Astrology

Spies in the Workplace

I just read a very scary WSJ article about all the ways in which large US companies are spying on their employees – from their first email sent from bed in the morning to the new business contact added on the way home.

Employers are using the resulting data collected in many ways including spotting problem employees and monitoring which teams are the most productive. But it goes further. One of the newest frontiers is dissecting phone calls and conference room conversations.

Apparently, these employers are under little, if any obligation, to share their tactics or gathered information with their employees and there is almost nothing that the employees can do about it.


Workplace spies?

I was forced to agree with one comment in the response thread following the article – i.e. ‘that no employee should expect any privacy at work’. The operative word here is expect –  for any employee would clearly be foolish to believe the situation to be other than it is. But I can’t help but think that employers are shooting themselves in the proverbial foot here because ‘trust’ (or lack thereof) cuts both ways. Traditionally, those companies who have profited most have tried hard to ensure employees at all levels work toward a common goal and share common values. I am pretty up to date on The Harvard Business Review and this seems to be the line that most articles there continue to take. But in light of this WSJ article, the academically inspired ‘advice’ from the creme de la creme is seemingly ignored, perhaps because more than corporate profitability is at stake.

I can only imagine that when Pluto hits Aquarius in 2023 and the proverbial ‘shit’ hits the fan in regards to technology and how it is being used, that it will be the employers who will end up with brown goo on their faces.

Pluto roots out all that is wrong in society in regards to the zodiac sign in which it traverses, concentrating on that which is dark, secretive, taboo, and purposefully hidden. With moralistic, idealistic (black and white) Aquarius, it’s all about doing the ‘right thing’ and I’m guessing that when the whole truth oozes out about the degree of spying and the uses made of it, employee loyalty of any kind will truly be a thing of the past.

If in doubt how this works, consider what happened when in 2008, when Pluto entered Capricorn, the sign associated with business, banking, and government.

Astrology

Are we headed for a Black Hole?

During the period between June-September 2018, expect the United States to set the foundations (with or without help from others) for serious global financial fallout in 2020/2021.

  • We’ve been here before – this has a fated quality.
  • What you see is not what you get especially in regards to very public and very inspirational governmental (presidential) speeches – smokescreen is one word – but bamboozle is probably a better word – pay attention here – this is a slippery slope.
  • The solar eclipse on 13 July 2018 at 20 Capricorn sows the seeds for all this – but will they take hold and grow?
  • Watch this space and that BLACK HOLE.

June ingress USA

Detailed Points of Consideration:

  1. Rising Sign and chart ruler – key to entire situationWith Cancer rising, the Moon is the chart ruler and this Moon is not particularly comfortable in Libra – where it might be diplomatic – but also isolated – in the 4thhouse – in its own back yard of nationalism. This Moon in Libra also makes trine (slippery slope– see comments below on the nature of the trine) to Mars in Aquarius in the 8th house. Now, although Mars equates to fighting words in 8thhouse concerns (i.e. international finance and multi-national corporations) it is – oops – conjunct the South Node.  We’ve been here before – the nodes have a fated quality especially in regards to relationships – possible crisis-point.
  2. Interestingly, this Moon in Libra also makes a Sextile (facilitating aspect) to Venus in Leo in the 2nd house, which is (not surprisingly) conjunct to the North Node. While Mars symbolises manufacturing and, of course, the military, Venus seeks peace and harmony and, in mundane astrology, it signifies where society seeks its ‘joy’. Now, with Venus in Leo in the 2nd house, the American public are seeking their joy through showy materialism and financial strength (i.e. 2nd house = economy, material resources, and the nation’s GNP). Yet despite the flag-waving glory (Leo), none of these three planets (Moon, Venus, or Mars) are strong– and worse, Venus in Leo is actually in detriment – where it struggles to perform. This suggests a passionate desire of the American people to return to better financial days (nodal axis) but will their efforts in this regard be successful?
  3. Midheaven/Ascendant (MC/ASC) Midpoint – in any chart, the MC/ASC midpoint is very sensitive and, in this chart, it is at 8 Taurus with both Venus in Leo and Mars in square (difficult aspect). According to Baigent, Campion, and Harvey (p. 227) – the MC/AS midpoint is always highly sensitive to transits and often says something important about the country’s ideas and aspirations (MC) re: working in the world (ASC). In May/June 2020 – transiting Uranus (revolution, innovation, breakdown in order) will conjunct this midpoint. This suggests that the foundations laid by the US between 21 June- 21 September 2018 will come home to roost in 2020/2021(transiting Uranus makes a 2nd hit at 8 Taurus in March 2021) – when, according to financial astrology (Skinner, p. 9), we’re due for some serious global financial fallout. It might be going too far to blame these future difficulties on American diplomacy during the period of June/September 2018 but it is tempting.
  4. Neptune Conjunct the MC (Midheaven) – as noted in an earlier post – this suggests that what you see is not what you get and in the case of the American presidency (MC and cusp of 10thhouse) – ‘smokescreen’ is the word. But add to this the fact that Neptune (at 16 Pisces) is forming a grand water trine with Jupiter (13 Scorpio) and Mercury (16 Cancer) and I might even suggest that ‘bamboozle’ is the better word. According to Ebertin (p. 121) the combination of Neptune/Jupiter/Mercury is not only inspirational speaking but also misleading speeches through either outright deception or speculation (or both). As Liz Greene has often said, the trine aspect is considered ‘easy’ for good reason because it represents the proverbial ‘slippery slope’ – i.e. step too close to the edge and WHOOSH – it’s a fast-downhill ride.images
  5. One final comment– in mundane astrology Pluto is associated with corporate affairs and group activity especially when to selfish advantage – and in this chart Pluto is at 20 Capricorn in the 7thhouse (foreign relations and agreements). According to Skinner (p. 201), 22 degrees Capricorn is in alignment with a ‘Black Hole’ which equates to upheaval with regards to any planet touching it. Skinner (p. 28) suggests when the planet involved is Pluto, the upheaval is at ‘nuclear or devastating scale’. Now, it just so happens that the upcoming solar eclipse on 13 July 2018 is within seconds of 20 Capricorn suggesting that we might expect the seeds to be sown for the expected fallout during 2019 (June 2019 will be particularly interesting) and 2020 when transiting Pluto actually hits 22 Capricorn.

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  • Baigent, M., Campion, N., and Harvey, C. (1992) Mundane Astrology. 2nd London: Thorsons.
  • Ebertin, R (1972) The Combination of Stellar Influences. 4th trans Roosedale, A and Kratzsch, L. Tempe: American Federation of Astrology, Inc.
  • Skinner, Christeen H. (2016) Exploring the Financial Universe. Lake Worth: Ibis Press.
Book reviews

Power and Promise – Utopian Propaganda & Orwell’s Animal Farm

imagesIn the preface to his Ukrainian Edition of Animal Farm, George Orwell says that his reason for writing the novel was to reveal what he believed to be the Soviet myth underlying Socialism – the political and economic model that he wholeheartedly embraced. According to Orwell, nothing had caused greater harm to the Socialist movement in England than that the majority of English people so blithely accepted the ‘lies of totalitarian propaganda’, apparently incapable of assessing the true nature of either the Nazi or Soviet regimes (Orwell, 112).

Propaganda, defined for this essay as ‘opinion management’ (Welch, 3), is oft associated with falsehood and lies, even though in reality, propaganda is ethically neutral (Welch, 17). Much of the ‘bad’ propaganda, like we have come to associate with the likes of Hitler and Stalin, is down to marketing of the utopian dream (Roemer, 103). Perhaps the reason that this type of propaganda gets such bad press is that, etymologically, utopia is both a ‘good place’ that is ‘no place’ (Vieira, 4)? After all, if the utopian dream carries with it both the affirmation of possibility as well as the negation of its fulfilment, then it ought to come as no surprise that attempts to put utopian ideals into practice will fail. But, as Orwell laments, such failure often does come as a surprise, not the least because people did not wish to see coming (Orwell, 111). So if ‘bad’ propaganda aims to sell us the impossible dream then what might we do to get a better grip on it? David Welch (17) suggests that to make more informed decisions about propaganda, we must gain a better understanding of its nature and process. I suggest that in achieving this worthy goal, Orwell’s novel may offer us valuable assistance.

Animal Farm recounts the rise of Soviet communism in the form of an animal fable wherein a democratic coalition of animals urged by Old Major, a prize-winning boar, over-throw their human oppressor, Mr Jones. Old Major kicks off the revolution by singing a catchy song entitled Beasts of England – bringing ‘joyful tidings’ of a ‘golden future time’ when the ‘fruitful fields of England’ shall be ‘trod by beasts alone’. Propaganda works best by reducing shared cultural ideologies and cosmologies – especially in regards to a lost Golden Age – to its lowest common denominator, that which is marketable for mass consumption (Welch, 10). Old Major knew this; he markets his vision of an English Arcadia, a lost utopian pastoral dream, to a mass of animals all too willing to consume this ‘new outlook on life’ (Orwell, 9).

The takeaway point is that propaganda works best when it sharpens and focuses existing trends and beliefs (Welch, 11). It is no accident that Old Major chooses a night when Mr Jones is too drunk to feed the animals to suggest his glorious alternative. By appealing to the animal’s dissatisfaction with their ‘miserable, laborious, and short’ lives when their stomachs are empty (Orwell,3- 5), Old Major not only focuses their generalised complaints on a specific cause but also encourages them to embrace an apparent solution. Old Major also knows that propaganda works best when it focuses on simple, strong, easily identifiable (black and white) emotions such as love/hate (Welch, 8). He directs the animal’s now heightened sense of injustice to its ‘single’ root cause – ‘Man’ – ‘the only really enemy we have’ (Orwell, 4). After this, Old Major has little more to say except to warn the animals that they must never become like Man (Orwell, 6).

The takeaway point here that there must be a meaningful correlation between the inspirational hopes generated by utopian propaganda and the citizens’ everyday reality; get the mix wrong and reader/listener disconnects (Vieira, 8 and Welch, 17). But get the mix right – pitch to a hungry animal that his life is one of ‘misery’ and ‘slavery’, then he will not only connect but connect strongly; the ‘soil of England is fertile’ and the ‘climate is good’, right? Then it only makes sense that such a place is ‘capable of affording food in abundance’, if only the animals put their backs into it. The principal energy of utopia is hope – a reaction to an undesirable present combined with an ardent desire to tackle all impediments to achieve that imagined alternative (Vieira, 6). Yet when, as is inevitable, the alternative itself carries impediments – i.e. there would be no sugar after the Rebellion (Orwell, 10) – then it is imperative to let no one (not even the pigs, who are undeniably ‘brilliant talkers’) brush aside these concerns. Elsewise, a dangerous precedent is set, one that will be difficult if not impossible to reverse, as the animals discover to their dismay. The question of whether or not they would continue to have sugar may not have been key to the future success of Animal Farm but when they later raise more important concerns – i.e. why the pigs should be the only ones to enjoy the best food, apples and milk – they are ever more easily brushed aside. Even though it may not be justifiable the pigs get all the good food – especially when this violates a basic tenet of Animalism – i.e. all animals are equal – these hapless animals quickly find that they have ‘no more to say’ (Orwell, 23).

With any utopia comes issues of power (Pohl, 51). Hence it should come as no surprise that propaganda is often used as an instrument by those wishing to secure or retain power in times of stress and turmoil (Welch, 4). This is most certainly the case in Animal Farm. After Old Major dies, the initial democratic coalition quickly gives way to consolidation of power in the pigs. After all, not only are they more clever than the other animals (they are ‘brilliant talkers’), but they also know how to read. Later, rivalry between Trotsky and Stalin after the death of Lenin is symbolised by the struggle for pre-eminence between two pigs, Snowball (Trotsky) and Napoleon (Stalin). In both cases, historical and fictional, utopian idealism falls by the wayside when the thirst for power rears its ugly head. Yet even though the animals were ‘silent’ and ‘terrified’ when Snowball is viciously expelled from the farm by Napoleon’s dogs (Orwell, 35) for no good reason, they were not yet finished with power plays.

Inherent in most utopias is the need for strict state/government regulation of every aspect of life (Pohl, 51). If each cloud has a silver lining, then each bright, shiny utopia has a ‘dark side’ – flying too high must, eventually, lead to a fall (Vieira, 14). Not only that, but if the citizens themselves are to fly high – maintain those impossible utopian standards, then a rigid set of laws are a must to keep them in line. How else will their ‘unreliable and unstable’ natures be repressed – the most pernicious not which is pride (Pohl, 57). Although forewarned that they might need to sacrifice some of their eggs for the common good, when the hens learn this will mean all of their eggs, they cry ‘murder’ (Orwell, 49); luckily only nine hens die as the result their ‘determined effort to thwart Napoleon’s wishes’. But still, this is not the end. The cruel methods by which Stalin eliminates the rest of his‘enemies’, is parodied by the fallacious confessions and cruel executions of all those whom Napoleon has come to distrust.

Years pass.

Life for everyone but the pigs, deteriorates.

Disillusionment sets in.

Finally, Napoleon invites a human farmer named Mr Pilkington to dinner and declares his intention to ally himself with his human neighbours against the working classes in both the human and animal communities. Worse, Animal Farm must revert back to its original name, Manor Farm. Watching this meeting through the farmhouse window, the common animals are no longer able to tell which are the pigs and which are the human beings – the only warning given to the animals by Old Major having been (sadly) ignored.

The End.

Undoubtedly, the promise of a Paradise on Earth is appealing; all the more because the masses to whom it is being marketed are generally ‘politically apathetic’ yet prone to ‘ideological fanaticism’ (Welch, 10). Undoubtedly, this is the case in Animal Farm. Even after all that has happened, at the end of the day the animals never give up hope – not for ‘even an instant’ do they lose their ‘sense of honour and privilege’ in being members of Animal Farm (Orwell, 85). Yet if they had realised that ideology is only a system of ideas and ideals (OED, n, 1), that ideals exist only in the imagination (OED, adj. 2), and that ideas are only thoughts and suggestions of possible courses of action (OED, n, 1), the animals story might have turned out markedly different. Instead of allowing their opinions to be managed such that they blithely accept utopian propaganda as their blueprint to bliss, they should instead have viewed it as a strategy for evaluating the reality of the present as well as one possible programme for gradual (responsible) change (Vieira, 21).

 

 

Bibliography

Orwell, George. Animal Farm. New York: Everyman’s Library, 1993.

Pohl, Nicole. ‘Utopianism After More: The Renaissance and Enlightenment’, (51-78). The Cambridge Companion to Utopian Literature, ed. Gregory Claeys. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010.

Roemer, Kenneth M. ‘Paradise transformed: varieties of nineteenth-century utopias’, (79-106). The Cambridge Companion to Utopian Literature, ed. Gregory Claeys. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010.

Vieira, Fatima. ‘The concept of utopia’, (3-27). The Cambridge Companion to Utopian Literature, ed. Gregory Claeys. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010.

Welch, David. ‘Opening Pandora’s Box: Propaganda, Power and Persuasion (3-18). Propaganda, Power and Persuasion: From World War I to WikiLeaks, ed. David Welch. London: I.B. Tauris, 2014.

Astrology

Pluto’s 21st Century Trek Thru Capricorn Spells an End to 20th Century Economics

In a recent essay, philosopher John Gray suggests that John Maynard Keynes, one of the most influential economists of the 20th Century, would not have supported the ‘simple minded’ view that the only way forward is through government stimulation of the economy to facilitate a return to growth.

The problem, Gray notes, isn’t just a deepening recession, but instead the breakdown of modern capitalism itself.

He suggests that complex interaction of the collapse of debt-based finance, fatal faults in the euro’s design, and an on-going shift of economic power from the west to the east and south, have created a 21st century crisis that 20th century Keynesian policies cannot fix.

Transiting Pluto in Capricorn (2008 – 2024) suggests exactly the same thing.

Astrologically, Pluto symbolizes natural cycles of evolution.  Pluto’s message is to let go of anything past its ‘sell-by’ date.  If you don’t, expect the worst.

Astrologically, Capricorn symbolizes structures – especially those put in place to create political order and economic stability.

The last time Pluto was in Capricorn (1762-1778), it addressed (1) the rearrangement of the power structure between individuals and their government, and (2) the start of the Industrial Revolution which so altered patterns of production and consumption as to give birth a ‘modern’ economy characterized by sustained and continuous growth.

Two hundred years later, Pluto returns to Capricorn and we’re forced readdress the same things.

Gray reminds us that Keynes was first and foremost a skeptic and that his most important message was to know when to let go of outmoded ideas.  Based on this, Gray suggests that with our ageing populations and overhang of debt, there’s little prospect of developed Western societies keeping up with the past.   He asks whether we’d be better off thinking about how to enjoy life in conditions of low growth?

Considering my experience with Pluto, I have to agree.

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