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Robert J. Burrowes's blog


Why is Near Term Human Extinction Inevitable?

If you hadn’t previously heard the expression ‘near term human extinction’, you have now. And you will get used to hearing it soon unless you insulate yourself from reality with greater effectiveness than you are doing by reading this article.

Nonviolent Action: Minimizing the Risk of Violent Repression

In a recent article, full of insight, Professor Bill Quigley identified ten different illegal actions police often take ‘to prevent people from exercising their constitutional rights’ to take nonviolent action to address a grievance. He noted that these police tactics are commonly used by law enforcement agencies in big protests across the US. See ‘10 Illegal Police Actions to Watch for in Ferguson’.

The Psychology of Victimhood: Obama, Cameron, Netanyahu, Clinton, Kissinger

Several years ago, someone said to me: ‘The victim wouldn’t have it any other way.’ When I first heard this comment, it made no sense to me, largely because I had never appreciated being a victim of violence when I was a child. However, I have since spent considerable time grappling with this comment by analysing what it means to be a victim. And I now agree that, in far more cases than I would like it to be, the victim wouldn’t have it any other way. Here’s why.

Understanding and Defeating Resurgent Fascism

As fascism is being intruded more widely and deeply into key areas of world politics, it is important to identify this trend, to explain the psychology of fascism and to nominate key elements of any strategy to defeat it.

Creating a World Culture that is Nonviolent

As we celebrate Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday on 2 October, the International Day of Nonviolence, we have the chance to reflect on our progress in creating a nonviolent world. Obviously, creating a nonviolent world has many facets and is a long-term work-in-progress. But if we are to regenerate human society in accord with principles of love, nonviolence, justice, equity and sustainability, it is emphatically clear that we need to dramatically recreate much of our culture, particularly in the West, where hatred, violence and injustice are ‘built-in’. How can we do this?

Tackling the Climate Catastrophe Strategically

If you like to ask or beg your oppressor to go easy on you, then you do not need to read this article. And if you like to do what makes you feel good at the time, irrespective of its strategic impact, then this article is not for you either. My interest in tackling violence, in whatever form it takes, has always been to take action myself that leaves the perpetrator powerless (but, hopefully, a convert too). I also like to be strategic so that the impact of my action is long-lasting (in fact, preferably permanent) and structurally reduces the violence in our world. Here’s how I work.

Defeating the Violence of Psychiatry

As the movement to abolish psychiatry continues to gather momentum – see ‘On Antipsychiatry’ – it is worth reviewing its delusional foundation, the history of its violence and its function as a weapon of elite social control.

Nisteling: The Art of Deep Listening

The word ‘listening’ has many meanings and the context in which it is done will often determine the level of concentration that is required for one to be considered to be listening.

An Open Letter to My Palestinian Friends

As my heart bleeds for those of you suffering in Gaza and elsewhere in Palestine, I want to add my voice to those who are encouraging you to consider revising your strategy of resistance to Israeli occupation. See, for example, ‘Wanted: A new strategy for Palestinian resistance’.

How Can We Destroy Love?

Love is a serious problem in our world. There is too much of it. So I want to explain how we can destroy it systematically. If we can destroy love completely, we can destroy life on Earth.

But first, what is love?

Elite Insanity on Display in Ukraine

For those of us interested in understanding what is driving the conflict in Ukraine, now seriously complicated by the shooting down of a Malaysian Airlines passenger jet – which has raised the potential of the conflict to explode into a nuclear war with devastating consequences for humanity – it is worth delving into the psychology of key parties to the conflict and particularly those elite individuals and their agents in politics, industry, academia and the media who are driving it.

The Political Objective and Strategic Goal of Nonviolent Actions

All nonviolent struggles are conducted simultaneously in the political and strategic spheres, and these spheres, which are distinct, interact throughout. I have discussed this at length elsewhere: see The Strategy of Nonviolent Defense: A Gandhian Approach. Despite this, only rarely have nonviolent struggles been conducted with a conscious awareness of this vitally important relationship. Gandhi’s campaigns were very effective partly because he understood the distinction and relationship between politics and strategy in nonviolent struggle. And the failure of many campaigns can be attributed, in part, to the fact that most activists do not.

Why Are Most Human Beings So Powerless?

Human beings stand at the edge of extinction and yet few of us are mobilized in defense of human existence. Why is this? And what can we do about it?

The Great Human Delusion: All Parents Love their Children

Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, there is a widespread belief that all parents love their children. This is not so. Many parents are so badly emotionally damaged as a result of their own childhood experience that they are not capable of loving their children. Moreover, the fear, self-hatred and powerlessness that characterise most humans means that parental violence against children is chronic even if one or both parents are capable of love.

The Journey to Self-Awareness

What is Self-awareness?

An Open Letter to Cecily McMillan

Dear Cecily

I have been reading accounts of your recent trial and conviction following your arrest at the Occupy Wall Street celebration at Zuccotti Park in 2012.

Human Intelligence or Human Awareness?

The human organism, at birth, is capable of becoming an integrated whole. And it is only by becoming an integrated whole that it can function optimally. What does this mean?

In order to function optimally, the human organism requires that all mental functions – feelings, thoughts, memory, conscience, sensory perception (sight, sound, touch, smell, taste), truth register, intuition… – must be developed and readily involved, without interference, in our life. If this happens, then all of these individual functions will play an integrated role in determining our behaviour in any given circumstance.

Human Emotions: Genetically Programmed or Socially Learned?

It is easy to fall into the trap of assuming that each human being has a more or less identical range of emotions. This is not so. Just as each human individual is physically unique while fitting into a general physical shape (that usually, but not always, includes four limbs and an adult size of between 1.5 and 2.5 metres) so, too, the range and intensity of emotions felt by human beings varies from one individual to another.

Forgiveness is Dysfunctional

Certain religious traditions, including Christianity, emphasise the importance of forgiveness. I want to explain why forgiveness is misconceived and, therefore, a bad idea. And why there are important psychological reasons for this. In essence, the key question is this: What is the appropriate psychological response to inappropriate behaviour if we want change in the direction of improved functionality in future?

The Struggle for Humanity

Sociologists, political scientists, activists of various persuasions and many others often describe social stratification in terms of such measures as class, race and gender. There is much talk in the academic and other literature about the working class, the middle class and the ruling class, for example. And about relationships defined by such factors as religion, employment, income and other measures.

What Do Children Need?

Apart from having its physical needs met, the primary needs of children are for stimulus and attention.

The War on Emotions is Driving Us Insane

Guest post: Anita McKone

Have you ever been provoked by someone into fear, anger or pain, and then blamed, punished or humiliated for feeling and expressing these feelings? This is a form of psychological torture which has very serious consequences. Here are three stories that demonstrate how commonly this form of torture occurs in human society.

Why Do We Fear the Truth?

If we want to take appropriate action to fix something that is not working properly, then it is necessary to understand, precisely, the nature of the problem. Obviously, if our diagnosis is inaccurate, then the solution applied is unlikely to work. This principle of needing to understand a problem accurately before we can devise and implement an appropriate solution applies in all fields of human endeavour, whether it be a mechanical, scientific, health or environmental problem, or a conflict at any level of human relationships.

The Global Elite is Insane

In a recent report titled ‘Working for the Few: Political capture and economic inequality’ Oxfam informs us that ‘Almost half of the world’s wealth is now owned by just one percent of the population’. Their report goes on to recommend that the World Economic Forum, an elite gathering held annually in Davos, Switzerland, take economic and political measures to ensure a more equitable distribution of wealth.

An Open Letter to Soldiers with 'Mental Health' Issues

Are you a soldier or veteran who is supposed to have a ‘mental health’ issue such as anxiety, depression, schizophrenia or PTSD? If you are, then I have some suggestions for you to consider.

Fundamentalism: A Psychological Problem

Fundamentalism is a widespread problem. It often manifests in a religious context - making it highly visible - but there are plenty of secular fundamentalists too. If we are to understand fundamentalism we should not view it as a religious problem: It is a psychological one.

What is a fundamentalist? A fundamentalist is usually considered to be a person who adheres strictly to a doctrine, viewpoint or set of principles that are considered original and ‘pure’; this doctrine might be theological in nature. For the fundamentalist, many of their beliefs and the behaviours that arise from them will, at least in theory, be derivative of their fundamental doctrine. For the fundamentalist, there is no room to consider views that are at variance with their accepted doctrine and contrary views will usually either be dismissed out-of-hand or resisted with considerable vigour and, often, violence.

Defeating the Violence in Our Food and Medicine

Critiques of the mainstream (allopathic) medical industry have long drawn attention to its death-dealing: See, for example, ‘Medical Nemesis: The Expropriation of Health’ and 'When Doctors Strike, Fewer People Die'. In fact, according to one heavily-researched report, ‘It is evident that the American medical system is the leading cause of death and injury in the United States’, far surpassing heart disease, cancer and shootings: ‘Death by Medicine’.

Lobbying Elites: The Fast Track to Extinction

As we evaluate the outcomes of the recent UN climate negotiations in Warsaw, one lesson that we are invited to learn, again, relates to our strategy for getting effective action taken on the ongoing climate catastrophe and other critical environmental problems. Is lobbying elites to change their behaviour an effective strategy for change?

My experience, reinforced by decades of casual observation, is that lobbying elites is a complete waste of time and that a strategy that focuses on inviting ordinary individuals and groups to take action in the desired direction is far more effective. Why do I say this?

Why Don't We Try to Understand and End Human Violence?

The pre-eminent problem confronting humankind is human violence. It is our own violence, in its various guises, including the ongoing possibility of nuclear war and the ongoing devastation of the natural environment, that threaten to consign us to the fossil record within decades, if not sooner. And yet we devote virtually no effort to trying to understand human violence and to developing strategies to end it. Why?

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