Category Archives: Opinion

Inspired and Inspiring, Young People will Change the World

We are living amongst the largest generation of young people in history; young people who are better educated, better informed and more widely connected than ever before. Around 42% of the world’s population is under 25 years of age, 25% are under 15 – that’s 1.8 billion. The largest group is in South-East Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, where the median age is only 19, compared to 38 in America, and an ageing 45 in Germany, Italy and other parts of Europe.

This huge army of young people is cause for great optimism; they are more politically and socially engaged and certainly more environmentally aware than previous generations, are less conditioned by ideologies, and despite the widespread notion that anyone under 35 is self-obsessed and uncaring, in many cases they are the ones leading the global charge for change. They abhor dishonesty, don’t trust politicians and rightly believe that unity and tolerance of others are essential to right relationships and social harmony.

Many feel frustrated at the state of the world they have been born into, are angry with inept politicians and unaccountable international institutions, and enraged at the environmental vandalism that is taking place throughout the world. Anger and disillusionment has led to committed engagement among large numbers of young people throughout the world; they swell the ranks of the global protest movement forming the vanguard at demonstrations for action on climate change, demanding social justice and freedom, rational changes in US gun law and an end to austerity and economic injustice.

They formed the driving force behind what were arguably the two most significant social/political movements in recent years: the Arab Spring and the Occupy Movement, and whereas in the past young people have been less engaged than older generations in voting and party activism, this too is changing – in Britain, for example, the Labour party, with an overall membership of 504,000 – the largest in Europe, has over 100,000 members under 25, and they are extremely active.

As well as demonstrating, working on environmental campaigns and human rights issues the impulse to contribute to the local community is strong, and many act upon it: a survey made by the Royal Society of Arts in Britain found that a staggering “84 percent of young people want to help others,” and that “68 percent of young people have participated in volunteering or other forms of social action.” These statistics reflect the high level of social responsibility that exists in countries throughout the world amongst this generation. The study also revealed that whilst there is a strong desire to bring about large scale change, working locally to support someone in need – befriending, or helping an elderly person with their shopping, for example – is recognized to be of enormous value.

It is a generation brought up with social media and, according to The Millennial Impact Project, they use it alongside traditional forms of participation.  Millennial’s “interest in the greater good is driving their cause engagement today, and their activism (or whatever you want to call it) is increasing.”

Inspired and Inspiring

Appalled by the level of inaction and the scale of the crisis, large numbers of young people have committed themselves to the environmental cause. One of the most inspirational forms of climate change activism is the Schools Strike for the Climate initiated by 15-year-old Greta Thunberg. Following a record-breaking summer, in August 2018 Greta began a solo protest for climate change outside the Swedish parliament in Stockholm. Every Friday since, instead of going to school she sits outside her country’s parliament: she has vowed to “continue to do so until [world] leaders come into line with the Paris agreement [on climate change].”

Apathy is often disguised by arguments of individual inadequacy in the face of the scale of the problems confronting humanity. Well, a loud answer to such feeble excuses is Greta Thunberg’s one-girl protest; following her example hundreds of thousands of school children around the world have staged their own School Strike for the Climate. Although all teaching bodies should support the actions, some don’t, and whilst disappointing, their view is largely irrelevant; what matters is that teachers, along with politicians, big business and the general public pays attention to what these young people are saying: keep fossil fuels in the ground, invest in renewables, live environmentally conscientious lives; it is our future you are destroying, act now before it’s too late.

The man-made environmental crisis is the result of a certain way of life, an approach to living that places enormous value on material wealth, on image, pleasure and success. It is, we are told, a ‘dog eat dog’ world in which only the ‘strong’ survive. This fear inducing view has polluted life, fueling social division and widespread mental health conditions, particularly amongst under 25 year olds. In November 2017 the World Youth Parliament met in Beijing to discuss, ‘Interpersonal Relationships: Keys for a new Civilization’.

In their conference report they call for the creation of a kinder, friendlier society. They extol forgiveness, which they describe as the “most sublime and integral form of love” and make clear their view that the current “competitive culture (which places our goals against the goals of others) and the wrong use of technology” is detrimental to human well being. And they should know: as a result of the ‘competitive culture’ and the pressure to ‘achieve’ – in education, in a career and socially – unprecedented numbers of young people are suffering from anxiety and stress, panic attacks and depression, leading some to self-harm and suicide.

Despite being conditioned into competition by an outdated education system, which is designed to train compliant workers, not free-thinking creative individuals, young people instinctively recognize that cooperation, not competition is an integral part of human nature, and that working collectively for the common good is the best way of dealing with the many challenges facing humanity. It is, in fact, the only way we will overcome the various crises confronting us; unity is the way forward and young people know this.

The future belongs to the 3 billion or so under 25 year olds of the world, many of whom are inspired and inspiring. If we are to collectively overcome the challenges facing humanity we need to listen to what young people have to say, to draw on their energy and dynamism; they are in tune with the times, are overflowing with creativity and are a powerful voice for change.

U.S. Thugs warned Russia and Venezuela: They have to be stopped

Enough is enough! There have been plenty of empty talk and peace conferences, more than enough of begging: “Please, West, stop murdering people, stop your genocides, stop robbing all continents of their resources, stop enslaving billions!”

Look where it has ended up! Nowhere. Absolutely nowhere. The more people begged, the more they protested, the harder the West hit.

Rulers in Washington, London and Paris have no mercy. They have no sense of justice. They only know greed and power.

On February 13, 2019, RT reported:

The US staked a claim on half the world, as Senate Armed Services Committee chair Jim Inhofe said Washington might have to intervene in Venezuela if Russia dares set up a military base not just there, but “in our hemisphere.”

“Our hemisphere”!

Finally, it is all out in the open. The good old ‘Monroe Doctrine’. In the Western Hemisphere (which is obviously owned by the U.S.), there is not one single ‘Latin’ country where the West has not overthrown the government, where it has not raped the will of the people, where it did not stop socialism. From the Dominican Republic to Chile!

Do you know why we have fascism in Brazil, Colombia and elsewhere? Because our left wing leaders have either been murdered, or imprisoned.

The record of human rights violations is monstrous. The cynicism of what has been going on is equally repulsive.

And now, Washington basically warns Russia and others: Do not dare to come close and help your friends and allies in the region! Just stay back and watch from a safe distance, how we rape one country after another. And if you dare to intervene, we will hit even harder at the victims. We will not only violate Venezuela: we will kick her with our military boots, we will put bullets through her arms and legs, chain her as we did the African slaves who built our country! We can do it, because Europeans, those colonialists whose blood circulates in our veins, and those South American elites, who are of the same stock as we are, would again sit in their cafes and on their couches, enjoying the show, applauding us from distance!

This should be the last drop. No, no more words, please. Action! This banditry, this terrorism has to be stopped.

Mr. Trump, Mr. Inhofe, damn you! People are not cattle and they are not slaves. You wish they were, but they are not! You treated them like animals, you fooled them, robbed them of everything; you and your kind, for decades and centuries. But even you yourself must be aware of this, or at least suspect: all this atrocity has to end; one day, very soon!

RT commented:

Inhofe said that a flow of Russian troops or weapons into the Western hemisphere “would be a threat to the United States of America.” The United States, meanwhile, reads from a different rulebook.

The US maintains nearly 800 military bases in over 70 countries worldwide, with a foothold on every continent. And, while Inhofe wants to keep an entire hemisphere free from Russian influence, the US is currently in talks to establish a permanent military base in Poland, right on Russia’s doorstep. Given the long history of animosity between Poland and Russia, the Polish government has offered to cough up $2 billion towards setting up the base.

Further afield, no hemisphere is beyond the reach of the United States. The US military divides the globe up into six Combatant Command ‘Areas of Responsibility,’ which it maintains in times of peace and war. Russia, meanwhile, divides its territory into four military districts, all within its own borders.

Who agreed on this sick double standard? Who gave green light for this terror? France, Germany, U.K. and few other Western countries/beneficiaries? Is this what China wants, India accepts?

Venezuela is our sister. It is the sister of Russia and Cuba, of Iran, Bolivia and even China.

This is truly a decisive moment.

Compromises and weakness of the past broke the neck of the anti-imperialist struggle; compromises during the Gorbachev and Yeltsin eras led to the destruction of Afghanistan, of Yugoslavia, Iraq and several other countries. History should never repeat itself!

Reason is not what can be expected from the West. It controlled the entire world through colonialism, and it now tries to do the same by imperialist thuggery.

If it is not stopped, it will again subjugate our entire planet.

Russia, Cuba, China, Iran and others have to defend Venezuela! If necessary, they should fight for it! Decent people and decent countries should not negotiate with brutal and merciless bandits. They should not be told by brigands what to do and how to behave; what actions to take!

There should be no double standards anymore if we want our humanity to survive.

For years and centuries, the West has been pushing; it is trying to see how far it can go and what it can get away with. If it is not stopped, it will take it all. If non-Western countries do not fight for their rights in unison, protecting each other, they will go back to where they used to be – to slavery. It is not a fantasy – just look at the world map of the very beginning of the 20th century! We have already had this situation on our Earth before.

In Venezuela, if we have to fight, we will be fighting for Johannesburg and Moscow, Beijing and Havana, for Teheran, Damascus and Mexico City. We will be fighting against oppression, slavery and colonialism.

Thank you for your honesty, Mr. Inhofe! Your words sound very familiar: we heard them before, in London, Paris, Berlin and Pretoria.

And this is our reply to you: you are not a global policeman, you are simply a thug who has to be stopped! And sooner than later, humanity will curse you, and your bloody imperialist degeneracy will be put to an end!

Living Like It Matters

We actually do not have all the time in the world, so I am going to be bold.  What you do after you finish reading this is your business and ultimately, that is exactly as it should be. We may all be facets of a larger Oneness, tiny sparks of the Divine dwelling in human form, but for the moment—allowing the potential truth of a larger connection–we are very clearly individuals, each with our own experience and outlook. We have our own ways of coping and to some extent, each of us charts a unique course through this life. We are often granted some choice about how we live and how we die, though most of us vastly prefer to focus on the former.

Even there, we tend to let life happen, getting pulled from one urgency to another amusement without full consciousness of how we spend the time. “Where did the time go?” is a plaintive query, often-expressed. “Time flies!” When you are having fun, when you are busy, when you aren’t fully present.  Life happens to us more often than most of us would like to admit.  But still, we can always meet it–our life—where we find it today and choose differently how we experience the flow of time, how we interact with the circumstances we have been given and crafted for ourselves.  Such is the beauty of being alive.

As for dying—it is arguably the biggest taboo in first world cultures.  Whereas nearly every shamanic tradition teaches students the imperative of carrying death close by at all times, we’re not so comfortable dealing with it in the West, and thus we lose out on a lot of life.  Without death whispering in our ear, reminding us that our time is finite, it is easy to just let life happen.  And then, time flies and we don’t know where it went.

Never has it been more urgent to consider how we live and how we die.  We have—as individuals and a species–made serial choices about how we live, many of them unconscious and often without all the facts. But the sorrowful reality is that in a world of cause and effect, those choices have led us right up to where we are today, at least waist-deep in the sixth mass extinction. We stand right at the edge of the end of much that we have known and taken for granted.  It is my sense that most of us understand this in our bones, in our old reptilian brains, in what remains of our intuitive connection to the rest of life here on Earth. And, we are–in larger numbers–beginning to pay intellectual homage to the facts. They are overwhelming and increasingly hard to ignore.

So, on the one hand, there are more and more people acknowledging that we are pretty thoroughly screwed, that time has run out and there is no change we can make big enough to avert disaster. On the other, while there is clearly a lot of fear and grief out in the world, plenty of panic and the kinds of behaviors that arise in reaction to dire threat, these expressions tend not to be connected consciously to climate catastrophe. Projected on to anything but the mess we’ve made and don’t have the will to fix, we get pretty excited about protecting ourselves from taxes, Mexicans, Venezuelans, Cuban crickets, Palestinian children with rocks, vaccinations, as well as people who don’t vaccinate their kids, and, of course, Donald Trump and his gang of feckless thugs. The list goes on.  Add your own favorites.  Anything but the big kahuna.  The final finale.  Anything we think we might actually be able to solve, change, neutralize.  Our frailty is exposed here, and by avoiding consciousness of the imminence of catastrophe, we miss out on the chance to live as fully as we can, while we can.

No one knows for sure how long we have.  No one ever does, but we try to make reasonable assumptions and operate from there.  Estimates for the timing of civilization’s demise now range from a pessimistic year or two to an optimistic eighty or so, though nearly every day a new and often ‘shocking’ study announces that planetary degradation is happening much faster than previously predicted. From what I can glean, ten years might be a fair guess.  Not so long.  And for some, the wild and so-called ‘natural disasters’ have already come calling.  Maria in Puerto Rico, Paradise and the Polar Vortex have all claimed plenty of lives, thrown countless others into chaos. If I am wrong and the Arctic starts to freeze over again, the rain fills shrunken aquifers in the Central Valley of California, the oceans recede a few feet and vulnerable islands are reclaimed—well, then, I am in error and will gladly suffer the ridicule.  But if I, and many others better qualified to make the assessment, are not wrong, we don’t have that much time left to consider: how do I want to live?  And…possibly more helpful: how do I want to die?

Last week, I attended an informal gathering at a friend’s house in Berkeley, just ahead of a KPFA- sponsored talk on climate change by Dahr Jamail and Antonia Juhasz entitled ‘Is Our Earth in Hospice Mode?’  Joined only by our understanding of where the Earth is heading, everyone there was ‘post acceptance,’ far along the path of their own personal climate collapse journey. It bears noting that although some of these people would probably describe themselves as ‘doomers,’ I haven’t been in a room with as much joy, gratitude and laughter in a long time.

After sharing a potluck meal, we sat in a circle and talked about living and dying.  Not surprisingly, each of us had thought about how we wanted to engage with the time remaining, the time, however long or short, between now and ‘then.’  As we took turns talking, it emerged that some of us are focused on cultivating gratitude and looking for joy in the gifts of each day, each breath, each connection.  Others are prioritizing ways to be of service or finding the right means to stand in solidarity with the Earth. Checking items off bucket lists came up a number of times.  A few of us spoke of having work and family obligations that keep us simply putting one foot in front of the other, caught between an old paradigm and the gnawing awareness that it is not sustainable.  Predictably, being with loved ones and in nature were critical to many in the room.

Then we turned to our impending deaths, to our considerations of the manner and timing of our departure from this life.  It was a conversation far outside the bounds of normalcy, a discussion that could only happen in such extraordinary times. Listening to fifteen relative strangers lay bare how they imagine they will face their final days or hours was a profound experience.  The range of responses was broad, from a plan to hole up with a rifle to protect the last food and water, to a desire to choose a moment and check out intentionally before personal control has been completely forfeited.  Some of us admitted to stashing Nembutal while others have caches of rice and dried beans and bottled water.

One young person spoke of his ‘kit,’ which includes plenty of candy bars and tequila, along with a solar charger so he can spend his last days able to look at photos of family, friends and happier times.  Pure comfort.  Another man, who acknowledged that he had not been able to delve into this question before, found himself in tears.  He remembered the transcendent beauty of the time he spent, years ago, with a woman he loved, helping her to live while she died, laughing and crying together, enlivened and awake, during her last months.  He knew then that this was what he wanted to do with his grandchildren, all the way up until the last breath.

Despite what might seem to be a macabre topic, there was no despair in the room.  In fact, I think it safe to say that we all experienced some lightening, some lifting of mental weights, some new space cleared for joy. The opportunity to be totally honest with other human beings about something so important, so deeply personal and yet so widely silenced by our society was both freeing and energizing.  Overall, none of us want to die, but we are facing head-on the likelihood that we will.  Before our time, as it were.

A friend and I had already been conducting an exploration of our own death-desires over the past few months, meeting every couple of weeks to map out possible scenarios and trying to understand how we would ideally respond to each one.  In the end, the ‘plans’ are loose and full of holes; too many variables to account for.  But the process has been illuminating, allowing each of us to become clearer about our values and the things we want to remember when crisis arrives.  Just for illustration, I honed in on my truth that if given the option, I want to go out sharing with others, vulnerable and possibly a lot sooner, rather than sequestered and parsing out sardines and peanuts in order to eek out a few more days or weeks for myself and my family.  Since I have no idea what adventures lie ahead, I may or may not end up being able to act upon this, but I feel immensely more at ease, having gone to the mat with my survival instincts to see just how powerful they are. My friend’s truths are very different to mine in content, but he too was able to identify some of who he really wants to be in a time of crisis, as well as the challenges he faces in doing so. Knowledge in this case may not be power, per se, but it is unquestionably empowering.

Because I—and most of us– live within the duality of current reality, largely unchanged, and the foreknowledge, at some level, of massive tumult, this exercise often felt a bit surreal.  My life proceeds much as it has, yet death is now firmly ensconced on my left shoulder and for that, I am grateful.  It speaks to me: don’t miss a moment, choose the life you really want while you have the chance, don’t waste time on things you know don’t really matter. Having a framework for how I want to approach my death frees me up to live more authentically and with greater integrity and intention so long as am granted to live.  I am, paradoxically, more here since I have let myself contemplate the time when it will no longer be so.

Each of us must navigate the uncertainty and upheavals ahead in our own way, following our personal compass.  But for anyone who has reached a point of acceptance that their days are numbered, whether it be as a result of climate collapse, political chaos and war, or just the relentless advance of years, two big questions inevitably arise. How shall I live what is left?  And, how do I want to die when the time comes?  My experience, which echoes wisdom handed down through most mystical traditions, suggests that attending to the latter first provides essential guidance for understanding the former.  My life—whatever remains of it—is inestimably richer for having taken the time to investigate how I want it to end. I find that I’m living bigger and bolder, not holding back, not waiting for some mythical time in the future when perhaps it will be easier to do so.  I want to live as I want to die, sharing with others despite the risks.  In all honesty, I feel some trepidation writing this piece, speaking openly about death-designing to an anonymous audience. I am fairly sure that it will disturb more than a few who read it, and yet the old fears that would have stayed my hand in the past now seem less needful than the impulse to connect honestly as time grows shorter.

Clearly, there can be no one right way to live in these times; the waters are uncharted.  We will do what works for us. Denial, grief, gratitude, hope, anger, depression, action—who is to say which of these each of us must traverse, for how long and in what order?  But I share a fragment of my journey simply as an invitation: if it feels right to you, consider diving deeply into the truth of our collective and individual realities, facing your mortality and that of those you love. Death offers wise and consoling advice if you have the courage to listen.  And that courage is quite likely to be rewarded with a life more precious, richer, and ironically, that much harder to bid farewell.

Is it worth it?  I can’t answer for anyone other than myself, but we can probably agree that this situation seriously sucks. Given what is, and what almost certainly lies ahead, I find myself heartened and even hopeful, not about the quantity of my life, but about the quality of it. I feel very fortunate to have found this small silver lining, the goad I needed to finally be here now.

Trust Nothing

Utilizing the power of celebrity (an unprecedented phenomenon for the expansion of capital in the west), today’s global influencers such as Thunberg, are fully utilized to create a sense of urgency in regard to the climate crisis. The unspoken reality is, they are the very marketing strategy to save capitalism. This is a very “inconvenient truth”.

Cory Morningstar and Forest Palmer

And we will move forward to our work, not howling out regrets like slaves whipped to their burdens, but with gratitude for a task worthy of our strength, and thanksgiving to Almighty God that He has marked us as His chosen people, henceforth to lead in the regeneration of the world.

— Albert T. Beveridge (Speech in the Senate. “Congressional Record”, Senate, 56th Congress, 1st session,1900)

The old Lakota was wise. He knew that man’s heart away from nature becomes hard…

Luther Standing Bear

I want to try to tie together several societal and cultural trends that have been developing beneath the surface (or at least beneath the surface most of the time) for several years. One thing that the Trump presidency seems undeniably to embody is a kind of seismic shift into open fascism — a shift that is global in nature. This is not to suggest that Trump is anything other than a continuation of what came before, but that the very forces that brought the Donald to the Presidency have also made visible the tendencies toward fascism globally.

This is the age of marketing. Only that age began forty years ago, more or less, so this is now the age of hyper marketing or ultra marketing. And that all topics and concerns, literally everything, from education to policing to surveillance to nuclear disarmament, to green or ecological concerns, to politics (sic) to gender and race are all in service to further a total indoctrination of the populace (meaning mostly, but not exclusively the West) and a way to protect capital and solidify the power of the ruling elite. And perhaps it’s not exactly to protect Capital so much as to set the stage for a post capitalist new feudalism.

The global landscape now features in Brazil (5th most populous country on earth) a new openly fascist president in Jair Bolsonaro. This is a man who openly admires Hitler, and suggests he’d kill a son if he found out he was gay. Not to mention his adoration of Israel and bromance with Bibi Netanyahu. (contradiction you say?.. on the surface yes, but perhaps not if one examines all this more closely). Bolsonaro wants to sell off the rain forest, and has all but issued a mass death warrant to indigenous tribes and activists protesting the denuding of the Amazon basin. In India, the second most populous nation on earth, Modi has defined himself and his party the BJP as a nativist neo fascist authoritarianism.

…while we don’t have a fascist nationalism which was in Germany, what we are witnessing is semi-fascist nationalism along religious sentiments.

— Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd, The Hindu, June 2017

In Hungary there is Victor Orban, and across Europe are a host of nativist ultra reactionary racist politicans; Geert Wilders in Holland, Matteo Salvini in Italy, or AfD political leader Alexander Gauland in Germany who dismissed Nazi era rule as mere “bird poo” in an otherwise spotless history of German triumph. Or Jimmy Akesson of the Swedish Democrats, or Jussi Hallo Aho of the Finns Party in Finland, or the crack pot religious fanatics of the Law and Justice party in Poland (close with Orban’s party) or, in some ways, the most pernicious of the new reactionary neo fascists is Kristian Thulesen Dahl, head of the Danish People’s Party, a svelte well tailored and hip new fascism growing in legitimacy in the formally tolerant Scandinavian country. Dahl, a Knight of the Danneborog, likes to call his party “an anti Muslim party”. Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen, from the ostensively center right Venstre Party (it’s not, it’s full on reactionary) is almost equal to Dahl in his xenophobia. The previous Prime Minister (Anders Fogh Rasmussen) left the post in 2009 to head up NATO. (!) A position that then was taken by former Norwegian PM Jens Stoltenberg (Labor Party). So here we have these supposedly liberal politicians eagerly rolling over and piddling themselves, on command, from the US joint chiefs.

Running beneath all of these “anti immigration” parties is a revanchist colonial mentality. And that’s the point. The corporate media provides cover by stressing that immigration is a ‘real’ concern. The very framing of this question is just another tactic in the rehabilitation of fascism. Never is any mention made of *why* there is an immigration *problem*. And if an aside is voiced it never targets US.and NATO Imperialist wars but rather suggests this is a clash of civilizations thing, echoing the seemingly forever durable Samuel Huntington meme. The fact that all that post 9/11 anti Islamic mythology has been debunked matters not at all. It doesn’t matter because people in the West WANTED to believe it — it reinforced a fantasy that they had clutched to their psychic bosoms long ago. The infidel, the barbarian hordes, and the uncivilizable tribes that threaten that bastion of civilization, white Europe. None of the anti immigration parties now on the ascendent in Europe has voiced opposition to US and NATO military affairs. Victor Orban (Fidesz Party) is rapidly coming to seem Europe’s answer to Donald Trump, or perhaps the new Berlusconi.

90% of all newspapers and media in Hungary is owned by Fidesz party loyalists. And Orban has drastically rewritten the constitution to allow himself enlarged powers. Not for no reason has Steve Bannon called Orban the most exciting politician in Europe. Also note, the Fidesz Party began as an anti-Communist youth group.

But the point is that those lurid drawings of the caves in Tora Bora or videos of dogs being gassed…as practice….or the yellow cake in Niger…were lapped up like milk in the U.S. The photos of Abu Ghraib came and went.

In the U.S. there is now a shifting away from the acute individualism of the ‘snowflake’ privileged and a reforming in the guise of a nostalgia laden colonialist or slave owner. And if you think that an exaggeration then just remember Bill Maher’s tirade last week where he referred very approvingly to the Monroe Doctrine and mentioned Venezuela as part of “our back yard”. I mean, it is stunning, it really is. The new colonial is replicated in another guise by the Israeli military. As I have noted before the IDF no longer bothers much with the ‘most moral army in the world’ argument and just cuts straight to hyper efficient killing machine and overlords of their region. They are applauded as such, too.

In my anecdotal experience the last few weeks I have had countless social media interactions in which my interlocatur was young(ish) white and reasonably well off financially. And two things have emerged as through lines: one was an indelible and core racism. Especially anti black racism, and a clear tendency toward antisemitism. And second, a refusal to surrender privilege. The white privilege is more protected than ever, psychologically. And with that comes an outright refusal to criticize US policy — unless it is viewed as Trump’s policy. And often these two things are buried. They are deeply entrenched, though. I would wager that a vast majority of white America is unmoved by the achievements of the Innocence Project. Freeing black men is simply not something white people can get behind. But it is also the return of the mid 20th century hagiographic adoration of cowboys, the frontier, and rugged individualism. And with hunting. Now there is also a growing anger. I mean, people are losing their lives. Families live under freeway overpasses. There are no jobs. And a new desperation is gripping the nation.

So intersecting then, are this new material desperation and a nostalgic self definition that includes Billy the Kid and Wyatt Earp, as well as an open embrace of teen symbolism and a kitsch nostalgia for the past as created by Hollywood — 70s styles, or 80s styles, etc. Anything but the present. For there is no style to the present. There is only escape from it. And the ruling elite are not unaware of all this either. Both major parties have the same identical goals. Both protect their privilege and both strategise ways or campaigns to capitalize on the discontent they see around them. (Enter Alexandria Ocasio Cortez. And not to beat this drum again, but the woman is a cretin. The examples are countless. But she remains telegenic and so desperate are people, liberals, to find a new standard bearer, that her gaffes are simply ignored.). The marketing of new candidates meant to suggest “change” is less effective than it was for Obama in his initial run. But it still works. But something else is behind all this. And that is touched on most acutely and brilliantly by Cory Moorningstar in her exhaustive 4 part series The Wrong Kind of Green.

And this is really, for me, something that has been nagging at me during those insomnia hours before dawn. Nagged at me while taking long walks ….and that is how the Ecological and Environmental Crisis is being marketed. And from that, how to process or trust the various conflicting alarms that are a constant now. And for many on the left to even say this much is dangerous. When I wrote that piece on Green Shaming I had started to touch on the outer husk of this, but Cory Morningstar and Forest Palmer did simply extraordinary work in researching the mechanisms of exploitation involved in the construction of a new grammar and style for this false Green awareness. The environmental crisis, all too real, is viewed as just another business opportunity. Only it’s more than that, too.

Now when I say it’s an age of hyper marketing, it is useful to really remember that almost everyone who is visible in media is being handled. Or “handled”. Everyone. EVERYONE. And nothing is ever what it seems, if it is visible to the mass public. It is an age in which the very idea of trust has been so eroded as to be almost anachronistic.

Fifty years ago Adorno warned of empty activism. And today that warning has migrated to green actions. It is worth bringing in Venezuela here, as another kind of example. Max Blumenthal wrote in an exhaustive piece on Juan Guaido, that…

While Guaidó seemed to have materialized out of nowhere, he was, in fact, the product of more than a decade of assiduous grooming by the US government’s elite regime change factories. Alongside a cadre of right-wing student activists, Guaidó was cultivated to undermine Venezuela’s socialist-oriented government, destabilize the country, and one day seize power. Though he has been a minor figure in Venezuelan politics, he had spent years quietly demonstrating his worthiness in Washington’s halls of power.

—Max Blumenthal, Grayzone, January 29, 2019)

He was manufactured, much as Goldman Sachs and the IMF and other establishment banking entities manufactured Macron. In fact, it’s the way, on a larger denser and more complex level, Barak Obama was manufactured. It’s the same structural composite that results in the marketing of Pussy Riot or pick any of a half dozen (at least) child victims of US/NATO wars. In fact much of the persuasion of public opinion comes out of invented narratives that either are starkly revisionist or simply never happened. Jessica Lynch was a branch of how that works. But the US and UK (in fact, this is something of a UK specialty) produce just oodles of eye witnesses or “real” Syrians, or Libyans or Haitians or Iraqis or Venezuelans. Much as at one time the manufacturing of eye witnesses to Milosevic’s cruelty were all over the place. And the fact that nearly always these fake “authentic” voices cannot keep their stories or facts straight doesn’t matter –for exactly the same reason it didn’t matter OBL wasn’t in those Tora Bora caves, the ones that didn’t exist.

This brings me back to the Cory Morningstar and Forest Palmer in-depth article. The link is here:

But one of the key targets for Western green business has been the global south, and in particular Africa. Not surprising that the US military also “pivoted” to Africa (sic) under Obama.

Gore, with a net worth of approx. 350 million dollars, pays much lip service to subjects of inequality, wealth disparity and poverty. Thus, it is useful to actually take a look at what the much hyped green energy revolution actually looks like, when played out in real life and exactly who is being served by the so-called “green revolution”. M-Kopa Solar – “Power for Everyone” is a pay-per-use solar power provider (in the form of solar kits) created for impoverished African countries by white uber rich capitalists. The countries thus far include rural Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. M-Kopa is the brainchild of Jesse Moore (CEO), Chad Larson and Nick Hughes —who helped develop M-Pesa, which has more than 19 million users in Kenya. Included on the M-Kopa board of advisors is Colin Le Duc, a founding partner of Generation Investment Management and the Co-CIO of Generation’s growth equity Climate Solutions Funds. Other investors/lenders/partners include Shell Foundation and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. At this juncture, before we continue, it is vital to note that in 2015, M-Kopa estimated that eighty percent of its customers lived on less than $2 (USD) per day. By 2015, M-Kopa had reached over $40 million of revenue.

Naomi Wolf wrote not too long ago…“When citizens can’t tell real news from fake, they give up their demands for accountability bit by bit.” But I think that is actually almost too optimistic. People want to believe mythologies that sanctify their own privilege. And this identity-based thought structure, one dimensional by its very nature, then promotes what amounts to a 21st century kitsch mythos. Or as Margaret Rosler said, “people want the fake”.

I am suggesting, in short form, that history matters. And it matters on several levels. Which is why it is being erased. This was a slave owning country in which 12 presidents owned and worked slaves. It was built by slaves and by indentured Chinese workers and it produced Manifest Destiny, a belief in American territorial expansion regardless of the cost. It was at least partly driven by Christian zealotry, and partly by greed. But also by a violence and cruelty which seems to have been the fusion of a variety of factors both historical and cultural. The public wants to find stories that flatter them and provide some, however fleeting, sense of their own significance and power. No country on earth produces men as insecure as the United States. And today, amid the waste of a destroyed union culture, and dead manufacturing base and loss of steel and auto makers…the U.S. worker is forced further and further into a fantasy laden infantilism. This is the world that goes to celebrate the life of sniper Chris Kyle, an unbalanced borderline sociopath and serial liar, at the Houston Astro Dome. This is much of the culture of the flyover states. It is racist at its core, it is aggressive, driven on by deep lacerating insecurities, and it is despises and distrusts intellect and education. The other large group is the city dwelling white liberal, college educated, and today, confused, alienated, suffering serious fertility failures and increasingly medicated with psychotropic drugs and anti depressants. This is much of the target audience for new green marketers.

One might think that if someone were conscious enough to recognise that global ecology was compromised and that pollutants were destroying fresh water, and the land, and that global warming was quite possibly going to make huge swatches of land non arable — you might think that person would look for solutions in a political frame. After all it was global capital that had brought mankind to this historic precipice. But instead, many if not nearly all the people I speak with, frame things in terms of personal responsibility. Stop driving big diesel SUVs, stop flying to Cabo for vacation, stop eating meat, etc-. But these same people tend to not criticize capitalism. Or, rather, they ask for a small non crony green capitalism. I guess this would mean green exploitation and green wars? For war is the engine of global capitalism today. Cutting across this are the various threads of the overpopulation theme. A convenient ideological adjustment that shifts blame to the poorest inhabitants of the planet. And here you find Bill Gates and other NGOs working to “help” the developing (sic) nations through population control.1

Jacob Levich writes…

The Rockefeller Foundation organized the Population Council in 1953, predicting a “Malthusian crisis” in the developing world and financing extensive experiments in population control. These interventions were enthusiastically embraced by US government policymakers, who agreed that “the demographic problems of the developing countries, especially in areas of non-Western culture, make these nations more vulnerable to Communism.”2

And this raises yet another question. The wrong kind of green, to put it in Morningstar’s term, is one that is all about the protection of capitalism. Green anti communism. There are links here between AVAAZ, and Otpor, and the USAID and National Endowment for Democracy and Freedom House et al. The world of NGOs has grown in both size and power.

…the evil empire Buffett, Gates and Rockefeller built in the private sector is mirrored in the evil networks of NGOs they — along with Clinton — have constructed to provide cover for widespread environmental devastation, ethnic cleansing and Indigenous genocide committed by their corporate investments. Using bagmen like Tides Foundation in cahoots with magicians like Bill McKibben at 350 dot org, and sleight-of-hand artists like Tzeporah Berman at Tar Sands Solutions Network, Buffett, Gates, Rockefeller and Clinton have become thick as thieves in producing political theatre to distract us from the parade of refugees in their caravan of doom.”

— Jay Taber, Wrong Kind of Green, October 2013

Hollywood acts as an arm to this media intoxication when it comes to the military. Watch virtually any action, sci-fi or suspense movie these days and notice how militarism is seamlessly laced through most of the plot lines. Military hardware is easily available for these productions. Soldiers are almost always cast as virtuous. And this also demonstrates the strain of pernicious authoritarianism within American culture. FBI and CIA agents, detectives, prosecutors, all of them are portrayed with an air of troubled, perhaps flawed, but intact unassailable nobility.

— Kenn Orphan, Counterpunch, 2019

There has been a rightward shift in nearly every field one can find or think of. Recently in Norway I read this…

A majority in Parliament asked the government in 2015 to replace its appeals court jury system with a combination of professional and lay judges. Now the historic reform has taken shape, reports newspaper Aftenposten. Instead of having a 10-member jury decide on guilt or innocence in Norway’s most serious criminal cases, they’ll now be heard in Norwegian appeals courts by two professional judges and five lay judges chosen from the public. The reform changes the way cases have been decided for 130 years.

— News in English Norway Aftenposten

In other words, this is a shift toward a bias for conviction. Two judges will simply determine the case and manipulate or bully if need be, the citizen jurors. The change was made because juries were increasingly found to be unable to follow the complexity of many cases. Lay another gold star on the destruction of public education in Europe and North America.

The racism of most Americans can be tracked, too, in how they digest mainstream propaganda about Venezuela. Many feel kinship with Maher’s position. This is OUR backyard. How dare that uppity “dead communist dictator”(to use Bernie Sanders description) Chavez deign to GIVE us free heating fuel and gas. The presumption. For many this was like the help talking back. Americans by and large are quite indifferent to the accuracy or not of the demonizing of official US enemies. From Castro to Milosevic to Aristide to Assad and Gadaffi …to the DPRK or Mao or Hugo Chavez. As the national front used to say in England…’the wogs start at Calais’. For white America there is always a residual racism and Puritanism at work in their thinking.

Also, one sees the confusion in anti nuke protests. Dennis Riches has done great work in compiling info and arguing the case. He wrote:

If this recent anti-nuclear drive actually succeeded in getting the nuclear powers to ratify an international treaty declaring nuclear weapons illegal, the world would be left with the United States undeterred with a vastly predominant power in conventional weaponry. Intercontinental ballistic missiles would be refitted with precision conventional bombs capable of putting any nation on earth back in the Stone Age within a matter of weeks. This was already achieved with the attacks in attacks on Serbia (1999), Iraq (1991, 2003~) and Libya (2011). All of these were illegal under international law, which raises the question of how the international community would enforce compliance with a new international law banning nuclear weapons. In addition to the fact that international law is ignored continually during so-called peacetime, Russell and Einstein pointed out in their 1955 manifesto that treaties banning nuclear weapons would be abrogated the minute world war breaks.

— Dennis Riches, Lit by Imagination, a blog of Dennis Riches

In other words, nuclear disarmament is seen through the lens of American exceptionalism. Nothing happens in a vacuum.

Secondly, insofar as it breeds in itself tendencies which— and here too we must differ—directly converge with fascism. I name as symptomatic of this the technique of calling for a discussion, only to then make one impossible; the barbaric inhumanity of a mode of behaviour that is regressive and even confuses regression with revolution; the blind primacy of action; the formalism which is indifferent to the content and shape of that against which one revolts, namely our theory. Here in Frankfurt, and certainly in Berlin as well, the word ‘professor’ is used condescendingly to dismiss people, or as they so nicely put it ‘to put them down’, just as the Nazis used the word Jew in their day.

— Adorno, Letter to Marcuse, 1969

Adorno was wrong in much of what he did in that later period (calling in the cops for one). But there is a seed of truth in his complaint, too (the Ocasio Cortez phenomenon is evidence of this, I’d say). Much of today’s green left seems profoundly uncritical of the US state department apparatus for propaganda and its infiltration (or creation) of NGOs and activists groups. Or just the predatory capitalists of Al Gore’s Generation Investment…

At this juncture, seeing as we are being led to believe that “sustainable investments” are the pathway to solving our planetary crisis, it might be wise to ask in what sustainable corporations Generation Investment is investing. Generation Investment has created a focus list of some 125 companies around the world in which it invests not based on how sustainable the business is, but rather, “on the quality of their business and management”.

Generation Investment’s portfolio and investments include multinational corporations with horrendous records of malfeasance, such as Amazon, Nike, Colgate, MasterCard, and the Chipotle restaurant chain, with heavy investments in health and technology. And as all of these corporations are heavily invested and/or dependent on fossil fuels, how an investment firm can justify investing in these companies is anyone’s guess. Generation Investment board members include eco-luminaries such as Mary Robinson, a former president of Ireland and the founder of nonprofit Mary Robinson Foundation. Robinson serves as president to Richard Branson’s B Team, which is managed by Purpose – the public relations arm of Avaaz.

— Cory Morningstar, The Wrong Kind of Green

The problem with discussions of global warming and the destruction of the planet is that so much of that discussion has been coopted by Capital. And it’s often very difficult to quickly know who to trust. One response I get a lot is, well, YOU have to change. This I take it means doing all kinds of feel good greeny things. And yet none of what I can do is going to matter to Bolsonaro as he burns down the Amazon. For that is political. And he is a fascist. And when Bernie Sanders and Ocasio Cortez, or Elizabeth Warren or Kamala Harris sign off on the coup in Venezuela, this is not and cannot be separated from the occupation of Afghanistan or the slaughter in Yemen, or mass incarceration and a violent militarized domestic police. The deep colonial Orientalism of American culture is tied to how one must start to talk about the environment. They are not separate issues. Sanders, besides slandering Maduro and the Bolivarian Revolution, also trashes the BDS movement. What is one to make of this, exactly? And yet his popularity stays intact.

Any green change starts with the overthrow of capital. And that means that it rejects all military activity by the U.S. and NATO. Global warming drove the apocalyptic California wild fires last summer. But thirty or forty years of urban building, of the wrong shrubbery being planted, and crowded subdivisions intensified the fires. And, the practices of fire prevention.. paradoxically made those fires much worse.
Building in or near fire-prone forests has also led to fire prevention land management practices that paradoxically increase fire risk. For instance, policies for preventing wildfires have in some areas led to an accumulation of the dry vegetation that would ordinarily burn away in smaller natural blazes. “The thing that gets missed in all of this is that fires are a natural part of many of these systems,” said Matthew Hurteau, an associate professor at the University of New Mexico studying climate impacts on forests. “We have suppressed fires for decades actively. That’s caused larger fires.
— Umair Irfan, Vox, December, 2017
The frame is not to protect nature but to protect property, and that leads to problems.
The short equation then is this: if it’s a business opportunity, it’s not going to help anything. And if you find yourself on the same page as the US state department and Pentagon you might have to step back and take a breath. The supreme irony is Democrats in particular, who continue to drive the Russia-gate story, having no problem with getting rid of Maduro and replacing him with — for the moment — Juan Guaido. But the real purpose behind the attack on Venezuela is to get rid of socialism in ‘our back yard’. Getting massive oil reserves is a nice bonus but the priority is to turn back the so called Pink Tide. Much as Yugoslavia had to go, so does Venezuela. With Bolsonaro, and Macri in Argentina, and Ivan Duque in Colombia, the forces of reaction are being put in place. (It is worth noting that while Trump’s cabinet is stocked with Domionists, the Supreme Court has had a heavy influence of Opus Dei members and that in Brazil Opus Dei rules the third largest bank…fascism and religion are always intwined). And for white America, this feels almost nostalgic. Adding Elliot Abrams to the mix only heightens that nostalgic feeling. For this suddenly feels like Reagan’s America again. Cowboys and the frontier — and the shining light on the hill. Only now, it all takes place, this kitsch B western, in the shadow of global ecological crises. Crises caused by Capital. By Wall Street and an elite class of 2% that owns more than the bottom 50% of the planet. By a system of exploitation in which human suffering is a foundational component. It’s just like Reagan’s Norman Rockwell fantasy, except now with an all child cast.
The political spectacle is now narrated by ten year olds. Bana Al-Abed is only the latest in this line of manufactured wag the dog props for the Western spin machine. The White Helmets are another branch of the fake. Absolutely invented, only in their case of a particularly grave robber morbidity. The aforementioned Pussy Riot, and AOC is in a sense another version of this. Young lithe and almost (!) childlike. Certainly not fecund and maternal. For that is a threat. Americans see the world as a Hollywood period film. Bring back the Casinos in Havana, that’s so romantic. Same as the Romanoff balls were romantic. Same as colonial salons from Calcutta to Singapore were romantic. An afternoon tea on the verandah at the Raffles Hotel, now those were the days. Nostalgia is a safe psychic retreat now. Even if it’s all make believe. In fact, there is a strange psychic disposition that desires the fake. That wants the artificial. I think it is perhaps fake is associated with fantasy, with the world as if it is a children’s book.
American’s idea of politics is also shaped in large measure by Aaron Sorkin’s West Wing. This is probably not even a tiny exaggeration. This is the vision and fantasy of the educated liberal class in America. But for all their self described tolerance and progressiveness, they will still vote for those Democrats who want a coup in Venezuela and who signed off on all of Trump’s defense spending increases. For the bourgeoisie always side with fascism. That’s simply a fact. In the end they will side with the authoritarian and far right wing, and protect their small corner of the sandbox. And even if one tries to explain that sandbox may well become a sweatshop — they seem undeterred. In the end the liberal press will embrace Bolsonaro, too. As they now do Bush Jr, and well, Elliott Abrams. Negroponte can’t be far behind. The plan is clearly to rehabilitate fascism. Globally. The School of the Americas is due a feature film, no doubt.
  1. See Depa Provera and other reproductive health services.
  2. Aspects of India’s Economy, No 57, 2014.

We Don’t Need A New Deal: We Need A Whole New Deck

The gap between the earth’s wardens of wealth and the nearly eight billion humans under their control has grown wider and more dangerous, but is beginning to be understood by some as a systemic problem and not simply a matter of evil leaders and villainous followers. When people see and feel their futures ranging from problematic at best to non-existent at worst, we get the resultant turmoil and changes taking place in nations moving in many directions at once but all of them against established power over things as they are.

Whether votes are cast in elections labeled democratic though still under minority control, or issues are subject to mob rule of one extreme or another, they are producing governments at least rhetorically dedicated to change even if often dangerously confused or in merely cosmetic form. Nevertheless, those demanding change beyond simply continuing the rule of market forces under minority control are starting to move up and into more commanding roles in governments. Unfortunately, and especially in America, many still operate as though political change amounts to the candidate’s skin tone, religion or sex, neglecting the philosophy between their ears by concentrating more on the genitals between their thighs.

Thus we have working people going to the polls and electing representatives of wealth operating against their interest but rhetorically speaking of change, which may mean reverting to earlier forms of capital private profit which still leave the public good in poor condition, or worse, sinking into megalomaniacal rule under populists (?) promising to dump even more wrath on those at or near the bottom. Meanwhile, more social democratic forms of capital rule which see the need for avoiding revolution by sharing a little more with the multitudes beginning to loudly complain, are also moving into positions of governmental power. This lesser evil of earlier stages, once called a “new deal” at capitalism’s last sign of collapse, is now dubbed a “green” new deal, in the face of   massive environmental threats only denied by the brain dead among private profiteers, as in the old days when realistic capital supported social democracy even while the troglodytes of capital insisted it was dreadful socialism.

This dichotomy still exists between those who would save the system that most benefits a minority rather than transform it into truly expressing the desires and needs of the majority. Neo-liberal-conservative elements panic at the thought of real democracy enabling all people to survive without having personal trust funds, family inheritance, or earning the salary rewards of work performed on behalf of those with personal trust funds and family inheritance. Rhetorical rule has managed minds into believing in ideals of democracy while materially accepting imitations that don’t even come close.

While national uprisings against despotic tyranny are important parts of past history, the present situation in which a global consciousness is growing that humanity and not just one or another national or identity group must move in the direction of taking control is a new experience for the race. It is being opposed more strongly by the beneficiaries of market forces under the control of creatures akin to gods by comparison to ordinary mortals as the dangers grow more serious. Among the brighter signs are progress towards ending the empire of the west but weaponry beyond imagination controlled by warriors beyond belief threatens humanity as never before.

The reactions coming from global GHQ of international capital are indicative of hysteria bordering on dementia tending towards stark raving insanity. And this from both sides of the ruling coin, with conservatives blathering about socialism and genocidal democracy resulting from wimpy policies merely asking how so few can be so rich while so many are so poor, and what passes for a liberal left more concerned for scandalizing a president and whining about an alleged Russian menace while debt approaches 22 trillion and Israel all but owns the white house and congress. Almost daily screeching about the alleged treachery of the present occupant at the white house, intrigue emanating from the Kremlin endangering all of humanity, and other stories captivating to prisoners of consciousness control threaten to create lynch mobs out of decent people and mass murderers out of frightened crowds.

The solutions offered by many in the face of environmental degradation are all to often connected to the political economics that have created that condition, hoping to somehow clean up filth by covering it with nicer dirt. Thus we have solutions to carbon pollution proposed that charge a price for creating it to somehow limit its production, which is like combating rape by charging a fee for its performance. When we need to totally transform the environment from one dependent on fossil fuel to one running on natural forces like air, wind, water and the sun, too often private profit is expected to do the job when that fanatic focus is already threatening the public good more than at any time in the past.

Back in the 19th century, many social critics warned of what might happen to the earth and its people if the social system of industrial capital continued. Karl Marx was foremost among them and his analysis went beyond anyone else’s and still holds true. They all understood that minority rule based on inherited power and the wealth it controlled was a menace but its newest form, not yet labeled capitalism, was the most malevolent yet. We live in the age in which it has become more obvious to hundreds of millions whose everyday lives are filled with misery and deprivation while a tiny group absorbs most of society’s wealth and shares a bit of it with a class of well paid servants who play the role of pacifying the populace from taking any political action or destroying it in wars when it does.

Whether at Vegas, on the Riviera, or at card tables run by religious groups, when the house seems to be winning even more than usual, one of the gamblers will call for a new deal. This simply means re-shuffling the deck so that cards appear in a slightly different order. At extremes, someone will demand a new deck, but even this only means new cards will be used, but with all of the same suits and numerations as the old. This is the problem with allegedly trying to call for “new” proposed solutions but without moving from a private profit first system to one that demands the public good as primary. Society needs to demand a new deck with different cards, removing the old ones like poverty, war, and racism and replacing them with peace, humanity and the common good. Continuing to reshuffle the old or even replacing it only with new forms that change immaterial labels but maintain material substance will only work to appease some until the next breakdown.

The one coming may be worse than any before, and global action needs to be taken with humanity connected as never before. It is not only possible but necessary, which is why the owners of the Casino are working hard to see to it that all dealers remain under their employ, in governments all over the world, and why citizens and nations must ultimately cross boundaries not simply to escape poverty and war in one place by hiding in another, but to live together in another kind of world which will only arrive if we create it. The next period will hopefully show that we are capable.

Discipline Will Remain…or Will It?

Last October, Philip Hammond, the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, in the annual federal budget speech to the UK Parliament, said this: “Austerity is coming to an end, but discipline will remain.”

Talk about Orwellian doublespeak. The truth about austerity is that it is a means of social control, or as Hammond put it, discipline. Hammond’s recent comment is completely illogical. Austerity is economic discipline. Really, it’s just a way of making the poor suffer more, while continuing to bail out the rich every time they implode the economy.

It’s rare that the titans of finance slip up so well, and so egregiously with their language, but it happens, this being an excellent case study. Now we know, straight from the source, just what economic experts, being mouthpieces of multinational corporations, really want, just as much or even more than “austerity”: discipline! Or, another way of putting it, they want austerity, except we aren’t supposed to realize that we live in austerity anymore…or at least don’t try and resist. These people want a normalization of austerity, until we just accept that this is the way it is.

A cursory look at the upcoming UK budget shows more of the same: billions to update the nuclear weapon systems, continued cuts for many government ministries, cuts to Scotland when considering inflation rates, a cap on total welfare spending, with a few crumbs for their Universal Credit benefits, etc. All of this is happening while homelessness is rising dramatically (up 169% since 2010).

So what kind of discipline is Mr. Hammond really talking about? A writer for VICE (one Simon Childs) succinctly summed it up:

In the end, Spreadsheet Phil went with ‘Austerity is coming to an end but discipline will remain’. So it’s not ‘over’, it’s ‘coming to an end’, at some point. But ‘discipline’ will remain – for which you can read ‘austerity’. So really, that’s, ‘Austerity is coming to an end but austerity will remain.’ If that sounds contradictory, that’s because it is. Austerity is a decade-long ideological project which has seen poor and working class people pay for the financial crash through cutting the supposed largesse of the welfare state. The government is trying to loosen spending up a bit while the effects of that project become even more stark.

As many commentators have pointed out, austerity is not based on any rational sense of finance or macroeconomic forces: it is an ideological mission, a moral argument stemming back to the Puritan/Calvinist and social Darwinist worldview. If you’re poor, it’s your fault, and all one has to do is pull oneself up by your bootstraps. Societal and systemic forces which consistently lead to high unemployment, substandard education, lack of social support structures, and stagnant wages are never addressed. What better way to keep people “disciplined” than to offload public spending onto the citizenry? Thus forcing private citizen, especially the poor and middle class, to pay more for essential services: this has predictably led to an explosion in college and personal debt.

The super-ego always judging itself produces a type of mental enslavement and has now engulfed the globe in late-stage capitalism. We are taught to always blame ourselves because we are not marketable, don’t keep up with technology, aren’t innovating or learning life skills to keep up in a gig/service economy with rising rates of poverty, which also is hollowing out all social forms of purpose and collective belonging.

The US educational system is complicit in this, since this is the first public institution most of us enter — a regimented oppressive nightmare of one-size-fits-all deluges of mostly useless information, where children are always competing and one-upping each other with grades, achievements, etc. As long as we were obedient little drones who raised our hands to ask questions, sat when told to, repeated the pledge of allegiance every day, and in general were (with our parent’s complicity) spoon-fed lies, omissions, and distortions of historical, scientific, and sociological facts, we could one day participate in adult life successfully. Of course, the more obvious sites for adult coercion and brainwashing barely need mention: jails, churches, mental institutions, large corporations, federal bureaucracies, etc.

The history of public education in our country is a history of indoctrination, or something worse, of which the horrors are so great they cannot be put into words, if one examines the African American or Indigenous histories of schooling. Modern schooling is freaking twelve years of boot-camp for the adult world of bio-psycho-social alienated labor. There is no use denying or getting around this fact.

The psycho-somatic beatings endured become embedded in our minds and the trauma is relived and has been passed down, generation to generation. This has created a militaristic society yet also a pacified and slavish one, which submissively bows down before capitalist/imperialist/colonialist systems of hierarchy. We are the “docile bodies” that Foucault spoke of.

We’ve been molded for the purpose of fitting into (increasingly mentally damaging) forms of labor. The stress of daily work in the US has almost completely precluded any serious resistance. I cannot stress this enough: as bodies synchronizing the finely-tuned engine of capital, we are poised to destroy ourselves and the majority of species on the planet if we continue down this path.

Once again, surprise surprise, the language we use has been beaten into us, and is a formidable weapon in the arsenal of capital. There’s a humorous anecdote in this Monthly Review article by Rebecca Stoner, spotlighting John Patrick Leary:

When General Motors laid off more than 6,000 workers days after Thanksgiving, John Patrick Leary, the author of the new book Keywords: The New Language of Capitalism, tweeted out part of GM CEO Mary Barra’s statement: ‘The actions we are taking today continue our transformation to be highly agile, resilient, and profitable, while giving us the flexibility to invest in the future,’ she said. Leary added a line of commentary to Barra’s statement:

‘Language was pronounced dead at the scene.’

As Stoner explains, when it comes to words like “entrepreneur”:

When we talk about “entrepreneurs” with an uncritical acceptance, we implicitly accept [the] view that wealth was created by entrepreneurs via a process of innovation and creative destruction—rather than Marx’s belief that wealth is appropriated to the bourgeois class by exploitation.

This is why I always think of don Miguel Ruiz’s first agreement: “Be impeccable with your word.” So, Phillip Hammond was being perfect with his wording, really: he wants discipline, dammit!

Others take a more, well, mendacious approach to their phraseology. When people say that jail will “rehabilitate” prisoners or that “innovation”, “increased productivity”, and “hard work” will provide the tools to lead a 21st century economy, I am skeptical. Especially with regard our carceral-industrial complex, how obviously and openly corrupt and racist the prison system is in our country, where length of sentences are absurdly long compared to other nations, and rates of jailing are exponentially higher for black and brown peoples, with 10 cent an hour wages metered out for a smoke, snack foods, or a cell phone call while the largest corporations make billions off of what amounts to slave labor, which, mind you, the Chinese have been replicating with the Uyghur population in Xinjiang province. I’d rather those in power tell us how they really feel. In a lecture on Nietzsche (with a nod to Foucault), Rick Roderick put it quite well:

The idea that we would send someone to prison in order to rehabilitate them…now we’re getting to be more honest about that. We’re getting a little more barbaric, and for Nietzsche that’d be better, it’d be a little more honest. We’re sending them to prison because we’re scared of them and we know if they go there really bad things will happen to them and it will ruin their lives and that will make us happy. That’s what we should say when we send one to prison.

That is what it comes down to for today’s centers of power. Kill, jail, torture, or condemn those lower on the totem pole to lives of penury, marginalization, and unpleasant labor. The chthonic chant from Trump’s base is connected to this impulse: “Lock her up!”… “Build the wall!” Whoever you can’t control so easily, ply them with media, drugs, fame, money, power.

This is how the system was designed from the early days of the Enlightenment. As Foucault asks rhetorically in Disciple and Punish: The Birth of the Prison: “Is it surprising that prisons resemble factories, schools, barracks, hospitals, which all resemble prisons?” Architecturally one of the more famous blueprints for constant surveillance, interrogations, examinations, and constant monitoring of the social body came from Bentham’s design of the panopticon. We notice the ones under surveillance, or even those who think they’re being watched, increasingly self-censor and self-monitor themselves to avoid untoward further investigation or physical violence from state authorities, whether inside an institution or outside in the public sphere.

Rather than rehabilitation, the modern notion of discipline is to induce punishment, and goshdarnit, our culture sure does know how to punish those less fortunate. On any given year between 10 and 20 million people worldwide die of starvation, even as silos of food lie full all over the USA and Europe. Preventable childhood diseases kill perhaps another 10 million kids a year. A mobilization of food, medicine, and competent medical professionals along with a logistics network to access hard-to-reach rural areas in the Global South could solve these crises within a short time frame.

Today we see disciplinarian methods used as a general principle, a blunt instrument applied to daily life, where conformism, homogenization, and compliance to authority dictate modern culture in work and the home. Also, people avoid vocalizing their internal critiques of the state, authority, or the economy for fear of social reprisal, becoming an outcast, and basic issues of self-survival (in minority communities under attack from police brutality) in an atmosphere of generalized anxiety, suspicion, and paranoia.

Here we begin to uncover the archaeological, or rather, genealogical evidence and the ideological underpinnings of centers of power. Ideologues, economists, and capitalists do not need to explicitly promote “austerity” (they can just change the name), but they do need a certain type of discipline, and the contrived system of artificial scarcity which keeps the multitude desperate. This destructive economic system which we dub “neoliberal” stymies thought, kills dreams, exploits labor, and reaches into all facets of political and daily life.

In such an authoritarian state, today, just as in ages ago, women and children bear the worst forms of abuse and punishment even as they do most of the work, either unpaid in the home or in professional employment. Women still must deal with performing emotional labor for men in the West that have not self-analyzed, and cannot see how they directly benefit from patriarchal institutions of power that filter down into the workplace, community, home, etc.

The sociological make-up of the middle classes, constantly under threat of falling into penury until European and North American capitalist states underwent a significant shift in the late 19th and 20th centuries. Constant competition, the modern factory, and striving for status and material affluence shifted the previous belief in a “Protestant work ethic” towards one of Social Darwinism, and from there to a consumer-based age of affluence, where the might of economic powers to exploit becomes an inherent right, where monopolistic corporations use advertising to continually encourage consumptive, addictive, and childish behavioral patterns.

Coupled with eugenics and the westward spread of US territories under the ideology of Manifest Destiny, the genocidal policies of Social Darwinism and racist medical practices spread worldwide. The professional classes were fascism’s most slavish disciples: medical doctors joined the Nazi Party at a higher rate (some say 7 times the rate of joining as the average job) than any other profession in Germany.

The harsh, unrelenting regime of discipline inherent in such bourgeois values creates a new form of human behavior and outlook towards society: one which Erich Fromm called the “marketing orientation.” As he wrote:

The mature and productive individual derives his feeling of identity from the experience of himself as the agent who is one with his powers, this feeling of self can be briefly described as meaning ‘I am what I do.’ In the marketing orientation man encounters his own powers as commodities alienated from him. He is not one with them but they are masked from him because what matters is not his self-realization in the process of using them but his success in the process of selling them. Both his powers and what they create become estranged, something different from himself, something for others to judge and to use; thus his feeling of identity becomes as shaky as his self-esteem; it is constituted by the sum total of roles one can play: ‘I am as you desire me.’ It is worth remembering that mainstream economists such as Philip Hammond (or before him, fools such as Milton Friedman or Alan Greenspan in the US) are not basing their budgets or speeches or interest rates or stupid Powerpoint presentations for corrupt elites on any rational model, any shred of common sense, to help working classes or even middle class citizens. These people are PR spokespeople for capitalists, nothing more. They are as the multinational corporations and financial sector desire them.

We are all sort of becoming who the centers of power want us to be. Pliable, obedient, cowed, desperate. Also more hardened, isolated, commodified, and easier to control. The social conditioning is so deep here in the US.

When Philip Hammond says, “discipline will remain”, the capitalist and colonialist policies he and his elite associates pursue have global consequences. The effect of his words may be hidden from many Western eyes, but they are not any different from the direct violence in previous eras of the corrupt town sheriff, the racist prison warden, the sadistic psychiatrist, the violent headmaster of a school, the conquistador, the slave owner, the SS officer.

This is, in fact, exactly what modern day discipline is. Words, ideas, images, stock markets, debt ratios, and the concepts of the ruling classes become material life-threatening issues which undergird our system of artificial scarcity.

The spreading of this dark cloud of Western civilization, with all the concomitant issues of technology worship, reification, and commodification of the human spirit and creativity continues to tell us: be disciplined, be rational, be good citizens, even to be human (in a specific sense passed down by Enlightenment figures). It is unsurprising that many decades ago the first theoretical models for the post-human age were underway: since the beginning of the so-called Anthropocene era, we have seen how the artificial divisions of nature and culture have been exposed. Even today, much postmodern art and critique, which opens up new avenues for research by exploring ideas surrounding intersubjectivity, depthlessness, waning of affect, etc., still indulges in the fantasy of isolated, separate, urban-centered, and rational humans as a given.

Despite the push by liberal democracies to spread  a certain type of modern propaganda reminding us of our so-called secular, materialist, cosmopolitan, consumer society, the urge for spirituality, for raising of consciousness, still remains strong in contemporary culture via the rapidly expanding interest in yoga, meditation, mindfulness practices, psychedelics (another term is entheogens) and even paganism in the West. Yet even many of these basic self-exploratory and self-coping mechanisms are increasingly and continually mediated through corporations or at least small businesses and hierarchies, at the expense of cooperative and communal forms of organization.

What I think would be beneficial for people to think about is a return to a notion popular in 60s counterculture- the idea of a new sensibility (or sense-abilities, as it were). Readers may know about the ideas of/fury generated towards its most vocal theoretical promoters: Susan Sontag, Herbert Marcuse, Norman O. Brown. I believe it would be worthwhile to revisit those concepts.

In his speech “Liberation from the Affluent Society”, Marcuse said:

Let us give one illustration of…the need for such a total rupture [which] was present in some of the great social struggles of our period. Walter Benjamin quotes reports that during the Paris Commune, in all corners of the city there were people shooting at clocks on the towers of churches, palaces and so on, thereby consciously of half-consciously expressing the need that somehow time has to be arrested; that at least the prevailing, established time continuum has to be arrested, and that a new time has to begin…

He continues:

This situation presupposes the emergence of new needs, qualitatively different and even opposed to the prevailing aggressive and repressive needs: the emergence of a new type of human, with a vital, biological drive for liberation, and with a consciousness capable of breaking through the material as well as ideological veil of the affluent society…society has invaded even the deepest roots of individual existence, even the unconscious of man…We must get at the roots of society in the individuals themselves…who, because of social engineering, constantly reproduce the continuum of repression…

Further on, he states:

…to give sensitivity and sensibility their own right, is, I think, one of the basic goals of integral socialism…They presuppose…a total trans-valuation of values, a new anthropology…we may say that today qualitative change, liberation, involves organic, instinctual, biological changes at the same time as political and social changes…no longer subject to the dictates of capitalist profitability and of efficiency…socially necessary labor, material production, would and could become increasingly scientific…it means that the creative imagination…would become a productive force applied to the transformation of the social and natural universe…

Quite clearly and perhaps being a tad self-conscious, he later says: “And now I throw in a terrible concept: it would mean an ‘aesthetic’ reality- society as a work of art.” Indeed. Marcuse goes on to cite, in the Western tradition, hippies, Diggers, and Provos as groups (we can think of many more today, especially indigenous cultures) who offered “a new sensibility against efficient and insane reasonableness.”

It is intense “social engineering” and “insane reasonableness” which we are loath to stand up against due to our own relative affluence. Today that affluence is disappearing especially in the developing world as climate change and ecological devastation threatens all. In the West the stores may be open, and the planes may run on time, but late capitalism is running on fumes. The “veil” remains, along with elitist media manipulation which distracts and diverts public attention, but various anti-capitalist forces are arrayed at its edges, preparing to draw in the masses. Discipline has been unmasked for what it really is- a one way ticket to an early grave for the poor; or a lifetime of spiritual turmoil for the ruling class and the collaborating professional/managerial class flunkies and sycophants.

Yet again, the violence of words such as productivity, efficiency, free markets, national sovereignty, etc., all contribute to the intolerable living conditions for large portions of the world’s population. This is the metaphysics of capital, where abstract business concepts have very real, and deadly, consequences. Jason Read writes in Crisis and Critique:

Labor power must be made virtual, and then productive. The foundation of the capitalist relationship is the separation of workers form the means of production, and thus the potential of labor power as a potential. Once this potential is sold, enters into the workplace, it must be actualized, transformed into actual productive acts.

He goes on to cite Pierre Macherey, student of Althusser:

From this point of view, we could say that when the capitalist occupies himself with his workers’ labor-power, which he has acquired the right to employ in exchange for a wage, treating it as a ‘productive power’ whose productivity he intends to increase in order to produce relative surplus value – he practices metaphysics not in a theoretical but in a practical way. He practices this peculiar sort of metaphysics not during his leisure time, as a distraction or mental exercise, as he would a crossword puzzle, but throughout the entire working day dedicated to production. By opening up his company to notions such as ‘power,’ ‘capacity’ and ‘causation,’ he thereby makes them a reality, realizing these fictions, these products of the mind, which he then employs with daunting efficacy. In this way, with payrolls and charts of organizational tasks at hand, he shows, better than a philosopher’s abstract proofs, that the work of metaphysics could not be more material, provided that one knows how to put it to good use in introducing it into the factory. One could, incidentally, derive from this a new and caustic definition of metaphysics: in this rather specific context, it boils down to a mechanism for profit-making, which is no small matter. This means that, amongst other inventions that have changed the course of history, capitalism has found the means, the procedure, the ‘trick’ enabling it to put abstract concepts into practice – the hallmark of its ‘genius.’

More bluntly, the contributors at the website Endnotes put it like this:

The abstract universal — value — whose existence is posited by the exchange abstraction, acquires a real existence vis-à-vis particular concrete labours, which are subsumed under it. The real existence of abstractions, which acquire the ability to subsume the concrete world of production under them — and posit themselves as the truth of this world — is for Marx nothing other than a perverted, enchanted, ontologically inverted reality. The absurdity and violence which Hegel perceives in a relation of subsumption applies not only to Hegel’s system itself, but also to the actual social relations of capitalist society.

As one can see, it takes a very specific sort of discipline to deploy this type of thought — as well as to mouth the PR Double-plus good Newspeak that Philip Hammond and the GM executive spoke of above. As we have seen through history, the consequences are not pretty. This shackling of the human spirit molds workers in a totalitarian way, and becomes the baseline ideology for accessing elite institutions of knowledge and power. Hence, this is why some today speak of “total subsumption.”

In this sense, production via exploitation of labor power only speaks of half of the problem: the flip side is that humans are produced as cogs, or, put another way; the social reproduction of the masses is instilled by the constant reminder under capitalism to be productive, market yourself, speak appropriately in every varied situation, etc. Thus, humans are molded to believe in the need for police, tax collection agencies, borders, and industrial civilization. As usual, the unwaged labor of care work in the home continues to oppress women around the globe, as feminists such as Martha Gimenez, Kathi Weeks, Nancy Fraser, Silvia Federici, and many others have shown.

Words cannot express how far capitalism extends into daily life; or the amount of harmful and hateful behavior it has led to. Humans are valued only insofar as they are productive: productive in a myopic framework designed to narrow consciousness, reduce potentialities, blight the human condition, and destroy and degrade wildlife and ecosystems. People all over the world are simply being “farmed” for their labor power, their creativity, their social media posts, to pay taxes, the various licenses, fees, and insurances needed to secure a bare means of existence. Not only are the elite thriving economically, the 1% are estimated to live 10 years longer than the average of the 99%, as Danny Dorling explains in Inequality and the 1%.

The modern calendar and clock also regiment, divides, and orients our perception around the holy grail of productivity, turning human potentialities for creativity, for organic agriculture, for art, for useful crafts, for efficient renewable energy systems, for basic joy, and destroy those possibilities. Instead, we find abstract notions of labor and value, which are then actualized and concretized into power “paving the way” for progress. Our time system, essentially from the very beginning of Western civilization in Mesopotamia, started with set dates for repaying debts, which eventually morphed into regularly scheduled time frames for starting wars, shackling us all to a five day work week, etc. Our time system is the operating system for Empire, its software; hence the Parisians desire to end it.

Solutions lie in listening to indigenous peoples worldwide who have been living sustainably for millennia, via processes of trust-building, of starting truth and reconciliation for past atrocities and modern day dispossession, of growing communities based on non-profit cooperatives, etc. Tight-knit indigenous livelihoods counter the growth of destructive forms of modern discipline, an unnatural system of time, instrumental reason, capitalism, racism, and patriarchy; through power structures distributed horizontally, with deliberative bodies and direct democratic practices.

Authentic resistance against our system should therefore question and dispel the lies embedded in what the rulers and functionaries of capital call “discipline.” Our interior lives have been colonized, our jobs are alienating and exploitative, and our social media and data are now “harvested” for wealth. The abstractions of capital must be abandoned. Perhaps only by returning to the “integral”, the holistic, something closer to the Earth, by finding something elemental, by reigniting desire, can the vast utopian dreams and potentialities, which for many lie dormant, lead us to find some sort of joy and sustainable methods of living to transform this mad society.

Discipline Will Remain…or Will It?

Last October, Philip Hammond, the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, in the annual federal budget speech to the UK Parliament, said this: “Austerity is coming to an end, but discipline will remain.”

Talk about Orwellian doublespeak. The truth about austerity is that it is a means of social control, or as Hammond put it, discipline. Hammond’s recent comment is completely illogical. Austerity is economic discipline. Really, it’s just a way of making the poor suffer more, while continuing to bail out the rich every time they implode the economy.

It’s rare that the titans of finance slip up so well, and so egregiously with their language, but it happens, this being an excellent case study. Now we know, straight from the source, just what economic experts, being mouthpieces of multinational corporations, really want, just as much or even more than “austerity”: discipline! Or, another way of putting it, they want austerity, except we aren’t supposed to realize that we live in austerity anymore…or at least don’t try and resist. These people want a normalization of austerity, until we just accept that this is the way it is.

A cursory look at the upcoming UK budget shows more of the same: billions to update the nuclear weapon systems, continued cuts for many government ministries, cuts to Scotland when considering inflation rates, a cap on total welfare spending, with a few crumbs for their Universal Credit benefits, etc. All of this is happening while homelessness is rising dramatically (up 169% since 2010).

So what kind of discipline is Mr. Hammond really talking about? A writer for VICE (one Simon Childs) succinctly summed it up:

In the end, Spreadsheet Phil went with ‘Austerity is coming to an end but discipline will remain’. So it’s not ‘over’, it’s ‘coming to an end’, at some point. But ‘discipline’ will remain – for which you can read ‘austerity’. So really, that’s, ‘Austerity is coming to an end but austerity will remain.’ If that sounds contradictory, that’s because it is. Austerity is a decade-long ideological project which has seen poor and working class people pay for the financial crash through cutting the supposed largesse of the welfare state. The government is trying to loosen spending up a bit while the effects of that project become even more stark.

As many commentators have pointed out, austerity is not based on any rational sense of finance or macroeconomic forces: it is an ideological mission, a moral argument stemming back to the Puritan/Calvinist and social Darwinist worldview. If you’re poor, it’s your fault, and all one has to do is pull oneself up by your bootstraps. Societal and systemic forces which consistently lead to high unemployment, substandard education, lack of social support structures, and stagnant wages are never addressed. What better way to keep people “disciplined” than to offload public spending onto the citizenry? Thus forcing private citizen, especially the poor and middle class, to pay more for essential services: this has predictably led to an explosion in college and personal debt.

The super-ego always judging itself produces a type of mental enslavement and has now engulfed the globe in late-stage capitalism. We are taught to always blame ourselves because we are not marketable, don’t keep up with technology, aren’t innovating or learning life skills to keep up in a gig/service economy with rising rates of poverty, which also is hollowing out all social forms of purpose and collective belonging.

The US educational system is complicit in this, since this is the first public institution most of us enter — a regimented oppressive nightmare of one-size-fits-all deluges of mostly useless information, where children are always competing and one-upping each other with grades, achievements, etc. As long as we were obedient little drones who raised our hands to ask questions, sat when told to, repeated the pledge of allegiance every day, and in general were (with our parent’s complicity) spoon-fed lies, omissions, and distortions of historical, scientific, and sociological facts, we could one day participate in adult life successfully. Of course, the more obvious sites for adult coercion and brainwashing barely need mention: jails, churches, mental institutions, large corporations, federal bureaucracies, etc.

The history of public education in our country is a history of indoctrination, or something worse, of which the horrors are so great they cannot be put into words, if one examines the African American or Indigenous histories of schooling. Modern schooling is freaking twelve years of boot-camp for the adult world of bio-psycho-social alienated labor. There is no use denying or getting around this fact.

The psycho-somatic beatings endured become embedded in our minds and the trauma is relived and has been passed down, generation to generation. This has created a militaristic society yet also a pacified and slavish one, which submissively bows down before capitalist/imperialist/colonialist systems of hierarchy. We are the “docile bodies” that Foucault spoke of.

We’ve been molded for the purpose of fitting into (increasingly mentally damaging) forms of labor. The stress of daily work in the US has almost completely precluded any serious resistance. I cannot stress this enough: as bodies synchronizing the finely-tuned engine of capital, we are poised to destroy ourselves and the majority of species on the planet if we continue down this path.

Once again, surprise surprise, the language we use has been beaten into us, and is a formidable weapon in the arsenal of capital. There’s a humorous anecdote in this Monthly Review article by Rebecca Stoner, spotlighting John Patrick Leary:

When General Motors laid off more than 6,000 workers days after Thanksgiving, John Patrick Leary, the author of the new book Keywords: The New Language of Capitalism, tweeted out part of GM CEO Mary Barra’s statement: ‘The actions we are taking today continue our transformation to be highly agile, resilient, and profitable, while giving us the flexibility to invest in the future,’ she said. Leary added a line of commentary to Barra’s statement:

‘Language was pronounced dead at the scene.’

As Stoner explains, when it comes to words like “entrepreneur”:

When we talk about “entrepreneurs” with an uncritical acceptance, we implicitly accept [the] view that wealth was created by entrepreneurs via a process of innovation and creative destruction—rather than Marx’s belief that wealth is appropriated to the bourgeois class by exploitation.

This is why I always think of don Miguel Ruiz’s first agreement: “Be impeccable with your word.” So, Phillip Hammond was being perfect with his wording, really: he wants discipline, dammit!

Others take a more, well, mendacious approach to their phraseology. When people say that jail will “rehabilitate” prisoners or that “innovation”, “increased productivity”, and “hard work” will provide the tools to lead a 21st century economy, I am skeptical. Especially with regard our carceral-industrial complex, how obviously and openly corrupt and racist the prison system is in our country, where length of sentences are absurdly long compared to other nations, and rates of jailing are exponentially higher for black and brown peoples, with 10 cent an hour wages metered out for a smoke, snack foods, or a cell phone call while the largest corporations make billions off of what amounts to slave labor, which, mind you, the Chinese have been replicating with the Uyghur population in Xinjiang province. I’d rather those in power tell us how they really feel. In a lecture on Nietzsche (with a nod to Foucault), Rick Roderick put it quite well:

The idea that we would send someone to prison in order to rehabilitate them…now we’re getting to be more honest about that. We’re getting a little more barbaric, and for Nietzsche that’d be better, it’d be a little more honest. We’re sending them to prison because we’re scared of them and we know if they go there really bad things will happen to them and it will ruin their lives and that will make us happy. That’s what we should say when we send one to prison.

That is what it comes down to for today’s centers of power. Kill, jail, torture, or condemn those lower on the totem pole to lives of penury, marginalization, and unpleasant labor. The chthonic chant from Trump’s base is connected to this impulse: “Lock her up!”… “Build the wall!” Whoever you can’t control so easily, ply them with media, drugs, fame, money, power.

This is how the system was designed from the early days of the Enlightenment. As Foucault asks rhetorically in Disciple and Punish: The Birth of the Prison: “Is it surprising that prisons resemble factories, schools, barracks, hospitals, which all resemble prisons?” Architecturally one of the more famous blueprints for constant surveillance, interrogations, examinations, and constant monitoring of the social body came from Bentham’s design of the panopticon. We notice the ones under surveillance, or even those who think they’re being watched, increasingly self-censor and self-monitor themselves to avoid untoward further investigation or physical violence from state authorities, whether inside an institution or outside in the public sphere.

Rather than rehabilitation, the modern notion of discipline is to induce punishment, and goshdarnit, our culture sure does know how to punish those less fortunate. On any given year between 10 and 20 million people worldwide die of starvation, even as silos of food lie full all over the USA and Europe. Preventable childhood diseases kill perhaps another 10 million kids a year. A mobilization of food, medicine, and competent medical professionals along with a logistics network to access hard-to-reach rural areas in the Global South could solve these crises within a short time frame.

Today we see disciplinarian methods used as a general principle, a blunt instrument applied to daily life, where conformism, homogenization, and compliance to authority dictate modern culture in work and the home. Also, people avoid vocalizing their internal critiques of the state, authority, or the economy for fear of social reprisal, becoming an outcast, and basic issues of self-survival (in minority communities under attack from police brutality) in an atmosphere of generalized anxiety, suspicion, and paranoia.

Here we begin to uncover the archaeological, or rather, genealogical evidence and the ideological underpinnings of centers of power. Ideologues, economists, and capitalists do not need to explicitly promote “austerity” (they can just change the name), but they do need a certain type of discipline, and the contrived system of artificial scarcity which keeps the multitude desperate. This destructive economic system which we dub “neoliberal” stymies thought, kills dreams, exploits labor, and reaches into all facets of political and daily life.

In such an authoritarian state, today, just as in ages ago, women and children bear the worst forms of abuse and punishment even as they do most of the work, either unpaid in the home or in professional employment. Women still must deal with performing emotional labor for men in the West that have not self-analyzed, and cannot see how they directly benefit from patriarchal institutions of power that filter down into the workplace, community, home, etc.

The sociological make-up of the middle classes, constantly under threat of falling into penury until European and North American capitalist states underwent a significant shift in the late 19th and 20th centuries. Constant competition, the modern factory, and striving for status and material affluence shifted the previous belief in a “Protestant work ethic” towards one of Social Darwinism, and from there to a consumer-based age of affluence, where the might of economic powers to exploit becomes an inherent right, where monopolistic corporations use advertising to continually encourage consumptive, addictive, and childish behavioral patterns.

Coupled with eugenics and the westward spread of US territories under the ideology of Manifest Destiny, the genocidal policies of Social Darwinism and racist medical practices spread worldwide. The professional classes were fascism’s most slavish disciples: medical doctors joined the Nazi Party at a higher rate (some say 7 times the rate of joining as the average job) than any other profession in Germany.

The harsh, unrelenting regime of discipline inherent in such bourgeois values creates a new form of human behavior and outlook towards society: one which Erich Fromm called the “marketing orientation.” As he wrote:

The mature and productive individual derives his feeling of identity from the experience of himself as the agent who is one with his powers, this feeling of self can be briefly described as meaning ‘I am what I do.’ In the marketing orientation man encounters his own powers as commodities alienated from him. He is not one with them but they are masked from him because what matters is not his self-realization in the process of using them but his success in the process of selling them. Both his powers and what they create become estranged, something different from himself, something for others to judge and to use; thus his feeling of identity becomes as shaky as his self-esteem; it is constituted by the sum total of roles one can play: ‘I am as you desire me.’ It is worth remembering that mainstream economists such as Philip Hammond (or before him, fools such as Milton Friedman or Alan Greenspan in the US) are not basing their budgets or speeches or interest rates or stupid Powerpoint presentations for corrupt elites on any rational model, any shred of common sense, to help working classes or even middle class citizens. These people are PR spokespeople for capitalists, nothing more. They are as the multinational corporations and financial sector desire them.

We are all sort of becoming who the centers of power want us to be. Pliable, obedient, cowed, desperate. Also more hardened, isolated, commodified, and easier to control. The social conditioning is so deep here in the US.

When Philip Hammond says, “discipline will remain”, the capitalist and colonialist policies he and his elite associates pursue have global consequences. The effect of his words may be hidden from many Western eyes, but they are not any different from the direct violence in previous eras of the corrupt town sheriff, the racist prison warden, the sadistic psychiatrist, the violent headmaster of a school, the conquistador, the slave owner, the SS officer.

This is, in fact, exactly what modern day discipline is. Words, ideas, images, stock markets, debt ratios, and the concepts of the ruling classes become material life-threatening issues which undergird our system of artificial scarcity.

The spreading of this dark cloud of Western civilization, with all the concomitant issues of technology worship, reification, and commodification of the human spirit and creativity continues to tell us: be disciplined, be rational, be good citizens, even to be human (in a specific sense passed down by Enlightenment figures). It is unsurprising that many decades ago the first theoretical models for the post-human age were underway: since the beginning of the so-called Anthropocene era, we have seen how the artificial divisions of nature and culture have been exposed. Even today, much postmodern art and critique, which opens up new avenues for research by exploring ideas surrounding intersubjectivity, depthlessness, waning of affect, etc., still indulges in the fantasy of isolated, separate, urban-centered, and rational humans as a given.

Despite the push by liberal democracies to spread  a certain type of modern propaganda reminding us of our so-called secular, materialist, cosmopolitan, consumer society, the urge for spirituality, for raising of consciousness, still remains strong in contemporary culture via the rapidly expanding interest in yoga, meditation, mindfulness practices, psychedelics (another term is entheogens) and even paganism in the West. Yet even many of these basic self-exploratory and self-coping mechanisms are increasingly and continually mediated through corporations or at least small businesses and hierarchies, at the expense of cooperative and communal forms of organization.

What I think would be beneficial for people to think about is a return to a notion popular in 60s counterculture- the idea of a new sensibility (or sense-abilities, as it were). Readers may know about the ideas of/fury generated towards its most vocal theoretical promoters: Susan Sontag, Herbert Marcuse, Norman O. Brown. I believe it would be worthwhile to revisit those concepts.

In his speech “Liberation from the Affluent Society”, Marcuse said:

Let us give one illustration of…the need for such a total rupture [which] was present in some of the great social struggles of our period. Walter Benjamin quotes reports that during the Paris Commune, in all corners of the city there were people shooting at clocks on the towers of churches, palaces and so on, thereby consciously of half-consciously expressing the need that somehow time has to be arrested; that at least the prevailing, established time continuum has to be arrested, and that a new time has to begin…

He continues:

This situation presupposes the emergence of new needs, qualitatively different and even opposed to the prevailing aggressive and repressive needs: the emergence of a new type of human, with a vital, biological drive for liberation, and with a consciousness capable of breaking through the material as well as ideological veil of the affluent society…society has invaded even the deepest roots of individual existence, even the unconscious of man…We must get at the roots of society in the individuals themselves…who, because of social engineering, constantly reproduce the continuum of repression…

Further on, he states:

…to give sensitivity and sensibility their own right, is, I think, one of the basic goals of integral socialism…They presuppose…a total trans-valuation of values, a new anthropology…we may say that today qualitative change, liberation, involves organic, instinctual, biological changes at the same time as political and social changes…no longer subject to the dictates of capitalist profitability and of efficiency…socially necessary labor, material production, would and could become increasingly scientific…it means that the creative imagination…would become a productive force applied to the transformation of the social and natural universe…

Quite clearly and perhaps being a tad self-conscious, he later says: “And now I throw in a terrible concept: it would mean an ‘aesthetic’ reality- society as a work of art.” Indeed. Marcuse goes on to cite, in the Western tradition, hippies, Diggers, and Provos as groups (we can think of many more today, especially indigenous cultures) who offered “a new sensibility against efficient and insane reasonableness.”

It is intense “social engineering” and “insane reasonableness” which we are loath to stand up against due to our own relative affluence. Today that affluence is disappearing especially in the developing world as climate change and ecological devastation threatens all. In the West the stores may be open, and the planes may run on time, but late capitalism is running on fumes. The “veil” remains, along with elitist media manipulation which distracts and diverts public attention, but various anti-capitalist forces are arrayed at its edges, preparing to draw in the masses. Discipline has been unmasked for what it really is- a one way ticket to an early grave for the poor; or a lifetime of spiritual turmoil for the ruling class and the collaborating professional/managerial class flunkies and sycophants.

Yet again, the violence of words such as productivity, efficiency, free markets, national sovereignty, etc., all contribute to the intolerable living conditions for large portions of the world’s population. This is the metaphysics of capital, where abstract business concepts have very real, and deadly, consequences. Jason Read writes in Crisis and Critique:

Labor power must be made virtual, and then productive. The foundation of the capitalist relationship is the separation of workers form the means of production, and thus the potential of labor power as a potential. Once this potential is sold, enters into the workplace, it must be actualized, transformed into actual productive acts.

He goes on to cite Pierre Macherey, student of Althusser:

From this point of view, we could say that when the capitalist occupies himself with his workers’ labor-power, which he has acquired the right to employ in exchange for a wage, treating it as a ‘productive power’ whose productivity he intends to increase in order to produce relative surplus value – he practices metaphysics not in a theoretical but in a practical way. He practices this peculiar sort of metaphysics not during his leisure time, as a distraction or mental exercise, as he would a crossword puzzle, but throughout the entire working day dedicated to production. By opening up his company to notions such as ‘power,’ ‘capacity’ and ‘causation,’ he thereby makes them a reality, realizing these fictions, these products of the mind, which he then employs with daunting efficacy. In this way, with payrolls and charts of organizational tasks at hand, he shows, better than a philosopher’s abstract proofs, that the work of metaphysics could not be more material, provided that one knows how to put it to good use in introducing it into the factory. One could, incidentally, derive from this a new and caustic definition of metaphysics: in this rather specific context, it boils down to a mechanism for profit-making, which is no small matter. This means that, amongst other inventions that have changed the course of history, capitalism has found the means, the procedure, the ‘trick’ enabling it to put abstract concepts into practice – the hallmark of its ‘genius.’

More bluntly, the contributors at the website Endnotes put it like this:

The abstract universal — value — whose existence is posited by the exchange abstraction, acquires a real existence vis-à-vis particular concrete labours, which are subsumed under it. The real existence of abstractions, which acquire the ability to subsume the concrete world of production under them — and posit themselves as the truth of this world — is for Marx nothing other than a perverted, enchanted, ontologically inverted reality. The absurdity and violence which Hegel perceives in a relation of subsumption applies not only to Hegel’s system itself, but also to the actual social relations of capitalist society.

As one can see, it takes a very specific sort of discipline to deploy this type of thought — as well as to mouth the PR Double-plus good Newspeak that Philip Hammond and the GM executive spoke of above. As we have seen through history, the consequences are not pretty. This shackling of the human spirit molds workers in a totalitarian way, and becomes the baseline ideology for accessing elite institutions of knowledge and power. Hence, this is why some today speak of “total subsumption.”

In this sense, production via exploitation of labor power only speaks of half of the problem: the flip side is that humans are produced as cogs, or, put another way; the social reproduction of the masses is instilled by the constant reminder under capitalism to be productive, market yourself, speak appropriately in every varied situation, etc. Thus, humans are molded to believe in the need for police, tax collection agencies, borders, and industrial civilization. As usual, the unwaged labor of care work in the home continues to oppress women around the globe, as feminists such as Martha Gimenez, Kathi Weeks, Nancy Fraser, Silvia Federici, and many others have shown.

Words cannot express how far capitalism extends into daily life; or the amount of harmful and hateful behavior it has led to. Humans are valued only insofar as they are productive: productive in a myopic framework designed to narrow consciousness, reduce potentialities, blight the human condition, and destroy and degrade wildlife and ecosystems. People all over the world are simply being “farmed” for their labor power, their creativity, their social media posts, to pay taxes, the various licenses, fees, and insurances needed to secure a bare means of existence. Not only are the elite thriving economically, the 1% are estimated to live 10 years longer than the average of the 99%, as Danny Dorling explains in Inequality and the 1%.

The modern calendar and clock also regiment, divides, and orients our perception around the holy grail of productivity, turning human potentialities for creativity, for organic agriculture, for art, for useful crafts, for efficient renewable energy systems, for basic joy, and destroy those possibilities. Instead, we find abstract notions of labor and value, which are then actualized and concretized into power “paving the way” for progress. Our time system, essentially from the very beginning of Western civilization in Mesopotamia, started with set dates for repaying debts, which eventually morphed into regularly scheduled time frames for starting wars, shackling us all to a five day work week, etc. Our time system is the operating system for Empire, its software; hence the Parisians desire to end it.

Solutions lie in listening to indigenous peoples worldwide who have been living sustainably for millennia, via processes of trust-building, of starting truth and reconciliation for past atrocities and modern day dispossession, of growing communities based on non-profit cooperatives, etc. Tight-knit indigenous livelihoods counter the growth of destructive forms of modern discipline, an unnatural system of time, instrumental reason, capitalism, racism, and patriarchy; through power structures distributed horizontally, with deliberative bodies and direct democratic practices.

Authentic resistance against our system should therefore question and dispel the lies embedded in what the rulers and functionaries of capital call “discipline.” Our interior lives have been colonized, our jobs are alienating and exploitative, and our social media and data are now “harvested” for wealth. The abstractions of capital must be abandoned. Perhaps only by returning to the “integral”, the holistic, something closer to the Earth, by finding something elemental, by reigniting desire, can the vast utopian dreams and potentialities, which for many lie dormant, lead us to find some sort of joy and sustainable methods of living to transform this mad society.

Can Our Civilization Survive?

Lately, I have been asked this question on several occasions. “Can our humanity really survive?” “Am I an optimist or a pessimist?”

My replies vary, as I don’t think there can ever be one single answer to this most urgent, the most important query.

Sometimes my answer gets influenced by location: where I am at that moment, or where I have been recently? In a Taliban-controlled village in Afghanistan, on a rooftop of a whorehouse in Okinawa while filming deadly US air force bases, or perhaps in an elegant café after visiting an opera performance with my mom, in Stuttgart or in Paris.

Whether I have been injured on a battlefield or in a slum, or have been applauded (most of the time, hypocritically) at some event where I was invited to speak? Have I been doing something ‘forbidden’, insane and dangerous, or merely processing my visual or written materials in Japan or in Bangkok?

Depending on the circumstances, I can sound negative or cautiously optimistic.

But the truth, the honest truth is: I am scared.

Not scared for my own life, or my health or even my well-being. My work and my struggle: nobody forced me into it; all that I do is my own choice. I want to do it and therefore I do it. And while I do it, as it is often not safe, I have to understand that my life may end, prematurely, or that something else, very unpleasant, could happen. I have to understand, and I do understand. Shit happens! Unfortunately, it happens often. But that’s not what makes me scared.

What truly frightens me is something else, something much more essential: this beautiful ‘project’, this incredible, gigantic experiment called humanity, could very soon end in ruins and up in smoke.

What scares me even more is that, perhaps, it is already ending although I sincerely hope that it is not.

I have no religion, and I have absolutely no idea whether there is some sort of afterlife or not. Afterlife, God: what I am absolutely certain of is that no one on this planet really knows any answers to these so-called big questions, and those who claim that they do, know even much less than me.

This world and this damn humanity of ours is all that I know, and it is all that I have and care about. And I love it, because I have no other choice but loving it, despite all of its brutality and foolishness, recklessness and short-sightedness. But this planet, which used to be so brilliantly beautiful and pleasing, to all of our human senses, is now frightened, humiliated and plundered. It is getting raped, savagely, in front of our own eyes. And we are just watching, ruminating like cattle, shitting, and amusing ourselves in increasingly brainless ways.

That’s what we are actually supposed to do, according to those bastards who are ‘in charge’.

Our humanity had been derailed from its natural aims, goals and dreams. Goals like egalitarianism, social justice, beauty and harmony, used to be on everyone’s lips, no matter where they were living; just so recently, just one century ago.

The brightest minds, bravely and determinedly, worked on finishing with all forms of inequality, exploitation, racism and colonialism. Crimes against humanity committed by Western imperialism, racism, slavery and capitalism were being exposed, defined, condemned and confronted.

Unfortunately, it was one century ago that we were just about reaching the peak of enlightenment, and as humanity we were much closer to harmony and peaceful co-existence, than we are now.

Our grand-grandparents had no doubts whatsoever, that reason and logic would soon be able to triumph, everywhere on earth, and that those who had been ruling so unjustly all over this world, would either “see the light” and voluntarily step down, or would be once and for all defeated.

Great revolutions erupted on all continents. Human lives were declared to be well above profit. Capitalism seemed to be finished. Imperialism and capitalism were discredited, spat at and stepped on with millions of feet. It was clearly just a matter of years, before all people of all races would unite, before there would be no more dictatorship of greedy and degenerate businesspeople, of crooked religious demagogues, of perverse monarchs and their serfs.

In those days, humanity was full of optimism, of ground-breaking ideas, inventions, intellectual, as well as emotional courage and artistic creativity.

A new era was beginning. The epoch of serfdom and capitalism was ending.

But then, the dark revanchist forces of oppression, of greed, regrouped. They had money and therefore could pay to buy the best psychologists, propagandists, mass-murderers, scholars, and artists.

*****

A hundred years later, look where we are! Look at us now.

There is nothing to celebrate, and plenty to puke about.

Gangsters and moral degenerates, who ruled during all previous centuries, are still in full control of the planet. As before, oppressed people form majority: they inhabit Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, Sub-Continent and Southeast Asia.

Actually, things have gone much further than before: the majority of people on our planet lost their ability to think logically. They have been brainwashed by the propagandist mass media, by mass-produced movies and pop music, by bizarre ‘trends’ in fashion and by aggressive consumerism.

Education and media outlets have lost all their independence and become subservient to the interests of the regime.

Western ‘democracy’ (not much of a project to begin with), has kicked the bucket quietly and discretely, and its advocates again began taking direct dictates from big business, multi-billionaires and their multi-national corporations. The system has evolved from turbo-capitalism into turbo-kleptocracy.

I work all over the world, on all continents, and what terrifies me is how ‘complete’, or call it ‘bulletproof’ the system has become.

With advanced computerization, with the ability of the regime to monitor and analyze basically all corners of our planet, there seems to be no place on earth that can escape the advances and attacks of Western imperialism and neo-colonialism.

Just imagine: some country decides to resist and to work for the well-being of its own people, and immediately the Western propaganda, its NGO’s, academia, media outlets, and potentially its mercenaries and military, get to work, systematically smearing the rebellious government, and potentially ruining entire countries. This is how Argentina collapsed, and then Brazil. This is how Syria was first destabilized and later almost destroyed.

It appears that nothing can withstand the global dictatorship.

And the global dictatorship has no mercy; it lost all rationale.

Greed, the maximization of profits, knows no boundaries. Sacrificing human lives is now commonly perpetrated. Thousands of human lives, or a few millions, it does not seem to matter. In the Democratic Republic of Congo or in West Papua, who cares, as long as coltan, uranium, gold and oil are flowing.

I witnessed entire nations ‘sinking’, becoming uninhabitable, due to global-warming: Kiribati, Tuvalu, Marshall Islands. I see tremendous islands like Borneo (known as Kalimantan in Indonesia) being thoroughly and irreversibly ruined. And nobody gives a damn. Corrupted (by the West and their own servile governments) scientists in places such as Indonesia, are still arguing that global warning and deforestation, as well as the palm oil plantations, are actually not threatening the world and its survival.

Some fifty years ago, there would have been powerful books written on these subjects. Wonderful art films were made, songs written and sang by brave bards, and the masses in both the oppressed world, but also in the West itself, bought revolutionary novels by the millions of copies. Multitudes of people stood in line, to watch films that were depicting their life, their struggle and their suffering.

Now? The destroyed masses are conditioned to forget about their nightmares and instead watch brainless horror films, some Star Wars ‘epic’, ‘romantic comedies’ depicting sweet suffering or the rich and famous. After saving for months, poor families in the devastated world are dragging their children to Disney Worlds; to those factories of plastic, emotionless dreams, to those Burger Kings of fairytales!

Mobile phones have replaced paper books, newspapers and magazines. For centuries, paper books were symbols of knowledge. No computer or telephone screen can ever replace the printed word. A scholar, a man or a woman of letters has always been surrounded by books, by notes, by documents.

All this is not happening by chance. Electronic offering is much easier to control, divert and choke, than materials that are printed on paper. The de-intellectualization of the world is clearly being done by design, step by step, in an organized fashion. Forget about ‘renaissance men and women’ in the 21st Century: even educated Western anti-capitalist thinkers are now ‘specialized’. They ‘don’t read fiction’. They are collecting ‘facts’, producing non-fiction essays and books, as well as documentary films and videos, but fully neglecting the point that all successful revolutions were always based on emotions, creativity and art; inspiring the masses, making people laugh and cry, dream and hope.

The world has become full of ‘data’, of digits. ‘Facts’ are widely available, but they do not inspire or move anybody. They do not call people to action; to the barricades. Everything is standardized. Western propaganda has managed to regulate human desire, dictating how the ‘perfect’ female or male body should look and behave. Or what the ‘correct’ perception of ‘democracy’ should be, or what is trendy and what should be considered boring and outdated.

The life of both the victims and victimizers appears to be ‘de-politicized’. But it is not! The acceptance of Western propaganda and collaboration with the regime is actually an extremely political act!

*****

I am scared because it appears that a great majority of the people have accepted what the twisted regime has ordered them to accept.

They have accepted surveillance, trends, de-humanized ‘desires’, ‘political correctness’, global imperialist fascism, pop, grotesque capitalism and grey uniformity.

Like parrots, they repeat anti-Communist slogans, as well as propaganda barks against all the countries and governments that are still resisting this monstrous Western dictatorship brought to its most bizarre extreme.

I am scared, and at the same time, I am increasingly furious. If this is the future for humanity, do we, as human beings, really have right to exist; to survive as a species? Are we so submissive, so uninventive that we always end up begging for crumbs, praying to some invented superior forces, and prostrating ourselves in front of evil greedy monarchs and morally-corrupt individuals and systems?

Fortunately, not everyone is blind, and not everyone is on his or her knees. Not all of us have lost the ability to resist, to dream, and to fight for a world that appeared to be so possible just one century ago.

Those who are still alive and standing on their feet, know perfectly well: Revolution is possible and morally justifiable. Capitalism and imperialism are totally inhuman. A Socialist or Communist system is the only way forward: not in some ‘conservative’, dogmatic form, but in an ‘internationalist’, enlightened and tolerant way. (As clarified in my latest book Revolutionary Optimism, Western Nihilism. ).

It is the beginning of the year; 2019. Let us try to recap some basics:

Destroying entire parts of the world, and ransacking their natural resources for cold, selfish profit, is wrong.

Brainwashing countries, overthrowing their progressive governments, and derailing their natural development, is damn wrong, too.

Turning populations of the entire planet into idiots and zombies, making them consume violent and brainless movies, listen to crap music and eat junk food, dreaming about making love to shop window figurines and their human equivalent, is evil.

Using the media, education and entertainment for indoctrination purposes is barbaric.

And so is turning the entire planet into some primitive consumer market.

To fight such a system is glorious. And it is by definition ‘trendy’ and fun.

To use the terminology of the empire: collaboration and uniformity can never be ‘cool’. Listening and watching the same garbage cannot be ‘fashionable’. Banging into the same mobile phone screens can hardly be defined as ‘advanced’, and broad-minded.

Licking the boots of some old fart who owns banks or destructive corporations, is far from a modern, elegant and refined way of living.

Watching how our beloved planet is going up in flames, due to neo-imperialism and turbo-capitalism, while not doing anything to stop it, is nothing else other than stupid.

*****

I began 2019 by writing the first chapter of my 1000-page novel “One Year of Life”. This novel began in 2019 and it will finish at the end of the same year. At the very end of it. Enough of non-fiction only!

As a novelist and playwright, I believe in human emotions. I have also witnessed enough uprisings and revolutions to finally realize that naked facts and data will never bring people to the barricades.

Time to un-dust the old banners, to bring back poetry, art, literature, films, theatre, and music. They are our best allies.

The West tries to silence emotions, ‘burn’ books and hit us all with ugly, meaningless noise and images, because it knows perfectly well that beauty is creative and inspiring. Beauty and creativity are also ‘dangerous’, in fact, fatal to the regime’s dark and depressing designs.

I may be scared, but I am also cautiously hopeful. We can still win. Actually, it is our obligation to win. This Planet has to survive. If we win, it will. If we lose, it will go to hell.

It will be an extremely tough struggle that lies ahead of us. And no one will fight just in the name of facts and data. People are known to fight only in the name of a beautiful future. For us to win, all great muses are expected to march by the side of brave and determined revolutionaries!

• First published by NEO – New Eastern Outlook

A Global Battle of Values and Ideals

With each day that passes the conflict and animosity between the conservative reactionary forces and the global movement for progressive change becomes more acute, uglier and increasingly dangerous; wherever one looks in the world the battleground between groups on either side of the divide rages. In essence, it is a battle of values and ideas, of what kind of society we want to live in, but as the extremes, particularly those on what is commonly called the ‘right’, assert themselves, the space for rational, open debate is being crushed and a febrile intolerant atmosphere fueled.

Decades of systemic failure, environmental vandalism and social injustice have caused widespread discontent and anger among people in many countries, injustice made more severe by policies of crippling austerity following the 2008 banking crash. Among the 38 members of the wealthy OECD nations it is said that 50% of the population feel disenchanted with the political-economic system.

Consistent with the times we are living in – times in which the forces of the past are receding and the energies of the new are increasing in potency, the reaction to such discontent has been polarized. While large numbers of people recognize systemic change is needed and are calling for greater levels of cooperation between people and nations, others, in many cases equally great in numbers, blame external forces and immigration, and retreat into a narrow form of nationalism, seeking security.

Antagonisms have been inflamed by politicians who either fail to understand the impact of their poisonous rhetoric or simply don’t care what effect they have. The resulting political divisions are acute and, in many cases, compromise between groups on either side of the debate appears impossible as, for example, the government shut down in America and the Brexit deadlock demonstrate. Brexit has become the burning issue of conflict in the UK, fueling fractious, volatile political debate and entrenched national divisions. As one pro-EU protestor told The Observer, “this is civil war without the muskets…it is appalling.”

Throughout Europe and America a huge increase in hate crimes against immigrants and other groups is one of the consequences of these tensions, as is distrust of the mainstream media and the abuse of MPs, particularly of women: a report (surveying 55 female MPs from 39 countries) from the Inter-Parliamentary Union reveals that 44.4% of all women elected to office have received threats of either “death, rape, beatings and/or abductions.” In Britain, the BBC relates that, “Labour MP Jess Phillips said in one night she received 600 rape threats and was threatened with violence and aggression every day.”

Other female members of parliament in the UK, especially those from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic groups, have consistently been the victims of such disturbing attacks, and on the 7th January online abuse spilled on to the streets when MP Anna Soubry, a pro-Europe member of the Conservative party, was verbally attacked and physically intimidated by a group of far right activists who support the UK leaving the European Union. The men surrounded her outside the House of Commons, called her a ‘Fascist’ and a ‘Nazi’, and blocked her way as she tried to enter Parliament; these men are “not protestors” said Soubry, “they are thugs.” And, as the murder of the MP Jo Cox on 16th June 2016 so tragically showed, in the hands of such people, vile words can easily become violent actions.

Such intolerance and hate flows from fear and ignorance, both of which are constantly agitated by misinformation. People increasingly live in like-minded bubbles, their views – no matter how extreme – are constantly reinforced by what they choose to read and watch and who they listen to; alternative positions remain unheard, balance denied. As one right-wing protestor, who supports a plethora of conspiracy theories, told the Observer, “I find news the way I need to find it…if I can get it from a family member then that’s it…The country should prepare for riots,” he says. “They can’t expect the people to be law-abiding citizens when government is as corrupt as it is. All them people in here [inside Parliament] are getting paid backhanders all the way through the system.”

This level of suspicion makes discussion, cooperation and compromise impossible, divisions inevitable, leading potentially to conflict. Walls are erected, some constructed from steel or concrete, others, perhaps even more dangerous, made up of prejudice and distrust. Both strengthen isolation and deepen divisions, nationally and globally, which makes dealing with any type of global crisis; e.g., a pandemic or economic crash, a greater risk than would otherwise be the case.

The polarization of politics and large numbers of the public has come about as a result of the enormous resistance to fundamental change that has been consistently shown by weak politicians of all colors; this inability to respond to the demands of the times has created great uncertainty. The longer change is resisted, and the ways of the past are perpetuated, the more intense the divisions and insecurities will become.

It is the conservative-leaning political parties, institutions and corporations of the world that are most firmly attached to the existing systems and modes of living. And despite the fact that the prevailing socio-economic order has fueled unprecedented levels of inequality, concentrated wealth and power in the hands of a tiny percentage of the population and trapped working class people in economic uncertainty and in many cases poverty, it is this very demographic that is energizing the reactionary groups that are working to maintain the status-quo.

The toxic movement towards isolation, intolerance and division is a crystallized fearful response to the unstoppable current of change that is sweeping the world, and the determination by those who have benefited from the current systems to resist change at all costs.

Every age has its own specific qualities; the last two thousand years or so have seen the emergence of individuality on a mass scale, of which tribal nationalism is an extreme and negative form of expression. Individuality is a most valuable and positive quality, but when, as is often the case, it is expressed as selfishness, and self-centered activity it becomes destructive. In order to breach the prevailing divisions and overcome the various crises facing humanity the strengths of the individual, the diversity and beauty of people and nations needs to be placed at the service of the wider community, and not simply used for the benefit of the individual or the particular country.

Building on from the achievement of mass individuality the key ideals of this time and the age that stretches before us are unity, cooperation and tolerance; such qualities necessitate and encourage a shift away from a narrow ‘me first’ approach to living to an awareness and responsibility for society more broadly and the natural world. Sharing is the essential element in the manifestation of such Principles of Goodness, by it expression trust is cultivated, and where trust exists barriers break down.

The “Kosher Nostra” Nation

[T]the loveliest trick of the Devil is to persuade you that he does not exist.

– Charles Baudelaire, The Generous Gambler (1864)

The Jewish state of Israel characterizes itself as a “Jewish and democratic” state, although the latest law of the Knesset wishes to raise “Jewishness” above “democracy”. However, it must be blindingly obvious to anyone not in thrall to the ruling narratives, that when a minority of a population is regarded as hostile, is unwelcome and therefore is never part of a governing coalition, democracy must be a casualty, especially when that minority has been singled out for discriminatory and dispossessory treatment, despite the legal somersaulting of the greatest of Jewish legal minds.

– Lynda Burstein Brayer1

Brief: Having now called an election in April, it seems clear Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s rationale for the early poll is to avert possible indictment for alleged corruption. Always something of a political ‘chancer’ whom few would accuse of lacking chutzpah, even for the estimable “Bibi” this is an audacious gamble. Either way, win or lose (and we might opine, guilty or innocent), very little is likely to change for the better in the way the state of Israel comports itself on the international stage. With that in mind, this is as good a time as any to take a deeper look at this increasingly militarily aggressive and geopolitically opportunistic nation, which like its current leader, has long been a law unto itself. I paid a visit of sorts to the Wailing Wall.

Invoking the Horrors of the Past

In a speech written in late January 1970, and read on 3 February that year to an International Conference of Parliamentarians in Cairo (a day after he died), after first noting that ‘the traditional role of the imperial power [is to] to consolidate with the least difficulty what it has already taken by violence…’, famed English philosopher, historian and social critic Bertrand Russell had the following to say about Israel:

…[E]very new conquest becomes the new basis of the proposed negotiation from strength, which ignores the injustice of the previous aggression. The aggression…must be condemned, not only because no state has the right to annex foreign territory, but because every expansion is an experiment to discover how much more aggression the world will tolerate….We are frequently told that we must sympathize with Israel because of the suffering of the Jews in Europe at the hands of the Nazis. I see in this suggestion no reason to perpetuate any suffering. What Israel is doing today cannot be condoned, and to invoke the horrors of the past to justify those of the present is gross hypocrisy.’[My emphasis].

For the more detached, by any measure Russell’s critique even at the time was a damning indictment of the Middle East’s ‘only democratic state’. Though obviously appalled by its treatment of the Palestinians, much of Russell’s ire and indignation likely derived from Israel’s involvement in the hugely pivotal 1967 Six-Day War (still fresh in people’s minds), though few, if any, of his contemporaries would’ve been privy to the full picture of that “involvement” as it unfolded.

Such an appraisal is rendered even more damning when we consider the objective reality of Israel’s conduct in the intervening decades and what we’ve since come to know about it. Hardly a day has gone by where Israel has not tried to distort and corrupt said “reality”; this is especially evident in its purported desire for Middle East peace, where its key talking points on the matter are somewhat incongruent with said “reality”. Along with their intransigence on the matter of statehood for the Palestinians, in effect [it] is doing everything in its power to destabilise the region, as it has done for much of its history.

Yet that it has been remarkably successful at this endeavour is an understatement to be sure: “The Most Moral Army in the World?!” It takes some chutzpah to come up with a tagline like that! And we only need consider the number of pundits within the geopolitical ‘opinionocracy’ who’ve bought into this counterfeit narrative. Indeed, many of them—past and present—have been party to its creation, are guardians of its myths, accountable for the legacies thereof, and/or treasonable accomplices to its invention and preservation. Such is the extraordinary power of this “narrative” that, if it collapsed or was even seriously challenged, the country would probably cease to exist, at least in its present iteration. This is one reality Israel’s staunchest defenders doubtless realise, though few would wish to ever have that conversation for fear of tempting fate.

Its ‘settler-colonialist/democratic-apartheid’ status notwithstanding, by any definition Israel is a rogue state, one that routinely ignores the peremptory norms of international law. Indeed any other country that conducted itself on the world’s stage in the manner Israel sees fit to do so would, in a just world, be considered a pariah and be treated as one.

Yet such is Israel’s chokehold on public perception via its control of both the US legislature, the electoral system, and the media, most people still view it as the perennial victim, a constant target of nations, groups, organisations, and individuals who wish at the very least to deny its legitimacy (as fragile as it is), or at worst, wipe it off the map. It takes an extraordinary effort and a certain kind of collective genius, albeit of a decidedly malevolent, evil variety, in order to manipulate international public perception to such a degree, and maintain such a tight leash on that narrative over decades. To allude to the epigraph, this might be Israel’s “cleverist wile”.

Not quite convinced? Let’s go ‘shopping’ shall we? No other nation:

  1. benefits more substantively or more frequently from U.S. largesse and its alliance with America (and the West in general) or enjoys so many perks and privileges;
  2. comes close to punching so far above its own weight in having Washington’s ear and works harder at downplaying broad awareness of its influence and power;
  3. leverages its prime benefactor’s strategic and financial power so brazenly and so often in the service of its own interest and aspirations (and not always those of its benefactors);
  4. is more effective and more blatant at stifling free speech and any debate, no matter how rational or reasonable, that runs counter to those interests and aspirations;
  5. so stealthily yet pervasively controls the ‘optics’ of the global media narrative and the broad public and political discourse that forms the foundation of public perception about it;
  6. is so impervious to, indeed immune from, approbation or reproach, much less the consequences thereof, by its principal sponsor and/or the international community for its numerous and well documented criminal ‘delinquencies’;
  7. routinely spies on and regularly steals information from its benefactor of both a commercial and strategic value and even on-sells this information to U.S. rivals and potential enemies;
  8. comes more complete with more obvious contradictions between the image it portrays to the world and the reality of its behaviour, conduct and actions; and,
  9. in the absence of any serious, concerted, effective opposition can be expected based on its track record to push the envelope further in the uncompromising pursuit of these aspirations regardless of the consequences or the objections of the rules-based international community.

How Did we Get Here?

Given the Constitution-defying priority any specific U.S. administration—Democrat or Republican—attributes to Israel, it is worth recalling some Oval Office tenants whose relationships with the nation should set the mood for a deeper elucidation of the themes herein. To begin with it wasn’t always this way, certainly not until the presidency of Lyndon Baines Johnson (aka LBJ). It might sound like a big call at first, but few presidents of the modern era have managed to bequeath their country a legacy as consequential and enduring as that of LBJ.

Now I suspect most folks might think of the Vietnam War as the ‘crowning achievement’ of LBJ’s dubious legacy. Yet for this writer it was Johnson’s unprecedented and unequivocal support for Israel—support which amongst other things facilitated that country’s illegal acquisition of nuclear weapons whilst waiving any of the transparency and accountability provisions included in international nuclear non-proliferation treaties—from the time he came into office in November 1963, that may well be the more consequential aspect of that legacy. We’ll come back to the LBJ/Israel thing soon, but first a bit of useful history.

In 2018, 70 years after president Harry Truman finally succumbed to both internal and external pressure (he was initially opposed to the notion of a Jewish state in Palestine and for good reason), and effectively gave the nod for the Zionists to create the state of Israel—against the advice of numerous people within and across diplomatic, political and national security circles—the phenomenal power, influence and control this tiny nation has come to exert in the United States since that time is now an ineluctable, existentially dangerous reality. America is now Israel’s life-line and meal-ticket, its life insurance policy, its ‘minder’ (muscle) if one likes. The implications of this reality became manifestly obvious long ago, but the implications of maintaining that relationship going forward are becoming increasingly disconcerting.2

For his part Truman’s successor Dwight (“Ike”) Eisenhower trod a very cautious path when it came to Israel. He was not backward in reining in Israel’s imperial minded tendencies, which revealed themselves to the world at large during the Suez Crisis in 1956. Israel had invaded Egypt in tandem with, and encouraged by, the then imperial colossi of the Middle East, France and Great Britain. Eisenhower vehemently opposed this action when it was proposed, and was by all accounts ropable when they went ahead with it behind his back. Ike’s successor John F Kennedy’s (JFK) attitude towards the state of Israel is well documented, most memorably by the late Michael Collins Piper in his book Final Judgment, wherein he points the finger directly at the Israelis as amongst those involved in the planning, execution, and cover-up of JFK’s ‘Big Day Out’ in November 1963. That aside, Kennedy notably refused to entertain Israel’s ambition to build their own nuclear arsenal, and for this and other reasons kept them at arm’s length. This policy incensed former Zio-terrorist David Ben-Gurion (by then the Israeli PM after succeeding Moshe Sharat), who after JFK was murdered, then rallied his hard-core off-siders who were chomping at the bit to assert themselves as the new kids on the Middle East block. They finally had in Johnson, a real friend in the White House.

Israel then has much to thank Number 36 for “that” priceless commodity of “having Washington’s ear”, a political “access all areas” gift-card that for Israel just keeps on giving. The Israel lobby and their numerous surrogates wasted little time in ‘infiltrating’ LBJ’s administration from the top down, and they were upgraded to frequent flyer status by the Israel friendly new POTUS. It has continued uninterrupted to this day.3

And the recent passing of George HW Bush for many was probably not lamented too much by folks of a certain political or historical worldview, even for those not given to speaking or thinking ill of the dear departed. Yet according to Alison Weir of If Americans Knew, he deserves credit for at least one initiative, one that almost certainly contributed to his failed bid for reelection in 1992 as POTUS, and which by definition changed the course of history. (“It’s the Zionists, stupid!” anyone?)

In Weir’s summation, in holding up a $10 billion loan guarantee in 1991 to Israel over its continued settlement building in Palestine, Bush senior ‘won the battle, but eventually lost the war’, a lesson that presidents and political folks of all stripes have remembered ever since. Bush told Israel that the U.S. would not give it $10 billion in loan guarantees until Israel stopped building settlements in the West Bank and Gaza, which, of course, are illegal under international law. In his efforts to seek a peaceful solution to the intractable issue of the settlements and an overarching peace agreement between Israel and Palestinians, Bush Senior stated publicly:

I think the American people will strongly support me in this. I’m going to fight for it because I think this is what the American people want, and I’m going to do absolutely everything I can to back those members of the Congress who are forward-looking in their desire to see peace.

Noble sentiments to be sure, but Bush was way off base if he felt that such political posturing would carry him to a second term.4 It would seem that neither the Congress—bought and paid for by the Lobby in any event as much then as it is now—nor the much lauded “American people” were that “forward looking in their desire to see peace”. It was either that or the “American people” were suffering from compassion fatigue, had bigger concerns in their lives, didn’t understand the implications, or couldn’t be bothered voting. One suspects that very little has changed.

Of course, the Israel lobby, notably the powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)—always at the ready with a fine line in umbrage—was not unexpectedly, well, ‘umbraged’ at Bush’s gambit. He overestimated the Congress and the people they represented, and in underestimating the power of the Lobby, HW made a career limiting move of the presidential kind.

“Ye Shall Blot them out to the Last Man”

It’s worth noting that at the time the Israeli PM was (former terrorist cum Mossad chief) Yitzhak Shamir, a man who like many Israeli leaders believed that his country was both above the law and beyond moral reproach. This extended even to the point back in the day of declaring that Israel had the right to interfere in the affairs of other countries, a reality amply documented in two recently released al-Jazeera documentaries (here, and here), with one citing the outcome of the 1992 election as further evidence. Such is the sense of entitlement and righteousness, even Shamir made no bones about it:

We are very far from having any moral qualms as far as our national war goes. We have before us the command of the Torah, whose morality surpasses that of any other body of laws in the world: ‘Ye shall blot them out to the last man.’

When Shamir was himself ousted in July 1992, his successor Yitzhak Rabin, promised to honour the loan guarantees, after which Bush finally inked the deal. But not only were Bush’s second term ambitions scuttled; Israel under Netanyahu in 1996 subsequently reneged on the loan guarantees in any event. The settlements are a going concern to this day. (Rabin, who may or may not have been committed to the settlements issue, was in any event assassinated in 1995.)

That said, for some there are signs this elaborate and unprecedented facade it has painstakingly constructed is beginning to crack. In a recent RT interview with Rick Sanchez, Chris Hedges discussed the Boycott, Divestment & Sanction (BDS) movement, which seeks amongst other aims to put economic and diplomatic pressure on Israel and highlight the dire predicament of the Palestinians who are living under what is no less than an apartheid system. This system is one unilaterally imposed by Israel in complete defiance of international law and democratic principles, attended by utter indifference to the basic human rights of Palestinians, such as equality, security, justice, peace, and freedom. Indeed we might argue that Israel’s greatest public relations triumph is the degree it has managed to convince the rest of the world to subscribe to and fully embrace that same level of indifference.

Nonetheless, Hedges posited that Israel is becoming ‘frightened and desperate’, evidenced in his view by the anti-BDS legislation spreading throughout the US. This campaign by the Israeli lobby in America and their many supporters at the municipal, state and federal levels represents an all-out effort to protect Israel’s public image by derailing the movement and discrediting the people and the organisations behind it. With numerous U.S. states—attended by no small measure of sharia-like dedication to the cause it seems—having enshrined into legislation anti-BDS statutes, the first amendment rights of Americans are under attack in a manner which would have the Founding Fathers, at least those whose enthusiasm for it was genuine, spinning furiously in their eternally designated plots of land.

Moreover, Israel is attempting on a global scale to redefine the very meaning of anti-Semitism, an overused, though nonetheless utilitarian epithet serving the country well as both an impregnable force-field against criticism and a formidable attack/offensive weapon purpose-built to denigrate, discredit, even destroy, those who’d dare to challenge its behaviour. Insofar as Hedges is concerned though, Israel ‘can no longer control its narrative or hide the brutality of their apartheid system.’

For an incisive insight into some of those “controlled narratives” (or myths), it is perhaps Ilan Pappe’s Ten Myths about Israel that best serves to identify these foundational narratives (which Pappe describes as “fallacies”), how they have been created, who’s controlling them, and what the end game might be if we’re to be living in a world where these myths continue to prevail, and we are prepared or even forced to accept them. Well might we ask: How do these myths and fallacies—especially when the carefully crafted perceptions underpinning them clash with the brutal reality of the facts on the ground as it were—threaten the geopolitical order? Iraq? Libya? Syria? Yemen? Anyone?….just to give you a taste of “the brutal reality of the facts on the ground”!

The answers to these and other questions are beyond the scope of this essay but in rhetorical form are worth keeping front of mind as we go forward. Pappe identifies several “fallacies” that have sustained Israel’s image and credibility as a “moral” nation, that: it has every right to exist; it has a right to defend itself; its cause is righteous; that other nations wish to destroy it; and that unlike other nations it is not accountable under international law. The Israelis we might aver have their own ‘peculiar institution‘ vis-a-vis the Palestinians—a form of modern slavery wherein human, social, economic and other rights are routinely denied in an apartheid state to people whose land they continue to dispossess and ‘set up shop’ on, and whose property and belongings they continue to loot, misappropriate, confiscate, steal or destroy without restraint etc.5

Though it would doubtless have the world believe it, Israel’s greatest strategic threat isn’t Iran, it is the increasingly concerted efforts—as welcome as they are necessary—by numerous groups, nations, and individuals (including prominent Israeli citizens) to call out Israel so as to rein in its lawless behaviour. Israel knows this. The corollary to this is that Israel’s greatest existential fear is the erosion of support that it currently enjoys with the American electorate whether from Jews and non-Jews alike, though it would be a courageous pundit who’d opine as to how this might play out and over what period of time.

This isn’t just evidenced by their own relentless, strenuous efforts to both shut these groups and individuals down; they have infiltrated and then undermined whole nations’ legal systems and political processes in order to amongst other aims make it punishable by law to even criticise the country. If the phrase (generally attributed to Voltaire), ‘To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize’ is essentially true, it’s difficult to think of any other nation that might qualify for the ‘gig’. The recent incident where a Texas school district speech pathologist was sacked because she refused to sign an oath declaring she would never support the BDS movement is just one of the more recent and glaring examples of this draconian effort to stifle any kind of debate about Israel.

Revenge of the Mosers?

For those still with doubts about the coercive power Israel and its network of institutional, organisational and political supporters wield in the West—especially in Great Britain and the United States—then the two documentaries produced by Qatar’s al-Jazeera news network mentioned earlier surely will dispel any uncertainty. (See links above). As these films illustrate, this increasingly out of control ally of the West brooks very little opposition to its hegemonic tendencies in the Greater Middle East. Israel for its part refuses to recognise—much less respond in kind to—the boundaries defined by international law.

In doing so then, the country thumbs its nose at the fundamental tenets and principles tying the community of nations together along with the very sovereignty of individual countries, and places global security, peace and stability in even greater existential peril. In short, the more the Israelis push those boundaries, the more they’ll continue to feel it’s their God-given right to do so, and the more we will proceed, by default or by design, to let them get way with it. This is one of the most important takeaways from these two films, the first one focussing on the lobby in Great Britain, and the second one that of the United States.

From a geopolitical standpoint, this is more a nightmare in the making than [an] accident waiting to happen. Unless we’re all chomping at the bit for another World War with all the bells ‘n whistles as it were, it is high time we called time on Israel, and hold it truly accountable. If that sounds alarmist, then consider the following.

Earlier this year Colin Powell’s former Chief-of-Staff Lawrence Wilkerson declared categorically that Israel is in the process of dragging America into a war with Iran, one which could destroy what’s left of the Middle East and ignite ‘a third world war’.6 )) Wilkerson says the evidence is clear: “Israel seeks ‘a massive confrontation with the various powers arrayed against it, [one] that will suck America in and perhaps terminate the experiment that is Israel and do irreparable damage to the empire that America has become.” [My emphasis].

Wilkerson points the finger of blame at Netanyahu, whose bespoke denigrations of the Iranian Islamic republic are as strident as they are provocative. To anyone within earshot Bibi, with monotonous frequency, kvetches in full-tilt Cassandra-like mode that Iran a) represents the greatest threat facing the Jewish state and to the very stability of the Middle East; and b) is constantly fanning the flames of anti-Semitism as if they’ve somehow cornered the market on it. Wilkerson dismissed these self-serving accusations out of hand using simple logic—an argumentative tool with which far too many of Israel’s defenders appear to be unacquainted.

As Wilkerson said at the time: ‘This antisemitism bit, of course…is almost always a weapon of choice for Israeli politicians under stress hurled, in this case, at the country whose Jewish population—by the way, the largest in the Middle East outside of Turkey and Israel—lives in Iran in reasonable peace.’ [My Emphasis] Like so many of us, what Wilkerson appears to be suggesting amongst other things is that the ‘cachet’ of the anti-Semitic jibe is now not as effective as it used to be. This is part of the reason why Israel is losing control of the narrative.

And to the extent where they even exist in substantive form, Israel’s status and reach are such that countervailing forces struggle to contain this monster. To underscore this, we might consider David Sheen’s recent Lobelog piece, the unambiguously titled “Israel Crushes Resistance At Home And Abroad.” For Sheen, the Jewish-Israeli left is ‘in tatters’, a spent political force. What is interesting about his comment is that whilst it may be obvious to more clear-eyed folks, the dominance of the hard-right itself does not seem to receive much attention in the cut and thrust of public political debate, especially in the corporate media. This in itself may or may not be coincidental, as the disempowerment and marginalisation of the left in general in the West has been, we might argue, a work in progress for some time. The dismal power-political status of the Israeli left notwithstanding, it may be simply mirroring the broader political-economic reality.

Moreover, given the well documented fact that the mainstream press in the west is virtually unanimous in its unquestioning support for Israel, we cannot realistically expect this will change anytime soon. Sheen further notes the Jewish-Israeli left make up ‘a tiny fraction’ of Israel’s overall population, with ‘numbers steadily shrinking since the start of the millennium’. In Sheen’s depressing and ominous summation—one just dripping with historical irony, albeit of the truly tragic kind—the lay of the land in Israeli politics is such that:

No alliance of progressive parties can hold a candle to Israel’s hawkish governing coalitions. No liberal newspaper can pull the public away from the tabloids that back PM Netanyahu and his rivals even further to the right. And no upstart activist group has been able to sway the hearts and minds of significant numbers of young Jews, brainwashed with ever-increasing doses of Zionist propaganda…Top Israeli lawmakers openly incite against leftist figures with frightening regularity, knowing that these attacks will only increase their own popularity among Israeli voters. Even without this egging on, Israeli society is increasingly purging its leftists from positions of influence, as the Israelis who’ve lost their jobs in recent years…for their left-leaning views can attest to.

For those of us who’ve long argued that any hope for Israel’s ‘rehabilitation’ rests largely on the future efforts of left-leaning, liberal or progressive Jewish activist groups and individuals both in Israel and in the U.S. especially, to counter, then reject, the tenets of Zionism, Sheen’s observation leaves one pessimistic. With Zionism the reigning ideology in Israel and being one completely at odds with anything we might define as “liberal”, the real battle must be undertaken by a critical mass of ordinary Jews everywhere who genuinely subscribe to authentic liberal values and/or are decidedly uncomfortable with Israel purporting to act on their behalf and in their interests. I imagine also (or at least hope) there’d be quite a few Jewish folks of a more conservative hew who might be willing to embrace some liberal principles and muster up some umbrage in the cause of justice, equality and peace for the Palestinians if they were willing to inform themselves of the more grim realities that actually exist on the ground. Either way, it’s going to be a long haul.

But as Sheen has noted, such numbers are on the wane, and not just in Israel. For him the picture in the U.S. is even more gloomy. He posits the prospect that American Jews, the next-largest Jewish community in the world (interestingly one perceived to be much more liberal than Israel’s own), might be able to conjure up that “critical mass” required for the battle. However, as he notes, any hope upon the part of frustrated Israeli-based activists of soliciting the support of their American brethren is a forlorn one:

Unfortunately for those besieged Israeli leftists, it would seem that the Israeli government already has a significant head start on them, taking the fight stateside, as well. The apparent objective: Crush any US opposition [to Israel], and to those who’d build their own white ethno-states in its likeness. [My Emphasis]

In an Open Letter he penned to his fellow Israelis in 2016, journalist Jonathan Ofir struck a similar note with the following:

…my hopes of change coming from within us Israelis have regrettably declined in the years – and thus, I am also, if not more so, placing my bets upon the involvement of the international community—whose help we need so badly—not for more cash, weapons, or apologetic “understanding”, but rather for its intervention in what we are apparently unable, and mostly unwilling, to fix. The attitude which I thus exhibit here is an extremely unpopular one in Israeli and Jewish culture. It is the vein of the “moser”—the one who “snitches” against the “Jewish nation” towards the goyim. Well, get over it. There are far more serious issues at hand.

For the objective observer of geopolitical affairs and assorted ‘reality’ purists then, the following ‘specimen’ can’t be denied easily. Along with being one that is not easily explained away, as already hinted, this peculiar “reality” has portentous implications for everyone on this planet: That Israel, allied with certain individuals, institutions and assorted ‘infiltrators’ and fifth columnists in the United States, whether Israeli or American citizens or both but all still unreservedly simpatico with [Israel], has exerted such a massively inordinate, consequential influence in the enactment and execution of U.S. foreign policy, along with being a country which routinely undermines and manipulates the American democratic system and the electoral process so pervasively. Now that’s what I’d call a robust sense of reckless entitlement.

Read that: Israel is thereby placing at risk global stability and security in ways which will surely be as unprecedented as they are unpredictable. Israel to sum up simply, is a law unto itself!

For my part I can’t recall offhand any similar episode in history where the reigning superpower of the era effectively relinquished its power to a much smaller nation and in the process, outsourced control of its own destiny —and we might add, the fate of many other nations including those it purports to ally itself with—to a self-serving cabal whose first allegiance apart from themselves and their ilk is, and has always been, to the nation which is the direct if not so deserving beneficiary of this accumulation and aggregation of power. This is perhaps the grandest gesture history has to offer of geopolitical folly, a largesse unthinkingly and it would appear, unconditionally bestowed upon one nation by another, albeit of the genuinely existentially dangerous kind……we’re breaking new ground here I suppose. What may be less obvious for most is that in the doing thereof, America has brought both itself and the World Order as we know it a whole mess o’ trouble down the mountain. And maybe that was the game-plan all along!?

Back in the day when George Bush faced off against Bill Clinton in 1992, the latter realised quite early “[it’s] the economy, stupid!” that mattered. History was to prove him right in one sense. But for the former, he presumably realised—albeit too late—that it really was the Zionists after all.

It still is.

  1. Extract from: “Zionism, Judaism and the Jewish State of Israel: Separateness, ontological uniqueness and Jewish morality are its characteristics,” The Saker Blog, November 23, 2018
  2. For an informed history of the creation of Israel and how it acquired its extraordinary influence over American political life, sans the myths and fallacies, folks should check out Alison Weir’s Against our Better Judgment. Her website <a href=”https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&amp;rct=j&amp;q=&amp;esrc=s&amp;source=web&amp;cd=13&amp;cad=rja&amp;uact=8&amp;ved=2ahUKEwiA19jVwcnfAhWKXbwKHekODukQFjAMegQIDRAB&amp;url=https%3A%2F%2Fifamericaknew.org%2Fabout_us%2Faccusations.html&amp;usg=AOvVaw1yTUbhDeZQv0LWLMQxUdnV”><em>If Americans Knew</em></a> is also an essential watering hole for truth-seekers on the subject of Israel, Israel/U.S. relations, Palestine and the Middle East in general.
  3. For further information surrounding the key events and people of the Johnson era, readers should seek out Phillip Nelson’s Remember the Liberty and my own two-part essay on same, here and here.
  4. In the 1988 election Bush reportedly garnered around 35 per cent of the Jewish vote, but that ‘tanked’ to less than one third of that in 1992. His campaign donations from Jewish sources also were substantially down.
  5. In the accompanying video lecture Pappe speaks about the book.
  6. ((As CoS to Colin Powell’s Secretary of State in the early years of Bush Junior’s administration, Wilkerson got suckered before by the Israels and their U.S. based neoconservative cum Zionist/PNAC brethren in the lead up the Iraq invasion in 2003. And we all know how that turned out. Insofar as one can gather, Wilkerson’s not about to let any of them forget it.