Love, Western Nihilism and Revolutionary Optimism


By Andre Vltchek

Source: Dissident Voice

How dreadfully depressing life has become in almost all of the Western cities! How awful and sad.

It is not that these cities are not rich; they are. Of course, things are deteriorating there, the infrastructure is crumbling and there are signs of social inequality, even misery, at every corner. But if compared to almost all other parts of the world, the wealth of the Western cities still appears to be shocking, almost grotesque.

The affluence does not guarantee contentment, happiness or optimism. Spend an entire day strolling through London or Paris, and pay close attention to people. You will repeatedly stumble over passive aggressive behavior, over frustration and desperate downcast glances, over omnipresent sadness.

In all those once great [imperialist] cities, what is missing is life. Euphoria, warmth, poetry and yes – love – are all in extremely short supply there.

Wherever you walk, all around, the buildings are monumental, and boutiques are overflowing with elegant merchandize. At night, bright lights shine brilliantly. Yet the faces of people are gray. Even when forming couples, even when in groups, human beings appear to be thoroughly atomized, like the sculptures of Giacometti.

Talk to people, and you’ll most likely encounter confusion, depression, and uncertainty. ‘Refined’ sarcasm, and sometimes a bogus urban politeness are like thin bandages that are trying to conceal the most horrifying anxieties and thoroughly unbearable loneliness of those ‘lost’ human souls.

Purposelessness is intertwined with passivity. In the West, it is increasingly hard to find someone that is truly committed: politically, intellectually or even emotionally. Big feelings are now seen as frightening; both men and women reject them. Grand gestures are increasingly looked down upon, or even ridiculed. Dreams are becoming tiny, shy and always ‘down to earth’, and even those are lately extremely well concealed. Even to daydream is seen as something ‘irrational’ and outdated.

*****

To a stranger who comes from afar, it appears to be a sad, unnatural, brutally restrained and, to a great extent, a pitiful world.

Tens of millions of adult men and women, some well educated, ‘do not know what to do with their lives’. They take courses or go ‘back to school’ in order to fill the void, and to ‘discover what they want to do’ with their lives. It is all self-serving, as there appear to be no greater aspirations. Most of the efforts begin and end with each particular individual.

Nobody sacrifices himself or herself for others, for society, for humanity, for the cause, or even for the ‘other half’, anymore. In fact, even the concept of the ‘other half’ is disappearing. Relationships are increasingly ‘distant’, each person searching for his or her ‘space’, demanding independence even in togetherness. There are no ‘two halves’; instead there are ‘two fully independent individuals’, co-existing in a relative proximity, sometimes physically touching, sometimes not, but mostly on their own.

In the Western capitals, the egocentricity, even total obsession with one’s personal needs, is brought to a surreal extreme.

Psychologically, it can only be described as a twisted and pathological world.

Surrounded by this bizarre pseudo reality, many otherwise healthy individuals eventually feel, or even become, mentally ill. Then, paradoxically, they embark on seeking ‘professional help’, so they can re-join the ranks of the ‘normal’, read ‘thoroughly subdued’ citizens. In most cases, instead of continuously rebelling, instead of waging personal wars against the state of things, the individuals who are still at least to some extent different, get so frightened by being in the minority that they give up, surrender voluntarily, and identify themselves as ‘abnormal’.

Short sparks of freedom experienced by those who are still capable of at least some imagination, of dreaming about a true and natural world, get rapidly extinguished.

Then, in a short instant, everything gets irreversibly lost. It may appear as some horror film, but it is not. It is the true reality of life in the West.

I cannot function in such an environment for more than a few days. If forced, I could last in London or Paris for two weeks at most, but only while operating on some ‘emergency mode’, unable to write, to create and to function ‘normally’. I cannot imagine ‘being in love’ in a place like that. I cannot imagine writing a revolutionary essay there. I cannot imagine laughing, loudly, happily, freely.

While briefly working in London, Paris or New York, the coldness, purposelessness, and chronic lack of passion and of all basic human emotions, is having a tremendously exhausting effect on me, derailing my creativity and drowning me in useless, pathetic existentialist dilemmas.

After one week there, I’m simply beginning to get influenced by that terrible environment: I’m starting to think about myself excessively, ‘listening to my feelings’, instead of considering the feelings of the others. My duties towards humanity get neglected. I put on hold everything that I otherwise consider essential. My revolutionary edge loses its sharpness. My optimism begins to evaporate. My determination to struggle for a better world begins to weaken.

This is when I know: it is time to run, to run away. Fast, very fast! It is time to pull myself from the stale emotional swamp, to slam the door behind the intellectual bordello, and to escape from the terrifying meaninglessness that is dotted with injured, even wasted lives.

I cannot fight for those people from within, only from outside. Our way of thinking and feeling do not match. When they get out and visit ‘my universe’, they bring with them resilient prejudices: they do not register what they see and hear, they stick to what they were indoctrinated with, for years and decades.

For me personally there are not many significant things that I can do in Western cities. Periodically I come to sign one or two book contracts, to open my films, or to speak briefly at some university, but I don’t see any point of doing much more. In the West, it is hard to find any meaningful struggle. Most struggles there are not internationalist; instead they are selfish, West-oriented in nature. Almost no true courage, no ability to love, no passion, and no rebellion remain. On closer examination, there is actually no life there; no life as we human beings used to perceive it, and as we still understand it in many other parts of the world.

*****

Nihilism rules. Was this mental state, this collective illness something that has been inflicted on purpose by the regime? I don’t know. I cannot yet answer this question. But it is essential to ask, and to try to understand.

Whatever it is, it is extremely effective – negatively effective but effective nevertheless.

Carl Gustav Jung, a renowned Swiss psychologist and psychiatrist, diagnosed Western culture as ‘pathological’, right after WWII. But instead of trying to comprehend its own abysmal condition, instead of trying to get better, even well, Western culture is actually made to expand, to rapidly spread to many other parts of the world, dangerously contaminating healthy societies and nations.

It has to be stopped. I say it because I do love this life, the life, which still exists outside the Western realm; I’m intoxicated with it, obsessed with it. I live it to the fullest, with great delight, enjoying every moment of it.

I know the world, from the ‘Southern Cone’ of South America, to Oceania, the Middle East, to the most god-forsaken corners of Africa and Asia. It is a truly tremendous world, full of beauty and diversity, and hope.

The more I see and know, the more I realize that I absolutely cannot exist without a struggle, without a good fight, without great passions and love, and without purpose; basically without all that the West is trying to reduce to nothing, to make irrelevant, obsolete and ridiculous.

My entire being is rebelling against the awful nihilism and dark pessimism that is being injected almost everywhere by Western culture. I’m violently allergic to it. I refuse to accept it. I refuse to succumb to it.

I see people, good people, talented people, wonderful people, getting contaminated, having their lives ruined. I see them abandoning great battles, abandoning their great loves. I see them choosing selfishness and their ‘space’ and ‘personal feelings’ over deep affection and inseparability, opting for meaningless careers over great adventures of epic battles for humanity and a better world.

Lives are being ruined one by one, and by millions, every moment and every day. Lives that could have been full of beauty, full of joy, of love, full of adventure, of creativity and uniqueness, of meaning and purpose, but instead are reduced to emptiness, to nothingness, in brief: to thorough meaninglessness. People living such lives are performing tasks and jobs by inertia, respecting without questioning all behavior patterns ordered by the regime, and obeying countless grotesque laws and regulations.

They cannot walk on their own feet anymore. They have been made fully submissive. It is over for them.

That is because the courage of the people in the West has been broken. It is because they have been reduced to a crowd of obedient subjects, submissive to the destructive and morally defunct Empire.

They have lost the ability to think for themselves. They have lost courage to feel.

As a result, because the West has such an enormous influence on the rest of the world, the entire humanity is in grave danger, is suffering, and is losing its natural bearing.

*****

In such a society, a person overflowing with passion, a person fully committed and true to his or her cause can never be taken seriously. It is because in a society like this, only deep nihilism and cynicism are accepted and respected.

In such a society, a revolution or a rebellion could hardly go beyond the pub or a living room couch.

A person, who is still capable of loving in such an emotionally constipating and twisted environment, is usually seen as a buffoon, even as a ‘suspicious and sinister element’. It is common for him or for her to be ridiculed and rejected.

Obedient and cowardly masses hate those who are different. They distrust people who stand tall and who are still capable of fighting, people who know perfectly well what their goals are, people who do and not just talk, and those who find it easy to throw their entire life, without the slightest hesitation, at the feet of a beloved person or an honorable cause.

Such individuals terrify and irritate those suave, submissive and shallow crowds in Western capitals. As a punishment, they get deserted and divorced, ostracized, socially exiled and demonized. Some end up getting attacked, even thoroughly destroyed.

The result is: there is no culture, anywhere on Earth, so banal and so obedient as that which is now regulating the West. Lately, nothing of revolutionary intellectual significance is flowing from Europe and North America, as there are hardly any detectable unorthodox ways of thinking or perceptions of the world there.

The dialogues and debates are flowing only through fully anticipated and well-regulated channels, and needless to say they fluctuate only marginally and through the fully ‘pre-approved’ frequencies.

*****

What is on the other side of the barricade?

I don’t want to glorify our revolutionary countries and movements.

I don’t even want to write that we are the “exact opposite” of that entire nightmare that has been created by the West. We are not. And we are far from being perfect.

But we are alive if not always well. We are standing, trying to advance this wonderful ‘project’ called humanity, attempting to save our planet from Western imperialism, its nihilist gloom, as well as absolute environmental disaster.

We are considering many different ways forward. We have never rejected socialism and Communism, and we are studying various moderate and controlled forms of capitalism. The advantages and disadvantages of the so-called ‘mixed economy’ are being discussed and evaluated.

We fight, but because we are much less brutal, orthodox and dogmatic than the West, we often lose, as we recently (and hopefully only temporarily) lost in Brazil and Argentina. We also win, again and again. As this essay goes to print, we are celebrating in Ecuador and El Salvador.

Unlike in the West, in such places like China, Russia and Latin America, our debates about the political and economic future are vibrant, even stormy. Our art is engaged, helping to search for the best humanist concepts. Our thinkers are alert, compassionate and innovative, and our songs and poems are great, full of passion and fire, overflowing with love and longing.

Our countries do not steal from anyone; they don’t overthrow governments in the opposite parts of the world, they do not undertake massive military invasions. What we have is ours; it is what we have created, produced and sown with our own hands. It is not always much, but we are proud of it, because no one had to die for it, and no one had to be enslaved.

Our hearts are purer. They are not always absolutely pure, but purer than those in the West are. We do not abandon those whom we love, even if they fall, get injured, or cannot walk any longer. Our women do not abandon their men, especially those who are in the middle of fighting for a better world. Our men do not abandon their women, even when they are in deep pain or despair. We know whom and what we love, and we know whom and what we hate: in this we rarely get ‘confused’.

We are much simpler than those living in the West. In many ways, we are also much deeper.

We respect hard work, especially work that helps to improve the lives of millions, not just our own lives, or the lives of our families.

We try to keep our promises. We don’t always succeed in keeping them, as we are only humans, but we are trying, and most of the times we are managing to.

Things are not always exactly like this, but often they are. And when “things are like this”, it means that there is at least some hope and optimism and often even great joy.

Optimism is essential for any progress. No revolution could succeed without tremendous enthusiasm, as no love could. No revolution and no love could be built on depression and defeatism.

Even in the middle of the ashes to which imperialism has reduced our world, a true revolutionary and a true poet can always at least find some hope. It will not be easy, not easy at all, but definitely not impossible. Nothing is ever lost in this life for as long as our hearts are beating.

*****

The state in which our world is right now is dreadful. It often feels that one more step in a wrong direction, another false turn, and everything will finally collapse, irreversibly. It is easy, extremely easy, to give up, to throw everything up into the air, and to land on a couch with a six-pack of beer, or to simply declare “there is nothing that can be done”, and then resume one’s meaningless life routine.

Western nihilism has already done its devastating work: it has landed tens of millions of thinking beings on their proverbial couches of defeatism. It has spread pessimism and gloom, and a general belief that things can never improve anymore. It has maneuvered people into refusing to ‘accept labels’, into rejecting progressive ideologies, and into a pathological distrust of any power. The “all politicians are the same” slogan could be translated clearly into: “We all know that our Western rulers are gangsters, but do not expect anything else from those in other parts of the world.” “All people are the same” reads: “The West has been plundering and murdering hundreds of millions, but don’t expect anything better from Asians, Latin Americans or Africans”.

This irrational, cynical negativism already domesticated in virtually all countries of the West, has successfully been exported to many colonies, even to such places as Afghanistan, where people have been suffering incessantly from crimes committed by the West.

Its goal is evident: to prevent people from taking action and to convince them that any rebellion is futile. Such attitudes are brutally choking all hopes.

In the meantime, collateral damage is mounting. Metastases of the passivity and nihilistic cancers which are being spread by the Western regime are already attacking even that very human ability to love, to commit to a person or to a cause, and to stand by one’s pledges and obligations.

In the West and in its colonies, courage has lost its entire luster. The Empire has managed to reverse the whole scale of human values, which was firmly and naturally in place on all the continents and in all cultures, for centuries and millennia. All of a sudden, submission and obedience have come to vogue.

It often feels that if the trend is not reversed soon, people will increasingly start to live like mice: constantly scared, neurotic, unreliable, depressed, passive, unable to identify true greatness, and unwilling to join those who are still pulling our world and humanity forward.

Billions of lives will get wasted. Billions of lives are already being wasted.

Some of us write about invasions, coups and dictatorships imposed by the Empire. However, almost nothing is being written about this tremendous and silent genocide that is breaking the human spirit and optimism, throwing entire nations into a dark depression and gloom. But it is taking place, even as these lines are being penned. It is happening everywhere, even in such places as London, Paris and New York, or more precisely, especially there.

In those unfortunate places, fear of great emotions has already been deeply rooted. Originality, courage and determination are now evoking fear. Great love, great gestures and unorthodox dreams are all observed with panic and mistrust.

But no progress, no evolution is possible without entirely unconventional ways of thinking, without the revolutionary spirit, without great sacrifices and discipline, without commitment, and without that most powerful and most daring set of emotions, which is called love.

The demagogues and propagandists of the Empire want us to believe that ‘something ended’; they want us to accept defeat.

Why should we? There is no defeat anywhere on the horizon.

There are only two separate realities, two universes, into which our world had been shattered into: one of Western nihilism, another of revolutionary optimism.

I have already described the nihilism, but what do I imagine when I dream about that better, different world?

Do I envision red flags and people forming closed ranks, charging against some lavish palaces and stock exchanges? Do I hear loud revolutionary songs blasted from loudspeakers?

I actually do not. What comes to my mind is essentially very quiet and natural, human and warm.

There is a park near the old train station in the city of Granada, Nicaragua. I visited it some time ago. There, several old trees are throwing fantastic shadows on the ground, providing a desirable shade. Into a few big metal columns are engraved the most beautiful poems ever written in this country, while in between those columns stand simple but solid park benches. I sat on one of them. Not far from me, a couple of ageing lovers was holding hands, reading cheek to cheek from an open book. They were so close that they appeared to be forming a simple and totally self-sufficient universe. Above them were the shining verses written by Ernesto Cardenal, one of my favorite Latin American poets.

I also recall two Cuban doctors, sitting on a very different bench, thousands of miles away, chatting and laughing next to two goodhearted and corpulent nurses, after performing a complex surgery in Kiribati, an island nation ‘lost’ in the middle of South Pacific.

I remember many things, but they are never monumental, only human. Because that is what revolution really is, I think: a couple of ageing peasants in a beautiful public park, both of them in love, holding hands, reading poetry to each other. Or two doctors travelling to the end of the world, just in order to save lives, far from the spotlight and fame.

And I always remember my dear friend, Eduardo Galeano, one of the greatest revolutionary writers of Latin America, telling me in Montevideo, about his eternal love for his wonderful lady called “Reality”.

Then I think: no, we cannot lose. We are not going to lose. The enemy is mighty and many people are weak and scared, but we will not allow the world to be converted into a mental asylum. We’ll fight for each and every person who has been affected, and drowned in gloom.

We’ll expose the abnormality and perversity of Western nihilism. We’ll fight it with our revolutionary enthusiasm and optimism, and we will use the greatest weapons, such as poetry and love.

 

Andre Vltchek is a philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He has covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. Three of his latest books are the revolutionary novel Aurora and two bestselling works of political non-fiction: Exposing Lies Of The Empire and Fighting Against Western Imperialism. View his other books here. Watch his Rwanda Gambit, a documentary about Rwanda and DRCongo. He continues to work around the world and can be reached through his website and Twitter. Read other articles by Andre.

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Three Paths

By Erik Lindberg

Source: Resilience

To have lost the godlike conceit that we may do what we will, and not to have acquired a homely zest for doing what we can, shows a grandeur of temper which cannot be objected to in the abstract, for it denotes a mind that, though disappointed, foreswears compromise.  But, if congenial to philosophy, it is apt to be dangerous to the commonwealth.  –Thomas Hardy

We have the choice of three paths into the future.  But choice is probably not the right word, for historical change is, at its most orderly, the result of action and reaction and reaction to that.  The word paths may in the same way be too tidy, for we are more likely to go crashing into the thickets than to follow the marked and warn paths that inhabit our imagination.

But here, in this brief exercise, I’m thinking about moral and cognitive maps and the way we might direct our ideals.   Perhaps, then, I may be forgiven these simplifications.  I am not making predictions about how the future might actually unfold; rather, I’m imagining the directions towards which we might cast our highest aspirations.

1) The Arc of History Bends towards Progress

Path 1 might be called the Liberal[i] Choice.  It follows the idea that a just and secure global order requires basic equality among all humans and all nations.  But equality is only a half of it: as important as the ideal of equality to the Liberal vision is the way equality might be achieved—namely by way of economic growth and increased overall wealth, which (the Liberal half-assumes and half-hopes) will be spread more equitably in the coming decades, allowing the impoverished to increase their standard of living faster than the already-prosperous will.  The Liberal vision imagines that Western and industrialized standards of living might be spread across the globe so that all people might enjoy electricity, paved roads, internet connection, urban anonymity, and (almost as human right) relief from the most difficult aspects of manual labor or subsistence farming, with the opportunity to become educated and free from the limiting prejudices of traditional societies.  It sees mobility, individualism, and choice as the hallmarks of this just and equitable society[ii], and imagines humanity becoming more cosmopolitan, tolerant, and secular, while earning its daily bread through endeavors deemed creative according to middle class values.[iii]

Liberals sometimes appreciate the link between economic growth or growing overall prosperity, on the one hand, and a tolerant and cosmopolitan global order, on the other.  This link is more implied than discussed (though it is also sometimes difficult to find policy makers discussing anything but economic growth).   But Liberals are mistaken to assume, as they often do, that education, mobility, and secular tolerance (along with the embrace of “free markets” and the cultivation of an entrepreneurial spirit) have themselves created economic growth and growing prosperity, and are wrong to imagine (as they do in a vague and image-filled sort of way) that Africa, Asia, and South America might join the Euro-American prosperous middle class once they free themselves from the train of ancient and venerable prejudices[iv] that stunt their progress.  Western prosperity, after all, is not a pretty thing if you look into it too much.

Liberals are likewise mistaken to believe that tolerance or peacefulness is a simple state of mind, or that they might be projected effectively with bumper-stickers, protest signs, and earth-tone sweaters, or that a Clinton regime would have somehow been less bloody than a Trump one, or, cum Sanders, that our unparalleled levels of consumption (i.e. prosperity) does not in fact require a menacing global military presence in addition to the manipulations of a multi-billion dollar marketing industry.  Peace does not come from virtuous mental states; it is instead the product of a delicate sociological balance that is absent in many parts of the world and that is disappearing in traditionally Liberal nations—and often for reasons that Liberals are hard-pressed to explain except by declaring that we need more Liberalism and its states of mind, backed by vague and increasingly incoherent policy objectives.  The tepid enthusiasm for the center left (in the U.S. last autumn or in France today[v]) may be a symptom of its incoherent and increasingly implausible vision.

2.  Power Realism[vi]

As I write these words, geo-political analysts are envisioning Russia and the United States on the verge of a new cold war.  Perhaps.  Regardless of how heated it becomes, the nature of this new East-West opposition, especially when compared to the previous one, is well worth noting.  Not only has the past ideological divide mainly disappeared, we might instead be struck by the way these global rivals are coming to resemble each other.  Never mind the possible scandals and whatever is at their root, the arrival of Trump represents what might hyperbolically be called Russianization of the U.S.  Like Putin, after all, Trump does not operate according to a myth of emancipation, but only according to the pursuit of national power.  Trump may not share Putin’s understanding that the source of power lies in resources (but perhaps he does), but his actions and his economic assumptions seem to concur with this view, as does the operating outlook that statecraft should work to corner as many remaining resources as possible.[vii]

Meanwhile, the rise of Trump and Trumpism in the U.S., as well as similar movements and sentiments in Western Europe, should in fact be attributed to the failure of the Liberal path and the decline of global economic growth—the end of one version of the “delicate sociological balance,” and the only version most of us can imagine (that gap in imagination is why I write).  Long term stagnation and the end of expansive bourgeois hope have worked to weaponize the “me first” attitude: under a neo-Liberal world order, self-interest was supposed to lead to a rising tide, but Power Realists have little need for any such benevolent apologia.  Now harnessed by belligerent nationalists, this attitude of economic competition is more and more likely to accept wide-scale inequality and is instead concerned to be on the winning side of a winner-take-all competition over the world’s remaining resources and comparative advantages.[viii]

To put this last point in another way, relatively few people have, at least until very recently, been willing to openly and consciously embrace the me-first belief-system of Power Realism, absent any accompanying narrative of emancipation.  But most of the West’s middle-class has long wanted, expected, and demanded in a way that effectively “chooses” a path of Power Realism and the international bullying it requires–far sooner, at least, than it would veer towards a lowering of any such demand and expectations.

Dead Ends

Liberals and Power Realists equally see the dead-end that the opposing path leads to.  But both are equally blind to, or at least resignedly sanguine about, the dead-end that their own path leads to.  Liberals correctly understand that the widespread global inequality that Power Realists appear ready to tolerate will lead to permanent war and conflict and perpetual assaults on national security by those left behind.

Meanwhile, Power Realists seem to understand[ix]  or sense (though they don’t openly articulate it in public) that the Liberal vision of 3% economic growth into perpetuity is a farce and a fantasy, and that the whole world will never live like we in Europe or America do.[x]  Our way of life may in fact depend, in the end, on the walls and borders that Liberals decry on “moral” grounds.  Insularity and defensiveness may be the required dispensation, as we choose our way of life over global equality.  Power Realists also intuit that most Liberals can be turned into Power Realists under increasingly common economic conditions.  The mere loss of expansive prospects is enough to turn many an Obama supporter into a Trump supporter.   Minor economic decline, even the absence of economic expansion, was all that it took.  Except for those prepared to blaze a new trail into uninhabited ideological wilds, Path 1 usually leads to Path 2 with the onset of only moderate duress.  Liberals mistakenly believe that hate is a prime driver[xi] of inequality or discrimination, and that it might be purged from the heart with an enlightened dose of Liberal hope.  This may occasionally be true, but hate is more the symptom and might inflict itself on anyone who has suffered repeated humiliations or degradation—or even the mere loss of unquestioned privilege.

Our current political conflicts, both domestic and international, can therefore be largely attributed to our adherence to these two merging paths—especially if we take into account our destabilized climate and resulting droughts in places like Syria and Somalia, in addition to all the other ways nations and peoples jostle for power and advantage.  Climate chaos and the resulting political chaos will be the most notable legacy of Liberal growth and the Power Realism that has begun to cruelly manage it.[xii]

Political conflicts are almost always presented as a battle of ideals (as with the American choice of freedom over tyranny during WWII[xiii]) with the implied presumption that we might choose peace and equality as discrete policies or national values, unconnected from our economic and consumptive being- in-the-world.  According to this battle of ideals, then, one side sees the world divided between a coalition of enlightenment, empathy, tolerance, and inclusion, opposed to uninformed bigotry and short-sighted selfishness.  As a bumper sticker I saw the other day smugly put it, “I think, therefore I’m Liberal.”  The other side sees a line dividing steadfast, uncompromising faithfulness and resolve from naïve and undiscerning acceptance and compromise, a line between strength and weakness, between realism and soft-headed idealism.

But our current global change and conflicts are better understood with concepts drawn from sociology or anthropology than from self-reassuring talking-points.   A stable social order requires what we might refer to as consent or “buy in,” perhaps a lessening of the inevitable tension between civilization and its discontents into a stable détente.  During the short Pax Americana, this consent has been purchased with the promise of expanding prospects for all, fueled by an economy that devoured its own resource base in a way that renders its continuation impossible.  The Liberal order replaced social bonds with growing possibility,[xiv] and required for its maintenance the fulfilled promise that every year would provide more and that every generation could expect distinct material improvements. [xv] This order had no plan for material contraction or the onset of limits, other than to declare in the face of reality that there are no limits to growth.

This lack of a plan for stasis, let alone degrowth, might explain the demise of what so many Liberals believed to be the arc of history.  We maintain our acquisitive and competitive values and the primacy of individual liberty.  But in the absence of the growth and opportunity that purchased consent, trust horizons shrink and we see a turn towards group identity (as an alternative to participation in some imaginary global civilization) and begin an openly hostile scramble for remaining pockets of wealth and privilege (in the absence of the promise that everyone might have more forever).  Globalist buy-in has no dependable currency.

Picture global conflict not as the fight between liberals and conservatives, between the enlightened and the ignorant, between moderates and fundamentalists.  Picture, instead, penniless children with their noses pressed against the candy store window, while entitled brats stuff their pockets full of unearned loot.[xvi]  Forget ideals and instead imagine repeated humiliation, envy, and frustration, broken promises and abortive ideals.  It is not some obscure “ideology of hate” or an unexplained failure of moderate pro-Western policies according to which the explosive vest is strapped on.  Nor can we explain as simple sexism the way Donald Trump’s gropings (and so much else) were so widely forgiven.  Far stronger than we tend to accept is the desire for purpose and belonging, and the desperate (and sometimes violent) search for renewed social bonds when the limitless world of boundless and bondless expansion flounders on the shoals of a finite planet.  We once lived in a world when there was little disbelief in face of the comforting contradiction that we might all somehow “get ahead.”  Now it is clear that only a few can actually do so.  It is this realization that creates nationalism, Brexit, right wing populism, hatred of immigrants, or “America First.”

3. A Third Way

The Liberal Dream is dying because the planet was never infinite and our potential never limitless–not because some bad-guy ignoramuses somehow got the upper hand.  A social order could never be maintained for long by the promise of more every year, while the tide can only rise so high before it washes all good fortune away.  The most direct and facile, yet brutal and likely, antithesis of Liberal Growthism is personified by Trump, Putin, or Le Pen today, Hitler, Mussolini and Franco in years past,[xvii] and can only lead to war and repression.[xviii]  Such rulers are what arise at the onset of Liberalism’s decline.  But they offer no real solution, only a quick reordering of hope and expectation into anger and hate—an ordering nonetheless.  Intoxicated by the thrill of an arms race, Power Realists ignore the fact that the oppression and forceful repression of at least half the world’s population is unsustainable, and that the immiseration it spreads will eventually inflict us all.  Liberals know this and are aghast at the rise of these values.  But they, in turn, are all too ready to ignore the fact that Liberal hope requires unsustainable growth and insulate themselves from the realization that our global climate crisis was not caused by nationalism or the greed of someone else.  It was caused by this same growth, which continues to demand levels of goods and services that are bringing our ecological systems to the point of collapse.

There is of course a third choice—one that is simple yet mainly unthinkable.  It sees with heart stopping clarity the dead-end towards which the other two paths lead and has math, science, and even hard-headed economic analysis[xix] on its side, not to mention a pretty solid interpretation of most of the world’s major religions.  But it is a choice that few appear prepared to adopt, even entertain.  It accepts the view that a secure and stable global order must be a relatively egalitarian one—that, according to one idiom, all God’s children deserve a fair share of the Earth’s bounty.  It understands that the 5% of the global population that the United States accounts for cannot continue to use a quarter or a fifth of the world’s energy and natural resources while emitting a similar proportion of carbon dioxide.

And here is where this path parts ways from any of the views normally deemed fit for polite company: for it does not believe that the rest of the world should be brought to our level; that would be ecological suicide.  For if the whole world were to live like Americans we would need an additional four to six Earth’s to supply the required energy and natural resources, and to absorb our terrible waste.  A transition to wind and solar power does not substantially change this equation, nor do all the most far-flung efficiencies that anyone might realistically imagine.

The path according upon which humanity has a chance to find a just and sustainable world requires what is unthinkable yet mathematically impeachable and morally imperative: that we in America and Europe live more like African villagers, Indian subsistence farmers, and South American peasants.[xx]  They must become our models for the triumph of human dignity and justice, not to mention sustainability.  We, who have the appearance, at least, of a choice, must choose this sort of radical simplicity, embrace the hard work and the community interdependence, and abandon dreams that we might live without limits and be or do anything we can imagine (that godlike conceit was forged under the illusion that we have an infinite universe at our disposal[xxi]).

This will never happen you say.  It is unrealistic.  People will never give up privilege unless they have to.[xxii]  Congratulations: you have just chosen Path 2.  But true enough, I can’t disagree, this skepticism is probably warranted, especially if the limits of human aspiration are to be pragmatic and strategic, if you can’t hope beyond the current political parties and already established life-paths for middle class people.  For there is no clear path from where we are to a world of radically simple sustainability, except the one paved with cataclysmic violence and bloodshed, in which we will eventually be forcefully taken to our knees.[xxiii]

But we might still stand up and declare, “this is the right path, this is what I support, this is where I will throw my energy.”  There is no reason why we must continue to choose Path 1 or Path 2, or accept it–no reason why we must continue to pretend that our way of life or our side of the ideological divide (give or take a few ideological tweaks) is just and sustainable.  There is no reason why we should continue to give our consent to the maintenance of either growth or inequality.   Let us openly and loudly declare our commitment to our own eventual material poverty, and in this declaration find moral and spiritual wealth.  Let us begin to proclaim the unthinkable and think it every day.

 

[i] By Liberals I mean philosophical Liberals, which has generally included many who are considered political conservatives.  Ronald Reagan was as much a Liberal as Bernie Sanders.  Donald Trump, however, may not be a Liberal.

[ii] To borrow Chris Smaje’s term, Liberals are “solutionist” when it comes to freedom and choice, unable to see that there are in it advantages and disadvantages, payoffs and collateral damage.

[iii] Where apps are “creative” but managing erosion on a hardscrabble farm is not.

[iv] And accept that loan from the IMF along with the accompanying “restructuring” and “reforms.

[v] Does anyone really embrace the vision of a Clinton or a Macron?  Or is it just a safe alternative to the alternative?

[vi] I am not suggesting that “Power Realists” are across the board more “realistic.”

[vii]http://www.resilience.org/stories/2017-01-24/donald-trump-and-economic-growth-a-brief-interregnum-on-growthism/

[viii] http://www.resilience.org/stories/2017-01-24/donald-trump-and-economic-growth-a-brief-interregnum-on-growthism/

[ix] I’m completely not sure about this.  Power Realists may be as Growthist as neo-liberals and certainly trumpet the ideals of economic growth.  But their rise, I would assert without much qualification, has been made possible by the ending of growth and their policies are suited to the end of a Growthist order.

[x] It is with some weariness that I feel compelled to provide evidence for this conclusion.   Either the idea that the Earth can provide enough resources for the rest of the world to live like us, or the idea that exponential growth remains a viable plan for the future, on their own, belie any mathematical conclusions. But the Liberal vision requires both.  A true Liberal paradise would require that we maintain 3% or so economic growth in the industrialized world, while the “developing” world grows even faster to catch up.  The main reason that this can’t work is, simply, that growth is tantamount to mass genocide followed by mass suicide.  For despite ballyhooed efficiencies and alleged “decoupling” no one has figured out to create more stuff for more people without using more natural resources.  There is no way to lift a 400 ton passenger airplane off the ground with a small ecological footprint or provide everyone with one-hundred horsepower personal transportation without making the planet unlivable.  If everyone were to live like Americans, we would require about 6 times the current amount of things like rubber, oil, timber, concrete, and iron ore.  Meanwhile 3% economic growth—the amount most Liberal economists believe is necessary to maintain our delicate sociological balance—means that the size of the economy (and the amount of natural resources it requires) will double every 23 years.  That means in 56 years, the natural resource requirements would be quadruple the current level.  This is not a viable path into the future.  These resources simply don’t exist, and attempting to squeeze them out of our planet would make it unlivable.  Past and current attempts may already have.  No wonder so many pro-growth technophiles look to outer space as the solution to humanity’s alleged need for growth—which begs the very basic existential question of why so many humans see this as a better plan than the unthinkable one I suggest below.  I review some of the fundamental problems of economic growth in http://www.resilience.org/stories/2017-02-22/economic-growth-a-primer/

[xi] What Jacques Derrida would have referred to as a “transcendental signifier,” a thing-in-itself, something that just is, which, like “evil,” not only needs no further explanation, but in fact shuns it.

[xii] As Michael Klare has recently noted more people are on the brink of starvation now than at any time since WWII.  http://www.resilience.org/stories/2017-04-21/climate-change-genocide/

[xiii] This “choice” is far better described with that word, and with the notion of “ideals,” than anything we encounter today.  However, the clean narrative of good vs evil has nevertheless been simplified, with the relation of national interests to resources and empire being erased from the picture, or perhaps overshadowed by the atrocities.

[xiv] http://www.resilience.org/stories/2017-01-17/the-growthist-self-growthism-part-3/

[xv] http://www.resilience.org/stories/2016-01-11/a-geo-physis-of-freedom/

[xvi] And then picture these same entitled brats with their noses pressed up against another window on some other day.

[xvii] As the US Joint Forces Command concluded in 2010, “A severe energy crunch is inevitable without a massive expansion of production and refining capacity. While it is difficult to predict precisely what economic, political, and strategic effects such a shortfall might produce, it surely would reduce the prospects for growth in both the developing and developed worlds. Such an economic slowdown would exacerbate other unresolved tensions, push fragile and failing states further down the path toward collapse, and perhaps have serious economic impact on both China and India. At best, it would lead to periods of harsh economic adjustment. To what extent conservation measures, investments in alternative energy production, and efforts to expand petroleum production from tar sands and shale would mitigate such a period of adjustment is difficult to predict. One should not forget that the Great Depression spawned a number of totalitarian regimes that sought economic prosperity for their nations by ruthless conquest.”  https://fas.org/man/eprint/joe2010.pdf, p.22 (emphasis added).

[xviii] Someone like Reagan is of great historical interest, what with his attempt to create a synthesis of the two, reflected in his soaring rhetoric, but paid for with massive debt and the strategic use of populist hate.

[xix] I am not, of course, referring to most mainstream economic analysis.  Economics as a discipline has been charged mainly with the task of figuring out how to grow the economy regardless of the consequences or the possibility.  By “hard-headed” I am thinking of the few economists who have escaped this Growthist ideology and follow what Charles Hall and Kent Klitgaard refer to as “biophysical economics.”

[xx] This point has been made most poignantly by Chris Smaje.  If you haven’t been reading his work, start now.  It’s among the most interesting in the “deep sustainability” world.  I need to further note that this current essay was motivated by Chris’s “Article 51” where he writes: “I’ve been accused before of irresponsibly wishing to lower the standard of living in the wealthier countries to the level of common misery experienced by humankind in general in relation to my remarks on immigration. On reflection, I’m happy to embrace that accusation, if I’m allowed a few extra lines of defence. I embrace it because, well, what’s the alternative? Historically, capitalist ideology has justified itself with aqueous metaphors of downward trickling and upwardly rising tides that benefit all. It’s become clear that these are mirages. So the argument against a fair global spread of economic resources then boils down essentially to the devil take the hindmost. I can’t justify that to myself ethically, and in any case I think that road leads to a still deeper mire of global misery.”  http://www.resilience.org/stories/2017-03-28/article-51/

Smaje consistently condenses complicated issues into digestible form without sacrificing the complexity.  I’m trying to recondense some of his thoughts—or my take on them—into my own idiom and may be justly accused of adding little to what he has already said.

[xxi] It’s a nice sentiment, and it’s everywhere.  The prevailing “moral” of 90% of the movies currently made for 5 year olds is that they can be who or whatever they want, if they only follow their dreams and “be themselves.”  I get where this is coming from, and can glimpse the cost of abandoning this fiction.  But we need to start considering the fact that it just isn’t true, and certainly can’t be, at least as currently understood, for 6 or 7 or 8 billion people.  It might be possible, for a while, for half a billion or so.  And then they are likely to kick and scream and pout when the promise turns out to have been false.

[xxii] And the ecological limits of the world will never appear to us as a “have to,” even though they most certainly are.

[xxiii] There are of course brave pioneers who have beaten a track in this direction—ones like Jim Merkel.  But the problem of a whole-society or whole-system transition has yet to be solved.

Posted in conditioning, consciousness, Consumerism, culture, Economics, Energy, Environment, Financial Crisis, Philosophy, Psychology, society, Sociology, war, Work | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Two for Tuesday

Marcel Cartier

 

Posted in Art, culture, Music Video, Two for Tuesday, Video | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Another Unsolvable Issue for Americans

Mass Incarceration, Prison Labor in the United States

By John Stanton

Source: Dissident Voice

The Federal Prison Industries (FPI) under the brand UNICOR operates approximately 52 factories (prisons) across the United States. Prisoners manufacture or assemble a number of products for the US military, homeland security, and federal agencies according to the UNICOR/FPI website.  They produce furniture, clothing and circuit boards in addition to providing computer aided design services and call center support for private companies.

UNICOR/FPI makes its pitch for employing call center support personnel to firms thinking about off-shoring their call center functions. The logic is that, hey!, they may be prisoners, but it’s keeping the jobs in the USA that matters. Fair enough. That approach cuts out the middleman though, those Americans desperate for any kind of work but, through no fault of their own, are not behind prison bars and employable by UNICOR/FPI.

Sure, it seems a heartless statement and there are any number of angles to take on why the USA is the world’s number one incarcerator: Capitalism, racism, social and political injustice, a pay-as-you-go legal system, bone-headed policy makers, prison lobbyists, the death penalty, employment/unemployment, drugs, gangs, costs/prices and a host of behavioral, psychological and environmental issues that I have missed.

Inevitably the black hole that is money eventually sucks in and corrupts everyone from those in local communities desperate for the work a prison facility provides to those investors who profit from the prison industry. They earn their livelihoods and take their profits from the misery and labor squeezed from their human property — those prisoners who self-destructed and others who are serving terms way too long for the crime committed.

For the Love of Money

From October 2016 through March 2017, UNICOR/FPI sold $252,414,987 million worth of goods and services.

The prison labor industry is very keen on promoting its role in assembling the US military’s widely used Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System (SINCGARS). In January defense contractor Harris Corp. was awarded a $403 million contract by the US Defense Logistics Agency for spare parts supporting tactical radio systems, which includes SINCGARS.

UNICOR/FPI is a major supplier of SINCGARS radios, mounts, antennas, and installation and repair kits and when hard-mounted, our SINCGARS equipment meets rigorous military standards for shock and vibration in aircraft and tactical vehicles, such as Bradley’s and Humvees. Through our nationwide network of factories and trained technicians, we have successfully met aggressive production and distribution needs for this crucial communication equipment in Middle East military operations.

Some of the purchases by the US Department of Defense include $14.8 million for electronic components, $887 thousand for communications equipment, $26.7 million for office furniture, $27.1 million for special purpose clothing and $7.5 million for body armor. The Department of Homeland Security spent $372,255 on administrative support. The Executive Office of the US President spent $389 for signs and identification plates.

Fight Fire with Inmates

According to a Mother Jones article in 2015 somewhere between 30 and 40 percent of California’s forest firefighters are state prison inmates with some 4,000 working at any one time on fire lines. So dependent on the inmates was California that prison reforms that would see the release of some of the incarcerated firefighters were put on hold for fear of losing the manpower to fight California blazes. Then California attorney general Kamala Harris, now a US Senator, was behind the effort to keep the “cheap” firefighters behind bars,

Prison reform advocates have raised concerns that the state is so reliant on the cheap labor of inmate firefighters that policymakers may be slow to adopt prison reforms as a result. The concern was magnified last fall, when lawyers for state Attorney General Kamala Harris argued that extending an early prison-release program to “all minimum custody inmates at this time would severely impact fire camp participation—a dangerous outcome while California is in the middle of a difficult fire season and severe drought.” Harris has since said she was “troubled” by the argument, and the state has ruled that minimum custody inmates, including firefighters, are eligible for the program so long as it proves not to deplete the numbers of inmate firefighters.

US Immigration and Customs Enforcement detains women, men, children, and LGBTQI individuals in over 200 county jails and for-profit prisons, according to the grass roots group CIVIC. Some of these individuals include legal permanent residents with longstanding family and community ties, asylum-seekers, and victims of human trafficking.

It was former President Bill Clinton (Democrat) who started to load up detention centers and jails with immigrants, CIVIC noted.

In 1996, President Bill Clinton signed the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) and the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA), which doubled the number of people in immigration detention from 8,500 each day in 1996 to 16,000 in 1998. Today, the detention population has increased fourfold to approximately 34,000 individuals each day, due in part to a congressionally mandated lock-up quota.

President Donald Trump’s (Republican) animosity to immigrants is well known. He and his aptly named attorney general Jefferson Beauregard Sessions will make sure detention centers and prisons are overfilled with men, women and children from Mexico, Central and South America. Trump and Session’s maniacal quest wage war on crime, drugs and terrorism will likely ensure that many thousands more will find themselves locked away and working for UNICOR/FPI or lining the pockets of private prison company owners.

Immigrants Too

The non-profit group Towards Justice reported that a lawsuit is moving forward pitting private prison corporation against immigrants who were forced into labor while in detention.

For the first time in history, a federal court allowed a class of immigrant detainees to jointly proceed with forced labor claims against the country’s second-largest private prison provider. Judge Kane in the District of Colorado certified a class of between 50,000 and 60,000 current and former immigrant detainees held at GEO’s Aurora, Colorado detention facility since 2004. These individuals, some of whom were found to legally reside in this country after months in detention, allege that they were forced to clean the detention center without pay and under threat of solitary confinement. This practice allowed GEO to reduce labor costs at the Aurora facility, where it employs just one custodian to maintain a detention center that houses up to 1,500 people at a time.

Everyone Has Their Hands in the Pie

In January 2017, the Prison Policy Initiative (prisonpolicy.org) worked up a study titled Following the Money of Mass Incarceration. It shines the light on some of the unsettling reasons why the USA will never be able to reduce its reliance on mass incarceration. Those who depend on money that the prison industry provides will never give it up. It’s not just private companies but local communities, bondsmen, unions all the way up to the US Department of Defense who collect fees or purchase UNICOR/FPI products and services at dirt cheap prices.

Bail bond companies that collect $1.4 billion in nonrefundable fees from defendants and their families actively work to block reforms that threaten its profits, even if reforms could prevent people from being detained in jail because of their poverty. Specialized phone companies win monopoly contracts and charge families up to $24.95 for a 15-minute phone call. Commissary vendors that sell goods to incarcerated people — who rely largely on money sent by loved ones — is an even larger industry that brings in $1.6 billion a year. 38 towns and cities in the U.S., more than 10% of all revenue is collected from court fines and fees. In St. Louis County, five towns generated more than 40% of their annual revenue from court fines and fees in 2013.

The over-incarceration of Americans is just one more vexing issue, piled on many—Afghanistan, Syria, education, Trump/Clinton’s health care, taxes–in which US citizens find themselves trapped and unable to reach across the pro/con divide and cause change.

Posted in culture, Dystopia, Economics, Labor, Law, Mass Incarceration, police state, Social Control, society, State Crime, Work | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Wonder Woman Is a Hero Only The Military-Industrial Complex Could Create

By Jonathan Cooke

Source: TruePublica

For a while I have been pondering whether to write a review of the newly released Wonder Woman, to peel back the layers of comic-book fun to reveal below the film’s disturbing and not-so-covert political and militaristic messages.

There is usually a noisy crowd who deride any such review with shouts of “Lighten up, it’s only a movie!” – as though popular culture is neither popular nor culture, the soundtrack to our lives that slowly shapes our assumptions and our values, and does so at a level we rarely examine critically.

My argument is that this much-praised Gal Gadot vehicle – seemingly about a peace-loving superhero, Wonder Woman, from the DC Comics stable – is actually carefully purposed propaganda, designed to force-feed aggressive western military intervention, dressed up as humanitarianism, to unsuspecting audiences.

In short, this is straight-up propaganda for the military-industrial complex. It would have looked and sounded identical had it been scripted by a joint team from the Pentagon and the Israel Defense Forces.

My reticence to review the film has lifted after reading the latest investigations of Tom Secker and Matthew Alford into the manifold ways the U.S. military and security services interfere in Hollywood, based on a release of 4,000 pages of documents under Freedom of Information requests.

In their new book National Security Cinema, the pair argue that the Pentagon, CIA and National Security Agency have meddled in the production of at least 800 major Hollywood movies and 1,000 TV titles. That is likely to be only the tip of the iceberg, as they concede:

“It is impossible to know exactly how widespread this military censorship of entertainment is because many files are still being withheld.”

They write that their book “details how U.S. government involvement also includes script rewrites on some of the biggest and most popular films, including James Bond, the Transformers franchise, and movies from the Marvel and DC cinematic universes.”

The need for Pentagon toys

This isn’t just about minor adjustments, but wholesale collusion between film-makers and the military: “If there are characters, action or dialogue that the DoD [Department of Defense] don’t approve of then the film-maker has to make changes to accommodate the military’s demands. If they refuse then the Pentagon packs up its toys and goes home. To obtain full cooperation the producers have to sign contracts — Production Assistance Agreements — which lock them into using a military-approved version of the script.”

The fact that script-writers, producers and directors on these mega-budget pictures know their film may never make it into production if it does not get a thumbs-up from the Pentagon inevitably influences the choice of subjects, the political and military premises of selected films, and the story lines.

One movie, Countermeasures, was ditched after the military objected to a script that “included references to the Iran-Contra scandal … Similarly Fields of Fire and Top Gun 2 were never made because they couldn’t obtain military support, again due to politically controversial aspects of the scripts.”

One can imagine just how stringent the conditions imposed by the Pentagon must be, if it felt compelled to reject a movie like Top Gun 2, the sequel to the “flyboys with toys” killing fest that starred a young Tom Cruise.

The two authors add: “The documents also record the pro-active nature of the military’s operations in Hollywood and that they are finding ways to get involved during the earliest stages of development, ‘when characters and storylines are most easily shaped to the Army’s benefit’.”

Bad apples, not bad institutions

In addition, film-makers are pressured into changing scripts that suggest institutional or systemic problems in the U.S. security agencies.

The two authors observe that producer Jerry Bruckheimer has admitted that the script of the film Enemy of the State was changed under pressure from the NSA so that the wrongdoings at the heart of the film would be the responsibility of a single individual, not the agency itself.

“This idea of using cinema to pin the blame for problems on isolated rogue agents or bad apples, thus avoiding any notion of systemic, institutional or criminal responsibility, is right out of the CIA/DOD’s playbook,” they observe.

So not only are movies critical of U.S. and western politics and militarism almost certain to be off-limits for a big-budget production, but that void is certain to be filled by film proposals the studio is confident will win approval from the Pentagon, CIA and NSA.

And this is, of course, on top of the fact that the Hollywood money-men are themselves part of a larger globalized financial elite that depends on the proceeds of the homeland security industry, arms manufacturers and war profiteers. These financiers are certain to prefer funding films that support a neoliberal worldview at home and a neoconservative policy of warmongering abroad.

As Secker and Alford conclude: “In societies already eager to use our hard power overseas, the shaping of our popular culture to promote a pro-war mindset must be taken seriously.

Gal Gadot and the IDF

All of this is the context for deciphering the egregious propaganda in favor of western military violence, and the portrayal of peace-seeking as “appeasement”, that is Wonder Woman.

There has been plenty of guffawing at Middle East countries, including Lebanon, for seeking to ban Wonder Woman because it stars Gal Gadot, an Israeli beauty queen turned actress.

In fact, it is understandable that the Lebanese might object to a film heavily promoting Gadot as the world’s savior, given that she served in the Israeli army, one that brutally occupied parts of their country for two decades, until 2000, and continues to maintain a belligerent occupation of the Palestinians.

But there is also an undeniable irony to Gadot playing an Amazonian goddess who opposes the militarism of men, and cannot bear to see the suffering of children in war, when in real life she publicly cheered on the Israeli army’s massive bombardment in 2014 of the imprisoned population of Gaza, which led to the killing of some 500 Palestinian children there.

But more importantly, it is not just that Gadot, a former IDF soldier, is now the face of Wonder Woman; it is that the film’s superhero character too almost perfectly embodies the shared militaristic values of the IDF and the Pentagon. If there is one film whose script suggests it was jointly engineered by the Pentagon and Israeli army, it is Wonder Woman.

Hillary Clinton as Wonder Woman?

The film is set near the end of the First World War, a cataclysmic confrontation between two colonial powers, Britain and Germany, each trying to assert its dominance in Europe. The film-makers blur their focus sufficiently to gloss over the problem that there were no good guys in that “war to end all wars”. Instead in true Hollywood fashion, the First World War is presented simply as a prelude (or prequel) to the Second World War and the rise of the Nazis.

The Germans are murderous villains, while the British are the flawed – until Gadot shows them the error of their ways – defenders of humanity. In fact, the film prefers to cast the anti-German side as “Allies”, the humane members of the world community, represented by the U.S. – Chris Pine is the male lead and Gadot’s love interest – and a ragtag support group that includes a Scot, a native American, and a generic Arab, presumably symbolizing “moderate” Arab states like Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan.

The British leadership is trying to find ways to make peace and bring the war to an end, but is stymied by an evil presence. A German super-general, Erich Ludendorff (Danny Huston), believes he can win the war decisively by developing a horrifying gas that will wipe out men, women and children, forcing the British to surrender on his terms. To demonstrate his power, he tests the gas on innocent villagers on the front lines in Belgium.

All of this might sound disconcertingly familiar to anyone who has been following the western media-scripted coverage that has for several years now been trying to promote more aggressive “humanitarian intervention” in Syria – and before that, in Libya and Iraq.

Is Ludendorff supposed to be Bashar Assad, the evil Syrian president who – as long as we discount the dissenting voices of some experts – has twice used the chemical weapon sarin against innocent civilians?

Are the British leaders, seeking a peace deal with the Germans, supposed to be those “appeasers” in the West who have stood in the way of “intervention” in Syria, blocking no-fly zones and bombing runs that could bring down the Syrian government?

And in an even more disturbing, if now outdated, parallel, given the film’s insistent identity politics, is Wonder Woman – the Amazonian who brings peace through overpowering military violence – a stand-in for Hillary Clinton? When the movie was in production, the filmmakers must have assumed it would be released as Clinton was enjoying her early months in office as the first female U.S. president.

The use of Wonder Woman to justify Clinton’s well-documented blood lust–the woman who laughed as “our rebels” murderously sodomized Libya’s Col Gaddafi, saying: “We came, we saw, he died” – would have proved timely had the U.S. election turned out differently.

War is Peace, Ignorance is Strength

Those who have not seen the film, and take it seriously as entertainment, may wish to skip this section, which includes a significant spoiler.

The source of man’s evil in Wonder Woman is the only surviving Greek god, Ares, who is hiding somewhere in the human world. Wonder Woman believes she can end all war and human suffering only if she can locate Ares and kill him – before he kills her.

No one in the human world, of course, believes Wonder Woman, and foolishly they dismiss her ideas as lunacy. And for a while Wonder Woman makes a terrible mistake in thinking the German Ludendorff (Saddam / Gaddafi / Assad) is Ares. It is late in the film that she discovers she has been on the wrong scent.

Humankind’s ultimate enemy is not Ludendorff, but the kindly Sir Patrick Morgan (David Thewlis), the British leader who has spent the entire film counseling for negotiations and peace with the Germans.

The ultimate evil, the wolves in sheep’s clothing, Wonder Woman finds, are  those among us who preach fraternity, compassion and turning the other cheek. They make possible the killing of the innocents.

Those who appear to care, those who seem to offer a route out of bloodshed and war – those who defeat the aims and threaten the profits of the military-industrial complex – are in truth nothing more than appeasers. Their efforts are certain, even intended, to lead to greater suffering.

Militarism, superior firepower, and an absolute belief in the justness of one’s cause, as Wonder Woman is reminded by her Amazonian tutors during her childhood Krav Maga training (Gadot was herself an Israeli army combat trainer) are the way to save mankind from the evildoers.

There is no time to delay, to stand back, to question or to negotiate. Wonder Woman is outraged by the dithering of the men around her. She wants to be at the front line as soon as possible, to kick ass.

“War is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength” – and all of it is good for business, the film Wonder Woman concludes in truly Orwellian fashion.

A veneer of identity politics

Of course, this story – like all effective propaganda – is supposed to work its magic at a subconscious level, where it cannot be interrogated by our reason and our critical faculties. But even so, a few critics – themselves enthusiastic liberal interventionists – seem to have intuited the movie’s message.

Perhaps not surprisingly, a reviewer with the clearest sense of how the film panders to the pro-war sentiments and identity politics of many liberals is the film critic of the conservative Washington Free Beacon.

Sonny Bunch applauds the way the film “highlights the need for the strong to intervene on behalf of the weak and the oppressed, and treats as villains quislings who sue for a peace that will bring only more destruction.

But he also understands how the film has been crafted to make its war-mongering more palatable to liberals. Wonder Woman, he writes, proves “you could slap an identity politics veneer on just about any neoconservative policy and progressives would lap it up. … Liberal interventionism is back, baby!”

Drooling from liberals

And sure enough, the community of largely liberal film reviewers has mostly drooled over Wonder Woman. Despite dire acting from Gadot, preposterous dialogue and a risible screenplay, the film has racked up an astounding 92 percent approval rating from critics on the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes.

Here is a brief selection of their assessments:

Dana Stevens, of Slate: “This is a movie about battling evil that pauses to ask what evil is and whether it’s necessary to understand its nature in order to defeat it.”

Mick LaSalle, of the San Francisco Chronicle: “What lingers … is the feeling of hope that the movie brings, that it someday might be possible for female rationality to defeat male brutality.”

Richard Brody, of the New Yorker: Wonder Woman is “an entry in the genre of wisdom literature that shares hard-won insights and long-pondered paradoxes of the past with a sincere intimacy.”

A. O. Scott, of the New York Times: “Her sacred duty is to bring peace to the world. Accomplishing it requires a lot of killing, but that’s always the superhero paradox. … Unlike most of her male counterparts, its heroine is not trying to exorcise inner demons or work out messiah issues. She wants to function freely in the world, to help out when needed and to be respected for her abilities. No wonder she encounters so much resistance.”

The paradoxes of power

Wonder Woman grapples with the paradoxes of military power every American interventionist and Israeli patriot understands. To save the “beautiful children”, she must sometimes rush to intervene and kill with extreme prejudice, even if the other side’s children are among those who are sacrificed.

Wonder Woman wants to “function freely”: she must enjoy the right to go wherever her interests take her. She cannot be shackled by borders in her quest for justice. She is there to “help out” others in trouble, even if she alone gets to decide who needs help and what counts as trouble. And she needs “respect”, and is prepared to force others to accord it to her, through her superior strength if need be.

She will face “much resistance” because others are jealous of her power and her freedoms. They are the evildoers, and they must and will be defeated.

Is it any surprise that in the Hollywood-Pentagon-IDF world of Wonder Woman, the values of a female superhero sound exactly like those of the military men who run the West’s wars?

Now roll on “Wonder Woman 2: Time to Intervene (Humanely)”.

Posted in Art, conditioning, culture, Deep State, Empire, Feminism, Film, media, Militarization, propaganda, Psy-ops, Social Control, Social Engineering, society, Sociology, State Crime, war, war on terror | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Angelic Wars, Heart Openings and We the People

By rahkyt

Source: Sacred Space in Time

The awakening of the heart is not affecting us all the same way. Some people are lightening their psychological load, working through their issues, reconciling their pasts and choosing to be present in the Now in order to choose the best future.
Others are decidedly not doing that. For them, the heart is trying to open but they force it shut again, perhaps afraid of what is bubbling up to the surface. Traumas of childhood and life, hatreds and shames, dysfunctions sealed in by years of practice, thoughts acted out upon that should have been exorcised long ago.

But this is the way of things in the days of Light and Dark, when energies of such sublime potency inundate the earth, bringing us to our own personal encounters with angels and demons, gods and goddesses, the one God of All and his most beautiful angel Lucifer, the Light-bringer, too. Your orientation matters not, as dark and light as polarity manifest serve the deepest and highest Truth simultaneously. Names change over the span of the infinite and the eternal, but energy-types/archetypes do not. How we each choose is a function of who we are truly, not who we think we are.

Sometimes when you think your personality is who you are, you can make the mistake of choosing self-flagellation and suffer from martyr complexes, punishing yourself for sins imagined, not sins actualized. Human laws are not Divine laws in most instances although the original intent was to mirror heaven on earth, but we all see how that is working out.

The murderous and soulless serve the good as object lessons to the souled, every atrocity committed in darkness gives rise to the light in you, in me, can’t you feel it burning inside, when you read about the one who murders nine in a church, another today who murders eight after fighting with his ex, that one who killed two and injured another after hating two and the one who stopped another from killing hundreds, just because it was in his soul to hug a man, no matter the consequences.

The Light is born within as we see it without, you can feel it as a warmth, a vibration that rises from your core to permeate and encompass all of your very Being – from essence to ego – straining for release, in tears, in cries out to creation, to rising joy and righteousness as a quality of existence itself, bringing out the highest and most perfect Love, which is that Most High expression of multiversal consciousness encapsulated in form.

You.

Me.

We.

This world is perfect in its imperfection and nothing you and I do – or those others out there of each polarity and every shade of potentiality in between – is not known beyond the sphere of time and space that limits our perception of the Greater Good, whatever that might look like and mean beyond our limited conception of such infinite and eternal qualities.

Perhaps this is why believing is different from knowing, why data and information can often be a perceptive trap rather than an aid in our personal evolutionary schema. Garbage in, garbage out and the monkey mind ruminates endlessly observing the cascade of thoughts and processes beyond necessity, bordering closely upon the realms of obsessive compulsion and neurosis.

Once the heart opens, it cannot be stopped. For those who attempt it, perhaps they can quell it for a spell, clamp down with their will, shut out the dark corners of their minds and seek the sunshine of false cheer and the surface veneer of shiza and shinola. But it is a losing proposition. If not now, then later, the hurt and pain and agony and rage and despair will spill out indiscriminately, affecting all held dear, prized or cherished, depending upon the original state of inherent spiritual nature.

But for my soul peeps, my sista and brotha souls, those awakened who know they are here to combine in heart-born alliance to carry this planetary body into a new expression of potentiality, even if we do not live to see it, our job will be done, our purposes will become manifest. Our children will carry on. The light will live on, but for today, in the Now, each choice passes through the crucible of Divine fire that lives within us, each decision is pounded out on the crux, the core black hole/white hole singularity we call the heart, exuding energetic frequencies that birth the future through our own unique and fated expression.

The Fallen rise again, the Old Ones embody in form and nature, the cycle turned spiral tube torus-like in Fibonacci patterns of predestination and fate. The mind informs the practiced heart and what is prophesied becomes a fait accompli. Such is life in these wild, wild days. Feel the burn, process and accept the grief and the joy, stoking the fire within in preparation for the ascension of phoenix-like glory that is promised. The best future was chosen in the past and Now, we must live it.

Posted in culture, Philosophy, Psychology, society, Spirituality | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Saturday Matinee: Eraserhead

“Eraserhead” (1977) is an infamous cult classic and debut feature film written, produced, and directed by David Lynch. The majority of the plot involves the struggles of Henry (Jack Nance) as he cares for a severely deformed baby in an industrial, possibly post-apocalyptic wasteland. Like Tarkovsky’s Stalker, the film’s pace is slow, which is a good thing for those who appreciate its unforgettable atmosphere and immersiveness.

Watch the full film here.

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Our Political Parties Are Obsolete

By Charles Hugh Smith

Source: Of Two Minds

When the parties do finally implode, the general mood will be: good riddance.

History informs us that once something is obsolete, it can disappear far faster than anyone expected. While we generally think of obsoleted technologies vanishing, social and political systems can become obsolete as well.

Should a poor soul who entered a deep coma a year ago awaken today, we must forgive his/her astonishment at the political wreckage left by the 2016 election. The Democratic Party, a mere year ago an absurdly over-funded machine confident in an easy victory in the presidential race, is now a complete shambles: its leadership in free-fall, its Fat-Cat donors disgusted, and its demented intoxication with pinning collaboration with Russia on the Trump camp eroding whatever feeble legacy legitimacy it still holds. What the party stands for is a mystery, as its Elites are clearly beholden to insiders, special interests and Corporate donors while glorifying the worst excesses of globalism and the National Security State’s endless war on civil liberties.

The newly awakened citizen would also marvel at the chaotic war zone of the Republican Party, in which the Insider Warlords are battling insurgent Outsiders, while the same Elites that fund the Democratic machine are wondering what they’re buying with their millions of dollars in contributions, for it’s unclear what the Republican Party stands for: it’s for Small Government, except when it’s for Bigger Government, which is 95% of the time; it’s for more law enforcement and the militarization of local police, and more intrusion into the lives of the citizenry; it’s for stricter standards for welfare, except for Corporate Welfare; it’s for tax reform, except the thousands of pages of give-aways, loopholes and tax breaks for the wealthy and corporations all remain untouched, and so on: a smelly tangle of special interests masked by a few sprays of PR air freshener to the millions left behind by the globalization that has so enriched Corporate America and the class of financier-owners, bankers, insiders and technocrats–the same group that funds and controls both political parties.

Political parties arose to consolidate centralized control of the central state.We have now reached the perfection of this teleology: the political elites and the financial elites are now one class. In our pay-to-play “democracy,” only the votes of wealth and institutional power count.

As I have often noted here, the returns on centralization are diminishing to less than zero. The initial returns on centralizing capital, production and social-political power were robust, but now the centralized cartel-state is eating its own tail, masking its financial bankruptcy by borrowing from the future, and cloaking its political bankruptcy behind the crumbling facades of the legacy parties.

Now that technology has enabled decentralized currency, markets and governance, the centralized political parties are obsolete. They are the political equivalent of buggy whips, and those holding tight to the fantasy that their current dissolution will magically be transformed into unity by some future leadership will be disappointed.

The fragmentation of the political parties is not temporary–it is permanent. As I discussed yesterday, political and social fragmentation are the consequence of economic fragmentation–these are self-reinforcing dynamics, as fragmentation in one feeds fragmentation in the others.

Those who have gotten rich inside the bloated machinery of the parties will never accept their era has ended. The dreams of private jets and millions of dollars in contributions die hard. But the voters and donors are both waking up to the cold reality that the parties are nothing but wealth distribution machines that sluice millions from financial elites to various political elites.

All the legacy claims of both parties ring false; neither party gives a hoot about the working class, small business or civil liberties. Their entire game plan is to whip up hot-button social issues to distract a fragmented citizenry and arouse last-gasp emotional loyalty to empty slogans.

Is it any wonder that people are abandoning both parties and claiming Independent status? All the core systems of the nation are failing, visibly, painfully, badly, and yet all the parties can dredge up is more of the same and TINA–there is no alternative.

The citizen who just awakened also awakened to the truth: the legacy parties have no solutions; their game plan is to milk the system as long as they can before it collapses in a rotten heap of corruption, fraud, collusion, debt and profiteering that benefits the few at the expense of the many.

When the parties do finally implode, the general mood will be: good riddance. A centralized spoils system is no longer a viable way to govern the nation. Political systems everywhere are facing a choice: Decentralize or die.

Posted in Authoritarianism, Corruption, culture, Deep State, divide and conquer, Dystopia, Economics, Empire, Financial Crisis, Social Control, society | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment