It’s the same old game. A state we don’t like is doing wrong by its people so we must go in and wage war on their nation to bring democracy, then exit as dozens of armed fundamentalist factions fight over what’s left. Don’t think for a moment that the warmongers care about injured children, any more than they do about the thousands abused by church officials and pedophiles in high positions. These are the same liars who brought us WMD and other popular deceptions and they are getting better at what they do, which is stirring up conflict. Will their next step be to brandish as fake, and ban, any news that differs from the official account?
This excellent overview from Antimedia succinctly tells us all we need to know to about chemical weapons use in Syria.
“On Tuesday, yet another chemical weapons attack occurred in Syria. This particular attack took place in the Idlib province, and dozens have reportedly died as a result.
Syria is no stranger to chemical weapons attacks. In 2013, there were two notably devastating attacks, both of which the Obama administration used to try to justify a direct strike on the Assad government.
The U.N. thoroughly investigated the first 2013 attack. The U.N Commission of Inquiry’s Carla Del Ponte ultimately said the evidence indicated the attack was carried out by the Syrian rebels — not the Syrian government. Despite this, support for the Syrian rebels from the U.S. and its allies only increased, raising serious questions about Obama’s sincerity when condemning chemical attacks.
Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist Seymour Hersh found the second major attack was committed in a similar manner. Hersh found that the U.S. quite deliberately attempted to frame the evidence to justify a strike on Assad without even considering al-Nusra, a terror group with access to nerve agents that should have been a prime suspect.
This did not start with Donald Trump. It is good that he is barefaced and honest enough for people’s eyes to snap right open and realise where we have come to. The world reacts in anger as millions take to the streets to protest at his temporary ban on immigration from seven nations. That the previous president was already bombing Muslims in seven nations had somehow been acceptable. Surely bombing people is as bad as banning them. The groundwork for Trump’s ban had been put into place before he came to power, in the Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015 . To paraphrase Isaac Newton – If Trump has oppressed further than others it is because he is standing on the shoulders of tyrants.
It is not only the leader but also the system that oppresses, with a militarized police force, tyrannical application of laws and the criminalization of countless activities that have no victims. Sure, citizens have the right to vote for who is going to rule the system, but with that choice limited to different flavors of shit even an educated socially thoughtful majority are going to make a crap choice.
Many Americans had lost so much faith in the status quo that they wanted to vote against it, whatever the alternative. Many Trump voters would have been just as happy voting for his polar opposite, the humble and perceptive Bernie Sanders. They realized something had gone very wrong with their beloved nation and responded by jumping out of the pot they knew and despised, not caring if that might mean landing in an unfamiliar frying pan.
Those Trumpophobes who wanted to stick with the status quo (the devil you know) are in a shocked state of disbelief. The vulgar and insensitive character of the new president has activated them. They are like the frog in a pot that was being heated so slowly it was unaware of its own imminent demise. Trump’s election was a sudden leap in temperature, shifting from a very dark situation they had come to regard as normal, to what looks like an even darker shade of dark.
But just how dark does it have to flipping get? We know that our leaders did not give a damn whether or not WMD’s were in Iraq – they wanted war. They didn’t care about the people of Libya – they wanted a bombing spree. They fanned the flames of conflict in Syria, not for the people – they wanted war. Next in line was (or is) Iran, a beautiful nation of 77 million with a modern culture that functions better than many world nations who are allies of ours. Ditto for Syria and Libya not long ago. There are countless sub-plots to it all that involve oil-based currency plans, pipeline routes, oil, droughts, religions, bankers, et al. And the poster child of it all is the evil Islamic State, itself spawned by the heavy-handed activities of the so-called leader of the free world.
The problem with democracy, as we have just seen, is that anybody can win the popularity contest. Many world leaders, including Adolf Hitler, used and then abused the democratic system. The difficulty with government, democratic or otherwise, is that its natural tendency is to grow as long as society (it’s prey, you could say) is producing enough wealth to support it.
America currently creates more wealth than any other nation in the world. Its state is overgrown and its military budget surpasses that of the world’s next eight big spenders combined. A third of tax revenues go directly to the military (including veteran benefits). The real figure, including security agencies, private contractors, caring for the disabled, could take this even higher. Veteran suicides, far outnumbering combat deaths, do not count as a cost.
Americans, immensely proud of being the strongest nation in the world, seem oblivious to the fact that such a mighty military force is not content to be sitting on its collective ass all day. It’s got a million and a half willing combatants trained to kill and equipped with the most sophisticated and powerful killing technology on the planet. Can you really think they are not going to be finding reasons to put all this practice and hardware into play? And if they cannot find a reason they can manufacture one.
In Europe and America our rulers and the status quo over which they preside (or under which they thrive) have been complicit in actions that have and continue to result in the death and injury of hundreds of thousands and the displacement of millions, the destruction of ancient monuments, homes and modern cities, the proliferation of weapons in the region, and massive profits for Western “defense” industries. To our own doorstep their actions have brought the relatively minor inconvenience of a refugee crisis and occasional acts of terrorism. We are feared and hated in many parts of the world, an understandable response to the wanton destruction being funded by our taxes.
The new president is such an obnoxious character that it is tempting to blame him for things which have been part of the scene for many years, such as police violence and the stripping of human rights that began with the Patriot Act. Fair play to Trumpophobes for hating him but don’t for a moment pretend that things were idyllic before him. He is just the new and uglier face of a government they support; a body to which they have already sacrificed their rights, complacent that the state knows who they know, what they watch and like, what they say, write, and buy. Our states have granted themselves the right to tap into everything we do, in order to protect us from a threat that has arisen as a result of their activities on the world stage. This is not something Trump set up. This is the apparatus of a police state, far more invasive even than the notorious Stasi of former East Germany. It was something to be concerned about long before the Donald.
With talk of measures to ban so-called “fake news,” any views diverging from the official propaganda line could soon become prosecutable. And if Trump is the evil demagogue that many fear, he will now have the power to quickly identify and shut down dissenting views, expunging any remaining semblance of democracy from the system. It has been an ever-reducing commodity of late.
Trump and Hillary are just different shades of darkness. We cannot know where she would have taken us, but her track record would suggest more war and pipelines, less rights and freedoms. Barack Obama may have seemed ‘white’ by comparison to those two, but still we saw bombings and domestic surveillance soar on his watch. He may not have banned Muslims but he sure bombed them. This is the so-called democracy that the American state now administers, setting a standard for the free world.
After this, can anybody still believe that the democratic process is going to make it all right, by getting a decent honest man into the White House? Many thought Obama to be that man, though with a barrelful of rotten apples it is optimistic to believe that we can throw an unblemished one into the pile that will un-rot all the others. Yet many keep hoping for this magic apple.
As long as we believe that the road to peace is paved with rules and regulations enforced by police and military we will continue to see conflict in the world. We are more suited to living together than to killing each other, with peace being an easier and more natural state than war. We are not all born with sin in our hearts because of what Eve did. There is another way and we have countless instances where we govern from the bottom up and do an excellent job, without even thinking about it. It is time to consider whether we are truly in need of a nuclear umbrella to protect us and countless politicians and bureaucrats to regulate us. However much power rests in the state’s hands, when it comes right down to it their existence depends upon our belief in a need for their control. Can we do it ourselves? You bet we can.
Warning: book plug approaching: I wrote this blog in the hope of converting Trumpophobes to ‘Stateophobes,’ or freedom lovers as I prefer to put it. We must pin the tail on the donkey and not its rider. Were Donald Trump removed from power next month the world would not return to some idyllic state without wars, onerous travel restrictions, racial tensions and sexist behavior. Government would still be corrupt and/or in the pockets of corporations, the military, and bankers. Wealth would still transfer from the many to the one percent.
Ah yes, the book. It is one thing to point out the flawed nature of this system. What we can do about it and how we can do it and why we need to do it is the subject of my book, The State Is Out Of Date, We Can Do It Better.
More information and chapter briefs on my website. It’s positive, not paranoid.
This inauguration was a strange and powerful event. I was as shocked and horrified as many at the thought of a ruthless property tycoon holding the powerful position of American President. That said, I took great pleasure in the defeat of Hillary Clinton, whom I loathed for deeds already committed. But as those who know me know, I see voting as little more than a novel way of determining who is to be the ruler and one which magically bestows upon them the will of the people, even if just a quarter of “the people” made up the majority of those who voted.
I found Trump’s inaugural address to be riveting and at times it truly moved me, so much that I remember wondering if I could bring myself to admit to this. He was saying a lot of right-on stuff about America being controlled by the very establishment elite that surrounded him right there, and how he was giving power back to the people. I felt better about my feelings when two BBC commentators thereafter said they thought many of Trump’s words could have come out of Bernie Saunders’ mouth.
When candidates are on the campaign trail, we are used to them saying whatever they need to get votes, delivering conflicting messages to different groups. Now Trump has won he doesn’t need to re-iterate these promises, but did so in force, in a speech that broke tradition and spoke of America today, recognising the internal decay that is apparent in much of it. He has hand-on-heart forcefully promised to bring the American people into the process of government, and break the power corporations exert on the state. Whether he can deliver this is another question, but he has left no room for excuse if he fails. With his reputation so strongly pinned to success, failure could destroy him. Whether America goes bankrupt in the process is another matter.
Yes, I was impressed by his address overall, despite a few references that stirred those hairs on the back of my neck. It sounded like he meant what he was saying, but maybe he’s just good at that, regardless of his intention. I am keenly aware that many despots have known what people wanted to hear and led them to ruin on the pretext of delivering what they wanted. America’s state promises to protect its people from terrorists, and bleeds them dry fighting bogeymen of their own creation. Will Trump deliver on his promise to end extreme Islamic terrorist groups, with the consequent loss to America’s war industry? We shall see.
I was deeply disturbed by three aspects of the event, offsetting my enthusiasm for the new President’s powerful rhetoric. First was the strong militaristic imprint of the occasion. Just as he promised to give control of America back to the people a curious group of soldiers in dress uniform assembled behind him, filling the frame until being dispersed. He beat the patriotic drum and wants to rebuild America’s sadly “depleted: military – one already spending more than the next 8 nations combined (not something he mentioned). I later discovered that military chiefs shot down Trump’s request for tanks and missile launchers to be included in the official parade (like in the old USSR). They would have chewed up the roads.
Senator Chuck Schumer gave me chills all over, speaking before Trump about repairing the nation’s fractured press, and dealing with threats to the state, foreign and domestic. He heaps praise on the military and read out a nauseating letter that he found inspirational, from one Major Ballou, of the Rhode Island Volunteers in the American Civil War. The letter to his wife is all about why he is willing, and happily duty-bound, to die for his magnificent state. My stomach turned at “Sarah, my love for you is deathless, it seems to bind me to you with mighty cables that nothing but Omnipotence could break; and yet my love of Country comes over me like a strong wind and bears me irresistibly on with all these chains to the battlefield.” Less that 1 in 20 of the Union fighters were lost that day and Sullivan Ballou was one of them, his leg torn by the cannonball that killed his horse. He was carried off the field, his leg amputated, and abandoned when the army retreated, his body never to be recovered. I wonder if his patriotism was comforting as he approached a lingering end.
Ah, then there was the religion – lots of religion, though nothing of the Muslim variety. We got more on sacrifice here as well. Before he was even the candidate I recall being chilled by seeing Trump in a ritual with fundamentalists laying hands on him and all kind of shit. When researching my book, Sun of gOd, I realized that religious fundamentalism could be as dangerous coming from Christians as from Muslims or Jews. When you are obeying God’s commands there is no place for human idiosyncrasies like compassion or rationality. So yes, this heaving steeping of religion in the inauguration was disturbing, though raised a laugh when the preacher man hoped God would bless Trump with the humility of Jesus.
The final disturbing part was the distinct absence of colour in this supposed melting pot of the world. We had to endure bouts of patriotic singing from two different choirs, about 40-60 strong and as far as I could see there was not a single face of colour in either of them, apart from one man of oriental descent I spotted. For a while I wondered if the Obamas would be the only two Africa Americans at the event, but then a handful of others became involved. There was some lip service and the old cliché about all races having the same colour blood, but white faces predominated to a noticeable degree.
For me, the clinching finale of this political charade was at the Presidential Lunch where Donald Trump stands up to say how honoured he is that Bill and Hillary Clinton had joined the party. He asks them to stand and showers them with his respect! Sure they hurled scathing abuse at each other during the campaign, but only for political reasons (which we all know to be phoney). Now the match is over, the loser congratulates the winner and shows them respect, like tennis players shaking hands at Wimbledon.
That’s politics for you, my friends, and if you remain optimistic that voting and the wonderful democratic process are going to ensure that only good people get into power then you have been sadly unobservant of what has going on for as long as it has been going on.
The election of Donald Trump to President demonstrates as nothing else the failure of so-called democracy to alter the nature of that “necessary evil” called government. In the birthplace of modern democracy we see a man hated by most of the population rise to become its ruler, oops, I mean leader. This, because even more people hated the woman running against him, and with good cause.
I will not digress into the pros and cons of either candidate here. They shared the same major pro of not being each other, and enough cons apiece for an entire book. People often ask if I am working on another book and if I were, for sure, that would not be it. An earlier book of mine looks beyond pros and cons of candidates, beyond even “who took down the Twin Towers?” type questions. “Why does this shit keep going on?” is a better question than “who did what to whom for why.” This backdrop shapes the comments this bizarre contest prompted.
Like nothing else, this election underlines the reality that by whatever means our rulers assume power it is the structure of rule itself that invites abuse. Churchill was wrong to say “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.” History may well compare the actions of some modern democracies unfavourably to other and older non-democratic regimes. There have been kings and queens who thought well of their subjects, avoiding warfare and living within their, albeit comfortable, means. Relax, I will not digress into the pro’s and con’s of the dozens of failed variants of rule–by-the-stick throughout history.
However they got there, those in power have the self-given right to make rules and to force compliance upon us. Legislation stripping us of our right to privacy and basic human freedoms can be passed by a majority of our so-called representatives, few of whom will have read the thousands of pages within those acts. Even if they do, and object, the aptly named Chief Whip is there to beat them into compliance. Terrorism, drugs, tax-evaders and pedophiles are often pulled out of ye olde propaganda box to scare us into accepting ever more intrusions. Rant stops, not going there.
Let us imagine it is all going well – we’ve got good people elected into power and whilst they take a bunch of taxes they do provide reliable services on the education, public services, safety and clean roads-type departments. Maybe they don’t even lock people up for victimless crimes. America used to be a lot like that. Everybody thought it could only get better. Yet back in 1989 the former sheriff of Sacramento, California’s capitol, told me unequivocally that the USA had already become a police state. It wasn’t as obvious to the rest of us at that time.
Once we have relinquished our rights and freedoms to so-called government they may never return. Indeed the current course is one of ongoing diminishment. Who would have ever thought the so-called government could access all our private correspondence and browsing history, in the name of fighting a terrorism spawned by their own violent interventions in the Middle East? The problem with creating a surveillance state is that you never know who may inherit it and what they will consider acceptable or not.
Let us hope that Trump does not live up to his campaign persona. There is always hope, but this man could be bad news indeed. For very sound reasons, people wanted a change from the same old shit in the US elections and had leftie Bernie Saunders been the Democratic candidate many believe he would have won the vote for change. In Europe we now see far right parties soaring in popularity while in Greece it was far left party Syriza that unexpectedly rose to power (only to be beaten into line by the EU bankers). We see far left Podemos in Spain and far right Front Nationale in France. Oh my!
The only thing we can really be sure of is that we have little idea of who or what may be in power a generation or three ahead, or of what use they will make of the all-pervasive technology at their disposal. Perhaps one day a dangerous megalomaniac will gain control of your nation’s destiny, perhaps a religious fundamentalist, a clique of bankers or a charismatic gangster. Could the AI singularity enable computers to take over? Might they do a better job than those currently in control? Many might vote for an algorithm, given the chance. It would certainly be a change.
Anybody but who we’ve got now is as far as many will allow their imagination to run. They know the old narrative is failed and hope anybody new in charge cannot be any worse. But just turning the wheel of state a little or a lot, to the left or the right, is not enough. The wheel needs a whole new hub, not just another revolution. Left, right, religious, military, we can’t be sure of future shifts in politics, aptly described as war without the bloodshed. Even dangerous people we dislike can gain power legitimately, claiming their mandate to rule based upon our votes. Even honest and uncorrupted people in power can be brutally repressive when committed to a religion or political ism.
Whoever runs it, corruption is likely to be rife in a structure based on the foundation stone of coercion, a structure that long ago granted itself the right to demand money and direct behavior at the point of a sword. Many different types of ruler have occupied this structure over the ages, claiming their right to rule on one basis or another, and demanding money at the point of a sword. Democracy claims to represent the will of the people but whoever we vote for, the so-called government stays in power, demanding money – you get my drift.
We need real government, the sort that operates naturally from the bottom up; the sort that evolves effortlessly to adapt to new situations and meet new needs; the sort we take for granted because it happens without us trying; the sort that does not rely upon the “big stick” to govern us. This is the core subject of my book mentioned earlier. For many today, so-called democracy has come down to choosing the lesser evil. This is not a rational or effective way to govern our complex society. Recognizing how well we self-govern or used to self-govern large complex aspects of our civilization is edifying, and not to be taken for granted. Look where we have taken music, transport & travel, and information technology, governing from the bottom up without the state. Have so-called governments evolved beyond wars; beyond police, courts & prisons; beyond people in charge telling us what to do? International trade between ancient cultures long preceded the existence of rulers, taxes and global banking systems.
We still self-govern much of our food chain with feedback loops largely intact between consumers, sellers and manufacturers – if not farmers. We witness countless new food products appearing on the market. Some join our culinary culture and some fail. If some consumers want their cars to be electric or their food chemical-free they can get it. That’s natural government at work, from the bottom up.
After the Second World War, German u-boats and the like, the British government decided the nation’s food supply was so important to our survival that it needed their guidance. Intervention in farming gradually grew, replacing feedback loops with price and subsidy schemes skewed to favour meat and dairy. Industrial agriculture and the factory farm were born and boosted by conformity to EU agricultural policies, leading to the the infamous lakes of milk and wine and mountains of butter and beef that grew through the 1970’ and 80’s, persisting for nearly four decades. From this source came the cow meat fed to cattle that then developed Mad Cow disease. We still have not emerged from their management today, and most farmers in Europe would go bankrupt without government grants and subsidy.
Let us do a thought experiment and imagine a planet where for several generations the so-called government managed the entire food supply, contracting farmers, processors, and caterers to feed the people. They taught that in the bad old days we suffered terrible health and food poisoning when choosing what to eat for ourselves. But in time the gargantuan state service starts to experience failures of service (frequent rotten, toxic, adulterated food and missed deliveries). Without feedback loops, what can people do other than clamour for improvements? Few would consider scrapping this faulty model and doing it themselves, through fear of inevitable starvation and poisoning, however dodgy the existing supply is. How could we possibly take care of such a complex issue ourselves? You know the answer.
We do already, and the fact that millions of residents in the world’s cities are fed daily according to their tastes and pockets without anybody planning it centrally is one of the miracles acknowledged by new science ‘chaos theory’ in the 1980’s. Chaos theory was the catalyst that led me to write the aforementioned book, providing as it did some scientific underpinning to what I had already learned about the power of freedom and the perils of its suppression.
The truth is that people are great at cooperating and living together. There is no regulatory glue of government that keeps it all working and any change we think the state must force upon us is change we can effect ourselves. There are free market means to guarantee product safety and truth in product description just as there are to assure organic cultivation and fair trade. Supermarket chains have very demanding, and enforced, quality standards. Amazon and other online businesses maintain order without needing jails. The government’s track record is not very good. The government we would like to protect us from corporations is the same one enacting laws that let frackers over-ride centuries-old common law land rights. States love large corporations, which simplify the harvesting of taxes, deducting it at source.
Rule by a coercive state is not a natural state of affairs for humanity. It is wrong yet we buy into it for the same reason that we once bought into the idea of a flat earth, believed the whole Universe rotated around us and, in China, thought that binding women’s feet was a normal thing to do. Tradition. Several factors could bring about the natural collapse of this unnatural state of affairs within our lifetimes and the dumbest thing we could do is just re-create a new variant, with new leaders very different to the ones we know. My book does not fit into a short sound bite so if after the US election you are wondering what in the hell is wrong with the way we run this world and what other options there are, you might find it an enjoyable read.
America’s Surgeon General finally recognizes that alcohol and prescribed opioids are part of the drug problem – hallelujah! Twenty one million Americans, one in seven of the population, has a serious drug problem, more than suffer from cancer. This revelation dwarfs the illegal drugs problem that has cost society hundreds of billions in enforcement and incarceration expenses over the years, not to mention confiscated properties, ruined lives and a stimulus to organized crime. Even the recent surge in illegal heroin addiction was stimulated by the huge growth in addiction created by over prescription of potent opium style pain killers.
Out of 50,000 fatal overdoses in 2014, 30k were from opioids and 20k from alcohol, cocaine and other prescription drugs. They don’t mention ecstasy, marijuana, lsd, ayahuasca or other banned “dangerous” drugs, where they would be hard pressed to get double figures. Will they put 2 and 2 together on this?
“Society does have a problem with drug use. It is a serious problem that is getting worse. For some reason, though, the perception of this problem is focused entirely on the very small range of drugs that are being used illegally. We cannot ignore the very real problems faced by those who are using drugs prescribed by doctors. Their lives can be damaged and sometimes destroyed as a result of diagnostic error, their own abuse of the prescribed stocks (few recreational drug users have a month’s supply in a bottle), or just years of being dependent on pharmaceuticals with known side effects. These legal drugs must be obtained through controlled channels, but these channels translate into a multi-billion dollar industry throughout the world—the real drugs trade. While we condemn it when drug barons bribe and seduce judges, police, and politicians, we think nothing of the lobbyists employed by the pharmaceutical industry in Washington DC, who number more than three for every single Congressman or Senator. To rephrase that, there are 535 elected representatives shaping law and regulation in the capital of the United States, attended to by 1,724 paid persuaders from the pharmaceutical drug barons alone (as well as some 9,750 lobbyists from other interest groups in 2011).
…These drug dealers’ lobbyists openly encourage the state to pass laws controlling and restricting the alternative healing industry and the sale of herbal and other natural and unpatented medicinal remedies. Their expert lobbyists put convincing arguments to politicians that herbal medicines are unsafe and endanger the user’s life, over a nice cardiac-endangering lunch at a top restaurant. 8iui l0 77 Even the deadly killers alcohol and tobacco are usually left out of the picture when the vast majority talk about “the drug problem.””
The wheel needs a new hub, not just another revolution
America is fighting wars in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen, sending drones to Pakistan and Afghanistan, and striving to revive the Cold War with Russia. These conflicts are good for no one but the military industrial complex that has had its hands on the throat of American government for decades. This institution is a cultural cancer that spreads across the world, threatening civilisation and our species. If there are future generations, they will look back with the same degree of horror at manufactured war as we do at the history of slavery or Nazi death-camps.
Let’s face it. Those running our governments knew damn well that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. They do not give a damn about the people of Libya or Afghanistan, or whether they enjoy democracy. They support the jihadist rebels intent upon turning a formerly stable and secular Syria into an unholy mess ripe to be made holy in the mold of Islamic State. Iran is next in their sights, already under attack by severe economic sanction. Western nations are allied to far worse characters than those whose regimes they so righteously strive to change.
The rulers of today’s America need war. From their angle, as long as weapons are expended and fear generated it matters not whether they win or lose their wars. Nobody is going to invade the USA and neither soldiers nor generals will end up in prisoner of war camps. Military careers are made in war, not in peace. If their violent actions create more conflict or even bring it to Western shores that’s just more business for the security, killing and fear management industries.
This is an industry that seeks to create conflicts that will result in the death of hundreds of thousands and the dislocation of millions. I can assure you that these dead and dislocated are people very like you and me. They have, or had, children they raised and love, parents and grandparents they revere, businesses they built, homes they made home, gardens and farms they treasure.
You and I, with our taxes, fund the military industrial complex. It is a cancer that is metastasising and devouring us. Far from ‘defense’ industries protecting global citizens from danger they pose a more real and present risk to our life and liberty than global warming or a coronal mass ejection from the Sun. There is nobody out there from whom America needs defending, yet its ‘defense’ expenditure surpasses that of the next seven nations combined.
We do not want to believe that those who rule us, or those who quietly rule them, could be so cruel and heartless. They tell us they have nothing but our best interests in mind. Yet history is riddled with rulers who thought nothing of human life, rulers who slaughtered and raped all manner of innocents for all manner of reasons, including the pleasure of it.
There is no reason to assume that because we have some new-fangled way of determining who our next set of rulers will be that we thereby exclude the likes of a Nero, Genghis Khan, Hitler or Stalin from assuming power. One has only to look at the current American election to realize that we cannot rely upon the so-called democratic process to prevent dangerous criminals and demagogues from running a militaristic empire on a par with that of the Romans.
As long as we buy into the notion that top-down rulers are the best way to maintain order in our community we accept a system that disconnects the feedback loops needed to direct its evolution. With feedback loops our communications evolved from undersea telegraph cables going dot-dash to the smartphone connecting us all; our transport went from canals and bicycles to jet planes. Without feedback loops our security services have evolved from police, judges and prisons to more powerful and expensive police, judges and prisons, all of them thriving on crime. If crime rates were to halve they’d be out of work, or need to criminalise a raft of victimless crimes to compensate. The vast majority of US prison inmates today have been incarcerated for victimless crimes, and are used as virtual slave labour on production lines.
Instead of giving war-faring states the credit for our positive progress as humanity, we should applaud our own heroic ability to evolve despite their history of destructive and obstructive influence. In the freedom of the Internet major online retailers develop and improve low-cost means to control and compensate for crime without handcuffs, courtrooms and prisoners. This should give us cause for optimism. Perhaps it is possible for humanity to live together in peace without having to slaughter each other in its pursuit.
When we have top-down government determining policies with coercively enforced rules it follows that those making and applying the rules are the rulers. How those rulers arrive at their positions is not, ultimately, the point. The system arose long ago as a means for the few to live off the labours of the many, self-financing themselves with taxes demanded by force. There have been many variations on this theme in the past 4500 years or so, but wherever you have a state with the power to make and enforce rules, there is likely to be a despotic elite striving to get their hands on the controls. Sometimes they succeed.
We must recognize that just such an elite has succeeded in the US. Uncle Sam has been incarcerating his own subjects at unprecedented levels while exporting war and armed conflict across the world. This is a shocking unthinkable thought to most, but one that both presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy warned Americans of in the 1960’s. They were not paranoid conspiracy theorists and their fears have become reality.
What can we possibly do about this? The first step, undoubtedly, is to stop being in denial and to open our eyes to the truth. Stop swallowing the propaganda. Let go of the fear and recognize there is no existential need for this so-called “necessary evil.” We are stronger and more powerful than we know. Our collective belief is at the foundation of state power, more important than all its trappings and uniformed inforcers. Whoever moves into the White House next will make little difference. We can.
I write this in a world awash with nuclear weapons as two frightening characters fight over the reins of the most militarised nation in history. So-called democracy has come down to letting Americans pick which of two candidates they don’t want least. Amusing, to someone from another planet. The book that I wrote goes well beyond the “who did what to whom” approach, looking at the power of freedom and the perils of suppressing it by governmental decree. It is titled The State Is Out Of Date – We Can Do It Better. It will give you hope for the future.
WAR – what is it good for? The military and weapons industry, of course. That’s what they do. When you have trained to become a chef, architect or musician your natural desire is to have people who want feeding, housing or entertaining. Soldiers are no different. Without wars there is no place to properly test new weapons and the skills of those who are trained to kill people. War is where soldiers get promoted through the ranks. They like it, as do the makers of death-dealing weaponry. So when the military industrial complex has its hands on the controls of a nation we can be horrified, but not surprised, that reasons to make war are fabricated. We don’t want to believe that fellow human beings could behave like this simply to get rich and powerful, but they can, and have done through history. Hundreds of thousands may die and millions be displaced by their crimes against humanity. They don’t care.
The war in Syriawas planned long before any shots were fired. It is as phony as the WMD lies that initiated war upon Iraq, and as unrelated to “bringing democracy” as the war that turned a stable Libya into a mess for its people, a training ground for terrorists and a launch point for thousands of refugees fleeing the chaos we brought to the region. The Syrian conflict is NOT a civil war, but a foreign invasion, supported and led by the US, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Qatar and other interested parties.
We are barraged with talk of nasty “barrel bombs.” These explosives dropped from the air are, essentially, bombs not made by the likes of Lockheed, Boeing and BAE Systems. All bombs tend to kill or injure those in a building being destroyed. Respectable branded bombs can cost anything from $100,000 (Hellfire) to $14 million (the MOAB) apiece (average cost of a US airstrike is $2.5 million ). To those at the receiving end, many of the branded products can be even more horrific than barrel bombs.
“Top U.S. arms makers are straining to meet surging demand” for their lethal ordnance as a result of the various conflicts supported or prompted by western foreign policy in Syria and the Middle East. Its boom time and they’re lovin’ it. The Syrian conflict could have been over in 2013 had the US and its coalition not actively fanned the flames of war with men and munitions. It is all done for the Syrian people, of course. Today they are still fanning those flames, seeking to escalate and prolong the conflict.
The western military industrial complex doesn’t really give a damn whether wars are won or lost anymore. When the US lost in Vietnam and abandoned mission in Iraq its generals did not surrender their swords and America was not invaded. Syria is or was a big stepping stone on the road to bringing down Iran. It was all planned ahead and paid for with our taxes.
It was the US that scuppered the recent cease-fire in its desperation to keep the conflict going. They spin their propaganda, demonizing Assad to justify military intervention. The ploy is to protect the Syrian people from his tyranny (ring any bells?). The aim is to prevent him defeating the so-called rebels intent upon taking over Aleppo against the wishes of its residents. That could bring peace – a major setback for Islamic State and the military industrial complex, putting a brake on America’s grand demolition plan for the Middle East.
This gripping piece by Robert F. Kennedy shows us the history of US/Syrian relations and shows recommended interview clearly explains the situation in Syria.
Very Naughty in Nigeria – In the course of cutting arms deals for Nigeria, $15 Billion was embezzled by those in the administration of Goodluck Jonathan’s government. They got found out, but will there be justice and retrieval? Unlikely. In view of the frivolous, even fictitious, basis upon which some Western nations have launched wars of late, one might wonder whether some of our diplomats’ pockets are being lined? That anyone would countenance the deaths of hundreds of thousands for the sake of their wealth might seem unthinkable to many, but rest assured that it happens. I would not for a moment suggest that Tony Blair’s impressive wealth of £60 million could be connected in any way to his peace efforts in the Middle East.
South Africa – 738 criminal charges against? – Answer: President Jacob Zuma. Seems like he’s losing his grip on power in South Africa as the nation’s High Court has decided that it was “irrational” to drop corruption charged against him in 2009, a few weeks before he became president. His power was enough then to convince the same High Court to drop all 738 charges relating to a multibillion-dollar arms deal. Here we are again, sleazy dealing involving the arms industry. This comes on top of the scandal over his spending of $23 million on private residence improvements, with state funds. Got to admit that Western leaders have more experience at keeping their sleazies under control.
Obama sends UK to the back of what queue? – We were fed the image of poor old Britain forlornly stuck at the back of the queue, but never clearly told what queue. That would be inclusion in the hugely controversial TTIP deal that gives powers to corporations over governments and could lead to overriding of local regulations against GM foods, farming hormones, and much else besides.
Someone just leaked the full content of the TTIP agreement, which was being kept totally secret right up to the wire. We can now see why, with the content confirming the worst fears of critics. Many hope this revelation will kill it. Will it?
Luxembourg, the EU, and corporate connivance – In what has been dubbed LuxLeaks, 45,000 pages were leaked by young accountant Antoine Deltour detailing how the government of Luxembourg connived with multinationals to virtually eliminate their tax obligations in Europe. This was back in 2010 and he is now being prosecuted under laws covering industrial espionage. This is appalling, and the sort of stuff we know all to well.
What I find of special interest is that the European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker last job was prime minister of Luxembourg, were he had a hand in shaping the tax policies that now enable the corporate avoidance of tax throughout Europe. That’s politics in the EU, without even an electorate to worry about.
Saving Energy in Venezuela – Public sector workers in Venezuela get a “five day weekend,” working just Mondays and Tuesdays, at full pay, in an effort to reduce electricity consumption. Venezuela is in the grip of a serious energy crisis. Another measure moved the clocks forward 30 minutes to benefit from more useful daylight, saving lighting electricity. Climate, hydro-electrics, under-investment and poor management are contributing factors to the power shortage in this oil-rich nation.
I’ll close with as quote from Shirley MacLaine.
“It is useless to hold a person to anything he says while he’s in love, drunk, or running for office”
If you want to make sense of these stories, and recognize that war, corruption and duplicity are not an inevitable fact of life then do check out this blogger’s book.
As America decides upon a new leader is it not bizarre to find ourselves debating whether a narcissistic psychopath, with no political experience or corporate sponsors, would be preferable to a bad actress pretending to be human, in the pockets of bankers and corporations? And we’ve still got Bernie in the mix, a man of the people and one just as capable as any to crash the ship of state onto the rocks. Ted Cruz is now out of the picture.
Why all the excitement this time? It’s as though decades of Americans have had the choice of either dog shit or cat shit on their political menu. They’ve come to dislike the taste of both, decrying the evils of the political process while validating it with their vote. This year, for the first time ever, there are two new options on the menu – pig shit and horse manure. The simple logic for many is that however unsavoury these new excrements may be they “can’t be any worse than what we’ve already got so why not?”
Those who hate the straw of horse manure getting caught in their teeth might opt for pig shit, the nutritionally denser option. Those who’d prefer the vegetarian source will opt for horse manure, needing more chewing to extract its nutritional value – but better for the planet. And many will stick with the same old shit, hoping it might taste better coming from a female animal. Some even profess to like their chosen diet and argue its virtues. I like a lot of what Bernie says and some of what Trump says but recognize that words and deeds rarely link together in politics, even when they are heart-felt.
At my Uncle Floyd’s farm in Nebraska (circa 1958) I recall how the pigs lined up behind the cattle, feeding on their waste, while the chickens gathered to recycle the pig’s poo and the chicken shit helped feed the maize that became food for the cattle. Hippie-era Goa was famous for its ‘pig toilets’ (ashrams could identify drug users when the pigs fought over their poo position). The point is – excrement contains nutrients and believe me when everybody else is picking through the shit for something valuable it will seem normal and okay.
I’m just saying that it’s kind of like picking through poo today, searching for something we can eat. Trump doesn’t like the TTIP deal and isn’t in corporate pockets. I’ll swallow that. Hillary Clinton is a woman and has experience in the fetid quagmire of corporate American politics. Most of all, she is not Donald Trump. Bernie Saunders is wise, compassionate, honest and outspoken (note to Brits – even commie-hatin’ rednecks might admire these qualities in what they view as horse manure).
For many today, much of government itself seems generously endowed in bullshit, with politicians consistently ranking as the least trusted of all the professions, below estate agents and bankers. But people are not so much upset about having to search through the bullshit to find things of value, as at the reduction in good stuff to be found, as less and less of our taxed wealth gets sprinkled back in valuable and essential services.
Very few like the wars, corruption, infighting, corporate control, appalling waste, callousness, loss of freedoms and underlying brutality of the state apparatus that rules this nation of people. But they accept it as “the way it is” and hold up gems like worker’s safety and the NHS, building standards and the laying of roads, in the assumption that humanity could never have arrived at those desirable places by any other means. Of course, we the people do all this stuff and get paid for with our own money – you don’t see politicians or civil servant laying roads or performing heart surgery. For decades they never bothered to check whether their vehicle testing data bore any relationship to real life, with Volkswagen or any other vehicle manufacturer.
Before assuming the state to be a necessary evil consider that it was not the state that built canals, railways, the London Underground and laid telegraph cables across the Atlantic; it was people who set up the first charities for alcoholics, the homeless, single mothers; people who created product and service certification standards such as the Fairtrade Mark and Soil Association; people who created wine, airplanes, jewelry, radio, TV, bread, the personal computer, buttons and smartphones. Britain’s Royal National Lifeboat service is charity and volunteer based, as are many of America’s rural fire services.
We complain constantly about out-of-touch bureaucrats making daft rules; spending billions, our billions, on pointless wars, failed NHS projects, obsolete-at-birth nuclear submarines, overpriced rail schemes and a fiscally disastrous nuclear power establishment. We desperately wish that our rulers would stop waging wars and pandering to the power of corporations, bailing out the bankers who supply them with thin-air money. We want them to help the disadvantaged, create rewarding employment, and defend the rights of their people. But when it comes to the crunch, this is not what ruling is about. We keep hoping that some savvy saint will get to the top and transform government into a caring and compassionate enterprise, will make a barrel of rotten apples fresh and crisp again. Dream on.
I am the proud author of a book about all this, and won’t try to summarize it here, but mention that there have been many successful cultures that progressed without a set of rulers setting the rules and telling us what we may or may not think, do or consume. Human civilization and trade preceded the concept of a ruling class, whether in South America or early Mesopotamia, tribal Europe or the Indus Valley. Cities and civilizations developed and functioned in freedom, without rulers, for thousands of years in some cases. You have to create wealth before plunderers arise.
You can imagine how difficult, often terrible, it must have been for those first generations to come under the yoke of a ruler claiming authority over their lives at the point of a sword. Today’s rulers rarely need to wave their swords, such is the compliance of their subjects to be governed, subjects who equate freedom with occasionally having influence over what flavor of ruler they get. This is not democracy, this is not self-rule or true freedom.
History shows us that when people are connected they come up with solutions to life’s social challenges while responding to all sorts of other wants and needs. Today we are more connected, and wealthier, than at any time in human history. We have the tools and the skills needed to govern ourselves from the bottom up, to supersede the power of those giant corporations in bed with government. We need to understand this and realize we are already doing the work we see as essential and still could, even if the inefficient middleman of the state were to crumble in a global financial collapse, as nearly occurred in 2008.
In short, as much as we may think this shit is essential to our lives, we may one day discover that we can live without it. There is another way.