Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Attitude of Jesus and the Spirit of Christ

According to the Gospels, Jesus consistently railed against the political classes that took great comfort in their privileged status under a ruthless imperialist system. Today, Pope Francis is doing exactly the same thing. Recent statements on his trip to Latin America shocked the world's political establishment to the core as he spoke in the same defiant spirit as Jesus Christ. He stands by his words and promises more of the same in an upcoming trip to the United States this autumn.

His statements in Latin America are further developing a refreshing and poignant theme.

The Joy of the Gospel

In 2013 he opened his theology of liberation in a spirited defence of working classes and disenfranchised people throughout the world in a document called “Evangelii Gaudium” (the Joy of the Gospel). In this document he invites the reader to “recover the original freshness of the Gospel” and in the attitude of Jesus places the benefactors of today's capitalist system squarely under the spotlight, a light that emanates not from the heavens above but from the hearts and minds of men and women throughout the world.

Source: http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/apost_exhortations/documents/papa-francesco_esortazione-ap_20131124_evangelii-gaudium.html

He rails against the cowardice of today's world's press, equivalent to the scribes Jesus aimed to expose and condemn when he walked among us. Francis said, “How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points?” In so doing, he exposes the blatant adoration of the very wealthy from a press that is responsible for their apparent untouchable status.

He attacks the established capitalist order holding it and its functionaries responsible for the suffering of its victims stating those victims are not merely exploited but excluded. “We have created a disposable culture which is now spreading. It is no longer simply about exploitation and oppression, but something new. Exclusion ultimately has to do with what it means to be a part of the society in which we live; those excluded are no longer society’s underside or its fringes or its disenfranchised – they are no longer even a part of it. The excluded are not the exploited but the outcast, the leftovers”.

We can see here that his Evangellii Gaudium is more inclusive that Karl Marx or his adherents have been in standing up for the oppressed. Where Marx values workers in his envisioned march through history, the Pope, like Jesus, validates and lifts the poor. He speaks for them as he stirs their revolutionary spirit, a spirit born of ruthless oppression.

Francis calls on each and every one of us to wake from increasingly callous attitudes, from swallowing whole attitudes fostered by large media. He vigorously slams the “globalization of indifference”. “Almost without being aware of it, we end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else’s responsibility and not our own. The culture of prosperity deadens us; we are thrilled if the market offers us something new to purchase; and in the meantime all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle; they fail to move us.”

It is difficult for any of us that enjoy the comforts of modern capitalist societies to not feel embarrassed by this statement. It is a statement that demands self examination and a fitting sense of shame for anything less than a sincere commitment to liberate the poor from their unbearable misery.

Capitalism: The Dung of the Devil

It is clear that Pope Francis will not be cowed by the foot soldiers of empire. They are today's version of the scribes and Pharisees Jesus so righteously aimed to eviscerate from his home in the bowels of the Roman Empire. In his recent tour of Latin America the Pope pulled no punches and appropriately went for the jugular of today's capitalist system.

Francis stated, "And behind all this pain, death and destruction there is the stench of what Basil of Caesarea, one of the church's first theologians, called 'the dung of the devil.' An unfettered pursuit of money rules. That is the dung of the devil." Unable to accept his condemnation, today's scribes and the Pharisees rallied quick to split hairs, to say he wasn't referring to capitalism proper, but greed. Such statements are not merely disingenuous, they are bullshit, they just add to the heap.

In Latin America he also apologized for the “many grave sins” committed against Aboriginal peoples in “the name of God”. In so doing, he held his putrid predecessors to account for the wholesale slaughter of the unsuspecting and accepting good native inhabitants. His verbal swath cut through the cultural genocide committed by European Empires with the collusion of the Catholic Church. No greater sin has been committed perhaps in the history of humanity. As for Hitler, his legacy died with him. The legacy of Columbus, Cornwallis, Cortes and all their brethren live on and we still celebrate those tyrants like heroes. We still benefit from their brutal conquests and we still knowingly oppress and condemn Aboriginal peoples to shacks, reservations, and unspeakable misery.

The Pope urged the poor to rise up against their “new oppressors” and referred to “corporations, loan agencies, free trade treaties, austerity measures, and "the monopolizing of the communications media.” as “new colonialism”.”

The Environment

“Our common home is being pillaged, laid waste and harmed with impunity. Cowardice in defending it is a grave sin. We see with growing disappointment how one international summit after another takes place without any significant result.”

Protection of the earth's ecosystems is another “prevalent theme in his papacy”. He called for “ a new system of global justice based on human rights and care for the environment rather than economic profits.”

Previous to his trip to the Americas, he spoke frequently and passionately about the environment. For instance, on June 17th at the Vatican he “took a stand with mainstream science, saying the world no longer can dare to shrug as ice sheets melt, species vanish, coral reefs die, forests disappear, weather gets more extreme, agriculture is ruined and the poor suffer. We must be a part of “a new and universal solidarity” to save the planet, and ourselves.”

His statements are bound to shake the political classes and their financial masters, particularly in Latin American where Catholicism runs deep. He has validated the struggles of liberation struggles through the ages which have brutally been put down by American agents either by proxy or directly. In doing so, he is calling for the people to find the courage to rise up, to take their own destiny in their/our own hands not only in Latin American but throughout the world.

2000 years ago the establishment crucified Jesus Christ. It is very likely today’s political/financial establishment will crucify Pope Francis making him a martyr. Let us all pray that does not happen. It will take more than prayer however. It will take an immense security apparatus as well as our own support for him and his bold messages. Whether we are Christian, atheist, Muslim, or Jew it is up to us to open ourselves to the attitude of Jesus and Pope Francis and stand shoulder to shoulder with them in the Spirit of Christ as this blessed Argentinian boldly steps forward urging us to wake up. It isn't a matter of converting to Catholicism. It is a matter of elemental morality, of common human decency. He is asking us all to rise up.

Heed the call for the meek to claim our inheritance.

Monday, July 06, 2015

From Imperial Hegemony to Cultural Autonomy: A Way Forward

Rather than pulling indigenous cultures forward into modernity we may pause to look back, to learn from their ways, to their potent wisdom, as we grapple with a way out from the looming dead end of the large and wasteful modern capitalist system.

Ideally, we might suppose, one single language, a single culture would lead to peace and end the strife between chauvinistic sentiments that have caused so much death and suffering due to tribal or regional pride. With this in mind, we may consider dying languages and cultures a positive step in humanities progression toward a peaceful and better world. Conflicts such as the intractable strain that exists between Palestinians and Jews in the Middle East or Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland are mere residue of an archaic tribal past. The modern world has moved on. These nationalisms should not be encouraged as the modern world develops in peace within a hegemony of a single dominant culture. The death of any of these warring cultures may be considered a relief. We may believe the modern world is growing above and beyond ancient hatreds. Nationalism, whatever it may be locally, may be viewed as as inherently violent. Nationalism supposes the nation/culture a given subject speaks for is on the side of good while the neighbour is seen with mistrust and a natural threat to the subject's culture.

I, as a subject, may do well to cast away the prejudices and heroes my people handed me. Especially my own, since I, the author, has been provided a narrative that glorified an ancient warrior culture complete with heroic stories of my own people fighting the blight that was the British Empire. Should I give way and enthusiastically join my people's slow but sure Anglicization? Should I let my own archaic views give way to progress; to joining the onward march to a better future? After all, modernity should facilitate a future where Black and White, Protestant and Catholic, Muslim and Jew live in peace and harmony. Should I willingly let the death of my own inherited Gaelic attitudes die the inevitable death it faces? Maybe not.

This scenario assumes a lot and under examination it assumes far too much. It falls under the spell of a fatal attribution error. It assumes that hatreds between the Muslim and the Jew, the Gael and the Anglo as well as all artificial and contrived divisions between common people is natural to human nature. It assumes the cause of these conflicts rests either with the Jew and/or the Arab, the Lowland Protestant and the Highland or Irish Catholic. However, these apparent organic conflicts have been anything but organic. They were foreign impositions and the mischief of those that aim to force homogenization on the lot of us in their feudal/capitalist image. It's an old trickery; an easy one to pull off. They easily plant seeds of mistrust between neighbours and then assert, using the resulting sectarianism that follows, that the dominant culture is not only natural, it facilitates progress and peace amongst disparate and inherently violent cultures.

It may come as a surprise to adherents of this view that Jews have lived in peace in Arab lands for many centuries. Shia and Sunni have also lived in peace with each other as have the various Gaelic cultures that have lived together prior to Norman feudalism, notwithstanding frictions and battles between the various indigenous cultures of the British Isles. To examine how such imperialist tactics are implemented, consider the 'troubles' in Northern Ireland that are now, mercifully, in remission.

Divide and Conquer - Division and Destruction of Gaelic Solidarity

Admittedly, frictions between local cultures have a long and at times brutal story to tell. However, much of that friction has been the result of a dominant cultures' imposition of forced or connived compliance with the will of said dominant culture (in this case Norman feudalism). It is an overall strategy of divide and conquer. The situation in Northern Ireland is an obvious example.

While the tragedy of sectarianism in Ulster may be considered distrust between Protestants and Catholics, the reality is that the whole mess is due to the creation and further exploitation of artificial divisions between a once homogeneous (more or less) people. The British Empire exploited regional antipathy existing between Lowland Scots and Highland Scots; the former intentionally planted in Ulster to usurp the seemingly intransigent Gaels. In fact, Lowland Scots had spoken Gaelic prior to Norman feudalism. There was no such division (Lowland vs. Highland) until areas that had been most vulnerable (the lowlands) to the aggression of Norman feudalism succumbed. As the south was modernized toward Anglicization, the more remote northern Highlands retained the ancient culture along with the traditional culture of Ireland. A major fracture in Scotland was accomplished. Britain then exploited the growing division between the people of the Lowlands and the Highlands through the imposition of Penal Laws throughout the United Kingdom; laws that prohibited Catholics from holding public office, holding firearms, voting, participation in the legal system, teaching, and so on. These oppressive laws and restrictions were aimed at persecuting Catholics as well as Scottish Presbyterians as well as exacerbating regional hostilitres. The more remote areas of Scotland stubbornly maintained Catholicism as did the Irish. The religious split provided an illusion that Catholics and Protestants were fighting over religious differnces. It led to violent sectarianism based on those apparent fractures that only further entrenched distrust among peoples that have common Gaelic roots.

The aim was to accomplish a collective surrender of the Gaelic culture, a mentality that did not fit with adherence to a national monarchy. Doing so would result in the privileges, prosperity and peace granted those that were British. To refuse was to face brutal persecution through starvation, deportation, and violent death.

Current divide and conquer Strategies indicate that this strategy is not only effective, it is ramping up.

More recently and far more violently the newest morph of Empire, the American capitalist hegemony has crafted and exploited divisions between Sunni and Shiite Arabs in Iraq and Syria. It is the latest manifestation of this old and utterly evil strategy where local peoples have been intentionally set upon each other.

Iraq had been dominated by Sunnis under Saddam Hussein's rule as a carry over from the British domination of the region. No longer useful or desired by the now dominant American Empire, Saddam was disposed of and his loyal Sunni tribes were suddenly usurped from their dominant status over the Shia. The Americans waged bloody war against the Iraqis, slaughtering thousands of Sunni and Shia alike and when it was all over, they walked away knowingly and intentionally leaving civil war in their wake. Their 2006 installation, Nouri Malaki, a Shia dissident under Saddam Hussein's rule, followed the departure of the Americans with widespread murder, torture, and oppression of the Sunnis.

Examples like this litter the globe. The state of Israel had been artificially imposed upon the Arabs of Palestine as a result of the horrific slaughter of Jews by the most infamous Occidental imperialist of them all, Adolph Hitler. Aboriginal peoples all over the globe, in Australia the Americas and elsewhere, were not only imposed upon, they were colonized wholesale. Africans were removed from their homes and forced into slavery. Natives were moved onto reservations and slaughtered. Survivors of these atrocities have been forced into the margins of empire where they continue to be abused to this day. And in the face of it all, Arabs continue to do the bidding of predatorial empires. Gaels have been used and continue to be used to fight wars and oppress Native peoples. Native people fought for their oppressors in Vietnam as did African Americans.

Cultural Integrity Vs. Submission

We all have our own cultural dignity. At our own roots we find common ground with those we continue to see as enemies. The Irish and the Lowland Scot were brothers in ancient Dalraida. Jews and Arabs lived on some of the earliest settlements outside Africa and the Jewish people arose, as did Palestinians, from some of the early tribes that lived on that land. Indigenous peoples across the globe have been destroyed not by other indigenous peoples but by the foot soldiers of Empires.

Today we collectively find ourselves at the mercy of the modern capitalist state and its tentacles such as the IMF and the World Bank. Financial trickery and repression continue to divide and conquer local cultures, to whip them into submission under the rule of corporate designs. Ruling classes continue to see local and indigenous cultures as a threat. The brutal repression and oppression of ancient and noble cultures as well as individual human beings is designed to subjugate and destroy potential disobedience to our assumed financial masters. No mercy is shown to dissidents and if recent military ventures are any indication, its going to get a whole lot worse. Even those that lead the charge on behalf of the Empire find themselves under intense scrutiny under the gaze of an unweildy security apparatus. The process continues unabated and the American Empire assumes dominion over all lands and peoples without even pretending respect for local or other nation's sovereignty. They do so in their drive to secure so called 'American interests'. American state interests however are not in service to the American people. It is code for corporate interests. Predator states operate with cold calculated efficiency and human considerations are not part of the plan. In this climate of total control the state apparatus has no tolerance for regional self determination or local self sufficiency. These elements are contrary to the optimization of profit.

One alarming side to our surrender to modern imperialism is that modern capitalism is no longer controlled by humans. It has taken a life of its own and corporations behave similarly to a virus in a computer. Corporations are compelled by profit and even by law to maximize stock prices for shareholders. It is a virus within the realm of humanity and if it isn't killed, it will kill us all.

Ongoing wars for America's so called national security interests occur within a fog of corporate propaganda which operates under that same spell; the profit virus. Human beings spouting support for it seem simple bots as they continue to believe the Empire is fighting for freedom. Imperialist tyrannys have typically convinced their foot soldiers they were fighting for freedom as they systematically stripped it away. Corporate media attack dogs are as convinced that dropping bombs will make them free as much as Hitler's propagandists had. A zero tolerance policy for critical thinking in large media firms appears to have been implemented, particularily in the United States. The more mindless the better. The exposure of the frail weaknesses of Brian Williams at NBC opened a gap for us to see that corporate news agents are actors, mouthpieces for corporate domination of the globe.

Within this horrific corporate hegemony we exist inside large systems of trade and exploitation. Corporate media seductees will remain as oblivious as Williams or any of Fox's talking blonde and blue eyed heads.

And In the End...

The drive for profit has taken us to the brink of our own destruction. We mindlessly march on to buy bath oils and packaged trinets that are shipped around the globe. We consume killer hamburgers in colourful packaging and on Thursday morning we feel righteous about packing a portion of it in blue bags to be re-cycled. The whole virus is killing eco-systems and eventually it will kill our grandchildren, every single one of them.

Our recent history has convinced us that the American corporate way is the way of the future. We may think of America's greatness in its drive to modernization and how it has provided inventions and conveniences that have been utilized by all, even detractors such as myself. We have become very comfortable. How could we rationally waver from our loyalty to a system that has made America the engine of the world?

Blind loyalty however is not at all rational. Consider this. America is and was a land of immigrants as it disenfranchised Aboriginal people. People from Italy, from Iran, from Africa and Asia have come together to the American dream, a dream built by previous immigrants. Cultures from all over the world have worked together in the United States and other receiving nations and have stimulated the imaginations and initiatives of each other in a nation that was building itself. Within a free nation, the myriad of methods and different ways of seeing the world brought forth what seemed a miraculous and explosive period of growth and change. America had become the workshop and the innovator of modernity. The union of disparate cultures from all over the globe made America as great as it has been; and a has been it is. The maturation of capitalism has transformed capitalism to monopolism, a very different beast. America's status as the big kid on the block is done and over. The current ease of communication and contact with people from China to Venezuela erases the previous advantage the USA enjoyed over other nations in those terms. America is sinking and you may look at any metrics notwithstanding military spending to see how evident that truth is.

At this point it is clear that the capitalist system itself is no longer sustainable. It's excesses and its colossal built in profit-myopia is destroying the life on the planet. Inside its seduction we have lost our way.

We need to return to the land and we need to access the wisdom of the hunter-gatherers that remain on earth. We need to access the wisdom of our own ancestors and cultures and re-learn to take proper care of children's development and our communities. We need to stop packaging useless items to ship them around the globe. We need to strip down the large systems that are killing the earth.

In communities across the devloped world we neighbourhoods display useless green square lawns with immense pride. We lock ourselves away from each other and watch corporate ads on our televisions and on our high tech phones. We have become alienated from the land we live on and each other. We have become virtual robots as surely as Brian Williams is a virtual robot. We lack connectedness to all that is important to be alive in a proper sense. We need to find our cultural roots to the extent we can and appreciate the roots of our neighbours. There is fantastic wisdom that is still with us. We may learn what is vital to human survival from those we have abused. The time to turn those lawns into productive crops for local consumption has come. The time has come to share the land and to end the absurdity of each and every household owning its separate vehicle and each and every household owning its separate lawn mower. Lawn mowers can re-cycled to earth churners. We can tear down our pretty petty fences and come out to play. We can plant seeds in the ground and connect with the earth and to each other. As we step out and wipe the sleep from our eyes and look around we may notice we had been existing in suburban tombs, barely alive as we swallowed boatloads of anti-depressants. We don't need them. We can shake hands with our Israeli and Palestinian neighbours. We can afford to embrace our contrived enemies. We will see we are them and they are us and we are all in this together. We can share a cow, a goat, and a garden and turn our guns into plows. At this point we have little choice. The time to wake up and sober up is here. The great capitalist party is over whether you recognize it or not it's really over. And what a party it was.

It looks like the way ahead is really a matter of going back to where we came from in some sense; to the ancient duthchas systems and their counterparts all over the planet with modern technology in hand. We will not return to our roots as we had been. We've been though a hell of a time and we've learned a hell of a lot.

Monday, March 09, 2015

Canada's Bill C-51: A Bitter Reality

Stephen Harper's Bill C 51 will render the sacrifice of 45,000 Canadian soldiers that died in World War II meaningless. Canada is quietly slipping away from a century (plus) of protecting and cultivating freedom and democracy into a nightmare of state control and tyranny. This maneuver is accomplished in part by Harper's proposed bill to Parliament.

The bill clears the way for the Canadian state under CSIS and the RCMP to abuse Canadian citizens in a vast variety of ways with impunity. Judges themselves will be bound to violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We shall examine here several of the tenets of the bill to adequately contemplate a portion of the impact it may have on Canadians.

The excess of latent tyranny that is held in this bill is not explicit and that is the problem. The more nebulous the legal language, the more power granted the state to have its way with citizenry. A term like 'terrorist' or 'extremist' cannot be pinned down. What may be considered extreme at one time may be normal at a later time. What is considered terrorism by one individual or culture (eg. Egypt) is considered democratic expression by somebody else. In other words, the bill is wholly reliant on subjective interpretations of its meaning. This is extremely dangerous considering the granting of warrants is done in secret between CSIS and a judge that is now compelled to rubber stamp the request for the warrant.

A crucial consideration in all this is the power it grants to potential fascistic minded governors in the future. The power granted the government paves the way for a police state where civil disobedience, protest, strikes, and even spoken dissent are criminalized. Moreover, the bill itself contains the implicit threat of being deemed an enemy of the state which undoubtedly will silence dissent.

According to lawyers Clayton Ruby and Nadar R. Hasan, in an analysis for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, the proposed bill curtails CSIS and the RCMP in the following ways;

In taking measures to reduce a threat to the security of Canada, the Service shall not:
(a) cause, intentionally or by criminal negligence, death or bodily harm to an individual;
(b) wilfully attempt in any manner to obstruct, pervert or defeat the course of justice; or
(c) violate the sexual integrity of an individual.


And that is it. These are the boundaries placed before a future spook that may want to start a nefarious relationship with you.

The authors also point out, “Under the warrant provision, a judge may issue a warrant if satisfied that there are reasonable grounds to justify the belief that the requested measures are required to enable CSIS “to reduce a threat to the security of Canada,” and are “reasonabl[e] and proportiona[te].” This is an odd standard, which judges will find difficult, if not impossible, to apply. The ordinary standard for issuance of a warrant is based on reasonable grounds to believe that a criminal offence has been committed (in the case of a warrant to arrest) or reasonable grounds to believe that the search of a place will afford evidence of an offence (in the case of a search pursuant to judicial warrant). These are determinations that can be made objectively, based on the evidence, by an impartial judicial officer. By contrast, whether a given measure would proportionately “reduce the threat to the security of Canada” is not like these other tests. It amounts to asking judges to look into a crystal ball to determine if Canada will be safer in the future if a CSIS officer takes some measure. This is not a determination that judges are equipped to make. The limits will vary with the judges chosen by CSIS, not with the evidence.”

Preventive Arrest

Nothing could be more an affront to the objective, rational legal tenets that have been fought for and fine tuned since the Magna Carta had taken its first tentative step into modern free societies in 1215 where citizens were granted the right to a fair trial. It was our first legacy of protection against the arbitrary use of power. From the Magna Carta:

“No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any other way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgment of his equals or by the law of the land.
To no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay right or justice.”

Here we are in 2015 and Stephen Harper cannot even respect the quality of freedom provided to citizens almost 1000 years ago. His bill contains provisions for 'preventive arrest'.

In order to live in a free society, we need to abide by certain principles that we have become so accustomed to and unfortunately we take them for granted. Those principles may have been noticed by us when we would like police to lock up a known threat to the community but instead, must put up with that threat until the threatening person actually commits a crime. A woman may know, for sure, that her husband is about to kill her. Nothing more than a peace bond can protect her. That is the price we pay and it is the price we have always paid to live in freedom. As Mr. Ruby and Mr. Hasan point out, “Preventive detention—i.e., detention on the suspicion that someone may or will commit a crime at some point in the future—is the opposite of that legal tradition and is inconsistent with the constitutionally protected right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.” Under the bill, you may be arrested should authorities deem you suspicious.

Under current law, an individual may be arrested prior to actually committing the act if there are grounds to believe a terrorist act will be carried out. The new legislation replaces the word 'will' with the word 'may'. That simple change alters our universe. It will move Canada from the world of free and democratic societies and crosses a line and on the other side of that line are Saudi Arabia, fascism, and totalitarianism.

Again, Mr. Ruby and Mr. Hasan:

“Bill C-51 also substitutes “likely” for “necessary” such that s. 83.3(2) would now enable a peace officer to lay an information or effect a warrantless arrest if the officer:
(a) believes on reasonable grounds that a terrorist activity will may be carried out; and
(b) suspects on reasonable grounds that the imposition of a recognizance with conditions on a person, or the arrest of a person, is necessary likely to prevent the carrying out of the terrorist activity.
Both changes result in a significant lowering of the standard for arrest and detention.
The changes to the law are significant in two respects. The substitution of “may”where it currently says “will” is a significant watering down of the standard. “Will,” when coupled with “reasonable grounds to believe,” denotes evidence-based probability, whereas “may” denotes mere possibility.
The shift from “necessary” to “likely” is equally important. Necessity in this context suggests that the police officer suspects that no measure other than arrest will prevent a terrorist act. Likelihood is not necessity. Under the new provision, the police officer need only suspect that the arrest is more likely than not to prevent terrorist activity.”

Promoting Terrorism

Free speech is the cornerstone of a free society. Canadians generally agree that it has limits, and agree that yelling 'fire' in a crowded theatre and endangering lives is beyond the scope of free speech. The main issue here however is the freedom to express opinions whether they be political, religious, or philosophical.

The slippery language around the concept 'promoting terrorism' is another giant loophole for aggressive or even curious CSIS agents to slip through. Bill C-51 will modify the Criminal Code as follows:

“Every person who, by communicating statements, knowingly advocates or promotes the commission of terrorism offences in general—other than an offence under this section—while knowing that any of those offenses will be committed or being reckless as to whether any of those offences may be committed, as a result of such communication, is guilty of an indictable offense and is liable to imprisonment for a term of not more than five years.”

This section endangers free speech and will allow the state to arrest an individual that maybe trying to debate an issue or to analyze the merits and shortcomings of groups that have been deemed terrorist such as Hamas, Hezbollah, or the Muslim Brotherhood. It also may be used against us for supporting environmental groups, Native activists, or left wing groups that may advocate revolution. Should a CSIS spook consider your opinion a resource for the Muslim Brotherhood for example, then you are at risk of a lengthy jail term. We must defacto agree with the Canadian state that once they consider an individual or group terrorist, they are terrorists. Otherwise, we are in real trouble. Many Canadians may not agree with Mr. Harper's assessment of who is a terrorist and who isn't.

The use of terms like 'extremist' or 'terrorist' to base laws on is profoundly child-like. It reflects a mentality incapable of nuance or sophistication. It reflects George W Bush's view of bad guys and good guys. These terms defy definition and that is why Stephen Harper is driving them into the legislation. Anybody can be defined as a terrorist by somebody else from a different culture or a different epoch. The accepted idea of an extremist in 1970 wouldn't be close to what it is today. To be sure, Harper himself would be considered an extremist in 1970, even by Nixon's standards.

This bill puts all of us at the mercy of spooks and government whores. The use of terms like terrorism are simply a reflection of Mr. Harper's cynicism and his intent to ensure Canada's placement in the realm of 'secure' nations.

This is but two of the odious provisions in the act, an act that has not yet passed but surely will.

The Enlightenment

In the 1700s a wave of bold and free thinking upset the old feudal order. This wave of thought is generally known as the enlightenment. The enlightenment empowered reason as the sovereign ruler over the population, a ruler most of us have come to respect and admire. It is this ruler that the United States of America and modern Western societies are founded upon. It is the language of Thomas Paine, Jean Jacques Rousseau, and Immanuel Kant. Kant observed that the enlightenment would put an end to Monarchic and clerical arbitrary power. An informed and thinking population will demand that reason and principles are placed above the morbid and vicious rule of the dark regions of human emotion. Kant said of the enlightenment that it is the freedom for the individual to use his or her own intelligence. More broadly, the enlightenment demanded rule of law. No longer would human beings be ruled by cruel and capricious whims of revenge, insecurity, fear, hatred, or xenophobia. Laws, societies, and individuals would stand on a foundation of rational principles. No individual or body would rise above rule of law.

The enlightenment was thought of as humanity moving forward, away from the horror and terror of the cowardice and immaturity of the feudal past toward true justice and equality before the law.

Enlightenment ideas had fit nicely with the emerging and growing hunger of capitalism. And capitalism would provide high octane, energizing and propelling the language of the enlightenment into legislation and into our homes. The emerging bourgeois classes had tangible and pragmatic reasons to cast aside the oppressive weight of superstition and tradition. Contractual rights as opposed to traditional or arbitrary power would feed into the increasing power of the capitalist classes and correspondingly reduce the right of Kings. The enlightenment was a key element to the capitalist revolution.

The general thread of thinking known as the enlightenment were preceded by two principles that are foundational to the rational rule of law have survived and, similarly to enlightenment ideas, are vital to maintain the principles of a free and rational civilization. They are the "Great Writ" (habeas corpus) and as mentioned above, the Magna Carta.

Habeas corpus empowers the courts to direct any authority that holds an individual in custody to show cause to the court why the individual's liberty is denied within a reasonable amount of time. If no substantial reason is provided, the individual must be set free. It is a fundamental guarantee of liberty and any free society should have no difficulty with anything as basic as habeas corpus.

In the past decade or so, the United States and its subjects under NATO have skilfully changed the political syntax of the modern world. They are passing the boundary that separates free countries from autocracies and oligarchies in the dead of night. They do not deny that they are doing it; on the contrary. They do it while they scream at us to shut up; terrorists are about to strike. In fact, they use terrorist acts to justify the introduction of the language of fascism. Hitler did precisely the same thing with the fire at the Reichstag. The fire at the Reichstag was crucial to the establishment of Nazi Germany.

We have evolved from feudal power where it was openly acknowledged that might makes right. Naked reliance on violence and fear is what legitimized the power of monarchs. The state was an openly violent and oppressive institution. Power rested in the hands of Kings that could make arbitrary decisions based on His own highly charged emotions like revenge, fear, or greed.

We must maintain our capacity for critical reflection and thinking. We are in uncharted waters. The last time the tyrants wore brown shirts, jackboots, and displayed swastikas. They spewed a specific kind of rhetoric. They appealed to certain kinds of fears. This time it will not bear the exact signature of Mussolini or Adolph Hitler. In fact, it will be consciously displayed with different colours. But the fundamentals will remain. And those fundamentals are: state power over the rule of law, extreme nationalism, xenophobia, imperialism, systematic propaganda, state and corporate collusion, and endless war.

Stephen Harper and his ilk are the first, front and centre at solemn Remembrance Day ceremonies. They promote an air of sacred respect for the fallen. They are quick to tell us that these soldiers died for us, for our freedom. And it is exactly this same ilk that support this bill. It leads one to suspect that all their poppies and salutes on November 11th are not about freedom at all. It is, for them, about militarizing the population to promote more war. To glorify war.

The proposed bill is far more dangerous than ISIS or terrorism. While Stephen Harper urges us to look abroad, to look at ISIS, he attacks the very foundation of Canada with far more pernicious toxicity than ISIS could ever hope for.

Thursday, January 08, 2015

All Roads Lead to Washington

The world is in turmoil and all roads lead to Washington. Europe is at a boiling point. Syria is a death zone and it would be far worse if Putin hadn't stopped the war Obama was going to foist upon Damascus in 2013. Further afield, fires are blazing or embers are in danger of flaring up. If Washington had succeeded with its designs on Assad the region would be in far worse shape than its in now. As a result of Putin's peacemaking, Washington stepped up it sword rattling toward Moscow to a very dangerous level.

Further back, the Americans started two deadly and illegal wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to 'stop terrorism'. Prior to this, Al Qaeda had no place in Iraq. Now it is operating alongside another Washington creation known as ISIS. ISIS apparently surprised the Americans with their sudden strength (the idiocy hypothesis). Now they are spreading into northern Africa thanks to the murder of Gaddafi.

The Americans have imposed sanctions on Russia, Venezuela, Iran, Lebanon, Libya, Cuba, and others as a means of collective punishment. Sanctions are aimed to cause so much distress among the population that the target government will become unpopular. The death and suffering as a result of sanctions are considered, but not in a way a sane human being would think. They have also gutted the price of oil to hurt independent/defiant operators such as Russian or Venezuela governments.

It appears, by results, that American foreign policy is aimed at enhancing exactly what they profess to want to destroy; namely, Islamic extremism. European fascists are also reaping the whirlwind. The attack in Paris against Charlie Hebdo has played into the hands of La Pen's fascists as well as fascists across Europe. What will follow from increased anti-immigrant fascism will be increased anti-Muslim sentiments in France and throughout Europe. In turn, this will strengthen Al Qaeda, ISIS and Islamic militancy throughout the Middle East and beyond.

Over and over again American aggression just adds fuel to a raging fire and there seems to be no end in sight. Considering the recent GOP victories in mid term elections, it promises to get much worse.

Without even considering Asia, Latin America or Africa we can see that the chaos and violence caused by American foreign policy is heading straight into as much war as they can create without exposing their crypto-fascist designs; perhaps to lock down Western nations lock stock and barrel for 'national security' reasons.

Oddly enough, all this apparent bumbling resulting in so much death and displacement is not noticed in the press. Where are the commentaries from media that even question the competence of the state? Do they not notice every ostensible project their heroic commanders take on ends in miserable failure? Iraq is destroyed, Libya is destroyed as are Afghanistan and Syria and many other societies are suffering under American aggression whether it be sanctions or drone strikes. Even with no consideration of human costs, they have failed miserably when it comes to strategies to control and dominate much of the Middle East. The question is: Can they really be this incompetent? The short answer is, no.

They have destabilized the Middle East through clear lucid intent and that was one large objective toward their goal. If you think that sounds crazy, then you need to accept that the most powerful and massive military and intelligence operations in history are utterly incompetent. There is no third way.

If we accept the bumbler hypothesis we should recollect the initiation of the current troubles in Iraq beyond the war itself. The Americans divided the Sunnis and Shia leaving them with a situation where civil war was inevitable after they left. They are the creators of ISIS as they were the creators of Al Qeada while waging a proxy skirmish with Russia after its 1979 invasion of Afghanistan. We also need to recollect John McCain's recent back slaps and hand shakes with ISIS terrorists as he posed for pictures with them just inside the Syrian border from Turkey.

If you still think the American state is just some evil version of the keystone cops consider this (from 2013):

“With help from the C.I.A., Arab governments and Turkey have sharply increased their military aid to Syria’s opposition fighters in recent months, expanding a secret airlift of arms and equipment for the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, according to air traffic data, interviews with officials in several countries and the accounts of rebel commanders.

The airlift, which began on a small scale in early 2012 and continued intermittently through last fall, expanded into a steady and much heavier flow late last year, the data shows. It has grown to include more than 160 military cargo flights by Jordanian, Saudi and Qatari military-style cargo planes landing at Esenboga Airport near Ankara, and, to a lesser degree, at other Turkish and Jordanian airports.”

And, “From offices at secret locations, American intelligence officers have helped the Arab governments shop for weapons, including a large procurement from Croatia, and have vetted rebel commanders and groups to determine who should receive the weapons as they arrive, according to American officials speaking on the condition of anonymity. The C.I.A. declined to comment on the shipments or its role in them.”

If we maintain that they are as incompetent as they seem, we cannot ignore the results of their activities have destabilized all of the Middle East. Europe cannot escape the fall out and in Europe, fascism is becoming attractive to many lumpen nationalists. Incredibly, in a very short time fascism and chronic terrorism have reduced the European sense of security to what has been common in developing nations.

While we weep over the blood of the French cartoonists that intentionally fanned the flames of the Empire we cannot forget that their blood, ultimately, is on the hands of the American President whether it be Bush or Obama. They have literally spilt gallons. Minor players like Harper and Blair are guilty as are so many others including many media personalities and publications.

As they voice outrage at this massacre, watch very closely. And watch your back.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Under Arrest: Santa Claus

Santa Claus is destroying the planet. We need to make a choice; Santa or humanity or rather, Santa or the ecosystems that support humanity. We need to really consider what goes in to bringing you, or me, a Christmas present.

We live inside extremely large and wasteful systems and those systems are destroying the planet. Considering the volume of those systems, it's not enough to re-cycle. Our party of consumption has to come to an end and that party reaches its peak once a year, at Christmas time. Most retail sales occur during the Christmas season.

A typical Christmas present requires a monumental effort that happens behind the scenes. The materials to make the item is shipped to the factory from the resource providers. This requires ships, trucks and forklifts. It is packaged in a way that requires cutting trees and processing the paper. The paper is then packed and shipped. It is then made into the specific packaging material for the item. The item itself may depend on various parts shipped from all over the planet. And on Christmas morning we will open it, first by removing the bow and card, then the paper, then a box, another box, perhaps some plastic etc. This insanity happens all year round however. Little by little by little, every day, every week and every year the earth and the eco-systems provide their micro treasures for our macro systems so we humans can consume. We are addicted to hair conditioner and cigarettes and fat. And as the eco-systems offers up their treasures to us we flush them down toilets and burn them and contaminate the source of our existence.

We must abandon our multitude of petty addictions. We have to abandon our spoiled comfort. We have to stop the madness of having toys and convenient snacks and repairing our snack damage with rides to the gym to work off our guilt and excessive fat. We have to stop packing goods inside of packages that are inside of packages. We have to stop cutting tress to make paper to advertise to tell people they must consume what they don’t need and what will make them sick. We have to learn to eat from the local soil, to drink water from our local ground and to stop all the shipping and flushing and burning.

Have an Ivan Pavlov Christmas

As children we are trained by Santa Claus to become hopelessly addicted to junk. As adults, our addiction doesn't fade and we are hell bent to ensure our children are even more addicted than we were. The addiction brought so much joy and we love our children. Each and every year the same stimulus; Christmas carols, the tree and decorations and food are replicated from our own childhood. Our parents had us overwhelmed with a month of carols, decorations, and shopping. All the characteristics of Christmas from 50 or 100 years ago still remain. The very same stimulus and the very same responses are on an endless loop in the culture. On Christmas morning the family scene breaks a month of anticipation into a day of hedonism and gluttony.

As adults we salivate in a similar way to Pavlov's dog. Ivan Pavlov developed the theory of classical conditioning (conditioned reflex). Pavlov measured the rate of salivation when he would present a dog with food. He discovered the dog would learn to salivate with only the sound of a bell once the dog learned to associate the sound with the food. The food was no longer necessary to produce the saliva response. The Christmas spirit is the same conditioned response to stimuli. It has nothing to do with the spirit of Christ - on the contrary. The Christmas spirit is the spirit of selfish giving. We give yes, and we expect as much joy from the gifts we give. As children we got packages of crack, toys that would buzz our minds for hours. Now we get bathoil beads and soap. We get socks, ties, and maybe a book. Our stimulus was once alive, buzzing with excitement. It isn't the same for us anymore and our gifts are listless and drab. We remain responsive to the sound of Pavlov's bell however. We swallow back our dissatisfaction and live vicariously through the children; children that couldn't be happier.

In this spirit we walk past homeless people in the Christmas rush. We are carrying far too many packages to give a beggar a coin. We step by them without really noticing. We are far too busy gathering large volumes of material we will re-cycle. We are, after all, concerned about the environment.

In our defense we provide joy and happiness for family and friends and they do the same for us. This is the time of year we forget about the troubles of the world and we celebrate with family. Sharing the Christmas spirit with family is what its all about.

The point here is, Christmas has been hijacked by crass consumerism and it is the wasteful and excessive orgy of hedonistic materialism that is harmful to the planet. Sharing Christmas time with family and friends does not require multiple trips to Wal Mart.

Our addiction to consumer Christmas has to come to an end. The planet cannot survive with the direct impact Christmas has on the environment nor can can it survive as long as we are addicted to advertising, packaging, and items we don't need. The whole attitude has to change. It is not only climate change that is hurting the earth. Our selfish destruction of ecosystems is poisoning the land, the sea, and the atmosphere. If we gave a damn about our children and their children, we would not addict them to junk. We would pass on to them an environment where they could could survive and where they can enjoy a sane, non addicting Christmas with their families.


Not only individuals addicted to Christmas want to keep the party raging. Corporations depending on Christmas sales have some stake in this as well. Together, they make a formidable team. And besides, nobody is going to make you give up Christmas. Environmentalists and left wing loonies can say what they want but you will have a much or as little Christmas as you choose. And this is the key point. This is your choice.

When we consider that even something as minimal as the Kyoto Protocol and opposition from those that are most addicted to the party, we know that we have to win a huge battle before we arrest Santa Claus. Our children and grandchildren and their kids have an enemy in our midst and that enemy is us. This enemy is equal to any coward that puts his own pleasure ahead of the survival of others. They are the selfish and comfortable cowards that we think of as shareholders. They are them and their million lackeys and they are the enemies of humanity and the earth.

In the 21st century, everybody doesn’t have to work to distribute and produce wealth. That idea is archaic and part of capitalistic indoctrination. Capitalism has given us many gifts of technology, know-how, and toys. Thank you capitalism, we appreciate it. But it has come at a price and the sooner we start paying it back to the earth, the less expensive it will be. We have to change our economic systems, our production systems and our distribution systems if we want to save the eco-systems that support us.
We will crush resistance to the detoxification of Christmas even though Santa's fifth column is deep among us. It is a matter of time. Christmas must be restored to its true meaning which is 180 degrees contrary to greed and addictions to bath oil beads. We need to crush the spirit of Santa and replace it with the attitude of Jesus. When that happens we will produce most of what we need locally and we will start living with each other in communities again. We won't walk by the beggar. We will sit and talk to him. We will say good-bye to our alienated lives in front of television sets. We will produce what we need and we will distribute what is needed as it is needed. We may need bicycles and buses, we don’t need cars. We need to distribute water where it isn’t locally available. We don’t need Coke. We don’t need useless items in multiple packages.

We live inside big wasteful production and distribution systems but we also live inside many other systems. We live inside eco-systems and we are destroying them. We cannot continue to abuse the earth because we are as much a part of the earth and the nutrients we put in our mouths and flush down the toilet. As we destroy the earth, we destroy our grandchildren. They are the earth and they will come from the earth long after we return to it.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

The Calculus of Revolution

We are powerless. The threat of revolution is all we have. Not so long ago we could negotiate but today, established power does not see human needs as a calculation. Yesterday, the corporate/political establishment showed a measure of respect. Today, it is absent. The important message for today is, that respect was earned.

We may have some expectation that we are going through a rough patch and things will get back to normal. What is happening however is the driving force for production, trade, and employment has changed its nature. That driving force is capitalism itself. Even if people with power wanted to, it is very likely the greater capitalist system does not have capacity to turn back the clock to restore adequate pensions, decent wages, and a humane social safety net. That is not to suggest these things are out of reach. Under the status quo however, they are.

Another ongoing change is not a change as much as manifestation as a result of the environment in which it operates. In times of luxury and growth, capitalism is naturally liberal. Liberalism facilitates growth and flexibility. During times of scarcity and fierce competition however, capitalism has a distinct and necessary brutality to it. It becomes increasingly fascistic.

While there is no shortage of individuals, organizations, and even nations wanting to alter the system to be more humane, there is an obvious shortage of respect for those with their hand out. On the other hand, any serious discussion of what wealth is, of how it is created and who owns it will get respect. Actually taking steps to restore social programs and public wealth will turn that respect to fear.

The bottom line is, wealth is not what they think it is. We create it and they take it. If they have seduced you into believing that they create it, read on.

The Bankruptcy of Reform

Reform minded movements and individuals are barely fighting to increase minimum wages and restore social programs. Our collective powerlessness including the powerlessness of the union movement is obvious. Aside from begging we have no strategy at all. Collective begging that consists of complaining to lawmakers, signing petitions, protesting, and various other means garners no respect, nor should it. These tactics are utterly toothless. Our voices of discontent are not treated with respect and all our good, rational, and compassionate arguments are simply ignored.

Reform had been granted in the past as a result of building class consciousness among citizens. In 1936 and 1937 workers in the United States began sit down strikes all over the country. The Communist Party in the United States reached a membership of 50,000. The capitalist class were insecure. They were terrified of revolution and they were cognizant of the power of poorly fed citizenry. Russia revolted twenty years ago and the same thing could happen again.

It wasn't only Roosevelt and the United States that were concerned with the possibility of revolution. Internationally, intellectuals, economists, politicians and business leaders themselves strategized ways to stem the tide. They found those ways and it was articulated by John Maynard Keynes.

Fear of the citizenry and the possibility they may be attracted to communism, which would end their dream completely, compelled changes to mitigate that risk. Joseph Kennedy said of that time, “In those days I felt and said I would be willing to part with half of what I had if I could be sure of keeping, under law and order, the other half”.

Reasonable middle class expectations are that 'they' will do it again. The posture of the citizen beggar and the dynamics of the master/slave mentality that exists between established power and the rest of us must change and we are responsible to make that change happen. Corporate interests and their politicians have done their part; they have shipped our jobs abroad, they are tearing the social safety net to shreds, and they are proceeding to militarize the globe including domestic police forces. The 1% are clearly as class conscious as any Marxist and have shown absolutely no loyalty to workers, consumers, or nations. Our first great revolutionary act is to simply look.

The mess we are living through is not a matter of evil and greedy people becoming ever more callous as they grow. It is not a matter of capitalists or politicians being evil and selfish. The problem is much more serious. The problem is systemic and even if we jailed all the capitalists and the politicians today, the system would run exactly the same way tomorrow.

The system is rapidly changing due to the nature of capitalism itself. This is an energy that has a revolutionary life of its own. Its nature is dynamic and focused. That focus itself is one large problem for human beings. So is its dynamism.

Notwithstanding the depression and World War 2, past reforms were carried out during a period of relative global stability. Even responses to those world shaking events didn't change the nature of the beast. Its nature has been to evolve faster as it matures and today, it has successfully morphed to an inhumane feeding machine that can in no way be satisfied. Part of this monstrosity is due in part to emerging economies that had not been factors in earlier times. In the past, national capitalisms had some domestic control. When it comes to economic matters that is no longer the case.

A substantial factor that has been changing is its efficiency. The invention of new technologies aimed to increase production is changing the very nature of capitalism and its relationship with human beings. Today, those inventions are rapidly reducing and replacing the need for human input for a given volume of goods produced or services rendered. Paradoxically, these efficiencies have a negative influence on the aggregate real profit margin.

Arguments against neo-liberal policies may conclude that extremists like Thatcher or Reagan have ruined our standard of living. They assume a return to standards and regulations and general sanity will right the ship and so, it is a matter of getting the right politicians elected. Somethings amiss however. No matter what social democratic party or good guy politician is elected, like Obama, they always govern for the banks and the corporations and against Main Street. It isn't that the politicians are cruel or cowardly as much as politicians do not govern. They merely sit in a given seat and are told what to do. That is a more serious matter than if we were simply dealing with opportunists and self serving oafs. The best example of this is Obama's Democratic predecessor, Bill Clinton. He may be blamed for the deregulation of international capital when he repealed the Glass–Steagall Act, an Act that was passed in 1933 in response to widespread financial fraud and abuse by investors. Under the Act, banks could take deposits and make loans while brokers could sell securities. No entity could do both due to the obvious conflicts of interest. In 1999 Clinton and the GOP controlled Congress were directed by the big banks to repeal the legislation. We may ask ourselves why a leader of the left side of political spectrum would repeal an act that has been a source of safety and financial security for business and ordinary Americans. And we can look at the current Democratic President of the United States and ask ourselves the similar questions. Again, it isn't personal. These are not necessarily evil people. They are simply immersed in a system they barely understand and they are powerless.

After Glass Steagall was repealed, financiers behaved exactly as they did in the 1920s and 30s. Banks created a system of fraudulent lending and sold packages of dirt to their customers in the form of securities. We can see that in many ways the nature of capitalism is exactly as it was almost a century ago. The differences will be most salient when the inevitable reform movements to come try to repeat history in terms of recreating generous social programs and restoring the old Keynsian order. The New Deal is not only old, it is dead.

As we remain bogged down in economic stagnation (notwithstanding the stock market bubble) and danger of another serious financial crash, reformist economic policies are a logical choice. But where is Obama's New Deal or anything like it? It makes perfect sense. The more spending power the consumer has the more the consumer will demand goods and services and this is naturally good for business. Here we are seven years after the shock of 2008 and our great salvation of reform, of change, the heroic Community Organizer, Constitutional Law Professor and President of the United States cannot do anything to stimulate the economy or, apparently, anything else he wants to do. Obama himself is clear evidence of Presidential castration. If he did build another Hoover Dam and if he repaired public infrastructure in the United States, he would lift America out of its financial misery. Main Street would be hopping again. Yet there is no new Hoover Dam or large infrastructure developments while America's streets and bridges continue to crumble. Instead, there is war. From Main Street, it makes no sense whatsoever. From Wall Street, it makes perfect sense and from there, he is directed not to stimulate the economy.

The Pragmatics of Revolution

There are two aspects to the notion of revolution and depending on the temperment and beliefs of an individual, one is more vital than the other. Those two aspects are sincere proletarian revolution with the aim of taking control of production, distribution, and government. The other is the threat of sincere proletarian revolution. The latter has been a governor in Western nations for the past century and we were not even aware of it. The USSR as well as legions of radicals in the 1930s threatened Western capitalism in the USA and abroad. Leaders of the day were forced to throw crumbs to the peasants lest they revolt.

Today, competition for legitimacy from the USSR has disappeared and we are increasingly dominated by Washington. Pressure on ordinary people stemming from vital human needs will continue to increase and at some point a critical mass will be unable to take it anymore. Revolutionary movements will spring up. Although that may seem remote and obscure, there is no overestimating the fickleness of crowds with starving children.

Until that threat is real, until we have a critical mass calling for full revolution against capitalism, we will remain weak, pathetic, and servile as we beg for table scraps from the omnipotent master. If you'd like some crumbs, you ask. If you want the whole cake, you take it. If you want reform, demanding the whole cake might not be a bad idea.

Wealth distribution from the 1% to the rest of us seems like a logical remedy. Problems with that as a remedy are deep however. First of all, the wealth owned by the 1% is empty of substance. If they had to cash it in it wouldn't be available. It is mirage created by bankers and the IMF and its rot will soon be in full view when the stock market bubble bursts and the whole illusion comes crashing down.

Real wealth is usable stuff or services. Money is merely a representation of that wealth. Wealth is created when minerals are removed from the ground, when timber is cut and when fish are caught. It is created when we manufacture, when we cure the ill, and when we build a bridge. And it is ordinary human beings that create that wealth. We seem to think we need our masters to tell us what to do; when to build bridges, when to manufacture medicine for human suffering, when to work and when to beg. The most revolutionary of all realizations is that we do not need the investors. We can build and distribute all we want and need. Simply seeing the truth of that statement is potent and it is revolutionary.

As long as we remain mired in out master/slave mentality we will not be anything more than beggars and slaves.

Look upon hard core radicals with the respect they deserve. Anarchists and communists and left wing radicals of all stripes will demand, they won't ask, what is rightfully the property of the people. It is the threat they present to the comfortable bourgeios nest that forces change. Begging is neither helpful or respectable.

The first step here is to understand the nature of wealth.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Robert Kagan: The Fool on the Hill

To look inside the mind of Brookings Institution Scholar Robert Kagan is to look into the minds of the most powerful and dangerous people on the planet. Kagan has many influential followers including John McCain, Mitt Romney and generally the who's who of right wing hawks. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are also disciples of his. In fact, in 2012, Obama was waving one of Kagan's works around telling the world that this is clear justification for his apparent fetish for endlesswar. The name of Obama's prize article is, “Not Fade Away: Against the Myth of American Decline”.

In his 2012 election campaign Obama stated, “The renewal of American leadership can be felt across the globe…. From the coalitions we’ve built to secure nuclear materials, to the missions we’ve led against hunger and disease, from the blows we’ve dealt to our enemies, to the enduring power of our moral example, America is back. Anyone who tells you otherwise, anyone who tells you that America is in decline or that our influence has waned, doesn’t know what they’re talking about.” Obama drew his new bold face from the article. He was impressed enough that he discussed the article at length with journalists in the midst of the election campaign against Mitt Romney while Kagan was an advisor to Mitt Romney.

Kagan's views of the USA and the world are extremely dangerous due to both their content and most especially to who is influenced by him. The fact that this man and his ideas are gospel to both Democrats and Republicans on the highest levels should get our attention. He is also married to Obama's Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Asia, Victoria Nuland, the woman that betrayed America's involvement in Ukraine as they pushed Russia into a deep and dangerous corner. This all reflects a realm of insiders, realpolitik, and conspiracy.

Obama's Gospel – The Article

The article itself is surprising in its weak base, unsupported assumptions, and its flawed logic. At its very base it assumes supreme sovereignty for all all nations belongs to the United States of America. That base is not a base but reflects Obama's cavalier attitude when to comes to law, especially international law.

The question leading into this article: “Is the United States in decline, as so many seem to believe these days? Or are Americans in danger of committing pre-emptive superpower suicide out of a misplaced fear of their own declining power?” Kagan's answer is that the current liberal world order, a creation of American foreign policy, could end up on the ash heap of history but with a correct view and through constant vigilance the current world order will be maintained.

Kagan cites three measures that may help us analyze the current condition of America's power in the world. They are, the size and influence of the nation's economy, the magnitude of its military, and, redundantly, the degree of political influence it has internationally. Kagan points to the perception that recent problems with the economy or foreign policy indicate the decline of the greatest superpower the world has known. Kagan compares this with the British Empire at the end of the 19th century. His easy juxtaposition of current American world domination and the British Empire does not go so far as replace the term 'superpower' with 'empire', it's merely implied. This starting point is telling. And the fact that it the starting point in the minds of many that have control of the American state indicates contempt for other nation's sovereignty and rule of law. Kagan exposes an unapologetic militarist and authoritarian world view.

His view is about power and not much else. Kagan points out that relative to other economies in the world the USA is holding its position, more or less. He argues that the rapid rise of the Chinese economy is not a crucial factor pointing out the “sheer size” of a given economy isn't a good measure of a nation's position in the world. China can be contained with effort. He points out that China will remain well behind both the US and Europe in terms of per capita GDP.

While the importance of an economy is important to Kagan and presumably anybody that aims to control the world, military strength is vital. He points out that military strength underpins hegemony. This point isn't consistent with the mainstream narrative however; that the USA intervenes in other parts of the world for the benefit of those that are attacked. While the notion of humanitarian intervention is obviously aimed to curry domestic and international support for its many wars, the calculations in Washington's back rooms are adjusted to the metrics of power, not to the wishes of the UN. Kagan's point here is that when it comes to military expenditures, the USA is in another league altogether, vastly outspending everybody else. And there is no doubt about that.

Kagan seems to be oblivious to economic considerations that are not related to military spending. He downplays the importance of a healthy economy and does not relate the economy's poor health to military expenditures. To detach the inconceivable sums that are military spending from the faltering nation's economy is not a simple blind spot. It is one of several of America's Achilles heels.

On the relative rise of other economies such as Brasil and China, he points out, “just because a nation is an attractive investment opportunity does not mean it is a rising great power”. What he does not mention however is the importance of manufacturing to a given domestic economy. These investment opportunities have shifted much of America's substantial tax base offshore. His assuredness that this simple opening of investment opportunities in other nations has no impact at home reflects a serious disconnect.

He points out the decline of the British Empire was not a result of poor economic performance. The British economy grew as it's global status shrank and that was due, in part, to the comparative rising strength of the American economy. It wasn't economic performance but militarily strength that diminished the standing of the United Kingdom. Kagan points to growing German military strength as they aimed for European supremacy as the reason for the British Empire's decline. He fails to say why. Perhaps it is because to Mr. Kagan, relative military strength is the supreme consideration; that on it's own is the measure of measures.

The article points out that as friendly nations rise, they pose no threat to America's position in the world. They are strategic partners and, as Kagan alluded earlier, under the umbrella and protection of American hegemony. Kagan identifies the growing Chinese economy and its concomitant capacity to grow its military as the only realistic threat to American dominance.

Kagan writes at length about the false nostalgia in notions of American popularity and superiority in the 1950s and 60s. Opposition to American imperialism was strident both at home and abroad. He points to a number of colossal failures in the 70s regarding American foreign policy and its economic standing in the world. These were bleak times and prophets like Henry Kissinger and Paul Kennedy were foretelling the demise of American dominance. Back then Kennedy suggested “imperial overreach” and military spending as Achilles heels that would cripple American power in the world. Kagan assert they were wrong pointing to America's overall consistency in terms of America's share of the world's GDP remaining steady. Kagan's overall point here is that much of the sense of American decline is based in nostalgic illusions of power and influence the USA has in the world that it simply didn't have; the subtext being, we are in a better position now than ever.

In the past, detractors that were critical of America's reach in Europe and throughout the world suggested that the USSR and not the USA was in a better position to win over global governments and populations. The USA, in competition with the USSR, was forced to maintain alliances, many of them strained. The USSR just had to wait them out. Kagan points to victory here for the USA and is attributing its expensive strategy of “containment” (of the USSR) as the crucial item.

Kagan's implication in this article that China is America's natural enemy is shocking. Fortunately, this article and its adherents do not see China as an immediate threat but they see continued containment of China as the reason why it isn't. The United States dominates China's backyard and Kagan points out that the USA has China surrounded with military bases. Even if China wanted to be a regional hegemon, it would need to remove Taiwan from America's pocket and they would need to usurp the USA from all the other nations surrounding China.

Kagan questions the notion of 'overreach' by comparing numbers of military personnel today with other times when the numbers were higher. His implicit suggestion is, we have capacity for much more. On the economic side of military spending, he quotes former budget czar Alice Rivlin, “the scary projections of future deficits are not “caused by rising defense spending,” much less by spending on foreign assistance.” Kagan asserts it is “runaway entitlement spending” that is compromising America's future. Presumably, boatloads of money being funneled into defense contractors bank accounts is not entitlement spending.

Kagan lists costs that the USA would incur should American taxpayers cut back on defense spending. They are, the costs associated with unraveling the economic order built and maintained by the American military, costs associated with insecure water routes kept open by the American military machine, costs associated with wars that would break out if the USA didn't keep nations from waging war against each other, costs associated with American allies that have lost the protection of the American military, and costs associated with “the generally free and open nature of the international system”.

Kagan is suggesting a 'pay now or pay later' scenario. This open and shameless display of circular logic has to be either a display of audacity or idiocy. There is no third option.

Kagan warns that world domination is a choice and a choice Americans themselves must make. Failure to maintain dominance would compromise its capacity to emerge from crisis to emerge stronger and healthier than other nations (as it has in the past). Americans may feel compelled, Kagan asserts, to back away from its “moral and material burdens” that have weighed on the USA since World War 2. To agree with diminished military spending is to believe the present 'world order' would persist without American dominance. To maintain the benefits of the current world order with its “widespread freedoms, its general prosperity, its absence of great power conflict”, requires American leadership and commitment.

Again, his presupposition that the status quo are the alpha and omega, that any risk to American dominance in the world is a disaster is utterly baseless and the platform for much of the logical failures that energize this article.

To finish off, Kagan again alludes to the term 'empire' and argues that while all empires do die, the question of when is key. The USA may have hundreds of years to go.


This article, touted by the President of the United States as justification for more war and increased militarism does not bode well for our collective futures. The article is dated and does not address recent sword rattling in the wake of Putin's disobedience dealing with Snowdon, Syria, the Ukraine and so on. Since that article was written, Russia may have replaced China as Robert Kagan's long term project. And since that time, Obama has turned to bay with the dogs of war. Probably as a result of Kagan's influence scores of human beings are now dead in Libya, Syria, Iraq, Ukraine, and other places. And the more and the longer people like him enjoy the influence they do, the more people will die needlessly.

One thing is for sure. The United States has war on its mind and many human beings are not alive today as a result, many more will be dead tomorrow. That consideration however isn't even hinted at. As we read an article like this, as influential as it has been, it is devoid of humanity. Its as if Kagan and Obama are sitting in front of a board game like Risk and human considerations are not part of it. To them power and position on the game board and winning are all that count. Deaths and disabilities, human catastrophe and displacement, the health of other nations are not factors in Kagan's metrics. They would only factor in if they had some impact on power.

It is not the article on its own that is alarming. Kagan isn't alone in his lust for world domination. The fact that the Democratic President of the United States even takes this article seriously is crucial. It suggests that the President of the United States is not very intelligent and worse, he is as affected by whatever psychological condition is affecting Kagan. That condition shows an indifference to human suffering, glib charm, lack of sincerity with an ability to lie seamlessly, grandiose self worth, poor judgment, no consideration of consequences for other people, utilizing human beings as if they are objects and so on. They indicate a serious mental health issue.

Wouldn't it be remarkable if we found those with the most power and influence in this world are not there because they are smart or humane or wise, they are there because they are utterly ruthless. Wouldn't it be remarkable if we discovered that this world, at the very top, is run by psychopaths?