Posts Tagged ‘US imperialism’


Days of reckoning

February 16, 2018

Even if one reduces ones personal carbon footprint to the absolute minimum, leading a modest and efficient life, even if many people do that, as humanity faces the perils of chemical pollution, climate change, deforestation, and biodiversity loss, even if they become the majority, the question remains, what to do with the ones who don’t care about the destruction of the natural world, who live a lavish, luxurious, wasteful life, who are ignorant, heartless, callous, and unrepentant.

They will take the chance to continue their destructive ways as ecological collapse is postponed for a few years by the lifestyle changes of the many. They will laugh about the “tree huggers,” mock them, despise them. They will see themselves as superior, successful, smart, modern, hip.

They are people like Elon Musk, who launched his rocket Falcon Heavy, loaded with a Tesla Roadster luxury car, into space just for fun. Or Jeff Bezos, responsible for the hell of Amazon’s work culture, or Mark Zuckerberg, revamping Facebook into an instrument of surveillance and censorship, or casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and his brethren the Koch brothers, supporters of all reactionary causes, or the Walton family, selling crap and junk food at Walmart, or Bill Gates, posing as a philanthropist while promoting GMOs, advancing nuclear power research (TerraPower), and destroying local economies in Africa.

They are also office workers, bank clerks, technicians, small shop owners, salesmen, craftsmen, truckers, farmers.

They are used to showy cars and cheap gas, they love shopping, buying new gadgets, looking for the newest fads. They don’t want to change their habits, customs, routines, they see every appeal to change as an infringement of their freedom, their god-given rights. They will fight to keep their privileges or assumed privileges.

But instinctively they know that one day they will be confronted by the many, who finally have understood, that the very existence of life on this planet is threatened.

They prepare for that day. The rich ones buy mansions in Monaco, London, Florida, islands in Hawaii, the Bahamas, Fiji, Greece, the Caribbean, they buy superyachts and set up comfortable hideaways, complete with swimming pool, golf course, helipad, and nuclear bunker. They employ bodyguards, they organize their private militias and armies.

The less affluent buy firearms, hoard supplies (preppers), and join fascist organizations.

They are well prepared, they are vigilant, they have built concentric lines of defense, they will rain down fire on everybody who is suspected to be a threat.

And yet, no matter how difficult the task, how impossible the mission, they have to be neutralized, subdued, defeated, eliminated in some way, otherwise we are all doomed.

Not for the faint hearted 

It can be done and it has already started. If you think that you are alone, an outsider, hapless, forsaken, as you single-handedly try to hold off the trek of the lemmings to the cliff, rest assured, this is not so. You are not alone, you are part of a broad movement. Millions of people feel like you, have come to the same conclusions, are on the same mission.

All over the world sensible, sensitive, conscientious people form communities, disguised as barter / swapping groups, time-banks, co-ops, charities, neighborhood councils, environmental groups, and are right now working on plans, plots, and projects, cautiously testing them in small local settings. The combined ingenuity of life’s defenders will find a way to defeat life’s destroyers.

This will not be a violent revolution, there will be no fighting, no battlefields littered with corpses, no blood on the streets of cities, towns, villages. There will be casualties, mainly among life’s destroyers, as the unmovable, unchangeable ones will die from their own medicine. They will have brought it onto themselves.

The details of the various plots and strategies cannot be discussed publicly for obvious reasons, here only a short overview which doesn’t give anything critical away:

TV, social media, computer games will be used to sedate or incapacitate the less affluent among life’s destroyers permanently. As George Orwell wrote in his dystopian novel 1984: …films, football, beer, and above all, gambling filled up the horizon of their minds. To keep them in control was not difficult….

Psychotropic drugs may play a role. Psilocybin could be used to pacify and enlighten, while the promotion of methamphetamine, fentanyl, W-18, and other synthetic drugs would be unethical. The US opioid epidemic is continuing and likely getting worse anyway.

The rich and the well-educated ones need a different and more sophisticated treatment.

They have to be guided gently to the cliff with a mesmerizing Fata Morgana emerging from the deep waters, or lured into a trap or into a lonely dead end road where supposedly great treasures and pleasures await them. They have to be baited to join a rat race through an unescapable labyrinth, they have to be charmed, cajoled, decoyed with promises of fortune, fame, and eternal youth to start risky adventures, use novel, untested technologies, take newly developed drugs, and undergo new medical procedures.

Elon Musk and friends may head off to Mars.

As mentioned already, the details of the various schemes cannot be discussed publicly. They will be instigated with cryptic messages or seemingly innocuous fiction (mostly short stories, some novels), they will be thought through and refined in closed circles, be carefully applied by the most gifted people, by the vanguard of the movement.

The ones who don’t have the nerve or are not confident enough to take part in covert operations meanwhile will work diligently on a paradigm shift, which on one hand is a nearly impossible task considering the total control of traditional media by the ruling elites, on the other hand is made increasingly easy by the glaring inconsistencies and contradictions in the official narrative and by the ever more visible signs of natures collapse.

A few examples

Elon Musk’s Tesla car, who now travels through space, costs 110,000 US$, but that is a pittance compared to the rocket launch, which did cost 90 million US$. And even that is a pittance compared to the 700 billion US$ which the United States every year spend for wars and weapons.

110,000 US$ is an amount which most of the wolds people will never possess. 90 million US$ will not be affordable even for the 0.2 percent of humans which are nominally millionaires, while many of the 1,800 billionaires will consider that amount of money blown into outer space as a folly, an absurdity, a silly extravagancy. 700 billion US$ for wars and weapons are too much even for the USA, the richest nation on earth. 1.4 trillion US$ has to be borrowed to compensate for US budget shortfalls, if no one would lend the money, the Pentagon would have to close shop.

But who dares to withhold the money, when the threat of color revolution, democratization, “regime change” looms.

2.3 million viewers were watching the spectacle of the Falcon Heavy launch live. They didn’t go out into the streets to protest, they didn’t petition their political representatives to end this insanity, They didn’t flood the forums and comment pages on the internet with stinging criticism.

Maybe one day they will.

700 billion US$ a year used to kill people, to invade and destroy other nations, maintain 800 military bases in 70 countries, enlist 1.3 million soldiers plus 800,000 reservists. Inconceivable, unbelievable numbers, and yet, people still don’t protest the insanity of military spending.

Maybe one day they will.

People have to be told that this is their money wasted. That this is money which is not available for their healthcare, their wages, their pensions, for infrastructure, for natures remediation.

Rockets, fighter jets, war ships, spy satellites, drones, tanks, cannons, nothing is too expensive or of questionable usefulness. Elon Musk’s Falcon Heavy is a bargain compared with Pentagons flying machines. A B-2 Spirit bomber costs 737 million US$, a F-22 Raptor 350 million, a C17A Globemaster III 328 million, yet US citizens have to drink water tainted with lead, fracking chemicals, Chromium-6, nitrates, trihalomethane, neonicotinoids and other pesticides. Many have no water at all because they cannot afford to pay their water bills and are switched off.

People may be disillusioned, they may (rightfully) have lost faith in the political process, they may have fallen prey to populist pied pipers, conned again and again. It will not be easy to gain their trust, it will only work in the privacy of quiet neighborhood communities.

There they can be told in conversations among friends and neighbors what they will lose as natures destruction progresses. There they can be shown what is already lost and which alternatives are possible. They will object that a few people will not make any difference and they have to be told, that millions of discussions like this are happening at any moment all around the world and that this is a broad movement, expanding quietly, covertly, yet fast and unstoppable.

Bringing hope to the hopeless, confidence that change is possible, belief in a common goal, this is the first part of the mission. 

It will not be done in a broad campaign, with a few exceptions which have already be mentioned: TV, social media, computer games, virtual reality will not only be used to sedate and incapacitate the less educated, less reflective permanently, it will also be used to achieve a paradigm shift, maybe even in collusion with the ruling elites.

Strange bedfellows

There are quite a few members among the ruling elites who are aware of the dangers of war, of ecological collapse, of social collapse, and they are deeply frightened.

They voiced their fears during the recent gathering of the WEF (World Economic Forum) in the Swiss luxury resort Davos. They published a “2018 Global Risks Report,” which states:

This generation enjoys unprecedented technological, scientific and financial resources, which we should use to chart a course towards a more sustainable, equitable and inclusive future. And yet this is perhaps the first generation to take the world to the brink of a systems breakdown.”

Their favorite solution is austerity. Austerity per se is not a bad idea, if it means prudence, frugality, efficiency, discipline; if it means stopping shopping, if it means dropping out of the consumer society, ending consumerism; if it means making the most with limited resources; if it means, to reduce the carbon footprint to the bare minimum (as it was mentioned already in the first sentence of this text).

Austerity, no new fancy stuff, being content with what one has, they already preach it and they prescribe it. Lower wages and pensions, less welfare spending, higher prices and utility fees are their favorite cures. But they are hypocrites, they want austerity for the masses, while they themselves intend to live on as usual, reap their profits, dividends, interest coupons, jet around the world, indulge in the most outlandish luxury one could imagine.

Sometimes one has no choice, sometimes one has to hold one’s nose.

There will be strange alliances, strange bedfellows will conspire, it will become very complicated, but the combined ingenuity of life’s defenders will make the right strategic decisions and switch or end alliances at exactly the right moment.

On the highway to ruin

Sometimes one has to keep one’s nose to the grindstone. So they say.

The blue collar and white collar workers, squeezed like lemons in a workplace environment where Amazon and Walmart set the pace, enacting the vision of Charlie Chaplin’s masterpiece Modern Times, will finally organize, strike, chase away the corrupt union bosses. Yet, with the old order coming to an end and many companies closing, they often will have to organize their work themselves in co-ops or begin a new, subsistence-based life in a post-industrial, post consumerism economy.

As computers and robots take over more and more parts of life in industrialized nations, the societies and economies of these nations are vulnerable to software disruptions. Cyber criminals, computer nerds, hackers are coding, probing, attacking around the clock. Brute force, keystroke loggers, DoS (denial-of-service), viruses, worms, trojans, Intel processor backdoors Meltdown and Spectre wait for exploits — and no fix is at hand.

There’s also the very real possibility, that a flood of perfect counterfeited and indistinguishable Dollar and Euro banknotes, millions of credit card numbers, security codes, passwords, PIN numbers out in the open, and widely known quick and easy ways to milk ATMs will wreak havoc.

US debt could become a problem. Federal debt is 20.6 trillion US$ and another 1.4 trillion will have to be added this year to make up for budget shortfalls. This number, incomprehensible as is may be, is dwarfed by unfunded government guarantees (Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac 5 trillion US$) and mandatory payments for programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security of at least 40 trillion US$. Alan Greenspan said already 30 years ago, “…we will never pay our debt; we just print new money.” The lenders though may notice one day.

Algorithmic and high-frequency trading have already caused several disturbing hiccups in the stock markets, forcing stock exchanges to close temporarily. Such disruptions could get more severe and culminate in another Black Tuesday (October 29, 1929).

Wall Street crashed already three times (1929, 1987, 2008), resulting in tumult, confusion, pandemonium. If the stock markets crash again and the global financial system unravels because half of the world (Russia, China, Iran, etc.) are excluded from SWIFT and in retaliation have replaced the petrodollar, countries will go bankrupt, financial assets of adversaries will be confiscated, and the International Arbitration Court will stop working.

Disaster capitalists may use the chaos and try to loot, steal, and rob. They could be out of luck though as all their claims are only on paper or in computer memory. If the office clerks of the world have shredded the papers while the hackers of the word have infiltrated the computer systems and erased the stored data, including all backups, they will be laughed at and left with nothing.

Besides that, they need security personal, police, militias, armies to enforce their claims, and it’s unlikely that this support is available in the turmoil following the collapse of the global financial system.

At the barrel of a gun

An especially delicate part of the plot is the issue of security services and armed forces. They possess the ultimate power, they uphold the laws, the social contract, the political and economic system. They uphold the international order and global treaties. They yield influence either directly by juntas, by military dictators, or via their representation in political life (John Kelly, H.R. McMaster, James Mattis in the Trump administration). 

If the old social order collapses, police departments, private militias, spy agencies, and army units may stake their claims and take what they want. There would be no use to resist and fight them, one could only hide, subvert, disrupt, sabotage, trick and isolate them.

There could be coups and counter coups, warlords ruling their fiefdoms, rogue units terrorizing the population, marauding, pillaging, raping, and killing.

To avoid such an outcome, all armed forces and security services must be infiltrated, engaged in amiable discussions, convinced that ecological collapse is imminent and will severely affect their lives too.

Soldiers are not the most kind, empathetic, sensitive persons, otherwise they would not enlist and take up arms. Bootcamp training for new recruits, with very harsh discipline, is used to desensitize them further.

Men under arms may be insensitive, uncompromising, unkind, rough. They are not used to negotiate, to find common ground with their adversaries, they are trained to shoot and kill. Despite that they may have a sense of duty, responsibility, and ideals of equality and social justice. Hugo Chavez, Muammar Gaddafi, Gamal Abdel Nasser, after all, were military officers.

The US Pentagon is aware of ecological perils. A recent Pentagon study found, that climate change endangers 1,700 military sites worldwide, from large bases to outposts. “Changes in climate can potentially shape the environment in which we operate and the missions we are required to do,” said the DoD (Department of Defense) in a report accompanying the study.

Before that another Pentagon Study, released in October, stated that climate change poses “immediate risks” to national security and will have broad and costly impacts on the way the US military carries out its missions.

Herding vampires, monsters, dragons

Closely related to the issue of armed forces is the issue of the USA, the worlds undisputed, omnipresent, imperious superpower, and as difficult as it will be to achieve a paradigm shift among soldiers (and armed men in general), changing US attitudes could be even more challenging.

But a change is urgently needed, because US inhabitants consume more energy and resources than anybody else (twice as much as Europeans, ten times as much as most developing countries), and because US consumers and especially the military inflict more damage to nature than anybody else.

The US empire has no friends, only vassals and allies, and it is a threat to every other nation. Nobody can challenge this behemoth, and the hope, that US society and economy will implode because of inherent contradictions may be just wishful thinking. If a catastrophic collapse really were about to happen, a woldwide fallout could hurt everybody.

Military interventions, occupations, CIA directed coups in Guatemala, Congo, Iran, Chile, Grenada, Panama, Haiti, devastating bombing campaigns in North Korea, Vietnam, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, this is the legacy of US imperial hubris and recklessness.

It is not the first time, that an empire has kept a great part of the world in its stranglehold and committed abhorrent crimes against humanity. Romans, Moguls, Ottomans, Spanish, French, British all committed atrocities, inflicted irreparable damage, oppressed and exploited the natives which were lucky enough not to be killed right away.

There are two crucial differences though, which makes the US empire more dangerous than any other one in history: 

1. US nuclear weapons can destroy the world a few times over.
2. The US empire has bumped against unsurmountable planetary boundaries.

These planetary boundaries have been mentioned in the first sentence of the text, they are chemical pollution, climate change, deforestation, and biodiversity loss. Breaching them causes scarcity of potable water, poor air and food quality, an increase of chronic diseases, more floods, storms, droughts, heatwaves, wildfires, and crop failures. Inequality, social unrest, migration waves, resource wars are the consequence.

The planetary boundaries are not reached in every place, Russia for instance has large regions which are untouched and unpolluted, though there are also areas of utter ecological devastation. 

Russia has the largest land mass of the worlds nations (17.1 million square kilometers), but only 143 million people. US territory in comparison is only 9.8 million square kilometers, occupied by 320 million people. The Russian territory includes pristine forests and an abundance of untapped natural resources. Global warming will devastate many countries and make some areas near the equator uninhabitable (for instance the Arab Peninsular), but it will leave Russia comparatively unscathed and even ease living conditions in Siberia and other northern areas.

Russia has everything what is needed to keep consumerism and extreme wealth accumulation going on for a little while longer, this is the reason it has to be conquered at any costs.

The city upon a hill

US society is characterized by free-market capitalism, the sanctity of private property, competition (social Darwinism), and US exceptionalism. Detractors will add: Imperial hubris, disregard of life, insatiable greed. 

US citizens commonly refer to themselves as “Americans,” implying that the USA owns the American continent and that Canada in the north, Mexico in the south, and all the Spanish speaking countries in Central and South America (plus Portuguese speaking Brasil) are “lesser nations,” are just US “backyard.”

This “backyard” has over the years expanded to other regions, to Europe, the Middle East, Africa, the South China Sea. In fact, every place on earth seems to be of interest, seems to be in the crosshairs of US strategists.

To achieve dominance (full spectrum dominance) in areas of interest (which is practically everywhere), the US strategists use a combination of 

a. military interventions (bombing campaigns, invasions, and occupations),
b. economic destabilization (embargoes, sanctions, trade wars, outpricing of national industries),
c. political destabilization (exploiting social grievances and ethnic divisions, support for opposition groups, bribes to an emerging “comprador” class, assassinations, “false flag” attacks, color revolutions, and coups),
d. soft power (advertising, propaganda, buying or bribing news media, pushing Anglo-American pop culture, Hollywood films, US TV entertainment like sitcoms and reality TV, social media).

Edward Bernays is acknowledged as the main pioneer in the field of advertising, public relations, and propaganda. He was born in Vienna and grew up in New York. Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytic theories surely influenced him (he was Freud’s nephew). Bernays was admired by Joseph Goebbels, Minister of Propaganda in Nazi Germany, who utilized Bernays book Crystallizing Public Opinion as a basis for his destructive campaign against the Jews of Germany. 

The disciples of Edward Bernays certainly know their trade. Who has not fallen pray to the siren calls of US commercial advertising or populist propaganda? And Hollywood, truly representing (and that is the only thing which is true in this content) US society, where feigning and faking is essential to succeed in the dog-eat-dog fight, has elevated feigning and faking to an art form.

In order to attract followers, admirers who are eager to emulate its political and economic system, the USA has to paint a rosy picture of a land, where everyone with good intentions, discipline, and diligence can reach the American Dream, where “rags to riches” is the norm, and justice always prevails. A land of unlimited opportunities, of liberty, democracy, and good governance.

Going on from that US propagandists proclaim, that these high standards have to be spread across the world for the good of mankind. Manifest Destiny (in an updated form) is used to justify overseas expansion.

The reality is different, proved daily by deadly school shootings, rising fatal workplace accidents, half a million homeless, suffocating private and public debt, crumbling infrastructure, water contamination, declining life expectancy, and lack of affordable health care. 90 million low-income Americans are relying on Medicaid, housing subsidies, or food stamps, a prescription opioid epidemic devastates US communities, the number of maternal deaths, an important social indicator, has doubled. 

The brutal harshness of every-day US life, characterized by loneliness, alienation, resentment, and insecurity extracts a terrible toll, as social despair frequently leads to suicide or outbursts of homicidal violence.

US state of mind

The US-American mindset can be sufficiently well explained by history:

When settlers from Ireland and other European countries invaded the American continent, they found a sparsely populated land with tremendous natural resources. As they expanded west (the Wild West) there were not many rules and moral restraints. The native inhabitants were swiftly exterminated, the backbreaking work on the southern cotton fields was done by African slaves.

The settlers were mainly puritans, who believed, that God had made a pact with their people and had chosen them to provide a model for the other nations of the Earth.

Consequently Thomas Jefferson spoke of an “Empire of Liberty” and the responsibility to spread freedom across the world.

Former American Vice President Dick Cheney, minder of George W. Bush, writes in his book Exceptional: Why the World Needs a Powerful America:

We are, as Lincoln said, ‘the last, best hope of earth. We are not just one more nation, one more same entity on the world stage. We have been essential to the preservation and progress of freedom, and those who lead us in the years ahead must remind us, as Roosevelt, Kennedy, and Reagan did, of the unique role we play. Neither they nor we should ever forget that we are, in fact, exceptional.

Beside spreading liberty and democracy, the USA also spreads capitalism, deemed as inseparably linked to the first two conditions.

Sociologist Max Weber, in The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, expounded the thesis that Calvinism was the parent of capitalism, and Puritanism especially in its later phases indeed added a halo of ethical sanctification to pursuit of economic success and wealth accumulation. 

Puritan moral implies, that practical success is the sign and at the same time the reward of ethical superiority and it emphasizes individual responsibility over social obligation. Poor people are not poor because of adverse circumstances but because of lacking virtue.

It has been discussed here already several times, that cooperation-based societies are in theory more efficient than ones where everybody fights everybody, and though on an individual level the strongest and meanest will survive, on a superordinate group level the cooperation-based societies will be the ones wo come on top in the evolutionary selection process.

That most times in history the warrior societies succeeded, is due to the fact, that 

1. In a society based on competition, the kind and good-hearted ones will be mercilessly eliminated and after a few generations the strong, mean, ruthless ones will dominate the gene pool.
2. The rivalry driven, militarized societies will recklessly exploit their natural resources (the tragedy of the commons) and after having exhausted them will need to conquer new territory.
3. The intensive exploitation of resources may be unsustainable, but it gives warrior tribes for a short time a competitive advantage against neighbors who use their resources more cautiously.
4. In the struggle against each other the warriors of competition-based societies hone their martial skills and also develop powerful weapons. The peaceful, cooperation-based societies don’t need martial skills and weapons, they are not used to fighting and therefore are an easy pray for invaders.

Despite the fact, that cooperation-based societies use the natural resources of their land more efficiently and sustainably, despite the fact that their members usually live a peaceful and fulfilled life, despite the fact that they don’t pose a threat to anybody, they have throughout history be brutally destroyed by the warrior societies.

From the “holy experiment” (the Reducciones) of the Jesuits in Paraguay to the Red Indian tribes in North America (Apache, Hopi, Iroquois, Navajo) to pygmies and other indigenous communities in Africa and Latin America to Muammar Gaddafi’s Jamahiriya, cooperation-based societies have been destroyed by warrior nations not only because it could be done easily, but also because they presented examples of peaceful, harmonious, humane, empathetic ways of life, thereby constituting tempting and ultimately dangerous alternatives to the imperial regimes.

Healing from within

There are deep rooted traditions in US society which at the moment are dormant, but which could be revitalized and used for the attempted paradigm shift. When the Puritans and Quakers emigrated to America, it was not only to escape poverty, violent unrest, and persecution in Europe, but also to create a new society and purify the Christian religion.

The Quakers value gender equality, pacifism, a simple life. Quakers were involved in President Ulysses S. Grant’s “Peace Policy” and many of the great reform movements. Before and during World War II they worked for the “Kindertransport” and helped to rescue Jewish families from Nazi Germany. They are also environmentalists — US Quakers founded the Monteverde Reserve in Costa Rica. They always opposed war and have fought to be recognized as conscientious objectors.

Quakers, Unitarians, Mennonites, Amish, they all are natural allies in the efforts to achieve a paradigm shift. US Catholics, 22 percent of the population, partly discredited by child abuse scandals but still influential, could become allies too. Pope Francis, a Jesuit, tries to follow in the footsteps of Saint Francis of Assisi. He is certainly an environmentalist. 

Evangelicals still remember their calvinist and puritan roots, and while Puritanism was dominated by conservative and traditionalist elements, there was also a revolutionary component, a collectivism, combined with iron discipline and sober prudence. There were notable representatives of the puritan spirit, in whom their personal austerity was paired with a profound consciousness of social solidarity.

Though they are not mainstream, US dissenters make their voice heard. Cindy Sheehan has her Soapbox, Glen Ford keeps Black Agenda Report going, there are Newsbud (Sibel Edmonds), CounterPunch, Truthdig, Truthout, Consortiumnews, Naked Capitalism, American Herald Tribune, and the Deep Green Resistance News Service. There are a myriad of blogs and private websites. There are 60 anti-war organizations, there are the Democratic Socialists of America, there is the Socialist Alternative party (with Kshama Sawant in Seattle’s city council).

Closing notes

It happened again. I started with some universal issue and endet with a diatribe against US imperialism. This is probably unavoidable, because the USA is without any doubt the dominating nation, the place, where humanities future will be decided.

The USA has the world largest economy and accounts for 24 percent of global GDP. It is nearly impossible to circumvent, evade, boycott, isolate US services and products. This text is written on an Apple computer, researched with the help of Google (though I also use Yandex and DuckDuckGo), published on WordPress, a US blogger service. I still have not found a viable alternative to WordPress.

One has to admit, that US-America is indeed an exceptional nation, unfortunately not in a positive sense. I’m glad that I don’t have to live there and desperately hope that my country will not be democratized or liberated by the USA. I admire the US dissidents who have the courage to defy conventions, challenge the established order, and against all odds heroically continue to work for a kind, generous, joyful, and peaceful world.