Saturday, July 31, 2010
The Last Generation of Mindkind on Earth
by William John Cox article link
Febuary 21, 2007 | The Voters
The following essay was written many years ago and, although a little lengthy for the Internet, it is posted here for those who like to mix a little philosophy with their politics.
Should the citizens of the United States engage in a peaceful political rebellion to avoid economic disaster and future wars founded, not upon wishful thinking and hopeful denial, but on a simple and specific agenda for effective collective action?
Is not the desire for freedom a universal trait of all sentient beings? Otherwise inequality of opportunity forever retards the intellectual evolution of their species.
Discussion: Once the melody of freedom's song is raised in democratic harmony, it echoes throughout the heavens for all to hear, as there is but peace in all of the universe, and it has been that way for all of eternity. No being, truly thinking, makes war instead of exploring the stars, for without peace, no being can fly far from their birth planet. They can only foul their nest and peck their siblings to death, thinking conditions beyond their nest are the same as surround them, never knowing that there's no Star Wars, except in the blind fantasies of those who never learn to see.
Danger. If there is but peace in all the universe and it has been that way for all of eternity, what then must we do to have any voice in our fate? Are we to continue living in fear of atomic-tipped missiles in the former USSR? Is there a more real danger that one day some small dispute ignites a financial war and China dumps its dollars or OPEC begins to trade its oil in Euros? Or, what if some other tiny economic turmoil twists the stock, bond, currency, and real estate markets into a chaotic contractual tailspin, and for whatever reason, in a single day, paper and electronic money simply cease to have economic relevance and virtually all legal wealth is eliminated? Then, only gold and other metals will have any real value; not silicon, plastic, or credit ratings.
Quick. Then, when there's no gasoline for sale, nor cabs to call, my spare change will be worth more than your former millions, and my bicycle will get me farther than your BMW. Without electricity and wave transmissions, your telephone, computers, televisions, DVDs and stereos are worth less than my knife. If all houses are for sale and all apartments are for rent, all titles are worthless, and all property is available for the taking. If everybody is looking for work, nobody will be hiring. If everything worth stealing has been stolen, you will find nothing to eat, no matter the caliber of your gun, or the number of your last few bullets.
Much like the Earth being struck by a giant asteroid, perhaps one-third, half, or even three-quarters of us, billions all over the world, could all be dead in a matter of months. No possessions, no livestock, no grain, no fruit, no game, nothing: Nothing to eat but the flesh of our own kind, starting with the babies, who will be the first to die.
Dirty. Will it be a blessing if the troubles are prolonged? Unless something is done, unless we, together, take positive action, things will steadily get worse instead of better. Negatives will multiple negatives, violent crime will continue to increase, and the social ills which compel the forgotten to riot will remain uncured.
Fires, floods, earthquakes, and other disasters will not cease to occur, but our governments will cease to do anything to help anyone. At first, as now, our governments will cut to the "basics," and finally will do nothing but collect taxes, sacrifice our youth fighting local warlords, and impose the death penalty for all crimes, either immediately or through forced labor.
Lost Knowledge. The downward spiral may be less steep but just as deadly, for we will soon lose the collective genius of the last two or three generations of accumulated race knowledge. As we gather here together at the threshold of galactic awareness, we stand to lose all we've learned and conceived of in just the last century. Once the last skulls that once contained our vast database of information and experience are laid in the ground – at that moment, the flame of our collective intellect will flicker and die.
When the daily quest for food leaves no time in the day to teach the little children to read, the last surviving texts will be of small value except to start a fire. And, at that precise moment, when the last of us who can read these words and comprehend their meaning, sleep our last dream, we, who once shared these thoughts, will cease to be; our words will be silenced and our learning lost, and our tears and toil will have been for nought.
The Last Generation. Along with our concrete castings, twisted girders, ancient carvings in stone and other megalithic artifacts, eons from now, a few scraps of our language may be found to identify us as the last generation of one of Gaia's children, an aquatic primate, known as human, who once climbed out of the lakes, through the trees and along the rivers, sailed in boats and settled distant shores and waterways around the world, harnessed the atom and flew to the Moon.
There the story will end, and across the universal field of mind and along the eternal corridors of time it will be whispered of how the human infant's first few breaths in the breeze of wisdom were smothered by the wasting virus of deception, hatred, and war. Of how it lay struggling in its earthly crib, looking up with fevered eyes through the cosmic window, fighting with all the strength of its existence, fortified by the antibiotics of knowledge, and its healing properties of wisdom, yet still too weak to see. Nothing more can be said, for we were stillborn.
Song of Mindkind. Or, celestial history may record that we, the last generation of the second millennia following the time of Jesus, fifteen centuries after the teachings of Muhammad, were the last generation to suffer war and who survived birth as Children of Mindkind on Earth. Then, songs will be sung and stories told of our joining minds in a powerful signal of freedom, of the moment our souls sensed the secret and soared with the Spirit of Wisdom to vibrate the waves of eternity with the melody of our children's voices, so they may be forever heard to harmonize in the Universal Choir of Peace.
Reality of Now. As glorious as that image may be, now is now, and let's face it folks; things are bad and the future is looking worse. So, what can we do?
First. We must overcome our fear, and the anger and distrust it compels, and recognize the actual and potential power available in the relatively free, well-educated and communicating society we still enjoy in the United States. We must concentrate our individual vote into its most powerful political focus ever, for if we don't use it with responsibility, we are certain to lose it with alacrity.
Next, we must see us for who we really are. Much like the old advertisement for Ivory soap, we are 99.44% pure. If we look at the totality of the billions of human decisions made every day, worldwide, including all the software, blueprints, CAD drawings, business plans, PERT charts, budgets, contracts, planting of crops, even deciding in the morning what to wear to work, or what to eat at lunch, we will find that we mostly tell each other the truth and closely cooperate to get most things done with the help of others we trust. Otherwise, things simply wouldn't work; you couldn't drive down a highway without striking another car, and you couldn't put your children to bed in the evening without whimpers of hunger.
Travel anywhere in the world and visit any home, and you will only find families struggling each day to live and who love and cherish their babies. They all want a better life for their children, and they mostly teach them the best way to earn it is to tell the truth and work hard.
From the moment we struck the first flint and created language to teach the making of fire and tools, our species has been defined by our ability to mentally synapse beyond the limitations of instinct, acquire and expand knowledge, and to teach the tool of learning and the value of exploration to each new generation. Now, as we learn to step from the fertile fields of Earth into the mind field of time, and to surf the waves of information along the seashores of space and to cast our net upon the wisdom of eternity, we must continue to trust and increasingly respect one another's thoughts on various subjects, though opposed to our own. For, they may be based upon better information or different insights, and even if wrong, we will all profit more from civil, constructive discussion, than from dissension, deception and destruction.
Though some are so sly as to forever lie, and the ability to deceive and disassemble will forever be seen by some as a value in achieving group or individual goals, and though many will forever respond to fear with a violent hatred of others, and real fear once felt can never be erased, and although everyone may forever try to cheat on their taxes, these emotional matters of conscience are but a weak pathology on our physiological soul, best cured by the light of truth and the balm of understanding.
Courage. Each of us must find within ourselves the individual courage to perform one simple rebellious act and elect to decline protection of the computerized secret ballot. Instead of responding like lab animals pushing a touch screen in response to the latest ten-second television smear ad, we can each take a little longer to vote and to carefully consider the candidates presented on the ballot by the various parties and factions who vie for our vote. Once we decide, we can demonstrate our literacy by carefully writing in our personal choice for president of the United States, whether or not his or her name is or is not on the ballot.
Presently, half of all voters don't bother to go to the polls. But, if only 15 to 25% of us were to write in our vote, trust that the politicians will be scrambling to ensure that all votes cast for them are legally counted, as they should be for anyone registering a willingness to accept votes cast in their name for any office of public trust.
Uncomplicated statutes should ensure that existing parties would continue to provide consensus for people with similar political views and the organization and resources to promote those views, and all Constitutional institutions, including the Electoral College would continue to function as intended. There would only be a simple adjustment in who does what. Instead of being offered phoney political platforms, devoid of substance or clearly defined policy, we the people would debate and express our desired policy and elect those candidates most committed to enact it.
National elections could become festive and joyous events, with real political parties to celebrate the end of electioneering and relief from hired advertising. Perhaps there could be a paid holiday and voting could extend over a three-day weekend. It might even take a week to count all of the ballots, and there might have to be a run-off and debates between the top two candidates.
Who can know for sure what may happen? But, surely, the election process which evolves will have to be better than the one we have now, when media exit polls decide elections by the morning coffee break in Iowa, and the loser concedes by lunch time in California. But, by more effectively achieving a better personal understanding with our government and those we elect to represent us, we citizens would gain greater control, our lives would be less restricted, and our vote could become a sacrament of social and civic freedom.
Confidence. Next, we must insist that the ballot include for our vote the twelve most relevant and critical issues facing our government during the upcoming four-year term. Our vote would be an expression of our collective judgement in the making of our own national policy. We would not make law: That is what our elected assemblies are for. However, the voice of a 51/49 percent split would be far different than the roar of an 89/11 vote in curbing the influence of powerful and wealthy special interest groups. If we simple voters are smart enough to earn money and to figure out how to pay our taxes, we are also smart enough to collectively express basic policy to guide our government, and to personally vote for whomever we consider most qualified to act in accordance with our desired policies.
Duty. Everywhere in the universe, on every planet with sentient life, in every nation on Earth, and in every society, every person has a universal right and duty to act, individually and collectively, to secure essential freedom for the nurturing and education of their children. Otherwise, if we, individually, sit around doing nothing except wait for the leadership of our politicians, whose only idea of making policy is to increasingly proscribe otherwise legal behavior, increase penalties, and take away rights (except when they are caught), we will find ourselves alone when our individual worlds collapse around us.
Options. The Voters agree only that inherent in any right to vote is the option to not vote, or to vote and to nullify the election if no viable alternatives are offered. They agree to politely disagree on all other issues and elections. Thus, The Voters takes no position on the various questions which are offered as a sampling of political issues that could be addressed in a National Policy Referendum.
Choices. Should we imagine, however, that all policy questions were thoroughly debated, and such a large margin of voters answered as to be an undeniable expression of desirable public policy, and that sympathetic representatives were elected to work out the best ways to implement those policies, we can for a few moments reflect upon the kind of life we might enjoy here in America, or in any other nation, country, state, or society whose free electors so elect.
Family. The society which evolved from such an election could not be a utopia, for the daily problems of life never go away until solved, and parents will always have to work hard to raise their children and to teach them to survive. But, the society could be one in which our government becomes more compassionate and caring about our family needs and less concerned about itself.
Every citizen, irrespective of wealth or status, requires certain necessities every day of their life, and for those with responsibilities of family, matters of health, education and freedom of travel are essential to social survival. To meet these core needs, all citizens could be equally helped by the resources of national Health, Education and Energy Corps. Each Corps would have its own national service academy, with admission by congressional appointment, and would commission officers dedicated to serving the citizens of a free society and their families.
Then, every parent and every child's burden of caring for the illnesses and injuries of family members would be lightened by the compassion and basic care provided by their Health Corps. Each of your children would receive a minimum community college education, to absorb the vast knowledge that challenges their comprehension and receive better training for employment, and each would be personally encouraged and tutored by the data and resources of their Education Corps. Third, you could treat your family to a inexpensive annual vacation, visit distant relatives, and explore National Parks across America, using free electro-magnetic energy along the interstate highway system fueled by the pool resources organized by your Energy Corps, which draws upon massive micro-wave energy from space collectors and supplies excess capacity to local power companies.
Except for staple food stamp and school lunch programs to help preserve our national agricultural capacity and reserves and the health of our children, the role of the federal government in public welfare would be sharply limited. The primary responsibility for individual and family assistance would be borne by state and local governments, and sustained by the sharing society of the American people and their friends and families.
The work ethic and the essential value of individual labor would be instilled in all students, and those who elect to be sponsored and trained by the Education Corps to contribute, without compensation, at least one year of valuable public service upon adulthood, would earn a baccalaureate education.
The tremendous intellectual energy released by providing equality of opportunity to all children would manifest itself in solutions to our problems which will otherwise never be found. The most imaginative cures for diseases and creative scientific discoveries will be envisioned, not by the children of the wealthy and intellectual elite, but by those who would otherwise never have had a chance to learn. Only unimaginable power has the energy to propel us to the meaningful places within our universe and into its related dimensions – not the puny machines of war we are presently wasting our money on.
A Just And Civil Society. As the virus of deceit and hatred can never be completely eliminated from all who have become infected, personal violence and other serious crimes will continue to be inflicted upon justice could be more finely focused on the most serious crimes, with alternative family courts having the primary responsibility for resolving most cases resulting from alcoholism, drug addiction and other situational offenses.
To eliminate the gigantic profits which feed organized crime and public corruption, and to end the "War on Drugs" against our own society, medical doctors could be authorized to prescribe low-cost drugs for those who become addicted and who elect to participate in an educational recovery and treatment program. Concurrently, local communities could be authorized to collect fees and issue permits for the growing of a few marijuana plants for personal use and for controlling the agricultural cultivation of hemp for the commercial manufacture of clothing and other lawful purposes.
Confinement for serious offenses could be both swift and consistent with the preservation and enhancement of all existing Constitutional guarantees. The judicial exclusion of relevant evidence as a Constitutional remedy for Fourth Amendment search and seizure violations by law enforcement officers could be replaced in those states which enact an alternative civil remedy which provides minimum damages for violations, irrespective of the crime or its punishment, and concurrently within those communities which establish Peer Review Councils, consisting of public and police members to peacefully act together as peers to resolve complaints of police misconduct and to formulate the policies which guide the actions of their local officers.
The primary responsibility for law enforcement would continue to be borne by the people in local communities working as peers with those they appoint to exercise the restraint of police authority and empower to legitimately lay hands on those of us who violate the freedoms and rights of others. The motivation and manner in which we apply physical restraint to ourselves defines, perhaps more than any other single factor, the very nature of justice in any society and the probabilities of its survival.
Personal ownership of firearms can never be entirely prohibited, but legal and civic responsibility for licensing, registration and reasonable purposes would be established by state and local statutes which balances individual protection with community concerns.
Ultimately, in every society placing a supreme value on life, the final responsibility forever rests, at law and in conscience, upon each who elects to possess or use a firearm in detriment of the rights of others and who, without justification, either pulls the trigger, or doesn't.
The role of the federal government in criminal law enforcement would return to its historic place of being restricted to those offenses clearly having a national effect. However, the United States must continue in its responsibility to provide leadership in matters of justice by assisting local and state authorities, as requested, and by establishing a national Justice Academy, along with those of Health, Education, and Energy. Officers of all corps would first be schooled together in the values of a free society, before being specially educated to serve as professional health, education, energy, police, probation, court, and correctional administrators.
With equal access to a fair and impartial justice system, a more civil society would emerge. One in which people are more likely to respect the rights of others and to treat them with dignity, and in which individuals are less likely to respond with violenceand anger when their own sensibilities are offended.
Foreign Adventures. As a matter of principle, we must renounce the use of military and economic warfare against the peoples of other nations as an instrument of foreign policy, except in response to an armed invasion or nuclear attack. For other provocations, the president should present the evidence to Congress and identify the individual offender who presents the gravest danger and who controls the threatening instruments of power.
Rather than asking for a Declaration of War, the president could request a simple resolution of Congress naming the accused in a Warrant of Apprehension, demanding he present himself at the World Court of Justice at The Hague to personally answer charges brought there under International Law by the United States against the nation whose government he purports to represent.
Should the accused fail to appear, he would be declared an outlaw, a sizeable reward offered for his apprehension, and we could begin using the most effective media available to inform the people of the outlaw's nation of our grounds for concern and to reassure them that we mean them no harm. We would ask only that they distance themselves from the target of our apprehension and the anticipation of authorized means to secure his personal submission, including the use of deadly force, in whatever form or fashion.
Every member of the United States military service would first receive basic training as emergency medical and rescue technicians by the Health and Justice Corps to become skilled in the performance of their first duty to care for themselves, their compatriots, and the lives of we citizens they are sworn to protect.
Intermediate military training would field a coherent, mobile, well-equipped, and tactically facile force of fighters capable of kicking a** in multiple languages, each individually committed to the home return of all who share the risk of death. Advanced justice training would enable those most capable of more refined individual discretion to work more independently in exercising authority of force outside the United States in actions not requiring group weapons and tactics.
Allied with the Health Corps and the airlift capacity of its large fleet of hospital aircraft used to shuttle patients and relatives to advanced treatment centers, and equipped with the technological spin-off generated by a free and exploring society, the actual use of military force would likely become increasingly rare, but would forever remain rapid in its deployment tactics, and decisive in its strategic effects. For, rather than waiting in the barracks, every position would be staffed by two fighters, with one near home and in training on a yearly rotation, each poised to respond worldwide to any disaster, natural or military, that excites our common concern.
Our military and national intelligence assets exists only to protect and inform us, and have no legitimacy when used within our borders against we citizens of the United States, not for law enforcement or any other aggressive purpose, for no such authority was ever granted by the states to their union, a reservation enshrined by the Second Amendment.
Free Enterprise. No organization or business would ever again have to worry about health costs or worker's compensation claims, they would only have to join hands with their workers in a truly free enterprise system where the interests of labor and capital are balanced in the workplace through negotiation for the greatest service or production at the least cost.
Social Security would continue to provide all workers with the mobility to shop their services throughout the national job market and to retain existing minimum retirement and disability rights. And, states would continue to ensure that their businesses and workers insure for temporary disability and unemployment compensation.
Workers should have an election to also voluntarily participate in a supplemental independent retirement pool funded by untaxed individual savings and union pension plans to primarily invest in the small businesses of America and the municipalities of its citizens, and with insured minimum investment limits.
The role of government in litigation and regulation would largely become one of passively establishing fair and objective standards for use as rebuttable presumptions by injured or aggrieved plaintiffs, rather than having government intervene as an opponent against individuals and their organizations.
For the long haul, American businesses could obtain supplies and ship products throughout the continental marketplace and to the best ports for export over the interstate highways, paying only a fair commercial toll to draw upon the low-cost reserves of the Energy Corp's space power pool.
Fair Transaction-Tax. In our seven-trillion-dollar annual economy, all this could be easily paid for by a fair tax of less than ten percent on all spending, that is, a simple toll on each use of the economic system. Since the poor, working, middle and small business classes have fewer and smaller financial transactions, the wealthy and their multinational corporations, who've always had to spend a lot of money to avoid having any taxable income, would share proportionally in paying the toll for their traffic on our economic highway and their use of our courts to enforce their contracts.
A fair exemption from taxation on spending for those who elect to provide their family with health and education services, and on the cost of basic food and housing, for those not on welfare, would allow the free market to largely provide these necessities.
Money placed into legitimate savings accounts and its earned interest would not be taxed until it is withdrawn and spent. Gifts and bequests of money would not be spending by the donor, but the transaction tax would be paid by the beneficiary when the gift is spent, if not saved.
Foreign Trade. To the extent they are owned by American citizens, businesses, corporations and other organizations would not pay a toll on their payroll, as salaries would be directly passed through to their employees to spend. The additional tax paid by foreign owners would be the price of access to the services of our healthy and well-educated workers and our system of justice.
Inasmuch as imports are first sold at the border, tariffs could be replaced by the up front collection of the toll-tax when foreign corporations first sell their products to their American corporations to sell to us.
Foreign registration and ownership of U.S. patents, copyrights, and other legal protections would also carry a toll on all protected transactions, allowing non-citizens to share the cost of our courts to enforce their rights.
The Search. Lastly, as we cast about in space for sources of safe energy and the knowledge and wisdom to use it, we will become privileged to participate in the peaceful exploration of our universe and its related dimensions, so our children can play the eternal game of mindfully searching for the rarest find of all: A small blue, white, and green planet, with a slight tilt and a large stable moon in warm orbit around a long-lived, medium yellow star, a tiny speck of light, gently sheltered midway to its gaseous giant Jovian siblings, waltzing in the stardust along the whispering wisps of lonely virginal spiral galaxies, shyly waiting to be noticed. Once found, these cradles of life are so precious as to never be lost sight of, or to be forever infected by the virus of deception, hatred and war.
The Discovery. We will never be invaded from space, and our natural disasters cannot be prevented. We will be lovingly watched until we learn the truth about the cause of the disease which infects our minds and troubles our souls. Then, when enough of us learn the use of love to soothe the reptilian instinctual fears existent in all of us, we will we be able to seize the courage to peck through the shell of our ignorance and to soar on the winds of time. But, if we've been birthed prematurely and lack strength to evolve, then here someday the dolphins or another of Gaia's children will learn to fly, and may wonder of we and why?
William John Cox is a retired prosecutor and public interest lawyer, author and political activist. His 2004 book is, "You're Not Stupid! Get the Truth: A Brief on the Bush Presidency" is reviewed at http://www.yourenotstupid.com. He is currently working on a fact-based political philosophy.
The Voters home page
Posted by mammonmessiah at 10:05 AM
WikiLeaks: Who's Hiding What and Why
July 30, 2010 | Fred On Everything | LewRockwell
Two ways exist of looking at WikiLeaks, the site that publicizes secret military documents and videos. The first is held self-interestedly by the Pentagon and by Fox News, the voice of an angry lower-middle class without too much education. These believe that Wikileakers are traitors, haters of America, who give aid and comfort to the enemy and endanger the lives of Our Boys.
Implicit in the Foxian view is a vague idea that the leaks give away important – well, stuff. You know, maybe frequencies of something or other, or locations of ambushes or, well, things. Important things. The Taliban will use this information to kill American soldiers. The notion is vague, as are those who hold it, but emotionally potent.
The other view, held usually by people who have some experience of Washington, is that the Pentagon is worried not about the divulging of tactical secrets, but about public relations. WikiLeaks doesn’t endanger soldiers, insists this way of looking at things, but the war itself, and all the juiceful contracts and promotions and so on entailed by wars.
Which is obvious if you look at what the military (the president, remember, is commander-in-chief) actually does. Remember the military’s frantic efforts to suppress the photos of torture at Abu Ghraib, photos of prisoners lying in pools of blood while grinning girl soldiers play with them? These had zero tactical importance. They did however threaten to arouse the Pentagon’s worst enemy.
The American public.
In recent decades the military has almost achieved its wettest dream, the separation of wars from the American population. The fielding of a small volunteer army prevents the riots on campus that helped to end the adventure in Asia long ago. “Embedding” reporters with combat units pretty much prevents coverage that might upset people. The media for whatever reasons are now complicit, declining to air what really happens on the ground. All of this allows ghastly behavior, which is what wars always produce, to go forward with little opposition.
Ah, but leaks, YouTube, holes in the wall of silence – these pose real threats to the flow of contracts.
If you don’t think that contracts – money – have a great deal to do with wars, reflect that all those hundreds of billions of dollars end up in pockets, and those pockets do not belong to soldiers. Makers of body armor, boots, ammunition, helicopters, on and on, are rolling in gravy. All this half-watched loot flows in cataracts at the price of at most sixty dead American kids a month (and lots of brain-damaged droolers, but what the hey). A bargain. Afghans don’t count.
Note that the Pentagon’s orchestrated screaming has not been about technical data that might in fact get GIs killed, but about revelation of the ugly things the US is doing to people. Consider the footage of an American helicopter gunship killing pedestrians in a city street, and apparently having just a swell time doing it. This didn’t reveal military secrets. But it showed the gunship crew as the butchers they are. Bad juju for the military. PR is all.
The pattern holds. Remember when the White House furiously suppressed video of torture? The Taliban would have garnered no tactically devastating details. But men screaming, choking, crying, bleeding, begging – even the patriotic might gag.
Why are the fun and games at Guantanamo kept secret? Watching a man die under torture does not make it easier for the Taliban to ambush Marines. In no way would it endanger American forces. But it would endanger the war. The golden goose.
Then there was the photo of the hideously wounded and dying GI that was (miraculously) published in the New York Times. SAD Robert Gates (Secretary of Alleged Defense) said that the publication was “irresponsible.” Oh? How so? The Taliban could have gotten no militarily useful pointers from seeing an expanse of red gushing meat (the leg looked to have been nearly severed). But people in Kansas might look and think twice about the war.
The whole profitable circus rides on keeping things abstract. The war isn’t children looking at their entrails in brief puzzlement as they bleed to death. (Just what do you think happens when you bomb a village?) No. It is about Islamo-fascism, the Gates of Vienna, national security, the War on Terror, and it is done with precision weapons that kill only the evil ones.
Remember when Bush II forbade the photographing of coffins coming back into Dover AFB (I think it was)? That lamentable president said the prohibition was to “protect the privacy” of the dead. (The inside of an anonymous coffin isn’t private?) Those photos contained no military information – but they could have made the public think. Bad. Very bad.
The Taliban can keep the war going, which is fine for the military, but they can’t end it. The American public could. No more contracts.
Can you think of a single instance in which the information to be revealed was of military value? The detailed workings of an IED detector? The name of a Talibani secretly working with the US? The date and place of an attack by a team of Special Forces? Or is the suppression always aimed at keeping Americans in the dark?
There is of course a great deal to hide in any war, but particularly in one such as that in Afghanistan. In any guerrilla war, the soldiers quickly come to hate the locals. In Afghanistan, as in Viet Nam, virtually no American speaks the language, the “intelligence” outfits are clueless, the troops don’t really care who they kill, and pilots bomb according to their own or some intel weenie’s guess as to who they see on the ground. Atrocities, intended or not, occur daily. All of this has to be lied about, concealed, papered over. Concealed from the American public, I mean. The Afghans already know about it.
It works. A decade into the war, Fox cheerleads onward, interviewing former CIA thisses and military thats, generating a warm glow of togetherness aimed perhaps more at liberals than at the Islamo-whatevers. The Wickileakers are putting Our Boys in danger as they risk their lives for Freedom and Democracy.
Next to sex, the strongest human instinct seems to be to form groups and hate other groups. I have long suspected that the bulk of humanity has more glands than neurons. It never changes. I need a drink.
Copyright © 2010 Fred Reed
Fred Reed is author of Nekkid in Austin: Drop Your Inner Child Down a Well and A Brass Pole in Bangkok: A Thing I Aspire to Be. His latest book is Curmudgeing Through Paradise: Reports from a Fractal Dung Beetle. Visit his blog.
LewRockwell Articles by Fred Reed
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Posted by mammonmessiah at 9:59 AM
The Significance Of The ‘Support Bradley Manning’ Campaign
By Katharine Dawn article link
29 July, 2010 | Bradleymanning.org
Bradley Manning is the young man charged with leaking classified US military information – including the video of a US Army helicopter gunning down Iraqi civilians and Reuters journalists in Iraq in 2007 that was released to the world via the whistleblower website WikiLeaks as “Collateral Murder”. Bradley is now held in isolation from the outside world, in military detention in Kuwait. Bradley, who reportedly felt un-supported in life, faces – for his alleged actions – up to 52 years imprisonment.
Could the fate of one young man have any bearing upon the fate of the world?
Standing back from the tremendous onrush of these pivotal times, is it possible to realistically gauge the significance of the Support Bradley Manning campaign to the future outcome of the world? That is the objective of this article, exploring divergent scenarios ; I’ll let my esteemed readers and the course of history be the judge. So,
What if the world abandons Bradley Manning and the cause of open, informed public debate he stands for?
* After putting his life on the line to provide the public with information he felt they deserved, the fate of Bradley Manning – who is said to have felt unsupported in life anyway – would be left in the dirty hands of the US military prison system for a substantial portion of his life.
* The wave of public outrage following upon WikiLeaks’ release of “Collateral Murder” would subside… and US war crimes would continue unchecked, unabated and largely unknown.
* Even WikiLeaks may fade into the background noise of a world where secrecy, deception and\ corruption are rife and crimes against humanity, the earth and the future proceed in hellish haste.
What if the world Supports Bradley Manning and the cause of open, informed public debate?
* Global civil society would defend the actions for which Bradley Manning is charged [ie, the leaking of classified documents]; uphold the public’s right to know and demand the release of Bradley Manning and the dismissal of all charges against him: Bradley Manning would walk forth as a free man.
* The “greatest leak in 40 years” [according to Daniel Ellsberg, the man who in 1971 leaked the “Pentagon Papers”, thereby fuelling public outrage over the Vietnam War] would not fade into nothingness as mute testimony to humanity’s apathy and disempowerment, but rather would open wide the floor of public debate and awareness regarding issues of war and peace.
* Bradley’s iconic example and growing public awareness of the professional and secure service of whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks, would open the floodgate for a deluge of whistle-blowing – as individuals everywhere, motivated by the public’s right to know, leak secret documents and classified material exposing corruption, deception and crimes against humanity – and lead to public outcry for real change.
Clearly, I’m hoping and working for the latter future scenario. And you?
Noting how when there’s “one man in chains, none are free”, a friend comments: “Bradley represents the truth-sayer in us all – if we leave him there, we abandon our own inner calling for truth”.
Katharine Dawn may be contacted through www.ec2012.org, http://www.livingtogethernetwork.net. Her former article on this issue was “World History Before Our Eyes”.
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Posted by mammonmessiah at 9:53 AM
Friday, July 30, 2010
Will WikiLeaks Help End the Afghan War?
by: Alexander Cockburn article link
30 July 2010 | t r u t h o u t | Op-Ed
The brave hope of the soldier who sent 92,000 secret documents to WikiLeaks was that the disclosure of willful, casual slaughter of civilians by coalition personnel (with ensuing cover-ups), the utter failure of "nation-building," the venality and corruption of the coalition's Afghan allies and the complicity of Pakistan's intelligence services with the Taliban would cause a wave of revulsion in the United States and among its coalition allies against the war.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange skillfully arranged simultaneous publication of the secret material in The New York Times, the Guardian and Der Spiegel. The story broke on the eve of a war-funding vote in the U.S. Congress.
But on Tuesday evening, the U.S. House of Representatives said aye to a bill already passed by the Senate that funds a $33 billion, 30,000-troop escalation in Afghanistan. The vote was 308 to 114.
To be sure, more congressmen voted against escalation than a year ago when the no's totted up to only 35. That's a crumb of comfort, but the cruel truth is that within 24 hours the White House and the Pentagon, with the help of influential papers like the Washington Post, had successfully finessed the salvoes from WikiLeaks.
'WikiLeaks disclosures unlikely to change course of Afghanistan war' was the Washington Post's Tuesday morning headline. Beneath this headline, the news story said the leaks had been discussed for only 90 seconds at a meeting of senior commanders in the Pentagon. "Senior officials" in the White House even brazenly claimed that it was precisely his reading of these same raw intelligence reports a year ago that prompted President Obama "to pour more troops and money into a war effort that had not received sufficient attention or resources from the Bush administration."
There's some truth in the claim that, long before WikiLeaks, the overall rottenness and futility of the Afghan War had been graphically reported in the press. Earlier this year, for example, reporting by Jerome Starkey of the London Times blew open the U.S. military's cover-up after special forces troops killed two pregnant Afghan women and a girl in a February 2010 raid, in which two Afghan government officials were also killed.
It's oversell to describe the WikiLeaks package as a latter-day Pentagon Papers. But it's undersell to dismiss the revelations as "old stories," as detractors have been doing. The WikiLeaks file is a damning series of snapshots of a disastrous enterprise.
The sad truth is that wars are not often ended by disclosures of their horrors and futility in the press, with consequent public uproar. After Ron Ridenhour and then Seymour Hersh broke the My Lai massacre in 1968 -- when more than 500 men, women and babies were methodically beaten, sexually abused, tortured and then murdered by American GIs in Vietnam -- there was public revulsion, then an escalation in slaughter. The war ran for another seven years.
It is true, as Noam Chomsky pointed out to me, when I asked him for positive examples, that popular protest in the wake of press disclosures "impelled Congress to call off the direct U.S. role in the grotesque bombing of rural Cambodia. Similarly in the late '70s, under popular pressure, Congress barred Carter, later Reagan, from direct participation in virtual genocide in the Guatemalan highlands." Even though New York Times editors edited out the word "indiscriminate" from Thomas Friedman's news report of Israel's bombing of Beirut in 1982, his and other dispatches from Lebanon prompted President Reagan to order Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin to stop, and he did.
But as Chomsky concluded in his note to me, "I think one will find very few such examples, and almost none in the case of really major war crimes."
What does end wars? One side is annihilated, the money runs out, the troops mutiny, the government falls or fears it will. With the U.S. war in Afghanistan, none of these conditions has yet been met.
The U.S. began the destruction of Afghanistan in 1979, when President Jimmy Carter and his National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinksi started financing the mullahs and warlords in the largest and most expensive operation in the CIA's history until that time.
Here we are, more than three decades later, half-buried under a pile of horrifying reports about a destroyed land of desolate savagery, and what did one hear on many news commentaries earlier this week? Indignant bleats, often from liberals, about WikiLeaks' "irresponsibility" in releasing the documents. Shoot the messenger!
Alexander Cockburn is co-editor with Jeffrey St. Clair of the muckraking newsletter CounterPunch. He is also co-author of the new book "Dime's Worth of Difference: Beyond the Lesser of Two Evils," available through www.counterpunch.com.
Copyright 2010 Creators.com
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The political spinning of the WikiLeaks exposé:
Antiwar whistle-blowing or war propaganda?
By Larry Chin article link
Jul 30, 2010 | Online Journal
Online Journal front page
Posted by mammonmessiah at 9:27 AM
Thursday, July 29, 2010
The End of (Military) History? The US, Israel, and the Failure of the Western Way of War
July 29, 2010 | TomDispatch | CommonDreams
"In watching the flow of events over the past decade or so, it is hard to avoid the feeling that something very fundamental has happened in world history." This sentiment, introducing the essay that made Francis Fukuyama a household name, commands renewed attention today, albeit from a different perspective.
Developments during the 1980s, above all the winding down of the Cold War, had convinced Fukuyama that the "end of history" was at hand. "The triumph of the West, of the Western idea," he wrote in 1989, "is evident... in the total exhaustion of viable systematic alternatives to Western liberalism."
Today the West no longer looks quite so triumphant. Yet events during the first decade of the present century have delivered history to another endpoint of sorts. Although Western liberalism may retain considerable appeal, the Western way of war has run its course.
For Fukuyama, history implied ideological competition, a contest pitting democratic capitalism against fascism and communism. When he wrote his famous essay, that contest was reaching an apparently definitive conclusion.
Yet from start to finish, military might had determined that competition's course as much as ideology. Throughout much of the twentieth century, great powers had vied with one another to create new, or more effective, instruments of coercion. Military innovation assumed many forms. Most obviously, there were the weapons: dreadnoughts and aircraft carriers, rockets and missiles, poison gas, and atomic bombs -- the list is a long one. In their effort to gain an edge, however, nations devoted equal attention to other factors: doctrine and organization, training systems and mobilization schemes, intelligence collection and war plans.
All of this furious activity, whether undertaken by France or Great Britain, Russia or Germany, Japan or the United States, derived from a common belief in the plausibility of victory. Expressed in simplest terms, the Western military tradition could be reduced to this proposition: war remains a viable instrument of statecraft, the accoutrements of modernity serving, if anything, to enhance its utility.
That was theory. Reality, above all the two world wars of the last century, told a decidedly different story. Armed conflict in the industrial age reached new heights of lethality and destructiveness. Once begun, wars devoured everything, inflicting staggering material, psychological, and moral damage. Pain vastly exceeded gain. In that regard, the war of 1914-1918 became emblematic: even the winners ended up losers. When fighting eventually stopped, the victors were left not to celebrate but to mourn. As a consequence, well before Fukuyama penned his essay, faith in war's problem-solving capacity had begun to erode. As early as 1945, among several great powers -- thanks to war, now great in name only -- that faith disappeared altogether.
Among nations classified as liberal democracies, only two resisted this trend. One was the United States, the sole major belligerent to emerge from the Second World War stronger, richer, and more confident. The second was Israel, created as a direct consequence of the horrors unleashed by that cataclysm. By the 1950s, both countries subscribed to this common conviction: national security (and, arguably, national survival) demanded unambiguous military superiority. In the lexicon of American and Israeli politics, "peace" was a codeword. The essential prerequisite for peace was for any and all adversaries, real or potential, to accept a condition of permanent inferiority. In this regard, the two nations -- not yet intimate allies -- stood apart from the rest of the Western world.
So even as they professed their devotion to peace, civilian and military elites in the United States and Israel prepared obsessively for war. They saw no contradiction between rhetoric and reality.
Yet belief in the efficacy of military power almost inevitably breeds the temptation to put that power to work. "Peace through strength" easily enough becomes "peace through war." Israel succumbed to this temptation in 1967. For Israelis, the Six Day War proved a turning point. Plucky David defeated, and then became, Goliath. Even as the United States was flailing about in Vietnam, Israel had evidently succeeded in definitively mastering war.
A quarter-century later, U.S. forces seemingly caught up. In 1991, Operation Desert Storm, George H.W. Bush's war against Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, showed that American troops like Israeli soldiers knew how to win quickly, cheaply, and humanely. Generals like H. Norman Schwarzkopf persuaded themselves that their brief desert campaign against Iraq had replicated -- even eclipsed -- the battlefield exploits of such famous Israeli warriors as Moshe Dayan and Yitzhak Rabin. Vietnam faded into irrelevance.
For both Israel and the United States, however, appearances proved deceptive. Apart from fostering grand illusions, the splendid wars of 1967 and 1991 decided little. In both cases, victory turned out to be more apparent than real. Worse, triumphalism fostered massive future miscalculation.
On the Golan Heights, in Gaza, and throughout the West Bank, proponents of a Greater Israel -- disregarding Washington's objections -- set out to assert permanent control over territory that Israel had seized. Yet "facts on the ground" created by successive waves of Jewish settlers did little to enhance Israeli security. They succeeded chiefly in shackling Israel to a rapidly growing and resentful Palestinian population that it could neither pacify nor assimilate.
In the Persian Gulf, the benefits reaped by the United States after 1991 likewise turned out to be ephemeral. Saddam Hussein survived and became in the eyes of successive American administrations an imminent threat to regional stability. This perception prompted (or provided a pretext for) a radical reorientation of strategy in Washington. No longer content to prevent an unfriendly outside power from controlling the oil-rich Persian Gulf, Washington now sought to dominate the entire Greater Middle East. Hegemony became the aim. Yet the United States proved no more successful than Israel in imposing its writ.
During the 1990s, the Pentagon embarked willy-nilly upon what became its own variant of a settlement policy. Yet U.S. bases dotting the Islamic world and U.S. forces operating in the region proved hardly more welcome than the Israeli settlements dotting the occupied territories and the soldiers of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) assigned to protect them. In both cases, presence provoked (or provided a pretext for) resistance. Just as Palestinians vented their anger at the Zionists in their midst, radical Islamists targeted Americans whom they regarded as neo-colonial infidels.
No one doubted that Israelis (regionally) and Americans (globally) enjoyed unquestioned military dominance. Throughout Israel's near abroad, its tanks, fighter-bombers, and warships operated at will. So, too, did American tanks, fighter-bombers, and warships wherever they were sent.
So what? Events made it increasingly evident that military dominance did not translate into concrete political advantage. Rather than enhancing the prospects for peace, coercion produced ever more complications. No matter how badly battered and beaten, the "terrorists" (a catch-all term applied to anyone resisting Israeli or American authority) weren't intimidated, remained unrepentant, and kept coming back for more.
Israel ran smack into this problem during Operation Peace for Galilee, its 1982 intervention in Lebanon. U.S. forces encountered it a decade later during Operation Restore Hope, the West's gloriously titled foray into Somalia. Lebanon possessed a puny army; Somalia had none at all. Rather than producing peace or restoring hope, however, both operations ended in frustration, embarrassment, and failure.
And those operations proved but harbingers of worse to come. By the 1980s, the IDF's glory days were past. Rather than lightning strikes deep into the enemy rear, the narrative of Israeli military history became a cheerless recital of dirty wars -- unconventional conflicts against irregular forces yielding problematic results. The First Intifada (1987-1993), the Second Intifada (2000-2005), a second Lebanon War (2006), and Operation Cast Lead, the notorious 2008-2009 incursion into Gaza, all conformed to this pattern.
Meanwhile, the differential between Palestinian and Jewish Israeli birth rates emerged as a looming threat -- a "demographic bomb," Benjamin Netanyahu called it. Here were new facts on the ground that military forces, unless employed pursuant to a policy of ethnic cleansing, could do little to redress. Even as the IDF tried repeatedly and futilely to bludgeon Hamas and Hezbollah into submission, demographic trends continued to suggest that within a generation a majority of the population within Israel and the occupied territories would be Arab.
Trailing a decade or so behind Israel, the United States military nonetheless succeeded in duplicating the IDF's experience. Moments of glory remained, but they would prove fleeting indeed. After 9/11, Washington's efforts to transform (or "liberate") the Greater Middle East kicked into high gear. In Afghanistan and Iraq, George W. Bush's Global War on Terror began impressively enough, as U.S. forces operated with a speed and élan that had once been an Israeli trademark. Thanks to "shock and awe," Kabul fell, followed less than a year and a half later by Baghdad. As one senior Army general explained to Congress in 2004, the Pentagon had war all figured out:
"We are now able to create decision superiority that is enabled by networked systems, new sensors and command and control capabilities that are producing unprecedented near real time situational awareness, increased information availability, and an ability to deliver precision munitions throughout the breadth and depth of the battlespace... Combined, these capabilities of the future networked force will leverage information dominance, speed and precision, and result in decision superiority."
The key phrase in this mass of techno-blather was the one that occurred twice: "decision superiority." At that moment, the officer corps, like the Bush administration, was still convinced that it knew how to win.
Such claims of success, however, proved obscenely premature. Campaigns advertised as being wrapped up in weeks dragged on for years, while American troops struggled with their own intifadas. When it came to achieving decisions that actually stuck, the Pentagon (like the IDF) remained clueless.
If any overarching conclusion emerges from the Afghan and Iraq Wars (and from their Israeli equivalents), it's this: victory is a chimera. Counting on today's enemy to yield in the face of superior force makes about as much sense as buying lottery tickets to pay the mortgage: you better be really lucky.
Meanwhile, as the U.S. economy went into a tailspin, Americans contemplated their equivalent of Israel's "demographic bomb" -- a "fiscal bomb." Ingrained habits of profligacy, both individual and collective, held out the prospect of long-term stagnation: no growth, no jobs, no fun. Out-of-control spending on endless wars exacerbated that threat.
By 2007, the American officer corps itself gave up on victory, although without giving up on war. First in Iraq, then in Afghanistan, priorities shifted. High-ranking generals shelved their expectations of winning -- at least as a Rabin or Schwarzkopf would have understood that term. They sought instead to not lose. In Washington as in U.S. military command posts, the avoidance of outright defeat emerged as the new gold standard of success.
As a consequence, U.S. troops today sally forth from their base camps not to defeat the enemy, but to "protect the people," consistent with the latest doctrinal fashion. Meanwhile, tea-sipping U.S. commanders cut deals with warlords and tribal chieftains in hopes of persuading guerrillas to lay down their arms.
A new conventional wisdom has taken hold, endorsed by everyone from new Afghan War commander General David Petraeus, the most celebrated soldier of this American age, to Barack Obama, commander-in-chief and Nobel Peace Prize laureate. For the conflicts in which the United States finds itself enmeshed, "military solutions" do not exist. As Petraeus himself has emphasized, "we can't kill our way out of" the fix we're in. In this way, he also pronounced a eulogy on the Western conception of warfare of the last two centuries.
The Unasked Question
What then are the implications of arriving at the end of Western military history?
In his famous essay, Fukuyama cautioned against thinking that the end of ideological history heralded the arrival of global peace and harmony. Peoples and nations, he predicted, would still find plenty to squabble about.
With the end of military history, a similar expectation applies. Politically motivated violence will persist and may in specific instances even retain marginal utility. Yet the prospect of Big Wars solving Big Problems is probably gone for good. Certainly, no one in their right mind, Israeli or American, can believe that a continued resort to force will remedy whatever it is that fuels anti-Israeli or anti-American antagonism throughout much of the Islamic world. To expect persistence to produce something different or better is moonshine.
It remains to be seen whether Israel and the United States can come to terms with the end of military history. Other nations have long since done so, accommodating themselves to the changing rhythms of international politics. That they do so is evidence not of virtue, but of shrewdness. China, for example, shows little eagerness to disarm. Yet as Beijing expands its reach and influence, it emphasizes trade, investment, and development assistance. Meanwhile, the People's Liberation Army stays home. China has stolen a page from an old American playbook, having become today the preeminent practitioner of "dollar diplomacy."
The collapse of the Western military tradition confronts Israel with limited choices, none of them attractive. Given the history of Judaism and the history of Israel itself, a reluctance of Israeli Jews to entrust their safety and security to the good will of their neighbors or the warm regards of the international community is understandable. In a mere six decades, the Zionist project has produced a vibrant, flourishing state. Why put all that at risk? Although the demographic bomb may be ticking, no one really knows how much time remains on the clock. If Israelis are inclined to continue putting their trust in (American-supplied) Israeli arms while hoping for the best, who can blame them?
In theory, the United States, sharing none of Israel's demographic or geographic constraints and, far more richly endowed, should enjoy far greater freedom of action. Unfortunately, Washington has a vested interest in preserving the status quo, no matter how much it costs or where it leads. For the military-industrial complex, there are contracts to win and buckets of money to be made. For those who dwell in the bowels of the national security state, there are prerogatives to protect. For elected officials, there are campaign contributors to satisfy. For appointed officials, civilian and military, there are ambitions to be pursued.
And always there is a chattering claque of militarists, calling for jihad and insisting on ever greater exertions, while remaining alert to any hint of backsliding. In Washington, members of this militarist camp, by no means coincidentally including many of the voices that most insistently defend Israeli bellicosity, tacitly collaborate in excluding or marginalizing views that they deem heretical. As a consequence, what passes for debate on matters relating to national security is a sham. Thus are we invited to believe, for example, that General Petraeus's appointment as the umpteenth U.S. commander in Afghanistan constitutes a milestone on the way to ultimate success.
Nearly 20 years ago, a querulous Madeleine Albright demanded to know: "What's the point of having this superb military you're always talking about if we can't use it?" Today, an altogether different question deserves our attention: What's the point of constantly using our superb military if doing so doesn't actually work?
Washington's refusal to pose that question provides a measure of the corruption and dishonesty permeating our politics.
© 2010 Andrew Bacevich
Andrew J. Bacevich is a professor of history and international relations at Boston University. His new book, Washington Rules: America’s Path to Permanent War, has just been published. His other books include, The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War, The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism (American Empire Project), and The Long War: A New History of U.S. National Security Policy Since World War II.
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Posted by mammonmessiah at 9:44 AM
The Trees of the Particular:
Why the Tea Party is Just Another Tree In the Forest of Identity Politics
by Vi Ransel article link
July 8, 2010 | Global Research
You can't see the forest for the tea bags.
"The twentieth century has been characterized by three developments of great political importance: the growth of democracy, the growth of corporate power, and the growth of corporate propaganda as a means of protecting corporate power against democracy.
Corporate propaganda directed...to the public at large, has two main objectives: to identify the free-enterprise system in popular consciousness with every cherished value, and to identify interventionist governments and strong unions (the only agencies capable of checking the complete domination of society by the corporations) with tyranny, oppression and even subversion." (1)
"One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we've been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We're no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It is simply too painful to acknowledge --even to ourselves--that we've been so credulous." (2)
People in a group who see themselves as "all in the same boat" tend to cooperate to promote the group's general welfare and invest in the common good to create prosperity for all. That's a social contract. But we're not all in the same boat. A very few of us are on a luxury liner and the rest of us are lucky if we're issued leaky life rafts or tattered life preservers.
Those on the luxury liner encourage groups within the larger group to see themselves as separate, and further, that gains by any one group comes at the expense of the other groups. But this is true only insofar as the group at the top of the economic pyramid, the "opulent minority," is taking from them all. Internal conflicts within the larger group escalate, tearing it apart. Once these splinter groups have done their work for them, (they always have someone to do their work for them), the "opulent minority" comes to feast on the financial remains of the social contract.
If a government of the people does not provide a safety net that some of us - the poor, children, the aged, minorities, the disabled, the jobless and the homeless - cannot provide for ourselves, we will be crushed underfoot by the "opulent minority," the carpet of our bodies simply Sir Walter Raleigh's cloak laid down for the Queen Elizabeth of the "opulent minority" to tread upon on the way to profit.
But Americans are rigidly schooled not to connect the dots, whether they're facts, logical arguments, pictures-worth-a-thousand-words, or individual "human interest" stories. We may have access to, and in fact, be carpet-bombed 24/7 with dots of information, but the sheer number of individual dots, and the fact that they have no context, is designed to numb the mind rather than cause them to be assembled in the dangerously democratic pontilism of deliberate, deductive thought. We are programmed to see nothing - no thing - unless it relates to us personally and our relationship with the matrix of materialism.
The larger reality of class is denied, and each experience appears completely individual. And even when such experiences are the obvious and common result of policy decisions made by corporate shareholders via their congressional marionettes, individual solutions to social and economic problems created by those decisions are demanded of the victims. People are left on their own to find solutions to the problems of joblessness, bankruptcy and foreclosure exacerbated by downsizing and outsourcing; the manipulated financial "crisis;" skyrocketing healthcare, energy and food costs; and substandard education. Americans take on the responsibilty that belongs to a corporate system designed to produce those very outcomes. We allow ourselves to believe that we are the cause of the system's effect. If only we had tried harder we would not need to be helped. We would have pulled ourselves up by the bootstraps and got 'er done.
John Kozy says the United States is not a true society, that we're merely groups of individuals with "various and...opposing beliefs who often have little tolerance for...others." We don't live together, just side by side. Further, such groups "...openly seek to promote their own interests at the expense of the interests of all." He goes on to say that people who fall outside dominant groups are abandoned, and that "No true society...leave(s) those outside the dominant group abandoned." (3)
The society of the family, especially the extended family, has historically been "the individual’s support group. ...when a person becomes ill or incapacitated, when children are orphaned, when people become elderly, the family provides the needed support" (4) because the individual may not be able to take care of himself. But under corporate capitalism, families are destroyed, torn apart by the need to follow jobs while being forced to live on the lowest wage possible. Support disappears along with the extended family, and the individual who can no longer care for himself unaided is abandoned.
And when people seek support from the wider society, they're dismissed as parasites who want to be taken care of by a "nanny state." But "the state" doesn't provide people with anything. "The state" is the people, who enact laws and collect taxes to fund social programs that provide a social safety net in the event that corporate capitalism, in its unrelenting drive for profit fails, as it is designed to do, regularly, and causes them to need such programs after destroying their familial support systems.
The acceptance of the need to make money in order to exist, and its subsequent, godlike primacy in our lives, dissolves all our relationships. Its exchange replaces them, becoming the only "bond" to each other we have left.
We are "The first people on earth who (have) no practical need of our neighbors." Before the financial "crisis," all your neighbors "could have died overnight...and while you might have been sad, you wouldn't have been inconvenienced. Our economy, unlike any that came before it, is designed to work without the input of your neighbors. ... If you have a credit card and an Internet connection, you can order most of what you need and have it left anonymously at your door." (5) (emphasis in original)
The carefully cultivated alienation of "consumers" creates a bastardized, jaded and jagged form of "rugged individualism," excised of empathy and apotheosized. It "frees" us from interdependence on one another - and makes us completely dependent on corporations. And economic dependence always comes with a price, the special prerogatives of those upon whom you are dependent to do with you as they will. We cannot purchase a home, a car or use a credit card without the enabling hand of the finance corporations. We are not safe from the ravages of a sudden accident or a major illness without monthly payments to the insurance corporations, which allow us to pay pharmaceutical corporations and hospital corporations for our care. We ride to work, for a large corporation, in cars bought from the auto corporations and fueled by the energy corporations, which also light, heat and power our homes, purchased from real estate corporations. We communicate with each other primarily via the telecommunications corporations and receive our information, and much of our entertainment, from media corporations. We cannot even feed ourselves without going to supermarkets and fast food franchises to purchase the products of agricultural corporations.
Corporations are a stunningly efficient means of accumulating and concentrating wealth, which can then be translated into political power. Democracy disperses power. Corporations concentrate power. Corporations are property. And property as power, accumulated in the hands of a few invariably becomes power over the majority, power over their thoughts, their livelihoods, their communities, their government and their environment. Natural persons, human beings, are fast becoming faceless commodities, mere human resources to be consumed by shareholders hiding behind the powerful shield of property, the faceless, artificial persons also known as corporations.
And because our capitalist "economic system...compounds the problem by the idiotic dogma that the only groups that corporations are responsible to are their shareholders," (6) people who have been dependent on corporations, and are subsequently screwed by them, have no place to turn but the social safety net created by their government.
But should we actually connect these dots, the cognitive dissonance, the pain of holding two diametrically-opposed thoughts at the same time, jerks us back into the comfortable straitjacket of the American Dream like dogs wearing shock collars. We cannot accept the truth, hidden in plain sight, that capitalism, the system which has been sold to us as exemplifying the American Dream, is actually a nightmarish, serial murderer-rapist which forces us to tell it how much we love it as it rapes and murders us. And further, we cannot accept the part that we play in it.
Truth is an alien entity. It might set us free and turn us out of our faux-gilded cages without our tawdry toys and plastic/electronic pacifiers. And since the "opulent minority" realizes that "freedom is participation in power," (7) which is knowledge, our opinion is continuously and meticulously manufactured for us by all five major hubs of the corporate-owned "news" media, a compendium of the interests and opinions of their major shareholders. This is not news. "News is what powerful people don't want you to know. Everything else is just public relations." (8)
Such "news" is repeated endlessly in endless confections "...to give you the idea that you have freedom of choice...you don't. You have no choice. You have owners. They own you. They own everything. They own all the important land. They own, and control the corporations. They've long since bought, and paid for the Senate, the Congress, the state houses, the city halls, they got the judges in their back pockets and they own all the big media companies, so they control just about all of the news and the information you get to hear. They got you by the balls. They spend billions of dollars every year lobbying...lobbying, to get what they want...We know what they want. They want more for themselves and less for everybody else, but I'll tell you what they don't want...They don't want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking. They don't want well informed, well educated people capable of critical thinking." (9)
What they want is us immersed in the corporate-created "culture," three-pound cheeseburger in hand, talking into a Bluetooth while driving an SUV, heading home to our McMansions made of pressed sawdust patties surrounded by resin gnomes made in China, protected by disease care that looks after our diabetes, heart disease, obesity and cancers created by the producers of foodlike products polluted by the same poisonous organophosphates developed to gas soldiers in World War I and refined for use in gas chambers in World War II. We mainline their media like junkies and lie down for these corporations and their shareholders like cheap whores, willing to call the choice from among their thousands of narcotic trinkets freedom. We trade our identities, our "souls," our "selves" for these poisonous, quality-less "products," which are nothing more than a means to relieve us of the money we received for the work of creating the wealth that made the production of those tawdry trinkets possible.
And the "opulent minority" prefers that we aid and abet, or at least ignore, their system of repellent social immorality by concentrating on satisfying our material whims (as they do), calling it individualism. But individualism is what they steal by selling myriad commodities as personality components which we come to call our "selves." And though we believe we are unique individuals, what we are are the perfect, isolated atoms of capitalism, the Borg awash in others exploited exactly like ourselves, with engineered boundaries impervious to penetration by either empathy or deep thought, our self-absorption spent in intense concentration not on the individual self inside, but that impervious outer surface, which is not the "self" at all, but an insecure avatar, the vehicle, not the driver.
And as we lose more of our "selves," relying on the unthinking ease of living vicariously through the avatars we've constructed of parts purchased from corporations, we lose more and more of our self-respect (there's no self left to respect). And the "opulent minority," which has never respected us anyway, see in our craven behavior, a confirmation of their contempt for us.
For the chance to be like them, we compete against each other for the slim-to-none chance at grabbing the brass class ring and throw away the very power we posses - solidarity - as the demos, the people, of a democracy. And this is by design, since democracy threatens minority rule by bridging the moat they create by injecting group prejudices meant to keep us fragmented - racism, sexism, agism, homophobia, xenophobia, religious fanaticism, etc. - because politics consists of deciding who gets what and how much. Therefore it cannot be separated from daily life. And the people cannot be separated from each other if the participatory work of democracy is to be accomplished.
"You do not love humanity if you seek to divide humanity into jealous camps. ...the man who seeks to make personal capital out of the passions of his fellow men. ...has lost touch with the ideal of America." (10)
As far as the "opulent minority" is concerned, the ideal is subordination. And the best way to enforce it is to manufacture poor people. "It is also in the interest of a tyrant to keep his people poor, so that they may not be able to afford the cost of protecting themselves by arms and be so occupied with their daily lives that they have no time for rebellion." (11) When the minimum wage leaves workers begging, it creates the conditions for dependence - and submission. And this can be carried to the point where the abused develop Stockholm Syndrome, growing to defend, and even love, their abusers, actually insisting that their ignorance and abuse be protected and perpetuated. "The more we do to you, the less you seem to believe we are doing it." (12) Poverty doesn't just happen. Someone has to cultivate it very carefully. And it must be so abject, so loathsome that the remaining working and middle classes fear its contagion like the 14th century's Black Plague.
The "opulent minority" also believes that education is a good thing, as long as it furthers our submission and prepares us for a busywork job. If it makes you think, it's no longer such a good thing, because, as Frederick Douglass said, "Education makes a man unfit to be a slave." Our parents, previously indoctrinated, begin our training and then surrender us to an authoritarian "educational" system where we are stripped of our personal identity and our free will, while ethically-cleansed of our conscience and the responsibilty for making meaningful choices. Once stripped of autonomy, all the important decisons can made for us. We're designed us that way.
John D. Rockefeller's General Education Board made it plain.
"In our dreams, we have limitless resources and the people yield themselves with perfect docility to our molding hands. The present education conventions fade from their minds, and unhampered by tradition, we work our own good will upon a grateful and responsive rural folk. We shall not try to make these people or any of their children into philosophers or men of learning, or men of science. We have not to raise up from among them authors, editors, poets or doctors, preachers, politicians, statesmen, of whom we have an ample supply. The task we set before ourselves is very simple as well as a very beautiful one, to train these people as we find them to do in a perfect way the things their fathers and mothers are doing in an imperfect way, in the homes, in the shops and on the farm." (13)
John D. Rockefeller was the principal progenitor of Standard Oil, the greatest corporate monopoly since the British East India Company. He and many like-minded plutocrats decided that the rabble could have all the democratic freedoms they wanted - as long as they were too ignorant, overworked and distracted to be able to use them. "Those who are fit to rule realize there is no morality and that there is only one natural right - the right of the superior to rule over the inferior..." (14) Only the winners of the Social Darwinist lottery deserve to be treated like human beings. The rest of us are just spare, and easily replaceable, parts in the corporate mechanism for accumulating and concentrating wealth, which is then translated into political power.
And to make sure the parts know their place, the skill has been taken out of the work process. Every step in the making of, for instance, a dining room chair, is tightly controlled. Where the fine craftsmanship of Hepplewhite and Chippendale are highly prized among the "opulent minority," the "man" in craftsmanship must be divested of the knowledge and ability that goes into the making of such fine furniture lest he believe he's created something of value, and, in turn, that he is something of value.
The process is de-skilled, broken down into simples rules, formulas and actions, and all knowledge of the complete process is transferred to an overseer class of management. Overseers can conduct time-and-motion studies to extract the maximum productivity for each step in a process designed to require minimal input on the part of the worker/tool.
It is particlularly focused on divorcing thought from action. The overseers will do all the thinking, thank you. And those who do all of the work will do none of the thinking - or decison-making. Those who do the thinking and decision-making will do none of the actual work. Workers are reduced to tools made of flesh, bodies attached to hands that make the discrete twists and turns and twitches of the production process.
Every one of these minute and meaningless tasks is tightly controlled by the overseers. Each set of hands receives a set of detailed instructions: the precise description of the task to be completed; the method which must be used to complete it; and how much time the hands are allowed in which to complete it.
The worker is no longer a craftsman creating a fine piece of furniture, but a small part of a machine, adaptable to a wide variety of exceedingly simple tasks, such as machine-cutting, sanding, varnishing, polishing, gluing, sewing a straight seam, placing stuffing under a chair pad, etc. And we wind up with a cavalierly-made dining room chair, which it is hoped will fall apart quickly and be replaced, all the while off-gassing formaldehyde as it sits at the dining room table.
This method, created by Frederick Winslow Taylor (Taylorism) in the 19th century, works so well to cut costs and to produce submission on the part of the worker/hands that it's "spread to (most) other sectors of the economy, including food service, education, and medicine." (15)
And as labor, the great tradeoff we make is the Cardinal Act of Consumption. We accept the opportunity to imitate the lifestyles of the rich and shameless as just compensation for becoming obedient, alienated cogs in the corporate profit-making machine. We unthinkingly exchange our wages for the commodities that enable this emulation. The function of this mindless mimicry is to conceal class difference.
And the less we think, the more we will buy, thus more profit is created. The faster we swipe those plastic I.O.U/slave chain cards, the more time we have to swipe them again. Whether we swipe them for resin gnomes, sawdust homes, mis-education, poisonous foodlike products, disease care, electronic distractions, media propaganda or gas for SUVs, the Treadmill of Endless Purchase must go on, because the more we think about a purchase, the less likely we are to make it.
"Our enormously productive economy...demands that we make consumption a way of life, that we convert the buying and use of goods into rituals, that we seek our spiritual satisfaction, our ego satisfaction in consumption... We need things consumed, burned up, replaced and discarded at an ever-accelerating rate." (16)
We have been engineered into "...a people that value ease and convenience over self education, sacrifice and truth. ... We want the kind of life...that does not place demands on us. We want to be entertained, not informed by burdensome truths that may assault our conscience and cause psychological injury." (17)
"Men fear thought as they fear nothing else on earth - more even than death...Thought is subversive and revolutionary, destructive and terrible, thought is merciless to privilege, established institutions, and comfortable habit." (18)
Knowledge is dangerous. Knowledge creates doubt. Knowledge is power. That's why we're not allowed to have it. That's what's missing in our test score-based, obedience schooling. That's why real information is missing in corporate-created entertainews. That's why it was illegal to teach slaves to read. That's what pissed off the Church about the printing press. And that's why knowledge (of good and evil) was given the rap of original sin. A person who thinks for himself is a threat to minority rule. Lots of people who think for themselves can become a democracy, the very antithesis of minority rule.
And the best way to prevent democracy is to turn the people against each other and against their government, which is, in fact, themselves, and the only real check on predatory corporatism. This was the smartest, most evilly efficient thing the "opulent minority" has ever accomplished. And thus "...incalculable damage has been done to American society. Just exactly as was intended." (19)
This allowed the radical restructuring of the United States government in order to serve the interests of corporate shareholders. Government has been occupied by the minions of the "opulent minority" and turned into an institutionalized system of inequality. Purchased politicians use it as a pipeline to funnel wealth from American taxpayers to the "opulent minority" ensconced behind the corporate curtain of faux freedom and democracy. And as the overall standard of living declines due to their financial coup d'etat, our pain is their gain. The increase in the population of prey due to job loss, bankruptcy, foreclosure, homelessness and hunger actually stimulates these predators to pluck us like the low-hanging fruit of their poisonous corporate tree.
They've realized their parasitic "goal of radically redistributing wealth in America." They've done away with almost all of the government-created speed bumps that impeded their progress in the race to uncontested minority rule, the "...presumptive power to tax, to regulate, to provide services, and to set the fundamental rules for...economic life in a society. All of these had to be challenged to insure that a wealthy overclass could become fantastically more wealthy, and the easiest way to do that was to corrode the status and power of government itself. Teaching people to hate their own government is one way to divest them of it..." (20)
They've committed "...the crime of the century...the evisceration of the state. This must be done (or, more accurately, it must be done in some respects but absolutely not in others) because the state is the only force capable of standing up to the power of concentrated wealth, and because the state nominally speaks for the public and the public interest, as against the private interest." (21)
By the late 1960s the post-war economic boom had begun to bust, and the Democratic Party started to distance itself from Labor and from the New Deal policies that had not only created the greatest period of American prosperity overall, but the largest middle class in the history of the world. As it moved away from even the timid social reforms of the New Deal, the Democratic Party re-branded itself, christening diversity as the pinnacle of progressivism and incorporating Identity Politics into its platform.
Identity Politics are those of specific subsets of the population as a whole. They may be delineated by race, sex, ethnicity, religion, gender or sexual orientation, age, economic or educational status, ideology, et al. When members of these groups see themselves as isolated subsets within the population, there's less chance that they'll come together in solidarity to disrupt minority rule. Under capitalism, they are especially encouraged, unless of course they become too powerful in their own right or threaten to coalesce. For instance, the Civil Rights Movement was threatening to become an overall Poor People's Movement. It's for this reason that Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated.
The Democratic Party used Identity Politics to co-opt elite layers of minorities and women by dispensing privileges, even as the living standards for the majority of Democratic voters deteriorated across the board. They used these Balkanized, competing interest groups to disguise the party's move further and further to the right. Unions faded into the background and diversity was used as a front to hide the party's rejection of any concept of "democracy that included economic equality and regulation of the corporate-financial elite." (22) It culminated in the New Democrats of the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), like Al Gore, Bill Clinton, and Joe Lieberman, who hid the Party's capitulation to, and appeasement of, the Right, and in fact, its joining of the Right in the Money Party.
But the use of Identity Politics as a front was not restricted to the Democrats. Identity Politics, sold as empowerment by both parties since the 60s, have had the overall effect of disuniting those who ought to be in solidarity with each other, stunting democracy, which requires the people's commonality to function.
"If you have watched any old mob movies, you know that any racket needs a front. In America the front is called democracy. Like the term populism, the people have no idea what democracy really is, but has something to do with the free market capitalism... And it certainly it has to do with every citizen having a small piece in the determination of national matters. Clearly untrue as that is, nevertheless it is one helluva sales point, revered by the proles and not to be fucked with if you are to maintain the illusion of the consent of the people among the people. The front." (23)
In the late 60s and early 70s Identity Politics became a two-party game. Students and anti-war/peace demonstrators were christened "bums" (Nixon's word) and the "silent majority" was pitted against them, cast as patriotic, real Americans versus Communist, hippie traitors in what was to become the "culture wars" and create divisions between us that we have yet to close.
Republicans used wedge issues to create an Identity Politics of their own. Nixon's Southern Strategy used race to get white southern Democrats into the Republican Party, just as Democrats tried to manipulate minorities with Civil Rights laws. Republicans won the day, since the population harbored a greater percentage of racist whites than Blacks, who made up only 12% of the population.
It's to the "opulent minority's" advantage to set Americans against each other and to take them on one separate issue, one action, and/or one group at a time where the majority of the people can be bogged down and defeated over and over and over again with peripheral issues and those that should remain private and personal lifestyle choices. The point of the arguments over "hot button" issues is that they're not meant to be resolved. Their political function is to divide people and hide class differences, keeping the majority's attention away from their own social and economic interests. So while many of us see the particular trees of abortion, God, guns, gays and Big Government, we miss the forest of the Class War.
In addition, the distraction of feigned accomodation to these individual group interests by the "opulent minority"-owned government provides the illusion that "something's being done" about abuses such as racism, sexism, joblessness, pollution, et al. Coupled with the division created by our intensifying individual struggles against those same abuses, the "opulent minority" gets to keep most of the wealth the majority of the people create for society, as groups - minorities, women, labor, greens, et al - focus on their individual agendas rather than the solidarity necessary to overcome entrenched, minority rule which allows the consistent redistribution of wealth "upward."
By the 80s it was obvious to anyone who connected the dots, that the Republicans dominated the government, that the Democrats had joined them in the Money Party, and that together they were wreaking havoc on all the groups they'd encouraged to practice Identity Politics. It was also obvious that the people themselves were becoming a problem, because they were, ostensibly, the government - federal, state and local - and therefore able to charge their elected representatives to work for the public good, just as the "opulent minority" was cementing its private, corporate dominance as embodied by Gordon Gekko.
In 1978, in First National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti, their Supreme Court had declared that money is speech, and the "opulent minority" were becoming more vocal in their demands to, as Joe Bageant says, "Let the green stuff talk." A government of, by and for the people was an impediment to minority rule. It was counterproductive to have "an apparatus" (in place that was) "designed to implement the popular consensus about the management of the shared material interest of the citizenry." (24)
The very existence of a government whose purpose was to promote the general welfare by means of the popular will was anathema to the "opulent minority." They had no interest in markets and trade regulated by government (rigged, yes, regulated, no), nor the maintenance of public infrastructure, education, or healthcare. They saw no need for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, minimum wages, maximum hours, overtime, or unions.
The very thought of giving, or receiving, help was disgusting to them - unless they were the ones on the receiving end of tax abatements, loopholes, ridiculously low capital gains taxes, subsidies, exclusion from Social Security taxes, offshore banking, the elimination of tariffs on the goods they had made overseas, downsizing and outsourcing, illegal as well as legal (H-51) immigrant labor, waivers of environmental studies for dangerous extractive projects, over-the-counter trading, unlimited interest charges on credit (usury), sales taxes, flat taxes, right-to-work laws, all that green stuff talking its way into Congress via lobbyists and the insertion of their minions into positions of prominance in regulatory agencies themselves. All this on top their ownership of the corporate mechanism for accumulating and concentrating wealth, that they then translate into political power.
For the "opulent minority" the only excuse for a central government - besides funneling money to them - is police protection of their property and a military for "defense," e.g. opening up reluctant foreign markets to their predatory corporations. And so they promoted the "fact" that "government is not the solution to our problem: government is the problem." In effect, since the people are the government, the people are the problem.
The people were disowned by their own government.
"On the 20th of January, 1981, the new President of the United States was telling us that 'we the people' were in somebody’s way, a somebody who actually was represented by the power and authority he now held, and which he intended to use to destroy the deposed government that was 'us.' ...Twenty-nine years and one day after Ronald Reagan came to power, the U.S. Supreme Court made it plain, by issuing its Dred Scott decision of the 21st century, elevating corporate rights above those of individual flesh-and-blood human beings. ...Yes, we, the people, are certainly in somebody’s way," (25) so they've colonized our minds, cleansing them both intellectually and ethically. And today's method of social control is the direct descendent of the murderous and terroristic "management" of Native Americans, kidnapped Africans, and after the Civil War, of both poor whites and freed slaves via sharecroppping, Jim Crow and right-to-work laws. Social control is all but "invisible" now, woven into the competitive consumption of the Consumer Bowl in today's economic and political class system.
"There is no subjugation so perfect as that which keeps the illusion of freedom, for in that way one captures volition itself." (26)
The "opulent minority" find their means to minority rule at the intersection of dumbed down and racism. They don't personally give a flying tea bag about color - except when it can be used to get more of the green stuff. Any color is okay with them as long as the minority comes wrapped in green. Our president, who I like to call "The Mask," performs his function as the overseer of our faux democracy perfectly, while taking the flak for the "opulent minority."
But in 1921 it was still okay to kill 300 of the more "common" sort of that minority to which the president belongs and pretend it never happened. It was also okay to lynch not only Blacks and Wobblies, but those even rumored to be Communists or union supporters. You could take your children to a lynching just like you can take them to Disneyland. There'd be body parts as souveniers and postcards to send to like-minded friends who missed the party. In 1963 it was alright to murder four little girls in Sunday school and in 1964, to lynch three civil rights workers. You could bar students from the state university (1963) and forbid them to eat lunch - at a lunch counter (1960). And just like a bully in elementary school, you could make people sit at the back of the bus (1955). And this is still what it's all about, who has to sit in the back of the bus and who gets to drive.
And by using the dumbed down and ethically-cleansed to do the wet work, from the Civil War Era to the Civil Rights Era to today, the "opulent minority" picks one group to act as their pit bullies, whose only privilege is having the same skin tone as the plutocrats. They are encouraged to believe that their slightly higher-but-still-subsistance wages, and their ability to bankrupt themselves via usurious credit (in the richest country in the history of the world) makes them exceptional (exceptional dumbasses, maybe), and their clinging to the fact that at least, like the masters, they're white, simply proves that imitation is the sincerest form of depravity.
"...Big Government vs. the Common Folk, ignores the fact that only the government, the people, can referee the game of unlimited corporate power. So, by targeting government, not corporatism, the Tea Partiers serve essentially as 'faux populist' front-men for corporate interests..." (27)
And the Tea Party, after its now-forgotten snit over Wall Street bonuses, doesn't focus on a coherent, anti-corporate agenda, because until recently, corporate capitalism has been good to them, while it disadvantaged the groups they target today. The majority of Tea Partiers are older, wealthier, whiter men, most of whom still have jobs, and who harbor a kneejerk reaction to "income redistribution" - never mind the manipulated financial crises that redistributed income upward - both in 1929 and 2008. They fear any efforts toward a more equitable society will come out of their pockets. This subset of Identity Politics sees "equality, justice and tolerance as 'threats' to their alleged freedoms." (28) Like the Maginot Line, they're facing the wrong direction. The predator looms "above" them in the economic pecking order, not below them. But since they are authoritarians, they're afraid to stand up to those on the next highest level of the pecking order, let alone their corporate captalist masters.
They also believe that their group is under attack and losing control, though they never really had it. Their wages levelled off in the 70s and it's harder than ever to get ahead when getting ahead means doing better than your parents did in a society where accumulation is the sole measure of success.
They see that some people seem to be making gains - Black, Hispanic, female, gay - no matter how small. It doesn't matter that these groups' position was formerly underfoot, "or that they haven't caught up ...in terms of income...or legal rights..." (29) (And there's actually only a highly visible fraction, like Oprah, Obama and Tiger that's outdistancing them.) The point is that "they're" moving ahead, even if only in some small way and these real American men are stuck in place or moving backward. And as each of us becomes more and more insignificant in the face of corporate power, these manly men have only maintained a sense of their own power, mirage that it is, by their place at the top of the dung heap of consumerism under the iron heel of corporate capitalism - which is all that makes Americans exceptional any more.
Their sense of lost privilege is what's brewing this tea. They don't want to understand that these groups of "others" they so resent are just bait, and that when they take the bait, focusing their anger and resentment on the lure of a corporate-sanctioned target group, they're biting like the fish the "opulent minority" are playing them for. They're just one more school of fish in the ocean of Identity Politics. They see the trees of the particular "enemy" and refuse to look at the forest, having accomodated their predators in exchange for a relatively comfortable gilded cage.
They allow themselves to be used as a human shield to protect the true source of their injury. And they allow their righteous anger at being wronged to fester as resentment and redirect it at the scapegoat du jour. By agreeing to this distraction, they fail to focus on the actual agent of their agony, and allow that agent to continue to injure them, thus the pain, the resentment and the hatred build to bursting. And hatred is another distraction. It strengthens the power of the oppressor over both the injured and the scapegoat. What we experience as inequality is a manifestation of this manipulation, because "...the power and wealth of the minority, in fact, depends on increasing the exploitation of the majority." (30)
A lot of Tea Partiers believe it's the scapegoats they resent. But besides their free-floating anger at Big Government, liberals and socialists, what they really resent is ..."the idea that democracy is to rule and to be ruled in turns. They do not want that kind of society. They see a world where they are right and that is it. ... This is not the idea on which the United States was founded." (31)
Tea Partiers are encouraged to see immigrants as job-stealing, wage-lowering, social welfare program-using criminals in order to divert their anger from the corporate system. This is the same system that downsized and outsourced their American Dream via "free" trade agreements like NAFTA, the encouragement of both illegal and legal immigration, and the slashing of wages and living standards across the board in order to boost corporate profits. Their anger and resentment are kept alive and magnified by incessent repetition in the media. It's the secret of American working class impotence and the secret the "opulent minority" of corporate shareholders uses to maintain power. It's class war. And the winning class knows exactly what it's doing. Robber Baron Jay Gould put it in a nutshell. "I can get one half of the working class to kill the other half."
But somewhere under all the bluster, bombast and bullying these usable-husks-of-humanity realize they've taken a wrong turn. Most of them call themselves Christian, and some even go so far as to carry signs proclaiming they're "Teabagging for Jesus." They know, if they read their bibles, that the one quote their masters use, "the poor will always be with you" is used to justify whatever is done to the poor. They also know that there are 214 verses quoting Jesus' love for and defense of the poor, which have been disappeared like Guatamala's and Iran's democracies in 1953 in the service of US corporate pharisees. They know, too, that Jesus stood up for the poor and got crucified for it. And they prefer capitulation to the pharisees to crucifixtion, especially if there's just a hint of the green stuff, or its red-headed stepchild, credit, attached to it. (WHOSE ARTICLE IS THIS FROM?)
Americans used to read - and write - as evidenced by the letters written by "common" Civil War soldiers. We used to be able to deal with complex problems and see through illusions to the truth. We used to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time. But many of us no longer have those skills, and as a result are completely detached from reality. We can't tell truth from lies, think for ourselves or come to our own conclusions. And we get lots of help to stay that way. The information we receive from corporate media outlets is a series of dumbed-down, simplified stories, full of trite themes conveyed by images and set off by a veritable spinmeister's treasure trove of gossip, talking points, public relations, screaming matches, framing, scamming, lies of omission and propaganda.
"Never allow the public to cool off; never admit a fault or a wrong; never concede there may be some good in your enemy; never leave room for alternatives; never accept blame; concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong; people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it." (32)
Americans are caught like deer in headlights any time they're confronted with ambiguity or nuance. But then we no longer need to think. Our moods, emotions and impulses are manipulated, most often on a subliminal level, by elaborate psy ops that work automatically on people living a style without substance, devoid of content, context, history or reality. In fact, we prefer illusions to reality, and that makes us suckers for images and slogans, the branding by which we have come to understand the world. And we mistake our manipulated feelings for knowledge.
"Ours must be a leadership democracy administered by an intelligent minority who know how to regiment and guide the masses. The voice of the people expresses the mind of the people, and that mind is made up for it by the group leaders in whom it believes and by those persons who understand the manipulation of public opinion...If we understand the mechanism and motives of the group mind, it is now possible to control and regiment the masses according to our will without their knowing it." (33)
We want entertainment, not information, instant gratification, not the truth. We feel comforted when we are indulged with familiar sterotypes and flattered by tales of American exceptionalism "that tell us...we live in the greatest country on Earth, that we are...superior...because" of our American values and/or that God blesses America. The repetition of such "simple, childish lies...gives them the aura of... truth." (34)
Manifest Destiny. We're Number One. Yes we can. Change you can believe in. Green Revolution. Pro-life. War on Poverty. War on Drugs. Ownership Society. War on Terror. With us or against us. Support the troops. Love it or leave it. Pry my gun from my cold, dead hands.
It was George W. Bush who said "See in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda."
"Everyone has a right to a great SUV." KIA Sportage "Ameriquest Mortgage - Proud sponsor of the American Dream" "Chevrolet. An American Revolution." "Be the boss. Choose your sauce." Kentucky Fried Chicken.
In the United States, the land of the free, freedom is consolidating your credit card payments. In the country that declared its independence in 1776 with a revolutionary war, revolution means choosing the correct new fossil fuel-burning vehicle. Rebellion is symbolized by T-shirts declaring "FCUK." How clever. How daring. Purchased from a corporation out to make money on our "rebellion." How conventional is our unconvention.
President Dwight Eisenhower suggested that "...dictatorial systems make one contribution to their people which leads" those who desire nothing more than insulation from the pressures of a free society "...to support such systems - freedom from the necessity of informing themselves and making up their own minds..." (35)
"Liberty is often a heavy burden on a man. It involves the necessity of perpetual choice which is the kind of labor men have always dreaded." (36)
We've become an image-based, rather than a literate, society. But pictures and bumper sticker philosophies convey neither nuance nor context, wherein lie the difficult decisions of morality. We're unequipped to search for the truth or deal rationally with snowballing social and economic crises, so we search for security, certainty and order. And we're willing to use force to get it. And to force others to accept our version of it, especially anyone who looks, speaks or thinks differently. Democracy is useless to people who can't use its tools.
"Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people." (37)
A democratic and open society requires that we think for ourselves and come to our own conclusions, that we understand history, science and the difference between truth and lies. It also requires that we accept the fact that there are other ways to be besides our way. These abilities are becoming extinct. They have all but have faded from view, like the oasis of democracy itself, merely a mirage manufactured as bait by the "opulent minority" and used as the front for its machinations.
And to this end, each of us was once "...encouraged to want to be king. 'Success' was measured by how close you came to fulfilling this kingly ambition. The 'aristocracy' ('rule by the best,' meaning the wealthiest) came to rule over mankind, with each man giving his consent to the arrangement. The cultivated desire to live like kings is the glue that bound the kingdom together, becoming the basis of the capitalist system.
The 'aristocrats' were a minority of individuals possessed of the desire to dominate and control all things within their grasp. And "...In order for the system to function, the majority" had to be equally "as willing to submit to the economic domination of the" "opulent minority" as the "opulent minority" were "determined to dominate them." (38)
Corporate capitalism has always sought to stamp out our ability to make the important choices, both personal, and as a people. The"opulent minority" wants to make the important choices - like who gets what and how much. We, however, are "free" to choose from among nutritionless foodlike products, manly spectator sports and gas-guzzling vehicles, or elective plastic surgery and color-coordinated fingertip powder room towels. The fruit of this particular tree is selfish, consumer sadism, and contempt for those who can't compete in the Consumer Bowl - the poor, the jobless, the ill and the disabled.
"The best index of a person's character is a) how he treats people who can't do him any good, and b) how he treats people who can't fight back." (39) And still, the "opulent minority" pretends not to know that there's no honor in taking advantage when you already have it.
We have been brainwashed into believing that there is no alternative. But we can refuse to use. Or to be used. We can refuse to kill. Or to be killed. It is exactly this capacity for independent choice based on individual conscience, that little voice which knows right from wrong, that corporate capitalism seeks to destroy.
But in order to hear that little voice, we need to be able to connect the dots of all the particular trees and see them for the forest of corporate capitalism's systemic oppression and exploitation that they are - which is necessary for its perpetuation. And making that connection is the only path to a meaningful life and personal freedom. As "Augustine wrote, hope has two beautiful daughters, anger and courage - anger at the way things are and the courage to see that they do not remain the way they are." (40)
And as they rape democracy while draped in the flag, the repulsive modus operandi of the "opulent minority" is imploding on itself like the World Trade Center. Their fraud and corruption, exposed in the stark reality between their words and our lives, becomes more and more sickeningly apparent. The rage rising across the country will force them to employ even more agressive forms of corporate power, doing away with the artifice and seduction of consumer society, opting for naked repression.
"The illusion of freedom will continue as long as it's profitable to continue the illusion. At the point where the illusion becomes too expensive to maintain, they will just take down the scenery, pull back the curtains, and you will see the brick wall at the back of the theater." (41)
The things that threaten minority rule via the corporate way of profit are exactly the tools of democracy for daily use that will break the empathy-proof outer shells of our corporate-purchased avatars/vehicles so we can speak driver-to-driver, no longer passengers relegated to the back of corporate capitalism's bus driven by the interests of the "opulent minority."
We can de-atomize the individual pain being inflicted on us by making the big picture visible, connecting the dots, seeing past the trees of the particular to the forest of class war by tracing its origin to the system of institutionalized inequality built on these trees - racism, sexism, agism, homophobia, xenophobia, religious fanaticism, economic or educational status, ideology, et al - in order to create it.
To make that forest visible we have to break the capitalist commandment to keep the personal separate from the societal and stop thinking of ourselves as John Wayne-Robinson Crusoe clones each one of us alone on an island with no one and nothing to relate to except our personal, material possessions and the personal responsibility for our resulting alienation, pain and depression, but not the responsibility for making any of the important choices which might alleviate that corporate-created pain and oppression. When you allow yourself to be isolated, the predator has the advantage and you become prey.
"What's wrong with this picture? 1) Less than one half of a percent of the total US population are passive claimants of economic wealth, who are also the most active daily participants in the democratic process. 2) The rest of us tend to be active daily participants in generating economic wealth, but we are also the most passive observers in the democratic process. We, the people, consent to this crippling arrangement every single day when we get out of bed and got to work and hand over most of the value (power) we produce to passive ownership." (42) (emphasis added)
The democratic process has to become an integral part of daily living in order to correct this imbalance because...
"...So long as the people do not care to exercise their freedom, those who wish to tyrannize will do so; for tyrants are active and ardent, and will devote themselves in the name of any number of gods, religious or otherwise, to put shackles upon sleeping men." (43) and... "He who does not know history is destined to remain a child." (44) subordinate by definition.
"Perhaps the claims of ideological purity and consistency on the part of the status quo’s elite are mere marketing. Perhaps the members of this elite are committed to no ideology at all. Perhaps all they care about is their own self-interest. Perhaps they will espouse any position at all if they believe it will be profitable. Perhaps they are the proverbial progeny of Cain and the mark they bear is a capital Swith a vertical line drawn through its center." (45)
Is this, finally, what it means to be king?
It always was, always will be and will always remains the same - unless the people stand together and fight for each other, not with each other. Everybody in. Nobody out. Because "if we do not hang together, will we most assuredly hang separately." (46)
"Enough is enough! ... For those who believe in freedom, the revolution calls you. For those who hate freedom for others, the revolution awaits you." (47)
"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible, make violent revolution inevitable." (48)
(1) Alex Carey and Andrew Lohrey. "Taking the Risk Out of Democracy: Propaganda in the US and Australia," Sydney, NSW, 1995, page 18.
(2) Carl Sagan.
(3) John Kozy. "Can America be Fixed?" Global research, 5/29/09.
(4) John Kozy. Ibid.
(5) Bill McKibben. "The Surprising Reason Why Americans Are So Lonely, and Why Future Prosperity Means Socializing with Your Neighbors," Alternet, excerpt from EAARTH: Making Life on a Tough New Planet," Henry Holt and Company, 2010.
(6) Prof. John Kozy. Ibid..
(8) Bill Moyers.
(9) George Carlin.
(10) Woodrow Wilson.
(12) Dr. Josef Mengele.
(13) John D. Rockefeller's General Education Board "Occasional Letter No. 1", 1902.
(14) Leo Strauss, the Father of Neoconservatism.
(15) "Special Report: Assembly-Line Medicine," International Health Workers for People Over Profits, 3/30/10.
(16) Victor Lebeau, 1947.
(17) Charles Sullivan, "The Failure of Citizenship," Information Clearing House, 2/4/06.
(18) Bertrand Russell.
(19) David Michael Green. "Suicide by Regressivism," Information Clearinghouse, 5/2/10.
(20) David Michael Green. Ibid.
(21) David Michael Green. "Mission Accomplished: The Reagan Occupation and the Destruction of the Middle Class," OpEdNews, 6/24/10.
(22) Barry Grey, "The revolutionary implications of the decline of American capitalism -- Part 2," wsws,10/14/08.
(23) Joe Bageant, "Bass boats and queer marriage: The battle for the American soul is over and Jay Leno won," The Smirking Chimp, 1/15/10 .
(24) Manuel Garcia, Jr., "Decoding the Language of Social Control, (Democracy Is Communism and Must Be Destroyed,") Dissident Voice, March 11, 2010.
(25) Manuel Garcia, Jr. Ibid.
(26) Jean- Jaques Rosseau.
(27) Robert Parry, introduction to "Sniffing Out Tea Party Corporatism," consortium news.com, 4/30/10.
(28) Mickey Z. "The Teaparty Sideshow," Countercurrents, 5/3/10.
(29) Adele M. Stan, "Crazy? Stupid? Tea Party Supporters Are Neither," Alternet, 5/4/10.
(30) Joel Wendland. "Why Class Isn't Just Another '-ism'," politicalaffairs.com, 2/4/10.
(31) Chris Hedges, "Calling All Rebels,"TruthDig, 3/8/10 .
(30) Joseph Goebbels, Minister of Propaganda, the Third Reich.
(33) Edward Bernays, the Father of Public Relations.
(34) Chris Hedges. "America the Illiterate," Truthdig, 11/16/08.
(35) Max Blumenthal, "Eisenhower's Forgotten Warning and the Threat of Authoritarian Currents in Politics," NYT, 9/3/09.
(36) Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
(37) John Adams.
(38) Peter Chamberlain, "Overcoming Human Nature: The revolution of the meek," Information Clearing House,3/9/08.
(39) Abigail Van Buren.
(40) Chris Hedges. "Calling All Rebels," Truthdig, 3/8/10.
(41) Frank Zappa.
(42) David Kendall. "Good Luch with That," Dissident Voice, 5/8/09.
(45) Prof. John Kozy. Ibid.
(44) Benjamin Franklin.
(45) Peter Chamberlain. Ibid.
(46) John F. Kennedy.
Vi Ransel is a retired writer of elementary educational materials and corporate communications. Her political poetry and articles can be read online. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Vi Ransel is a frequent contributor to Global Research.
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Posted by mammonmessiah at 9:36 AM
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