lunes, 2 de diciembre de 2019

Dharma Inquiry

The following are questions I find commonly useful in helping people gain greater insight into their unique life path and dharma:
  • Capacities
    • If my financial needs were already met for the rest of my life, what would I do?
    • If I had the wealth of Bill Gates or Warren Buffet, what would I do with my life and resources?
    • If I was going to go back to school, what would I study?
    • If I could download skills matrix style, what would the top few most desired be?
    • If I was a lot more confident/ less fearful, what would I do and how would I be differently?
    • If I was meaningfully smarter than I currently am?
    • If I had much better discipline?
    • If I was better with people (more understanding, charismatic, empathetic, patient, etc.)?
    • If I had better emotional regulation?
    • If my main character deficits were resolved?
    • If I had the right team and people supporting me?
    • If my life started over with a clean slate (no previous commitments, baggage, etc.)?
    • Then ask “why” to your answers to each of these questions, until coming to something that feels fundamental.
  • Values
    • Who are you most inspired by (that you personally know or figures from history)? What about them inspires you?
    • Who do you respect the most? What about them?
    • What virtues would you most want to increase in yourself? Why those ones?
    • What types of behavior and people bother you the most?
    • What issues in the world upset you the most?
    • What do you see as most deeply wrong with or off in the world?
    • What do you find the most beauty in? What are you most moved by?
    • Who would you be the most proud to have been looking back at your life?
    • What news stories about the world would you be most positively moved to see?
    • What would you spend your time working on if you could succeed but no one would ever know that you did it?
    • What few qualities would you most want to increase in everyone if you could?
    • What would you sacrifice personal benefit for?
    • What is more important to you than your own life?
    • What is sacred to you? What does sacred mean?
    • What are you devoted to? What does devotion mean?
    • What is the basis of meaningfulness?
    • What are you loyal to? What does loyalty mean? What would be an adequate reason to violate a loyalty?
    • What do you feel shame or guilt about?
    • If all your personal desires were already met, what would you then desire or care about?
    • Then ask “why” to your answers to each of these questions, until coming to something that feels fundamental.
  • Propensities
    • What am I naturally good at? What seems to come easy to me? (Looking at strengths and aptitudes more than specific skills.)
    • What types of activities do I feel replenished by?
    • What am I willing to do even if it taxes me?
    • What do I enjoy doing for its own sake, independent of producing results or getting acknowledgement?
    • What is my attention repeatedly called to? What can I not not pay attention to?
    • What am I intrinsically fascinated by? Passionate about?
    • Where have I felt the most pride/satisfaction related to something I did?
    • When have I felt most fully alive?
    • What have been the greatest difficulties/pains in my life?
Dharma, the way I hold it*, roughly means: the path of right action; the path of greatest integrity; the path (of choices) that don’t create suffering and optimally helps heal it; the path that leads towards increasing wholeness, consciousness, health, and quality of life for all.
This relates to the concepts/words in english of mission, purpose, ethics, virtue, character, integrity, vocation, the good life, self-actualization and transcendence...but is not fully contained in any of them separately. (The fact that there is no word or phrase for this in the English language is telling.)
There are principles of dharma that are universally true. And there is unique dharma - what is right action for me specifically in this situation, factoring my unique orientation, capacities, commitments - my unique life path.
This concept is not deterministic - there is no algorithm that can compute what right choice is for you. This concept of dharma does not seek to reduce choice (to rules, ie causation), but to help inform and empower the reality and meaningfulness of choice - the internal considerations that inform your own sovereign choice making, aligned with your own deepest values, understanding, and sense of meaningfulness.
Dharma involves your being, your doing, and your becoming. Who and how are you being, moment to moment? How connected are you to your own being, to your love, to the clarity of your principles and values...and how is that informing how you perceive and express in each situation? What are you doing and where is that doing coming from, and in service to what? How are you growing and developing, in both your being and your capacity to do?
As such, our dharma is a continuous unfolding. It has at least as much to do with how we relate to uncertainty as it does to what we feel certain of. Unlike the way we often think of vocation, dharma includes how you show up to all the little things, not just what you choose as your primary focuses. And it can change at different times in your life: while raising kids and once they are grown...when you are called to focus on study, then on the application of what was learned, etc. This is an ongoing and unending inquiry. (If it wasn’t, you would be an automata.)
The questions above can help provide insight into one’s unique path. The first set of questions explore increasing one’s sense of capacity and possibility in various ways and seeing what new ideas arise when not burdened by various limitations. The first question is about having your own freedom of time. The second is about having more choice making capacity in the form of money. How then would I choose? The third and fourth explore where one feels limited by skills. And which skills seem most meaningfully enabling? And so on. Increasing one’s sense of agency can clarify what our agency wants to be in service to. (Noticing which of the questions gives the greatest insights or sense of empowerment will give insight into where one feels most limited currently.)
The second set of questions explore what one cares about, values, respects, loves, and finds meaningful. Who one most deeply wants to be, and what one wants their life to be in service of. This is the center of this inquiry.
The third set of questions explore one’s native propensities, intrinsic motivations, and what their life experiences have conditioned in them. Our unique life experiences have developed in us certain sensitivities, insights, capacities, orientations...that are a part of our path of right action. Living dharmicly means living in greater alignment with one’s own values and desires, which means being more self aware and self authoring. Which naturally means our actions are less influenced by extrinsic motive and more from intrinsic motive.
It is worth contemplating how our personal issues and our gifts relate to each other. How our traumas relate to our dharma. Often traumas lead to destructive patterns that limit the fullest expression of our dharma. Simultaneously, they often sensitize us to certain things and develop in us certain insights or capacities that become central to what is ours to give. Notice both what gifts your traumas have given you...and where the remnants of trauma still limit the fullest expression of your gifts. Deepening our dharma and healing our karma co-inform each other.
It also helps to inquire into what is not dharma. The following questions can be helpful:
  • Where am I being reactive rather than creative?
  • Where are my goals the result of compensations to old wounds? (Proving that I’m enough, proving something to parents or a parental archetype projected on the world, seeking validation externally, proving we aren’t like our parents, etc.)
  • Where am I still running the programs of my childhood (early models of success, of who I am, of what I’m capable of, of what’s meaningful…)
  • What of the things I did last month will I remember and feel good about on my deathbed? Which will I wish I had done differently? How do I factor that into planning my next month?
  • Where is fear influencing my choices?
  • Where are there incongruences in my self, between my values and my actions...between some desires and other desires...between my habits and the expression of my highest vision...?
  • Where is my sense of limited capacity constraining what I focus on?
  • Where am I acting out of reaction, habit, or unconsciousness?
  • Where do I feel trapped by past choices (loyalties, commitments, debts, investments, etc.)?
  • Where are lack of self worth or self trust keeping me from showing up in greater service to what I care about?
  • Where is credit seeking or image management influencing how I’m choosing?
  • What do I do that I wouldn’t want to be fully honest about?
  • What parts of my life would not engender the respect of those whom I respect the most?
  • Where is my success occurring at the expense of others?
  • Where does my life feel imbalanced?
  • What do I do because I’m good at it but don’t really like it or care about it deeply?
Inquiring into all these questions still won’t tell you what to do. And insofar as what you most want does get clearer, you may still not know how to get there. But at least you will have deepened your relationship with yourself, which will lead to more awareness and integrity, that will inform where your next choices come from. Increased awareness, clarity, and love...moves one’s path in unpredictable but profound ways. That lead to continued opportunity for greater awareness, clarity, and love...and with that, a life of deepening meaningfulness.

*Note: I am not claiming this is the “true” meaning of the word Dharma in Sanskrit, or how any particular Hindu or Buddhist person or group is using it. From my life of experience and study in various of these traditions and texts...this is how I understand it.

domingo, 24 de noviembre de 2019


Vibración en la física cuântica significa que todo es energia. Somos seres vibran en ciertas frecuencias. Cada vibracion equivale a un sentimiento y en el mundo “vibracional”, existen solo dos espécies de vibraciones, la positiva y la negativa. Cualquier sentimiento hace que usted emita una vibración que puede ser positiva o negativa.

1ª – *Los Pensamientos*

Todo pensamiento emite una frecuencia hacia el Universo y esa frecuencia retorna hacia el origen, entonces en el caso, si tienes pensamiento negativos, de desánimo, tristeza, rabia, miedo, todo eso vuelve hacia ti. Por eso es tan importante que cuides de la calidad de tus pensamientos y aprendas a cultivar pensamientos más positivos.

2ª – *Las Compañías*.

Las personas que estan a tu alrededor influencian directamente en tu frecuencia vibratoria. Si te rodeas de personas alegres, positivas, determinadas, también entrarás en esa vibración, ahora si te rodeas de personas reclamadoras, maldicentes y pesimistas, ten cuidado! Pues ellas pueden estar disminuyendo tu frecuencia y como consecuencia impidiendote hacer funcionar la Ley de la atracción a tu favor.

3ª – *La Música*.

La música es poderosísima. Si solo escuchas música que habla de muerte, traición, tristeza, abandono, todo eso va a interferir en aquello en que tu vibras. Presta atención a la letra de las música que escuchas, ella puede estar disminuyendo tu frecuencia vibratoria. Y recuerda: Tú atraes hacia tu vida exactamente aquello en lo que vibras.

4ª – *Las cosas que ves*.

Cuando ves programas que abordan desgracias, muerte, traiciones, etc. tu cérebro acepta aquello como una realidad y libera toda una química en tu cuerpo, haciendo que tu frecuencia vibratoria sea afectada. Ve cosas que te hagan bien y te ayuden a vibrar en una frecuencia más elevada.

5ª – *El Ambiente*.

Ya sea en tu casa o en tu trabajo , si pasas gran parte de tu tiempo en un ambiente desorganizado y sucio, esto también afectará tu frecuencia vibratoria. Mejora lo que está a tu alrededor, organize y limpia tu ambiente. Muestra al Universo que eres apto para recibir mucho mas . Cuida de lo que ya tienes!

6ª – *La Palabra*.

Si acostumbras reclamar o hablar mal de las cosas y de las personas, esto afecta tu frecuencia vibratoria. Para mantener tu frecuencia elevada es fundamental que elimines el hábito de reclamar quejarte y de hablar mal de los otros. Entonces evita hacer dramas y victimizarte. Asume tu Responsabilidad por las elecciones de tu Vida!

7ª – *La Gratitud*.

La Gratitud afecta positivamente tu frecuencia vibratoria. Ese es un hábito que deberías incorporar ahora mismo a tu vida. Comienza a agradecer por todo, por las cosas buenas y las que consideras no buenas, agradece por todas las experiencias que has vivido. La Gratitud abre las puertas para que las cosas buenas fluyan positivamente en tu vida.

Texto del muro de Arte Acción.

miércoles, 16 de octubre de 2019

El Estado creó el capitalismo

El Estado creó el capitalismo
Por Alexei Leitzie

La tesis “el Estado creó el capitalismo” no tiene cabida en ninguna ortodoxia política del momento. Si para la izquierda contemporánea el capitalismo es el Mal y el Estado debe custodiar su avance, para el liberalismo la cuestión es, en resumidas cuentas, la inversa. La totalidad del espectro político se configura, en algún punto, otorgando diferentes porcentajes a la presencia de cada uno, Estado y capitalismo. Por lo tanto, presentar una relación genésica entre ambos dinamita fundamentos, diagnósticos y propuestas. No obstante, esta relación surge como inexorable en nuestra historia, y este texto pretende recuperar el estudio de dicha realidad. El objetivo no es otro que hacer una propuesta para el presente, teniendo en cuenta la buena voluntad que se intuye en personas afectas al liberalismo, el anarcocapitalismo, el movimiento libertario y en algunas corrientes de la izquierda. Sobre las contribuciones de estas teorías se ha apoyado parte de la bibliografía de este texto. La terminología muchas veces es dada a interpretaciones interesadas, como la habitual de aducir que “aquello no fue capitalismo, fue corporativismo[1]”. Los preceptos fundamentales sobre el capitalismo que encontramos en la mayoría de autores escogidos son la no intervención del Estado en la economía (en referencia a una injerencia directa, numérica, material) y la organización del trabajo y de la sociedad con arreglo a la propiedad privada, de modo que la aportación de este texto parte de esos supuestos.

El periodo histórico de más interés para este análisis comprende la realización de las Revoluciones Liberales y de la Revolución Industrial, debido a tremenda relevancia que comportan para comprender nuestra sociedad actual. La “historia del capitalismo de Gran Bretaña”[2] ilustra de qué manera el capitalismo moderno nace como una estrategia política del Estado, bastante exitosa, para expandir el dominio y consolidar la hegemonía de la nación inglesa. Autores como Ludwig von Mises aseveran que “los economistas del laissez faire fueron […] los adalides del progreso técnico sin precedentes que los últimos doscientos años han contemplado”[3], algo que está enfrentado con el análisis del acontecer histórico. Para el caso inglés, Francisco Comín señala algo evidente: “las instituciones establecidas por la ‘Revolución Gloriosa’ fueron decisivas para la industrialización, porque aseguraron los derechos de propiedad privada y limitaron la arbitrariedad de los gobiernos”[4]. La obra de las primeras cortes modernas inglesas, en los hechos, resulta en la creación del Banco de Inglaterra (en 1694, seis años después de la instauración del parlamentarismo británico) y la potenciación de la flota de guerra del Ejército[5], lo que granjeará al país una hegemonía mundial imperial. Inglaterra, pronto unificada bajo el Reino Unido, fue así la cuna de la Revolución Industrial. Lo que Mises define como “la evolución que fue transformando los sistemas medievales de producción hasta llegar a los métodos típicos de la empresa libre”[6], que sería parte de esta revolución, no tiene en cuenta un detalle fundamental: que fue el Estado inglés el principal promotor, gestor y beneficiario del nuevo orden económico liberal-capitalista, y no sólo fue árbitro imparcial en el proceso.

Hay varios acontecimientos que ilustran esta realidad, pero hay uno en particular cuya trascendencia sólo puede suscitar la mayor honestidad histórica que podamos exigir. Se trata del proceso de cerramiento o cercamiento (enclosure) de tierras que se materializó, entre 1730 y 1780, en más de 1000 leyes[7] (Enclosure Acts) elaboradas por el Parlamento Británico que dictaban la intervención de diferentes tipos de terreno que existían por todo el territorio nacional, la mayoría en régimen de propiedad comunal. Estas leyes conocieron un apogeo desde mediados del siglo XVIII y durante el siglo XIX y supusieron la mayor operación conocida de reorganización orquestada del régimen de propiedad de la tierra. Debido a su dispersión en el tiempo y la geografía es difícil conocer la cifra exacta de terrenos desamortizados por el Estado. Algunos estudios[8] aseveran que el total de tierras usurpadas por el Estado inglés (sobre las que se impuso el régimen de propiedad privada individual que propugnaba el liberalismo) se sitúa entre 30.634 y 35.814km²sólo en Gales e Inglaterra, sin considerar Escocia e Irlanda del Norte (el tamaño de Gales en la actualidad es de 20.735 km²). Para el periodo 1800-1814 otro estudio[9] señala que se aprobaron más de cien Enclosure Acts anuales, esto es, 1600. Este proceso podría ser definido, sin cometer exceso, como de nacionalización de la tierra, si no fuera porque comporta algo de mucha mayor significación.
Fuente: John Chapman, The Extent and Nature of Parliamentary Enclosure, The Agricultural History Review, 1987 vol. 35 Nº 1

La extinción del régimen comunal de Gran Bretaña

El Estado inglés reclamó legitimidad e impuso normativa sobre terrenos que habían permanecido en régimen de co-propiedad entre diferentes agrupaciones humanas durante siglos. Pero ello, lejos de significar solamente un cambio en la titularidad de la tierra, comportaba una agresión a una vasta realidad inmaterial, que fue desarticulada por imperativo legal. Las tierras comunales estaban regidas por un sistema de derecho comunal (common right), cuya principal fuente jurídica era el derecho consuetudinario o de costumbre (custom), lo que daba lugar a un robusto cuerpo de normas y ordenanzas formalizado mediante la participación política directa de los vecinos durante los siglos, que se elaboraba y transmitía de manera oral (sólo se transcribían algunas ordenanzas), pero que tenía “toda la fuerza de la ley” [10]. El sistema era un gran entramado local, heterogéneo y descentralizado, que ha sido definido como “effective local system of by-laws, and common right”[11]. El Estado no reconoció entidad jurídica a gran parte del cuerpo normativo consuetudinario; en su lugar, extinguió las prerrogativas que regían la vida comunitaria, impuso el derecho parlamentario-estatal y un régimen de propiedad privada absoluta, ambos de reciente inspiración liberal, elaborado de espaldas al pueblo y respaldado por la fuerza militar[12]. “Las leyes de cerramiento extinguieron el derecho comunal de la mayor parte de la baja Inglaterra a finales del siglo XVIII y principios del XIX”[13]. Esta operación permitió al Estado una tributación ensanchada sobre los nuevos terrenos, muchos de los cuales, además, fueron vendidos a particulares[14]. Fue pues una intervención política la que asentó un régimen generalizado de propiedad privada individual; una decisión no consensuada, no elegida y, por todo ello y por los procedimientos expeditivos que empleó, no legítima.

Es decisivo observar cómo los precursores del laissez-faire en Inglaterra se muestran muy entusiastas de los cerramientos. Adam Smith, teórico de la “libre competencia”, incluso se regodea al constatar cómo los cerramientos se harían habituales en Escocia[15], y en su tratado de 1776 no dedica ni un pasaje a dar cuenta del fenómeno que, para esa década, se cobró más de 500 Enclosure Acts del Parlamento. Smith frivoliza la cuestión y utiliza indistintamente el término “enclosure” para designar cerramientos de grandes prados, montes y baldíos, o el vallado sobre un pequeño huerto doméstico. Lo que le alinea con el Estado y le hace partícipe de la misma ideología que desbarató miles de vidas son sus elogios a estos cerramientos de tierras, que describe como “mejoras económicas”, echando por tierra, literalmente, la riqueza humana inmaterial que distintas comunidades humanas habían erigido en la cultura de campo abierto. Es especialmente sangrante, en términos de la propia doctrina liberal, que la voluntad de las gentes del común, que no fue consultada en una mayoría de casos, esté completamente ausente en la apología que de los cerramientos se hace. La voluntad del individuo, la expresión de su fuero interno, es barrida sin miramientos y sólo con arreglo a la imagen de un terreno agrícola mejorado, más productivo. Esta obsesión desarrollista, sólo atenta al rendimiento, conduce a Adam Smith a elogiar el trabajo asalariado e identificarlo con la fuente de riqueza nacional[16], además de admitir que tal riqueza sólo puede provenir del empleo de mano de obra para limpiar y cultivar el campo[17]. Esta obnubilada visión por lo productivo se reconoce con el mismo ahínco en la obra de la Board of Agriculture, institución estatal que velaba por la mejora del agro, creada con el apoyo del Primer Ministro, William Pitt. Su presidente, sir John Sinclair, declararía: “Hemos comenzado otra campaña contra los enemigos extranjeros del país… ¿Por qué no deberíamos intentar también una campaña contra nuestro gran enemigo doméstico, me refiero a la esterilidad hasta ahora no abordada de una superficie tan grande del reino? […] No nos contentemos con la liberación de Egipto, la subyugación de Malta, sino que sometamos Finchley Common; conquistemos Hounslow Heath; obliguemos a Epping Forest a someterse al yugo de la mejora”[18].

El “yugo de la mejora” fue, en efecto, la imposición del progreso, que consistió en extender el dominio del Estado a unos campos sobre los que no obtenía rendimiento. La acumulación de capital (principio axial del capitalismo) por parte del Estado fue así la precondición de su robustecimiento. El elogio del trabajo a salario que realiza Smith y su silencio sobre los procesos usurpadores de tierra delatan lo interesado de su exposición. Los cerramientos, de facto, generaron un éxodo ubicuo de población en búsqueda de nuevas formas de subsistencia. La acción del Estado contribuyó a la creación de una nueva clase asalariada, veta esencial de riqueza nacional para el economista escocés. De hecho, ese fue un argumento utilizado a favor de los cerramientos. John Howlett, un economista ilustrado, escribe en 1781 un tratado sobre demografía y economía en el que aduce, precisamente, que la consecuencia de los cerramientos y la burocratización sobre la tierra era el incremento de “obreros pobres y, en última instancia, de personas indigentes y necesitadas”[19]. Ello, “tan desagradable y doloroso como pueda resultar al corazón tierno y sensible”, no le impedía ser un ávido defensor de los cerramientos, pues el proceso cumplía además con lo que, en ese mismo tratado, se especifica como meta estratégica nacional: el aumento de la población para, entre otras cosas, ensanchar el ejército. En efecto, como expone John Brewer, “un campesinado autosuficiente no contribuía nada al mercado”; eran “díscolos” y “privaban al empresario emergente de la tan necesitada mano de obra”[20]. John Clark, terrateniente de la época, también apunta a ello: “el cerramiento de baldíos incrementaría la mano de obra, al eliminar los medios para la subsistencia sin empleo”[21]. Los cerramientos estatales, en efecto, consolidaron el principal recurso del capitalismo, la mano de obra dispuesta en el mercado de trabajo (Adam Smith ya había considerado la mano de obra como una mercancía esencial). Supusieron una injerencia mayúscula a nivel nacional que cimentó el arraigo de la clase proletaria; en su ausencia, nada indica que el sistema de trabajo a salario se hubiera popularizado, como no lo hizo precisamente hasta que el Estado desarticuló las economías comunales, en ningún país (en España ocurrirá exactamente lo mismo, como veremos, con las leyes de desamortización).

Los cerramientos generalizaron una dependencia del individuo de un salario, al privarle de los medios y del sistema entero para trabajar para sí mismo. En estricto antagonismo, las economías comunales permitían, por un lado, una auto-suficiencia notable que marcaba una fuerte independencia del salariado (y así, del dinero[22]), y por otro, una auto-gestión jurídico-normativa, de la vida y de las costumbres, que construía a los pueblos como entidades políticas en alto grado auto-gobernadas. Tal independencia y auto-gestión construía individuos con una cosmovisión bien diferente a la de quienes propugnaban sumisión legal sin consenso y trabajo para otros, como es lógico[23]. En las economías comunales, la enorme dependencia del medio natural estaba fuertemente mitigada a través de una sólida red de asistencia popular basada en el apoyo mutuo. Este choque entre cosmovisiones diferentes provocó numerosas reclamaciones, levantamientos, motines y rebeliones[24]. El magistrado James Webster arengó a las tropas militares a intervenir en un levantamiento popular ocurrido en su condado; su declaración expresa la verdadera naturaleza del contrapoder popular: “si la gente desposeída se dedica a promulgar leyes para ellos mismos, dentro de poco no tendremos gobierno en este condado”[25]. En efecto, la autonomía del individuo disminuyó de manera radical con la desarticulación del comunal, que marcó el descenso desde la capacidad de intervención en la vida pública y el trabajo comunal para uno mismo y sus allegados, hacia el sometimiento a las leyes estatales y la dependencia[26] en un salario a cambio de un trabajo realizado para otros. El ecosistema comunal no estaba, desde luego, exento de problemática, pero contenía estructuras de conciliación horizontales, elegidas, transformadas por el hacer directo de los grupos humanos[27]. El legicentrismo liberal y la instauración del sistema de trabajo asalariado desarticularon mayoritariamente sin consenso[28] dichas instituciones populares e instauraron una nueva coyuntura que imponía una estructura institucional vertical.

Ante todos estos hallazgos, causa bochorno que el sistema económico que prosperó a partir del siglo XIX sea denominado de libre empresa o con libertad de mercado. Cuando el economista austriaco Ludwig von Mises aduce lo obvio: por un lado, que el primer trabajo fabril fue infrahumano, y que, así, “los nuevos industriales jamás gozaron de poder coactivo para enrolar a nadie en las fábricas contra su voluntad”[29], se olvida de que tal coyuntura quedó perfectamente resulta mediante la expulsión de cientos de miles de personas de sus terrenos y la desarticulación progresiva del sistema jurídico-normativo, el derecho consuetudinario, que regulaba su uso de la tierra. Es decir, el Estado favoreció en lo esencial al nuevo capitalismo industrial: creó la demanda y forzó la afluencia fabril so pena de pauperización, pues además requería del pago creciente de impuestos. Causa estupor que en un tratado de economía como La acción humana, con un capítulo dedicado específicamente al episodio de la Revolución Industrial y con mención del caso inglés, sólo se emplee una vez la expresión “enclosure movement” y sea además para señalar, sin quererlo, la connivencia de los intereses del capitalismo privado y el Estado. En efecto, Mises, lejos de dar cuenta de la realidad político-económica más trascendente del momento, que afectó a cientos de miles de personas y formuló varios miles de normativas, se hace eco de ella para justificar que “las fábricas abrían un camino de salvación” para las gentes expulsadas de sus tierras. Lo que Mises afirma implicitamente es que el Estado forzó la demanda de empleo[30] a salario de la que se sirvieron las primeras industrias, hecho que resquebraja los fundamentos doctrinales del liberalismo (pues prueba que el Estado creó lo medular de lo que él llama “sistema de libre empresa”) y sobre el que Mises pasa apresuradamente. Si acudimos a la versión en castellano del texto de Mises, el bochorno es mayor. “Enclosure movement” se ha traducido por “sistemas restrictivos”, una generalidad demasiado etérea si no fuera por el tamaño de la trascendencia de lo que designa, que hace de ella una generalidad temeraria[31].
Capitalismo, o del hábito como realidad psicosocial

La relevancia que estos sucesos tienen para el presente es capital. El Estado materializó la realidad del capitalismo: le proveyó con un régimen jurídico-normativo sobre el que éste operó[32], cuya imposición fomentó una demanda por la subsistencia, desposeída de alternativas, que terminó asumiendo el salariado fabril. Paralelamente el Estado fomentó la creación de infraestructuras (financiando obras o concediendo los permisos) y la implementación tecnológica para asentar una potente nueva industria, cuya materia prima esencial, la mano de obra, estaba ya dispuesta. Pero sin duda, la hazaña pro-capitalista más importante que realiza el Estado, devenida de este proceso, es la conquista axiológica. La universalización progresiva del salariado, esto es, el encuadramiento del Hombre en las estructuras materiales del capitalismo, fomentó el arraigo de valores, personalidades y costumbres específicas. Según reza el sabio adagio, “quien posee tu tiempo, posee tu mente”, el hábito y la praxis también constituyen parte de la subjetividad humana. La prueba de ello está en el ethos social propio de los regímenes comunales, donde los principios axiales del capitalismo no son la norma y, acaso, ni existen; el Hombre concede primacía al sistema mutualista, por ejemplo, debido en gran medida a su dependencia de él. Como contrapartida, la atomización[33] laboral capitalista confina el objetivo utilitario del trabajo al salario y extingue la necesidad de cooperación voluntaria entre los trabajadores, entre los que impone una coordinación puramente mecánica y funcional, es decir, una forma muy diferente de cooperación donde la obediencia le gana terreno a la iniciativa voluntaria y a la creatividad. Los asalariados no necesitan de dialogar entre sí, acordar entre sí, gestionar entre sí; ahora se les requiere realizar sus labores con arreglo a directivas verticales, transformando progresivamente la cooperación por la supervivencia en competitividad por un mejor salario (para una mejor supervivencia). La supervivencia está ahora atada a la necesidad de obedecer la directiva empresarial y a competir, y no a la necesidad de auto-gestionar el trabajo y cooperar. Desde ahí el Hombre dispone su integridad hacia cosmovisiones radicalmente diferentes.

Todo lo que ello implica y que se desarrollará en próximos textos es que el capitalismo comporta una realidad material pero también una realidad intersubjetiva, un terreno no físico de valores, disposición de ánimo, hábitos y conductas; ambas dos dimensiones han sido de manera esencial cimentadas por el Estado. La segunda es la red que extiende la intervención del Estado más allá de su mera acción inmediata; esta regulación o aquella subvención no expresan la totalidad de la influencia estatal en la economía, de modo que una ausencia de financiación estatal no implica, ni muchísimo menos, una no intervención del Estado, y lo que es más: una crítica al Estado o al capitalismo que sólo refiera la presencia numérica nada más aborda, en realidad, la mitad de la cuestión.

· · ·
  • [1] Corporativismo, mercantilismo, … vendrían a definir la realidad de una economía de mercado intervenida por el Estado. Más adelante se advierte de lo limitado de esta taxonomía.
  • [2]Ludwig von Mises, La Acción humana, Madrid 2011, pág. 735
  • [3] Ibíd. pág. 732
  • [4] En La primera industrialización en Inglaterra (1760-1860), Francisco Comín,
  • [5] Durante el proceso industrializador en Inglaterra “el 83% del gasto del gobierno se destinaba a gastos militares; de ellos, el 60% se destinaba a la Royal Navy”, ibíd.
  • [6] Ludwig von Mises, La Acción humana, Madrid 2011, pág. 730
  • [7] Michael E. Turner, English Parliamentary Enclosure. Its Historical Geography and Economic History, 1980 pág. 68
  • [8]  John Chapman, The Agricultural History Review Vol. 35, No. 1 (1987), pág. 26
  • [9] J. M. Neeson, Commoners: Common Right, Enclosure and Social Change in England, 1700-1820, 1993 pág. 45
  • [10] J. M. Neeson, Commoners: Common Right…pág. 80
  • [11] Ibíd. pág. 12
  • [12] La propiedad privada liberal estaba respaldada por la fuerza policial del Estado; los derechos comunales, usufructuarios o de propiedad colectiva, no.
  • [13] “enclosure acts extinguished common right from most of lowland England in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries”, ibíd. pág. 12
  • [14] “The illegal alienation of the Crown Estates, partly by sale and partly by gift, is a scandalous chapter in English history.” F. W. Newman, Lectures on Political Economy, 1851 pág. 130.
  • [15] “The present high rent of enclosed land in Scotland seems owing to the scarcity of enclosure, and will probably last no longer than that scarcity.” en Adam Smith, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, ed. 2007, pág. 122
  • [16] “The liberal reward of labour, therefore, as it is the necessary effect, so it is the natural symptom of increasing national wealth”, ibid. pág. 67
  • [17] “[…] great profit cannot be made without employing the labour of other people in clearing and cultivating the land”, ibid. pág. 438.
  • [18]“ We have begun another campaign against the foreign enemies of the country. Why should we not attempt a campaign also against our great domestic foe, I mean the hitherto unconquered sterility of so large a proportion of the surface of the kingdom? […] let us not be satisfied with the liberation of Egypt, or the subjugation of Malta, but let us subdue Finchley Common; let us conquer Hounslow Heath; let us compel Epping Forest to submit to the yoke of improvement”, en John Sinclair [hijo], Memoirs of the life and works of sir John Sinclair, Bart, pág. 111
  • [19] John Howlett, An Examination of Dr. Price’s Essay on the Population of England and Wales, pág. 27
  • [20] John Brewer, The Pleasures of the Imagination: English Culture in the Eighteenth Century, pág. 445
  • [21] John Clark, General View of the Agriculture of the County of Hereford, 1794, pág. 29
  • [22] E. P. Thompson describe el “continuo trueque de servicios y favores (sin intercambio de dinero) que caracteriza a la mayoría de las sociedades campesinas”, en Costumbres en Común, 1980 pág. 176
  • [23] Las ordenanzas comunales contienen prueba de que, por ejemplo, la lógica que regía la sociedad no era la del máximo beneficio o el puro productivismo. En General View of the Agriculture of the County of Hampshire, Charles Vancouver reseña algunas ordenanzas comunales, elaboradas por consenso, que restringían los derechos de uso comunal para aquéllos que acumulasen capital.
  • [24] Consultar Commoners: Common Right… III – Decline para una muestra detallada de la extensión de la movilización popular.
  • [25] Carta de James Webster pidiendo la intervención militar ante un levantamiento popular tras el cerramiento de Bedfordshire, citado en Commoners: Common Right… pág. 52
  • [26] Tal dependencia, en relación con la “necesidad” artificial de “trabajar para otros” fue definida por Richard Price como esclavitud: “if this practice is continued […] the whole kingdom will consist of only gentry and beggars, or grandees and slaves” citado en The monthly review; literary journal from December 1772 to July 1773, pág. 126
  • [27]El derecho consuetudinario era “un campo de cambio y de contienda, una palestra en la que intereses opuestos hacían reclamaciones contrarias”, que es prueba de su dinamismo participativo. En Costumbres en común, E. P. Thompson, 1980 pág. 19
  • [28] El gran número de reclamaciones y revueltas populares es prueba de que el pueblo “sabía que una clase dirigente cuyas pretensiones de legitimidad descansaban sobre prescripciones y leyes tenía poca autoridad para desestimar sus propias costumbres y leyes”, ibíd., pág 92
  • [29] Ludwig von Mises, La acción humana, pág. 732
  • [30] Un estudio de un caso particular que demuestra esa injerencia es Village Traders and the Emergence of a Proletariat in South Warwickshire, de J. M. Martin. El mismo autor tiene una tesis doctoral de enorme interés, The Parliamentary Enclosure Movement and Rural Society in Warwickshire, 1967
  • [31] “A pesar de todo, las fábricas abrían un camino de salvación a aquellas masas a las que los sistemas restrictivos imperantes habían condenado a la miseria […]”, en la versión en castellano La Acción Humana, Unión Editorial, 2011, pág. 733. que incluye estudio preliminar por Jesús Huerta de Soto. En la versión original en inglés se lee: “But the fact remains that for the surplus population which the enclosure movement had reduced to dire wretchedness and for which there was literally no room left in the frame of the prevailing system of production, work in the factories was salvation.”
  • [32] La obra del Estado de la época se reconoce “en la posibilidad que otorgaba al capitalismo agrario, mercantil y fabril, para realizar su propia autorreproducción; en los suelos fértiles que ofrecía al laissez-faire”, en E. P. Thompson, Costumbres en común, 1991 pág. 44
  • [33] Las relaciones interpersonales en el trabajo a salario merman, pues de su ejercicio no depende el resultado del trabajo, como en el comunal; el resultado del trabajo depende, antes, de obedecer el contrato laboral. Aun quien con voluntad firma tal contrato, expone sus habilidades sociales al desuso, como músculo, pues es el hábito el que las estimula, allende la intención de la persona. De esta forma el asalariado es corresponsable sobre los hábitos que le construyen.

martes, 15 de octubre de 2019

Byung-Chul Han y el budismo zen como arma anticapitalista

"Bello es el ser sin apetito", escribe Byung-Chul Han en Filosofía del budismo zen, y en un mundo obeso, que exige ambición a todos sus individuos, con un ejército de ciclistas inmigrantes para saciar el hambre infinita, esa frase suena revolucionaria. ¿Qué sería del capitalismo tardío si se nos acaba el apetito, si nos conformamos con lo que somos? ¿Será posible atentar contra el sistema desde el no-hacer?

"Bello es el ser sin apetito", escribe Byung-Chul Han en Filosofía del budismo zen, y en un mundo obeso, que exige ambición a todos sus individuos, con un ejército de ciclistas inmigrantes para saciar el hambre infinita, esa frase suena revolucionaria. ¿Qué sería del capitalismo tardío si se nos acaba el apetito, si nos conformamos con lo que somos? ¿Será posible atentar contra el sistema desde el no-hacer?

El filósofo surcoreano Byung–Chul Han, famoso entre quienes tienen resueltas sus necesidades básicas pero no sus angustias, lo es justamente porque describe con certeza y sencillez los motivos que nos tienen en esta desazón generalizada. Sus diagnósticos y sus libros son como agujas, breves pero agudas, que pinchan en las heridas que hoy nos hacen sangrar sin dolor: el declive del deseo, el flagelo de la transparencia o el auge de la autoexplotación.

Pero hace diecisiete años, antes de convertirse en una estrella de la crítica cultural –que no usa celular y cultiva flores en un jardín–, Han escribió un ensayo que si bien no buscaba identificar otro trastorno más de la sociedad neoliberal, leído desde ahora sí consigue entregar una respuesta al malestar posmoderno: el budismo zen.

Filosofía del budismo zen (2002, editado en español por Herder el 2015) no es, por supuesto, un libro de autoayuda, pero en la desesperación de estos tiempos desoladores, donde Carmen Tuitera es guía espiritual y no hay más referentes intelectuales que el Profe Maza, funciona sin quererlo como tal.

Lo que Han pretendía era dilucidar los conceptos que definen y diferencian al budismo zen comparándolos con la filosofía occidental de Platón, Leibniz, Hegel y Heidegger, y aunque lo consigue, el resultado además es una especie de receta involuntaria contra el tedio, la depresión y el narcisismo que predominan actualmente.

No se trata de volver a una retórica new age, de disfrazarse de Sting ni de colgar banderitas en la terraza. Tampoco de ir a un taller de meditación para obtener más rendimiento laboral. Es justamente lo contrario: intentar vaciarse de esa lógica occidental que pretende encontrarle una recompensa o beneficio a cada acción o decisión que tomamos, y simplemente liberarnos de la economía detrás de nuestros movimientos.

“Bello es el ser sin apetito”, escribe Byung-Chul Han, y en un mundo obeso, que exige ambición a todos sus individuos, con un ejército de ciclistas inmigrantes para saciar el hambre infinita, esa frase suena revolucionaria. ¿Qué sería del capitalismo tardío si se nos acaba el apetito, si nos conformamos con lo que somos? ¿Será posible atentar contra el sistema desde el no-hacer? ¿La inacción puede ser una amenaza?

Eso no se responde en Filosofía del budismo zen, pero de forma indirecta queda sugerido. Han opone el apetito de trascendencia, quizá el peor legado del cristianismo —esta incapacidad de soportar la idea de la muerte y querer sobrevivir a la propia existencia a como dé lugar—, con la inmanencia, el vivir aquí, experimentando la cotidianeidad, ese mundo de “hombres y mujeres, de anciano y joven, sartén y olla, gato y cuchara”.

Algo radical en este frenesí de notificaciones, todos adictos al último meme, paranoides de los spoilers y nunca satisfechos con el final de ninguna serie. El budismo zen, en cambio, “se trata de ver lo inusitado en la repetición de lo acostumbrado”.

La dificultad de asumir este espíritu vacío de apetito, entregado al aquí y al ahora, es que exige liberarse de lo sagrado, ya sea Cristo en la cruz, una foto de Felipe Camiroaga o la confianza en el mercado. Incluso al mismo buda. “Si encontráis a buda, matad a buda”, dijo el maestro Linji. “La nada del budismo zen”, se lee de mano de Han, “no ofrece cosa alguna que pueda retenerse, ningún fundamento firme del que podamos cerciorarnos, nada a lo que pudiéramos agarrarnos. El mundo carece de fundamento”.

Pero el vacío, por otro lado, permite que el sujeto no sólo esté “en” el mundo, sino que en el fondo “es” el mundo. Como anota Han: “El mundo está enteramente ahí, en una flor de ciruelo”.

También se sospecha de la idea del hogar, lo que en el léxico subdesarrollado se conoce como el sueño de la casa propia, y que últimamente ha perdido todo relato llamándose solamente inversión inmobiliaria. Un budista zen no echa raíces —ni bienes raíces— porque eso sería llamar a la trascendencia, proyectarse a un futuro que no existe. “Un monje zen ha de ser como las nubes, sin morada fija, y como el agua, sin apoyo firme”, dice el coreano-alemán. “Ni huésped ni anfitrión; huésped y anfitrión, sin duda”.

Habiendo fallado las revoluciones, y sin alternativas a la vista que reemplacen o se opongan a la metástasis imparable del neoliberalismo, quizá este momento poshistórico, como lo describió Fukuyama, o de no-historia, pueda ser combatido con el no-ser del budismo zen.

domingo, 18 de agosto de 2019

Back from the brink: How I reversed my diabetes

Stuff writer John McCrone has beaten diabetes through a low carb diet and exercise.
Being diagnosed with out-of-control diabetes was a shock for Stuffwriter JOHN McCRONE. But is this how we can all fight back?
Whoa. Not just diabetes, but completely red-lining it. Fair to say that as a slimmish, fittish, 60-ish, white male, I wasn't expecting the diagnosis.
Perhaps skin or bowel cancer. Those would seem more my risks. Yet here I was.
My surprise was mixed with guilt and embarrassment. Somehow I had screwed up. But where exactly?
My doctor appeared lost for a ready answer. He was muttering something vague about a "decompensation" – a stressed body finally giving out – as he pushed a diabetes guide across his desk.
It's not the calories, it's our modern lifestyle that is killing us
Feeling high on a low-carb diet? The effect on your brain is similar to an illicit drug
Ketogenic diet could help us live longer, but could also lead to weight gain
The pre-diabetes tidal wave - harbinger of doom or symptom of an overdiagnosis epidemic?
Absorb the shock, he advised. Then come back for the pills and likely the insulin pump which could be my lifetime companion now I had succumbed to this nasty disease.
Type 2 diabetes mellitus. A sugary rot produced by an excess of blood glucose adhering to the body's proteins, gumming up its works in every direction.
Kidney failure, blindness, gangrenous sores, limb amputations. Possibly also the strokes, coronary artery disease, Alzheimer's, maybe Parkinson's, which are now all being linked to the condition.
I would be falling apart by stages for about the next 20 years – if a diabetes-prompted heart attack didn't carry me off rather sooner.
How could it have happened? In the mirror, I had to admit to about 5kg of middle-age spread. And in particular, there was a bulge, a distension, just under the rib-line.
Better informed, I can now read that as a fatty liver. However, nothing seemed that out of control. I could still stand up straight and mostly suck my gut out of sight.
And while I had always indulged freely with cake and chocolate, I believed I was compensating with healthy food too.
Lean cuts of meat, tons of vegetables, and enough of the good carbs – the recommended "food pyramid" foundation of potatoes, bread, rice and pasta – on my plate.
I had also exercised hard all my life. Given the calories in/calories out principle, my feeling was I would have been burning off the worst of any excess dietary sugar along the way.
Real food: Feature writer John McCrone showing what his LCHF diet is built around.
Real food: Feature writer John McCrone showing what his LCHF diet is built around.
So an unlikely candidate for diabetes. However confession time. My annual blood test had shown an HbA1c reading – the measure of your average blood glucose – that had crept up into the official pre-diabetic zone.
My last result had hit 46 millimoles per mole (mmol/mol). On the coloured "speedometer" chart doctors use, this was still in the green, but paling towards a cautionary yellow.
The warning had been easy enough to shrug off. I reasoned the change looked a gradual thing. There would be plenty of time to do something about it. Check back in another year.
Yet now, barely six months later, my HbA1c had rocketed to 99 mmol – straight into the screaming red zone.
I was broken. And the clue to how bad was that the diabetes speed dial actually topped out at 100. So off the road, down the ravine, tumbling into oblivion, I had to guess.
I was looking for a better explanation than just a decompensation – something snapping. But my 10-minute appointment was over. The doctor had his "time's up" face on. The essential news had been delivered.
Being a journalist and science writer – used to getting answers – I went straight home and got stuck into researching my diagnosis. Thank goodness for Google, YouTube and internet discussion forums.
Three months later I was back at the surgery for a follow-up HbA1c result. My blood glucose had dropped to 56. Down from panic stations to merely serious alarm.
Another three months and it was right down to 35. Not even pre-diabetic anymore. Normal range. To all intents and purposes, fixed.
I was disappointed that my doctor didn't fall off his chair in amazement, only furrowed his brow in mild curiosity.
Conventional wisdom says there is no cure for diabetes. You just use drugs to mask the worst of its symptoms.
However, I had been lucky with my timing. With diabetes reaching epidemic proportions across the world, it looks like our medical understanding of it is also being turned on its head.
John McCrone's focus on a low carbohydrate diet has helped to turn around his blood glucose levels.
John McCrone's focus on a low carbohydrate diet has helped to turn around his blood glucose levels.
As basically a lifestyle disease, a drastic lifestyle change can – if not fully cure it – put it into remission. Or at least that is what my own story appeared to prove.
What did I do? The short answer.
After poring over the many contrasting opinions offered up by the internet, I arrived at the low carbohydrate/high fat (LCHF) diet. Or as some prefer to call it, the low carb and healthy fat diet.
Simply put, take away the fuel of diabetes. Get rid of all dietary sugar. Even your fruit intake needs to be limited.
And then restrict anything starchy as well. Potatoes, bread, flour, oats, rice, noodles, pasta – all the stuff which is one step away from being converted to sugar.
Even if standard dietary wisdom is that these are necessary staples, the message is starve the disease.
Yes, I found it a daunting thought too. As humans, we are our habits. I couldn't even imagine mealtimes with these basics missing.
However I got started. Out went marmalade and toast for breakfast, my morning routine for any number of years. In came a couple of eggs scrambled with a large knob of butter. Just that. It looked rather naked and alone on the plate.
Lunch became more eggs – usually fried with bacon or some other protein – laid on a crunchy bed of green veg and salad. At least on an LCHF diet, you can still eat all the broccoli and cabbage – low density carb – you could possibly want.
Dinner continued to be roasts and stir fries. Just reinvented to be without potatoes, rice or pasta.
Dessert was reduced to a single square of 90 per cent dark chocolate. Snacks were a handful of nuts or a cracker piled as high as I liked in peanut butter.
A blessing of the LCHF diet is that fat is back on the menu. It is how you fill up. And as the LCHF pundits promise, the diet is naturally satiating. So you shouldn't end up overeating.
Sugar only turns your appetite on. After one biscuit you are always ready for another. It is an evolutionary thing.
Our hunter/gatherer ancestors were hard-wired to gorge on fruits and berries when they became available during a brief few summer weeks – a once-a-year passing treat.
But protein turns our appetite off. We know when we have had enough. So once the habit of having sugar and starch at every meal is broken – that built-in expectation – there is no particular nagging craving.
In the dread zone: The blood glucose "speedometer" telling what HbA1c reading is out of control.
In the dread zone: The blood glucose "speedometer" telling what HbA1c reading is out of control.
I didn't believe it would be the case either. Yet I discovered it was true after I tried.
As well as seeing my blood sugar plummet back to safe levels, I found my waist band shrinking by whole sizes. I was having to punch new holes in my belts, cinch in my trousers, then eventually just go out and buy a new wardrobe.
Another unexpected bonus of joining the LCHF club was it appeared to put me in the middle of everything trendy.
Keto monitors, barbell training, intermittent fasting, bio-hacking, sleep tracking, even turmeric, coconut oil and apple cider vinegar. I was part of the cool crowd for a change.
Of course I was only what low-carbers call an n=1 experiment – a single patient clinical trial. Fair warning. My experience might not be your experience.
But how could I doubt the evidence it was working? And the more I looked into the theory behind low carb, the more it seemed to make perfect sense.
YouTube was a great resource. You get to look over the shoulders of scientists as they present their latest research findings in lectures and conference sessions.
And YouTube certainly seems flooded with low carb advocates. The likes of Professor Ben Bikman, Professor Tim Noakes, Dr Jason Fung, Dr Michael Eades, Dr Ted Naiman, and the "fat emperor", Ivor Cummins, stood out for me.
New Zealand has its own community, led by Professor Grant Schofield at Auckland University of Technology (AUT), along with others at his Human Potential Centre, like Dr Catherine Crofts and Dr Caryn Zinn.
Schofield helped host a Low Carb Down Under meeting in Auckland back in 2014. And the pace has picked up so much that Australia ran six Low Carb Down Under events last year.
It has also been moving from the medical fringes – a subject largely for physiologists, nutritionists, sports scientists and family doctors – to the mainstream.
In 2018, the reinsurance giant Swiss Re teamed up with the British Medical Journal to put on "Food for Thought" in Zurich. LCHF as an answer to diabetes is on the map.
I listened. And what I picked up about my own plight was that after years of silent abuse, I must have finally burnt out my pancreas.
That decompensation was an abrupt failure of the pancreatic beta cells which produce the body's insulin. And it could have been a collapse 20 years in the making.
My diagnosis actually came in August 2017. I was 60 and had just returned from a trip around Europe – a holiday dedicated to scone teas and cake stops at every museum cafe.
The only symptom coming home was a thirst. I couldn't wait to gulp down glasses of Christchurch's pure tap water. But also I was suddenly shedding weight. A kilo a week without trying.
A first hopeful thought was that it was the delayed effect of tramping hours a day around European capitals. The truth was my pancreas was shot and the insulin regulation of my blood glucose had just given out.
Exercise helps: John McCrone mixes hard gym sessions and long easy walks for metabolic health.
Exercise helps: John McCrone mixes hard gym sessions and long easy walks for metabolic health.
I was peeing out excess glucose by the bucket-load. The kilos were simply calories overflowing the kidneys and splashing their way down the toilet.
Getting back from the doctor's, one of the other things I immediately did was invest $30 in a blood glucose monitor and test strips. I needed to know exactly what was going on.
The idea of pricking your finger for beads of blood was another psychological hurdle. But easy to brush aside. Realising why you see so many one-legged people in wheelchairs these days – it's the diabetes not the car crashes – served as encouragement enough.
HbA1c readings give you a three-month rolling average. With a glucose monitor, you can check what your levels are doing right at the moment, before and after each meal.
A healthy baseline number on this type of reading is between 4 and 6 mmol/l. My scores soon confirmed my red-lining status. I was tracking along all day at between 16 and 20.
Fellow diabetics I chatted with were almost impressed I had managed to achieve such catastrophic levels. The only good news was that I found out so soon after my insulin-producing collapse.
As I said, glucose does its damage by sticking to cellular tissues. That is how the HbA1c measurement itself works. It is a calculation of the percentage of your red blood cells that have haemoglobin molecules which have become glycated.
This glycation of proteins erodes delicate structures like capillaries, nerve endings, the filtering glomeruli in your kidneys.
It also turns cholesterol particles – the body's fat transporters – shrivelled and toxic. The body can no longer recognise the particles to recycle them, so they get lodged in the walls of your arteries, creating inflammation.
That is how diabetes becomes a cause of strokes and heart attacks too.
It does take a good few years of this syrupy marination for bits of you – your eyes, heart, feet, kidneys – to start to fall off.
But that was a disturbing thought too. Apart from a continual dry mouth, I had no particular symptoms telling me my blood sugar had got so high. I felt pretty fine overall. I had no fatigue, high blood pressure, itchy skin, or other of the signs that can be tell-tales of diabetes.
So what had happened inside of me to bring me to my sorry pass? And why did a drastic diet change make such a rapid difference?
Following the science, I learnt the key thing is that the human body is evolved to have a twin fuel system. It is like a hybrid car – energy-efficient and fuel-flexible – designed to alternate between glucose-burning and fat-burning.
The pancreas in fact secretes two different hormones – insulin and glucagon. While insulin is produced by groups of beta cells, glucagon is released by neighbouring islets of alpha cells.
When the level of one is high, the level of the other is low. That way there is binary control over which mode of metabolism is dominating at any time.
Insulin rules when the body is in energy surplus – when food is coming in and we are busy digesting. The pancreas senses this and pumps out an insulin signal telling the body to start using the freely available glucose.
Low carbing: Prof Grant Schofield, here with dietitian Dr Caryn Zinn, leads LCHF in New Zealand.
Low carbing: Prof Grant Schofield, here with dietitian Dr Caryn Zinn, leads LCHF in New Zealand.
Insulin molecules actually act like a key in a cell's door, binding to receptors on its membrane and letting blood-borne sugars flow in.
But most meals deliver more energy than we immediately require. The whole body only needs a teaspoon of circulating glucose at any moment. So insulin also acts to direct the excess into longer-term storage forms.
First, the muscles and liver are prompted to convert glucose into glycogen – the animal equivalent of plant starch. The body can hold enough of this as a local reserve to fuel itself for a few hours.
After that, the rest of the excess glucose has to be turned into fat for proper long-term storage. The liver processes it into triglyceride molecules which are taken up by our adipose tissue, our body's fat layers.
So insulin runs the body in a glucogenic state. We are concentrated on burning or storing glucose. But then we have to flip into our other fuel mode to begin burning the fat stores we have accumulated.
In nature – back when our ancestors were living by hunting and gathering – it would have been normal to be short of food for a day or two, and often even weeks. Switching into a ketogenic state was the way we survived.
Glucagon takes over as blood glucose drops. This is a signal to the liver to start breaking down fatty acids into ketone bodies – smaller acetone-like molecules like beta-hydroxybutyrate.
Our mitochondria, the powerhouses of our cells, can accept either these ketones or glucose molecules as their fuel. So it makes for an exquisitely balanced system.
Either we are generally building up our fat stores, or else we are generally breaking them down. And as long as we spend enough time in each distinct metabolic zone, everything should be fine.
The trouble with type 2 diabetes is that we don't. Instead, the modern diet leaves us stuck on the glucose half of the cycle and eventually this causes a collapse in our insulin regulation.
Type 2 diabetes used to be almost unknown. Now it is an epidemic. The Ministry of Health says 250,000 Kiwis suffer full-blown diabetes – double the number of 20 years ago.
A further quarter of the population is then pre-diabetic. So on their way to getting diabetes soon enough if they don't do something about it.
Diet is the issue. Anyone of my generation will have been witness to how much the way we eat has changed.
In the 1970s, junk food and sugary snacks went from being occasional treats to standard fare. The food industry had discovered it could make addictive products from dirt cheap ingredients.
Fructose – a variant of sugar – could be factory-produced for next to nothing by running a truckload of corn through a bath of acid and enzymes.
Likewise cheap fat – hydrogenated vegetable oil – could be churned out by the barrel by heat-cracking and solvent-treating a low-cost crop like soybean.
Two industrialised ingredients to then jazz up anything, including your "healthy" morning bowl of muesli, or the sweet and greasy Caesar dressing swamping a takeaway salad.
Medical devices: For too many, insulin pumps become their alternative.
Medical devices: For too many, insulin pumps become their alternative.
But also, official dietary advice changed too. Due to medical fears about saturated fat and heart disease, the public health emphasis went on cutting back on meat and dairy. People were urged to fill up their plates with "good carbs" instead.
Through the 1980s and 1990s, I was hearing this message like everyone else. So my wedges of butter became guilty smears. It became automatic to reach for the leanest cut at the supermarket, while just also reducing the amount of protein altogether.
The compensation was being liberal with the carbohydrates. When it came to starch like potatoes, rice and spaghetti, or sweetness in the form of apples, bananas, melons and other fruit, any amount seemed allowed. They were nature's bounty, packed with energy and nutrition.
Indeed if, like me, you were out running every evening, playing tennis all weekend long, then carb-loading was the thing to do. The way to train.
So apart from the cakes and biscuits, I thought my own diet was pretty much a model of the going Heart Foundation guidelines. And what a laugh that turned out to be.
It is at this point of the story that things get properly controversial. The old colliding with the new.
Current mainstream dietary advice – even for diabetics – remains "heart-healthy". A sensible diet is meant to have a balance of macronutrients where about 50 per cent of our daily calories come from carbohydrates, then some 30 per cent from fat and 20 per cent from protein.
The diabetes management booklet handed me by my doctor toed this line.
It said cut out the processed food, the sugary snacks and fatty treats, of course. Perhaps go easy on the starch and ramp up the greens. But breakfast could still be porridge, Weetbix, or baked beans on toast. Standard carbs.
An LCHF diet tilts the ratios the opposite way. Carbs become 20 per cent of the calories, protein 20 per cent, and fat 60 per cent.
The even more aggressive ketogenic diet – Keto to its advocates – reduces carbohydrate to 10 per cent and takes the fat level to 70 per cent.
With LCHF, you can still get in your healthy five fruit and veg a day. Starchy tubers and grains are carb dense. However, it takes an awful lot of kale, cauliflower, courgette and capsicum – the green and fibrous stuff – to reach the diet's 20 per cent goal.
Dr. Jason Fung - 'A New Paradigm of Insulin Resistance'
Prof. Grant Schofield - 'Low Carb - Where Is The Science At?'
Catherine Crofts PhD on Hyperinsulinemia and Kraft
A deep dive in to insulin resistance and personal fat threshold part 2
And the low carb argument is the modern diet is just wrong once viewed in an evolutionary light. We now eat sugar the whole year around. And starch of some kind with every meal. On top of this, we also graze continuously, snacking our way through the day.
It is a pleasant enough way of existing. But the result is we are always on the glucose side of the equation, never much on the ketone-based, fat-burning side.
This sets up an invisible war in our bodies. The beta cells of our pancreas have to be in constant overdrive to flush the excess glucose out of our bloodstream and into our glycogen and fat stores.
Yet that starts to provoke its own response of insulin resistance. Our muscles say they have already got enough. And our fat cells – even though they are designed so they can swell 8000 times in volume – eventually become completely full up too.
These tissues react by becoming deaf to the urgings of the pancreas. They reduce the number of insulin receptors on their membranes, making them insensitive.
This causes the pancreas only to shout even louder. Insulin levels soar as the beta cells redouble their efforts to clear the bloodstream of glucose. It becomes a vicious circle – a state called hyperinsulinemia.
But at this stage, the pancreas is still managing to force the glucose away. So your HbA1c readings might seem fairly normal. Or just a touch pre-diabetic.
The next stage comes when we hit our personal fat threshold. This is the bit that probably caught me out.
Diabetes is thought of as a disease of obesity. And while that is true, about 10 per cent of even severely obese people can remain metabolically healthy – at least in the insulin-resistance sense.
The reason is they can manufacture more fat cells. There is always more room for whatever their diets throw at them.
But other people have a strict fat limit. Once their available fat cells are filled, there are no more. And for slim body types like me – with a relatively thin layer of subcutaneous fat on the hips, trunk and back – it means maximum capacity may be reached that much more abruptly.
That does not mean the pancreas stops trying. Even when our subcutaneous fat cells are full – and now starting to burst and die, releasing their inflammatory contents – the insulin signal will continue, trying to drive fat into every other nook and cranny.
First we develop visceral fat – bloated deposits wrapped around our internal organs. Then the fat begins to invade our muscles and internal organs themselves.
We get the syndrome know as TOFI. Thin on the outside and fat on the inside. The state I was in.
It is like hitting a hard wall as the organ fat builds. The liver clogs. And even the pancreas clogs. Then it is end game.
The beta cells cease to function. Insulin regulation of blood glucose collapses. Nothing is left to hold the sugar back.
You wind up at the doctor's in a daze and find he is muttering something vague about a sudden metabolic decompensation.
So goes the simplified version of my diabetic disaster. The full story of the body's metabolic complexity could fill a book. I've read a few of those.
But the bodily mechanics explains how a dietary change can work – what you need to do. And there are in fact a number of fixes you can try.
Bariatric surgery – a gastric bypass – is one. For the seriously obese, a physical restriction on eating will cause fat levels to subside and ease the body back below its personal fat threshold.
Strict low calorie diets can be effective as well. Losing the fat clogging the pancreas can get the beta cells going again, so long as they aren't completely broken down.
Calorie restriction diets appeal to the medical establishment because carbs can still remain half of the daily diet. You just eat less of everything.
But the low carb claim is that it takes direct action. Carbs are the actual villain of the piece. Just cut them instead and get yourself into the ketogenic fat-burning zone.
It is about working with nature, working with your metabolism. Low carbers are big on other lifestyle changes like barbell exercises and high intensity training. Kicking your body up a gear.
I already was active. But I got busy at the gym. I broke out the weights, the rowing machine, the chin-ups. I also went for long glucose-burning walks directly after meals.
Intermittent fasting is another fashionable move. And one I liked more than I expected.
The goal is to give your insulin system as much rest as possible. And stretching out meals is as good as cutting way back on the carbs.
Now I often sleep my eight hours, skip breakfast and then have lunch around mid-afternoon, dinner thereafter. A fast of 14 hours or so. Sufficient time to shift into ketosis.
Again, it sounded like something I never could do, being apparently so addicted to food. And it was actually surprisingly easy when I tried.
If you get right into low carb it can start to become cult-like. The internet is full of buff Instagrammers promoting their highly restrictive keto lifestyle.
Even with the LCHF, I only limited my diet to the degree it made sense. I would tighten my regime and check the result on my glucose monitor. Did blood sugars head in the right direction? Test and repeat until I got where I had to be.
I did start taking metformin tablets, the standard drug for type 2 diabetes. They certainly shaved a few points off my HbA1c early on.
I got down to 35 mmol/mol with the help of those. Stopping saw a bounce back to 39. But that was good enough, I felt.
And as to the final outcome, it isn't fairytale perfect. For some, their pancreas does recover after it has been unclogged. As far as I can tell, my beta cells were burnt out by being red-lined. Even shrinking every last gram of visceral fat hasn't brought them back yet.
So I'm not actually cured. But being in remission for as long as I stick to an LCHF diet is a happy alternative. And I generally feel better in every way for doing so much about my metabolic health.
Once more, I am just only another n=1 experiment. Results may vary from individual case to individual case.
However, it is worth knowing about the insidious damage too many of us are doing to ourselves through our existing eating patterns. And that when we decide to make a radical change, it is perfectly possible to haul ourselves back from the brink.