Peace is a Cliché: When the West cannot Control the World Unopposed it Means War

Dedicated to my friend, a philosopher, John Cobb, Jr.

By Andre Vltchek

Source: Dissident Voice

The West likes to think of itself as a truly “peace-loving part of the world”. But is it? You hear it everywhere, from Europe to North America, then to Australia, and back to Europe: “Peace, peace, peace!”

It has become a cliché, a catchphrase, a recipe to get funding and sympathy and support. You say peace and you really cannot go wrong. It means that you are a compassionate and reasonable human being.

Every year, there are “peace conferences” taking place everywhere where peace is worshipped, and even demanded. I recently attended one, as a keynote speaker, on the west coast of Denmark.

If a heavy-duty war correspondent like myself attends them, he or she gets shocked. What is usually discussed are superficial, feel-good topics.

At best, ‘how bad capitalism is’, and how ‘everything is about oil’. Nothing about the genocidal culture of the West. Nothing about continuous, centuries-long plunders and benefits that virtually all Westerners have been getting from it.

At worst, it is all about how bad the world is – “all people are the same” cliché. And, also, there are increasingly, bizarre, uninformed outbursts against China and Russia which are often labeled by Western neo-cons as “threat” and “rival powers”.

Participants of these gatherings agree “Peace is Good”, and “War is Bad”. This is followed by standing ovations and patting each other on the back. Few heartfelt tears are dropped.

However, reasons behind these displays are rarely questioned. After all, who would be asking for war? Who’d crave for violence, terrible injuries and death? Who’d want to see leveled, charred cities and abandoned, crying infants? It all appears to be very simple, and very logical.

But then, why do we not hear too often that “peace speech” pouring from the devastated and still de facto colonized African or the Middle Eastern countries? Aren’t they suffering the most? Shouldn’t they be dreaming about the peace? Or are all of us, perhaps, missing the main point?

My friend, a great Indian writer and thinker, Arundhati Roy wrote, in 2001, reacting to the Western “War on Terror”:

When he announced the air strikes, President George Bush said, “We’re a peaceful nation.” America’s favourite ambassador, Tony Blair, (who also holds the portfolio of Prime Minister of the UK), echoed him: “We’re a peaceful people.” So now we know. Pigs are horses. Girls are boys. War is Peace.

When it comes from the lips of the Westerners, is ‘peace’ really peace, is ‘war’ really a war?

Are people in that ‘free and democratic West’, still allowed to ask such questions? Or is the war and peace perception just a part of the dogma that is not allowed to be questioned and is ‘protected’ by both the Western culture and its laws?

I’m not in the West, and I don’t want to be. Therefore, I’m not sure what they are allowed to say or to question there. But we, those lucky people who are ‘outside’ and therefore not fully conditioned, controlled and indoctrinated, will definitely not stop asking these questions anytime soon; or to be precise, never!

*****

Recently, through Whatsapp, I received a simple chain of messages from my East African friends and Comrades – mostly young left-wing, revolutionary opposition leaders, thinkers and activists:

Free Africa is a socialist Africa! We are ready for war! The young Africans are on fire! Death to the imperialist forces! Viva Bolivarian revolution! South-South Cooperation! Today we take the battle to the streets! Africa Must Unite!

Such statements would sound almost ‘violent’ and therefore could be even be classified as ‘illegal’, if pronounced openly in the West. Someone could end up in Guantanamo for this, or in a ‘secret CIA prison’. A few weeks ago, I directly addressed these young people – leaders of the left-wing East African opposition – at the Venezuelan Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya. Yes, they were boiling, they were outraged, determined and ready.

For those who are not too familiar with the continent, Kenya has been, for years and decades, an outpost of the British, US and even Israeli imperialism in East Africa. It was playing the same role that West Germany used to play during the Cold War – a window shopping paradise, stuffed with luxury goods and services.

In the past, Kenya was supposed to dwarf the socialist experiment of Tanzania under the leadership of Nyerere.

Today, some 60 percent of Kenyans live in slums; some of the toughest in Africa. Some of these ‘settlements’, like Mathare and Kibera are housing at least one million people, in the most despicable, terrible conditions. Four years ago, when I was making my documentary film, in these slums, for South American network TeleSUR, I wrote:

…Officially, there is peace in Kenya. For decades, Kenya functioned as a client state of the West, implementing a savage market regime, hosting foreign military bases. Billions of dollars were made here. But almost nowhere on earth is the misery more brutal than here.

Two years earlier, while filming my “Tumaini” near Kisumu city and the Uganda border, I saw entire hamlets standing empty like ghosts. The people had vanished, died – from AIDS and hunger. But it was still called peace.

Peace it was when the US military medics were operating under the open sky, on desperately poor and sick Haitians, in the notorious slum of Cité Soleil. I saw and photographed a woman, laid on a makeshift table, having her tumor removed using only local anesthetics. I asked the North American doctors, why is it like this? I knew there was a top-notch military facility two minutes away.

“This is as close as we get to real combat situation”, one doctor replied, frankly. “For us, this is great training.”

After the surgery was over, the woman got up, and supported by her frightened husband, walked away towards the bus stop.”

Yes, all this is, officially, peace.

*****

In Beirut, Lebanon, I recently participated in discussion about “Ecology of War”, a scientific and philosophical concept created by several AUB Medical Center doctors from the Middle East. Doctor Ghassan ‘Gus’ Abu-Sitta, the head of the Plastic Surgery Department at the AUB Medical Center in Lebanon, explained:

The misery is war. The destruction of the strong state leads to conflict. A great number of people on our Planet actually live in some conflict or war, without even realizing it: in slums, in thoroughly collapsed states, or in refugee camps.

During my work, in almost all devastated corners of the world, I saw much worse things than what I described above. Perhaps I saw too much – all that ‘peace’ which has been tearing limbs from the victims, all those burning huts and howling women, or children dying from diseases and hunger before they reach their teens.

I wrote about war and peace at length, in my 840-page book Exposing Lies Of The Empire”.

When you do what I do, you become like a doctor: you can only stand all those horrors and suffering, because you are here to help, to expose reality, and to shame the world. You have no right to decompose, to collapse, to fall and to cry.

But what you cannot stand is hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is ‘bulletproof’. It cannot be illuminated by correct arguments, by logic and by examples. Hypocrisy in the West is often ignorant, but mostly it is just self-serving.

So, what is real peace for the people in Europe and North America? The answer is simple: It is a state of things in which as few Western people as possible are killed or injured. A state of things in which the flow of resources from the poor, plundered and colonized countries is pouring, uninterrupted, predominantly to Europe and North America.

The price for such peace? How many African, Latin American or Asian people die as a result of such arrangement of the world, is thoroughly irrelevant.

Peace is when the business interests of the West are not endangered, even if tens of millions of non-white human beings would vanish in the process.

Peace is when the West can, unopposed, control the world, politically, economically, ideologically and ‘culturally’.

“War” is when there is rebellion. War is when the people of plundered countries say “No!”. War is when they suddenly refuse to be raped, robbed, indoctrinated and murdered.

When such a scenario takes place the West’s immediate reaction ‘to restore peace’ is to overthrow the government in the country which is trying to take care of its people. To bomb schools and hospitals, to destroy supply of fresh water and electricity and to throw millions into total misery and agony.

As the West may soon do to North Korea (DPRK), to Cuba, Venezuela, Iran – some of the countries that are being, for now, ‘only’ tormented by sanctions and, foreign -sponsored, deadly “opposition”. In the Western lexicon, “peace” is synonymous to “submission”. To a total, unconditional submission. Anything else is war or could potentially lead to war.

For the oppressed, devastated countries, including those in Africa, to call for resistance, would be, at least in the Western lexicon, synonymous with the “call for violence”, therefore illegal. As ‘illegal’ as the calls were for resistance in the countries occupied by German Nazi forces during the WWII. It would be, therefore, logical to call the Western approach and state of mind, “fundamentalist”, and thoroughly aggressive.

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Posted in anti-war, Authoritarianism, Corporate Crime, culture, Economics, elites, Empire, Geoengineering, History, imperialism, Inequality, Neoliberalism, Philosophy, propaganda, Social Control, society, State Crime, war | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Suicide? American Society is Murdering Us

By Ted Rall

Source: CounterPunch

They say that 10 million Americans seriously consider committing suicide every year. In 1984, when I was 20, I was one of them.

Most people who kill themselves feel hopeless. They are miserable and distraught and can’t imagine how or if their lives will ever improve. That’s how I felt. Within a few months I got expelled from college, dumped by a girlfriend I foolishly believed I would marry, fired from my job and evicted from my apartment. I was homeless, bereft, broke. I didn’t have enough money for more than a day of cheap food. And I had no prospects.

I tried in vain to summon up the guts to jump off the roof of my dorm. I went down to the subway but couldn’t make myself jump in front of a train. I wanted to. But I couldn’t.

Obviously things got better. I’m writing this.

Things got better because my luck changed. But — why did it have to? Isn’t there something wrong with a society in which life or death turns on luck?

I wish I could tell my 20-year-old self that suicide isn’t necessary, that there is another way, that there will be plenty of time to be dead in the end. I’ve seen those other ways when I’ve traveled overseas.

In Thailand and Central Asia and the Caribbean and all over the world you will find Americans whose American lives ran hard against the shoals of bankruptcy, lost love, addiction or social shame. Rather than off themselves, they gathered their last dollars and headed to the airport and went somewhere else to start over. They showed up at some dusty ex-pat bar in the middle of nowhere with few skills other than speaking English and asked if they could crash in the back room in between washing dishes. Eventually they scraped together enough money to conduct tours for Western tourists, maybe working as a divemaster or taking rich vacationers deep-sea fishing. They weren’t rich themselves; they were OK and that was more than enough.

You really can start over. But maybe not in this uptight, stuck-up, class-stratified country.

I remembered that in 2015 when I suffered another setback. Unbeknownst to me, the Los Angeles Times — where I had worked as a cartoonist since 2009 – had gotten itself into a corrupt business deal with the LAPD, which I routinely criticized in my cartoons. A piece-of-work police chief leveraged his department’s financial influence on the newspaper by demanding that the idiot ingénue publisher, his political ally, fire me as a favor. But mere firing wasn’t enough for these two goons. They published not one, but two articles, lying about me in an outrageous attempt to destroy my journalistic credibility. I’m suing but the court system is slower than molasses in the pre-climate change Arctic.

Suicide crossed my mind many times during those dark weeks and months. Although I had done nothing wrong the Times’ smears made me feel ashamed. I was angry: at the Times editors who should have quit rather than carry out such shameful orders, at the media outlets who refused to cover my story, at the friends and colleagues who didn’t support me. Though many people stood by me, I felt alone. I couldn’t imagine salvaging my reputation — as a journalist, your reputation for truthtelling and integrity are your most valuable asset and essential to do your job and to get new ones.

As my LA Times nightmare unfolded, however, I remembered the Texas-born bartender who had reinvented himself in Belize after his wife left him and a family court judge ordered him to pay 90% of his salary in alimony. I thought about the divemaster in Cozumel running away from legal trouble back in the States that he refused to describe. If my career were to crumble away, I could split.

You can opt out of BS without having to opt out of life.

Up 30% since 1999, suicide has become an accelerating national epidemic — 1.4 million Americans tried to kill themselves in a single year, 2015 — but the only times the media focuses on suicide is when it claims the lives of celebrities like Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. While the media has made inroads by trying to cover high-profile suicides discreetly so as to minimize suicidal ideation and inspiring others to follow their example, it’s frustrating that no one seems to want to identify societal and political factors so that this trend might be reversed.

Experts believe that roughly half of men who commit suicide suffer from undiagnosed mental illness such as a severe personality disorder or clinical depression. Men commit suicide in substantially higher numbers than women. The healthcare insurance business isn’t much help. One in five Americans is mentally ill but 60% get no treatment at all.

Then there’s stress. Journalistic outlets and politicians don’t target the issue of stress in any meaningful way other than to foolishly, insipidly advise people to avoid it. If you subject millions of people to inordinate stress, some of them, the fragile ones, will take their own lives. We should be working to create a society that minimizes rather than increases stress.

It doesn’t require a lot of heavy lifting to come up with major sources of stress in American society. People are working longer hours but earning lower pay. Even people with jobs are terrified of getting laid off without a second’s notice. The American healthcare system, designed to fatten for-profit healthcare corporations, is a sick joke. When you lose your job or get sick, that shouldn’t be your problem alone. We’re social creatures. We must help each other personally, locally and through strong safety-net social programs.

Loneliness and isolation are likely leading causes of suicide; technology is alienating us from one another even from those who live in our own homes. This is a national emergency. We have to discuss it, then act.

Life in the United States has become vicious and brutal, too much to take even for this nation founded upon the individualistic principles of rugged libertarian pioneers. Children are pressured to exhibit fake joy and success on social media. Young adults are burdened with gigantic student loans they strongly suspect they will never be able to repay. The middle-aged are divorced, outsourced, downsized and repeatedly told they are no longer relevant. And the elderly are thrown away or warehoused, discarded and forgotten by the children they raised.

We don’t have to live this way. It’s a choice. Like the American ex-pats I run into overseas, American society can opt out of crazy-making capitalism without having to opt out.

Posted in consciousness, culture, Economics, Financial Crisis, Health, Inequality, Labor, Philosophy, Psychology, Recession, Social Control, Social Engineering, society, Sociology, Spirituality, Technology, Work | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Two for Tuesday

Dr. Wrong & Old Harry Rox

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

Big Pay Gaps Are Bad for Business

Would you do your best work for a CEO who pulls in 5,000 times your own salary?

By Sarah Anderson

Source: Other Words

Mattel is one of the largest toy-making companies on earth. Turns out it’s one of the biggest manufacturers of income inequality, too.

Last year, the Barbie doll manufacturer paid its CEO nearly 5,000 times as much as its median worker.

This stunning revelation is the result of a new regulation that requires U.S. publicly held corporations to report their CEO-worker pay ratios to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Mattel’s gap is the widest reported so far. But most other big U.S. companies also have staggering divides. According to a new report by the staff of Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison, the first 225 large corporations to release their numbers had pay ratios averaging 339 to 1.

“This immense inequality is a crisis for our economy and our democracy,” said Ellison, a longtime advocate of pay gap disclosure.

What’s good for these CEOs, however, is actually bad for business.

A CNBC analysis of the new pay ratio data, for example, suggests that companies with large pay disparities have lower profits per employee.

Why might that be? According to a recent study by a Harvard Business professor, companies tend to perform poorly if workers feel they’re not paid fairly. The study’s author said workers who feel that way are likely to lack motivation and even quit their jobs.

It’s not hard to understand how it could put a damper on your morale to be working hard and struggling to get by while your boss is being rewarded hundreds — or even thousands — of times more than you on payday.

Doug Smith, a former partner at the big McKinsey management consulting firm, argues that the economic costs of huge pay gaps go far beyond the problems of low employee morale and high turnover.

“Instead of building a real economy beneficial to all,” Smith says, “these unethical pay practices spread outsourcing, offshoring, tax avoidance, downsizing, and the substitution of good-paying permanent jobs with temporary, precarious employment.”

There’s a growing movement to use the new pay ratio data to encourage corporations to narrow their gaps. Portland, Oregon will soon become the first city to impose a tax penalty on companies with pay gaps above 100 to 1.

Charlie Hales, Portland’s mayor when the law was passed in late 2016, argued that it made good business sense to encourage narrower gaps.

In a former job at an employee-owned engineering firm, Hales had seen firsthand how a small pay ratio boosted the bottom line. “Everyone worked a little harder because your success was my success,” Hales said. “And that egalitarian culture led to a strong work ethic that drove the corporation to success.”

With the new pay ratio data now coming out, lawmakers in six states — California, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Rhode Island — are considering Portland-style pay ratio taxes.

Narrowing the divides within U.S. corporations may not automatically leave us all whistling away while we work. But we’ll all pay a price if we keep fiddling while extreme inequality burns down our economy.

Posted in Corporate Crime, culture, Economics, Financial Crisis, Inequality, Labor, Law, society, Work | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Twelve Tips For Making Sense Of The World

By Caitlin Johnstone

Source: CaitlinJohnstone.com

In an environment that is saturated with mass media propaganda, it can be hard to figure out which way’s up, let alone get an accurate read on what’s going on in the world. Here are a few tips I’ve learned which have given me a lot of clarity in seeing through the haze of spin and confusion. Taken separately they don’t tell you a lot, but taken together they paint a very useful picture of the world and why it is the way it is.

1. It’s always ultimately about acquiring power.

In the quest to understand why governments move in such irrational ways, why expensive, senseless wars are fought while homeless people die of exposure on the streets, why millionaires and billionaires get richer and richer while everyone else struggles to pay rent, why we destroy the ecosystem we depend on for our survival, why one elected official tends to advance more or less the same harmful policies and agendas as his or her predecessor, people often come up with explanations which don’t really hold water.

The most common of these is probably the notion that all of these problems are due to the malignant influence of one of two mainstream political parties, and if the other party could just get in control of the situation all the problems would go away. Other explanations include the belief that humans are just intrinsically awful, blaming minorities like Jews or immigrants, blaming racism and white supremacy, or going all the way down wild and twisted rabbit holes into theories about reptilian secret societies and baby-eating pedophile cabals. But really all of mankind’s irrational behavior can be explained by the basic human impulse to amass power and influence over one’s fellow humans, combined with the fact that sociopaths tend to rise to positions of power.

Our evolutionary ancestors were pack animals, and the ability to rise in social standing in one’s pack determined crucial matters like whether one got first or last dibs on food or got to reproduce. This impulse to rise in our pack is hardwired deeply into our evolutionary heritage, but when left unchecked due to a lack of empathy, and when expanded into the globe-spanning 7.6 billion human pack we now find ourselves in due to ease of transportation and communication, it can lead to individuals who will keep amassing more and more power until they wield immense influence over entire clusters of nations.

2. Money rewards sociopathy.

The willingness to do anything to get ahead, to claw your way to the top, to betray whomever you need to, to throw anyone under the bus, to step on anyone to pass them in the rat race, will be rewarded in our current system. Being willing to underpay employees, cheat the legal system, and influence legislators will be rewarded exponentially more. People with a sense of empathy are often unwilling to do such things, whereas sociopaths and psychopaths are. About four percent of the population are sociopaths, and about one percent are psychopaths, with some five to fifteen percent falling somewhere along the borderline. The less empathy you have, the further you are willing to go, and the further up the ladder you can climb.

3. Wealth kills empathy.

If that weren’t bad enough, studies have shown that controlling large amounts of wealth actually destroys one’s sense of compassion for one’s fellow man. When you are able to use wealth to obtain everything from security to loyalty to personal relationships, you no longer have to be tuned in to the brain’s empathy center the rest of humanity depends on to get an accurate reading on what’s going on with the people we’re surrounded by. Most people need to be constantly feeling around their families, coworkers, employers, friends and acquaintances in order to ensure their own safety, social standing and security, whereas a wealthy person can simply purchase those things. Being born into wealth or having it for a long time can prevent that sense of empathy from being as strong as it is in the rest of the population.

4. Money is power.

2014 Princeton study showed that ordinary Americans have essentially zero influence over their nation’s policy and behavior regardless of how they vote, while wealthy Americans have a great deal of influence. This is because the ability to use corporate lobbying and campaign donations effectively amounts to the legalized bribery of elected officials, which means that money translates directly into political power. This creates a ruling class which is naturally incentivized to use their influence to increase their own wealth while decreasing everyone else’s, because since power is relative, the less money everyone else has the more power the ruling class has.

This is why billionaires keep hoarding more and more wealth while using legalized bribery to stifle economic justice legislation. It isn’t because they want to be able to buy thousands of luxury cars or dozens of private jets; they can only use one at a time the same as everyone else. They hoard wealth to keep the rest of the population from having it. Because money equals power, spreading wealth around would be tantamount to making everyone king, and because power is relative, making everyone king would mean that no one is king.

Rulers, historically, do not give up power easily, and this elite wealthy class is no exception. Hence all their aggressive attempts to suppress any movement against the status quo from the unwashed masses.

5. This same ruling class controls the media.

It’s common knowledge that most media is controlled by plutocrats, whether it’s the old money plutocrats who control the legacy media or the new money Silicon Valley plutocrats who control much of the new media. Media control is an essential component of rule; this has always been the case, since the days when kings would order dissident books burned and bishops would torture dissident orators to death. This is why the first thing a new plutocrat does as soon as rising to a certain level of wealth is start buying up media influence, like Jeff Bezos did when he bought the Washington Post in 2013. Bezos bought WaPo not because he is a stupid businessman who thought newspapers were about to make a lucrative resurgence, but because he is a brilliant businessman who knows that the status quo he is building his empire upon requires a propaganda firm that the public will trust and believe.

6. People are always manipulating each other.

Cultivating an acute awareness of when you are being manipulated, and considering whether someone might have a motive to do so, is an essential component to making sense of the world.

It is very rare to encounter someone who won’t try to manipulate you in any way. Generally people you’ll encounter in your life will try to influence the way you perceive them and your relationship to them, they’ll try to pull you in in some ways and push you out in others, try to hook you up to their personal agendas and goals and shape you in a way that fits with their shape. There’s nothing inherently malevolent in such behavior, it’s just what people do and what they always have done. Again, humans are social creatures, and we do what we can to increase our standing within our social circles.

The big problem is when skillful manipulators find their way into positions of large-scale influence like government or media. Unfortunately, these are the types who tend to get elevated into such positions, because they can manipulate their way in, and generally they do so for reasons of personal ambition rather than altruism. These skillful manipulators form an essential echelon of the ruling class’ loyal servants, and are the minds behind the pro-establishment narratives you’ll suddenly see circulated from think tanks to media platforms to the establishment lackeys on Capitol Hill.

7. Society is made of narrative.

Most of human experience is filtered through our mental stories about it, from our sense of self, to our ideas about who we are, to our beliefs about how we’re supposed to behave in society, to what money is and how it works, to where power exists and who we’re supposed to obey. All of these things are purely conceptual constructs which only exist in the realm of thought; a “dollar” exists to the extent that we’ve all agreed to pretend it’s a real thing and that it has a certain amount of purchasing power. At any time we could collectively decide to change the rules about how power functions or what money is and how it operates, and then instantly the rule of the elite class would be over without anyone firing a shot. It really would be that simple.

That’s how powerful a force narrative is, which is why the ruling plutocrats fight so hard to keep us from seizing control of it. This is why whistleblowers and outlets like WikiLeaks are aggressively and constantly smeared and demonized in the corporate media; if they can create suspicion of truth-tellers then they can keep them from being trusted, and thus keep them from being believed. This tool has been used to minimize the impact of everything from on the ground reports of what’s happening in Syria to leak drops from Edward Snowden; if you can create enough suspicion of someone it doesn’t matter if they’re speaking 100 percent truth; nobody will believe them, and thus the dominant narrative will remain the same.

Maintaining an awareness that there is always an unending battle to control the narrative and manipulate it to advance plutocratic interests is an essential part of understanding the world.

8. The lines between nations are imaginary.

Those lines drawn on the map between countries are pure narrative as well; they’re only as real as the collective public agrees to pretend they are. The ruling elites know this and exploit this. They don’t think in terms of nations and governments, they think in terms of individuals and groups of individuals.

Key strategic region in the Middle East? No need to take over the whole country, just flood it with extremist groups who are loyal to your agendas and control its oil fields. Primo naval real estate in the southern hemisphere? No need to annex it and plant your country’s flag there, just secure enough influence over the important moving parts using corporate contracts, trade agreements, military/intelligence treaties and secret deals and you can use it however you want.

This is why I am dismissive of arguments that “Israel controls America” or “America controls Europe”. There is no “Israel” or “America”; they’re made-up ideas which rulers once upon a time treated as real, but in the modern days of nationless plutocracy they no longer do. There are individuals, there are corporations, there are government agencies, there are factions and groups, and these are what the ruling elites deal with. Governmental structures are only tools which are used by the ruling elites for the purpose of manipulation, control, and military violence, and they only do so insofar as it is useful. The idea of real nations and governments is a cutesy fairy tale sold to the masses so they won’t see the manipulations.

9. Powerful forces are naturally incentivized to collaborate with each other toward mutual interests.

You can be a low-grade millionaire and still live like a relatively normal civilian, but once you start obtaining giant amounts of wealth control you need to start collaborating with existing power structures or they’ll snuff you out to prevent you from rocking their boat, because again, money equals power. This is why Jeff Bezos contracts with the CIA and sits on a Pentagon advisory board, and it’s why Facebook and Google collaborate extensively with government agencies; they never would have been allowed to grow to their size if they had not. Plutocratic dynasties which have been in place since long before Amazon, Facebook and Google figured this out many generations ago, and have agreed to push forward in a direction of mutual interest that doesn’t upset the status quo that their wealth is built upon.

This is extremely true of the west, where an effective empire has been created by a complex transnational alliance of mostly western plutocrats, but it is true outside of that empire as well; there are power alliances to be found everywhere that there is power.

10. There is an immense amount of wealth that can be grabbed in the chaos of war and conflict.

In the same way that existing power structures are naturally incentivized to quash any emerging power which would upset their status quo, alliances of power structures push to crush non-aligned power structures the world over. Whenever you see the tight western alliances and their media propaganda arms attacking the interests of Russia, China, Syria, Iran, Venezuela etc., you are seeing an alliance of power structures working to disrupt the interests of another alliance of power structures in order to absorb their assets.

The chaotic, Wild West environments that these conflicts create allow for an amount of underhanded looting and pillaging that you could never get away with in your own country, in the exact same way the colonialists and conquistadors of old could never have gotten away with brazenly grabbing gold, land and slaves from their fellow Europeans in Madrid or Rome but were given no legal trouble in the new world. The colonialists and conquistadors pushed into the Americas, Africa and Asia on the pretense of spreading Christianity and civilization; modern day conquerers push into non-aligned power structures on the pretense of spreading freedom and democracy in precisely the same way.

This chaos doesn’t require direct military conflict to be profitable; the uncritical enmity against Russia that the western plutocratic alliance has manufactured with its media control has allowed them to be blamed for everything from incriminating WikiLeaks documents to a corporate raid by Ukrainian oligarchs without any questions asked. Anyone who has ever had to deal personally with a sociopath knows how much they love to exploit the gray areas that chaotic situations give them, and geopolitical conflicts create those situations in spades.

11. The neocons are always wrong.

This one’s really easy. If you ever want to be on the right side of history for a foreign policy debate, look at what Bush-era PNAC neocons like John Bolton and Bill Kristol are saying about it, and take the opposite position. Neocon thought leaders have been loudly and catastrophically wrong about everything since the turn of the century, from Afghanistan to Iraq to Libya to Syria, and they’re not about to start being right now.

12. The push towards truth always starts with yourself.

You can’t out-manipulate seasoned manipulators. The main error most people make when trying to deal with a sociopath is to try and manipulate them back. Don’t even try. They have years of experience on you because they literally have done nothing else. While you were laughing and crying and worrying and connecting and relating to people, they were working out how to play humans like Garry Kasparov worked out how to play chess. And when you have literal teams of sociopaths collaborating together to amass power, you my dear child, do not have a chance. Don’t play their game. You will lose.

The only way to win this is to set your compass resolutely to “true.” Always be honest with yourself. Find all the different ways that you are manipulating others and see them and acknowledge them. Find your tribal allegiances and your desire to be right, and tip your hat to their existence. The more self-aware we are, the less levers we have to be manipulated by. If you are blindly partisan or loyal to a particular faction, that makes you gullible to propaganda because your wishful thinking and your desire to be right come into play. Get honest with yourself about who you are and what you want, and you will start to become an un-playable piece on the board.

If we can’t beat these bastards with truth, we don’t deserve to win.

Posted in Authoritarianism, CIA, conditioning, consciousness, Conspiracy, Corporate Crime, corporate news, Corruption, culture, Deep State, Economics, elites, Empire, Geopolitics, imperialism, Inequality, media, Media Literacy, Neocons, news, Philosophy, propaganda, Psychology, Social Control, Social Engineering, society, Sociology, State Crime, war | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Crisis in Consciousness: Change and the Individual

By Graham Peebles

Source: Dissident Voice

Our society is besieged by a series of interconnected crises. Millions of people around the world know this and are crying out for change, for a different way of living, for justice, peace and freedom.

Political leaders, Prime Ministers, Presidents and the like, are apparently incapable of responding to these demands; they do not understand the depth of the anguish or the complex interconnected nature of the problems. Instead of presenting new possibilities and working for peace and social harmony, they do all they can to maintain the divisive status quo and act in accordance with the past. But life is not static, it cannot be contained within any ideology – religious, political/economic or social – all must change to accommodate the new. And ‘the new’ is now flooding our world, stimulating change, demanding response and accommodation.

The world and the individual are one; for substantive change to occur this basic fact must be acknowledged; responsibility for the world rests firmly with each and every one of us. If we are to heal the planet and create harmony in the world change is imperative, but it must first of all take place within the individual. Over the last 40 years or so a gentle, yet profound shift in attitudes has indeed been taking place within large numbers of people; the increased level of social-political participation and in many nations revolt against historical injustice and suppression testify to this development. Whilst this is extremely positive, urgent and fundamental change is required if the many issues facing humanity are to be overcome and a new way of living set in motion.

What are the crises facing humanity: The environmental catastrophe and war conventional and nuclear – global poverty, inequality, terrorism, the displacement of people, and, festering beneath all of these, the socio-economic systems under which we all live. These issues, and they are but the most pressing, are the effects of certain ideals and conditioned ways of thinking; they are the results of the underlying crisis, what we might term the Crisis in Consciousness, or the Crisis of Love. Not sentimental, emotional love, but love as a unifying force for liberation and change. Love as the Sword of Cleavage, as the exposer of all that is false, unjust and corrupt in our world.

‘Society’, large or small, is a reflection of the consciousness of those who constitute that society; it is formed by the values, relationships and behaviour consistently and predominantly expressed by the people within it. Such expressions are to a large degree the result of socio-psychological conditioning, poured into the minds of everyone from birth by parents and peers, friends and educators, the media and political propaganda. This conditioning pollutes the mind, distorts behaviour and creates a false sense of self. It colours every relationship and forms the corrupt foundations upon which our lives are set. From this polluted centre, filled as it is with selfishness, competition, nationalism and religious ideologies, action proceeds and the divisive pollution of the mind is externalized. Where there is division conflict follows, violent conflict or psychological conflict, community antagonism or regional disputes.

For lasting change to take place, for peace and justice to flower, we must do all we can to break free of this inhibiting conditioning and in so doing cease to add to the collective pollution. The instrument of release in this battle is awareness: Observation and awareness are synonymous. In choiceless observation there is awareness – awareness of the values, motives and ideals conditioning behaviour. In the light of such awareness, unconscious patterns are revealed, and through a process of non-engagement can, over time, be negated and allowed to fall away.

Realizing unity

Through competition, fear and ‘ism’s of all kinds we have divided life up; separated ourselves from the natural environment and from one another. The prevailing economic system encourages such divisions; individuals are forced to compete with one another, as are cities, regions and nations. Competition feeds notions of separation and nationalism, ‘America First’ and Brexit being two loud examples of countries, or certain factions within these countries, following a policy which they mistakenly believe to be in their nation’s interest, meaning their economic interest. Such divisions work against the natural order of things by strengthening the illusion of separation.

The natural environment is an integrated whole, humanity is One and an essential part of that whole; the realization of unity in human affairs, however, is dependent upon social justice, and this is impossible within the constraints of the current economic model, which is inherently unjust. Neo-Liberalism is a major source of the psychological and sociological conditioning which is polluting the mind and society; creative alternatives that challenge the orthodoxy, which proclaims ‘there is no alternative’, must be cultivated and explored.

New criteria need to be established for any alternative economic model; the acknowledgment that human need is universal and should be universally met, and that nobody ‘deserves’ to live a life of suffering and hardship simply because of their place and family of birth. Sharing is a key principle of the time; it must be placed at the heart of our lives and of any new socio-economic structures. Not just sharing of the natural ‘God-given’ resources of the world, but of space, ideas, knowledge and skills, all should be distributed based on need, not bought and sold based on wealth and power. The recognition that humanity is one is crucial in bringing about the needed transformation in consciousness; sharing flows quite naturally from the acknowledgment of this fact and by its expression encourages a shift in attitudes away from the individual towards the group, thus strengthening social cohesion and unity.

Sharing, justice and freedom are vibrant expressions of Love and the Crisis in Consciousness is itself the consequence of a Lack of Love. Like virtually every aspect of life, love has been perverted, distorted and trivialized. Love is not desire, it is not dependent on anything or anyone for its being: Love is the nature of life itself. Remove the psychological clutter and Love will shine forth, bringing clarity and lasting change, within the individual and by extension society.

Posted in Activism, anti-war, consciousness, culture, Economics, Neoliberalism, Philosophy, Psychology, society, Sociology, Spirituality, war | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Saturday Matinee: Military Intelligence and You!

“Military Intelligence and You!” (2006) is a satire poking fun at the military-industrial complex written and directed by Dale Kutzera. Using public domain archival WW2 propaganda films mixed with new footage, the film tells the story of military intelligence officer Major Nick Reed (Patrick Muldoon) whose job is to locate a secret enemy base housing the dreaded Ghost Squadron. Complicating his mission is the reappearance of his former love, Lt. Monica Tasty (Elizabeth Ann Bennett), now dating fellow Major Mitch Dunning (Mackenzie Astin). There’s also a notable appearance of a gung-ho fighter pilot played by a young Ronald Reagan.

Posted in Art, culture, Film, Humor, Saturday Matinee, Video | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

Anomie and Postmodernism

By Richard Sahn

Source: Bracing Views

These are not exactly happy times. Americans have fewer safeguards for their jobs, financial well-being, and, ultimately, their very lives. Uncertainty and insecurity have become more prevalent than ever I can remember. As a consequence, insomnia, depression, angst seem to be characteristic of an increasing number of people across the country, almost as American as apple pie. Just as being a divorcee in California is nothing to write home about—you’re even considered odd if you have never been divorced—so is the sense that something “bad” can happen at any time, without warning. Sociologists—I am a sociologist–call this condition “anomie,” a concept formulated by one of the founders of sociology, Emile Durkheim. The Trump presidency, it may be argued, exacerbates anomie since we seem to be moving closer to economic nightmares and possibly nuclear holocaust than in recent decades.

What exactly is anomie? Anomie literally means without norms. It’s a psychological condition, according to Durkheim, in which an individual member of a society, group, community, tribe, fails to see any purpose or meaning to his/her own life or reality in general. Anomie is the psychological equivalent to nihilism. Such a state of mind is often characteristic of adults who are unemployed, unaffiliated with any social organization, unmarried, lack family ties and for whom group and societal norms, values, and beliefs have no stabilizing effect.

The last situation can readily be the outcome of exposure to sociology courses in college, providing the student does not regularly fall asleep in class.  I’ve always tried to caution my own students that sociology could be, ironically, dangerous to their mental health because of the emphasis on critical thinking regarding social systems and structures. Overcoming socialization or becoming de-socialized from one’s culture—when one begins to question the value of patriotism, for instance—can be conducive to doubt and cynicism which may give rise to anomie.  Of course, I also emphasize the benefits of the sociological enterprise to the student and to society in general. For example, a sociology major is perhaps less likely to participate voluntarily in wars that only favor special interests and which unnecessarily kill civilians.

Clinical depression is virtually an epidemic in the U.S. these days. Undoubtedly, anomie is a major factor, especially in a culture where meaningful jobs or careers are difficult to obtain.  To a great extent social status constitutes one’s definition of self. In Western societies the answer to the perennial philosophical question, “Who are you?” is one’s name and then job or role in the social structure.  Both motherhood and secure jobs or careers are usually antidotes against anomie. Childless women and unemployed or under-employed males are most susceptible to anomie.

What does postmodernism offer to combat the anomie of modern society and now the Trump era itself? An over-simplification of post-modernism or the postmodern perspective is that there is no fixed or certain reality external to the individual. All paradigms and scientific explanations are social constructs, one model being no more valid than the other. A good example of the application of the postmodern perspective is the popular lecture circuit guru, Byron Katie. Ms. Katie has attracted thousands of followers by proclaiming that our problems in life stem from our thoughts alone. The clutter of consciousness, thoughts, feelings, can simply be recognized as such during meditation and then dismissed as not really being real. Problems gone.

An analogy here is Dorothy Day, the founder of the Catholic worker movement, proclaiming in the 1960s that “our problems stem from our acceptance of this filthy, rotten system.” Postmodernists would claim that our problems stem from our acceptance of the Enlightenment paradigm of reality—the materialist world-view, rationality itself.  Reality, postmodernists claim, is simply what we think it is. There is no “IS” there. Postmodern philosophers claim that all experiences of a so-called outside world are only a matter of individual consciousness.  Nothing is certain except one’s own immediate experience. The German existential philosopher, Martin Heidegger, contributed significantly to the postmodern perspective with his concept, “dasein,” or “there-being.” Dasein bypasses physiology and anatomy by implying that neurological processes are not involved in any act of perception, that what we call “scientific knowledge” is a form of propaganda, that is, what we are culturally conditioned to accept as real. There is no universal right or wrong, good or bad.

The great advantage of adopting the postmodern perspective as a way of overcoming anomie is the legitimacy or validation it gives to non-ordinary experiences. If the brain and nervous system are social constructs then so-called altered states of consciousness such as near death experience (NDE), out-of-body experience, reincarnation, time-travel, spirits, miraculous healing become plausible. Enlightenment science and rationality are only social constructs, byproducts of manufactured world-views. The “new age” idea that we create our own reality rather than being immersed in it has therapeutic value to those suffering from anomie.

Sociologist Peter Berger employs the concept of “plausibility structures” to legitimize (make respectable) views of the “real world” which conflict with the presuppositions of Enlightenment science. Science then becomes “science” or social constructs which may or may not have validity even though they are widely accepted as such.  A good example is the postmodern practice of deconstructing or calling into question empirical science and rational thought itself, disregarding the brain as source of all perceptions, feelings, desires, and ideas. Postmodernists maintain that only individual consciousness is real; the brain is a social construct which doesn’t hold water—no pun intended—as the source of what it means to be human.

CAVEAT

The postmodern perspective may work for a while in suppressing anomie and dealing with the horrors of a hostile or toxic social and political environment. Sooner or later, however, existential reality intervenes. The question is, can postmodernism alleviate physical pain, the death of a loved one, personal injury and illness, the loss of one’s home and livelihood? At this point in the evolution of my philosophical reflections I would argue that postmodernism can reduce or eliminate the depression that inevitably comes from too much anomie–but only temporarily.   The postmodern perspective is not up to the task of assuaging the truly catastrophic events in one’s life. As much as I would like not to believe this, I’m afraid only political and social action can help us out when the going really gets rough, although I don’t recommend sacrificing the teaching of critical thinking, a possible cause of anomie, in regard to society’s values and institutions.

 

Richard Sahn, a professor of sociology in Pennsylvania, is a free-thinker.

Posted in culture, Economics, Financial Crisis, Philosophy, Psychology, Science, Social Control, society, Sociology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments