Late Capitalism and Its Runaway Inequality Problem

One of the great unexamined questions of our times is why there is so much suffering, despair, misery and rage in the midst of unimaginable wealth. Naturally, pundits and politicians wish to avoid this question because an open public discussion of the widening wealth gap can impart critical insights into the nature and logic of the capitalist system they’ve worked so hard to hide from view. Cloaking the workings of the system is easier when it has not gone bust. During severe economic downturns, the pundits and the media narrative managers have a more difficult time keeping critical consciousness from entering public discussions.

A recent case in point is the Great Recession of 2008, to which the state responded to by bailing out the bankers and shifting trillions of dollars from the taxpayers to the financial oligarchs, while the millions of households facing foreclosures and economic ruin received meager support. As a consequence, the Occupy Wall Street movement emerged in 2010. The movement defied the narrative managers and introduced a critical perspective about the problem of runaway inequality into public consciousness.

Of course, narrative management is only the first line of defense to protect the status quo, and once rendered ineffective, the state swiftly moved to repress the movement. Under the Obama administration, Law Enforcement units nationwide coordinated efforts to remove and prevent protesters from occupying any public spaces. By then however the movement had popularized the slogan “We Are the 99%,” and helped paved the way for future challenges to the status quo. That came in the form of a mild social democratic electoral insurgency a la Bernie Sanders in 2016 and 2020. The neoliberal establishment united to quell the challenge and succeeded in preventing Bernie from winning higher office, while instead the actions of the establishment led to the victory of Donald Trump in 2016.

The year 2020 also saw a long-expected economic downturn starting in February that was followed by the Covid-19 pandemic and its associated business closures in March. This combination of the economic crisis and the pandemic crisis has exposed the system’s inequities far more effectively than anything in the recent past. Millions within our borders and beyond have borne witness to harsh realities of life, which include inadequate or lack of access to health care, differential or poor access to transportation, decent jobs, virtual educational opportunities, affordable housing, healthy food, not to mention flexiblized labor and persistent poverty, all of which are related to chronic disinvestment in vulnerable and marginalized communities. What’s more, people in the U.S. witnessed a scandalously dysfunctional political system unable to meet the fundamental needs of its citizens during dire circumstances.

More social movements will likely emerge in response to this monumental failure of an economic system and its governing class. We have already seen the massive anti-racist movement that emerged in 2020 in response to racist state police violence. While the Left has a historic responsibility in this moment, if it fails to mobilize the masses, organize the unorganized, engage in collective and disruptive social struggles to demand the necessary course corrections, it runs the risk of allowing the elite to return to a pre-Trump course, thus facilitating the development of future retrograde alternatives of right-wing variety that’ll prove to be even more repressive than Trumpism.

Of course, the problem with the media narrative management persists, for the prevailing discourse has centered around the virus itself, the social practices that can prevent its spread, and Trump’s criminal mismanagement of the pandemic. The modern political discourse, managed by the mainstream media, fails to acknowledge the structural or systemic factors and is instead well-suited to talking about issues in terms of personalities in a vacuum, or at best in terms of limited partisan politics. But below the surface and behind the personalities lurk political and economic systems that operate free from close examination. Without examining these systemic inequities, tens of millions will remain in precarious conditions and be wholly unprepared to face the inevitable coming crises beyond the present pandemic.

What we don’t hear is that wealth inequality is rooted in the very DNA of a modern capitalist system, that wealth inequality translates into political inequality, that insecurity is a fundamental feature of U.S. capitalism, that unless wealth creation and distribution is democratized and workers and communities empowered none of our social ills will go away and unnecessary mass suffering and resentment will only grow. This a topic rarely investigated. Even Bernie Sanders’ discussion lacked a clear and solid class analysis as to how and why capitalism since the mid-1970s has produced such obscene inequalities. Although runaway inequality is now the dominant trend in late capitalism, it largely remains a taboo subject in mainstream circles. The few bold enough to try to address these issues are labeled class reductionists while anyone fighting for economic justice gets accused of engaging in politics of class warfare. Left unacknowledged is that the runaway inequality problem is the outcome of a ceaseless class warfare waged by capital, the financial oligarchs, and the state they’ve captured. Stating this truism is simply beyond the range of permissible thought in the mainstream.

An Obscenely Unequal World

By the end of 2019, total global wealth stood at $399.2 trillion in USD, but just a mere 0.1% of the global population, totaling 175,000 ultra-wealthy people, owned 25% of global wealth. Together with another 52 million millionaires, making up the top 1%, they owned 43.3% of all personal wealth. Meanwhile billions of people who make up the bottom half of humanity have no personal wealth at all with a pitiful share of just 1% of the global wealth, with the bottom 90% holding only 19%. Furthermore, the share of North America and Europe of this wealth in 2019 was 55%, despite those regions comprising just 17% of the global population. That leaves the ‘poor south,’ where 83% of all people reside, with only 45% of total global wealth.

Of course, inequalities persist within states too and not just at a global level and among nations and regions. To highlight this fact, some analysts prefer the terms ‘global north’ and ‘global south’ to ‘rich north’ and ‘poor south.’

Runaway Inequality in Pre-Pandemic U.S.

Between the years 1975 and 2018 an astounding, but still conservatively estimated, $47 trillion shifted upwards from the working people in the bottom 90 percentile to the top 1%. Had levels of inequality remained as they were in the preceding three decades (1945-1975), working people would have had an additional $2.5 trillion added to their share of respective income, just in 2018! Considered on a more acute level, the combined income of a household of two full-time workers in 2018 is barely more than what a single worker would have earned had inequalities remained at the 1975 level. By 2020, this financial strip-mining of the bottom 90% had exceeded $50 trillion, or the equivalent of paying every working person in the bottom 90% an additional $13,728 annually. This is a country in which the median male worker had to work 33 weeks in 1985 to pay for healthcare, housing, transportation and family educational expenses and 53 weeks by 2018. Imagine how much more financially secure and less vulnerable the working people in this country would have been in facing the pandemic in the absence of this organized theft.

The U.S. is perhaps the richest society ever in history, yet you wouldn’t know this living in the middle or lower classes. Millions of ordinary people are saddled with immense unjust debts, earn wages that are stuck at the level of the1970s real purchasing power, have to deal with poor social services, and struggle to make ends meet. Unknown to a modern advanced society, the U.S. has been suffering from “deaths of despair” caused by opioids, alcoholism, depression, and suicides taking the lives of tens of thousands of white middle-aged working people and causing consecutive declines in their life expectancy. Personal debt exceeds $14 trillion. Some 87 million people lacked adequate healthcare coverage before the pandemic hit. 62% of personal bankruptcies have been linked to illness. 40% of the people could not afford $400 in emergency cash, again before the pandemic and the economic depression of 2020. Half of all workers lived paycheck to paycheck. Student debt went from zero in 1960 to $1.7 trillion by 2020. On average, U.S. citizens die holding $62,000 worth of debt.1

The runaway inequality problem has generated pre-existing social and economic vulnerabilities/conditions that have exacerbated the impact of the pandemic independent of the Trump regime’s incompetence, negligence and mismanagement. We are in effect dealing with and ought to approach the present crises as involving multimorbidities beyond the virus itself. This truism too is simply beyond the range of permissible thought in the mainstream.

Post-Pandemic U.S.

The year 2020 proved to be quite revelatory, exposing the enormous costs associated with these social fractures, inequalities and forms of structural violence as the Covid-19 pandemic and capitalist logic combined to further exacerbate inequalities and cause suffering.

Let’s consider the period between March and November of 2020 in the U.S. During these several months the 650 U.S. billionaires grew their wealth by $1 trillion and now own nearly $4 trillion in total, or 3.5% of the estimated $112 trillion of all privately held household wealth in the U.S. The top 1% owned $34.23 trillion (30.5%) of this wealth, the top 10% owned $77.32 trillion (69.04%), while the bottom half of the population owned just $2.08 trillion (1.86%). Therefore, just 650 people, the billionaires, owned twice as much as the bottom 165 million people combined. The obscene level of concentration of wealth held by just a few individuals during this same period is also telling. Jeff Bezos added $70 billion to his wealth (a 61.4% increase), making his wealth stand at $182.4 billion by November. Elon Musk’s wealth surged by a whopping 413% to a total of $126.2 billion. Mark Zuckerberg saw 85.9% growth in his wealth reaching a total of $101.7 billion. Bill Gates increased his net worth by 21.8% to a total sum of $98 billion. And Warren Buffett’s worth reached $88.3 billion, a 30.8% increase during the same period.

Similar patterns held regarding the ownership of corporate equities and mutual fund shares. The media pundits who cover business news often talk about the ups and downs of the stock market as if it reflects the general economic conditions of ordinary workers, however here is a datum or two that should suffice to disabuse the reader of this mistaken impression: (1) the bottom 50% in the U.S. own just $0.16 trillion in stocks while the top 1% own $14.04 trillion, and (2) the top 10% own more than 88% of all corporate equities and mutual fund shares. Such assets comprised about 41% of their overall wealth in the 2nd quarter of 2020. Consequently, the rise in the stock market during the pandemic – fueled by the Fed injecting trillions of dollars into the financial markets and slashing interest rates – massively benefited the top 10% and helped further widen the obscene wealth gap.

Tax policies have also contributed to the runaway inequality in the U.S. To give just two examples: The recently deceased Casino magnet, Sheldon Adelson, whose net worth was at least $34 billion, received $560 million in tax breaks from the Trump Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, and Charles Koch, with a net worth of $113 billion, received a $1.4 billion tax break.

The data introduced above paints a statistical portrait of a functioning oligarchy or plutocracy, not a democracy nor a functioning republic.

The Other America

In 2020, 8 million people slipped into poverty between May and November when the initial aid to mitigate the pandemic suffering and the effects of business closures ran its course without renewal by the governing class. A survey of U.S. households released by the US Census Bureau on Dec. 2, 2020 showed that 31% of households had difficulty paying for the usual household expenses; 35.3% worried that an “eviction or foreclosure in the next two months is either very likely or somewhat likely”; 12.7% say “there was either sometimes or often not enough to eat in the last 7 days”; and 31% of adults expected “someone in their household to have a loss in employment income in the next 4 weeks.” All this in a year in which from mid-March to mid-October more than 84 million claims were filed for unemployment compensation – that’s more than half the civilian labor force – indicating devastating conditions for the working people.

These sobering statistics exist without even considering the deaths and direct suffering caused by Covid-19 itself. As of January 29, 2021, there were 25.8 million cases of coronavirus reported in the U.S. with the number of deaths standing at 434,783. These numbers are so astronomical that people likely struggle to conceptualize suffering on this scale. To help visualize this insurmountable loss, consider the following. There were on average 1.7 deaths per minute from Covid-19 in the month of Dec. 2020 alone. The nation’s life expectancy at birth is expected to drop by a year for the first time since WWII from 78.8 to 77.7. Each person who has died from Covid-19 was on average deprived of about 13 years of life amounting to more than 5.65 million years of life lost in total (given the number of deaths as of this writing). Already more than 3.1 million people have lost a close relative. And these deaths are not evenly distributed, for 1 in 800 blacks have died compared to 1 in 1325 whites.

This Other America reveals the U.S. as a failed state, one that is negligent of the health needs of millions of people during a deadly pandemic, unable or unwilling to address the basic needs of tens of millions of its working people, and valuing their labor for its role in creating wealth, but not their lives.

But it’s one thing to describe what has been happening and entirely another to consider whether there exists a cure for this runaway inequality problem. What is certain is that neoliberal capitalism has produced this runaway inequality. A return to the pre-neoliberal post-war period that ended in late 1970s, and not to the pre-Trump period that gave us Trump, can certainly ameliorate the inequality problem somewhat. Yet, if we could pull ourselves above the noise and confusion of the moment, we may be able to see that the former period, sometimes referred to as the ‘golden era of U.S. capitalism,’ may have been a special historical period that could only be replicated with sustained organizing from below. Furthermore, bear in mind that a return to the pre-neoliberal period still poses two serious problems. (1) Leaving capital with all its powers and resources intact only guarantees that it will find ways to rollback whatever gains we are able to make, as it in fact has done since the late 1970s. (2) Capitalism’s very existence depends on an endless process of the accumulation of capital. This imperative of ceaseless expansion places the system on a collision course with a finite planet and is at the root of the ecological crises today. Put differently, the critical Left ought to push the state to adopt policies to alleviate unnecessary suffering and struggle on the longer-term project to go beyond capitalism. A regimented capitalism could offer the Left the space and a limited time period to focus intensely on democratizing wealth creation, redistributing power, and reconstructing society from below in order to avoid sliding into oblivion.

  1. The Debt Collective, Can’t Pay Won’t Pay: The Case for Economic Disobedience and Debt Abolition, Haymarket Books, (Chicago Illinois), 2020. The data in this paragraph came from the Forward, Introduction, and Ch. 1 of the e-book version.
The post Late Capitalism and Its Runaway Inequality Problem first appeared on Dissident Voice.

New US President, Same Old Foreign Policy


Whence Power Flows: Corporate-Funded Think Tanks 

Another election. Another political transition. Another opportunity for the US to change course regarding its otherwise destructive foreign policy?

Not quite.

Contrary to popular belief, US foreign policy is not the product of the nation’s elected representatives nor is it overseen by the occupants of the White House.

US foreign policy is instead driven by unelected corporate-financier interests. These include some of the largest, most powerful corporations and financial institutions on Earth, in human history like JP Morgan, Google, Bank of America, Facebook, Intel, Exxon, AT&T, Citigroup, Microsoft, Verizon, Johnson & Johnson, Chevron, PepsiCo, Pfizer, Goldman Sachs, Amazon, Merck, Lockheed, Boeing, Monsanto, and GM just to name a few.

They create consensus within and across industries, the political landscape, and within mass media through a network of policy think tanks they fund and chair like the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), the Brookings Institution, the RAND Corporation, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), and the Atlantic Council.

The policy proposed by these think tanks is transformed into bills, sent to Washington with lobbyists, where it is then rubber stamped often with little or no debate and often without US representatives even reading the bills before signing them.

This helps explain why US foreign policy regarding its Transatlantic relations, its confrontation with Russia, its military campaigns stretching from North Africa, through the Middle East, and into Central Asia, as well as its policy of encirclement and containment versus China continues regardless of who Congress consists of or who occupies the White House – often with particular policies being pursued seamlessly not only from one president to the next, but often from one decade to another.

Likewise, the connections these think tanks have with Western media helps explain the singular narratives we see when it is time for the media to sell pre-determined policy to the American public as well as to international audiences.

Thus, in order to understand US foreign policy, one must understand the corporations and financial institutions that truly shape it, rather than examining the alleged motivations and political proclivities of those in Washington merely signing off on this policy.

Understanding what US President Joe Biden will do over the next four years is not a matter of examining his own alleged political platform, his campaign promises, or even what he says on a day-to-day basis, but rather understanding what policy he will be tasked with continuing and understanding that the former are designed to serve as a pretext for perpetuating the latter.

If we find that Biden’s administration is set to continue US foreign policy – including policy that has unfolded over the past four years under US President Donald Trump – with only minor differences in window dressing, this is the reason we should not be surprised.

We can fully expect US foreign policy – from US relations with Europe and Russia, from Africa to the Middle East, and front Central to East Asia – to continue as it has for decades in pursuit of hegemony with political rhetoric used as camouflage, not an actual reflection of real motivation or agenda.

In fact, President Biden’s newly appointed Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, has already made it abundantly clear that not only will the new administration continue US foreign policy in the same direction – including finishing or adding to projects undertaken over the past four years under Trump – but it fully plans to accelerate it in every dimension possible.

Transatlantic Transgressions and Russia

America’s Transatlantic policy is rooted in the geopolitical architecture created at the end of World War II and cemented into place during the decades of the Cold War versus first the Soviet Union and now the Russian Federation which emerged after the former’s collapse.

Russia has historically played a direct role in the Great Power Competition – sometimes as an ally of Western European powers, but almost always as a competitor, and even sometimes as a potential target for colonization itself.

The Soviet Union’s emergence after World War II as a global superpower – owed to the massive military might it accrued during its fighting against Nazi Germany – posed a direct threat to US and Western European designs for the continuation of their respective overseas ambitions, including reasserting themselves over former colonies everywhere from Africa and the Middle East to Southeast Asia and even China.

The Cold War, driven by what US President Dwight Einsenhower referred to as the “military industrial complex,” sought to prevent any sort of accommodation or compromise amid this process of the West reasserting its global primacy.

As part of this process the US and special interests across Western Europe attempted to suppress elements within Western society that might seek to cooperate rather than seek conflict with the Soviet Union and its allies. Operation Gladio – a network of clandestine paramilitary units – would often carry out provocations that would be pinned on Soviet-linked groups, fomenting conflict and preventing cooperation between East and West.

More recently, this has translated into what many are calling the “New Cold War” – this time not the US and NATO against the Soviet Union, but between the US and sympathetic circles in Western Europe along with a growing list of client regimes in Eastern Europe against the Russian Federation.

It was the US who after the collapse of the Soviet Union used “color revolutions” to install client regimes in territory surrounding the Russian Federation, including in areas previously part of the Soviet Union. It was a process that began under US President Bill Clinton, continued under George Bush, and saw a significant resurgence under Obama in 2013 and 2014 when US-backed opposition groups overthrew the government of Ukraine.

It was also around the time of the collapse of the Soviet Union that the US supported Chechen terrorists and their goal of creating an independent state in Russia’s North Caucasus region. The Second Chechen War would unfold in various stages from 1999 to 2009 with Russia still to this day managing the region carefully to police extremism.

Despite the promise of a “Restart” between Washington and Moscow under the US President Barack Obama, a campaign of confrontation and subversion was executed against Russia as it began to rise again on the global stage as a serious international player.

Just as was the case during the Cold War, significant investments have been made to create networks to ensure Western Europe remains on a confrontational footing with modern day Russia rather than move in any direction resembling cooperation.

In many ways we have seen this process fail, and nations like Germany pursuing major deals with Russia including the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

It is a pipeline that connects Russia directly to Western Europe via Germany, bypassing any nation the US could potentially create unrest in like it did in Ukraine in 2013-2014.

As part of Washington’s goal to isolate Russia, it adamantly opposes the Nord Stream 2 pipeline and any prospect of Russia working closer in collaboration with Western Europe. Despite the obvious self-serving nature of this policy, the US has tried to camouflage it by claiming its desire to obstruct Nord Stream 2 is rooted in concerns over Europe’s “energy security” – implying that Europe, and Germany specifically, is unable to recognize the threat itself.

The US has – just as it did in the Cold War – demonstrated its willingness to attack “allies” as enthusiastically as it attacks its enemies, leveling sanctions against German companies involved in Nord Stream 2’s construction.

The orchestration of staged events is also a tactic that continues to be used today. The alleged poisoning of US-backed Russian opposition figure Alexy Navalny and his “coincidental” evacuation flight to Germany was accompanied by very public statements by the Western media and European politicians calling on the German government to cancel Nord Stream 2 in light of the Kremlin’s supposed assassination attempt.

German state media, Deutsche Welle (DW), would note in their article, “European Parliament calls for halt on Nord Stream 2 construction after Navalny arrest,” that:
The European Parliament demanded that construction be halted on the controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline, in a resolution passed on Thursday.

It issued the call in response to Russia arresting opposition figure Alexei Navalny upon his return to Russia. He had been in Germany recovering from an attempted assassination with a military grade nerve agent.
Clearly Moscow stood nothing to gain from poisoning Navalny – an incredibly unpopular opposition figure in Russia – especially at a time when Nord Stream 2 is so close to completion. It is also abundantly clear that the US stood everything to gain. When the ploy failed to deter Germany, pressure and sanctions targeting Germany directly were increased, first under Trump and now under Biden.

Both under Trump and now Biden similar calls have been made. During Secretary Blinken’s confirmation hearing, he agreed with Senator Ted Cruz over the “necessity” to stop Nord Stream 2 and confirmed all opinions including additional sanctions and pressure including on Germany itself were on the table.

Worse still, Blinken found himself arguing with US Senator Rand Paul over why he believed NATO should be further expanded to include Georgia and Ukraine – part of a much more aggressive method of encircling and isolating Russia – a method of expanding NATO toward Russia’s very borders that has been pursued by every US president since the fall of the Soviet Union.

From the 1990s when US “color revolutions” were honed into a precision geopolitical weapon – creating an arc of client states around Russia’s peripheries – to today where Ukraine remains destabilized and Belarus, directly on Russia’s border, faces similar US-backed destabilization, it remains clear that regardless of who is in the White House a singular agenda is pursued against Russia and when necessary against European “allies” who impede this singular agenda.

Shaping North Africa and the Middle East

Virtually every aspect of US foreign policy in regards to North Africa and the Middle East also stretches back to the end of World War 2 and efforts to aid in reasserting Anglo-American influence over the two regions ever since.

The overthrow of the Libyan government in 2011 was a project one US president after another oversaw since at least as early as the 1980s – and in particular, through the use of extremists funded and armed clandestinely by the US government.

The overthrow of the Iraqi government spanned from the time of US President George Bush Sr. to his son George W. Bush, culminating in the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, and has resulted in an enduring US occupation of the country ever since, spanning all eight years of the Obama administration, all four years of the Trump administration, and very unlikely to end under Biden who has expressed no plans – even on the campaign trail – to end America’s military presence in the region.

Likewise for Syria, the US has sought to remove the Syrian government from power since Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad’s father held the office. The 2011 proxy invasion of Syria began under Obama and continued under Trump, and under the new President Biden it still occupies eastern Syria illegally – again – with no plans of leaving any time soon.

Yemen faces a similar and enduring conflict driven by US interests and through US and European support for aggressors including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the UAE, and others.

The current conflict in Yemen – like in Syria – began in 2011 under the Obama administration as a component of the US-engineered “Arab Spring” and evolved into a violent war from 2015 onward, backed by the US and executed by Washington’s regional allies including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the UAE.

Together, America’s various wars, proxy wars, and occupations across the Middle East aim at encircling, containing, and eventually collapsing the government of Iran.

Iran – a target of US aggression since the 1970s – has likewise faced decades-spanning plans pushed forward seamlessly from one US administration to the next.

The clearest example of this was the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), also known as the “Iran Nuclear Deal.” While it was signed in 2013 during the Obama administration – a 2009 policy paper published by the above mentioned Brookings Institution entitled, “Which Path to Persia?: Options for a New American Strategy Toward Iran” made it clear that the US intended to betray the deal, shift the blame on Iran, and use the resulting crisis as a pretext to pursue further aggression with what US policymakers believed would be greater international support.

The paper would explicitly note:
'…any military operation against Iran will likely be very unpopular around the world and require the proper international context—both to ensure the logistical support the operation would require and to minimize the blowback from it. The best way to minimize international opprobrium and maximize support (however, grudging or covert) is to strike only when there is a widespread conviction that the Iranians were given but then rejected a superb offer—one so good that only a regime determined to acquire nuclear weapons and acquire them for the wrong reasons would turn it down. Under those circumstances, the United States (or Israel) could portray its operations as taken in sorrow, not anger, and at least some in the international community would conclude that the Iranians “brought it on themselves” by refusing a very good deal.'
This was a plan conceived under the Bush administration, the deal proposed and signed under Obama, broken under Trump, with the US left precariously close to war with Iran under Biden.

While many have held on to hopes that Biden will return the US to the Iran Nuclear Deal, it should be noted that US foreign policy in places like Syria including the US-engineered proxy war waged while Biden was Vice President was ultimately designed as one part of a wider strategy against Iran itself.

It was also noted in the 2009 Brookings Institution paper that Syria would have to be removed from the way before any direct confrontation with Iran could be pursued. Not only did Biden play a role in attempting to remove Syria as part of this prerequisite, it was his current US Secretary of State Antony Blinken – then Deputy Secretary of State under Obama – who helped perpetuate that proxy war.

The US proxy war in Syria (and Yemen), along with the continued US military presence in Iraq, is directly linked to US aggression (and planned aggression) against Iran. The idea of genuinely returning to the Iran Nuclear Deal and offering a genuine path out of US-Iranian tensions, and for Iran a path out from under US sanctions, is at this juncture an impossibility.

One of several likely scenarios that will come into play will be Israeli belligerence “sabotaging” the deal. The 2009 Brookings paper repeatedly cites Israel as a useful provocateur that could help goad Iran into a war or carry out highly unpopular and extremely illegal acts of aggression that might prompt an Iranian response and open the door to direct US military intervention.

It would be possible for Biden to “appear” willing to salvage the Iran Nuclear Deal only to have Israel spoil it and leave the US “no choice” but to reluctantly back its Israeli allies.

Helping set the stage for this narrative is Biden appearing to backtrack on some of Trump’s more aggressively supportive policies regarding Israel, which backtracking Israel could use as a pretext for stepping out on its “own” despite virtually every aspect of its military capabilities in the region being tightly integrated with the US’ own presence there.

But despite even this showmanship, Blinken during his confirmation hearing when questioned by Senator Lindsey Graham would affirm his belief that Iran remains the “largest state sponsor of terror” in the world today – a label that will make it impossible to ever genuinely offer a path out of conflict with Iran.

Again we see that regardless of who has been president over the last 30 years or so, US foreign policy in the region continues along a singular path, driven by a singular hegemonic agenda.

Imperial Nexus: Afghanistan 

For centuries Afghanistan’s geostrategic location among Eurasia’s largest and most powerful nations has made it a tempting target for empire.

The US war in Afghanistan – starting in 2001 and continuing to this day – has placed thousands of US troops and an extensive network of military facilities on the doorsteps of Iran, Russia and its peripheries, Pakistan, and China, with whom Afghanistan also shares a section of its border.

The US occupation creates the perfect conditions to promote and export radicalism in all directions into the territory of each of America’s competitors in the region.

It also serves as a base for US military capabilities that can be projected in any direction if and when necessary.

The flow of drugs, money, weapons, and fighters (and accompanying extremism) through Afghanistan ensures US-backed militancy in Pakistan’s southwest Balochistan region, Iran’s Sistan and Baluchestan Province, China’s Xinjiang region, and post-Soviet Central Asia remains a constant threat. It is a threat that conveniently overlaps China’s One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative – including Gwadar Port in Balochistan, Pakistan and transit routes through Xinjiang, China.

And because Afghanistan is occupied by US troops, the prospects of any of the nations impacted by extremism and instability emanating from Afghanistan intervening in any way and affecting stability in Afghanistan remains unlikely.

Biden’s Secretary of State Antony Blinken would affirm during his confirmation hearing when questioned by Senator Lindsey Graham that a withdrawal from Afghanistan was not likely or conducive to US interests.

Encircling China 

Of course, extremism in part exported from Afghanistan into China’s Xinjiang region is only one part of Washington’s ongoing encirclement and containment of China.

To the south the US has used Tibet as a focal point of separatism and a source of political pressure to exert on Beijing since the 1950s.

The US has for decades up to and including today attempted to shape political outcomes in Southeast Asia in order to stitch together a united front against China. This includes through the use of “soft power” and “color revolutions” in which the US builds up opposition groups and even political parties to seize power and steer national policies to favor US, rather than local and regional interests.

Thailand – at the writing of this article – is in the middle of months of US-funded anti-government protests targeting the nation’s current government, the nation’s military, and its constitutional monarchy. Thais historically credit the monarchy – an institution over seven centuries old – for Thailand’s status as the only Southeast Asian nation to avoid Western colonization. It is clear why the US would seek to undermine and remove it if its goal is to overthrow the current political order – now leaning heavily in China’s direction – and install a client regime eager to reverse that.

Thailand along with many Southeast Asia countries counts China as their largest trading partner, investor, source of tourism, and partner in both the development and acquisition of military technology as well as in the development of infrastructure projects including high-speed rail, power production, and communication networks.

The creation and cultivation of US-backed opposition in Southeast Asia is a process that has spanned multiple presidencies.

It was under Bush that many of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) funded fronts were founded and began their subversive work in Southeast Asia. It was under Obama that the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) was created to begin creating US-backed cadres of politically-active youths in a bid to transform Southeast Asia into a Western-leaning enclave.

Also under Obama we would see the US-funded and orchestrated protests in Hong Kong begin in the form of “Occupy Central” and the “Umbrella Revolution.”

These protests would continue into the Trump administration where the US attempted to trigger an “Arab Spring” inspired “Asia Spring” which included US-backed anti-Chinese movements in Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Thailand – some of which took to the streets including in Thailand.

The protests ended in Hong Kong – but only because of the National Security Law and its strict enforcement. The protests directly linked to them in Thailand continue and are likely to do so until similar laws are passed by the Thai government.

US efforts to complicate the reunification of Taiwan with mainland China have also continued over the decades regardless of who is president. It was under Obama that the US National Endowment for Democracy established a franchise in Taipei called the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy.

One of Trump’s parting gestures before leaving office was lifting restriction on contacts between US officials and the government in Taiwan. It was a gesture US Secretary of State Blinken has vowed during his confirmation hearing to uphold and finalize.

The BBC in its article, “Pompeo: US to lift restrictions on contacts with Taiwan,” would explain:
The 'self-imposed restrictions' were introduced decades ago to 'appease' the mainland Chinese government, which lays claim to the island, the US state department said in a statement.

These rules are now 'null and void.'
Taiwan is internationally recognized – including “officially” by the US – as part of China under the “One China Policy.”

Despite officially recognizing the One China Policy, Washington has undermined it at every juncture and regardless of who occupies either Congress or the White House.

Under the Biden administration, the US will most certainly continue its belligerence toward China regarding Taiwan with the new Secretary of State vowing as much during his confirmation hearing before the US Senate.

The South China Sea is another pressure point the US is using against China.

Attempts to leverage overlapping maritime disputes in the South China Sea and transform them into a regional and even international conflict have been ongoing since the Obama administration and the so-called US “pivot to Asia.”

A 2011 piece by then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Foreign Policy titled, “America’s Pacific Century” would specifically refer to “defending freedom of navigation in the South China Sea.”

It was also under the Obama administration that the US organized an international tribunal on behalf of the Philippines over its disputes with China over the South China Sea. The “international” court unsurprisingly sided with the US lawyers and delivered the Philippines a favorable verdict, but Manila refused to use it as leverage against China and opted for bilateral negotiations instead.

The South China Sea – just like the Nord Stream 2 pipeline – is transformed into an imaginary crisis to serve as a pretext for US interference in the region, oftentimes at the cost of the very nations it claims it is attempting to “aid.”

A similar scenario plays out on the Korean Peninsula with South Korea hosting thousands of US troops and anti-missile systems allegedly put in place to counter threats from North Korea, but obviously as part of Washington’s agenda of ringing both Russia and China with such missile systems.

America’s Backyard: Venezuela 

And all the way across the Pacific back to the Americas US foreign policy even in its own “backyard” has moved seamlessly from one administration to the next, with US-backed regime change efforts in Venezuela the clearest example of all.

From the failed coup against Hugo Chavez in 2002 engineered under the administration of George Bush, to the continued US backing of opposition groups for the eight years under Obama, through to the declaration and backing of Juan Guido as “president” under Trump, it is unlikely that with Biden now as president anything of substance is going to change in the Americas as well. Secretary of State Blinken is already affirming the administration will continue to recognize US-backed proxy Juan Guiado as “president.”

Final Thoughts 

Not only does US foreign policy in each region of the world continue seamlessly regardless of who sits at the helm in Washington, the policies in each region are interconnected with those in the next.

In many instances, US foreign policy across multiple regions serves toward the primary goal of encircling and containing the vast territory of both Russia and China.

Ultimately this is not just about encircling and containing the physical territory of Russia and China, but rather containing and eliminating interests competing with the unelected interests in the West driving US foreign policy.

Giant corporations like Boeing and Lockheed see China’s COMAC as a future threat. This – and not Trump’s whims – is what had the company recently placed under US sanctions. The same could be said for Huawei vis-a-vis US tech giants like Apple.

There is of course a profit motivation behind perpetual, unending war driven by a continuity of agenda in Washington all in and of itself, but the primary goal is preserving Western corporate-financier hegemony worldwide and eliminating competition wherever and whenever it emerges through any means up to and including military aggression.

Policies that seem disconnected from geopolitics – like America’s role in monetizing “climate change” – can quickly seep into US foreign policy or buttress narratives serving it. A similar scenario is unfolding as part of the US pharmaceutical industry’s role in creating and compounding the COVID-19 socioeconomic crisis.

It is clear that this brand of geopolitics, while viable shortly after World War 2 and well into the Cold War, is no longer sustainable. But it will be the shifting of the global balance of power that forces US policy to change, not a president or a member of Congress coming to this realization, nor any campaign promises made by US politicians.

If history serves as any guide, the US will stubbornly resist this shifting balance of power even to its own detriment.

With China poised to bypass the US as the world’s greatest economic power, and as the Chinese military enhances its capabilities , and as Russia continues creating its own sphere of influence and neutralizing the destructive impact of US foreign policy in places like Syria, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia, the unelected interests driving US foreign policy will increasingly find themselves cut-off from the source of their power: their global-spanning hegemony and the wealth derived from it.

In the future, we may find new circles of interest emerge in the US – interests ready to find a place for America among nations rather than attempt to operate above all other nations. It will be a possible future where the US serves a constructive role in maintaining a global balance of power rather than attempting to constantly tilt it lopsidedly in its own favor. It is a possible future, but not one we will see under Biden, or any future US president, so long as the unelected interests determining their policy for them remain firmly in power.

Article References:

Reuters – U.S. stands with SE Asian countries against China pressure, Blinken says:

Council on Foreign Relations – Revising U.S. Grand Strategy Toward China:

Guardian – Four navy ships to help protect fishing waters in case of no-deal Brexit:

NEO – US “International Court” Ruling on China Falls Short:

Al Jazeera – ASEAN summit: South China Sea, coronavirus pandemic cast a shadow:

Council on Foreign Relations – Corporate Members:

Brookings Institution – Annual Report, Honor Roll (p. 43):

RAND Corporation – How We’re Funded:

CSIS – Corporate Donors:

Atlantic Council – Honor Roll of Contributors:

US News – Not Unusual: Members of Congress Often Don’t Read Bills:

PBS – WATCH: Antony Blinken’s Senate confirmation hearing for Secretary of State (full hearing):

US National Archives – Eisenhower’s “Military-Industrial Complex” Speech Origins and Significance:

Washington Post – CIA Organized Secret Army in Western Europe (1990):

The Guardian – US campaign behind the turmoil in Kiev:

New York Times – Who Really Brought Down Milosevic?:

The Guardian – The Chechens’ American friends: The Washington neocons’ commitment to the war on terror evaporates in Chechnya, whose cause they have made their own:

DW – European Parliament calls for halt on Nord Stream 2 construction after Navalny arrest:

US Senator Ted Cruz – Cruz Questions Secretary of State Nominee Antony Blinken at Senate Foreign Relations Committee:

US Senator Rand Paul – Sen. Rand Paul Questions Sec. of State Nominee Blinken on Regime Change – Jan. 19, 2021:

Atlantic Council – US poised to boost support for democracy in Belarus:

Brookings Institution – Which Path to Persia? Options for a New American Strategy toward Iran (2009):

Newsweek – A Plan to Overthrow Kaddafi (1981):

New York Times – U.S. Groups Helped Nurture Arab Uprisings:

US Senator Lindsey Graham – Graham Questions Antony Blinken at Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing:

US State Department, Office of the Historian – 342. Memorandum for the 303 Committee:

US National Endowment for Democracy – Thailand (2019):

BBC – Pompeo: US to lift restrictions on contacts with Taiwan:

Foreign Policy – America’s Pacific Century (2011):

Reuters – Biden will recognize Guaido as Venezuela’s leader, top diplomat says:

US Senator Marco Rubio – Rubio Questions Sec. of State Nominee Antony Blinken at Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing:

Bloomberg – Trump Blacklisting Jolts China’s Ambitions to Take on Boeing:

Reprinted with permission from 21st Century Wire.

Were the Capitol Rioters Really Libertarians?


In the accounts about the Trump supporters who attacked the US Capitol, the media have sometimes alluded to supposed “libertarian” connections. The Wall St. Journal calls Parler, the social-media network which, it says, “served as a hub for people who organized, participated in or celebrated the storming of the Capitol” a “libertarian-leaning social-media site.”

In the same story it reported that one of the participants (Rosanne Boyland) “joined at least two libertarian-leaning Facebook groups.” A New York Times story reported that some people “arrested in the riots have been linked to the Oath Keepers.” This organization was founded by a man who, the Times noted, “once worked as an aide to the former Representative Ron Paul, the Texas libertarian”—as if this fact helped explain his riot-inspiring role.

Of course, terms referring to political beliefs are rather broad, incorporating a range of views, but this connection is implausible. To call an ardent, violent Trump supporter a “libertarian” departs substantially from the traditional meaning of the term.

The confusion stems from two very different conceptions of what it means to be “against government.” In the typical partisan battle, the agitators are against the particular people in charge of the current government: they are challenging King George, Tsar Nicolas II, Nancy Pelosi. They do not question the idea of government itself. They believe that when controlled by people with good intentions—namely themselves—the government solves problems and improves the human condition. Once they displace the incumbents, the dissenters will set up their own government, giving it large, and growing, responsibilities.

The other conception of being “against government” is the position that government itself is not a moral, rational, and responsible problem-solving agency, no matter who tries to run it. Therefore, we should—prudently and thoughtfully—move away from our dependence on it. This is the libertarian perspective.

The Philosophical Roots of Libertarianism

Libertarian philosophers arrived at their skepticism from an examination of government’s basis of power. This is its use of physical force, its use of policemen, jails and gallows to (try to) fix social problems. They asked, is force a healthy foundation for reform? Is the initiation of force a healthy way to deal with problems like economic inequality, substance abuse, or the lack of education?

Almost as soon as these early thinkers raised this point, they realized that a negative answer was indicated. As William Godwin, one of the first libertarians, put it in 1793, “the calling in of force as the corrective of error is invidious.” This led him to the observation that “government, even in its best state, is an evil.” This theme was echoed by a number of 19th-century libertarians including the English philosopher Auberon Herbert. “Do you not see,” said Herbert, “that of all weapons that men can take into their hands force is the vainest, the weakest? In the long dark history of the world, what real, what permanent good has ever come from the force which men have never hesitated to use against each other?”

Another 19th-century libertarian was Henry David Thoreau. “The State,” he said, “is not armed with superior wit or honesty, but with superior physical strength. I was not born to be forced.”

A Better Way Than Force

Over the past two centuries, the number of activists questioning government because of its basis in force has grown, leading, in recent times, to the formation of dozens of libertarian think tanks, and a Libertarian party in 1971. The party’s Statement of Principles, adopted in 1974, incorporates this concern about force: “We support the prohibition of the initiation of physical force against others.”

In a two-century tradition, then, libertarians have established themselves as singularly opposed to the initiation of force as a method of achieving social or political aims. Of all people, they would be the last to participate in, or approve of, any kind of violent attack for political purposes.

At bottom, libertarians are a patient community, all too aware of the myths and excitements that swirl the masses into each new wave of big government involvement. And aware, too, of the vast complexity of human society, a complexity that tends to make centralized, coercive approaches to social problems dysfunctional.

Quietly, thoughtfully—and of course, peacefully—libertarians are trying to persuade their friends and neighbors that the path to healthy social relationships cannot lie in any kind of march on the US Congress.

Dr. Payne has taught political science at Yale, Wesleyan, Johns Hopkins, and Texas A&M University, and is a research fellow at the Independent Institute.

Reprinted with permission from the Foundation for Economic Education.

Would You Be Considered A Domestic Terrorist Under This New Bill?


After 9/11, the entire country collectively lost its mind in the throes of fear. During that time, all civil and Constitutional rights were shredded and replaced with the pages of The USA PATRIOT Act.

Almost 20 years later, the US has again lost its collective mind, this time in fear of a “virus” and it’s “super mutations” and a “riot” at the capitol. A lot of people called this and to the surprise of very few, much like after 9/11, Americans are watching what remains of their civil liberties be replaced with a new bill.

The Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act of 2021

The DTPA is essentially the criminalization of speech, expression, and thought. It takes cancel culture a step further and all but outlaws unpopular opinions. This act will empower intelligence, law enforcement, and even military wings of the American ruling class to crack down on individuals adhering to certain belief systems and ideologies.

According to MI Congressman Fred Upton: 
'The attack on the US Capitol earlier this month was the latest example of domestic terrorism, but the threat of domestic terrorism remains very real. We cannot turn a blind eye to it,' Upton said. 'The Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act will equip our law enforcement leaders with the tools needed to help keep our homes, families, and communities across the country safe.'
Congressman Upton’s website gives the following information on DTPA:
The Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act of 2021 would strengthen the federal government’s efforts to prevent, report on, respond to, and investigate acts of domestic terrorism by authorizing offices dedicated to combating this threat; requiring these offices to regularly assess this threat; and providing training and resources to assist state, local, and tribal law enforcement in addressing it.

DTPA would authorize three offices, one each within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), to monitor, investigate, and prosecute cases of domestic terrorism. The bill also requires these offices to provide Congress with joint, biannual reports assessing the state of domestic terrorism threats, with a specific focus on white supremacists. Based on the data collected, DTPA requires these offices to focus their resources on the most significant threats.

DTPA also codifies the Domestic Terrorism Executive Committee, which would coordinate with United States Attorneys and other public safety officials to promote information sharing and ensure an effective, responsive, and organized joint effort to combat domestic terrorism. The legislation requires DOJ, FBI, and DHS to provide training and resources to assist state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies in understanding, detecting, deterring, and investigating acts of domestic terrorism and white supremacy. Finally, DTPA directs DHS, DOJ, FBI, and the Department of Defense to establish an interagency task force to combat white supremacist infiltration of the uniformed services and federal law enforcement.
Those who read the bill aren’t so gung ho to shred the Constitution

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard has some serious reservations. In a recent interview on Fox News Primetime, Gabbard stated that the bill effectively criminalizes half of the country. (Emphasis ours)
'It’s so dangerous as you guys have been talking about, this is an issue that all Democrats, Republicans, independents, Libertarians should be extremely concerned about, especially because we don’t have to guess about where this goes or how this ends,' Gabbard said.

She continued: 'When you have people like former CIA Director John Brennan openly talking about how he’s spoken with or heard from appointees and nominees in the Biden administration who are already starting to look across our country for these types of movements similar to the insurgencies they’ve seen overseas, that in his words, he says make up this unholy alliance of religious extremists, racists, bigots, he lists a few others and at the end, even libertarians.'
Gabbard, stating her concern about how the government will define what qualities they are searching for in potential threats to the country, went on to ask:
'What characteristics are we looking for as we are building this profile of a potential extremist, what are we talking about? Religious extremists, are we talking about Christians, evangelical Christians, what is a religious extremist? Is it somebody who is pro-life? Where do you take this'
Tulsi said the bill would create a dangerous undermining of our civil liberties and freedoms in our Constitution. She also stated the DPTA essentially targets nearly half of the United States. 
'You start looking at obviously, have to be a white person, obviously likely male, libertarians, anyone who loves freedom, liberty, maybe has an American flag outside their house, or people who, you know, attended a Trump rally,' Gabbard said.
Tulsi Gabbard is not the only one to criticize the legislation

Even the ACLU, one of the weakest organizations on civil liberties in the United States, has spoken out. While the ACLU was only concerned with how the bill would affect minorities or “brown people,” the organization stated that the legislation, while set forth under the guise of countering white supremacy, would eventually be used against non-white people.

The ACLU’s statement is true.

As with similar bills submitted under the guise of “protecting” Americans against outside threats, this bill will inevitably expand further. The stated goals of the DPTA are far-reaching and frightening enough. It would amount to an official declaration of the end to Free Speech.

Soon there will be no rights left for Americans

In the last twenty years, Americans have lost their 4th Amendment rights, and now they are losing their 1st. All that remains is the 2nd Amendment, and both the ruling class and increasing numbers of the American people know it.

Dark days are ahead.

Reprinted with permission from The Organic Prepper.

The Situation is Hopeless, Just Hopeless

Soon people will be coming here to make documentaries about how we’ve been forgotten, about how nothing has been done.

— survivor of the Brumadinho dam collapse

Some call them ‘mountains of doom.’ Dotting the landscape of once-green Wales to this day are the stygian slag heaps resulting from centuries-old collieries, mammoth piles of debris that tower above the mining towns. They are cheerless sights, which one writer likened to “spiritless cathedrals of the industrial age.” As was proven in horror at Aberfan on October 21, 1966, these looming giants are killers.

— from the entry on the Aberfan landslide in Darkest Hours

I’ve been a disaster enthusiast since I was young enough to read. That might sound strange and gruesome, but I somehow got my hands on a massive tome of despair called Darkest Hours: A Narrative Encyclopedia of Worldwide Disasters by Jay Robert Nash. I was mesmerized by the horror, more visceral and terrifying than the movies that my Grandpa was the only one who would let me watch late at night; pictures of tangled metal cutting through flesh, searchers balancing precariously on rubble searching for survivors, grief on their faces, and rows of bodies covered in white sheets laying on cracked and crooked roads after an earthquake. The first entry is the tragic landslide in Aberfan, Wales, where a slagheap 800 ft. high was weakened, “releasing a two-million- ton torrent of rock, coal, and mud, which cascaded onto the Pantglas Junior and Infants School and 17 other buildings… crushed to death and buried alive were 145 persons, of whom 116 were children.” Stories like this profoundly shaped my view on the disasters we inflict upon the world and therefore ourselves, more than any statistics on things like carbon levels; I had no concept of that then and no use for them now.

I still harbor a passion for these stories, so when I heard about The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming by David Wallace-Wells, billed by one critic as “a terrifying polemic that reads like a cross between Stephen King and Stephen Hawking” (I hoped for more of the former than the latter), I was excited to see what the latest in climate change literature had to offer, and what it offers is an overwhelming accounting of humanity’s sins.

The book is divided into chapters that, like Dante, take us through different hells we are already experiencing, and describe punishments we can only begin to appreciate: heatwaves, famine, floods, wildfires, pollution, disease, economic collapse, and conflict. We’re talking destruction on such a scale that it is considered a hyperobject; a “conceptual fact so large and complex that, like the internet, it can never be properly comprehended.” That climate is something we have no control over is the cause of epidemics of distress and depression, which this book will not alleviate. Nor should it.

Anybody in the United States who has gone to see a therapist, psychiatrist, or other mental health professional has inevitably heard the positivity spiel. It goes like this: you go in for terrible depression, anxiety, or any number of conditions that are branded abnormal or deviant. Sometimes this is because of personal problems—grief over the death of a loved one for instance—or visual and auditory hallucinations, things that in the past been were the realm of shamans and witches, but are now efficiently exorcised through pharmaceuticals. However, more and more people are seeking help because of a deep existential crisis, which at its root is the state of the world.

The response of these experts is to dismiss your concerns as something to avoid thinking about (perhaps using behavior modification), something holding you back (from reaching your potential), and something that can be fixed (with the right medications). Becoming an empty shell is better, apparently, than feeling an emotional connection to the world, which in these times can only distress you. The last thing this society wants is for people to stop participating, by which they mean going to work each day and contributing to society. Panic attacks? There’s a pill for that. Nightmares? There’s a pill for that as well.

But maybe nightmares are real, and none of us can ultimately escape them. Everybody will be touched by the consequences of humanity’s hubris and ecocidal ways. Ultimately, this acknowledgment is what lies at the core of The Uninhabitable Earth.

Each climate-related event can be expanded on to reveal the terrifying details of what we have faced, are facing, and will face. It would have been nice for Wallace-Wells to get even more detailed with his descriptions. Perhaps it’s my penchant for the morbid, but the best example of this may be Luis Urrea’s The Devil’s Highway, which tells the story of a group of Mexican migrants who were found dead after being ditched by a coyote in the Sonoran desert. Tracing their path to disaster, Luis does not spare the reader, as the migrants weren’t spared on their trek to seek out a better life in a country hostile to their dreams. The description of their fate is stomach-churning. Here, he describes all six stages of heat death: heat stress, heat fatigue, heat syncope, heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. He describes each in detail. Consider the following, which is just one stage, the final one:

Your blood is as low as it can get. Dehydration has reduced all your inner streams to sluggish mud- holes. Your heart pumps harder and harder to get fluid and oxygen to your organs. Empty vessels within you collapse. Your sweat runs out.

With no sweat, your body’s swamp-cooler breaks. The thermostat goes haywire. You are having a core meltdown.

Your temperature redlines—you hit 105, 106, 108 degrees. Your body panics and dilates all blood capillaries near the surface, hoping to flood your skin with blood to cool it off. You blish. Your eyes turn red: blood vessels burst, and later, the tissue of the whites literally cooks until it goes pink, then a well-done crimson.

Your skin gets terribly sensitive. It hurts, it burns. Your nerves flame. Your blood heats under your skin. Clothing feels like sandpaper. Some walkers at this point strip nude. Originally, BORSTAR rescuers thought this stripping was a delirious panic, an attempt to cool off at the last minute. But often, the clothing was eerily neat, carefully folded and left in nice little piles beside the corpses. They realized that walkers couldn’t stand their nerve-endings being chafed by their clothes. The walkers stripped to get free of the irritation.

Once they’re naked, they’re surely hallucinating. They dig burrows in the soil, apparently thinking they’ll escape the sun. Once underground, of course, they bake like a pig at a luau. Some dive into the sand, thinking it’s water, and they swim in it until they pass out. They choke to death, their throats filled with rocks and dirt. Cutters can only assume they think they’re drinking water.

Your muscles, lacking water, feed on themselves. They break down and start to rot. Once rotting in you, they dump rafts of dying cells into your already sludgy bloodstream.

Proteins are peeling off your dying muscles. Chunks of cooked meat are falling out of your organs, to clog your other organs. The system closes down in a series. Your kidneys, your bladder, your heart. They jam shut. Stop. Your brain sparks. Out. You’re gone.

Wallace-Wells doesn’t see himself as an environmentalist, or even, as they say, a “nature person,” having grown up in cities “enjoying gadgets built by industrial supply chains I hardly think twice about.” He truly represents the average person in the West today and this is exactly who this book is for, because presumably none of this will be new for anybody reading this paper, who are already critical of civilization. That some pretty fringe ideas are being presented to a mainstream audience is what makes it important. Some of the names he drops will be familiar to many of you—James C. Scott, Robinson Jeffers, and Paul Kingsnorth to name a few. But to most these will be new names and new ideas, perhaps in a paradoxical way providing comfort—in a time where we can find little—by guiding us to new paths secreted away. That is, if you see the coming chaos and revenge of the wild to be comforting, with minds unclouded by the delusions identified by Wallace-Wells:

The slowness of climate change is a fairy tale, perhaps as pernicious as the one that says it isn’t happening at all, and comes to us bundled with several others in an anthology of comforting delusions: that global warming is an arctic saga unfolding remotely; that it is strictly a matter of sea level and coastlines, not an enveloping crisis sparing no place and leaving no life undeformed; that it is a crisis of the ‘natural’ world, not the human one; that those two are distinct and that we live today somehow outside or beyond or at the very least defended against nature, not inescapably within and literally overwhelmed by it; that wealth can be a shield against the ravages of warming; that the burning of fossil fuels is the price of continued economic growth; that growth, and the technology it produces, will allow us to engineer our way out of environmental disaster; that there is any analogue to the scale or scope of this threat, in the long span of human history, that might give us confidence in staring it down.

For each of these narratives, the author provides ample evidence to chisel them apart, using science and statistics to back them with examples from both micro and macro catastrophes. It’s a laundry list of climate horror you can’t ignore; readers are strapped down with their eyes pried open, forced to look at what we have brought upon ourselves. Nature’s ultraviolence, in the form of hurricanes, earthquakes, and other disasters.

Again, readers of the anarchist publication, the Black Seed, may feel this is tedious. More of interest to green anarchists is what Wallace-Wells has to say further into the book, where he talks about “the climate kaleidoscope,” beginning with a chapter on storytelling—one of the most important things that can be done by those of us hurting, fighting, and struggling to survive in this doomed society. Writing our own myths to counter those of the world-eaters is imperative, but no easy task considering our scant resources versus the vast majority of the global media.

One of the most damaging myths that haunts the new man, Homo industrialis, is the idea that surroundings of concrete, strip malls, air-conditioned cars, and heated homes have insulated mankind from the dangers of the natural world. We have not moved farther away from nature, on the contrary. In his brilliant and harrowing book, Toxic Archipelago: A History of Industrial Disease in Japan, Brett Walker describes this well:

the pain and suffering that remind us of our relationship to nature is caused by the modern technologies and engineered environments that are meant to shelter us from certain kinds of pain, meaning that, paradoxically, the more technologically driven modern life becomes, and the more alienated from nature it thus appears, the more we are reminded in painful ways of our timeless connection to nature…Our bodies are porous and easily insulted—easily industrialized—inescapably tied to the environments we inhabit; not only the food we eat but the air we breathe and the water we drink can prove dangerous. In this respect, modernity and its technologies and engineered landscapes have not distanced us from nature…

The stories in The Uninhabitable Earth also remind us that we are intricately linked to our surroundings. Poison the land, and we too are poisoned. Modern medicine will do everything it can to discover the resulting human diseases and treat them (as long as they can afford it, or to stem the tide of a cataclysmic epidemic). Scientists all over the world devoting their lives to discovering how to cheat death. From individual mortality to human extinction we are taught to fear non-existence, so people tighten their blinders until they can’t see their intimate relationship with the wild, and choose instead to continue believing they have overcome the kinds of problems other animals face, up to and including death. These ideas have played a large part in leading us to where we are today. There will always be consequences for our actions, and there’s no way to beat nature when we are part of it. Each new technology brings with it new possibilities for frightening events: consider a future in which it’s commonplace to hear about another electric vehicle exploding, or another self-driving car plowing through a crowd, adding to the already massive numbers of yearly vehicle deaths. One doesn’t need to think of nanotechnology and AI to see that where we’re headed isn’t going to be pleasant, especially when things already look so bleak.

Humans lost when they began dismissing omens of doom, and instead turned to numbers and experts. These numbers might tell us, for instance, that this many whales turned up with plastic in their stomachs, the weight of that plastic, and all the information that can be garnered from the corpse before it explodes spectacularly, cold reason masking the suffering of the magnificent creature. The 40 lbs of plastic is more than enough evidence that we have crossed the point of no return, and yet we collect and search through more and more data in a desperate attempt to find an answer that will magically fix the state the world is in. Why are people afraid to look? An article written by Wallace-Wells posted on the NY Mag website addresses this:

Why can’t we see the threat right in front of us? The most immediate answer is obvious:

It’s fucking scary. For years now, researchers have known that ‘unrealistic optimism is a pervasive human trait,’ one that, whatever you know about how social-media addicts get used to bad news, leads us to discount scary information and embrace the sunnier stuff.

And the generation of economists and behavioral psychologists who’ve spent the last few decades enumerating all of our cognitive biases have compiled a whole literature of problems with how we process the world, almost every single example of which distorts and distends our perception of a changing climate, typically by making us discount the threat.

So many remain optimistic, even though governments show no signs of implementing their own regulations. Even the extremely moderate proposal of the Green New Deal, a bill that was more symbolic than anything, was killed before ever being seriously considered by lawmakers (see the now infamous speech overflowing with memes by Senator Lee of Utah). By now we should know that these green energy solutions mean nothing except fatter wallets for those who invest in these scams. Ask the villagers in China who militantly resisted the building of solar panel factories. They know better than anyone that there’s nothing “green” about it. They are simply new technologies that don’t replace old tech running on fossil fuels, but are merely placed adjacent to them, creating an even larger footprint.

If you’re a pessimist, don’t expect to make any friends. It’s more likely you will be dismissed outright—slandered as defeatist or worse—when presenting someone with evidence that challenges their sunny dispositions about what humanity is and what it is capable of (we as a species have proven plenty capable of destruction). This is just more reason to push back against the crack of the activist whip that demands everybody do something, even though most of us realize that changes in, say, individual consumption, would have to be on a worldwide scale. If the hippies failed to conjure their worldwide awakening (proto-wokeness), what chance to these idealists have in this much more fragmented society that just can’t stop consuming at a rate unprecedented in human history? Their answers only rearrange the same logic of capitalism that created and supports these massive but unstable states to begin with.

There is a reason for the cult of optimism: it keeps people going. In an effort to prevent burnout you must have hope that you can make a change. Usually optimists, curiously, have no concrete solutions to the worst of the problems on the horizon, only judgement for those who they see as apathetic. Wallace-Wells distances himself from pessimism many times (e.g. “Each of us imposes suffering on our future selves every time we flip on a light switch, buy a plane ticket, or fail to vote. Now we all share the responsibility to write the next act.”) Not only does he describe himself as an optimist, he makes the claim that to be pessimistic about humanity’s prospects is to be apathetic to human and non-human suffering. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Brett Walker’s Toxic Archipelago begins with a horrific story of a pod of orcas becoming trapped between fast moving thick ice and the rocky coast. A mother, desperately, vainly, trying to protect her calf, was the only one to be rescued by locals. The remaining 11 were crushed, slashed and ripped apart by the jagged rocks, the sound of their screams breaking through the howling wind. Of course, when scientists performed necropsies, they found the PCBs and mercury detected in the blubber to be eleven times higher than normal for whales in Japanese coastal waters. He goes on to reflect on choosing this story to open the prologue:

I must confess that, partway through writing this book, when I heard the story of this destroyed orca pod, a darker tone began to permeate parts of my analysis and narrative. The image of a mother orca trying in vain to protect her deformed calf was hard to shake, particularly because I assume some blame, as a member of Homo sapien industrialis, for their destruction… I tried to exorcise the darker side of this book during later editing and rewriting, but I was unable or, quite possibly, unwilling to do so. No doubt, when they read the pages ahead, some of my colleagues will cry out, ‘He narrates environmental declension!’ And rightly so, I should add. But I remain unapologetic: I am a historian and I am calling it as I see it, and I see environmental decline and deterioration everywhere.

Unfortunately in the end, Wallace-Wells, even in the face of his growing collection of similar horror stories, suggests if we really cared we’d run to the voting booths posthaste. His point isn’t about purity, but about a sober assessment of the scale of change necessary, and I agree with Wallace-Wells that the only thing that would make even the smallest impact (using human suffering as the barometer here), is massive political engagement that would put enough pressure on the jugular of corporations and other profiteers of industry to choke them out, as no regular person on the street has any power to force the issue at all.

Is all this negativity just a sad and desperate plea to act now before its too late (as if it already isn’t)? For the pessimist, the answer is no. Pessimism has no solutions or answers to these disasters. However things change it won’t be for the better. Even places seemingly out of reach will one day face the wrath of the wild forces. Nature will cause more destruction than anarchists could ever dream of achieving, and she shows no remorse, no discrimination. Anybody is a potential victim. While some in the direct path at this juncture are most vulnerable, even the well-off—who can simply rebuild or move entirely—will suffer. There might not be any perilous journeys for them across deserts and oceans to reach safer land, but rest assured they won’t be able to evade the inevitable cataclysms to come.

Most people have no time, or are unwilling to listen to prophets of doom these days, being stuck in front of glowing screens and working to survive. And when people finally leave their jobs they want to come home to binge Netflix, not read about the latest climate horrors. Hell, they know if they wanted to there’s no reason to even check the headlines. One can simply walk out into the city and see that suffering and death is all around us, and that we suffer ourselves, every day, from civilization’s debilitating effects, both psychological or physical.

Calamity and its “invisible undermining of self,” also undermines our ideas of reality. Charles Darwin, after experiencing an earthquake in Concepcion, Chile, wrote: “A bad earthquake at once destroys our oldest associations: the earth, the very emblem of society, has moved beneath our feet like a thin crust over a liquid; one second of time has created in the mind a strange idea of insecurity, which hours of reflection would not have produced.” This is what can be called “nature’s agency;” a reminder that Homo industrialis, despite seeming omnipotence as it builds skyscrapers higher and higher, is actually pitifully weak in the face of nature’s strength. Ultimately, we aren’t in charge. Is this fatalism? Perhaps, but maybe that is better than being in denial of the storm on the horizon. Coming to accept this means giving up control to the chaotic forces of the wild, where we will drop to our knees in awe of its power, relinquishing our stolen crown.

The post The Situation is Hopeless, Just Hopeless first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Ugly Yankee: Washington Continues To Bully Mexico on the Drug War


A nasty spat has emerged between the US and Mexican governments about alleged official corruption and drug trafficking. The latest incident began on October 16, 2020, when US authorities arrested Mexico’s former defense secretary, Gen. Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda, at Los Angeles International Airport on drug trafficking and money laundering charges. Cienfuegos Zepeda was a major player in Mexico’s military and political affairs, leading the country’s armed forces for six years under former president Enrique Peña Nieto (2012-2018).

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s government protested, contending that Washington overstepped its authority and arguing that the allegations against Cienfuegos Zepeda were flimsy, at best. Lopez Obrador himself accused the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) of "meddling" and failing to take any responsibility for its own long-standing relationship with the general. The case took an unexpected turn on November 17 when the US Justice Department, apparently responding to Lopez Obrador’s complaints, abruptly withdrew the charges and returned Cienfuegos Zepeda to Mexico.

But US drug warriors were not content to let tensions subside. Instead, they threatened to revive the prosecution of Cienfuegos Zepeda. The Justice Department and the DEA were especially upset when the Mexican government released details from shared documents that indicated just how flimsy Washington’s case might be. Angry US officials were adamant that they didn’t appreciate such unilateral efforts at transparency, and they hinted darkly that the move might jeopardize relations. Lopez Obrador responded with renewed, pointed criticism of Washington’s growing pressure. He also escalated his own criticism of Washington’s corruption allegations against Cienfuegos Zepeda, now accusing the DEA of "fabricating" the charges.

This was hardly the first time that US leaders adopted bullying tactics toward Mexico (as well as other countries) about aspects of the drug war. It also seemed more than coincidental that the new round of pressure coincided with Mexico’s growing receptivity to decriminalization of drugs, including legalization of marijuana cultivation and recreational use. DEA and other committed drug warriors are not happy about that development.

Indeed, the tone-deaf quality of the Trump administration’s conduct toward Mexico on the drug issue was striking. Admittedly, the level of drug-related violence in Mexico has reached alarming proportions, as I have documented herehere, and here. But US leaders steadfastly refuse to accept the reality that the growing strength of the violent Mexican drug cartels is the inevitable result of the lucrative consumer black market that Washington’s own drug prohibition policies have created.

Instead, the Trump administration pressured the Mexican government to further militarize its response to the cartels. At the moment that Mexico appeared to be adopting a less militant approach to the issue of illegal drugs, Trump published a tweet stating that "this is the time for Mexico, with the help of the United States, to wage WAR (sic) on the drug cartels and wipe them off the face of the earth. We merely await a call from your great new president! [Lopez Obrador]" He added: "If Mexico needs or requests help in cleaning out these monsters, the United States stands ready, willing & able to get involved and do the job quickly and effectively." It was not entirely clear what Trump was offering, but it appeared to be at least CIA counterinsurgency assistance and perhaps even a direct role for US troops. In any case, Lopez Obrador politely but firmly rejected the offer.

Key congressional leaders clearly had a more extensive US security role in mind. In two interviews on Fox News, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) warned ominously: "If the Mexican government cannot protect American citizens in Mexico, then the United States may have to take matters into our own hands." Cotton did not seem overly concerned about whether the Mexican government wanted greater US involvement.

Washington’s abrasive behavior toward Mexico (and other hemispheric neighbors) has a long, dirty history. One graphic example occurred in 1969, even before President Richard Nixon formally declared a "war" on drugs two years later. Washington sought to obtain Mexico’s cooperation for a new program of US aerial reconnaissance of suspected drug fields and for "chemical crop destruction" efforts. At a bilateral meeting in June 1969, Nixon administration officials presented Washington’s "request." Watergate conspirator G. Gordon Liddy, one of the Treasury Department high-level officials at that meeting, recalled what happened. "The Mexicans, using diplomatic language of course, told us to go piss up a rope." The Nixon administration, Liddy emphasized "didn’t believe in the United States’ taking crap from any foreign government. Its reply was Operation Intercept."

That measure was the application of a maximum-right-to-search policy at the border. Soon, traffic and commerce between the two countries ground to a halt. Cars (and especially large trucks) were subjected to detailed searches, and delays at border crossings ballooned to 6 hours or more in 100 degree heat. Not surprisingly, Mexico soon capitulated to the US policy demands. Liddy was candid about the exercise. "It was an exercise in international extortion, pure and simple, designed to bend Mexico to our will."

The recent incidents indicate that while the tactics may have become a little less crude, the underlying objective remains the same. So, too, does the underlying arrogance and bullying mentality. Drug warriors continue to be the quintessential Ugly Yankee.

Reprinted with permission from

Pelosi Declares That The ‘Enemy Is Within The House of Representatives’ In Call For More Security


House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been attacking Republicans members as traitors in a continuation of the reckless rhetoric from the last four years on both sides. Despite a desire for greater unity from voters, Pelosi has sought to capitalize on rather than close those divisions while other Democrats are calling for blacklists and retaliatory measures. The Speaker has now doubled down on these attacks by claiming that the need to increase security is due in no small degree to the “enemy within” in reference to the Republican ranks. As with her prior conduct as Speaker, Pelosi continues to refuse to recognize any obligation to the institution in seeking consensus and reconciliation.

Pelosi declared on Thursday that there is an obvious need for a “supplemental [budget] for more security for members when the enemy is within the House of Representatives — a threat that members are concerned about in addition to what is happening outside.”

Such language obviously thrills many who want to portray any opposing voices as traitors and seditionists. It has been rhetoric building for years as the more leaders and academics engage in the politics of personal destruction. The idea is to avoid responding to actual positions by labeling the opposition as actual traitors, criminals, and threats. It is the very signature of this age of rage in American politics.

The members are legitimately debating the issue of members carrying permitted weapons in Congress or on the House floor. Pelosi made direct reference to one such member. There has also been criticism of a member, Rep. Greene, for her inflammatory statements on social media. Far enough. Those issues can be addressed and Republicans have denounced Rep. Greene. However, even when confronted by reckless accusations against a member who was reportedly showing her own family around the Congress, Pelosi has doubled down on the rhetoric of treason in reference to Republicans generally. It precisely the type of rhetoric that many of us condemned when used by former President Donald Trump.

I have commended President Biden for his statements about the need to end the language of division and personal recrimination. Recently, he repeated that call and said that politicians need to “eliminate the vitriol” and stop that “the ad hominem attacks on one another.” He objected to people who “make anything that you disagree with about the other person’s personality, or their lack of integrity, or they’re not decent legislators, and the like. So we have to get rid of that.”

I like the demeanor of Biden as president. However, as the President was making those comments, Speaker Pelosi was engaging in the very vitriolic language that he condemned. It will not end unless Biden calls out people in his own party and demands a lowering of such rhetoric. His words continue to be drowned out by the words of his own party’s leadership.

Reprinted with permission from

‘Post-Trump Fallout’ – With RPI’s Daniel McAdams

On this week's 21WIRE LIVE host Patrick Henningsen speaks with director of the Ron Paul Institute, Daniel McAdams, about the current political upheaval in America - the hyperbolic rhetoric, partisan purges, and mass censorship. When and where will it end? Can the Republic withstand the full centralization of power in a one party state? All this and much more:

West’s Navalny Hypocrisy a Gas


The day after opposition figure Alexei Navalny was arrested in Moscow last week on his return from a provocative and prolonged decampment in Germany, Western media fell over themselves to condemn his detention.

In its online edition, the US government-owned Radio Free Europe news outlet ran seven articles dedicated to Navalny out of a total of 21. One of the top RFE articles openly called for Russian people to take to the streets to demand the release of the activist.

Last weekend, the US embassy in Moscow published detailed street maps of planned protests under the guise of advising American citizens on what areas to avoid potential trouble with law enforcement officers.

As it turned out, several protests held in over 100 Russian cities did turn violent with several thousands arrested by police. The Russian government says these rallies were unauthorized and illegal, and therefore the authorities had the right and duty to contain them for public order.

One thing is clear, however, Navalny and his supporters are being facilitated by brazen Western interference in Russia’s internal affairs.

Can you imagine the hue and cry if, for example, the Russian embassy in Washington had published maps of the Capitol buildings prior to the January 6 violent assault there by Trump supporters? Or if the Russian embassy in Netherlands published details over the weekend of demos against the Covid-19 curfews the Dutch government has imposed?

Can you imagine further the hysteria among Western governments if Russian media had published articles actually calling people out on the streets?

That’s the chasm of hypocrisy we are seeing with regard to Navalny.

The European Union parliament is calling for sanctions against Russia in support of this dubious agitator. Some European states – Poland and the Baltic countries, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – are demanding that the Nord Stream gas pipeline from Russia must be cancelled.

All this anti-Russia furore ignores Russian sovereignty and laws. When Navalny fled to Germany last August, more than five months ago, claiming that he was poisoned with a nerve agent by alleged Kremlin assassins, he spent most of his sojourn orchestrating a false-flag media operation making sensational claim after sensational claim of Russian government evil-doing.

Not only that but he was assisted in his provocation by Western governments, intelligence and corporate media in spinning the story that he was poisoned with a chemical weapon. No evidence has ever been presented to verify such a claim. Indeed a recent report by John Helmer shows how European authorities have actually suppressed any attempt to obtain sample data concerning the provenance of allegations about Navalny being poisoned.

Nevertheless, on the back of mere assertion and innuendo it has been peddled assiduously by the West to the point where the Russian government stands accused and condemned.

When Navalny returned to Russia from Germany on January 18, the Russian federal prison service had already warned him that he had gravely breached the terms of a suspended sentence for a serious fraud conviction in 2014. More especially because during his stay in Germany, Navalny engaged in a foreign-sponsored media plot to accuse President Putin, the Russian head of state, of attempted murder.

The so-called anti-corruption campaigns run by Navalny and his confreres are long suspected of being funded by the US State Department and related Western spy agencies. He is a point-man in Washington’s attempts to subvert the Russian state by fomenting social unrest in the classic mode of American-inspired “color revolution”. The European states typically go along with Uncle Sam’s desires as they did in Ukraine in 2014, especially the rightwing Polish and Baltic countries who suffer from intense historical Russophobia.

But it seems obvious that the precipitating factor for the recent push with Navalny is the Nord Stream-2 gas project.

Washington has been piling pressure on the European Union over the past year to abandon the gas pipeline. Poland and the Baltic states which are most vociferous about the Navalny case are also most vocal in demands to cancel Nord Stream-2. The suspicion is they have been bought off by Washington with concessions for arms deals or subsidized future US supplies of Liquefied Natural Gas.

Despite sanctions to disrupt construction over the past year, Nord Stream-2 has resumed in recent weeks the final phase for completion involving finishing some 50 kilometers of pipe-laying to the German coastline in an overall 1,225-km route from Russia. The €10 billion project will double the supply of Russian gas to the EU.

From a strategic political and commercial viewpoint, the Americans are crazed by this partnership between Europe and Russia. Navalny’s bizarre poison story and subsequent media agitation is central to halting the Nord Stream-2 project.

So desperate is Washington to sabotage the pipeline that it is now throwing full pelt all its efforts at inciting a color revolution in Russia. The hypocrisy is astounding considering the shrill and unfounded accusations the Americans level at Russia about interference.

But so too astounding is the stupid servility of European governments and media who entertain the American agenda. Germany in particular. Germany wants and needs Russian gas as it phases out dirty coal and nuclear power. Yet Berlin has indulged the Navalny nonsense with double standards and duplicity in flagrant affront to Moscow.

Western hypocrisy is a gas.

Reprinted with permission from Sputnik.

And now what ?, by Costantino Ceoldo

Trump's defeat in the race for the second term as US President has brought American foreign policy back on apparently already known tracks. If, on the one hand, The Donald was the first American president in 30 years to not start a war, on the other hand Joe Biden was in that same administration whose President Obama, useless Nobel Peace Prize winner, did not hesitate to destroy Gaddafi's Libya under a hurricane of bombs. Plunging Syria into the abyss of a proxy war that has lasted for nine very long years. Exporting democracy in Ukraine by fomenting a Nazi coup d'état that triggered in a defensive key the Russian annexation of Crimea and the secession of the Russian-speaking regions of (...)