some beautiful friendship, in which they all lived happily ever after. In fact, it never happened again. This was the first, and only, time that they got together in peace. The true “First Thanksgiving” was a much bloodier hell on Earth which tells the tale of the next 400 years for the Native Americans.
The “First Thanksgiving”
It is hard to tell the true intention of the first Pilgrims at Plymouth as they were severely outnumbered and had no means of survival in the New World. Once word was spread about the Paradise out West, more and more religious zealots, known as Puritans, came sweeping across the shores of America.
Once they arrived, they noticed no fences around the land and considered it all to be public domain. They were not in as great need of help from the Natives, as the original Pilgrims, and the friendship between the two weakened rapidly. Soon, the Pilgrims were demeaning the Indians for their religious beliefs and the children of those who shared this majestic meal together were killing each other in the next generation’s King Phillip’s War.
That is the foundation of America’s idea of “freedom.” We want freedom for ourselves, but not for those who do not look, think, act, and believe as we do. In the Declaration of Independence it is stated that “All Men Are Created Equal” but each of the founding fathers were slave-owners who valued white supremacy and favored Indian genocide. They didn’t want equality, they just wanted equality from the British, but the oppression they did to African-Americans, Indians, and Women was completely acceptable.
The Pilgrims were religious bigots who saw themselves as the “chosen elect” and first planned to purify themselves and then anyone who did not accept their interpretation of scripture. They believed they were fighting a holy war against Satan. In a “Thanksgiving” sermon in 1623, Maher the Elder gave special thanks for destroying “chiefly young men and children, the very seeds of increase, thus cleaning the forests to make way for a better growth.” Yes, thanking the Lord for giving smallpox to the same Wampanoag that saved them from starvation two years prior.
In 1637, as stated in the opening paragraphs of this article, the first Thanksgiving was held to celebrate the systematic slaughtering of the “heathen savages.” These killings become more and more, as the settlers went from village to village wiping out generations of tribes. With each “victory” they would hold days of thanksgiving feasts for each successful massacre.
During the next century, the Tribes continued to get pushed further West. The likes of Lord Jeffrey Amherst intentionally gave smallpox-infested blankets to tribes in the early forms of biological warfare. Whereas, the 1756 Indian Scalp Act paid out bounties for the scalps of Indian men, women, and children.
This continued up through the French-Indian War in which the British defeated the Indian-French allies; but proclaimed that the settlers can not go West of the Appalachian Mountains – not because they grew a heart for the Indians –but because it would be too hard to manage the settlers which would soon revolt against the Kingdom.
Even during the Revolutionary War, there were Days of Thanksgiving honored after a victory against the British. Until George Washington suggested that there is only one day of Thanksgiving set aside per year, rather than after each massacre.
The “Most Free Country on Earth”
After being declared a “free country,” the savagery continued. President Andrew Jackson issued the Indian Removal Act of 1830, which forced the Natives west to Oklahoma. The Cherokee removal from Tennessee became known as the infamous “Trail of Tears” in which Cherokee were slain in front of family members if they did not oblige.
As the land continued to be stolen, the Native Americans set up reservations. This land was not GIVEN to the Native Americans, it is land that THEY reserved for themselves that could not be taken from them. However, as we find out that did not seem to matter as the United States has broken every treaty ever signed with a Native American tribe.
It’s also important to understand that the government does not just hand out money “because they are Indians.” They are given money that is owed to them due to the treaties signed by the United States to purchase their land, and they settlements due to breaking every single treaty ever signed. It is not just a charity hand-out, it is part of a guilty plea.
However, false propaganda and poor educational curriculum like to inform the mainstream that we “gave the Indians reservations” and “pay them money.” This ignorance is a direct result of America not teaching their children what a treaty actually entails, or why it was signed in the first place.
In 1851, the Sioux made two treaties in which they were to be compensated with cash, food, and goods to give up over one-million acres of land to the United States, while living on the reservation. However, there were corrupt leaders in the Bureau of Indian Affairs who refused payments and gave goods out to white settlers instead. Once Minnesota became a state, Chief Little Crow took his grievances to Washington – in return, the United States took half of the land back from the Sioux and opened it up for white expansion.
Each year the situation got worse, until the summer of 1862 in which the Sioux were literally starving in these unlivable situations. This is referred to in history as the “Sioux Uprising.” They were “uprising” because you were starving them to death because of lies and broken promises.
One day a group went off the reservation hunting and stole some eggs from white settlers and eventually murdered them. The authorities in Minnesota then rounded up 303 Sioux, many of which were not involved in the uprising, and sentenced them to be hung to death. The Great Emancipator, President Abraham Lincoln issued the largest mass-killing in American history with the hanging of 38 Santee Sioux in Mankato, Minnesota. He reduced the number to 38 in fear that European nations may take the side of the South in the Civil War and exchange he promised Minnesota to kill or remove any Indians from Minnesota and pay $2 million in settlement – he only owed the Sioux$1.4 million for the land.
One year later, Congress expunged all Sioux treaties from the records, took back their reserved land and ordered the entire tribe to be expelled from Minnesota. As an incentive, a bounty of $25 was offered for the scalp of any Sioux found living in the state. In the same year, President Lincoln decided that Thanksgiving should be a Federal Holiday.
During this time, the Wild-Wild West included the likes of Custer going from camp-to-camp killing Indian women, men, and children for sport. They would burn, rape, and mutilate entire villages and were celebrated in the news as heroes. This includes his raid of the sleeping Cheyenne and their peace Chief Black Kettle, despite his previous surrender to the military and willingness to live on the reservations.
In 1890, on the Pine Ridge Reservation the Natives were practicing ghost dances, in which the military was called in and turned a peaceful dance into a massacre with another 300 dead at the hands of their conquerors.
“The people who are citizens of the U.S., these are your treaties. They aren’t just the Indians’ treaties. No one gave us anything. No one was dragging any land behind them when they came here. This was our land… As native American peoples in this red corner of Mother Earth, we have no reason to celebrate an invasion that caused the demise of so many of our people, and is still causing destruction today.” ~ Suzan Shown Harjo, the Morning Star Institute, a national Native American rights organization.
As the Sioux Wars ended, and it wasn’t as easy to deliberately kill the Indians, the Americans needed a new way to carry out genocide. They introduced the Boarding School System in 1890. This was United States Government policy that they could show up at your doorstep, take away your infants and toddlers and ship them to boarding schools hundreds of miles away. Your children were no longer yours.
At these schools they were banned to speak native languages, mocked their traditions and cultures, cut their hair, made them look American, as well as physically, emotionally, and sexually abused on a daily basis. Some children would never see their parents again. Or if they did, they had become different people.
It was a systematic eradicating of a race of people, they looked Indian but they were Americanizing them. Every Indian today is a product of this boarding school system. It peaked in the 1970s and carried into the 21st century.
In the 1950s, the United States then wanted to “re-civilize” the Indians and invited them to live back in the city. The problem is they had no money, education, or skills, and could not find work. Most of them ended up homeless or in jail.
There are volumes and volumes of dissertations written on this information listed above and it is difficult to condense it to less than a couple thousand words. (I encourage you to do you own research.) But in reading through the horrors, atrocities, genocide, and institutionalized racism enacted against the indigenous people, what is quite clear is that the label of ‘savages’ is on the wrong end.
Our society’s practice of “might is right”, consumerism, competition, separation and judgment is the opposite of how humans were designed to live. We were meant to live in harmony with each other and respect our fellow man. These ideas and values had already been in place for many years, but have been since removed by an advanced military society, but a primitive spiritual one.
“When your people came to our land, it was not with open arms, but with Bibles and guns and disease. You took our land. You killed us with your guns and disease, then had the arrogance to call us godless savages. If there is a Heaven and it is filled with Christians, than Hell is the place for me.”
Primitive spirituality and genocidal practices over the past four-hundred years have resulted in nearly 100 million deaths of indigenous people – making the Europeans the true primitive savages. Before the European invasion of the Americas, there were believed to be as many as 80-100 million native people occupying what is now the United States. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, only 5.2 million people in the U.S. identified as American Indian and Alaskan Native, either wholly or in part, and out of this total only 2.9 million people identified as solely American Indian or Alaska Native. At the time of European invasion, at least 300 different languages were spoken in addition to numerous “trade languages”. The natives of the Americas were not only “living lightly on the land”, as is so often claimed, but were engaged in landscaping, building and agriculture, trade and commerce, in addition to sustainable hunting and gathering, and of course, ancient cultural and earth-based spiritual practices — much of which has now been decimated.
When Christopher Columbus first landed in the Americas, ho entered an occupied land with force to subjugate and exterminate the civilizations that had existed for at least 30,000 years (some estimates are as high as 200,000 years), a trend that continued for several hundred years. And although he and the colonists that arrived in the years to follow have become icons of our national mythology, the result has been mass assimilation, raping, slaughtering, enslaving, and intention to wipe out all evidence of a native population of between 50 and 100 million indigenous people from the land — the greatest genocide in recorded history.
But, one day out of the year, we are able to give thanks and show gratitude as part of the traditional celebration to honor a bloody massacre.
About the Author
An avid historian, Irwin Ozborne (a pen-name) is a survivor of childhood abuse and torture over a period of 13 years, and a recovered alcoholic. As a mental health practitioner, today Irwin practices holistic care and incorporates eastern philosophy into his work with clients. He is available for speaking engagements as well, and can be contacted via email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Please visit www.takingthemaskoff.com.
Wes Annac, Contributor
Rastafari is a way of life that’s rooted in a few key concepts. One is that Haile Selassie, former emperor of Ethiopia, was and is an avatar of God or ‘Jah’. An avatar is basically God incarnate or a messenger of God, and Jesus is a popular example. Another common theme in Rastafari is rebellion against the persecution of lower class citizens by a corrupt ruling elite, commonly known by Rastas as Babylon.
Rastas praise Selassie and rebel against Babylon’s oppression (or ‘downpression’, as many of them call it), and they hope to one day witness Jah’s judgment, which they believe will bring about justice and signal the beginning of a new world.
Reggae pioneer Peter Tosh famously sang, “downpresser man, where you gonna run to? All along that day…” He was referencing judgement day, a day where Jah’s judgment of man finally brings justice.
But Rastas aren’t just waiting around for justice. They’re socially active, and many of them fight for the rights of suffering people all over the world. Rastas in the sixties and seventies were decidedly more active than the hippies in the west, and they weren’t as distracted by the ‘sex, drugs and rock n roll’ culture in which a lot of hippies were immersed.
A lot of Rastas do embrace music and herb (cannabis), both of which we’ll discuss later, but they never fell for the culturally engineered subversions that some hippies did in the seventies. They’re focused more on reclaiming their rights and being one with Jah, and they aren’t interested in the creature comforts that distract people from living a life of purpose.
Here, I’d like to share five things we can appreciate about Rastafari. It’s one of the most interesting and liberating religious movements out there, and it’s partially responsible for the widespread awakening taking place. Rasta music has definitely awakened and inspired me, and music will be our first topic.
1. Rastafari inspires conscious, uplifting music
Most Rastas musicians don’t take music lightly, and to them, it isn’t just something fun that can make people feel good. It is and it can, which is one reason they play it, but it has a more meaningful purpose. It’s a tool to raise awareness and fight corruption while uplifting people, and while Rastas aren’t the only activists who use music to achieve their goals, the majority of Rasta musicians use their art to wake people up.
Beyond the fact that they can use wealth and fame for humanitarian purposes, they aren’t concerned with anything vain or ego-centric. They can help those who are suffering if they have extra money to give, and they can raise the world’s awareness of issues that matter with a higher level of fame. It isn’t about feeding the ego, but about waking up a world of sleepy people.
They see music, writing and other forms of creativity as the perfect way to do this, and the moving, uplifting melodies that come with the socially and spiritually conscious lyrics inspire not only them, but people of various faiths and cultures.
2. Rastas are passionate about healthful eating
Most people probably don’t know that Rastas only eat healthy, natural foods that come organically from the earth. In their eyes, artificial food and food that’s grown with pesticides have been tainted by Babylon to create disease (from which our corrupt medical system profits), so they stay away from tainted food while letting the earth, and thus Jah, feed them.
Most Rastas also abstain from meat for obvious reasons, though some consume fish. Reggae legend and pioneer Bob Marley apparently drank fish tea, and his son Ziggy has mentioned in interviews that he eats fish. Beyond fish, Rastas abstain from meat, salt and other things most westerners probably couldn’t live without, and in their place is a variety of fruit, vegetables, nuts and grains (among other healthy things).
3. Rastafari and herb smoking
Arguably the most recognized aspect of Rastafari is the spiritual and ceremonial use of marijuana, which is often called ‘ganja’ or ‘herb’. Like music, Rasta’s don’t take ganja smoking lightly. It isn’t just an intoxicant to them – it’s something that connects them with Jah and gives them divine visions. The consume the herb for meditative purposes – sometimes by smoking it and sometimes by drinking it in tea – and it gives them strength, expands their consciousness and enhances their creativity.
People like Bob Marley might only be known for using cannabis, but they’ve also raised awareness, strived for social justice and genuinely tried to make the world a better place. They’ve been inspired by the herb to share their truth with the world, and their herb smoking is about a lot more than getting high. It has a purpose, and maybe it’s a coincidence that some of the most inspirational, innovative world changers frequently use(d) marijuana.
The Rastas seem to be doing something right, because they have all of the ingredients for a worldwide spiritual revolution. Society might change its stance on cannabis in time, but for now, its users who’ve discovered its true purpose will continue to be stereotyped and persecuted.
4. Rastas believe heaven is on earth
Unlike other spiritual communities, Rastas aren’t waiting to be taken to ‘heaven’ or a higher state of consciousness. They meditate so they can enhance their connection with Jah, but their version of the ‘end times’ doesn’t have as much to do with ascending into a heavenly higher dimension as other belief systems.
Their savior has already returned and passed on, and their salvation will come in the form of a repatriation to Africa. Africa is an important place for most Rastas, and they strive to see the day when Babylon can no longer stop them from returning there and living in harmony with each other, the land and their creator.
I appreciate this about Rastas, because it goes to show that we don’t have to renounce the material world to enjoy a higher state of consciousness. Heaven can be found right here on earth, and we just have to open our eyes to see that it’s been here all along. This world can be just as heavenly as a higher dimension, and it’s humbling to see that the earth has just as much to give.
5. Rastas live consciously and fight corruption
I’ve already detailed some of the ways Rastas live consciously and fight corruption, but the fact that their religion inspires them to do it at all is noteworthy. Sure, every spiritual movement or belief system comes with a certain lifestyle, but Rastafari encourages a progressive lifestyle that’s rooted in love and conscious living.
Rastafari and a conscious lifestyle go hand-in-hand, which is why most Rastas carry themselves with at least a small sense of righteousness. They know they’re living in a way that keeps them healthy and helps them grow, and they feel that it’s their responsibility (and everyone else’s) to expose and bring down the corruption in the world.
I’d imagine there aren’t too many Rastas who deviate from a conscious lifestyle, because it’s become their life. They’re dedicated (or rather, livicated) to treating their bodies right, fighting corruption and raising the world’s awareness, and they have their spirituality to thank for it. They don’t stray from the path, because they’re fully focused on their mission to bring the world into the light.
I also want to mention that Rastas like to change words around to make them more truthful and empowering. You probably noticed the couple examples I gave here, like ‘downpression’ (oppression) and ‘livicate’ (dedicate), and there are plenty more. They’ve also created some of their own phrases, such as the popular “I&I” (which could’ve been around in Jamaica before Rastas gained prominence).
This phrase is meant to communicate unity between peoples of every nation and culture, and it’s one more reason to appreciate Rasta culture.
Rastas are more interested in bringing people together than separating us based on our external differences, and their invention of unique phrases reflects this. You only need to listen to music that comes from Rastas to hear more examples, and again, the idea is to make the words more empowering and reflective of the truth.
The Rasta way of life has been persecuted and stereotyped since its inception, but Rastas have a lot of positive things to offer the world and I think we should hear them out instead of denouncing or rejecting them. We don’t have to believe their philosophy 100% to get something out of what they’re doing, and a Bob Marley record can seriously enlighten you if you have ears to hear what he’s saying.
The same can be said about almost any Rasta musician, and the Rasta community is one of the most active and aware out there. The world benefits greatly from the truth they put out there, and thanks to all the great pioneers who introduced Rastafari to the world, we don’t have to go very far to find this truth. It’s all around, being preached by millions of dedicated world-changers (some of whom are Rasta), and we can all take part in the fun.
About the Author
Wes Annac is the author of The Culture of Awareness. The Culture of Awareness features daily spiritual and alternative news, as well as original articles and more. Its purpose is to awaken and uplift by providing material that’s spiritually inspired and/or related to the fall of the planetary elite and our entrance into a positive future.
Wes can also be found on Facebook (Wes Annac and The Culture of Awareness) and Twitter.
Irwin Ozborne, Guest
“In 1492, the natives discovered they were Indians, discovered they lived in America, discovered they were naked, discovered that the Sin existed, discovered they owed allegiance to a King and Kingdom from another world and a God from another sky, and that this God had invented the guilty and the dress, and had sent to be burnt alive who worships the Sun the Moon the Earth and the Rain that wets it.” ~ Eduardo Galeano
A good friend of mine, a member of the Republic of Lakotah, had a meeting with her first grade son’s elementary school principal. Apparently, her six-year-old was being defiant in classroom. What were these defiant actions? Well, upon his teacher explaining Columbus Day and honoring the courageous and brave sailor who discovered this land in 1492, he had a couple of questions for the teacher. He wanted to know how it was possible that Christopher Columbus discovered a land in which his ancestors had lived for over 30,000 years, he wanted to know what happened to all the people who lived here in 1491, and he wanted to know why the man responsible for invading his native land and slaughtering his ancestors was being honored.
I would love to just be a fly on the wall of that meeting with the elementary school principal.
Christopher Columbus Did NOT Discover America
There, I said it. The first thing we are told about our nation in our early childhood is a complete fabrication of the truth. But, that is only the beginning of the secret atrocities that shaped the nation that we know today.
The Spanish Conquest of the Americas, preceded by its “discovery” by Christopher Columbus (or Cristóbal Colón as he was known by the Spanish Crown) resulted in mass assimilation, raping, slaughtering, enslaving, and intention to wipe out all evidence of a native population of between 50 and 100 million indigenous people from the land — the greatest genocide in recorded history. These well-documented atrocities include:
The American Holocaust
Thousand-mile death marches, concentration camps, forced assimilation, mass killings by starvation and the deliberate introduction of disease, the forced adoption of culture and ‘beliefs’… Does this all sounds familiar?
In John Toland’s book “Adolf Hitler: The Definitive Biography”, he comments on the Furor’s admiration of the American Genocide:
“Hitler’s concept of concentration camps as well as the practicality of genocide owed much, so he claimed, to his studies of English and United States history. He admired the camps for Boer prisoners in South Africa and for the Indians in the Wild West; and often praised to his inner circle the efficiency of America’s extermination — by starvation and uneven combat — of the red savages who could not be tamed by captivity.
“He was very interested in the way the Indian population had rapidly declined due to epidemics and starvation when the United States government forced them to live on the reservations. He thought the American government’s forced migrations of the Indians over great distances to barren reservation land was a deliberate policy of extermination. Just how much Hitler took from the American example of the destruction of the Indian nations is hard to say; however, frightening parallels can be drawn. For some time Hitler considered deporting the Jews to a large ‘reservation’ in the Lubin area where their numbers would be reduced through starvation and disease.”
However, that is a harsh reality to teach children in grade school, and not at all conducive to a sense of national patriotism. So, in the retelling of U.S. history, we soften it up a little… or change it altogether.
Discover, Invasion, or Conquer?
Discover is defined as finding something in the course of a search.
Invade is identified as an armed force or its commander entering a country/region so as to subjugate or occupy.
Conquer means to overcome and take control of a place or people by use of military force.
The word discover could be applied if something was actually found, but the problem is that Columbus’ so-called “discovery” had belonged to someone else for at least 30,000 years. For perspective, it has only been 2014 years since the “birth of Christ”. That means the first indigenous people first settled the Americas 27,986 years prior; whereas Europeans have only been here for 522 years.
The most interesting part about the definition of the word invade is the term “subjugate”, and the fact that Columbus used this exact word upon his first encounter with the Taino people of the north-east South American continent:
“They … brought us parrots and balls of cotton and spears and many other things, which they exchanged for the glass beads and hawks’ bells. They willingly traded everything they owned… . They were well-built, with good bodies and handsome features…. They do not bear arms, and do not know them, for I showed them a sword, they took it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance. They have no iron. Their spears are made of cane… . They would make fine servants…. With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.” ~ Christopher Columbus’s log
Interestingly enough the term subjugate is defined as “bringing under domination or control, especially by conquest”, while conquest is simply the act of conquering, which is interlocked with the definition of subjugate. By Columbus’ own words, it is therefore indisputable that the land and people of the North American continent were taken control of by military force. In fact, the exact term used in world history is “The Spanish Conquest.”
Despite the fact that numerous other nations already knew of the Americas, Columbus’ voyage may have initially been a “discovery” mission. But clearly, upon his first impression of the people of this land it quickly turned to an “invasion”. Following Columbus’ death, Hernán Cortés and Francisco Pizzaro continued the tasks of conquering the Americas.
Now, before you disregard this article as a wacky, conspiracist, anti-American post, please understand that this is more about seeking the other side of the story. It is about viewing the landing of Columbus’s ships on May 12, 1492 from the perspective of the occupants of that land – the Taino and Arawaks perspective.
“When your people came to our land, it was not with open arms, but with Bibles and guns and disease. You took our land. You killed us with your guns and disease, then had the arrogance to call us godless savages. If there is a Heaven and it is filled with Christians, than Hell is the place for me.”
Columbus’s Early Life
Born as Cristofor Colombo (Italian name; Spanish: Cristóbal Colón; Portuguese: Cristóvão Colombo; and American/English: Christopher Columbus) was born in Genoa, Italy, in 1451. He grew up working on ships and began sailing at age 10. After delivering goods to northern Europe in 1476, upon his return his ship was burnt by a group of French sailors and he swam to shore in Portugal. He remained in Portugal and started working for the Kingdom, which had the finest fleet in the world at this time.
During the middle ages, the kingdoms of Europe made their wealth by trading with Asia. But in 1453, the Turkish Empire cut off all land routes between Europe and Asia and the race to find a sea route to Asia soon began. Columbus sailed along the coasts of Africa, trading with the colonies and learning of the currents and wind patterns of the Atlantic. In 1487, another Portuguese sailor, Bartholomeu Dias made his way around the southern tip of Africa and located the eastern coast; giving strong belief to a quicker route to Asia by sea.
Columbus had already believed the world was smaller than that of the common-held belief of this time. Once Dias’ made this discovery, Columbus’s desire to sail west intensified as he had been seeking sponsorship for a trip across the Atlantic as early as 1484.
(Please note that nobody in the 15th century believed that the world was flat. This is an outright lie perpetrated by the American school system. The Greek philosopher Pythagoras first theorized that the earth was a sphere nearly 2,000 years before Columbus was born. Aristotle, 4th century B.C., added more proof to this theory by observing the motion of the stars. As historian Jeffrey Russel Burton once stated, “With extraordinary few exceptions, no educated person in the history of Western Civilization from the third century B.C. onward believed that the Earth was flat.” Except, of course, Christopher Columbus.)
Columbus was rejected funding by Portugal, twice by Italy, Spain, England, and France. However, upon the Spanish kingdom conquering Granada they were more willing to fund his voyage of three ships and 80 men. Struggling to find a crew, Queen Isabella released prisoners early to join the voyage along with other criminals, conquistadors and pig farmers. These men that did not fear dying at sea, as it was for more appealing than what life had in store for them in Spain. Following Spain’s capture of Granada, there were also some unemployed former-military men that were sent along on Columbus’s voyage.
So, in August of 1492, after eight years of trying to make a voyage around the world, Columbus set sail seeking the riches of Asia.
“Christopher Columbus introduced two phenomena that revolutionized race relations and transformed the modern world: the taking of land, wealth and labor from indigenous peoples, leading to their extermination, and the transatlantic slave trade, which created a racial underclass.” ~ American sociologist, historian, and author James W. Loewen, from the bookLies My Teacher Told Me.
The first voyage to the so-called “new world” was highly unsuccessful, despite the credit and admiration it has since received. After weeks at sea, with a disgruntled crew of men, Columbus gave an ultimatum to find land in the next two days or head back to Spain – dated October 10, 1492. As unfortunate fate would have it, two days later Rodrigo de Triana was the first to spot an island, which is the modern-day Dominican Republic, located between Haiti and Puerto Rico. However, with a large payout at stake, Columbus claimed that he actually spotted the light the night before – hence, claiming the lifetime pension from King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain.
Columbus claimed the land for Spain and renamed it San Salvador although it had been occupied for thousands of years by the Taino, Arawak, and Lucayans (all extremely hospitable peoples, per many written accounts). Early estimates believe there were up to three million indigenous people living in the Caribbean; whereas more recent studies believe that number to be closer to eight million.
As written in his journals upon his first encounter with the Taino:
“These people have no religious beliefs, nor are they idolaters. They are very gentle and do not know what evil is; nor do they kill others, nor steal; and they are without weapons.”
Columbus quickly captured a handful of Taino to help guide him to find gold, while putting many into forced labor and sent thousands back to Spain to be sold as slaves (although most of them died on the journey back across the Atlantic).
“As soon as I arrived in the Indies, in the first island which I found, I took some of the natives by force, in order that they might learn and might give me information of whatever there is in these parts. And so it was that they soon understood us, and we them, either by speech or by signs, and they have been very serviceable.”
Merry Christmas – 1492 Style
After a few weeks exploring around Cuba, Columbus made his way back toward Hispaniola (now the Dominican Republic). On Christmas Eve, the Santa Maria shipwrecked before making it to land. The Arawak Indians saw the men struggling and their chief ordered all his men – including the chief himself – to swim out to sea and help the settlers to safety.
The Arawak invited the settlers into their home. Columbus wrote of the kind hospitality of the Arawaks:
“They are artless and generous with what they have, to such a degree as no one would believe but him who had seen it. Of anything they have, if it be asked for, they never say no, but do rather invite the person to accept it, and show as much lovingness as though they would give their hearts.”
With not enough room on the two remaining ships, Columbus left 39 men behind to settle a fort in which he called La Navidad.
When Columbus returned to Spain, his stories of the new world impressed the King and Queen – mostly due to his large exaggerations of the amount of gold present in the Caribbean. The Spanish royalty granted him another voyage, but this time with 17 ships, 1200 men, plus livestock, and weapons.
Columbus consistently wrote about the kindness of the people that he encountered on his first voyage and shared this with the Kingdom of Spain:
“They are so naive and so free with their possessions that no one who has not witnessed them would believe it. When you ask for something they have, they never say no. To the contrary, they offer to share with anyone….”
“[The natives] brought us parrots and balls of cotton and spears and many other things… They willingly traded everything they owned… They were well-built, with good bodies and handsome features… They do not bear arms, and do not know them, for I showed them a sword, they took it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance. They have no iron. Their spears are made of cane… They would make fine servants… With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.”
On May 4, 1493, the beginning of the Spanish Conquest took place with the approval of Pope Alexander VI. The Pope stated that any land not inhabited by Christians was available to be “discovered”, claimed and exploited by Christian rulers. He declared that:
“… the Catholic faith and the Christian religion be exalted and be everywhere increased and spread, that the health of the souls be cared for and barbarous nations overthrown and brought to faith itself.”
Disregarding the sovereignty of non-Christian populations, this philosophy became known as the “Doctrine of Discovery” and became the basis for all European land claims in the Americas, and continued with the United States western expansion into the 1800’s. As a United States Supreme Court case in 1823 stated, “the principle of discovery gave European nations an absolute right to New World lands.” Essentially, this doctrine stated that the American Indians had no right to their land, and it was not until 1924 that “Native Americans” were allowed citizenship on the land “discovered” out from under them. (I use the term Native Americans to highlight the irony of not being granted citizenship to their native homeland until 450 years after the Europeans took their land and tried to wipe out their civilization.)
Following his first voyage, Pope Alexander VI granted the “new world” to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, claiming:
“We of our own motion, and not at your solicitation, do give, concede, and assign for ever to you and your successors, all the islands, and main lands, discovered; and which may hereafter, be discovered, towards the west and south; whether they be situated towards India, or towards any other part whatsoever, and give you absolute power in them.”
Later, as word of the mistreatment of the natives reached the Spanish Kingdom, Queen Isabella finally made a “stand”: she proclaimed that the Natives shall be given the opportunity convert to Catholicism before being forced into slavery. (Wasn’t that kind of her?!)
Sadly, claiming slaves of anyone non-Christian was not a new trade. Back in 1455 the Pope issued a statement allowing Portugal to enslave any and all non-Christians. Columbus himself got started in slave trading back in 1480’s as he sailed along the West coast of Africa, picking up slaves for the Portuguese kingdom. Then, on his third voyage, Columbus was the first to bring African slaves to the new world in the Dominican Republic (Hispaniola), claiming that “one African slave is equal to four Indians.”
By 1514, the Spanish Conquistadors carried with them an ultimatum entitled, “The Requirement,” in which the Indians were forced to accept “the Church as the Ruler and Superior of the whole world.” The Requirement warned the natives the consequences for non-compliance:
“We shall take you and your wives and your children, and shall make slaves of them, and as such shall sell and dispose of them as their Highnesses may command; and we shall take away your goods, and shall do all the harm and damage that we can.”
The King and Queen of Spain were eager to fund a second voyage following Columbus’s reports of his first trip to the so-called new world. In his largely exaggerated accounts, Columbus shared that:
“Hispaniola is a miracle. Mountains and hills, plains and pastures, are both fertile and beautiful… the harbors are unbelievably good and there are many wide rivers of which the majority contain gold… There are many spices, and great mines of gold and other metals…”
Columbus returned in 1493 to find the fort at La Navidad had burnt to the ground and all 39 men were killed. It was reported that these men apparently had “misbehaved”. Of course, by “misbehave” it is meant they raped the native women and children and tried to steal whatever they could get hands on, raising the ire of the native population. In hindsight, leaving 39 recently released criminals behind, with no rules and laws, this outcome should not have surprised Columbus. However the Spaniards retaliated and Columbus forced all natives age 14 or older to work in the mine fields daily, searching for gold. If they refused, they were killed. If they did not meet quotas each month, their hands and arms were amputated.
Many began committing suicide to avoid the tortures of the Spaniards, while others were buried alive for refusing to oblige to Columbus. The Taino were being killed by starvation, worked to death, disease, or murder. The women were given to the Spaniards to do as they chose.
Columbus wrote of the innocence of the Natives and his intent to sell them into the slave trade:
“Naked as the day they were born, they show no more embarrassment than animals… Let us in the name of the Holy Trinity go on sending all the slaves that can be sold.”
With not enough gold to return to Spain in triumph, Columbus rounded up the best one-thousand Taino he could find. He gave half to the Spanish colonists and took the other half to be sold to the slave trade in Spain. As 250 of the 500 died en route back to Spain, the conquistadors simply tossed their bodies overboard. With much disorder among the colonists at this time, Columbus left his brothers in charge of the islands as he returned to Spain.
Upon his return, the island was in more disarray than when he left. Columbus embarked on daily beatings, raping, feeding infants to wild animals, and progressing the sex trade of children. Columbus began selling girls as young as nine years old into the sex trade, as accounted in own his writings:
“A hundred castellanoes are as easily obtained for a woman as for a farm, and it is very general and there are plenty of dealers who go about looking for girls; those from nine to ten are now in demand.”
At the same time, a man named Bartolome De Las Casas was aboard the third voyage with Columbus and was the first to speak out about the crimes against humanity in the so-called new world. As word got back to Spain of Columbus’s crimes, the King and Queen had Columbus and his brothers arrested and shipped back to Spain.
While settling into Hispaniola in hopes of fortune in the new world, La Casas was a slave owner himself until 1509, after which he started speaking out against the crime. However, he still believed in converting non-Christians to Christianity — but in a peaceful, non-violent way. While this was applauded by the royalty of Spain, it was simply not followed by the Conquistadors. La Casas wrote of these atrocities:
“Endless testimonies… prove the mild and pacific temperament of the natives… But our work was to exasperate, ravage, kill, mangle and destroy… And the Christians, with their horses and swords and pikes began to carry out massacres and strange cruelties against them. They attacked the towns and spared neither the children nor the aged nor pregnant women nor women in childbed [childbirth], not only stabbing them and dismembering them but cutting them to pieces as if dealing with sheep in the slaughter house. They laid bets as to who, with one stroke of the sword, could split a man in two or could cut off his head or spill out his entrails with a single stroke of the pike. They took infants from their mothers’ breasts, snatching them by the legs and pitching them head first against the crags or snatched them by the arms and threw them into the rivers, roaring with laughter and saying as the babies fell into the water, “Boil there, you offspring of the devil!”
The Forgotten Legacy of Christopher Columbus
Columbus was arrested, shipped back to Spain and stripped of all his land and titles of “discoverer”. However, he did find a way to be released and allowed to explore once again – the promise of gold! He presented gold to the King and Queen – a bribe – and was not only pardoned for his crimes but allowed a fourth voyage.
Christopher Columbus passed away in 1506 always believing he had landed in Asia, with no knowledge that the Americas was an entirely different continent. During the ten years of his four voyages (1492-1502) the population of Taino decreased from an estimated 3 to 8 million inhabitants to less than 50,000. By the mid 1500’s that number was reduced to just 500 remaining Taino.
Before the European invasion of the Americas, there were believed to be as many as 80-100 million native people occupying what is now the United States. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, only 5.2 million people in the U.S. identified as American Indian and Alaskan Native, either wholly or in part, and out of this total only 2.9 million people identified as solely American Indian or Alaska Native. At the time of European invasion, at least 300 different languages were spoken in addition to numerous “trade languages”. The natives of the Americas were not only “living lightly on the land”, as is so often claimed, but were engaged in landscaping, building and agriculture, trade and commerce, in addition to sustainable hunting and gathering, and of course, ancient cultural and earth-based spiritual practices — much of which has now been decimated.
Christopher Columbus — a liar, thief, rapist, pedophile, savage, torturer, genocidal murder, brutal conqueror, and pioneer of slavery and sex trades — did not discover anything besides a beautiful, peaceful group of people who had lived sustainably on their land for millennia; who rescued him and welcomed him into their home. Implementing what can only be described as sociopathic imperialism, his thirst for wealth, greed and power wiped out generations of people within a decade. And for his “bravery”, we celebrate the day he invaded the land of the people that rescued him.
Columbus Day has been celebrated as federal holiday in the United States since 1971. Then, on 9th October 2002, President George W. Bush issued a presidential proclamation celebrating “Columbus’ bold expedition [and] pioneering achievements” and directing that “the flag of the United States be displayed on all public buildings on the appointed day in honor of Christopher Columbus.” Of course, noticeably missing from his recounting of history was any mention of invasion, violence, slavery, rape, religious persecution or genocide — a history that our nation proudly celebrates each Columbus Day.
“The people who are citizens of the U.S., these are your treaties. They aren’t just the Indians’ treaties. No one gave us anything. No one was dragging any land behind them when they came here. This was our land… As native American peoples in this red corner of Mother Earth, we have no reason to celebrate an invasion that caused the demise of so many of our people, and is still causing destruction today.” ~ Suzan Shown Harjo, the Morning Star Institute, a national Native American rights organization.
About the Author
An avid historian, Irwin Ozborne (a pen-name) is a survivor of childhood abuse and torture over a period of 13 years, and a recovered alcoholic. As a mental health practitioner, today Irwin practices holistic care and incorporates eastern philosophy into his work with clients. He is available for speaking engagements as well, and can be contacted via email: email@example.com. Please visit www.takingthemaskoff.com.
**Special thanks to Wakeup-World.**
Vic Bishop, Staff
In the age of self-promotion and hype-over-substance, it’s refreshing when someone with authenticity comes along and does something that sets an entirely new example for the rest of the herd.
Justin Wren is a 28 year-old mixed martial arts fighter who took five plus years from cage fighting to do something extraordinary, and became a real hero to the Pygmy people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo along the way.
Slavery is still very real in many parts of the world, even though we tend to think it has been largely abolished. In many areas it exists not as a government or institutional enterprise, but at the local level between different classes of people in a single society or community. In the Congo, it is sadly very common for members of the Pygmy population to live in servitude to other groups and be forced into grueling labor for less than subsistence level wages.
Justin went to the Congo and was shocked to discover that Pygmy Africans are considered animals and the personal property of other Africans and after falling in love with thse kind, gentle and loving people, he set about to free as many as he could. Being careful not to enrage any parties and risk confrontation, he took a different approach than fighting, instead negotiating the freedom of these people.
In order to strike a deal with the slave masters, he promised to provide the equipment and installation of dozens of fresh water wells, thus offering the most important and nearly priceless commodity there is: drinking water. Water is a huge source of disease and conflict in this region, so the slave owners were even willing to release slaves in exchange for new clean water wells.
Take a look at the documentation of his efforts as presented on Vimeo:
He’s now back in the states working on bringing publicity to his ongoing efforts to help the Pygmy people of the Congo with his charity organization, Fight For Freedom. He got back in the ring after five years and won against his opponent Josh Burns, and has raised more than his fundraising goal for a kickstarter drive.
Justin was also a recent guest on the Joe Rogan Experience, where he goes into detail about his journeys in Africa and how his life has come full circle after abusing drugs, fighting depression, and then finding redemption by helping others.
The world needs a new kind of hero, a new role model, if you will. Major league sports is utterly scandalous, and the image of the hero soldier has been tarnished by endless pointless war.
Why should slavery exist any longer in today’s world? What would this world look like if we re-thought what it means to be a hero?
Justin Wren definitely has the warrior spirit and knows how to put it to proper use in a world that needs new kinds of heroes. What do you think?
About the Author
Vic Bishop is a staff writer for Waking Times.
This article (Real Hero – MMA Fighter Brings Fresh Water & Freedom to African Slaves) was originally created and published by Waking Times and is published here under a Creative Commonslicense with attribution to Vic Bishop and WakingTimes.com. It may be re-posted freely with proper attribution, author bio, and this copyright statement. Please contact WakingTimes@gmail.com for more info.
Christina Sarich, Contributor
Did you know that NASA recently brought together scientists, philosophers and theologians from all over the planet to prepare the world for extraterrestrial contact?? You can read more about that here.
India’s greatest writings, the Vedas, talk about ‘flying ships’ or UFOs that visited the continent likely more than 6000 years ago.
NASA Chief Scientist Ellen Stofan recently said:
“I think we’re going to have strong indications of life beyond Earth within a decade . . .I think we’re going to have definitive evidence within 20-30 years.”
It isn’t going to take that long. UFOs have already been visiting us for centuries.
Stofan goes on to say:
“We’re on the verge of things that people have wondered about for millennia. Within all of our lifetimes we’re going to understand that there is life on other bodies in the solar system. We’re going to understand the implications of that for life here on Earth.”
The truth is – people haven’t just wondered. They’ve known. Visitations by other-worldly beings have been happening through many cultures around the world, possibly for eons, and this is ‘disclosed’ in numerous ancient documents.
When the military industrial complex, or, NASA, as a small part of the cabal strong arm ‘discloses’ that ‘we’re going to have definitive evidence within decades’ it’s a ruse. Even JFK’s murder, and the silencing of thousands of whistleblowers is less astounding when you consider how long many human beings have been aware of the existence of UFOs and extraterrestrial beings. While the efforts to hide this fact from modern humanity have been circumspect in the least, this news has very much been out in the open for those willing to look.
Only in very recent times have human beings questioned whether or not we were joined by other life forms in this universe. There is good reason for this.
The Vedas illustrated two main categories for UFOs. They are described in Sanskrit, using terms that are normally reserved to describe architecture, automata, military siege engines, and other mechanical contrivances, or in more recent works, such as the Mahabharata, the Puranas, and the Ramayana, there are more descriptions. One book called the Vaimanika Shastra (The Science of Aeronautics) is said to have been downloaded while a yogic sage was deep in trance, and it supposedly contains much knowledge from the Akashic records. Some of these texts infer that these crafts were controlled with our minds – essentially utilizing advanced technology which has been withheld from the masses in modern times.
Levitation and anti-gravity could have been utilized for centuries. Boeing, the world’s largest aircraft carrier manufacturer, recently declared that they were ‘working on’ anti-gravity and that it would ‘alter the entire aerospace industry,’ but they aren’t working on anything new.
Many believe that the Vedas speak of not only off-planet “flying ships” but also human-created craft.
Dr. V. Raghavan, a respected Sanskrit scholar of the University of Madras points to the ancient documents of India to prove that off-planet humans, and aliens alike visited the earth.
“Fifty years of researching this ancient work convinces me that there are living being s on other planets, and that they were visiting the earth as far back as 4000 B.C..”
He goes on to explain:
“There is a just a mass of fascinating information about flying machines, even fantastic science fiction weapons, that can be found in translations of the Vedas (scriptures), Indian epics, and other ancient Sanskrit text”.
The scholar explains different types of technologies that appear in the Mahabrahata, and theRamayanas. Everything from ‘divine light’ to ray weapons, and even some kind of ‘hypnotic weapon’ is described.
When Boeing admits that they are working on anti-gravitation propulsion, “that will change the future of aerospace aviation as we know it,” and Eugene Podkletnov’s gravity beam is said to be able to “punch through brick and warp metal like a sledgehammer,” it becomes clear that some very powerful technologies have been suppressed.
Likely, beings that visited our planet over millennia shared at least some of their advanced technologies with humans.
Though some of these technologies can be used to wage war, some can be used to support life, and in our case, clean up a distressed planet. As Collective Evolution previously reported, multiple scientists have already confirmed that free energy exists.
As the Orion Project explains, “the U.S. Patent Office has a nine-member committee that screens patents in order to protect “national security.” This means that possibly tens of thousands of advanced devices and technologies exist right now.
When disclosure occurs – again – we will learn of technologies hidden in over 4000 ‘unnumbered’ patentsthat the US government keeps hidden, and likely even more than this.
For thousands of years, we’ve been kept in the dark, but this is all about to change – possibly as soon as September.
About the Author
Christina Sarich is a writer, musician, yogi, and humanitarian with an expansive repertoire. Her thousands of articles can be found all over the Internet, and her insights also appear in magazines as diverse as Weston A. Price, Nexus, Atlantis Rising, and the Cuyamungue Institute, among others. She was recently a featured author in the Journal, “Wise Traditions in Food, Farming, and Healing Arts,” and her commentary on healing, ascension, and human potential inform a large body of the alternative news lexicon. She has been invited to appear on numerous radio shows, including Health Conspiracy Radio, Dr. Gregory Smith’s Show, and dozens more. The second edition of her book, Pharma Sutra, is now available at her website: YogafortheNewWorld.com.
**This article was originally featured at Collective-Evolution.**
Video – This must watch video by Matthew Cooke entitled, Race Baiting 101, might very well be the most relevant presentation of some of the most complex issues we are facing right now. Beginning with the history of the white slave trade, then into the African slave trade, this epic monologue brings history into modern context to further the discussion about racism, slavery, class warfare, poverty, privelege and more.
This is a must watch, and a must share.
IT’S HERE – THE NEW, EXPLOSIVE BOOK THAT RE-IMAGINES AFRICA’S GLORY!
‘Children of Saba’ is the first in an exciting 3-part series of novels – an epic tale of power, honour, glory, majesty, adventure, filled with the proverbs and wisdom of our African forefathers. ‘Children of Saba’ is now available on AMAZON.COM. CLICK HERE TO BUY THE BOOK. Read it! Rate it! Share it! Love it!
Now onto those proverbs!
Wisdom is wealth! One thing I respect deeply about Africa is the treasure of wisdom our ancestors have handed down to us. While some of our leaders may have forgotten them, the rest of us don’t need to. From prudent sayings on wisdom itself, to judicious encouragements, warnings and even quirky advice on learning, patience, unity, wealth, poverty, community, family, love and marriage, these quotes will inspire you to be the best you can possibly be.
When you follow in the path of your father, you learn to walk like him. ~Ashanti Proverb
Photography by Eric Lafforgue – http://www.ericlafforgue.com
African Quotes on Wisdom
African Quotes on Learning
African proverbs on Peace and Leadership
African Quotes on Unity and Community
African Quotes on Family
African Proverbs on Friendship
African Proverbs on Money, Wealth, Riches and Poverty
African Proverbs on Beauty
African Love and Marriage Quotes
African Quotes on Patience
African Quotes on Food
Photographer James C. Lewis went out on a creative limb to re-imagine ancient African Yoruba dieties- the Orisha, using striking models, expert photography, and inventive photo editing techniques. While the true essence of the Orisha is likely poorly understood by most people in the modern world in comparison to their ancient and rich roots in African culture, Lewis creates a stunning visual world that is sure to spark the imagination.
As a culture we are quite use to the artistic treatment of religious, spiritual, and mythical entities from Greek ancestral lore, various world religions, and other cultural heroes, yet rarely is the fascinating world of the Orisha the topic of discussion. These images are gorgeous, shocking, and of course an artists interpretation, but hopefully they get your wheels turning in regards to the power, complexity, and richness of Yoruba spiritual symbology and life:
When asked to express where his inspiration for this photo project arose from, Lewis had this to say,
"Throughout my formal education from elementary up through college I never heard tale of African deities. A little over a month ago I began to research online to find information in regards to the gods & goddesses of Africa. To my surprise there were many, however the ones that stood out the most were the deities of Nigeria and Benin, West Africa which they referred to as Orishas.
I wanted to portray the regal beauty of each Orisha while also representing their majestic sensuality. Each iconic depiction was rendered to lend strength to our resilience as a great race of people and to show our youth that they are beautiful, bold and brilliant just they way God created them to be. […] each Orisha’s name is written in the Yoruba dialect and captures imagery of powerful men, women & children of various complexions who are all of African descent."
Sources: All Images Property of James C. Lewis
By Liam O'Ceallaigh / walkingbutterfly.com
Take a look at this picture. Do you know who it is?
Most people haven’t heard of him.
But you should have. When you see his face or hear his name you should get as sick in your stomach as when you read about Mussolini or Hitler or see one of their pictures. You see, he killed over 10 million people in the Congo.
His name is King Leopold II of Belgium.
He “owned” the Congo during his reign as the constitutional monarch of Belgium. After several failed colonial attempts in Asia and Africa, he settled on the Congo. He “bought” it and enslaved its people, turning the entire country into his own personal slave plantation. He disguised his business transactions as “philanthropic” and “scientific” efforts under the banner of the International African Society. He used their enslaved labor to extract Congolese resources and services. His reign was enforced through work camps, body mutilations, executions, torture, and his private army.
Most of us – I don’t yet know an approximate percentage but I fear its extremely high – aren’t taught about him in school. We don’t hear about him in the media. He’s not part of the widely repeated narrative of oppression (which includes things like the Holocaust during World War II). He’s part of a long history of colonialism, imperialism, slavery and genocide in Africa that would clash with the social construction of the white supremacist narrative in our schools. It doesn’t fit neatly into a capitalist curriculum. Making overtly racist remarks is (sometimes) frowned upon in polite society, but it’s quite fine not to talk about genocides in Africa perpetrated by European capitalist monarchs.
Mark Twain wrote a satire about Leopold called “King Leopold’s soliloquy; a defense of his Congo rule“, where he mocked the King’s defense of his reign of terror, largely through Leopold’s own words. It’s 49 pages long. Mark Twain is a popular author for American public schools. But like most political authors, we will often read some of their least political writings or read them without learning why the author wrote them (Orwell’s Animal Farm for example serves to re-inforce American anti-Socialist propaganda, but Orwell was an anti-capitalist revolutionary of a different kind – this is never pointed out). We can read about Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer, but King Leopold’s Soliloquy isn’t on the reading list. This isn’t by accident. Reading lists are created by boards of education in order to prepare students to follow orders and endure boredom well. From the point of view of the Education Department, Africans have no history.
When we learn about Africa, we learn about a caricaturized Egypt, about the HIV epidemic (but never its causes), about the surface level effects of the slave trade, and maybe about South African Apartheid (which of course now is long, long over). We also see lots of pictures of starving children on Christian Ministry commercials, we see safaris on animal shows, and we see pictures of deserts in films and movies. But we don’t learn about the Great African War or Leopold’s Reign of Terror during the Congolese Genocide. Nor do we learn about what the United States has done in Iraq and Afghanistan, potentially killing in upwards of 5-7 million people from bombs, sanctions, disease and starvation. Body counts are important. And we don’t count Afghans, Iraqis, or Congolese.
There’s a Wikipedia page called “Genocides in History”. The Congolese Genocide isn’t included. The Congo is mentioned though. What’s now called the Democratic Republic of the Congo is listed in reference to the Second Congo War (also called Africa’s World War and the Great War of Africa), where both sides of the multinational conflict hunted down Bambenga and ate them. Cannibalism and slavery are horrendous evils which must be entered into history and talked about for sure, but I couldn’t help thinking whose interests were served when the only mention of the Congo on the page was in reference to multi-national incidents where a tiny minority of people were eating each other (completely devoid of the conditions which created the conflict no less). Stories which support the white supremacist narrative about the subhumanness of people in Africa are allowed to be entered into the records of history. The white guy who turned the Congo into his own personal part-plantation, part-concentration camp, part-Christian ministry and killed 10 to 15 million Conglese people in the process doesn’t make the cut.
You see, when you kill ten million Africans, you aren’t called ‘Hitler’. That is, your name doesn’t come to symbolize the living incarnation of evil. Your name and your picture don’t produce fear, hatred, and sorrow. Your victims aren’t talked about and your name isn’t remembered.
Leopold was just one part of thousands of things that helped construct white supremacy as both an ideological narrative and material reality. Of course I don’t want to pretend that in the Congo he was the source of all evil. He had generals, and foot soldiers, and managers who did his bidding and enforced his laws. It was a system. But that doesn’t negate the need to talk about the individuals who are symbolic of the system. But we don’t even get that. And since it isn’t talked about, what capitalism did to Africa, all the privileges that rich white people gained from the Congolese genocide are hidden. The victims of imperialism are made, like they usually are, invisible.
Originally Posted Here
In part 1 of this in depth interview. Tariq Nasheed discusses creating Hidden Colors, Group Economics, America's Prison System, Police Brutality and More with B High of Hot 1079.
Original Article at Melanoid Nation
In recent years, there has been very insightful and in-depth analysis among the brightest minds of Black Society involving the legend which has now become ‘Black Wall Street’. The dialogues now include yet another element to them that has sparked the interests of countless Melanoid people throughout the U.S., and beyond: Where should the next “Black Wall Street” be?
If there has been one question alone that has created a conversational wildfire in Black Society, it’s the question of where “Black Wall Street” should make its new home. Should the new “Black Wall Street” take residence in Atlanta, with its Black mayor, countless Black millionaires, entrepreneurs, and its recently-created reputation of “Black Hollywood“? Should it be rooted in Chicago, the midwestern City that was founded by a Black man, and the same city where the Nation Of Islam is based? What about Detroit, the largest city in Michigan with a majority Black population that once served as an incubator to some of the greatest music ever created (by Melanoid people nonetheless) by the Brothers and Sisters at Motown?
All of the previous questions are not only great questions to ask and consider, but they also happen to all be the correct answers. The answer is that all of the cities mentioned above–in addition to any other city of Melanoid people willing to create their own Black economic base–should have a new “Black Wall Street“. With the militaristic attacks executed by the hands of white supremacists during the early 20th century to destroy the original “Black Wall Street” in Tulsa, OK, it’s a safe assumption to acknowledge that building new “Black Wall STREETS” in as many cities inhabited by Melanoid people as possible is the best option at this point..
The following video clip is a trailer to an upcoming film which shows the importance of building multiple “Black Wall Street” districts to avoid being easily isolated for destruction at the hands of white supremacists once again.
Excerpt from The Science of The Dogon, by Laird Scranton
The information presented in the preceding chapters demonstrates a direct relationship between the symbols and themes of the Dogon creation story and known scientific facts relating to the formation of the universe, matter, and biological reproduction. This relationship is a broad and specific one that is couched in clear definitions and supported by priestly interpretations and cosmological drawings. The parallels between Dogon myth and science run deep.
The Dogon concepts touch on virtually every salient point of the related science and do so in organized and sensible ways. Moreover, the extended parallels between myth and science sustain themselves through complex discussions of the formative processes of the universe and the conception of life.
Correlations between the Dogon myths and science begin with explicit statements by the Dogon priests, which establish that the esoteric tradition of the Dogon is specifically understood to describe the underlying processes by which matter and life were formed. Details of these processes then play out in parallel with modern scientific theory, matching the components and component processes of myth with those of science. This kind of direct correlation with known facts taken in any context other than that of ancient myth would surely be accepted as a positive statement of real knowledge.
It should be emphasized that the scientific interpretations we place on various Dogon cosmological symbols are not arbitrary ones. Rather, they are driven by and are consistent with the ways in which the Dogon elders understand and define their own symbols. These interpretations are aided by the definition of cosmological keywords such as po, sene, bummo, yala, tonu, and toymu - and by symbolic keywords such as "Water," "Fire," "Wind," and "Earth." Such words seem to transcend boundaries of culture, and their likely counterparts in the Egyptian hieroglyphic language often confirm the scientific sense of meaning assigned to the words by the Dogon. In the purest cases, these relationships between words are supported by common multiple meanings or by common related symbols-often by the Egyptian glyphs used to write the words, whose shapes match related Dogon cosmological drawings.
The coherence of Dogon cosmology is upheld by a sensible, well-defined system of symbolic storylines whose themes directly mirror the best modern scientific theories of how the universe and matter might have actually come to exist.The myths express themselves clearly and succinctly, so much so that the statements of the Dogon priests, are often most easily understood in direct comparison with comparable statements from popular modern interpreters of science - authors of the caliber of Stephen Hawking, Brian Greene, and Richard Feynman. Our understanding of these statements by Dogon priests is guided and supported by important cosmological drawings that often appear in a similar context and take the same form as related scientific diagrams.
The Dogon symbols and concepts relating to atomic structure so thoroughly mimic their scientific counterparts that, if our purpose was to refute their basis in science, we would first need to explain in some believable way the following extraordinary similarities:
• The po, which is defined in terms similar to those that describe the atom
• Sene seeds, which are described in form and behavior as being similar to protons, neutrons, and electrons and whose "nesting" is recognizable as an electron orbit
• The germination of the sene, whose drawn images are a match for the four types of quantum spin particles
• The spider of the sene whose threads weave the 266 seeds of Amma, much as string theory tells us all matter is woven from strings
• The basic creative impulse of the gods, from whom all of these particles emerged, which is stated in terms that run parallel to the concept of the four basic quantum forces
In many previous examples, this study has demonstrated a consistent relationship between symbols and concepts of the Dogon people and modern science. These examples show, among other things, that the Dogon myths clearly describe:
• The correct attributes of the unformed universe
• That all matter was created by the opening of the universe
• That spiraling galaxies of stars were formed when the universe opened
• That this same event was responsible for the creation of light and time
• The complex relationship between light and time
• That matter can behave like a particle or as a wave
• That sound travels in waves
• That matter is composed of fundamental components
• The correct counts of the elements within each component category of matter
• That the most basic component of matter is a thread
• That this fundamental thread vibrates
• That under some conditions threads can form membranes
• That threads give rise to the four fundamental quantum forces
• The correct attributes of these quantum forces
• The correct attributes of the four types of quantum spin particles
• The concept of the uncertainty principle
• That atoms are formed from smaller particles
• That electrons orbit atoms
• That component particles other than electrons make up the nucleus of an atom
• The correct shape of an electron orbit
• That electrons of one atom can be "stolen" by other atoms to form molecular bond
• That light is emitted by changes in the energy level of an electron
• The correct electron structures of water and of copper
• That hydrogen atoms form pairs
• That sunlight is the result of the fusion of hydrogen atoms
• That water goes through phase transitions
• That the emergence of matter in the universe is related to phase transitions
• The correct steps in the natural water cycle
• That the first single cell emerged spontaneously from water
• That cells reproduce by mitosis to form two twin cells
• The correct sequence of events during sexual reproduction and growth of an embryo
• That female and male contributions are required for sexual reproduction
• That children inherit genetic characteristics from each parent
• That there are 22 chromosome pairs
• That sex is determined by the X and Y chromosomes
• That chromosomes move apart and spindles form during mitosis
• The correct shapes and attributes of chromosomes and spindles
• That sexual reproduction starts with the formation of germ cells
• That germ cells reproduce by a process unique to themselves
• That eggs live longer than other cells
• The correct configuration and attributes of DNA
Given the tribal nature of Dogon society, we might be inclined-as was Carl Sagan-to ascribe any apparent Dogon scientific knowledge to recent contacts with modern cultures. However, upon closer examination, we see that this point of view simply does not hold water. The Dogon cosmological system conveys scientific meaning through a complex system of mythological themes, symbols, storylines, and words.
Time and again, we have shown that these same symbolic elements existed in similar form among the 5,000-year-old mythologies of early cultures from widely separated regions of the earth. The suggestion that this science was conveyed to the Dogon through modern contacts does not adequately explain the presence of these same well-known symbols in ancient myths. The Dogon also profess knowledge of a number of scientific facts that were not known, and others that were not even proposed, by modern science when they were documented by Griaule and Dieterlen in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s. These statements of apparent fact also serve to undermine any suggestion that the Dogon could have derived their knowledge from contact with modern sources.
It is important to note that Dogon society carries with it ample signs of an ancient lineage. This can be readily seen in the cultural and linguistic similarities between the Dogon and the people of ancient Egypt, which would be expected of two closely related cultures. The concurrence of these same cultural features among the Amazigh, whose culture is known to date from the earliest days of ancient Egypt, argues in favor of a long history for the Dogon. The Dogon people also observe more than a fair share of rituals and traditions typically associated with ancient Egypt and other elder societies, such as the cultural imperative to build aligned structures, the use of a 360-day calendar, and so on. Other likely relationships to ancient Egypt can be seen in Dogon agricultural practices, in their societal reverence for ancestors, in their peculiarly Egyptian-like civic organization, and in details of their astronomical knowledge.
Other aspects of Dogon cosmology argue for an early relationship between the Dogon and ancient Egyptian mythological systems. For instance, the Dogon tradition of eight ancestors seems to bear a relationship to the Egyptian Ogdoad, and yet the Dogon do not assign actual god or goddess names to these ancestors.
Likewise, there seems to be a relationship between Dogon cosmological drawings and the shapes of various Egyptian glyphs, yet among the Dogon, these drawings have never taken on the status of an actual written language. Dada, the Dogon spider who weaves matter and whose name means "mother" in the Dogon language, exhibits many of the classical attributes of the Egyptian (and Amazigh) goddess Neith.
In fact, other ancient goddesses, like Athena, who are traditionally associated with Neith also are associated with spider symbolism similar to that found in Degon cosmology. Such consistencies suggest that the Dogon system of myth could represent an early incarnation of the Egyptian myths.
The clear implication of the Dogon myths and their apparent relationship to science is that, at some point prior to 3400 BC, mankind was the beneficiary of deliberate civilizing instruction presented (if the Dogon account is to be believed) by careful, well-meaning, knowledge-able teachers. Such instruction could account for the apparently sudden rise of Egyptian civilization from the backdrop of earlier hunter tribes. It could also account for the numerous cultural histories of ancestor-teacher-gods found around the world. The myths, symbols, traditions, symbolic languages, and shrines of ancient cultures-the mnemonic devices by which this instruction was seemingly transmitted and sustained-are the apparent evidence of this instruction, and the serpent - an Egyptian symbol for "the Word"- is the teacher's signature icon.
If the impulse to associate the various ancient world mythologies with a single planned mythological system is driven by apparent similarities between myths of ancient societies, then the confirmation of such a relationship lies in what-to all logical modes of thought-should be their apparent differences, had they actually arisen independently of each other. For example, it is clear that the mere impulse on the part of an ancient society to build a structure that was aligned with the stars would not logically dictate (Jung notwithstanding) a mythology that expresses itself in terms of archetypical symbols such as water, fire, wind, and earth. Nor is there compelling reason for that same culture to adopt a belief that the civilizing skills of humanity, were imparted to them by ancestral teachers. Likewise, there would be no automatic reason for such a culture to assert that written language was a gift from these same teachers. To my way of thinking, one critical omission on the part of most researchers of ancient myth has been to ignore these unexplained similarities, which seem to coexist among widely divergent societies but without compelling reason. These unreasoned connections function like fingerprints found at a crime scene. Often, they are what enable us to positively align parallel ancient mythologies. In my view, these kinds of connections, perhaps along with undiscovered relationships of ancient language, are the likely foundation upon which to build future arguments in favor of a global ancient system of instructional myth.
Dr. Rita Louise, Guest
Why Did Our Ancestors Inter This Ancient Massive Architectural Wonder?
Located at the highest point of the Germus range in the southeastern Anatolia region of Turkey is the mysterious site of Göbekli Tepe. Excavations at Göbekli Tepe commenced in 1995 after German archaeologist Klaus Schmidt realized what was thought to be a Byzantine cemetery was actually a prehistoric site. Schmidt quickly unearthed a number of T-shaped pillars, which set the archeological world ablaze. It was not only the discovery of this ancient massive and magnificent location but also what researchers determined to be the period of its construction. Samples taken placed the earliest parts of the edifice during the Pre-Pottery Neolithic A Period some 12,000 years ago.
Excavations and geomagnetic results of this mountain top complex have revealed at least 20 circular structures. The enclosures all appear to have similar design elements. In the center of each circle stand two monumental t-shaped pillars. They are surrounded by a series of smaller t-shaped limestone pillars that radiate out from the center of each circular chamber and stand against or near a low retaining wall, made up of unworked hewn stones. The pillars vary in height from 3 to 6 meters and weigh between 40 to 60 tons. Many of them are decorated with pictograms and carvings of animals including lions, bulls, boars, foxes, gazelles, donkeys, snakes, insects, and birds. Included among these carvings are several in which anthropomorphic human figures are depicted. The floors of these enclosures are terrazzo, a mixture of burnt lime and clay that is polished.
The discovery of Göbekli Tepe perplexed archaeologists. How could a group of hunter/gatherers construct such a complex monument? Smaller structures that demonstrated an advancing progression toward this overwhelming achievement are absent from the archeological record. What also confounds them is the realization that the most complex, ornate portions of this unique site are the oldest. Sections that date to later periods of construction show a significant deterioration to the quality of design and artisanship when compared to earlier portions.
Investigations into Göbekli Tepe have primarily focused on why the complex was initially constructed. Was it a ritualistic center? An astronomical observatory? Or something more? They yearn to explain how our ancestors were able to accomplish such a grandiose feat of architecture and engineering. They seek to reveal the secrets held in the mysterious carving found on the upright pillars. The answers, like all that has been found at this unique location, have been obscure.
The riddle that surrounds Göbekli Tepe does not end there. Around 8,000 BCE Göbekli Tepe was intentionally buried. Why would our forefathers, after creating such an elaborate complex, decide to backfill it? The reason eludes investigators. Some believe it was covered to preserve it for future generations. Others contend that an outside group with a different belief system invaded the region. This new group hid the site to facilitate the purging of old religious beliefs.
These conjectures may explain why the twenty-two acres that make up the complex were hidden under a mixture of stone tools, animal bones and flint gravel. To unravel why the entire construction was entombed it is important to understand the hearts and minds of our ancestors. What was the world like for our forbearers? What did they hold true? What did they believe in, fear or revere? A concept that was pervasive in antiquity that easily explains why Göbekli Tepe was covered up was because the entire complex may have been considered “taboo”.
Taboo (tabu/tapu) is a Polynesian word that is associated with a person, place or thing that is prohibited or banned. Something can be considered too sacred or too accursed that it is excluded, separated or forbidden. The consequence of interacting with a forbidden item is the threat of supernatural punishment.
The concept of items being prohibited is not limited to Polynesia. The banning of an item in ancient and indigenous cultures is universal. It is only in our current society that the implication of the word taboo has changed. The deeply held belief in divine intervention and retribution often associated with something illicit has been abandoned. We use the word taboo in contemporary vernacular to identify something that is deemed improper, unacceptable or objectionable by society in general. Other than social scorn, the penalties previously tied to something forbidden are no longer applied.
Many things in today’s social climate are seen as being aberrant and are deemed taboo. Worldwide there are rules that prohibit sexual intercourse (incest) between different degrees of kinship. Cannibalism, or the practice of consuming human flesh, still is considered sacrilegious. The same holds true for necrophilia, the sleeping or having sexual relations with a dead person. It has only been in very recent times that our view towards inter-racial, inter-religious or homosexual unions has changed, moving them from being taboo to having varied levels of social acceptability.
Ancient taboos have survived into modern times in many cultures. They are prevalent in Judaism where a large number of prohibitions are still observed by conservative Jews. The consumption of animals that have cloven hooves and chews its cud is permitted in this religious tradition. Camels, rabbit and pork, none of which have both of these qualities, are forbidden. Shellfish, such as lobsters, oysters, shrimp, clams and crabs are all prohibited. Any product that is derived from these forbidden animals, such as their milk, eggs, fat, or organs also cannot be eaten. The Torah bans the consumption of blood. It also forbids eating meat and dairy together.
These prohibitions also extend to the pots, pans, plates and utensils used to cook and eat the food. If a pot or pan, for example, is used to cook meat and then later used to heat milk, it is believed that meat and milk have just been mixed (basar bechalav) and the forbidden status has now been transmitted to the pan, taking away its proper, “kosher” status. The pan is now taboo.
A vast number of things were universally prohibited in antiquity and included touching or coming in contact with a corpse. This rendered the mourners and anyone else involved with the passing of an individual impure. The house the deceased live in, in some cultures, was torn down, burned with all of his or her possessions inside or deserted, never to be used again. Menstruating woman were perceived as being unclean and contact with them was forbidden. Women, during their cycle, were quarantined to prevent contaminating other members of society. To mitigate exposure, huts or tents were erected on the edge of the village and women during this period were required to spend their time in them. Touching a woman during this interval, an item she touched, sat or laid upon would contaminate the other person.
Taboos ruled the lives of our predecessors. Their belief in their power was commanding. There was a mysterious and dangerous quality to them. A person who was exposed to something that was prohibited was perceived as being infected. The infection they carried was communicable and life threatening. The taboo, like a rampant virus, would infect anyone the contagious individual encountered. Instead of worrying about the aches and pains of a physical malady, they dreaded the retribution of the gods for transgressing a divine command. Stories have emerged of individuals getting sick and dying after being infected by this powerful charm. These stories, like fairy tales, further supported the power taboos held over a community.
Once something was deemed improper or unclean it was only by means of cleansing and ritual purification that its taboo status could be lifted. The use of water as a vehicle of purification is consistent in most cultures. The act of washing, whether water is sprinkled on the body, the hands and face are washed or the entire body is immersed, seems widespread in eliminating ones unclean or improper status. Fasting, praying, animal sacrifices and smudging were also methods employed to remove specific taboos.
Not everything that was “unclean” was considered taboo. Things that were holy fell into this category, rendering persons, places or things prohibited as well. It is easy to imagine the perceived toxicity of something that is conceived of as being unclean. It is hard for us to envision how contact with something that is holy would produce the same result. Sacred items in antiquity were believed to belong to the gods and were forbidden to man. They were to be avoided, kept away from and not touched. They were only accessible to a select few. These ordained individuals fasted and purified themselves prior to contact with the divine.
Hallowed items followed the same rules as unclean ones. Blood, with the exception of menstrual blood, was inherently viewed as being sacred. It was the essence of life. This included human blood as well as animal blood. It was not to be touched and as we learn from Jewish tradition consumed. Anything that blood fell upon was rendered taboo making it unusable for common purposes.
This prohibition extended to the individual who shed the blood. Priests and holy men who performed ritual sacrifice were uniquely qualified to interact with this holy liquid. Animals were not hunted, caught and killed in the irreverent way they are today. Rituals were performed before the hunt began as well as when the animals were slaughtered and butchered. There was a deep respect for the animal and its role in their lives. The gods were thanked after a successful hunt and the spirit of the animal praised for being willing to participate in their success.
Certain animals (totem animals) were especially revered because they were associated with a god or the presence of a god. They were not to be killed unless it was part of a ritual sacrifice. The Hindu text the Manu smṛti, or Laws of Manu, describes what foods were deemed lawful and those that were forbidden in Indian culture. Eating meat was acceptable if it was done while honoring the gods. Manu emphasizes that killing an animal for rituals was “non-killing” and acceptable. On the other hand, if the slaughtering was not in accordance the correct Vedic practice the individual would sink into the depths of hell.
Many cultures required the consumption of the entire ritually sacrificed animal within a prescribed period. The parts of the animal that were left over, because of their sanctified nature, were burned, buried or otherwise carefully disposed of. This eliminated the possibility of accidentally coming into contact with something sacred.
A god or other supernatural being was inherently taboo. Rulers around the world were similarly regarded. They were perceived to be divine or semi-divine. The rules associated with the gods applied to their earthly emissaries. When a god was exposed to an object, the object could no longer be used in everyday “ordinary” life. It was forbidden in some cultures to look upon a god. Similarly, if he looked at you, you, your clothes and all that you possessed in that moment were instantly affected.
The names of the gods were never spoken. We see this reflected in Jewish tradition where uttering God’s name (יהוה – YHVH) is prohibited. The word Adonai (“my Lord”) or HaShem” (“the Name”) is often substituted to keep from violating this restriction. And like Moses who removed his sandals when he encountered God on Mount Sinai, it was common practice in many cultures to remove their shoes when walking on sacred ground lest their sandals become transformed. Contact with hallowed ground would have made their shoes unusable for everyday living. Priests and other individuals, who regularly were exposed to the divine, often wore special garments that were reserved for that purpose.
They shall be worn by Aaron and by his sons when they enter the Tent of Meeting or when they approach the altar to serve in the Holy, so they will not bear iniquity and die. It shall be a perpetual statute for him and for his descendants after him. – Exodus 28: 43
A god, or his human counterpart, could not be touched; his possessions could not be handled. Likewise, if he touched you or something that belonged to you, its status was instantly changed. The rules of taboo included their home and anything in it. If a divine agent entered someone’s home, their home became sanctified and no one else could go into it or use it. Even the ground a divinity walked upon was deemed holy. Their fear of unintentionally coming into contact with something sacred was so powerful that it became custom in many regions to carry the god-king upon a littler so his feet did not touch the ground.
This brings us back to Göbekli Tepe and why it was entombed. No written record exists attesting to the grandeur of Göbekli Tepe. There are no stories, myths or legends referring to it. The site and its inhabitants have been forgotten, lost in time. Yet the magnificence that has been unearthed on this remote, mountain top testifies to a people, a culture or a god that defies history and with all of is luster it was buried, hidden under tons of debris for 10,000 years.
Scholars suggest that the region had been invaded by an outside culture. Their goal in concealing the complex was to purge the indigenous people of their old religious beliefs. If this were the case, the site could have been destroyed. The massive t-shaped pillars could have been knocked over, the enclosing structures dismantled and the delicate stone carvings defaced. This is not what was found. The entire complex was in virtually pristine condition. The stones used to construct it were undisturbed, as if it had been preserved in a time capsule, only to be unearthed later.
The sheer effort it took to inter this location suggests something else. It indicates that something bigger, more important was at stake for the local residents. Individuals who are diagnosed with a highly contagious disease are immediately put under quarantine. If the threat of a pandemic were perceived, drastic measures would be taken to contain it. Would we use nuclear weapons or something worse to eradicate the potential spread of a communicable virus? Stepping into the hearts and minds of our ancestors, did the people who lived in the Germus range in southeastern Turkey find themselves in a similar situation?
Ancient customs suggests that when an individual died it was commonplace to abandon, desert or destroy his or her home. It was also a widespread practice to avoid contact with sacred places, including walking on holy ground. Likewise, if the stones used to construct the site were utilized somewhere else their infectious nature would follow. Their obsession over potential contamination may have been so intense that they may have believed they risked divine retribution if a particle of dust from this grand and mysterious site were to blow down from its mountain perch and land on their soil.
Could the inhabitants, from the region surrounding Göbekli Tepe, considered this location so holy, so sacred that when its resident left or died it was decided to bury it and avoid accidental exposure? Were they saving themselves from potentially spreading a rampant taboo through their society and its associated punishment? Taken as a whole, it seems clear that the people of the region inhumed the entire complex to save themselves from the wrath of gods and their own potential demise.
About The Author
Bestselling author, Dr. Rita Louise is the host of Just Energy Radio and the Founder of the Institute Of Applied Energetics. She is the author of the books The ET Chronicles,Avoiding The Cosmic 2X4, Dark Angels and The Power Within as well as hundreds of articles that have been published worldwide. She is also the producer of the videos iKon: Deconstructing The Archetypes Of The Ancients, The Truth About The Nephilim and Deceit, Lies & Deception: The Reptilian Agenda. Dr. Rita has appeared on radio and television and has spoken at conferences covering topics such as health and healing, ghosts, intuition, ancient mysteries and the paranormal. For more information about Dr. Rita please visit http://soulhealer.com or listen to her live athttp://www.justenergyradio.com.
by G. William Domhoff
NOTE: WhoRulesAmerica.net is largely based on my book,Who Rules America?, first published in 1967 and now in its7th edition. This on-line document is presented as a summary of some of the main ideas in that book.
Who has predominant power in the United States? The short answer, from 1776 to the present, is: Those who have the money -- or more specifically, who own income-producing land and businesses -- have the power. George Washington was one of the biggest landowners of his day; presidents in the late 19th century were close to the railroad interests; for the Bush family, it was oil and other natural resources, agribusiness, and finance. In this day and age, this means that banks, corporations, agribusinesses, and big real estate developers, working separately on most policy issues, but in combination on important general issues -- such as taxes, opposition to labor unions, and trade agreements with other countries -- set the rules within which policy battles are waged.
While this conclusion may at first seem too simple or direct, leaving little room for elected officials or voters, the reasons behind it are complex. They involve an understanding of social classes, the role of experts, the two-party system, and the history of the country, especially Southern slavery. In terms of the big world-historical picture, and the Four Networks theory of power advocated on this site, large economic interests rule in America because there are no rival networks that grew up over a long and complex history:
Moreover, the simple answer that money rules has to be qualified somewhat. Domination by the few does not mean complete control, but rather the ability to set the terms under which other groups and classes must operate. Highly trained professionals with an interest in environmental and consumer issues have been able to couple their technical information and their understanding of the legislative process with timely publicity to win governmental restrictions on some corporate practices. Wage and salary workers, when they are organized or disruptive, sometimes have been able to gain concessions on wages, hours, and working conditions.
Most of all, there is free speech and the right to vote. While voting does not necessarily make government responsive to the will of the majority, under certain circumstances the electorate has been able to place restraints on the actions of the wealthy elites, or to decide which elites will have the greatest influence on policy. This is especially a possibility when there are disagreements within the higher circles of wealth and influence.
Still, the idea that a relatively fixed group of privileged people dominate the economy and government goes against the American grain and the founding principles of the country. "Class" and "power" are terms that make Americans a little uneasy, and concepts such as "upper class" and "power elite" immediately put people on guard. Americans may differ in their social and income levels, and some may have more influence than others, but it is felt that there can be no fixed power group when power is constitutionally lodged in all the people, when there is democratic participation through elections and lobbying, and when the evidence of social mobility is everywhere apparent. So, it is usually concluded by most power analysts that elected officials, along with "interest groups" like "organized labor" and "consumers," have enough "countervailing" power to say that there is a more open, "pluralistic" distribution of power rather than one with rich people and corporations at the top.
Contrary to this pluralistic view, I will try to demonstrate how rule by the wealthy few is possible despite free speech, regular elections, and organized opposition:
Power is one of those words that is easy to understand but hard to define in a precise manner. We know it means "clout" or "juice" or "muscle" or "the ability to make things happen." We know it comes from words implying the ability to act in a strong, compelling, and direct way, but we also know that power can be projected in a very quiet and indirect manner.
By "power" I mean "the capacity of some persons to produce intended and foreseen effects on others" (Wrong, 1995). This is a very general definition that allows for the many forms of power that can be changed from one to another, such as economic power, political power, military power, ideological power, and intellectual power (i.e., knowledge, expertise). It leaves open the question of whether "force" or "coercion" is always lurking somewhere in the background in the exercise of power, as many definitions imply. However, to say that power is the ability to produce intended and foreseen effects on others does not mean it is a simple matter to study the power of a group or social class. A formal definition does not explain how a concept is to be measured. In the case of power, it is seldom possible to observe interactions that reveal its operation even in a small group, let alone to see one "social class" producing "effects" on another. It is therefore necessary to develop what are called "indicators" of power.
For research purposes, power can be thought of as an underlying "trait" or "property" of a social group or social class. It is measured by a series of signs, or indicators, that bear a probabilistic relationship to it. This means that all the indicators do not necessarily appear each and every time power is manifesting itself. Research proceeds through a series of "if-then" statements: "if" a group or class is powerful, "then" it should be expected that certain indicators of this power will be present. It is especially important to have more than one indicator. Ideally, the indicators will be of very different types so that any irrelevant components in them will cancel each other out. In the best of all possible worlds, these multiple indicators will point to the same group or class, increasing the likelihood that the underlying concept has been measured correctly.
There are three primary indicators of power, which can be summarized as (1) who benefits? (2) who governs? and (3) who wins? In every society there are experiences and material objects that are highly valued. If it is assumed that everyone in the society would like to have as great a share as possible of these experiences and objects, then the distribution of values in that society can be utilized as a power indicator. Those who benefit the most, by inference, are powerful. In American society, wealth and well-being are highly valued. People seek to own property, earn high incomes, to have interesting and safe jobs, and to live long and healthy lives. All of these "values" are unequally distributed, and all may be utilized as power indicators.
Power also can be inferred from studies of who occupies important institutional positions and takes part in important decision-making groups. If a group or class is highly over-represented in relation to its proportion of the population, it can be inferred that the group is powerful. If, for example, a group makes up 10% of the population but has 50% of the seats in the main governing institutions, then it has five times more people in governing positions than would be expected by chance, and there is thus reason to believe that the group is a powerful one.
There are many policy issues over which groups or classes disagree. In the United States different policies are suggested by opposing groups in such "issue-areas" as foreign policy, taxation, welfare, and the environment. Power can be inferred from these issue conflicts by determining who successfully initiates, modifies, or vetoes policy alternatives. This indicator, by focusing on actions within the decision-making process, comes closest to approximating the process of power that is contained in the formal definition, but it must be stressed that it is no less an inference to say that who wins on issues is an indicator of "power" than with the other two types of empirical observations -- value distributions and positional over-representation -- that are used as power indicators.
The decisional (who wins) indicator is also the most difficult to use in an accurate way. First, it is often difficult to gain access to decision-makers to interview them, much less observe them in action. Second, aspects of a decision process may remain hidden. Third, some informants may exaggerate or play down their roles. Fourth, and not least, people's memories about who did what often become cloudy shortly after the event. Those are some of the reasons why social scientists often end up relying on written records about key decisions, but they often are not available until years later. So we end up historians as well as social scientists, or depending on historians for much basic information.
In summary, all three of the power indicators have strengths and weaknesses. However, these weaknesses present no serious problem. This is because each of these indicators involves different kinds of information drawn from very different kinds of studies. The case for the power of a group or class should only be considered a convincing one if all three types of indicators "triangulate" on one particular group or social class.
One good starting point for the study of power in the United States, and the one I have preferred as a sociologist (especially in the 1960s and 1970s, when there was far less readily available information than there is now) is a careful consideration of the small social upper class at the top of the wealth, income, and status ladders. This is because the social upper class is the most visible and accessible aspect of the power equation. It is not necessarily the heart of the matter, but it is nonetheless the best place to get a handle on the overall power structure.
By a "social class" I mean a set of intermarrying and interacting families who see each other as equals, share a common style of life, and have a common viewpoint on the world. This general definition is accepted by most social scientists whatever their views on the distribution of power. By the "social upper class," hereafter to be called simply "the upper class," I mean that social class that is commonly agreed by most members of the society to be the "top" or "elite" or "exclusive" class. In various times and places Americans have called such people the "high hats," the "country club set," the "snobs," and the "rich." In turn, members of this class recognize themselves as distinctive. They call themselves such names as the "old families," the "established families," and the "community leaders."
The upper class probably makes up only a few tenths of one percent of the population. For research purposes, I use the conservative estimate that it includes 0.5% to 1% of the population for determining the over-representation of its members in corporations, nonprofit organizations, and the government. Members of the upper class live in exclusive suburban neighborhoods, expensive downtown co-ops, and large country estates. They often have far-away summer and winter homes as well. They attend a system of private schools that extends from pre-school to the university level; the best known of these schools are the "day" and "boarding" prep schools that take the place of public high schools in the education of most upper-class teenagers. Adult members of the upper class socialize in expensive country clubs, downtown luncheon clubs, hunting clubs, and garden clubs. Young women of the upper class are "introduced" to high society each year through an elaborate series of debutante teas, parties, and balls. Women of the upper class gain experience as "volunteers" through a nationwide organization known as the Junior League, and then go on to serve as directors of cultural organizations, family service associations, and hospitals (see Kendall, 2002, for a good account of women of the upper class by a sociologist who was also a participant in upper-class organizations).
These various social institutions are important in creating "social cohesion" and a sense of in-group "we-ness." This sense of cohesion is heightened by the fact that people can be excluded from these organizations. Through these institutions young members of the upper class and those who are new to wealth develop shared understandings of how to be wealthy. Because these social settings are expensive and exclusive, members of the upper class usually come to think of themselves as "special" or "superior." They think they are better than other people, and certainly better able to lead and govern. Their self-confidence and social polish are useful in dealing with people from other social classes, who often admire them and defer to their judgments.
For research purposes, the important thing about these social institutions is that they provide us with a starting point for systematic studies of power. For example, these class "indicators" allow us to determine which economic and political leaders are and are not members of the upper class. Put another way, class indicators allow us to trace members of the upper class into the economic, political, and ideological power systems of the society.
Starting with these class indicators, we can show that the upper class is nationwide in its scope. This is because there is "overlapping" membership among the many social clubs around the country. A person from Chicago, for example, might belong to clubs in New York, Boston, and San Francisco, implying that he or she interacts with upper-class counterparts in those cities. By comparing dozens of club membership lists, we have been able to establish the "density" of this club network. (See the pages on the Bohemian Grovefor findings on social cohesion and a photo essay; and for a wonderfully detailed and colorful portrait of what one of these clubs is like, see this memoir of going to the Links Club in New York City, which is one of the most central clubs in the social club/corporate executive network.)
Similarly, the alumni lists of exclusive private schools reveal that their students come from all parts of the country. The summer addresses of those members of the upper class who are listed in in-group telephone books called blue books and social registers show that people from all parts of the country mingle together at secluded summer resorts that have been upper-class watering holes for many generations.
But here we must enter our first caution. The class indicators are not perfect. Some members of the upper class do not join clubs, or list in a social register, or reveal their school affiliations in such sources as Who's Who in America that we have to rely on for much of our information. We cannot trace such people through the power system. They are counted as not being upper class when they really are. On the other hand, there are local, or scholarship children (often people of color) at some prep schools who are not members of the upper class, and some honorary members of social clubs are not upper class. They are counted as upper class when they really are not. In large-scale studies, these two kinds of mistakes tend to cancel each other out, so in general we obtain an accurate picture. But it is true that the class indicators could be wrong on specific individuals. They are useful for group studies, not for identifying individuals.
Cautions aside, there is no doubt that there is a nationwide upper class in the United States with its own distinctive social institutions, lifestyle, and outlook. There is also no doubt that most of these people are active in business or the professions, and that all of them are very wealthy. Their great wealth is obvious, of course, from the large sums that it takes to maintain their homes and their style of life, but systematic studies also show that the wealthiest families are part of the social institutions of the upper class. Combining our studies with findings by economists on the wealth and income distributions, it is possible to say that the upper class, comprising 0.5% to 1% of the population, owns 35-40% of all privately held wealth in the United States and receives 12-15% of total yearly income. In short, the upper class scores very high on the "who benefits" power indicator.
The wealth and income of members of the upper class certainly imply that the upper class is powerful, but they do not demonstrate how power operates. It is therefore necessary to turn to studies of the economy to gain further understanding of the American power structure.
Major economic power in the United States is concentrated in an organizational and legal form known as the corporation, and has been since the last several decades of the 19th century. No one doubts that individual corporations have great power in the society at large. For example, they can hire and fire workers, decide where to invest their resources, and use their income in a variety of tax-deductible ways to influence schools, charities, and governments. The argument begins over whether the large corporations are united enough to exert a common social power, and then moves to the question of whether they are still controlled by members of the upper class.
The unity of the corporations can be demonstrated in a number of ways. They share a common interest in making profits. They are often owned by the same families or financial institutions. Their executives have very similar educational and work experiences. It is also important for their sense of unity that corporate leaders see themselves as sharing common opponents in organized labor, environmentalists, consumer advocates, and government officials. A sense of togetherness is created as well by their use of the same few legal, accounting, and consulting firms.
However, the best way to demonstrate the unity among corporations is through the study of what are called "interlocking directors," meaning those individuals who sit on two or more of the boards of directors that are in charge of the overall direction of the corporation. Boards of directors usually include major owners, top executives from similar corporations or corporations located in the same area, financial and legal advisors, and the three or four officers who run the corporation on a daily basis. Several studies show that those 15-20% of corporate directors who sit on two or more boards, who are called the "inner circle" of the corporate directorate, unite 80-90% of the largest corporations in the United States into a well-connected "corporate community."
Most social scientists agree that corporations have a strong basis for cohesion. However, there is disagreement over their relationship to the upper class. Some theorists, the pluralists, say that members of the upper class used to dominate corporations, but not any more due to their increase in size, the need for highly trained and specialized executives, and the decline in family ownership. Thus, there is an upper class of rich families with one set of interests and a group of professional business executives who have their own interests and power base. Members of the upper class have power based on their wealth, and corporate executives have organizational power.
Contrary to this claim of a division between owners and managers, I think there is strong evidence for the idea of great overlap in membership and interest between the upper class and the corporate community. The wealthiest and most cohesive upper-class families often have "family offices" through which they can bring to bear the concentrated power of their collective stock ownership, sometimes placing employees of the office on boards of directors. Then too, members of the upper class often control corporations through financial devices known as "holding companies," which purchase a controlling interest in operating companies. More generally, members of the upper class own roughly half of all corporate stock . Then too, upper-class control of corporations can be seen in its over-representation on boards of directors. Several past studies show that members of the upper class sit on boards far more than would be expected by chance. They are especially likely to be part of the "inner circle" that has two or more directorships. According to the "who governs" power indicator, the upper class still controls the corporate community. Thus, we can conclude that the upper class is rooted in the ownership and control of the corporations that comprise the corporate community. We can say that members of the upper class are for the most part a "corporate rich" who continue to be involved in the business world as investors, venture capitalists, bankers, corporate lawyers, and top executives.
True enough, there are many top corporate executives who did not grow up in the upper class. Most CEO's of major corporations do not come from the upper class. However, they are gradually socialized into the upper class and its values as they move up the corporate ladder; indeed, they are advanced on the basis of their ability to fulfill upper-class goals of corporate expansion and profitability. In return, these rising managers are given the opportunity to buy corporate stock at below-market prices, paid very high salaries, and given other "perks" that make it possible for them to join the upper class economically as well as socially. The end result is a strengthening of the power of the upper class, not a diminution of it.
The upper class and the closely related corporate community do not stand alone at the top of the power structure. They are supplemented by a wide range of nonprofit organizations that play an important role in framing debates over public policy and in shaping public opinion. These organizations are often called "nonpartisan" or "bipartisan" because they are not identified with politics or with either of the two major political parties. But they are the real "political party" of the upper class in terms of insuring the stability of the society and the compliance of government.
Upper-class and corporate dominance of the major nonprofit organizations can be seen in their founding by wealthy members of the upper class and in their reliance on large corporations for their funding. However, dominance is once again most readily demonstrated through studies of boards of directors, which have ultimate control of the organizations, including the ability to hire and fire top executives. These studies show that (1) members of the upper class are greatly over-represented on the boards of these organizations, and (2) that nonprofit organizations share a large number of directors in common with the corporate community, particularly directors who are part of the "inner circle." In effect, most large nonprofit organizations are part of the corporate community.
All the organizations in the nonprofit sector have a hand in creating the framework of the society in one way or another, and hence in helping to shape the political climate. The cultural and civic organizations set the standard for what is beautiful, important, and "classy." The elite universities play a big part in determining what is important to teach, learn, and research, and they train most of the professionals and experts in the country. However, it is the foundations, think tanks, and policy-discussion organizations that have the most direct and important influences. Their ideas, criticisms, and policy suggestions go out to the general public through a wide array of avenues, including pamphlets, books, local discussion groups, mass media, and not least, the public relations departments of major corporations. Their materials also reach government through a variety of means that will be outlined shortly.
It is worthwhile to look a little more closely at the foundations, think tanks, and policy-discussion organizations to show how they function as a "policy-planning network."
Tax-free foundations receive their money from wealthy families and corporations. Their primary purpose is to provide money for education, research, and policy discussion. They thus have the power to encourage those ideas and researchers they find compatible with their values and goals, and to withhold funds from others. Support by major foundations often has had a significant impact on the direction of research in agriculture, social science, and the health sciences. However, foundations also create policy projects on their own. The Ford Foundation, for example, helped to create a complex network of advocacy groups and funding sources for Community Development Corporations (CDCs) that provide housing and social services in the inner city.
The role of the think tanks is to suggest new policies to deal with the problems facing the economy and government. Using money from wealthy donors, corporations, and foundations, think tanks hire the experts produced by the graduate departments of the elite universities. The ideas and proposals developed by the experts are disseminated through pamphlets, books, articles in major magazines and newspapers, and, most importantly, through the participation of the experts themselves in the various forums provided by the policy-discussion organizations.
The policy-discussion organizations are the hub of the policy-planning network. They bring together wealthy individuals, corporate executives, experts, and government officials for lectures, forums, meetings, and group discussions of issues that range from the local to the international, and from the economic to the political to the cultural. New ideas are tried out in weekly or monthly discussion groups, and differences of opinion are aired and compromised. These structured discussion groups usually begin with a presentation by the invited experts, followed by questions and discussion involving all participants. Such discussion groups may range in size from ten to 50, with the usual group having fifteen to 25 members.
The many discussion groups that take place within the several policy-discussion organizations have several functions that do not readily meet the eye. They are often overlooked by theorists -- pluralists and state-autonomy theorists, primarily -- who do not believe that the upper class and corporate community have the ability to develop overall policy sophistication and thereby be in a position to influence the government. First, these organizations help to familiarize busy corporate leaders with policy options outside the purview of their day-to-day business concerns. This gives these executives the ability to influence public opinion through the mass media and other outlets, to argue with and influence experts, and to accept appointments for government service. Second, the policy-discussion organizations give members of the upper class and corporate community the opportunity to see which of their colleagues seem to be the best natural leaders through watching them in the give and take of the discussion groups. They can see which of their counterparts understand the issues quickly, offer their own ideas, facilitate discussions, and relate well to experts. The organizations thus serve as sorting and screening mechanisms for the emergence of new leadership for the corporate rich in general.
Third, these organizations legitimate their participants to the media and interested public as knowledgeable leaders who deserve to be tapped for public service because they have used their free time to acquaint themselves with the issues in nonpartisan forums. The organizations thereby help make wealthy individuals and corporate executives into "national leaders" and "statesmen." Finally, these organizations provide a forum wherein members of the upper class and corporate community can come to know policy experts. This gives them a pool of people from which they can draw advisors if they are asked to serve in government. It also gives them a basis for recommending experts to politicians for government service.
The organizations also serve obvious functions for the experts. First, presenting their ideas and policies to these organizations gives them an opportunity to have influence. Second, it gives them a chance to advance their own careers if they can impress the upper-class and corporate participants.
The policy-planning network is not totally homogeneous. Reflecting differences within the corporate community, there are moderate-conservative and ultra-conservative wings within it. Moderate conservatives favor foreign aid, low tariffs, and increased economic expansion overseas, whereas the ultra-conservatives tend to see foreign aid as a giveaway. Moderate conservatives tend to accept the idea that governmental taxation and spending policies can be used to stimulate and stabilize the economy, but ultra-conservatives insist that taxes should be cut to the very minimum and that government spending is the next thing to evil. Moderate conservatives accept some welfare-state measures, or at least they support such measures in the face of serious social disruption. Ultra-conservatives have consistently opposed any welfare spending, claiming that it destroys moral fiber and saps individual initiative, so they prefer to use arrest and detention when faced with social unrest.
The reasons for these differences are not well understood. There is a tendency for the moderate-conservative organizations to be directed by executives from the very largest and most internationally oriented of corporations, but there are numerous exceptions to that generalization. Moreover, there are corporations that support policy organizations within both camps. However, for all their differences, leaders within the two clusters of policy organizations have a tendency to search for compromise due to their common membership in the upper-class and corporate community. When compromise is not possible, the final resolution of policy conflicts often takes place in legislative struggles in Congress.
The existence of the policy-planning network provides evidence for another form of power possessed by the wealthy few: expertise on social and political issues. It is an important complement to the naked economic power possessed by the corporations.
Now that the upper class, corporate community, and policy-planning network have been defined and described, it is possible to discuss the leadership group that I call the "power elite." I define the power elite as the leadership group of the upper class. It consists of active-working members of the upper class and high-level employees in profit and nonprofit institutions controlled by members of the upper class through stock ownership, financial support, or involvement on the board of directors. This does not mean that all members of the upper class are involved in governing. Some are only playboys and socialites; their social gatherings may provide a setting where members of the power elite mingle with celebrities, and sometimes they give money to political candidates, but that is about as close as they come to political power.
Conversely, not all those involved in the power elite are members of the upper class. They are sons and daughters of the middle class, and occasionally, the blue-collar working class, who do well at any one of several hundred private and state universities, and then go to grad school, MBA school, or law school at one of a handful of elite universities -- e.g., Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Columbia, MIT, Johns Hopkins, University of Chicago, and Stanford. From there they go to work for a major corporation, law firm, foundation, think tank, or university, and slowly work their way to the top.
The idea of the power elite intertwines class theory and organizational theory, two theories which are often thought of as distinctive or even as rivals. The basis for the intertwining of the two theories is to be found in the role and composition of the boards of directors that govern every large profit and nonprofit organization in the United States. It is on boards of directors that the values and goals of the upper class are integrated with those of the organizational hierarchy. Upper-class directors insure that their interests are infused into the organizations they control, but the day-to-day organizational leaders on the board are able to harmonize class interests with organizational principles.
It is important to stress that I am not saying that all experts are members of the power elite. People have to be high-level employees in institutions controlled by members of the upper class to be considered part of the power elite. Receiving a fellowship from a foundation, spending a year at a think tank, or giving advice to a policy-discussion organization does not make a person a member of the power elite. It also may be useful to note that there are many experts who never go near the policy-planning network. They focus on their teaching and research, or work for groups that oppose the policies of the power elite. In short, experts and advisers are a separate group just below the power elite in the pecking order.
With the composition of the power elite clearly stated, it is now possible to show how it dominates the federal government in the interest of the upper class and corporate community.
Members of the power elite directly involve themselves in the federal government through three basic processes, each of which has a slightly different role in ensuring "access" to the White House, Congress, and specific agencies, departments, and committees in the executive branch. Although some of the same people are involved in all three processes, most leaders specialize in one or two of the three processes. These three processes are:
Policies of concern to the corporate community as a whole are not the province of the special-interest process. Instead, such policies come from the network of foundations, think tanks, and policy-discussion organizations discussed in an earlier section. The plans developed in the organizations of the policy-planning network reach the federal government in a variety of ways. On the most general level, their reports, news releases, and interviews are read by elected officials and their staffs, either in pamphlet form or in summary articles in the Washington Post, New York Times, and Wall Street Journal. Members of the policy-planning network also testify before congressional committees and subcommittees that are writing legislation or preparing budget proposals. More directly, leaders from these organizations are regular members of the dozens of little-known committees that advise specific departments of the executive branch on general policies, making them in effect unpaid temporary members of the government. They are also very prominent on the extremely important presidential commissions that are appointed to make recommendations on a wide range of issues from foreign policy to highway construction. They also serve on the little-known federal advisory committees that are part of just about every department of the executive branch.
Finally, and crucially, they are appointed to government positions with a frequency far beyond what would be expected by chance. Several different studies show that top cabinet positions in both Republican and Democratic administrations are held by members of the upper class and corporate executives who are leaders in policy-discussion organizations.
The general picture that emerges from the findings on the overrepresentation of members of the power elite in appointed governmental positions is that the highest levels of the executive branch are interlocked constantly with the upper class and corporate community through the movement of executives and lawyers in and out of government. Although the same person is not in governmental and corporate positions at the same time, there is enough continuity for the relationship to be described as one of "revolving interlocks." Corporate leaders resign their numerous directorships in profit and nonprofit organizations to serve in government for two or three years, then return to the corporate community or policy-planning network. This system gives them temporary independence from the narrow concerns of their own organizations and allows them to perform the more general roles they have learned in the policy-discussion groups. They then return to the private sector with useful personal contacts and information.
As important as the special-interest and policy-planning processes are for the power elite, they could not operate successfully if there were not sympathetic, business-oriented elected officials in government. That leads us to the third process through which members of the power elite dominate the federal government, the candidate-selection process. It operates through the two major political parties. For reasons to be discussed in a moment, the two parties have very little role in political education or policy formation; they are reduced to the function of filling offices. That is why the American political system can be characterized as a "candidate-selection process."
The main reason the political system focuses on candidate selection to the relative exclusion of political education and policy formulation is that there can be only two main parties due to the structure of the government and the nature of the electoral rules. The fact that Americans select a president instead of a parliament, and elect legislators from "single-member" geographical areas (states for the Senate, districts for the House) leads to a two-party system because in these "winner-take-all" elections a vote for a third party is a vote for the person's least desired choice. A vote for a very liberal party instead of the Democrats, for example, actually helps the Republicans. Under these rules, the most sensible strategy for both the Democrats and Republicans is to blur their policy differences in order to compete for the voters with middle-of-the-road policy views, or no policy views at all.
Contrary to what many believe, then, American political parties are not very responsive to voter preferences. Their candidates are fairly free to say one thing to get elected and to do another once in office. This contributes to confusion and apathy in the electorate. It leads to campaigns where there are no "issues" except "images" and "personalities" even when polls show that voters are extremely concerned about certain policy issues. You don't raise unnecessary issues during a campaign, one successful presidential candidate once said.
It is precisely because the candidate-selection process is so personalized, and therefore dependent on name recognition, images, and emotional symbolism, that it can be in good part dominated by members of the power elite through the relatively simple and direct means of large campaign contributions. Playing the role of donors and money raisers, the same people who direct corporations and take part in the policy-planning network have a crucial place in the careers of most politicians who advance beyond the local level or state legislatures in states with large populations. Their support is especially important in party primaries, where money is an even larger factor than in general elections.
The two-party system therefore results in elected officials who are relatively issueless and willing to go along with the policies advocated by those members of the power elite who work in the special-interest and policy-planning processes. They are motivated by personal ambition far more than they are by political conviction. Still, there are some extremely conservative elected Republicans who often oppose power elite proposals, claiming that such policies are the work of secret communists or pointy-headed intellectuals out to wreck the "free enterprise" system. There also are many Democrats from blue-collar and university districts who consistently oppose power elite policies as members of the liberal-labor coalition. However, both the ultra-conservatives and the liberals are outnumbered by the "moderates" of both parties, especially in key leadership positions in Congress. After many years in Congress the elected liberals decide to "go along to get along." "This place has a way of grinding you down," explained one liberal Congressman of the early 1970s in a classic summary of what happens.
Although members of the power elite are far and away the most important financial backers for both parties, this does not mean that there are no differences between the two parties. The leadership levels have intra-class differences, and the supporters tend to have inter-class differences. The Republican Party is controlled by the wealthiest families of the upper class and corporate community, who are largely Protestant in background. The Democratic Party, on the other hand, is the party of the "fringes" of the upper class and power elite. Although often called "the party of the common person," it was in fact the party of the Southern segment of the upper class until very recently. The power of the Southern Democrats in the party and in Congress was secured in a variety of ways, the most important of which was the seniority system for selecting committee chairs in Congress. (By tradition, the person who has been on the committee longest just about automatically becomes the chair; this avoids conflict among members of the party.) However, the underlying point is that the one-party system in the South and the exclusion of African-Americans from the voting booth until the mid-1960s gave the Southern planters and merchants power at the national level through the Democratic Party out of all proportion to their wealth and numbers. Thus, it is not necessarily the wealthiest people who rule. The nature of the political system also enters into the equation. But the Southern elites are not poor; they are only less rich than many of their Northern counterparts.
The Southerners dominated the Democratic Party in alliance with the "ethnic rich" in the North, meaning wealthy Jews and Catholics who were shunned or mistreated by the rich Protestants. The businesses they owned were often local or smaller than those of the Republican backers, and they usually were excluded from the social institutions of the upper class. These ethnic rich were the primary financial supporters of the infamous "political machines" that dominated Democratic politics in most large northern cities.
The alliance between the Southern segment of the upper class and the Northern ethnic rich usually was able to freeze out the policy initiatives of the party's liberal-labor coalition through its control of congressional committees, although there was a time (1940 to 1975) when labor unions had significant influence on the Democrats. When that alliance broke down on certain issues because the machine Democrats sided with the liberals and labor, then the Southern Democrats joined with Northern Republicans to create the "conservative coalition," AKA "the conservative voting bloc," wherein a majority of Southern Democrats and a majority of Northern Republicans voted together against the Northern Democrats. This conservative coalition most often formed around the issues that reflect class conflict in the legislative arena -- civil rights, union rights, social welfare, and business regulation. Legislation on any of these issues weakens employers in the face of workers and their unions, so it is not surprising that the conservative coalition is based on the shared interests of Northern and Southern employers. This alliance won far more often than it lost in the years between 1937, when it was formed, and the 1990s, when it disappeared for the simple reason that many of the Southerners had become Republicans.
Once the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was in effect, the Democratic Party was slowly changed because African-Americans in the South were able to vote against the worst racists in the party primaries. The gradual industrialization also was causing changes. As a result of these two forces, Southern whites started to move into the Republican Party, which thus became the party of wealthy employers in both the North and South. In that context, the Democratic Party is slowly becoming what many always thought it to be, the party of liberals, minorities, workers, and the poor.
In summary, the special-interest process, policy-planning process, and campaign finance make it possible for the power elite to win far more often than it loses on the policy issues that come before the federal government. The power elite is also greatly over-represented in appointed positions, presidential blue-ribbon commissions, and advisory committees within the government. In terms of both the "who wins" and "who governs" power indicators, the power elite dominates the federal government.
However, this domination does not mean control on each and every issue, or lack of opposition, and it does not rest upon government involvement alone. Involvement in government is only the final and most visible aspect of power elite domination, which has its roots in the class structure, the nature of the economy, and the functioning of the policy-planning network. If government officials did not have to wait on corporate leaders to decide where and when they will invest, and if government officials were not further limited by the acceptance of the current economic arrangements by the large majority of the population, then power elite involvement in elections and government would count for a lot less than it does under present conditions.
Despite these various kinds of objective evidence that the power elite has great power in relation to the federal government, many corporate leaders feel that they are relatively powerless in the face of government. To hear them tell it, Congress is more responsive to organized labor, environmentalists, and consumers. They also claim to be harassed by willful and arrogant bureaucrats. These negative feelings toward government are not a new development, contrary to those who blame the New Deal and the social programs of the 1960s. A study of businessmen's views in the 19th century found that they believed political leaders to be "stupid" and "empty" people who went into politics only to earn a living, and a study of businessmen's views during what are thought of as their most powerful decade, the 1920s, found the same mistrust of government.
The emotional expressions of business leaders about their lack of power cannot be taken seriously as a power indicator, for that confuses psychological uneasiness with power. Feelings are one thing, the effects of one's actions another. But it is nonetheless interesting to try to understand why businessmen complain about a government they dominate. First, complaining about government is a useful political strategy. It puts government officials on the defensive and forces them to keep proving that they are friendly to business. Second, businessmen complain about government because in fact very few civil servants are part of the upper class and corporate community. The anti-government ideology of the United States tends to restrain members of the upper class from government careers except in the State Department, meaning that the main contacts for members of the power elite within government are at the very top. There is thus uncertainty about how the middle levels will react to new situations, and therefore a feeling that there is a necessity to "ride herd" on or "reign in" the potentially troublesome "bureaucrats."
There also seems to be an ideological level to the business leaders' attitudes toward government. There is a fear of the populist, democratic ideology that underlies American government. Since power is in theory in the hands of all the people, there always is the possibility that someday "the people," in the sense of the majority, will make the government into the reflection of pluralist democracy that it is supposed to be. In a certain very real way, then, the great power of the upper class and corporate community are culturally illegitimate, and the existence of such power is therefore vigorously denied. It is okay to be rich, and even to brag about wealth a little bit, but not to be powerful or, worse, to flaunt that power.
Finally, the expressions of anguish from individual corporate leaders concerning their powerlessness also suggests an explanation in terms of the intersection of social psychology and sociology. It is the upper class and corporate community that have power, not individuals apart from their institutional context. As individuals, they are not always listened to, and they have to convince their peers of the reasonableness of their arguments before anything happens. Moreover, any policy that is adopted is a group decision, and it is sometimes hard for people to identify with group actions to the point where they feel personally powerful. It is therefore not surprising that specific individuals might feel powerless.
There are many democratic countries where the working class -- defined as all those white-collar and blue-collar workers who earn a salary or a wage -- has more power than it does in the United States. This power is achieved primarily through labor unions and political parties. It is reflected in more egalitarian wealth and income distributions, a more equitable tax structure, better public health services, subsidized housing, and higher old-age and unemployment benefits.
How is it possible that the American working class could be relatively powerless in a country that prides itself on its long-standing history of pluralism and elections? There are several interacting historical factors. First, the "primary producers" in the United States, those who work with their hands in factories and fields, were more seriously divided among themselves until the 1930s than in most other countries. The deepest and most important of these divisions was between whites and African-Americans. In the beginning, of course, the African-Americans had no social power because of their enslavement, which meant that there was no way to organize workers in the South. But even after African-Americans gained their freedom, prejudices in the white working class kept the two groups apart.
This black/white split in the working class was reinforced by later conflicts between craft workers -- also called "skilled" workers -- and industrial workers -- also called mass-production or "unskilled" workers. Craft workers usually tried to keep their wages high by excluding industrial workers. Their sense of superiority as skilled workers was reinforced by the fact that they were of Northern European, Protestant origins and the industrial workers tended to be Catholics and Jews from Eastern and Southern Europe. Some African-Americans were also found in the ranks of the industrial workers, along with other racial minorities.
It would have been difficult enough to overcome these divisions even if workers had been able to develop their own political party, but they were unable to develop such a party because the electoral system greatly disadvantages third parties. Workers were stuck. They had no place to go but the Republicans or Democrats. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries the craft workers often supported the Democrats, while the recent immigrant industrial workers tended to support the Republicans. Even when craft and industrial workers moved into the Democratic Party en masse in the 1930s, they couldn't control the party because of the power of the wealthy Southern planters and merchants.
Nor did the workers have much luck organizing themselves through unions. The employers were able to call upon the government to crush organizing drives and strikes through both court injunctions and police arrests. This was not only because employers had great influence with politicians then, just as they do now, but because the American tradition of law, based in laissez faire (free market) liberalism, was so fiercely opposed to any "restraint of trade" or "interference" with private property. It was not until the 1930s that the liberal-labor coalition was able to pass legislation guaranteeing workers the right to join unions and engage in collective bargaining. Even this advance was only possible by excluding the Southern workforce -- i.e., agricultural and seasonal labor -- from the purview of the legislation. Further, the passage of the legislation had only limited impact because the industrial unions were defeated almost completely in the South and Southwest. Unions thrived in a few major industries in the North in the years after World War II, but then their power was eroded beginning in the 1970s as the big corporations moved their factories to other countries or lost market share to European and Japanese companies.
Given this history of internal division, political frustration, and union defeat, it is not surprising the American workers continue to accept the highly individualistic ideology that has characterized the United States since its founding. This acceptance in turn makes it even more difficult to organize workers around "bread-and-butter" issues. They often vote instead on the basis of social issues or religious convictions, with those who are deeply religious, opposed to affirmative action, or opposed to gun control voting for the avowedly anti-union Republican Party.
Thus, it is important not to confuse freedom with social power. Between 1962 and the 1990s there was a great expansion in individual rights due to the civil rights, feminist, and lesbian-gay movements, but during that time the ratio of a top business executive's pay to a factory worker's pay increased from 41 to 1 to about 300 to 1. American workers can say what they want and do what they want within very broad limits, and their children can study hard in school so they can go to graduate school and join the well-off professional class as doctors, lawyers, architects, or engineers, but when it comes to social power most Americans have very little of it if they are not a part of the power elite.
Not all power is wielded at the national level. For more on local power, click here.
The argument over the structure and distribution of power in the United States has been going on within academia since the 1950s. It has generated a large number of empirical studies, many of which have been drawn upon here. In the final analysis, however, scholars' conclusions about the American power structure depend upon their beliefs concerning power indicators, which are a product of their "philosophy of science." That sounds strange, I realize, but if "who benefits?" and "who sits?" are seen as valid power indicators, on the assumption that "power" is an underlying social trait that can be indexed by a variety of imperfect indicators, then the kind of evidence briefly outlined here will be seen as a very strong case for the dominant role of the power elite in the federal government.
If "who wins?" on a wide range of government decisions is seen as the only valid indicator of power, and if it is expected that the power elite must win every time, which is the stance adopted by pluralist theorists on the basis of a "strict positivist" view of how power must be measured, then the argument presented here, based on a "soft positivism," will be seen as less impressive. That's because those relatively few of us who disagree with the pluralists have not yet had the time and the resources to do enough case studies within the framework of the special-interest and policy-planning processes to show the full range of power elite dominance on policy issues. A good start has been made in this direction, but it will take more to convince the skeptics.
Kendall, D. (2002). The power of good deeds: Privileged women and the social reproduction of class. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield.
Wrong, D. (1995). Power: Its Forms, Bases, and Uses (2nd ed.). New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers.
First posted April 2005; most recently updated February 2012
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