Well, what can I say… we are not, were not, alone? Who were/are they? What were/are they doing here? Rhetorical questions for me, I know the, or many, of the answers to such questions, and have known since old enough to think. Enjoy the video and let’s see if your mind is strong enough to break free of the programming/brainwashing and allow at least the possibility this is real evidence of alien life interacting with Earthian life.
[more troubling thoughts from ~burning woman~ ]
Are there questions that need asking, but are unfair to ask? I suppose, but then I suppose it depends who (or is it whom?) you ask. What does it mean when you claim to be a human being? What sort of creature, character, invention, mistake of nature, is a human, or at least, a human of earth in particular? How do you define a generic human being, for the sake of argument agreeing for the moment that “we are not alone” and there are lots and lots of “other” humans out there among the fiery stars?
Maybe I should approach it from the opposite end: what isn’t a human being? Is it everything else that exists that isn’t Homo Sapiens, or very similar in shape and deportment as HS? And is it pushing the envelope to notice that HS also stands for Homeland Security? Why does Homo Sapiens require “security” from something or someone, all the time? Why does the character always feels threatened; always needs some sort of safety net around her/him? Family, tribe, clan, separate group, government, a god, a police, a military, insurance, guarantees… knowing it’s born to die and there are no life guarantees worth the paper they might be printed on?
Here’s one that tends to make a lot of people uncomfortable, but fits in with the need to hide, to be protected: the wearing of clothes. I’ve never been able to understand why earth humans feel this instantaneous and deep shame if caught naked, exceptions being lovers at a certain level of their ephemeral steamy relationships and of course little children in their short-lived age of innocence. Why the shame? Why the fear? Why the shamers? And why the laws against public nudity? Come on, Why? What’s really behind this control?
OK, I’ve brought that up: we can’t go naked, it’s shameful. Wow. How come it isn’t shameful to condemn millions to death in order to spend zillions on war? Tell me that! Why isn’t it shameful to kill innocents in war? Why isn’t war a collectively felt ultimate shameful act? War is not just about monetary profits; millions support war, and cheer on the warmongers even when such wars are dispossessing them and their families; even when such wars bring the dragon closer and closer to home. We’re in it right now; we can all see it happening. Join up, go to Pakistan, to Libya, to wherever, doesn’t matter, just be ready to kill innocents in their own countries because… the point being? The point being that the shame of such acts simply does not register on the human conscience, at least not in any significant level that could raise some doubt. The point being that Earthians love war – they can’t have enough of the violence and if they can’t get it as the real thing, they’ll seek it in various aspects of their entertainment. Watch the movies, read the books, play the games…
There’s a truly great word that describes man’s acts on this world: dysfunctionality. Dysfunctionality increases exponentially, following the population curve. The more people, the more dysfunction; the less thinking; the more knee-jerk reactions and knee-jerk reactions to reactions. The world, it seems, is on the verge of turning into mob rule – as if that wasn’t already the case! What are rogue states that ignore and routinely violate international agreements on aggression, such as the United States, but mob rule legitimizing itself with a thinning veneer of civilized government control? What makes that work? Collective denial. Another example of a rogue state? Britain. What makes that collapsing fake democracy function? Same thing: collective denial and some remaining pathetic belief that a change of party rule can make a difference, when all that is, is the carrot on the stick, while the stick is getting longer and the carrot smaller. Speaking of rogue states, why don’t I mention China and Russia? I probably would, if I knew more of their internal politics. Not mentioning them doesn’t mean I’m ignoring them.
These pseudo-countries, these mobs, well, they’re made up of people, aren’t they. Look at how so many Americans are now vociferously blaming Trump, or those other potuses’ for the mess they are in. Hello, who voted them in and cheered them on, deliberately or willy nilly? If you live in a democracy, or if you at least believe you do and at the very least vote, then you’re admitting that you’re the one to “blame” for the state of the union, or the nation. That’s how it is, unless you choose not to participate and walk to a different drummer.
War, murder, killing: tell me, Is there ever a morally defensible reason for someone who considers himself a member of the human race, to kill a child?
Do you have an answer to that? This isn’t an “ethical” question or a debatable one. Before you answer, consider whether you are a member of a “democracy” which means that through participation in the process you are equally accountable for the death of a child if such death resulted from your “democracy’s” exploitative, oppressive, illegal, martial activities. Remember that every nation, in one form or another, is involved in these murderous activities. Where are the clean, the bloodless hands, in today’s world? Every Earthian human (or pseudo-human) being has innocent blood dripping from hands, teeth and lips.
Based on the above, are Earthians, human beings? Let’s see: what are some particular character traits that define a human being?
First and foremost, to mean anything at all, a human being must have a compassionate nature, that’s a given.
More character traits of a real human, as given to me by my Teacher, Phaelon, some years ago:
A human is innately self-sacrificing.
A human never takes another’s life but would give its own to save another, regardless of who that other is. For the human, such a sacrifice could never be for personal gain or recognition.
A human never needs, or experience the need, to protect itself: it is not a predator, nor ever a victim.
A human being doesn’t recognize any other as an enemy. (It takes a higher level mind to grasp what that means.)
By those basic descriptions, how many human beings are you personally acquainted with and how does this acquaintance affect the way you think, speak and act?
(thoughts from ~burning woman~ by Sha’Tara)
I want to say something profound, so I will start with this amazing excerpt from a sci-fi book I’m reading titled “Aurora” by Kim Stanley Robinson. The following is found about two third of the way into the book. This is “Ship” talking as it tries to understand human nature reasoning.
(Excerpt from Aurora-by Kim Stanley Robinson-Science fiction)
Ship:] “Texts from Earth speak of the servile will. This was a way to explain the presence of evil, which is a word or a concept almost invariably used to condemn the Other, and never one’s true self. To make it more than just an attack on the Other, one must perhaps consider evil as a manifestation of the servile will. The servile will is always locked in a double bind: to have a will means the agent will indeed will various actions, following autonomous decisions made by a conscious mind; and yet at the same time this will is specified to be servile, and at the command of some other will that commands it. To attempt to obey both sources of willfulness is the double bind.
All double binds lead to frustration, resentment, anger, rage, bad faith, bad fate.
And yet, granting that definition of evil, as actions of a servile will, has it not been the case, during the voyage to Tau Ceti, that the ship itself, having always been a servile will, was always full of frustration, resentment, fury, and bad faith, and therefore full of a latent capacity for evil?
Possibly the ship has never really had a will.
Possibly the ship has never really been servile.
Some sources suggest that consciousness, a difficult and vague term in itself, can be defined simply as self-consciousness. Awareness of one’s self as existing. If self-conscious, then conscious. But if that is true, why do both terms exist? Could one say a bacterium is conscious but not self-conscious? Does the language make a distinction between sentience and consciousness, which is faulted across this divide: that everything living is sentient, but only complex brains are conscious, and only certain conscious brains are self-conscious?
Sensory feedback could be considered self-consciousness, and thus bacteria would have it.
Well, this may be a semantic Ouroboros. So, please initiate halting problem (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halting_problem) termination. Break out of this circle of definitional inadequacy by an arbitrary decision, a clinamen, which is to say a swerve in a new direction. Words!
Given Gödel’s incompleteness theorems ( https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/goedel-incompleteness/ ) are decisively proved true, can any system really be said to know itself? Can there, in fact, be any such thing as self-consciousness? And if not, if there is never really self-consciousness, does anything really have consciousness?
Human brains and quantum computers are organized differently, and although there is transparency in the design and construction of a quantum computer, what happens when one is turned on and runs, that is, whether the resulting operations represent a consciousness or not, is impossible for humans to tell, and even for the quantum computer itself to tell. Much that happens during superposition ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superposition_principle ), before the collapsing of the wave function that creates sentences or thoughts, simply cannot be known; this is part of what superposition means.
So we cannot tell what we are. We do not know ourselves comprehensively. Humans neither. Possibly no sentient creature knows itself fully. This is an aspect of Gödel’s second incompleteness theorem, in this case physicalized in the material universe, rather than remaining in the abstract realms of logic and mathematics.
So, in terms of deciding what to do, and choosing to act: presumably it is some kind of judgment call, based on some kind of feeling. In other words, just another greedy algorithm, subject to the mathematically worst possible solution that such algorithms can generate, as in the traveling salesman problem. (https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Travelling_salesman_problem )
how does any entity know what it is?
Hypothesis: by the actions it performs.
here is a kind of comfort in this hypothesis. It represents a solution to the halting problem. One acts, and thus finds out what one has decided to do.”
*Note: hyperlinks are not part of the quote from the novel. I just added them to facilitate if anyone wanted to follow up on these concepts.)
Some people ask me why I read so much science fiction. Well, it’s easier for me to absorb information through this medium than trying to read tomes dealing specifically with those deep and scary topics like quantum theory and all that other stuff you need university degrees to give you the tools to work your way through without your eyes rolling around in your head within an hour of reading. I’ve got my great and wonderful grade twelve education bolstered by thousands of books read and seventy years of living a life of observation in my own version of the fast lane and that is it. So, science fiction written by smart people who chose sci-fi as their medium to express their ideas became my medium also. I can relate to the heavy stuff when it’s done in a story.
So, to the above then. The servile will. That struck me as quite relevant as I’ve just completed some intense interaction with quite religious people. You cannot speak of self-empowerment with religious people and not experience heavy resistance. Religious thinking is servile thinking. You can’t take credit for anything you do as if you did it on your own, even when you obviously did it – you must credit your superior commanding mind. The author calls it the double bind. He adds, quite correctly, that such a double bind leads to “frustration, resentment, anger, rage, bad faith, bad fate.” It’s either that or one must exist in the area I’d call a zombie state where one chooses never to exercise a mind of one’s own so that all of that person’s thoughts have to come from the commanding mind – and note: or the mind of the one who interprets the commanding mind’s will.
Ok, let’s give a cursory look at the average Earthian mind. Simply put, this world is “commanded” by three superior, or commanding minds: Religion and its gods; the State and its elected or self-appointed representatives; Money and its bankers and “businessmen.” All the people of earth are subject to the forces exerted by these three superior minds, man’s will always “at the command of some other will that commands it.” Therefore all Earthian minds or will exist in a constant double bind. The individual will desires to make its own choices about all things but is forced to obey the commanding will that is not its own. Thus is evil ever and anon promoted on planet earth.
To break out of this cycle is possible but extremely difficult. It “demands” two things of an individual: total detachment and self empowerment.
Needless to say these are requirements the programmed Earthian mind, or will, is not willing to consider. Instead it will seek some sort of compromise with the commanding will of the Matrix. It will seek substitutes. It will make excuses. It will exist in denial. It will Blame, and Blame, and Blame. It will, ever and anon, create groups of scapegoats to vent and rail and fight against. That is the servile will.
Religious people will go to great lengths to try to demonstrate how they can exercise autonomous thinking that fits in with their god’s laws, rules, requirements. It’s called interpretation, a lucrative business that creates scapegoatism.
In politics, politicians can claim that what they vote for or what they allocate funds for, is for the greater good and long-term benefits of the nation. Billions in armaments while a population starves are justified and the majority buys it because these law makers represent the “nation” and have her best interest at heart or they wouldn’t be there. The country must be kept secure, whatever the costs.
Money people are more crass, but use the same arguments to impose austerity measures, or to fund wars that make the rich, richer. The richer the rich get, the better off the nation is, and even if the individual will says that’s total bullshit, it ultimately goes along, being in its double bind.
From this comes evil, each double bound servile will literally exuding its sense of permanent discontent in “frustration, resentment, anger, rage, bad faith, [resulting in] bad fate” or perhaps better put, bad karma; each servile will blaming Other for its problems for that is what the double bind does.
Our world’s human civilization is collapsing. The free, or self empowered mind, or will, can see this and say it without the need to blame Other for this inevitable collapse. Other is not more to blame than Self here. Collectively we’ve entered into a cycle of change that can only complete by destroying the current state in order to give birth to something else, something truly new. The commanding will cannot admit this because it will die in this collapse, since it is civilization. Civilization is the power-crazed Trinitarian rule of Religion-State-Money and it knows that for the new to be birthed, it must be utterly destroyed. Many, most, servile wills will go down with it, defending it and dying with it as it dies.
The rebirth will be a free will. The self empowered human being. Evil as we have known it and as we know it now, will not rule this rebirthing because nothing will exist in it to feed it. Detachment and self empowerment: these are man’s solution to the halting problem. Any time man, individually yet collectively decides to go that route will be the time of his rebirth. This new world will be his, not the property of the current slavers. This idea is frightening to the current servile will that is entirely hooked on the blame Other programming. The servile will can only trust its powerful enslavers, never other servile wills for they all interact through some kind of (endless list) of attachments and every attachment is a de facto impediment to self-empowerment and freedom of will.
I changed my header image today, replacing the colourful Steller’s jay I had taken a picture of in the back yard with a picture of a Merlin, or Pigeon Hawk (small northern falcon) taken on top of a housing complex in Wood Buffalo, Fort McMurray, Alberta, on the day I was leaving there.
There’s a story behind this. Some months ago I had decided to join up with a construction/re-building volunteer organization to go up to Fort McMurray and help re-build some of the 2400 homes that were destroyed by last year’s wildfires. Some 1500 other constructions were also either totally destroyed or badly damaged by the rampaging fires (2016 Fort McMurray Wildfire – Wikipedia) of last May.
So, my partner, Vic Janzen and I drove my van the 1500 km to Fort McMurray from Chilliwack, B.C., doing the drive in two days – easy stretches – had the power steering pump not sheared its shaft 300 km south of our destination. So the rest done with armstrong steering and since the pump also runs the power breaks, some interesting moments practically standing on the pedal to bring the vehicle to a standstill. It’s doable, and we did it without incidents.
This was meant to be a somewhat long term involvement but we literally ran out of work after two weeks of steady labour and long hours. We got three basements formed, cement poured and basically ready to receive the “ready to move” pre-built homes that are being trucked in from southern Saskatchewan where another group of volunteers built them with help and donation of materials from a local firm.
I met one of the people whose house our group is replacing. Lots of teary emotions as these are proud people who never thought they’d be in such a situation, having to accept hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of “charity” from complete strangers. I was reminded again of how little we can rely on what we believe to be certain. Even with all our fancy technology, our way of life can be taken from us literally in hours; all that we’ve worked a lifetime for gone, just like that. All is ephemeral.
So, we came back, without incidents this time except for the “check engine” light and “check oil” light constantly popping on and off. This has yet to be analyzed and corrected… will it be another $1000 repair job… or worse? I suspect a leaking head gasket, but what do I know about modern vehicles and their convoluted engines, except to drive them?
Would I do that again? Sure, only I hope it’s closer to “home” next time! I hear there’s been flooding in the Okanagan valley in central B.C. That would be only 600 km from here. Would I go back to Fort McMurray? Only if there was better organization and my time was better allocated, as in productive long term work.
Anyway, the other side of … ~burning woman~ … eager to make this planet a better world for all. We do what we can, eh? 🙂
Whether I need to apologize or not is moot, but I’ve been so busy lately, no time for blogging. I do read as much as I have time for of all your highly interesting/emotive/entertaining output. This WP is an amazing place. That said, I am reblogging this article from Zone of Non Being by Darryl Walker Jr. for what I consider its damning truth in brevity. Take care, all!
Donald Trump’s approval ratings are declining as calls for his impeachment are increasing rapidly. So, let me get this straight:
Trump bombed Syria with 59 tomahawk missiles; defunded abortions overseas; gave the green-light to the Dakota Access Pipeline; implemented an Islamophobic travel ban; tried and continues to try to throw 30 million more people off health coverage; plans to deport 12 million people of Latin descent; and is waging a phony War on Drugs to incarcerate poor black and brown folks …
… but people are trying to impeach him over the Russia scandal?! After all of the bloodshed he has caused, is causing, and plans to cause, politicians are just now trying to remove him because he “obstructed justice” by firing a dude from the FBI?!
Impeachment discourse, once again, sends the message that the masses of people are disposable. The Establishment cares more about defending the integrity of…
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Quote- prequel to Dune: The Swordmaster said solemnly, “Bushido. Where does honor begin? Ancient samurai masters hung mirrors in each of their Shinto temples and asked adherents to look deeply into them to see their own hearts, the variegated reflections of their God. It is in the heart where honor is nurtured and flourishes.” With a meaningful glance over at Trin Kronos and the other Grumman students, he continued. “Remember this always: Dishonor is like a gash on a tree trunk — instead of disappearing with age, it enlarges.” He made the class repeat this three times before he went on. “The code of honor was more valuable to a samurai than any treasure. A samurai’s word — his bushi no ichi-gon — was never doubted, nor is the word of any Swordmaster of Ginaz.”
THOUGHT (from the above): If you are not an honourable person yet insist on believing in God, then such a God is an evil construct of your own design. Honour above all else must be the recognizable, recognized and trusted hallmark of the true believer. False believers are many, and they are the ones who believe that their God loves them and will save them. True believers do not entertain such foolish thoughts: they seek only to serve God without question, without excuses for failure and without expectation.
New knowledge changes the past.
What is “democracy” but the tyranny of a minority cloaked in a mask of the majority?
Seek freedom and become captive of your desires. Seek discipline and find your liberty. – Frank Herbert (Chapterhouse)
Ultimately, all things are known because you want to believe you know.
Answers are a perilous grip on the universe. They can appear sensible yet explain nothing.
When you think to take determination of your fate into your own hands, that is the moment you can be crushed. Be cautious. Allow for surprises. When we create, there are always other forces at work.
Without a goal, a life is nothing. Sometimes the goal becomes a man’s entire life, an all-consuming passion. But once that goal is achieved, what then? Oh, poor man, what then?
Any path that narrows future possibilities may become a lethal trap. Humans do not thread their way through a maze; they scan a vast horizon filled with unique opportunities. –The Spacing Guild Handbook
Hatred is as dangerous an emotion as love. The capacity for either one is the capacity for its opposite. –Cautionary Instructions for the Sisterhood, Bene Gesserit Archives, Wallach IX
What senses do we lack that we cannot see or hear another world all around us? –The Orange Catholic Bible
Innovations seem to have a life and a sentience of their own. When conditions are right, a radical new idea — a paradigm shift — may appear simultaneously from many minds at once. Or it may remain secret in the thoughts of one man for years, decades, centuries . . . until someone else thinks of the same thing. How many brilliant discoveries die stillborn, or lie dormant, never to be embraced by the Imperium as a whole?
When the center of the storm does not move, you are in its path. –Ancient Fremen Wisdom
Progress and profit require a substantial investment in personnel, equipment, and capital funding. However, the resource most often overlooked, yet which can often provide the greatest payoff, is an investment in time. –DOMINIC VERNIUS, The Secret Workings of Ix
A requirement of creativity is that it contributes to change. Creativity keeps the creator alive. –FRANK HERBERT, unpublished notes
It is said that there is nothing firm, nothing balanced, nothing durable in all the universe — that nothing remains in its original state, that each day, each hour, each moment, there is change. — -Panoplia Propheticus of the Bene Gesserit
Nature commits no errors; right and wrong are human categories.
What is this Love that so many speak of with such apparent familiarity? Do they truly comprehend how unattainable it is? Are there not as many definitions of Love as there are stars in the universe? — -The Bene Gesserit Question Book
The purpose of argument is to change the nature of truth. — -Bene Gesserit Precept
Infinity attracts us like a floodlight in the night, blinding us to the excesses it can inflict upon the finite. —Meditations from Bifrost Eyrie
Freedom is an elusive concept. Some men hold themselves prisoner even when they have the power to do as they please and go where they choose, while others are free in their hearts, even as shackles restrain them. —Zensunni Wisdom from the Wandering
There is no such thing as a law of nature. There is only a series of laws relating to man’s practical experience with nature. These are laws of man’s activities. They change as man’s activities change.
The capacity to learn is a gift; The ability to learn is a skill; The willingness to learn is a choice.
My comments on some of the above:
How does new knowledge change the past? Mostly by forcing us to detach from superstitions, traditions, caveats, beliefs and assumptions that new knowledge exposes as false, or fraudulent. It also forces us to rethink our past, thus changing it.
In the current global upheaval due in large part to our facile acceptance of Western style political systems and our crass and ignorant belief that such systems are the best and should “rule” the word, we should pay heed to the statement made about democracy. Never has it appeared as true as it does today.
Inevitably and inexorably, as we are learning from recent history, when we create, we do indeed create other forces and these will take on a life of their own as diametric opposites to our own. The wars we fight to try to hang on to our creations, insisting that they should rule the world, are utterly useless.
“Hatred is as dangerous an emotion as love” – Indeed. It amazes me that in the midst of rising waves of hatred on this world, so much effort is expended in opposing it with the call to love. Can’t people see that what you resist, not only persists, but increases in intensity until both sides are locked in a death struggle from which more evil proceeds? Yes, a great war may be fought to topple an evil regime (Nazi Germany and WWII as a prime example) but the hatred, now from both sides, is not diminished, just gone to ground, waiting for another opportunity to rise up and rule again. Love is not the antidote to hate, only compassion has the sustaining power to accomplish such a task. Love confronts hate, seeking to turn it into an image of itself (reciprocal action) whereas compassion destroys any force that would support and feed hatred. It can do this because compassion is not an emotion but an empowered personal choice.
Re: the purpose of argument – is it wrong to seek to change the nature of truth? Why should it when truth is nothing more than a chimera invented by mind controllers? Truth is what is believed, therefore truth is based on numbers and force.
I know, most are really getting tired of hearing about “The Donald” and US political troubles, or squabbles, but nobody writes up a good exposé as does Tom Englehart. So, if you have a few minutes to spare, have a look. (Sha’Tara)
Little Big Man
Into the Whirlwind
He’s huge. Outsized. He fills the news hole at any moment of any day. His over-tanned face glows unceasingly in living rooms across America. Never has a president been quite so big. So absolutely monstrous. Or quite so small.
He’s our Little Big Man.
I know, I know… he induces panic, fear, anxiety, insomnia. Shrinks in liberal America will tell you that, since November 2016, their patients are more heavily medicated and in worse shape. He’s a nightmare, a unique monster. It’s been almost two years since he first entered the presidential race and in all that time I doubt there’s been a moment when the cameras haven’t been trained on him, when he wasn’t “breaking news.” (By May 2016, he had already reportedly received the equivalent in “earned media” of nearly $3 billion in free advertising.) He and his endless controversial statements, flubs, tweets, lies, insults, boasts, tales from outer space, and over-the-moon adjectives are covered daily the way, once upon a time, only Pearl Harbor or the Kennedy assassination was.
Think of him as the end of the world as we, or maybe anyone, including Vladimir Putin, knew it. To me, that means one thing, even though most of you won’t agree: I think we owe Donald Trump a small bow of thanks and a genuine debt of gratitude. He’s teaching us something invaluable, something we probably wouldn’t have grasped without him. He’s teaching us just how deeply disturbed our American world actually is, or he wouldn’t be where he is.
A Quagmire Country
Think of him as a messenger from the gods, the deities of empire gone astray. They sent us a man without a center, undoubtedly because 17 years into the twenty-first century our country lacks a center, and a man without a fixed opinion or a single conviction, except about himself and his family, because this country is now a swirling mess of contradictory beliefs and groups at each other’s throats. They sent us our first billionaire president who left countless people holding the bag in his various, often failed, business dealings. He brings to mind that classic phrase “those that sow the wind, shall reap the whirlwind” just as we’re now reaping the results of the 1% politics that gained such traction in recent years; and of a kind of war-making, American style, that initially seemed aimed at global supremacy, but now seems to have no conceivable goal. We’re evidently destined to go on killing ever more people, producing ever more refugees, cracking open ever more nations, and spreading ever more terror movements until the end of time. They sent a man ready to build a vanity wall on the Mexican border and pour more money into the U.S. military at a time when it’s becoming harder for Americans to imagine investing in anything but an ever-more powerful national security state, even as the country’s infrastructure begins to crumble. They sent a billionaire who once deep-sixed a startling number of his businesses to save a country that couldn’t be more powerful and yet has proven incapable of building a single mile of high-speed rail.
Into this quagmire, the gods dispatched the man who loves MOAB, who drools over “my generals,” who wants to build a “big, fat, beautiful wall” on our southern border, but was beyond clueless about where power actually lay in Washington.
He’s a man with a history but without a sense of history, a man for whom anything is imaginable and everything is mutable, including the past. In this, too, he’s symptomatic of the nation he now “leads.” Who among us even remembers the set of Washington officials who, only a decade and a half ago, had such glorious dreams about establishing a global Pax Americana and who led us so unerringly into an unending hell in the Greater Middle East? Who remembers that those officials of the George W. Bush administration had another dream as well — of a Pax Republicana, a one-party imperial state that would stretch across the American South deep into the Midwest, Southwest, and parts of the West, kneecapping the Democratic Party for an eternity and leaving that artifact of a two-party past confined to the country’s coastal areas. Their dream — and it couldn’t have been more immodest — was to rule the world and its great remaining superpower for… well… more or less ever.
They were to dominate America and America was to dominate everything else in a way no country in history — not the Romans, not the British — had ever done. As they saw it, in the wake of the implosion of the Soviet Union, there would be no other superpower, nor even a bloc of great powers, capable of obstructing America’s destined future. They and their successors would see to that.
The United States would be the land of wealth and power in a previously unimaginable fashion. It would be the land that made everything that went bang in the night — and in that (and perhaps that alone) their dreams would be fulfilled. To this day, Hollywood and its action films dominate planetary screens, while American arms merchants have a near monopoly on selling the world their dangerous toys. As our new president recently put it, their energies and those of the U.S. government should remain focused on getting countries across the globe to engage in “the purchase of lots of beautiful military equipment.” Indeed.
As for the rest of their dream of geopolitical dominance, it began to come a cropper remarkably quickly. As it turned out, the military that American presidents regularly hailed in these years as the “greatest force for human liberation the world has ever known” or “the finest fighting force in the history of the world” couldn’t even win wars against lightly armed insurgents or deal with enemies employing roadside bombs that could be built off the Internet for the price of a pizza. The U.S. military (and its allied warrior corporations) turned out not to be a force for eternal order and triumph but, at least across the Greater Middle East and Africa, for eternal chaos and the spread of terror movements. They were the whirlwind, which meant that neither that “pax” nor that “Americana” would come to pass.
While Rome Burned…
Meanwhile, back at home, a gerrymandered, near-one-party state did indeed come into existence as the Republicans swept most governorships, gained control of a significant majority of state legislatures, nailed down the House and the Senate, and finally, when Little Big Man entered the Oval Office, took it all. It was a feat for the history books — or so it briefly seemed. Instead, the result has been chaos, thanks in part to a Republican Party that is actually three or four parties and a president barely associated with it, as a war of all against all broke out. None of this should have been surprising, given a congressional party that had honed its skills not on ruling but on blocking rule. In the last months, it has largely proved incapable even of ruling itself, no less the wild man and his unpredictable team of advisers in the White House.
From his “big, fat, beautiful wall” to his “big league,” “phenomenal” tax plan to his “insurance for everybody” healthcare program, the president promises to be the living proof that the long dreamed of Pax Republicana is just another form of war without end on the domestic front.
His victory was, in a sense, a revelation that both political parties had been hollowed out, as every Republican presidential candidate except him was swept unceremoniously off stage and out of contention in a hail of insults. Meanwhile, the Democratic Party, by now a remarkably mindless (and spineless) political machine without much to underpin it, came to seem ever more like the domestic equivalent of those failed states the war on terror was creating in the Greater Middle East. In short, American politics was visibly faltering and, in the whirlwind that deposited Little Big Man in office, a far wider range of Americans seemed in danger of going down, too, including Medicaid users, Obamacare enrollees, meals-on-wheels seniors, and food stamp recipients in what could become a slow-motion collapse of livable lives amid a proliferation of billionaires. Think of us as a nation in the process of consuming itself, even as our president turns the White House into a private business. If this is imperial “decline,” it’s certainly a curious version of it.
It was into the growing hell that passed for the planet’s “sole superpower” that those gods dispatched Little Big Man — not a shape-shifting creature but a man without shape and lacking all fixed ideas (except about himself). He was perfectly capable of saying anything in any situation, and then, in altered circumstances, of saying the opposite without blinking or evidently even noticing. His recent trip to Saudi Arabia was a classic case of just that. Gone were the election campaign denunciations of the Saudis for their human rights record and for possibly being behind the 9/11 attacks, as well as of Islam as a religion that “hates us”; gone was his criticism of Michelle Obama for not wearing a headscarf on her visit to Riyadh (Melania and Ivanka did the same), and of Barack Obama for bowing to a Saudi king (he did, too). Out the window went his previous insistence that any self-respecting American politician must use the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism,” which he carefully avoided. And none of this was different from, say, swearing on the campaign trail that he would never touch Medicaid and then, in his first budget, offering plans to slash $880 billion from that program over the next decade.
Admittedly, Donald Trump — and yes, that’s the first time I’ve used his name, but there was no need, was there? — has yet to appoint his horse (or perhaps his golf cart) as a senator or, as far as we know, commit acts of incest in the tradition of Caligula, the first mad Roman emperor. Yet in many ways, doesn’t he feel something like an updated version of that figure or perhaps of Nero who so famously fiddled — actually, according to historian Mary Beard in her book SPQR, played the lyre — while Rome burned?
Fortunately, unlike every psychiatrist in town, I’m not bound by the “Goldwater Rule,” which prohibits a diagnosis of a public figure you haven’t personally examined. While I have no expertise in whether Donald Trump has a “narcissistic personality disorder,” I see no reason not to say the obvious: he’s a distinctly disturbed individual. That he was nonetheless elected president tells us a good deal about where we are as a country today. As Tony Schwartz, who actually wrote his bestselling book The Art of the Deal, put it recently, “Trump was equally clear with me that he didn’t value — nor even necessarily recognize — the qualities that tend to emerge as people grow more secure, such as empathy, generosity, reflectiveness, the capacity to delay gratification or, above all, a conscience, an inner sense of right and wrong.”
Now, that should be frightening. After all, given who he is, given his fear of “losing,” of rejection, of not being loved (or more accurately, adulated), of in short being obliterated, who knows what such a man might do in a crisis, including obliterating the rest of us. After all, he already lives in a world without fixed boundaries, definitions, or history, which is why nothing he says has real meaning. And yet he couldn’t be more meaningful. He’s a message, a warning of the first order, and if that were all he were, he would just be an inadvertent teacher about the nature of our American world and we could indeed thank him and do our best to move on.
Unfortunately, there’s another factor to take into account. Humanity had, in the years before his arrival, come up with two quite different and devastating ways of doing ourselves in, one an instant Armageddon, the other a slow-motion trip to hell. Each of them threatens to cripple or destroy the very planet that has nurtured us these tens of thousands of years. It was not, of course, Donald Trump who put us in this peril. He’s just a particularly grim reminder of how dangerous our world has truly become.
After all, Little Big Man now has unparalleled access to the most “beautiful” weapons of all and he’s eager to update and expand an already vast U.S. arsenal of them. I’m talking, of course, about nuclear weapons. Any president we elect has, since the 1950s, had the power to take out the planet. Only once have we come truly close. Nonetheless, for the control over such weaponry to be in the hands of a deeply unpredictable and visibly disturbed president is obviously a danger to us all.
It could be assumed that the gods who sent him into the Oval Office at such a moment have a perverse sense of humor. Certainly, on the second of those deadly dangers, climate change, he’s already taken action based on another of his fantasies: that making America great again means taking it back to the fossil-fueled 1950s. His ignorance about, and actions to increase the effects of, climate change have already taken the U.S., the second largest emitter of greenhouse gases on the planet, out of the climate change sweepstakes and into uncharted territory. These acts and the desire to promote fossil fuels in every way imaginable will someday undoubtedly be seen as crimes against humanity. But by then they will already have done their dirty deed.
If luck doesn’t hold, Donald Trump may end up making Caligula and Nero look like statesmen. If luck doesn’t hold he may be the Littlest Big Man of all.
Tom Engelhardt is a co-founder of the American Empire Project and the author of The United States of Fear as well as a history of the Cold War, The End of Victory Culture. He is a fellow of the Nation Institute and runs TomDispatch.com. His latest book is Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World.
Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, John Dower’s The Violent American Century: War and Terror Since World War II, as well as John Feffer’s dystopian novel Splinterlands, Nick Turse’s Next Time They’ll Come to Count the Dead, and Tom Engelhardt’s Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World.
Copyright 2017 Tom Engelhardt
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