Dear Friend and Reader:
THIS WEEK, a friend sent me one of those YouTube videos about the rise of fascism in America. We’ve all seen them, right?
The video said that Mexico , the United States and Canada had formed a secret allegiance and were planning to abolish their respective currencies and introduce the amero, akin to the euro. Then, North America would be under one government, Europe would be under one government, an Asian alliance was forming and all of Asia would be under one government, same with Africa, and then all of these would be combined into One World Government, following a plan more than sixty years in the making! (Actually, I think it goes back to around the time of the Old Kingdom of Egypt.)
Now, for background, I’m one of those conspiracy nuts — the real thing. This is mainly because I’ve documented so many plans by government and industry to do mean things to people and defraud them in the process (the two usually come together). I have a most impressive document collection (unfortunately, it’s in storage in Winnipeg or someplace). I believe that Sept. 11th was done by the shadow government, that Bush stole both elections, that Dick Cheney is Satan and Ronald McDonald is his cousin. Therefore, I am sympathetic to any theory or proposition that is willing to look at the connections between seemingly separate things (i.e., a conspiracy theory) as long as there is a little evidence to back up the notion.
I don’t doubt that such a thing is possible or even in the works, but I had to laugh at this very Pluto in Capricorn-styled video. Pluto enters Capricorn today for the first time since the era of the American Revolution, and we’re going to be hearing a lot about this kind of issue because Capricorn is closely associated with governments, while Pluto is associated with obsession and power. They may be a little late, but we’re going to see a movement of concern about the rise of Big Brother and his cousins.
Why did I laugh? Why am I not concerned about the rise of the One World Government?
But of course: EZ-Pass.
Most people who think about totalitarian regimes and the loss of civil liberties worry about traditional forms of oppression, i.e., coming from the government (perhaps in the style of Hitler or one of his friends). As Pluto enters Capricorn, I am worried about EZ-Pass. This is the “prepaid toll collection system” that is storming the highways and byways of our land: the digital highwayman.
Here is my story. Over the summer, Chelsea (the world-renowned Planet Waves office manager) informed me that I had allegedly run a toll on the Garden State Parkway in New Jersey and that EZ-Pass was trying to collect $25 from us. This seemed weird, in part because at the time I was not an EZ-Pass subscriber. And I don’t skip tolls; it’s stupid — they have 10 cameras and a DNA sampler pointed at you. Also, it violates my motto, “Don’t steal less than $1 million.” Chelsea called them up and schmoozed me out of it. We paid 35 cents instead; she wrote them a check and they went away.
A couple of months later, EZ-Pass was after me again. It seemed they thought I had run another toll. I sent them a letter and a check for 35 cents, which they accepted (it was on a different license tag than the rental car I was driving the first time, so I was still a “first offender”).
Then a month later, I got a notice that I had run yet another toll, and again I sent a letter and a check for 35 cents, which they refused to accept this time.
The first two times it was weird. I assumed they had altered the timing of their toll plaza cameras to create these violations as a kind of marketing effort for their “service.” The third time I was pissed off. I started by Googling the name of one of the state senate leaders in New Jersey for name-dropping purposes and future use.
Then I called EZ-Pass. I was polite but firm. I don’t run tolls. What’s your issue?
The guy on the phone was articulate, educated and politely robotic. He explained that, according to his records, I had taken an express lane (driving at 51 miles per hour) that was reserved for EZ-Pass customers only. I had not run a tollbooth — I drove in the wrong lane. No toll plaza; no barrier; no flashing lights. “There are signs alerting you to this,” he said, and I should have seen them. He explained that this EZ-Pass lane was a convenience for tag holders.
I was incredulous and incensed in that deep, organic and patriotic kind of way. This had struck the center nerve of my civil liberties detector. But I kept my cool with the guy and — for no good reason, since he couldn’t do anything — I explained the issues. Then I called Senator Leonard Lance’s office in New Jersey and explained the issues to his legislative aid.
1. My grandparents paid for the construction of the interstate highway system. Our abundant federal taxes, vehicle fees and tolls pay to maintain it. It’s also part of the national defense infrastructure; all interstates must meet certain specifications for the movement of military equipment. It is outrageous that a portion of a public highway would be designated off-limits to ordinary citizens and reserved for a special class of citizen — subscribers to a private service. This is like saying a certain sidewalk in Chicago is reserved exclusively for people with Verizon cell phones; anybody else pays a $25 fine for putting their feet on the ground there.
2. A private company has been contracted by the state not only to do the state’s business (sometimes called privatization), but to create a false jurisdiction. Vehicle and Traffic Laws of all states already exist in a constitutional gray zone. This is because a traffic infraction is neither a criminal nor a civil matter. They exist halfway between, in an admiralty jurisdiction that you enter “voluntarily” when you sign your license or registration application. (With a few requests, I’ll do a story on this.) While New Jersey could not suspend my out-of-state driver’s license for allegedly not paying the allegedly unpaid toll or the fine, they could report me to a credit bureau, affecting (for example) my future ability to buy or rent a house, purchase food, etc. All for driving in the wrong lane!
3. Because jurisdiction over a vehicle and traffic matter has been delegated by the state to a private corporation, the alleged perpetrator has no rights. You are presumed guilty, there is no way to appear before a judge, you have no opportunity for a trial, and no opportunity for discovery (reviewing your opponent’s testimony or documents). There is no witness to your alleged violation, just a picture; there isn’t a cop who has to show up and testify against you and collect vacation points if he or she gets a conviction. This is another country than the one where you are presumed innocent and have the right to face your accuser.
This is what we have to worry about with Pluto in Capricorn: the rise of the corporation as the supreme power in our lives, the supreme violator of liberties and privacy, and the piper we pay to walk out of the house. Yes, this issue has been there for a while, but now paraphrasing the Six Million Dollar Man, “we have the technology.” Technology makes this all a lot easier. But now, here is my question: do you care? Does anybody?
You really need to care. Sinclare Lewis once said that fascism would come to America wrapped in the flag, carrying a cross. This is poetic. I say it’s already arrived, sporting the American Express logo and a corporate security ID tag.
In a 1988 book called Toward an American Revolution, author Jerry Fresia makes a good point. The United States has a workable constitution that protects some of our rights, but it doesn’t apply to corporations. Rather, corporations are guaranteed the rights of individuals, but they don’t have to protect the rights of people.
This is why you can get fired for mentioning your job in your blog. As an American citizen, you have the right to free speech, but only as far as the government is concerned. A corporation sets its own rules, while keeping all of its First Amendment rights intact. In other words, a company says and does what it wants, while dictating what you can say and do. This is fine as long as a company does its thing, such as sell Coca-Cola. t’s not fine when it takes jurisdiction over the public highways and airwaves, removing any recourse that we might ordinarily have through a legitimate government entity.
I will give you one last example for now. This is going to be a long discussion as Pluto works its way across Capricorn, and we will unfortunately have many examples. Over the summer, truthout.orgdiscovered that Microsoft and AOL were blocking emails to subscribers, presumably because they did not like the content of truthout emails (reprinting newspaper articles which take a “liberal” position, i.e., expose issues about the Iraq war and civil liberties). They learned this because numerous readers reported the problem.
It turned out to involve AOL, Hotmail, MSN, WebTV and also Yahoo. “We can learn from this that ‘FREE’ is a farce,” wrote truthout’s executive director Marc Ash. “And when it comes to AOL, when they are your Internet provider, they are your mommy.”
By Sept. 20, Ash wrote, “It looks like AOL has lifted their ban. While it’s still pretty early, it looks like we convinced AOL that you do have the right to read what you want. Microsoft and Yahoo are still interfering. Microsoft is dug in and blatantly refusing to deliver messages, that’s Hotmail, MSN, WebTV and who knows what else.”
Yahoo was still sorting all truthout mail to junk folders even though readers were attempting to designate the posts as desirable mail.
I could give hundreds of examples of this kind of problem. Each on its own seems a trivial annoyance, or like it potentially has another explanation. None directly involves the government, but rather, corporations deciding what you can read and thus deciding what you can think, and in the case of EZ-Pass, dictating where you can physically go or be subject to a fine for a violation you have no idea you’re committing. But if you add up the many thousands of seemingly minor incidents, you will see that the issue is threatening to subsume reality as we know it. Any time I use an “off-color” word in Planet Waves or so much as mention s-x, a bunch of our emails are caught by company censorship filters, and I am informed that my content is inappropriate to reach my recipient.
Private internet rating companies sometimes rate our website as “occult” because we write about astrology (which I discovered in a hotel lobby one day) or “pornography” because I also do nude fine art photography. Recently, when I complained to one provider of wireless services to a coffee house chain, our rating was promptly changed from porno to “arts and culture,” presumably a big difference. Were they being friendly and honest, or were they concerned they might meet my legal team? To call Planet Waves pornography, and block it from readers, is indeed slander, and I could enjoy a hefty damages settlement if I could establish that in court. Fortunately, I did not have to take it that far.
The problem as I see it is twofold; part one is that we are “getting used to the bullshit,” and part two is that most people are ignorant to the issues and their deeper implications. Most of us have done a sufficiently good job of surrendering our curiosity to not want to look at the problem. It takes energy to care, and even more energy to act. Most people, unfortunately, are not creative enough to care that somebody is trying to stifle their right to know something, or to say something. Freedom is a big responsibility. To take up that responsibility, you really do need to be passionate about being free, and you can’t do that if you already think you’re not free.
One of the reasons I’m not concerned about “One World Government” is that just about everyone who gets to a certain level of power fancies themselves a tin pot dictator or petty fascist of some kind or another, and corporate chiefs (and political types) are famous for this. This partly explains the policies of companies scanning your email for naughty words. People, countries and companies are naturally competitive and, try as we may, we’re not ants in an ant farm who rally round one queen. Who is going to be the ruler of the One World Government? Well, surely not the other guy.
Among the self-actualized, progressive and awake people in the world, there are few who want any part of dictatorship and are doing their part to build a fair world. But for the most part, these people are few and far between — the promise of individual power and autonomy for its own sake, not for the collective benefit, is currently the most popular mental poise, once you get past 24-hour entertainment.
Meanwhile, we are quickly falling for the mentality that in the New World Corporate State, Big Brother is reading your email and blocking some of it, and while he or she is at it, keeping a copy forever. We think that Blackwater Security just might show up one day, making us long for the quaint days when we grumbled about police radar traps. And hey — I got tired of getting violation notices and subscribed to EZ-Pass. Most people simply do not care.
And in that case, we have met the enemy — and it is us.
Yours & truly,
Pluto Enters Capricorn Tonight
PLUTO MAKES its first ingress to Capricorn tonight since Ben Franklin was a walking around. Indeed, we are about to enter the Pluto return of the United States of America — look out! But it’s probably not going to happen overnight. Pluto last occupied this position on Jan. 7, 1762, just before Franklin’s 56th birthday.
Pluto, after taking a transitional year to enter Capricorn (2008), will remain in that sign until 2023/2024. The Pluto return of the Declaration of Independence is Feb. 20, 2022.
That being said, Pluto’s movement to a new sign today is momentous, crossing into the first degree of a cardinal sign and thus aspecting the Aries Point. The Aries Point (or first degree of Aries) brings in the connection between all that impersonal stuff and an individual human life, helping us see our relationship to society itself — often a difficult thing to do.
We have been getting a lot of Pluto lately, with this planet exactly conjunct the Galactic Core through all of last year, peaking in December with a conjunction of Jupiter and Pluto on the core. This was like a spiritual initiation prior to the big event, of Pluto taking up its home in one of the signs most distinctly associated with the material world. Capricorn is an earthy sign dedicated to ideas of structure, structure itself (including that of society), ideology and the past.
This transit occurs as the most meaningful event at an otherwise exciting context, with Mars (a co-ruler of Capricorn) about to station direct next week, Mercury about to station retrograde and two eclipses on the immediate horizon. Those are fairly trivial developments in the scheme of things, but they fill in the story and provide a background that is calling on us to loosen up our energy to help integrate this change.
This is one that will, in ways subtle or direct, have an effect on everything. Pluto often works in the background, as a color so subtle we cannot see it. An example from the last sign change may prove helpful. During Pluto in Scorpio, all you heard about on the news was AIDS. When Pluto changed signs in 1995 and began its trip across Sagittarius, AIDS dropped off the radar and jihadist extremism started dancing around on the stage.
I don’t know about you, but I’m as bored of suicide bombers as I was of half-baked, partly true news stories about AIDS. But Pluto in Capricorn is going to provide a source of energy that most of us are not likely prepared to deal with. On the personal level, we need to work with the structure of our lives, building it intentionally rather than willy-nilly.
Pluto in Capricorn is also going to direct us to have a more conscious relationship with corporate and government entities. This may include shedding our ignorance, dusting off the Constitution and considering it for a moment, participating in local and corporate governance, taking on some kind of leadership capacity that we feel called to serve in, and in general, applying ethics to life as if this were a meaningful activity. Pluto is about taking what currently exists as an unconscious process and making it a conscious one. It prompts us to engage in consciousness raising, from below: to push ourselves up, to raise our minds out of sleep, and to become aware of what is happening around us.
Transits don’t happen overnight and the cusps of astrological signs are often sensitive for some degrees in either direction. So we’ve been in this mode for a while, but now we get to see some of these changes like a new lens dropped in front of the Sun. Please watch for ongoing coverage in Planet Waves between now and 2024, by which time Planet Waves will be carried hourly on your neurological media implant.
Weekly Horoscope for Friday, January 25, 2008, #698 – By ERIC FRANCIS
Aries (March 20-April 19)
Psychology could be flexible, but it turns out to be one of the most rigid substances on Earth. Most of what binds it to itself is conflict, and the majority of all conflict is internal. As Mars stations direct in the angle of your house associated with your ideas and thought patterns, you have a chance to see, feel and experience the roots of that conflict for what they are. You don’t need to back away from a real conversation with yourself because you fear what might be revealed: let everything be revealed (within the safe confines of your mind) and then decide what you need to communicate. Behind every aggressive act is a simple statement about a need or personal truth. Try starting there and you will find your communication is so effective you only need to say things once, gently.
Taurus (April 19-May 20)
These days, the further you travel, the more benefit will come to you. The more you consider the idea behind something or someone, the deeper your understanding will take you into the central meaning of the encounter. I am suggesting that you stretch the greatest distance that you can, but also that you go deeply wherever you are. If the factors of your environment call you deep into the past, check it out. If you are pulled toward a future you don’t recognize, go as deep into the unknown as you can. Please don’t judge your whole journey based on any one destination. You can assess the trip as a whole, or rather, don’t judge at all. You don’t need to — what surrounds you anywhere is so interesting as to be beyond judgment, even a bit beyond truth.
Gemini (May 20-June 21)
You may be inclined to go back on a long-term plan whose moment seems to have just arrived. This may seem odd, since your sense of resolve has never been stronger. What, exactly, is happening? You’re in a brief window where you have an opportunity to refine your vision. This will take about a month, just long enough to give your plans a good once-over even as you make some progress in moving their direction. Make sure you’re not confused about your decision having changed, even if you’re having your doubts or if you recognize more work is necessary. The foundation of your idea is the same, and it’s positioned on solid ground. You’re merely in a space of working out not only some key details, but getting an intuitive sense of how the landscape of time is laid out. A large piece of the puzzle is intuitive, not factual. You already have plenty of data. Confirmation that you’re ready will come through some other process than intellectual.
Cancer (June 21-July 22)
With the Sun moving across the angle of your chart involving shared resources, financial deals and long-term commitments, you’re likely to be questioning your involvement in certain situations — and Pluto slipping into your opposite sign tomorrow is suggesting that you need to be careful. You’re on the right track; you merely need to ask your questions a little differently, however. The issue is finally one of abundance, rather than of lack. What exactly do you do when you have so many options, and how do you manage commitments that you no longer want to devote yourself to 100%? Information is forthcoming. Over the next week you’ll get a sense of the weakness in any system, such that you have a chance to correct it. Make no mistake: you can get this right, and you can do it sooner than your fears may lead you to believe.
Leo (July 22-Aug. 23)
You are beginning to see the enormous benefits of balancing love, work and paying attention to your health. The advantages you have now are kind of like an advance against royalties — an incentive to work for balance in the long-run so that you may experience the benefits over time. Up till this point, you’ve done so without making too many structural adjustments, but you can feel the winds of change shifting directions. The key is flexibility. Allow everything to be subject to change, and you will choose most of the changes you want to make. When a particularly meaningful or rare astrological transit arrives — and Pluto ingressing your 6th house of work and wellbeing certainly counts — you need to match your life to the imagery of the planets. If nothing else, Pluto in Capricorn is about taking high initiative to create the specific circumstances of the life you want.
Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22)
Your sign has a well-deserved reputation for being self-critical, serious and devoted. If you were to be less fussy about how well you are doing in life and rinse off some of your serious cast, you would only enhance your devotion. Pluto’s sign change this week activates the most creative, passionate angle of your chart. It’s also the one that talks about how you grew up too soon and missed many opportunities to be a child, way back when you were one. The message of this transit is to connect with that kid inside you and figure out what he or she needs. Put those needs first. I can assure you that play, art and sex are on top of the list. All need to be done with the approximate energy of a kid — with abandon, love and forgetting any sense of time. If your creative passion has been held prisoner by one thing in life, it’s the clock. Imagine how good you would feel if time were your friend rather than your warden.
Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23)
You need to liberate space and emotional bandwidth so that you can soak in some of the incredible energy that is around you. Part of the way to do that is to let go of some of the trappings of the past that seem to be so appealing at the moment. There is an exchange process going on at the moment: there are decidedly old influences, some of which you want and some of which you don’t; and there are new influences, some of which will be welcome and some which will shake you up. In all of this, you have options. You can decide what you want, what you need and what you prefer. I suggest you establish an organized basis for doing so — for example, choose on the basis of what helps you versus what hurts you. Choose on the basis of whether you feel it’s time for new experiences. Note how many times you said you were going to do something in the past — and decide if, given the chance, you would do it now.
Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22)
Mars is creeping to a halt in the most sensitive relationship angle of your chart. Pluto is crossing the line into a new sign for the first time in 12 years. This is strongly suggesting that the croupier has taken all five decks out of the rack and is shuffling the entire game. You are reorienting entirely, though at this point you don’t even have a map of the new territory, much less a clear view. You need actually, to start with simply looking around over the next few days, and seeing what is going in what direction; what is developing, what is fading into the past. You may not, at this point, feel like you can do much about what is happening, but do you really want to? Or is this a time to go with the changes, even if you have no idea where you’ll end up? If you know nothing else, you know what’s important to you. Stick to that and you’ll dependably go right where you need to be.
Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22)
For years, you have been looking at the world through one particular filter. Much has changed in those years, but one thing has remained constant. Now for the first time, you’re about to see the world without this quality of energy obstructing your view, or your emotional experience. I would characterize it a little like this. You have learned how to do what psychologists call over-focus. There have been times this was helpful and necessary — and times when it cost you friends and opportunities. You have developed an ability to work from the bottom line upward, though without necessarily seeing the costs that came in places that could not be added up or even described. You have learned that right and wrong are matters of opinion, but that you definitely have one. It’s time for a break from all of that.
Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20)
You are beginning to figure out that mental patterns make the world. As we think, the world tends to become. It’s a beautiful principle when it works. When it does not work, it’s so frustrating that we forget the simple truth that the architecture of the world is drafted first with a pencil called the imagination. You are in an unusual phase of opportunity where you can erase the lines you have put down and write new ones. Indeed, just the knowledge that this is possible will prove to be helpful in the next couple of weeks, but you must go further than petty gains and minor adjustments. Don’t count your pennies: be aware of the ideas that support your reality. Watch the ones you did not know existed rise to the surface. Change them on the deepest level, which is the agreements you have with yourself.
Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19)
The forthcoming eclipse of the Sun in your birth sign, exact Feb. 6/7 depending on your time zone, provides you with an opportunity to use your strength for your own benefit. Too often, you use your power against yourself, and even if you happen to notice one or two ways that you do this, you’re way ahead of the game. Of the many changes that have swept through your life for as long as you can remember, there is one that has eluded your awareness. You seem poised to discover something about yourself that’s been extant but invisible to your view and perhaps that of everyone around you. Once it rises to the surface, remember that it’s not cast in iron — to the contrary, it’s subject to revision (re-visioning or seeing again). And anything you learn evolves in the process of integrating it into your body and soul.
Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20)
The one person you must keep no secrets from is yourself. This is the true definition of honesty. If you play no games with yourself, you’ll be safe, you will be able to define growth and progress, and most of all, you will put the world in a position where it must negotiate with you rather than the other way around. This is the power of self-awareness. I’m pretty sure this is the thing that most people run from — because it makes us so strong, and so influential. It’s the thing that therapy, spiritual training and experience most often teach us to pursue. It’s just that we often have rules, guidelines and false values that create a floor of acceptability that we stand on, never looking at what is below. I can tell you something about what it is: it involves your supposed place in the community. Don’t let it be your dictator.