Living Off the Grid




The Establishment–the System–has gone so complex in the modern dispensation and its inherent dynamic to create circumstances to draw within its orbit the denizens of a social formation where it operates seems irresistible. Everybody is expected to toe the line that connects with the Establishment. To be called normal is to be on the grid, so to speak, which is originally a technical term that refers to the source of electric power supply that facilitates households in a particular community.

Yet despite all these, the world has witnessed varied forms of cultural rebellion with the general character of getting unplugged from the System. At a certain period when the complex System has already become a burden to the people as it reaches a certain stage of development where the System itself pushes them to the edge with all the discomfort they experience, it is never far fetched that some fearless individuals will rise up to defy the System and ultimately dare to step out of its bounds. In simple terms, we say that once the System has gotten extremely impositional, some brave souls within its sphere get to the point of deciding once and for all to cross the frontiers, dissociate and free themselves from the System and start to radically modify their lifestyle, reinvent themselves and live off the grid.

Living off the grid is one hell of a disposition. Getting disconnected from the System is a tough situation, for in the course of time from past generations until the present, the System has always been with us as a framework of our earthly existence. We have always reckoned the System as the ordered reality of our being and getting hooked into its multifaceted conditions is what we cognitively acknowledge and even defend as our reality. Within its dominion, we share the temporal pleasures and woes that interweave to form its intricate tapestry. We are the devotees who religiously join its unending procession with the faith of a fanatical believer blindly convinced that the System’s omnipotence will never fail us. [Cf. ]

But a deeper analysis makes us realize that the System is tyrannical and hence oppressive.  We have seen an array of its inconsistencies and unrealistic demands. We have moments in our experiences where we face a dead-end and what the System promises is unrealizable. At certain extreme moments, the System’s nauseating push becomes unbearable and the only way to get rid of it is to disentangle ourselves from the System. However, it takes some herculean effort to effect a break away. The spectre of isolation in a lifeless desert terrifies us exceedingly. Getting finally unattached  from the System could unredeemably plunge us down into an abyss of paralysis tantamount to death. Thinking within this mind-frame leads us to the notion that living off the grid could in a way be construed as an act of suicide. Yet, the persistent question at this point is, Are these lingering negative thoughts justifiable in reasonable terms or are they just baseless fears as delusional as those of Plato’s cave dwellers?

The idealism of Henry David Thoreau didn’t last long though we could imagine the spiritual excitement he experienced in the challenges of living much more closely with nature as he recounts his experimental off-grid stint in Walden Pond. But the off-grid lifestyle of the Amish people of Pennsylvania, Ohio and Ontario (in Canada) has spanned generations in almost two centuries since their ancestors migrated to the New World. Those of us who are more or less familiar with the Amish way of life understand in much clearer terms what living off the grid actually entails. Though, it could be argued perfectly well that within Amish communities they themselves have established their own grids which have suffered through generations the same cultural rebellion we have seen in the super-system of the modern western world. Multitudes of Amish young people year-in-year-out have left their communities after having been suffocated too long by the narrow-mindedness and the religious fundamentalism that traditionally characterize the Amish way of life.

There are however existing and still-emerging self-sustaining fringe communities of non-religious mold in various parts of the world that have decisively declared their non-involvement with the System represented by the State government where they are located (e.g., Avalon Organic Gardens and EcoVillage in Tucson, Arizona). Some of these communities are deeply involved in permaculture projects where they raise their own foods and in harnessing electricity through the installation of solar panels on houses and even in specifically designated areas within a particular community. Even their water sources are localized.These communities have cut off their connection with State governments  and rejected government subsidies in their projects. Their members don’t even care anymore about the social security insurance and the government health and medical services as well.

These off-grid communities are the post-industrial/post-modern expressions of defiance to and rebellion against the widespread corruption and exploitation perpetrated by State governments in practically all parts of the so-called modern western world. In these off-grid communities, governance decentralization is the name of the game. It is guided by the idealistic principle that human freedom, justice, peace and progress may truly be achieved in small-scale, decentralized states of affairs. As a protracted goal, these communities want to prove in most concrete terms that State control is really the scourge rather than the protector and enhancer of human societies on planet Earth.

(c) Ruel F. Pepa, 29 June 2015

Race as a Social Concept



“It is race, is it not, that puts the hundred millions of India under the dominion of a remote island in the north of Europe. Race avails much, if that be true, which is alleged, that all Celts are Catholics, and all Saxons are Protestants; that Celts love unity of power, and Saxons the representative principle. Race is a controlling influence in the Jew, who, for two millenniums, under every climate, has preserved the same character and employments. Race in the negro is of appalling importance. The French in Canada, cut off from all intercourse with the parent people, have held their national traits. I chanced to read Tacitus ‘On the Manners of the Germans,’ not long since, in Missouri, and the heart of Illinois, and I found abundant points of resemblance between the Germans of the Hercynian forest, and our Hoosiers, Suckers, and Badgers of the American woods.”

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Race must be viewed as a social construction. Human interaction rather than natural differentiation must be seen as the source and the continued basis for racial categorization.”

— Prof. Ian F. Haney Lopez, “The Social Construction of Race”

Race is basically a physico-biological concept and this is obviously attested by the fact that people differ in terms of certain physical features courtesy of the genetic factor. By and large, we automatically distinguish the geographical origins of people though it is true that times are a-changing, so to speak, and many of them were born and are now residents in locations not originally of their ancestors’. Pakistanis and Indians in UK, black Africans in the US . . . Arabs in Spain . . . Chinese in Germany . . . Italians in Argentina . . . Southeast Asians in Italy . . . Filipinos in Arab countries . . . . The list could go on and on as the issue of migration has become commonplace in the modern world. With this development is the emergence of the issue of race that goes beyond the physico-biological. At this point, the concept of race becomes more of a social matter.

In a social context where multiple racial presence is a reality, problems in the area of cultural differences heighten the fundamental discrepancies created by skin-color distinction. However, it is always the dominant racial stock in such a society that assumes the standard-setting prerogative. In this condition, the dominant segment spontaneously claims cultural ascendancy over and above the rest. In the process, a hierarchical ladder–a racial caste system, if you will–is set up on the basis of how far removed the others are from the ascendant standard-setting race. This matter taken seriously could be construed as an undying extension of the ancient master-slave mentality though with all the modifications necessary to toe the superficial line of “decency” that defines what a modern society is supposed to look like.

If a dominant racial group in a society enjoys more benefits, privileges, rights and opportunities than the others, the issue of race as a concept becomes social. The general situation presents the superiority of the former over the latter. At this point, thinking people get curious and wonder why the former becomes more superior than the latter. We want to know what inherent genetic qualities does the dominant group possess that make it superior. Is it in terms of physical strength? Is it in the exquisite physical endowments their men and women have? Or perhaps in their unequalled intelligence? While contemplating on these, we could go on  and on thinking of other factors generally held by members of a race who consider themselves dominant and superior over the others.

In a lot of multi-racial societies that used to be colonies of white-skinned Europeans, racial superiority is reckoned in terms of physical appearance especially the facial features and the skin complexion. This concern is one important area of consideration to better understand what basically colonial mentality is. The closer one’s facial features and skin complexion are to those of the colonizers’ descendants, the more they are treated with special attention, appreciation and affection. An African American (or an African European for that matter) woman is considered pretty if she possesses certain caucasian qualities that make her far different from the typical African. In this context, aesthetic judgment–which is precisely social or socio-cultural, if you will–is thus heavily influenced by the caucasian standard. This matter is much more pronounced in beauty pageants, both local and international so that a southeast Asian contestant should have some caucasian features to qualify. And this is true across the board wherever we find societies that used to be colonies of white empires in bygone eras.

However, in another categorical consideration like when it comes to physical prowess as in sports, those of African descent have proven in various events their excellent talents. In US professional basketball alone as a case in point, African Americans have shown their superiority for several succeeding generations. But this could be mistakenly construed as a unilateral assessment if we are not aware of the fact that white European hoopsters are of equal talents, skills and capablities and all these have been witnessed in international campaigns like the world cups. Once realized on a balanced scale, the final analysis yields to us the conclusion that after all, race is a non-factor in matters of physical strength.

The same is true in terms of intelligence as it is an established fact that high-level intelligence is normally  possessed by people in all racial groupings everywhere. So long as we don’t make the Nobel Prize in various categories (except the peace prize)–where the majority of the awardees are caucasian–as the standard to judge the superior intelligence of one race over the other, we are on the right track to argue that intelligence transcends the racial divide. In the same vein, we likewise find stupid people everywhere so that nobody can ever lay reasonable claim to the notion that stupidity is one specific characteristic of some particular racial units. Economic backwardness is therefore not a proof that a nation is inhabited by people whose stupidity is inherent to their racial roots . In practically all instances, these societies have long been victims of a series of politically generated setbacks that could be traced from the early days of colonization to the most recent mismanagement of governments run by incompetent and corrupt leaders while the more critically thinking intelligentsia are threatened and gagged by all possible means as well as hunted, imprisoned and even assassinated.

The worst case of racial issue as a social problematization that has hugged world news in the present dispensation is Israeli Zionism. It is based on a religious ideology which is purely mythical, even a blatant lie, that doesn’t  have any historical justification. It has laid claim over a geographical portion of the Middle Eastern region which is now called Israel by virtue of the 1948 implementation of the Balfour Declaration. The whole scenario that has developed through time since Israel was first inaugurated is the bitter displacement of the land’s original inhabitants: the Palestinians. The ensuing violence that has resulted to carnage and catastrophic massacres perpetrated by the Zionist Israelis is absolutely aimed to totally annihilate the Palestinians on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Zionism as an ideology using the Jewish religion as a front promotes a brand of racism that puts to shame all previous racisms recorded in world history. The issue of race in Zionism transcends the physico-biological as it claims that the “God” of the Jewish Torah has given Israeli Jews a special recognition as the most important people in the world being “God’s chosen”. However, as far as the physico-biological aspect is concerned, the so-called “Israelis” belong to a racial stock so far different from that of the Palestinians since the latter are Semitic while the former are of ancient Turkic origin.

Israel’s exclusivist formulation grounded on invented socio-cultural presuppositions has promoted the monumental lie that Israelis are of Semitic stock and all attempts to bitterly attack and condemn the bullying perpetrated by Israel over the Palestinians is definitely “anti-Semitic”. In the modern world, nothing matches Zionism as it immorally stands out to notoriously promote the superiority of a race as a social construction based on concocted lies of malevolent personalities who being atheists do not even believe in the “God” whom they claim have chosen them and intended to bring them to the “promised land”.

(c) Ruel F. Pepa, 23 June 2015

How Useful Is History?

history makers

Basic to the issue at hand is the question: Whose history? Or perhaps, History of what? It could be the history of an individual human being, also known as, a biography which is useful to better understand the person of the one spoken of in such an account. It could be the medical history of a certain patient confined in a hospital whose usefulness is of utmost importance for the medical specialists to trace the cause of the person’s illness. History could also be that of a business company’s rise to prominence from being a simple buy-and-sell junkyard to a multi-million-dollar (or -euro) enterprise whose internal usefulness to its corporate planners is of immense value and whose external influence is an exciting inspiration to future entrepreneurs, present and future. History as a tracing of development can be of anything.

However, what classically stands out as one among the many disciplines of human intellectual endeavor is history as history of a nation. In fact, this particular sort of history is an academically “canonized” field formally studied in schools. As an academic field it is uniquely distinguished from the “hard” (natural) and “soft” (social) sciences and is more associated with the humanities. History’s most unique peculiarity is its distinct character which is not fully objective. It may be argued that doing history fundamentally starts off with the objective data of real space-time events like actual places, dates and people. But such factors are not officially considered history as yet but simply the skeletal framework upon which the “flesh” of history is formed by the writer of history or technically, the historiographer. In this connection, we say that the so-called essence of history becomes a matter of our cognitive knowledge by way of historiography or the writing of history. The history of a nation is therefore a weaving of stories–an interpretation and re-interpretation–based on actual recorded events in the hands of a historiographer whose basic official recognition–and at times, mandate–is traditionally bestowed within the framework of academic standards as most (if not all) of the officially acknowledged historiographers are academics.

History as interpretation and re-interpretation is hence not fully objective on the one hand and in the same vein, not fully subjective on the other. Perhaps, the most we can say about the substantial meaningfulness of history is its inherent capacity for intersubjective valuation. The historical rehearsal of a particular milestone in the life of a people in a social context is therefore a matter of widespread consensus for it to be of national significance. History in this ideal sense is viewed as a unifying core that inspires a people and makes it proud of its cultural heritage. History as such aims to strengthen the common points of integration that define the national character of a people. With this in mind, we seem to get to the full measure of history’s ideal usefulness.

Yet, history as a stuff of human reality is some distance away from the ideal and if there ever be  controversies as there really are, it lies in the hands of the official historiographers who in a lot of instances are writing–even re-writing–history on behalf of dominant interest groups in the political arena.

“We know that there are interest groups behind the writing of every History and, in certain cases, one historiographer’s account of a significant event may run distinct and even in direct contradiction to another historical narrative. More than this, there could even be several dissimilar accounts from different historians. At a certain point, a focused study of these multilateral accounts gets extremely engaging as a meta-historical concern of philosophy, which zeroes in on an examination of a historian’s intents and motives as well as the power base that sustains such intents and motives and from which the historiographer draws the energy to write history from that perspective.” (1)

Having this in mind, we can think of many instances wherein history becomes solely useful to promote the agenda of politically motivated interest groups which in one way or the other hurt the psycho-social fiber of the common people who constitute the national majority. In other words, history written within these parameters defeats the expressed ideals and in the long run could even be a destructive factor leading to national disempowerment, exploitation and disintegration. History may thus be manipulated and distorted by unscrupulous historiographers to satisfy their patrons who walk the corridors of political power and are the actual beneficiaries of the history these historiographers have written.

The full fruition of a kind of history that is going to be useful to the people in whose behalf such history is written is something which is right in the hands of the said people themselves. The history-makers are the people and, in this light, the rightful historiographers of the history these people have made are no other than they themselves. The “death of the official historiographer” is the challenge of the present era. In the age of information, the multiple voices of the common people as history-makers should be heard as history-writers–i.e., historiographers–as well. Nobody has the unique qualification to write the history of post-modern society/nation except the people themselves. History as “[t]he past, within our here-and-now, is an inherent aspect of our existence and might even be a leading factor that points us to new and refreshing insights and discoveries to inspire, not only our own ascent to a higher and more refined intensity of being, but also that of others in the present and coming generations. In other words, the intrinsic process that makes possible the presence of the past in us is not in any way a hindrance but a dynamic component that defines where individuals are or are not.  (2)

History may only be reckoned as useful in the context of the people to whom such history is relevant. They are the real participants in the making of their history and their narratives have to be heard, written, recorded and archived.  They are the most credible historiographers of their national experience who in the passing of time have continually re-interpreted the past in the light of the present. In this way, we witness an ever fresh and refreshing rehearsal of the people’s stories that dynamically carry the past over to the present. The past signified in the present is history and history is a re-interpretation—a re-signification—of the past. In so doing, the past is hence not final and irrevocable for it is subject to a new re-interpretation, a fresh re-signification in the minds and attitudes of history-makers who in the present perspective are the historiographers themselves. “Lessons from history enlighten us to understand the present better and to approach more intelligently the challenges of the future that we are likewise tasked with creating.”  (3)

(c) Ruel F. Pepa, 10 June 2015


(1) “History is Too Often Written in Blood” by Ruel F. Pepa (

(2) “Liberate History to Conjure a Better Future” by Ruel F. Pepa (

(3) Ibid.

Things I Do Not Know About Myself

knowing self

Taken as it appears and at its most superficial level, the issue at hand is a blank wall. Discussion is thus precluded. How does one proceed and get to a meaningful reflection and discourse on something he does not know, much less on something he does not know about himself? With all my limitations, I may not know anything about something out there but having somebody who knows makes the matter understandable to me as such is explained in the same language I speak. But to think of what I do not know about myself is a different consideration. The problem is not out there but deep inside. What I do not know about myself is purely and simply beyond my epistemic realm. At the onset, it seems to be a pseudo-problem. Stepping forward to get to things I do not know about myself doesn’t put me in a difficult situation but rather in a seemingly impossible task.

But moving on and looking at the matter from another angle may give us some fresh insights. Yes, I might not know some things about me and hence these to me are not real but these very same things have been seen by others and thus they are real to them. At a certain point in time, some “algebraic unknowns” about myself– that is, from my initial viewpoint–have been identified and later shared with me. They are not simply figments of imagination but things observed not by just one but by several who have figured out a consensus. Things about myself which I didn’t know before are now being opened up to me. At the end of the day, the epistemic process takes its normal course and leads me to the here-and-now of knowing things I never knew before about myself.

Then I get to the realization that all the while, there were those who knew things I didn’t know about myself before. This afterthought justifies the meaningfulness of the statement that there are really things about anybody that s/he doesn’t know at a certain point in time. Whether such things are later revealed or not is not the present philosophical concern. What matters though is the ontological meaningfulness of things someone does not know about her/himself and the epistemological validity of a substantial discourse on such an issue. In the light of how the present discussion has unfolded so far, things one does not know about her/himself are both ontologically real and epistemologically significant.

As a matter of ontological expansion, I am of the opinion that more insights may be achieved in the psychoanalytic realm as we bring to fore Sigmund Freud’s theory of the unconscious as well as the theory of the collective unconscious in Carl Gustav Jung’s depth psychology. Freud tells us that while the conscious mind operates in our awakened state, it is totally ignorant of everything generated by the operation of the unconscious mind which in reality exerts the biggest chunk of influence in the way we conduct our lives. In other words, there are more things we do not know about ourselves than those we know and these things we do not know are lodged in the unconscious mind. “The Freudian theory describes the unconscious mind as the depository of one’s suppressed passions, unfulfilled desires, unrealized wishes, unsatisfied cravings and frustrated aspirations. These are the factors that ‘actively operate’ underneath human existence and make life problematic, troubled and painful. In other words, the unconscious mind is actually the most ‘active’ of all the levels of the mind as its impact has produced the neurotic human being.” (1)

Basically, what we have in the unconscious mind are things we do not consciously know about ourselves. In this connection, “Freud theorized that unless these factors are unearthed and brought forth to consciousness from the depths of the unconscious mind by way of psychoanalysis, the human being will continue to be deprived of the opportunity to more fully and better understand her/himself and to enjoy life more meaningfully.” (2)  As the Freudian proposal states, things one doesn’t know about her/himself may be brought to the light of consciousness by means of psychoanalysis. ” . . . [A]s a therapeutic method, it offers a way of healing—an intervention that breaks the curses of past misadventures and ‘demonizations’. It is supposed to lead an individual to a better and much clearer understanding of her/his being through an “excavation” of what has long been hidden in the depth of the Unconscious. In dreaming, the subconscious surfacing of things ‘dumped’ in the Unconscious comes naturally while in the psychoanalytic process, the Unconscious is intentionally primed and systematically explored.” (3)

Turning now to Jung’s theory of the collective unconscious brings us to the knowledge of the myriad things we do not know about ourselves as such things are deeply embedded in our genetic configuration. Yes, we have the uniqueness of our individuality on the one hand but on the other, we are heirs to the immeasurable stream of an unbroken genetic line that goes way back to our earliest ancestors. ” . . . [W]e cannot be totally free from the distant and recent past which generally accounts for how each of us has been ‘conditioned’ or ‘programmed’ or ‘reinforced’ to do what we do in the present. The whole situation defines a human being´s person with the way s/he behaves and acts and reacts and thinks and looks at her/his so-called ‘reality’.” (4)

In the final analysis, it may be confidently said that things I initially do not know about myself may not remain hidden but should rather be exposed under the sunlight of full knowledge as a fitting response to the Socratic challenge, “Know yourself.”

(c) Ruel F. Pepa, 03 June 2015
(1) “The Silent Mind,”
(2) Ibid.
(3) “Dreams, Freud and Psychoanalysis,”
(4) “Good and Bad Vibes”