2022-12-16

Sovereign Citizens, ISIS and Moonies — the common thread that binds them all

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by Neil Godfrey

This week, about two hours drive due west of where I live, two police officers and a helping neighbour were murdered by a trio of “sovereign citizens” — for the “crime” of entering their property. The father of two of the trio, two brothers, had not heard from either of his sons in twenty years. I read that he broke down on tv when asked about them.

. . . decades after the attacks of September 11, 2001, we stand in line for a dose of radiation while being barked at and occasionally fondled by federal employees.

It’s remarkable how much power the government grabbed, and how many freedoms they took away… instantly. Years later, it’s clear that those freedoms are never coming back.” . . . 

They have us all cowering in our homes, like house cats, stripped of our most basic freedoms. It’s a power grab we haven’t seen since 9/11 (and that may indeed dwarf it).


The circumstances are certainly similar: people are terrified, so the governments are doing whatever they please. . . . 


Contrary to popular belief, many people don’t prefer freedom… not if it means having little or no safety net. . . . They like rules and regulations and feel “safe” within those boundaries.


They see Big Government as a giant safety net. And so they trade liberty for it, believing that authority figures are truthful, benevolent, and trustworthy. They appreciate a government that seizes power.


Those who prefer freedom doubt such benevolence and trustworthiness. 

Excerpt From: “The Sovereign Manifesto: How To Be Free in an Unfree World.”

My youth and early adulthood were mis-spent with a religious cult. When I woke up to what I had been immersed in I visited libraries and bookstores to try to learn as much as I could about “how it had happened”. I was seen as an intelligent person. My upbringing had been in a lower middle-class “liberal Methodist” family. My parents sacrificed so much to see that I had a good education. How could I have ever let myself get mixed up in the Armstrong cult, the “Worldwide Church of God” earlier known as the “Radio Church of God”? I learned much and when I discovered how common my experience was and felt compelled to reach out to others who had had the same experiences. I started a local “support group” of sorts for ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses, ex-Mormons, and ex-etceteras. It was part of the healing process for all of us to share our experiences and come to understand how alike they all were — despite the fact that each of us had been indoctrinated with the idea that our respective churches were “utterly unique”. No, we learned that there were techniques and experiences common to all of us. That we each felt “unique” and a part of a group unlike any other on earth was one of the experiences we had in common.

Then came 9/11 and the waves of Islamist terrorist attacks. And the public mood of “Islamophobia” mushroomed. I knew that these kinds of terrorist attacks from Muslims were a historically new development so it could not be the Muslim religion itself that was responsible. What was the catalyst? Again, I did some research. I read the online magazines and other literature of various individuals and groups that had in some way been associated with terrorism. And I read the scholarly studies from anthropologists, psychologists, historians, political scientists, sociologists who had studied these individuals and groups. How could it be possible? Everything I was reading gelled so neatly with all I had ever learned about the process that led persons to religious cults. The process was called “radicalization”. But it was the same process that had led others in other environments to “cults” like the Moonies, the Armstrongites, Heaven’s Gate, Dave Koresh of Waco fame, Jonestown, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Mormons…. I began to write about the common thread on this blog. Hating Islam and Muslims was counter-productive and played right into the hands of the terrorists — that was a big part of my message.

Then this week six people lay dead two hours from where I am writing because of conspiracy theories. Yes, most surely, conspiracy theories were not of themselves to blame. Many people who will never even come close to thinking of killing anyone else believe in conspiracy theories. But conspiracy theories can open doors to all sorts of dark rationalizations when under the right sorts of pressures. I sometimes wonder if the most significant difference between the now defunct Armstrong cult and Dave Koresh cult was the age of the leaders: Armstrong was an old man who loved his comforts and would always find a way out of any threat to those comforts; Dave Koresh was young and idealism can be the ruin of the young. Conspiracy theories in the minds of people with other mental or social issues (such as someone on the Asperger’s syndrome spectrum as appears to have been the case with the dominant person in the local trio) can be fatal.

What is a solution? Is there one? I must be hopeful. Here is something positive, something we can all be mindful of from day to day, from a report by Lise Waldeck, Julian Droogan and Brian Ballsun-Stanton:

Public communications that conflate far right extremism with broader community dissent may reinforce far right extremist conspiratorial narratives and harden existing societal polarisation. This in turn would reduce opportunities for positive discussion that acknowledges the anxieties and fears of non-far right extremist communities.

The pandemic has created opportunities for far right extremists to broadcast their narratives to broader subculture identities built around anti-government and antiestablishment narratives as well as opposition to public health measures such as vaccination. People engage with these narratives because they provide simple answers and clearly identify an ’other’ who can become the focus of blame. Conspiratorial narratives are quick to position government and authority figures within this out-group. Communications that describe those who disobey public health orders in order to engage in civil protest as far right extremists may reinforce the very alignment sought by actual far right extremist groups.

Consistent public acknowledgement of different groups holding alternative perspectives can provide the necessary framework for proactive public engagement with marginalised subcultures. Politicising and demonising public non-compliance with health orders may lead to the further alienation of dissenting groups, pushing them towards the political fringes inhabited by actual anti-state extremists. One way to prevent this is to move away from polarising communications that subsume public discontent and fears around COVID-19 under a violent extremist lens.

Engagement strategies that provide opportunities for these communities to express their fears and anxieties may help in the increasing understanding. State government programs that proactively engage with active and outspoken dissenting/angry citizenship are well placed to provide preventative support for those impacted by conspiratorial and anti-establishment movements due to the current global health crisis, or who become engaged with far right extremist movements. (pp. 39f : Online Far Right Extremist and Conspiratorial Narratives During the COVID-19 Pandemic)

What is the common thread binding Sovereign Citizens, Moonies and ISIS? One strong tie is distrust of society. Society is under the powers of evil, they believe, whether those powers are earthly or heavenly. The controlling powers are believed to work in secret behind the scenes but are duping the majority of us. The majority, those who more or less cooperate with social governance of some kind, are seen as hapless dupes, either wilfully ignorant and blind or simply “dumb sheep”.

It is all too easy to laugh mockingly at “Trumpists” or despairingly at “anti-vaxxers” — but the report above suggests that such a response is inimical to what we all want.

I have images of local fairs where all kinds of groups, government, statutory, professional and private, place their “information session” stalls and tents for all to visit. The hard-core conspiracy theorists will mock such occasions as being part of the plan to indoctrinate us all, but the “in-between bystanders” will be the primary target. Maybe also a few hard-core persons who have tiny nigglings of some doubt. But an understanding of how “the system” really works is surely essential. How Parliament works, how medical research centres work, how teachers work, how journalists and news broadcasters work … how everything works. — Would it not be good to have programs of some kind that increased awareness of how everything really works?

The common thread is distrust of society. What can be done to corrode that thread and demonstrate how as social beings we can all work together in accordance with our basic nature and find niches that allow each of us to improve our collective lot?

One small step would be to listen with respect to issues raised by “the outsider” and think of the most informative way to respond. Mocking the conspiracy theorist is not the answer and only adds fuel to the fire. Maybe we all need to work at better informing ourselves to know how to respond in the most helpful way we can.

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9 thoughts on “Sovereign Citizens, ISIS and Moonies — the common thread that binds them all”

  1. Thanks for your insights on ways to recognize liars and how they pull us in. Below are a few things I’ve garnered from some information I’ve recently come across, that support people who are trying to get free. It is a constant uphill climb that, in this world, is never-ending.

    Read these two bits of info on the internet:
    1. Former Pioneer Theater Company Manager Says He’s Lying Is A Mental Illness He’s Learning To Control; the Salt Lake Tribune. (No, he’s lying, still. He’s learning more ways to continue to dupe people into believing that he’s learning to control. This is a story about Christopher Massimire, a pathological liar.

    2. Look up Pathological lying, Wikipedia.

  2. Thanks for opening the discussion Neil

    I visited a trio in that area, one day some years back.

    I first met and had a talk with Brian Monk, a farmer with 5000 acres near Tara. We talked at the gate of his sons property. He told me that a police officer he formerly met in similar fashion refused to enter the property because it would be trespassing. To that policeman, even Brian, the former owner and father of the present owner didn’t have authority to invite him in. Brian tried a number of times, but the ‘honest copper’ wouldn’t have a bar of it and stayed out.

    With regard to the “crime” of entering their property.” I consider it extremely unlikely the police entered the property illegally and were shot as illegal trespassers. I think police in that area follow procedures, like Brian’s testimony to me indicates – but note well, it’s become merely hearsay when I pass it on to you wonderful readers.

    Regarding the reality of the six deaths, I don’t know anything at all about them. Not even if they really happened or not. I was told by official authorities Jesus died and belief in that lie and the narrative around it, violated and diminished my life and that of western society, a great deal.

    I have been deceived by my religion and society so long, deeply and repeatedly in some ways, that now I don’t take at face value any media stories. Generally the only type of things I know are true in relation to them are the preconceptions they seem to rely on and the ideas they present, language of persuasion/bias or objectivity, omissions and so on.

    I then use my somewhat rebuilt from scratch and hobbled together, experience based world view, to consider what might be going on, to possibly have happened or is being fed out or pushed. Generally it’s all useless hearsay, not evidence for any case. I weigh and ignore the vast majority of it as a decent judge rightly does hearsay evidence.

    Back to Brian Monk
    Coal seam gas mining could have been done under, but was certainly done beside, Brian’s property. This caused contamination of the artesian basin there, and hence his bore water used for watering stock and bathing. His water could catch fire after the Coal Seam Gas ‘fracking’. Flammability had decreased a lot by the time in the video link. He told me it also caused chemical burns to his grandchildren when they washed with it – some more hearsay, yay! A story was recorded (on ABC I think.) Link:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x55EFio9Y7E

    Brian was instrumental in helping NSW Northern Rivers farmers ‘Lock their Gates’ to keep coal seam gas mining out of Northern NSW. But it was too late for Queensland farmers like those I visited. They had already been fracked.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Q65F9JteQo

    I was visiting the trio because CSG mining was poisoning air and water in the area and I just had to try and do something, but I ended up doing not much at all.

    I next visited Sandy Bams family. They lived near a CSG mining operation gone very wrong near Tara. It was an environmental disaster. They also had other fracking mines nearby releasing gases into the air. Sandy had found high levels of heavy metals, lead and chromium in her water tanks and in others tanks in the Tara area. This fairly widespread contamination was most likely the result of the nearby Kogan coal burning power station, but difficult to prove. It most likely wasn’t the CSG mining activities, which she suspected.

    My last visit was to a farmer who lost all his cattle due to poisoned water. This was likely due to CSG mining causing toxic contamination through air born soot from the burned vented gasses. His wife loved gardening but had given up due to no usable water, and was much depressed.

    The above trio visit, was about 5 or perhaps 6 years ago from memory.

    The treatment of many farmers in that area by the energy industry and Queensland Government has been to look after the energy industry profits and reputation, at the expense of many farmers properties, artesian or bore water, air quality, health and financial standing.

    The farmers range from 5000 or so acre type farmers like Brian to smaller acreages or struggling homesteaders like the other two I visited. I was visiting these because they had not signed non disclosure agreements. i.e. they could talk, others couldn’t.

    The farmers financial situation is a catch 22. Many have borrowed and invested all they have. After the drop in value after Coal Seam Gas fracking contamination, they can’t afford to sell up and leave – They either stay stuck in a toxic gas field or move to renting and wage slaving somewhere with cleaner air and a financial record of bankruptcy.

    Brian told me that when the ‘investigation’ into the contamination on his property was done, the environmental officer was ORDERED by a superior who was present, to take readings from a spot upwind. Similarly, I was informed by another property owner, air testing is done when the wind is not from the gas fields. Anyone that reads ‘The Science’, would think there was no serious contamination.

    Without such direct involvement or insider information, there is no way for outsiders to know the picture being presented by ‘The Science’ is deliberately false.

    Quite often, ignorance that this type of ‘Science’ goes on at official levels makes blissfully unaware believers in the system without a worry in the world.

    I suggested Brian should advise and encourage all his family to sell up and get out of the toxic area. They were the only one of the 3 I visited that could afford to get out. His son wanted to fight it but I emphasised that children only grow up once and doing it in a place with toxic air and water just isn’t thinking straight, especially if you can get a thousand acres somewhere else.

    A Queensland GP who became concerned after treating patients from the area, did some independent research and investigating. She found the gas fields are statistically (.001) causing higher incidence of diseases known to be caused by some of specific gases being released from the mines. The doctors name is Geralyn McCarron. This research was done in the Tara area of S/W Queensland. She has a PDF online from April 2013 titled “Symptomatology of a gas field” and has published in the International Journal of Environmental Studies.
    Links below:

    http://gabpg.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/2013-04-symptomatology_of_a_gas_field_Geralyn_McCarron.pdf

    and

    https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00207233.2017.1413221

    The often unmentioned foundations of valid science are honesty and competence. My interpretation of the situation is that genuine environmental health science has been and is being deliberately confounded by the Qld Govt and Energy Industry alliance. And furthermore, this would certainly constitute a valid basis from genuine integrity for farmers in the area to be driven to what government bodies refer to as “radicalisation”. It wouldn’t happen nearly as much if government/industry were not so corrupt and/or harmful in areas where they are.

    NOTE

    When science is used to falsely represent reality it somewhat parallels religious presentation of false reality – it’s just using a Science genre and Narrative rather than religious.

    Scientific fraud,
    energy industry
    and government … go hand in hand in Queensland.

    (And also in the western world for some Scientific based philosophical narratives which I consider to stem from a long history of Platonic type philosophical influence.)

    There are a lot of people in the wider Chinchilla/Tara area that have been let down by the energy industry and official authorities. A predictable result is that many, have started going through the painful process that the post calls waking up”.

    Many farm owners have lost big time financially because of the drop in property value. Some have lost family members to suicide and illness, many have diminished health. When I was there they talked about the gas field headaches some get and which are associated with wind direction from the gas fields. Also, some have lost a feeling of being part of a state/society that has their best interests in mind. Thus they have been and are likely “waking up” to the reality that Govt is there to serve the rich and powerful at and over the expense of themselves and their financial and physical health and over just decent honest integrity.

    When one finds out their religion is false, abusive, exploitative etc. one can leave it, though it may mean leaving family. When it’s your government and western/global society, this isn’t an option.

    Similarly, waking up to what western/global society is AND maintaining open honest family discussions and relationships may not be possible. The way I see it, western society has for thousands of years, been based on systems of control using false philosophical narratives. When faith in ideas from false narratives dies so does the society founded upon them. Those that ‘wake up’ are not welcome in the philosophers ideological garden/society. They must be separated from the faithfully deceived. And similarly the faithfully deceived must be taught/conditioned to reject and not associate with those that have ‘woken up’.

    Better leave it there for now or I might be viewed by the occasional individual as long winded (lol, Too late!)

    Fare and be well all
    sincerely
    david

    1. Hi David — you bring up several important issues.

      Yes, you have been told falsehoods “by authorities” but surely you would agree that you have also been told truths and facts. Is it not more reasonable and productive, instead of being suspicious of everything you hear, to learn to discriminate between what is reliable and what is unreliable information? There are ways to do that. You have learned some of them when you discovered that some things you had heard were untrue.

      You say that you “don’t know” if six people were killed at Wieambilla near Tara because you have only heard about it “on the media”. But “the media” is not just one person churning out stories for profit. You know when an election is being held and you turn up to vote on the right day because you have learned about it through “the media”. The “media” is actually many individual reporters and editors and administrative staff involved in passing on news to the public — and there are many independent, even competing, persons bringing the news to you: e.g. I learned different aspects of the event by turning to different news media and reading what other reporters who had visited the site and interviewed various persons had to say. It is unreasonable to think that the thousands of individual persons and institutions (print and online and tv and radio media, police, health professionals, neighbours, relatives ….) involved in reporting the story are all somehow making it up.

      You are quite right to be concerned about the possibility of corruption involving government officials and certain industries with their hired scientists. That is the great thing about a democratic system. I have spoken once or twice about a Chinese friend of mine who was shocked that “mere citizens” should be agitated over the possibility that “the government” could be doing something against the public interest: she believed that the government (the communist party of China) was made up of persons who had the public interest at heart always and it was treasonous to speak against them. We have a different culture in Australia where citizens are expected to be agitated and speak out, raise a fuss, get organized, do their own investigations, and get active.

      Instead of throwing up our hands in despair, if we have serious concerns then let’s get the facts. Bring others in to help or at least lend a sympathetic ear. Let’s find out exactly what the facts are. Go to the media; put out invitations for concerned neighbours to get together and see who has the interest and ability to follow up and “get to the bottom of what’s happening”.

      Democracy can only die if we say and do nothing but complain that nothing can be done.

      1. I fundamentally agree with you Neil. But I have an adolescent addiction to playing advocatus diaboli.

        In a comment last April I said
        “Tuskegee airmen, MK Ultra, J.Edgar Hoover, CIA coups, Viet Nam, WMD in Iraq, black torture sites, …
        Unfortunately there’s good reason not to trust the government any more, and that’s just in the US.”

        None of those examples were seriously challenged by the press, who were in the best position to ” to learn to discriminate between what is reliable and what is unreliable information”. Ordinary people are completely outgunned by the government in propaganda.

        Don’t know about Aus, but the USA lost its way after WW2, when we stepped back and said, gee those Nazis had some great ideas… (see e.g. operation paperclip).

        The US government is hopelessly compromised, they can’t even bring themselves to release all the JFK files 59 years later. But maybe Aus, or NZ, can lead the way?

        1. Yes, propaganda has become a major feature of western democracies. I began posting something way back — see https://vridar.org/2016/09/14/how-propaganda-subverted-democracy-the-beginning/

          But we are not left helpless — not even in the US (I get a good deal of reliable news from US sources). Often one only has to read carefully what the main channels are telling us: what do they say their sources are? listen for the supporting evidence for the assertions made — sometimes we have to wait till the very end to discover the real status of a news item.)

          And some of the major media do have serious journalists who do get to the nitty gritty and pass on valuable information with confirmation of their sources. And we do have a vast array of media outlets, and some of them we can discover do excellent work in analysing what is being presented to us from government, business, others.

          It’s up to us who do have the time and opportunity to follow up these more critical sources to be ready to speak out or share what we know at critical times. We can’t win every war with every person, but without hope and effort we will lose by default. And that’s not an option.

          1. “Often one only has to read carefully what the main channels are telling us: what do they say their sources are?”

            But the Left and the Right draw opposite conclusions from the answer. The credibility gap between the two is beyond the critical threshold, there is no uniting them at this point.

            “We can’t win every war with every person, but without hope and effort we will lose by default. ”

            Sure, I do what I can (very little). But my prediction is this ends in a 2nd US civil war.

            1. But the Left and the Right draw opposite conclusions from the answer. The credibility gap between the two is beyond the critical threshold, there is no uniting them at this point.

              That is true. I was addressing what “we” can do to find the “truth”. The extreme right is now possessed by conspiracy theory thinking and that returns us to the problem I tried to address in the post.

      2. Hi Neil

        Beautiful.
        Thank you for the reply.

        Quote:
        “Yes, you have been told falsehoods “by authorities” but surely you would agree that you have also been told truths and facts.”
        In some areas yes, but in fabricated narratives, fed out as if true this is impossible just as parts of the biblical narrative are impossible. Official authorities create and proliferate as if real, narratives that are not. This is why there are 4.3 billion Christians and Moslem’s, that adhere enough to these faiths, to show up in Wikipedia* statistics. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Major_religious_groups

        (* Note: I don’t consider Wikipedia to be factually reliable as many pages are under the control of powerful interests. It often gives an orthodox position accurately. Source: My own experience and Wikipedia co-founder: I no longer trust the website I created https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l0P4Cf0UCwU

        Quote:
        “Is it not more reasonable and productive, instead of being suspicious of everything you hear, to learn to discriminate between what is reliable and what is unreliable information?”
        Exactly

        In a religious narrative controlled society everything had to fit the narrative. That which didn’t was heresy! We’re in a non-religious narrative controlled society, everything has to fit the narrative. Those under the influence of an age are not aware of its influence upon them.

        I think there is much cognitive dysfunction that is unaware of its condition. Brian Martin in “Truth Tactics” pages 9-10 writes about what he calls ‘The Rush to Judgment’ quoted below.

        “A good friend of mine, Isla MacGregor, became involved in campaigning on the issue of prostitution. Specifically, she supported what is called the Nordic model and, because some public supporters of this model were subject to censorship, defended free speech for them. Some time down the track, after she had told me a lot about this issue, she asked me my view. I said I hadn’t studied the issues in sufficient depth to make a judgement. Isla said I was the first person she had encountered who didn’t have an opinion. Few Australians have ever heard of the Nordic model. In Isla’s experience, as soon as people hear about it, nearly all of them express a view for or against it.”

        “In another case, one of my PhD students was the target of a media campaign of denigration, and I was also named in the media stories about her. I received quite a few messages, some supportive and some hostile. Only one person asked me for more information.”
        Source: Truth Tactics by Brian Martin.
        Free download
        https://www.bmartin.cc/pubs/21tt/

        Quote:
        “you say that you “don’t know” if six people were killed at wieambilla near tara because you have only heard about it “on the media”.

        I consider mainstream western world media, to be part of a system of philosophical control that is an upgraded and more devastating form of the original ‘Plan in Plato’. Media is one of the current mediums for national and global indoctrination that biblical indoctrination used to be.

        I suggest everyone be very careful about thinking they know things. Why? Well for just one possible fact from many I could call upon, I was deeply struck by the scientific procedural epistemic integrity of Kary Mullis in this video:
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vaMZ4NyNCwI&t=7s

        The clip above is from the multi award winning documentary, ‘House of Numbers’.

        Note the culture of scientific assumption which when challenged came up empty!

        Information in Kary Mullis account, and from my own looking into the matter leads me to the conclusion that HIV (the Aids virus) and the global AIDS pandemic was and still is being fabricated. Furthermore, knowing this enabled me to see from the get go, the Corona virus and its global pandemic are also fabrications. (Another Reference: Virus Mania 3rd Edition ISBN 978-3-7826-2978-1 A book written by MD and PhD qualified authors giving over 1400 citations. I consider the book to be too much trying to persuade as opposed to inform in an unbiased manner. But it does bring up some good points.)

        If anyone wants more information I suggest first visiting the ‘House of Numbers’ YouTube channel, downloading and watching and checking as you see fit/are able. https://www.youtube.com/@houseofnumbers

        Then there is
        Virus Mania Current Version
        https://archive.org/details/virus_mania
        An older version
        https://archive.org/details/virus-mania-how-the-medical-industry-continually-invents-epidemics-making-billio_202207

        Quote:
        “but “the media” is not just one person churning out stories for profit.”

        Obviously.

        Quote:
        “you know when an election is being held and you turn up to vote on the right day because you have learned about it through “the media”.”

        I usually don’t know when elections are being held.
        I don’t vote.
        I would have to act contrary to my beliefs to vote.
        As a consequence for not voting I received a letter informing me my name was taken off the electoral roll. I no longer get notifications for not voting and if I turned up to vote, I would not be able to, my name having been taken off the roll, assuming the letter is true of course.

        Quote:
        “the “media” is actually many individual reporters and editors and administrative staff involved in passing on news to the public — and there are many independent, even competing, persons bringing the news to you: e.g. I learned different aspects of the event by turning to different news media and reading what other reporters who had visited the site and interviewed various persons had to say.”

        Quote:
        “it is unreasonable to think that the thousands of individual persons and institutions (print and online and tv and radio media, police, health professionals, neighbours, relatives ….) Involved in reporting the story are all somehow making it up.”

        A lot of what you say “the media is” above, is obviously true. But if the most important core function is left out then it is fundamentally lacking in a core understanding. (Core understandings being in or not in, our preconceptions is extremely! mind shaping and view conclusion pre-determining.) Carrol Quigley, in Evolution of Civilisations Ch1, makes the fundamental point that we need all the facts and especially key facts in order to adequately view the reality of any historical situation.

        Our fundamental views of what society is and thus what parts of it like media truly are and how they function, are fundamentally different. It is often difficult for those with different views of the objective reality in question to communicate.

        A very brief “The Media is” statement from me to point out what I consider to be a vitally important core reality of much media.
        “The media” is a historical and current instrument for national and global indoctrination to philosophical narratives. It parallels the bible in structure and function but it has been genre transitioned and given a whole new overarching core of reason with a whole new battery of un-religious stories for people to live and move and have their beings in.

        Quote:
        “you are quite right to be concerned about the possibility of corruption involving government officials and certain industries with their hired scientists. That is the great thing about a democratic system. I have spoken once or twice about a chinese friend of mine who was shocked that “mere citizens” should be agitated over the possibility that “the government” could be doing something against the public interest: she believed that the government (the communist party of china) was made up of persons who had the public interest at heart always”

        I used to think exactly like your Chinese friend above. I was a fully born bred and schooled Australian.

        An example of me being like your Chinese friend. My father in law once tried to tell me that insect sprays, if harmful to insects, are likely to be harmful to us also. I explained that sprays harmful to insects would not hurt people because of the different natures of insects and humans and because our rulers would not allow a chemical that could cause harm, to be approved for use by us.

        It was impossible in my mind that our responsible honest English founded Australian society could or would be anything other than completely honest and responsible. Blind faith leading to a completely believing ‘reasoned’ obedience (the obedience of faith) was the rule of my thinking and living, because I was a ‘true believer’.

        Quote:
        “and it was treasonous to speak against them.”
        Great point!
        Some things just can’t be brought up without a high probability of triggering conditioned responses that label the talker and shut down open honest conversation. When the general population can be trained and conditioned this powerfully, treason and blasphemy laws are inferior and only to be fallen back upon if they become necessary.

        Paul Graham’s essay, ‘What You Can’t Say’ discusses this well. http://paulgraham.com/say.html In a more orthodox academic manner, Brian Martin, who has studied suppression of dissent for 40 years, also has some good material. https://www.bmartin.cc/dissent/documents/

        Quote:
        “we have a different culture in australia where citizens are expected to be agitated and speak out, raise a fuss, get organized, do their own investigations, and get active. Instead of throwing up our hands in despair, if we have serious concerns then let’s get the facts. Bring others in to help or at least lend a sympathetic ear. Let’s find out exactly what the facts are. Go to the media; put out invitations for concerned neighbours to get together and see who has the interest and ability to follow up and “get to the bottom of what’s happening”.

        Just beautiful.

        Brian Martin was head of Whistleblowers Australia for some years. Would it surprise you to find out that whistle blowers generally get attacked, discredited, lose their jobs, even get taken to court and often end up worse off while not changing much?

        Many that start applying beautiful notions as you express above have great motives and integrity but they don’t know what they are really dealing with. As a consequence they initiate ineffective actions and strategies.

        Quote:
        “democracy can only die if we say and do nothing but complain that nothing can be done.”

        I think the starting position is somewhat worse than you think but, I’ll take the positive sentiment. So, of course, I know some things that need to be done but there are few that are in a cognitive position to truly understand what society is at it’s philosophical creation level and thus few that can truly plan and implement actions that could start really fixing things by opening awareness of the foundational problems AND putting sufficiently understanding and workable solutions into action.

        Have a GREAT day Neil!

        Sincerely
        david

  3. For anyone interested in the question of public trust and the media we have the current release and response to the Australian Communications and Media Authority’s (ACMA) report that was investigating complaints by Fox News for bias in the ABC’s 4 Corners program on the media role in facilitating Trump’s lie about the election being stolen. See https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-12-22/acma-four-corners-sarah-ferguson-fox/101799722 — A moment’s thought on the ACMA persons responsible for such an investigation, the fact that Fox News appealed to them, the nature of ACMA’s findings, and the ability of the 4 Corners representative to respond — all of that speaks volumes to the question of the extent to which media can be held accountable and the public informed of arguments over the question of bias and integrity.

    Also: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-12-21/abc-defends-four-corners-after-acma-finds-breach-fox-news-report/101799498

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