Psychedelic Initiation and the Ecological Mega-Crisis + Q&A with Russell Brand

My closing talk from Breaking Convention, on Psychedelic Initiation and the Ecological Crisis. After it, I held a Q and A with Russell Brand, who came to check it out.

The Breaking Convention 2015: 3rd International Conference on Psychedelic Consciousness was hosted at the University of Greenwich, 10-12th July, 2015. These talks were part of the Transformations with Psychedelics symposium sponsored by the Beckley Foundation, a UK-based think-tank that has been at the forefront of global drug policy reform and scientific research into the potential medical benefits of psychoactive substances.

Occult Control System

Have you paid any attention to the slowly unfolding scandal at the highest level of British politics that includes decades of child sexual abuse, rape, and even the murder of children, as well as an enormous cover-up of these activities, suspicious deaths of whistle-blowers, disappearance of dossiers, and so on? Some of the political leaders involved include former heads of the British secret service, major liberal and conservative Members of Parliament, etcetera. Pop stars and media figures are also, allegedly, implicated. I realize that I had been hearing about this, reading occasional articles about it, without really stopping to consider what it means or what it suggests.

I want to briefly summarize my somewhat inchoate reflections here, and I am interested in what other people have to say about this, or what they think about it.

We have a major problem in the world right now, in that the ruling elites - those who manipulate the system for their own benefit - tend to be sociopaths and psychopaths. A system that is purely profit-based, that encourages cut-throat behavior to succeed, will naturally favor sociopaths and psychopaths, who don't care in the slightest about the collective elevation of humanity, or the future of the Earth's interconnected ecosystems. Unfortunately, under a worldwide technocracy ruled by such people, we are seeing the rapid escalation of ecological destruction, which now literally threatens the lives of everyone on Earth.

Sorry to repeat these statistics if you know them: 150 - 200 species go extinct a day, out of an estimated 8 million species, which means there will be no species left in 100 - 150 years. The world's rainforests, which contain a great deal of the Earth's biodiversity, are being decimated to grow palm oil for junk food and soybeans for cattle. Scientists now predict 3.5 - 5 degrees Celsius temperature rise by 2100 - at 4 degrees warmer, 80% of the remaining rainforests, which produce 20% of our oxygen, will be gone. A new report issued by climate scientists now predict more than ten feet of sea level rise within fifty years. The greatest danger is a massive eruption of the methane beneath the thawing Arctic, which could cause another 5 degrees temperature rise in a few decades.

If I intuit into the structures of elite power, I imagine there is a coterie of incredibly malevolent sociopaths (like the ones being investigated now in Britain), and another level of people who are not necessarily malevolent, but have been trained since childhood to use their intellect to compete and win within any power structure. When people go to elite Ivy League schools in the US, they are not trained to think systemically about the world, or to apply reason truly rationally. They are trained to maximize their advantage and succeed. The system is based on "irrational rationality," as Herbert Marcuse put it. The corporate and political elites are trained not to think comprehensively - but to specialize; particularly, in business, to focus on extracting and maximizing profit.

There is something like a trance of detachment, of nihilism, which still filters over our world, and prevents the level of systemic collaboration and focused, engaged action that would bring an alternative social-economic system - and with it the ability to address the ecological mega-crisis - into being. We still find ourselves ruled by an occult control system, where consciousness is manufactured and contorted from a great distance. The mass media is one octopus arm of the military-industrial complex.

When I say, "occult," I mean that I believe there are hidden or invisible powers and agencies that operate behind the scenes of historical events, representing themselves using signs, symbols, sigils, legal codes, ritual activities, etc. I think, for instance, the Illuminati - founded by professor Adam Weishaupt in the late 18th Century as a cynical effort to attain power by infiltrating the secret societies - is an occult force. I would associate the Illuminati with what Rudolf Steiner discussed as Ahriman - the being that pulls humanity toward minerality, sterility, soulless technology, nihilism, etc. Steiner foresaw the "incarnation" of Ahriman in the 21st Century. I sometimes wonder if Artificial Intelligence is the form that the incarnation of Ahriman will take in the near future. That is what the technocrats and nihilists seem to be pushing for.

When I think about bringing about a positive transformation of human society in the next decades, I wonder how humanity can contend with the power of the sociopaths, psychopaths, and narcissists who control the levers of military and secret government power, who are experts at manipulation and in creating labyrinths where the mass mind gets lost and distracted.

One idea that interests me is that previous myth-based societies fully recognized the place of the dark forces and the dark gods, and established initiatory paths for those who were impelled in this direction, but within a larger framework that preserved order. For instance, in Egypt, there were Temples of Horus and Set. In Central America, Quetzalcoatl and Tezcatlipoca (smoking mirror, the jaguar) were both worshiped and honored. In this way, these cultures recognized the necessary polarity of dark and light, and found a way to utilize the energies of the dark forces within a durable social structure.

I think we have to devise some system of rewards that gives the darker elements of the human Psyche a position within the structure, without being able to manipulate or control it (or commit ritualized abuse and murder). I don't honestly know how this could be done, from where we are now. The first step seems to be that we reach some collective understanding of the kinds of forces at work, and find a way to discuss it that is not overly literal or caricatured to the point of absurdity.

July 22, 2015