Category Archives: Civilization

The Dance of Death – article by Chris Hedges – from “Truthdig”

My short intro to the article, “The Dance of Death”

Have we entered into another “millennium madness” when the powers that be have destroyed society and we are about to plunge headlong into the terror that immediately precedes and follows the inadmissible truth: that society has lost it’s raison d’être and needs to destroy itself in order to begin again with a new modus operandi?  As the article below describes vividly, have we entered into the spirit of Thanatos, the death instinct of a global civilization?

If that is the case, what does one do, here and now? If society is going to commit suicide and nothing can stop it, is there any point in struggling against the elites’ madness which can only give them more time to enjoy their immoral pursuits purchased through every sort of illegal shenanigan and millions of deaths?

What would a truly wise person do, knowing this is indeed the case; having admitted that global society is in exponential decline and once again dancing the dance of death?

{Posting the entire article here to save you having to jump through the “link hoops” of web surfing…}

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The Dance of Death | Truthdig

“…Sigmund Freud wrote that societies, along with individuals, are driven by two primary instincts. One is the instinct for life, Eros, the quest to love, nurture, protect and preserve. The second is the death instinct. The death instinct, called Thanatos by post-Freudians, is driven by fear, hatred and violence. It seeks the dissolution of all living things, including our own beings. One of these two forces, Freud wrote, is always ascendant. Societies in decline enthusiastically embrace the death instinct, as Freud observed in “Civilization and Its Discontents,” written on the eve of the rise of European fascism and World War II. …”


Chris Hedges

The Dance of Death  (Chris Hedges)

Posted on Mar 12, 2017

Mr. Fish / Truthdig

The ruling corporate elites no longer seek to build. They seek to destroy. They are agents of death. They crave the unimpeded power to cannibalize the country and pollute and degrade the ecosystem to feed an insatiable lust for wealth, power and hedonism. Wars and military “virtues” are celebrated. Intelligence, empathy and the common good are banished. Culture is degraded to patriotic kitsch. Education is designed only to instill technical proficiency to serve the poisonous engine of corporate capitalism. Historical amnesia shuts us off from the past, the present and the future. Those branded as unproductive or redundant are discarded and left to struggle in poverty or locked away in cages. State repression is indiscriminate and brutal. And, presiding over the tawdry Grand Guignol is a deranged ringmaster tweeting absurdities from the White House.

The graveyard of world empires—Sumerian, Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Mayan, Khmer, Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian—followed the same trajectory of moral and physical collapse. Those who rule at the end of empire are psychopaths, imbeciles, narcissists and deviants, the equivalents of the depraved Roman emperors Caligula, Nero, Tiberius and Commodus. The ecosystem that sustains the empire is degraded and exhausted. Economic growth, concentrated in the hands of corrupt elites, is dependent on a crippling debt peonage imposed on the population. The bloated ruling class of oligarchs, priests, courtiers, mandarins, eunuchs, professional warriors, financial speculators and corporate managers sucks the marrow out of society.

The elites’ myopic response to the looming collapse of the natural world and the civilization is to make subservient populations work harder for less, squander capital in grandiose projects such as pyramids, palaces, border walls and fracking, and wage war. President Trump’s decision to increase military spending by $54 billion and take the needed funds out of the flesh of domestic programs typifies the behavior of terminally ill civilizations. When the Roman Empire fell, it was trying to sustain an army of half a million soldiers that had become a parasitic drain on state resources.

The complex bureaucratic mechanisms that are created by all civilizations ultimately doom them. The difference now, as Joseph Tainter points out in “The Collapse of Complex Societies,” is that “collapse, if and when it comes again, will this time be global. No longer can any individual nation collapse. World civilization will disintegrate as a whole.”

Civilizations in decline, despite the palpable signs of decay around them, remain fixated on restoring their “greatness.” Their illusions condemn them. They cannot see that the forces that gave rise to modern civilization, namely technology, industrial violence and fossil fuels, are the same forces that are extinguishing it. Their leaders are trained only to serve the system, slavishly worshipping the old gods long after these gods begin to demand millions of sacrificial victims.

“Hope drives us to invent new fixes for old messes, which in turn create even more dangerous messes,” Ronald Wright writes in “A Short History of Progress.” “Hope elects the politician with the biggest empty promise; and as any stockbroker or lottery seller knows, most of us will take a slim hope over prudent and predictable frugality. Hope, like greed, fuels the engine of capitalism.”

The Trump appointees—Steve Bannon, Jeff Sessions, Rex Tillerson, Steve Mnuchin, Betsy DeVos, Wilbur Ross, Rick Perry, Alex Acosta and others—do not advocate innovation or reform. They are Pavlovian dogs that salivate before piles of money. They are hard-wired to steal from the poor and loot federal budgets. Their single-minded obsession with personal enrichment drives them to dismantle any institution or abolish any law or regulation that gets in the way of their greed. Capitalism, Karl Marx wrote, is “a machine for demolishing limits.” There is no internal sense of proportion or scale. Once all external impediments are lifted, global capitalism ruthlessly commodifies human beings and the natural world to extract profit until exhaustion or collapse. And when the last moments of a civilization arrive, the degenerate edifices of power appear to crumble overnight.

Sigmund Freud wrote that societies, along with individuals, are driven by two primary instincts. One is the instinct for life, Eros, the quest to love, nurture, protect and preserve. The second is the death instinct. The death instinct, called Thanatos by post-Freudians, is driven by fear, hatred and violence. It seeks the dissolution of all living things, including our own beings. One of these two forces, Freud wrote, is always ascendant. Societies in decline enthusiastically embrace the death instinct, as Freud observed in “Civilization and Its Discontents,” written on the eve of the rise of European fascism and World War II.

“It is in sadism, where the death instinct twists the erotic aim in its own sense and yet at the same time fully satisfies the erotic urge, that we succeed in obtaining the clearest insight into its nature and its relation to Eros,” Freud wrote. “But even where it emerges without any sexual purpose, in the blindest fury of destructiveness, we cannot fail to recognize that the satisfaction of the instinct is accompanied by an extraordinary high degree of narcissistic enjoyment, owing to its presenting the ego with a fulfillment of the latter’s old wishes for omnipotence.”

The lust for death, as Freud understood, is not, at first, morbid. It is exciting and seductive. I saw this in the wars I covered. A god-like power and adrenaline-driven fury, even euphoria, sweep over armed units and ethnic or religious groups given the license to destroy anything and anyone around them. Ernst Juenger captured this “monstrous desire for annihilation” in his World War I memoir, “Storm of Steel.”

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A population alienated and beset by despair and hopelessness finds empowerment and pleasure in an orgy of annihilation that soon morphs into self-annihilation. It has no interest in nurturing a world that has betrayed it and thwarted its dreams. It seeks to eradicate this world and replace it with a mythical landscape. It turns against institutions, as well as ethnic and religious groups, that are scapegoated for its misery. It plunders diminishing natural resources with abandon. It is seduced by the fantastic promises of demagogues and the magical solutions characteristic of the Christian right or what anthropologists call “crisis cults.”

Norman Cohn, in “The Pursuit of the Millennium: Revolutionary Messianism in Medieval and Reformation Europe and Its Bearing on Modern Totalitarian Movements,” draws a link between that turbulent period and our own. Millennial movements are a peculiar, collective psychological response to profound societal despair. They recur throughout human history. We are not immune.

“These movements have varied in tone from the most violent aggressiveness to the mildest pacifism and in aim from the most ethereal spirituality to the most earth-bound materialism; there is no counting the possible ways of imagining the Millennium and the route to it,” Cohen wrote. “But similarities can present themselves as well as differences; and the more carefully one compares the outbreaks of militant social chiliasm during the later Middle Ages with modern totalitarian movements the more remarkable the similarities appear. The old symbols and the old slogans have indeed disappeared, to be replaced by new ones; but the structure of the basic phantasies seems to have changed scarcely at all.”

These movements, Cohen wrote, offered “a coherent social myth which was capable of taking entire possession of those who believed in it. It explained their suffering, it promised them recompense, it held their anxieties at bay, it gave them an illusion of security—even while it drove them, held together by a common enthusiasm, on a quest which was always vain and often suicidal.

“So it came about that multitudes of people acted out with fierce energy a shared phantasy which though delusional yet brought them such intense emotional relief that they could live only through it and were perfectly willing to die for it. It is a phenomenon which was to recur many times between the eleventh century and the sixteenth century, now in one area, now in another, and which, despite the obvious differences in cultural context and in scale, is not irrelevant to the growth of totalitarian movements, with their messianic leaders, their millennial mirages and their demon-scapegoats, in the present century.”

The severance of a society from reality, as ours has been severed from collective recognition of the severity of climate change and the fatal consequences of empire and deindustrialization, leaves it without the intellectual and institutional mechanisms to confront its impending mortality. It exists in a state of self-induced hypnosis and self-delusion. It seeks momentary euphoria and meaning in tawdry entertainment and acts of violence and destruction, including against people who are demonized and blamed for society’s demise. It hastens its self-immolation while holding up the supposed inevitability of a glorious national resurgence. Idiots and charlatans, the handmaidens of death, lure us into the abyss.

 

The Times After

[Short story, by Sha’Tara]

The voices came from the branch and stone shelter partially sunk in a sloping dry creek bank.  Two men talked quietly.

“They’re coming, Ruben, I know it.  Just be patient, remember.”

“Not sure I can continue to remember, Lon, and I’m definitely out of patience.  It wasn’t supposed to be this way, or this long.  I was down at the orphanage yesterday with a handful of what were little more than weeds I’d picked over my usual wandering in search of edibles.  The children are starving Lon.  Don’t you care?  If this drought doesn’t break and water start flowing very soon we won’t even have water to drink. 

I’ve wandered over the flats as you know, looking for another more suitable place to make our winter quarters.  I haven’t found anything yet.  I’ve decided to leave and go away in search of a new place.  I may be gone for weeks, maybe a couple of months.  I’ll need to take the rifle, Lon.  I’ve also made myself a good strong longbow and a dozen straight arrows I can use to bring down game, or for self defense.  I’ll return, never fear.”

“Now there’s the problem right here Ruben.  When we came together after the last collapse and our escape from the slave hunters, we gathered as a group to help each other survive and to take care of the twenty eight children we rescued from the hunters, remember that.  We still have twenty three of these children living, none old enough to do much, certainly few strong enough to join the adults in the gathering of food and building shelters or collecting wood for fuel.  That, I do admit.  The nine adults of this community are, however, fairly healthy and are learning the arts of survival very quickly.  So far we have had no deserters or detractors.  Only one death.

“We are, as much as can be claimed, of one mind on our reason for surviving.  You remember when we decided not to commit mass suicide, but to build a new society, for the time being, of just us.  We don’t know what’s left out there.  We’ve been here over three years and I realize that with this drought we’ve exhausted the land’s capacity to grow food for us.  I know we need to find a more sheltered place and we need to locate near a permanent stream, or else find a river, or a large enough lake that it can purify itself with the change of seasons.  We’ve talked about all of this.  So in the going, I support you though I think you should take one other with you.”

“I won’t Lon.  I can’t be responsible for myself and one other and no one here can survive in the wilderness as I can, and I certainly won’t have the time to teach her, or him, skills and intuitions that one has to be born with.  As you’ve all said, I’m a throwback to a time before the collapse and before there was a civilized society of man.  As you know, I’m here to help and support.  If I had a free choice I’d be long gone.  I like living alone and moving on constantly.  My feet and my mind itch to be away from this stagnant, dying place.  I need to go.  I promise I’ll return.  I won’t get lost or die out there: that’s my home we’re looking at beyond that indeterminate horizon.”

“I know that about you Ruben.  Without you at the beginning we’d been all dead, or captured.  But there is something else.  Something that your atavism blocks from your consciousness: the matter of how we go about surviving.  I know you stayed out of the group when we discussed our goals as survivors.  But you did join us in taking an oath against predatory violence.  Violence in self defense we could only hope to avoid, but knew we may have to resort to it in an extremity.  That’s why we kept the gun and let you train some of the people with the bows and the knives.  But now you say you will go, take the gun to use to, and I quote, “bring down game. 

“You took the oath not to kill except in extreme situations.  Never for food.  We gave up the shedding of blood entirely.  Do you remember why?  We spent days discussing the subject of a new human civilization, a new society, a new culture.  We admitted to ourselves that our downfall had been our violence towards the planet, non-human sentient life on it and towards one-another as a species, often for nothing more than profit, too often in sadistic pleasure.  We concluded that re-building society was totally pointless if we did not change the very thing that destroyed us.  You were there, sitting behind the others listening.

“Convinced or not, you took the oath of non-violence.  When you use that horrible expression, “bring down game” the key word is game.  It was a game in the old ways.  Even war was a game.  Oppressing, subjugating, dispossessing, enslaving, raping and murdering, even to committing war crimes and genocide, that was all a game.  That game killed us, remember that.

“We took an oath, all of us adults, to change this.  We decided that we would indeed build a truly new society.  You remember Ana, small, wiry, tireless Ana who literally gave her life to save many of the abused and malnourished children, as well as binding wounds and broken bones among adult survivors.  She would never tell how she learned her skills, or gained her healing powers.  She wouldn’t talk about herself, instead leading us in meditations and encouraging us to take the oath of non-violence, to seek not only help and support, but make ourselves as one with the earth and the skies.  Remember how she would go into the open place where the sun and wind had parched our meager efforts at growing crops, and stand there for what seemed hours, staring into space?  Do you remember how she’d capture our interest talking about “her people” whom she would bring back to help us?  Oh, Ana… why is it taking you so long?  You’ve been gone almost a year now…”

“She didn’t “leave” Lon, she died.  She died!  Her body is buried out there with the dead children.  She didn’t go anywhere!  She isn’t coming back.  There never were any other people, whether angels or aliens or what-have-you.  She deliberately fooled you thinking it was for the best, that you would never give up as long as you held on to the hope that she would rescue you.  You need to believe it.  I don’t, and I never did.  What we don’t do ourselves doesn’t get done; will never get done.  It strikes me as somewhat contradictory that you would build a new world without violence yet surreptitiously you allow religion to creep back into it.  Don’t you realize that “Ana” is becoming an idol in your mind?  Don’t you remember that civilization’s very first poison was faith in unseen entities from which all the evils known to man evolved?”

“I know what you are saying, Ruben, but it’s different this time.  Ana isn’t an angel or divinity.  I know she died, how well do I know.  She was my wife, Ruben, and my lover.  Her death was the most painful event of my entire life, and believe me when I tell you that I have seen things when I was a child I could never write down in words – things too horrible… and felt the pain of it all, some of it upon my own body.  Yet they are as nothing to the void and emptiness Ana’s death created in my heart.  To survive her loss I swore to her privately that I would switch my love for her to my love for this world and in particular the people of this little tribe.  She also swore to me that she would return with help for us.  I will never give up on that.  Some people die, Ruben, and some just pass away.  Ana was one of the latter.  You give your whole life to others, and you are given your own life in return.  It’s how it is.”

“It’s how it is for you and I assure you that I fully accept that.  It isn’t how it is for me, and now I need to go find us a decent place to re-locate to.  How shall that go between us, Lon?”

“I am not your leader, Ruben.  I’ve reminded you of certain obligations and now it’s up to you how you proceed within those boundaries, or whether you break out of them and choose to become once again a wild one.  You leave with my blessing, however you leave.  The weapons are your decision and your personal burden.  Come with me, let me show you something important.”

The two men came out of the shelter and Lon walked to a clump of stunted black willows.  Partially hidden within the clump, nailed to one of the main trunks, was a short cross piece of wood that would, with a bit of pressure, spin vertically.

“This was how Ana and I communicated when we had to leave the area.  We would spin the cross piece to indicate direction – the top being north.  Below, here are three holes indicating morning, noon and evening.  You put a small stone in the one closest to when you expect to return.  Crude but useful.  If we are to be gone before you return I’ll attempt to leave you a decipherable message here.  If time permits; if it isn’t a rush exit, I’ll write something in the dirt floor of the old barn that serves as “the orphanage” and cover it with planks.  Look for the planks.”

The two men looked into each others’ faces, then hugged without hesitation.  Backing away from each other, Ruben added,

“If you must leave here before I return and your hoped-for help hasn’t arrived, remember this: travel at night, hide in the daytime; stay in the lowest places and post a minimum of three sentries at all times.  Rotate regularly, leave nothing to chance.  If I come back and you all are gone and I cannot catch up to you for whatever reason, don’t worry.  I’ll head north, far north.  It won’t matter then for me, I’ll have gone wild again.  Luck, Lon.” 

“The gun?”

“Won’t need it, you may.  I’ve got my bow and it’s a really good one.  Who knows but I may learn to eat plants and roots?”

He saluted smartly, then his silhouette shimmered away over the baked earth, his tough bare feet leaving no marks for anyone to find. 

{there will be a part II… honest!  I mean, there has to be now I typed myself into a corner with this one…}   

 

 

Have you ever noticed?

      [thoughts from   ~burning woman~  by Sha’Tara]

It seems I’ve taken a liking to thinking and writing about things that most people either can’t see for themselves or simply don’t want to think about or discuss with each other.  What I’m about to say is nothing new; in fact it’s as old as man’s time on earth, older than written history.

Have you ever noticed that every time “they” get rich, we get poorer?  Every time “they” begin a new enterprise we end up their slaves?  Every time “they” start wars, we, and those “they” call our enemies, are the ones who die?

Have you not noticed that as the quality of life on the planet deteriorates due to “their” endless manipulations in search of profit, it is we who get blamed; we who must scream, yell, holler, demonstrate, make fools or ourselves and set ourselves up as targets for their police forces and the para-military forces in order to squeeze a tiny bit of temporary survival from their greedy hands?

Have you not noticed that no matter how many times we actually manage to force some change; to elect someone who actually listens to our problems, it is but a matter of a few years, maybe a couple of decades and we’re plunged right back into the same mess our parents or grandparents died in; that often that mess is even worse than before?

The “great debate” raging today is about Donald Trump and Putin. But who are these men?  They are gods, gods people put over themselves because they fear that without these idols covering them, they would be naked.  Why do they need those gods, even when they mock them, lambaste them, hate them, fear them, excoriate them for their ignorance and violence?  Because in their foolishness taught them by their parents, their teachers, their bosses, their preachers, their entertainers and their politicians, they firmly believe they could never live without them.

Have you ever thought that that is our problem, the problem?

We can, of course, continue to support our sociopathic gods, loving and hating; believing and discrediting.  We can continue to play the game, but we should at least be honest enough with ourselves, and with our children whom they are going to exploit, oppress, jail and kill, that it isn’t our game.  They make the rules; it is their game.

What is Donald Trump?  It’s an idol we empowered by giving it slave labour and tax-free profits and which we are now empowering by recognizing it as being a political god.  Who is Putin?  Enter the above description.  Who are the rest of the CEO’s and politicians around the planet?  Enter the same description.  They are worthless idols; worthless in the sense that they have no power but what we give them.  Their “worth” is in the power they steal from real people, the people they exploit, oppress and kill, whose lives the take, whose blood they shed without an iota of concern.

Many people, at least in this neck of the woods, believe that taking a stand, either for or against a Trump, or any other strutting, stuttering mindless idol can make any difference.  Pure folly.  Trump and his handpicked yesmen is just another sock puppet in the hands of powers we will never face, let alone ever understand.  To argue over politicians is like looking up in the sky at a flock of geese and arguing over which one is the fastest.  If you watch a big “V” of geese on their migration you’ll see that the leading one only does so for a bit, then slides back as the next in line takes the lead, and so on.

Have you ever wondered why?  Why we fear the greatest power in the world: our own, and can’t wait to give it away to idols with the stench of putrefaction oozing out of their bodies?  Why do we do that, considering the price we have to pay?  Simple: we don’t know how to handle personal responsibility.  So, not knowing how, we can’t do it.  We pass it on to “the leaders” who though we hate them and envy them, we trust with our lives which they take and wring out, one after the other.

Nice, ignorant, stupid world that could be so much better if the real intelligence in it would just wake up. Is there a spare prince somewhere in the galaxy who can come over here and kiss the sleeping damsel awake?  I think her hundred years curse is up but her awakening window of opportunity is short.

 

Do you understand the charges against you?

[short story – by Sha’Tara]

At first it just caused a bit of stir locally and I wouldn’t have thought much of it if I hadn’t been goaded by my brother to follow up on the case.  “There’s something here that needs exposure” he told me.

An unknown woman had been arrested for practicing medicine without a license.  Well, in the current wave of political uncertainty, and, OK, let’s call a spade a spade, craziness, that in itself should not have merited a packed court room.

But it did.  Let me tell you the story as I witnessed some of it, participated in some and as the rest was told to me by a source.

My name is Keith Darbour.  I’m a free lance reporter – my passion – but I hold “real” jobs to pay the bills.  Freelance reporting these days of national paranoia and corporate press ownership and control isn’t what it used to be.  I mean, hell, this used to be thought of as a free country.  I can tell you, that is no longer the case.  But I digress.  Back to the case.

As I said, the courtroom is packed.  “All rise.”  Judge Judy Kean sits at her desk.  There is only one item on her agenda today.  The defendant, a young, tall and slim woman with long wavy dark hair and exotic skin enters between two female guards.  She sits at the prisoner’s dock.  The prelims over, the jury having already been selected, both lawyers make their opening statements.  Basically, the State: practicing medicine without a license.  The defence: extenuating circumstances.

I’ll make my prelims short.  There was a bus accident.  Several people were injured, some seriously.  It was thought a child was even dead.  The defendant (so it is assumed at this point) arrived on the scene and provided first aid and more.  The victims, some now present in the court room as witnesses, claimed that she was able to reach inside their bodies, reset bones, stop haemorrhaging, heal severe tears in skin almost instantly and calm the rest.  Every person affected in the accident walked away healed.  Ambulances and police came, of course, but it became clear at the outset that none of the victims required further help, and many even loudly and vociferously refused such help.

The woman was arrested for healing, oh, excuse me, “practicing medicine” without a license and jailed.  Today is her trial.  Let’s see what comes of this hard to believe situation.  Let’s see how evolved we are, as a society, as a civilization.

Prosecution approaches the defendant and asks her name.

“Under your name rules, translated to the best of my ability, my name is A-125-04-H.  I believe your police erroneously entered my name as Alice Haley.  If you wish, I can use that name.”

“We want your real name, miss.  Can you give us that?”

“I did that, sir.  My name is A-125-04-H”

“Very well, please explain what that means for the court.”

“Certainly sir.  I am Android, series 125, batch 04, category: Healer.  That is what I am, and what I am programmed by my makers, to perform.  I was built to heal whenever I encountered damage to sentient life.  That is what I am and I cannot change that programming, even if I wanted to, which of course I would not.”

Judge: “Do you understand miss Haley what ‘contempt of court’ means? Do you understand that the court has authority over you here as long as you remain a suspect in a very serious crime?”

“Yes I understand that very well, but I must make a clarification to your claim of authority over me.  You have jurisdiction, but not authority, unless I grant you that right, and I must make it very clear that my programming prevents me from doing so.  Therefore I state: you have no authority over me.  Only my programmers do.”

Titters ran through the crowd.  The judge rapped her gavel, “Order.  Any more interruptions and I will clear this court.”  I can tell you she sounded very annoyed and her anger was barely restrained.

“Young lady, I have full authority in this courtroom, including over you.  I have the authority to stop this and have you returned to jail pending an appeal.  Is that what you want?  I won’t have people making fun of this court, or me, understand?”

“Yes, I understand of course.  What I don’t understand is why the truth appears to be such an obstacle to getting on with the facts surrounding my arrest.  Isn’t that why I’m here?  I tell you the truth, witnesses corroborate, and the judgment must be that I be set free.  My “crime” your honour, is practising medicine without a licence.  But it’s my nature to heal damaged life; my programming is my license….”

Gavel again.  “Stop.  You will not turn this courtroom into a circus.  We will have you tell us your real name or you will be in contempt and you will go to a psychiatric institution for observation.  Is that clear?”

Prosecution: “May I continue, your honour?”

Judge: “Yes.”

“Miss Haley, I’ll take that to be your maiden name, where do you live?”

“Galactic quadrant C-5, planet Abergani.  It’s all in my implant but there is no technology here that can read it.  I’m sorry, that’s the best I can do.”

“Do you do drugs, miss Haley?”

“I understand what your question means.  In that sense the answer is no, I don’t.  Androids do not ingest either for sustenance or self-pleasuring.  It would negatively affect our metabolism.”

“You continue to claim you are an android.  Does this mean you are not human?”

“Yes.  I am essentially a machine.  I am not human, as you understand the term.”

“Uhuh!” Turns to the jury with a sarcastic smile and a shrug.  Smiles from the jurors.  “How did you get here?”

“Best guess, an error or a miscalculation in the part of those who sent me out to help in a disaster in quadrant D-8.  This, according to my calculations, is quadrant Y-17, sol system X-092, and this is called planet Tiam-2, which you call “earth.  Oh, there’s been a disaster in a country you call Yemen – I should be going there now – may I be excused?”

Smiling broadly, the prosecutor states, “This isn’t a classroom, miss.  Just sit there and answer my questions.”

“But people are dying.  I could be saving their lives now.  I’m being conflicted in my response to programming.  Oh, wait.  I do not need to obey you, you are not human – only pseudo-human.  I can leave.”

“No, sorry but… where did she go?”

I need not add, the court exploded in complete disarray.  The defendant literally faded in front of over one hundred people who were all looking at her.  But that wasn’t going to be the end of it because some moments later “Alice” re-appeared.  There was slight smile on her small but perfect face.  She seemed completely at peace.

“I’m sorry about that interruption.  I just had to go and help.  It’s taken care of for now.  Please continue.”   I could barely hear her over the hubbub but finally everybody settled and it was so quiet you could have heard a pin drop.

“How did you do that little disappearing trick?”

“I did not disappear sir, I cannot do that.  I simply shifted dimensionally.  It’s easily enough done over tiny distances like the circumference of a planet.  I only had to shift over half-way, manipulate your time, perform my duty and return.”

“Why did you not “shift dimensionally” and leave the jail then?”

“I did.  Many times.  If I may say so sir, madam judge, your world is in a terrible mess.  You must do something about all the pain and death your species inflicts on itself and on other life forms.  This is a very unhealthy state of affairs that will not bode you well in the near future.”

Judge, still not recovered from the shock of having a defendant simply disappear from the prisoner’s dock, then reappear a few moments later, stares at the defendant.  “Miss Haley, will you promise to remain here while I confer in chambers?”

“Yes.”

“In chambers – now, and I mean now.  No, no notes!”  (The following I got from the defence counsel later in the day.)

In chambers, Judge Kean:  “Can either of you explain this circus act to me?  Am I being made fun of here?  Who is the escape artist in the dock?”

Prosecutor: “My question also judge.  We’re being played here, question is, who’s behind this, and what’s the point?”

Defence: “Come on.  You saw it for yourselves.  She disappeared and came back.  She’s smart, sure of herself, rattles off information that’s obviously real to her.  What if she’s exactly what she says she is?”

Judge: “Is there a way we can prove it?”

Defence: “Two that come to mind.  Check the computer, what’s going on in Yemen.  How about we ask her to seriously cut herself and watch her heal herself?”

Judge: “Well, here’s the situation.  There was a bombing of a school in Yemen about half an hour ago.  There was apparently much carnage but after some minutes all of the victims walked out of the wreckage as if nothing happened.  They all refused medical help and went to their respective homes.  There is even a picture here of a woman walking among the ruins of the school but she’s wearing the mandatory hijab with which she covers part of her face.  Can’t be identified.  Doesn’t that sound a lot like the bus accident though? Same reaction from the healed victims.  OK, as much as I hate grandstanding, this can only be resolved with a demonstration.  I’ll ask her to cut herself and heal herself.  Let’s just see what her reaction to that will be.”

Judge re-entering the court.  “Thank you for your patience.  We will now ask for a demonstration that will tell us if the defendant is in fact telling the truth, or making a mockery of this court.  Alice Haley, please stand.”

The woman stood, still with that completely peaceful look on her face.  Waiting.

Judge: “I’m going to ask you to prove yourself to me, to the jury and this entire court.  I want you to take the knife that will be given to you and to slice your arm open.  Then I want you to heal yourself so we can all see.  Can you do that, “Android”?

Alice: “It isn’t a question of whether I can, or cannot.  Of course I can do that.  The problem is, self-harming is against my programming.  I cannot do it, however much I’d want to.  Someone else will have to cut my arm, and I will then demonstrate my healing skills for you.”

“Assuming you are telling us the truth, and we checked up on your Yemen story which seems to validate what you told us,  then I will ask for a volunteer to cut your arm.  Anyone?”

I can assure you there were no takers.  Who in any kind of right mind would walk up to a passive young woman and simply cut her arm open, just to prove a point?  Nuts, right?  I looked over the courtroom to see if anyone would have the courage to volunteer.  And I thought, well, that includes me, doesn’t it.   … Me…  Do I have the guts to do such a thing?  Come on, somebody, volunteer, I thought, but no one did.  So it was down to me, Keith Darbour, freelance journalist and private investigator.  I got up slowly.  “Seems like no one is volunteering so maybe, I mean, I think I should then.”

“Thank you.  Your name sir?”

“Keith Darbour, your honour.”

“Ah yes, I’ve heard of you somewhere.  You’re a journalist?”

“Yes your honour.”

“Would you come down here please, and do as you are asked to?”  I was in it now, couldn’t back out.  I was handed a wicked looking hunting knife – who knows where that came from! – and told to stand beside the defendant.  She looked at me and smiled as she lifted her left arm so I could grab her wrist.  I was shaking like a leaf in the wind until she put her right hand on my shoulder and suddenly everything seemed all right, normal.  I lay the knife on the lovely skin and slashed across veins and tendons.  There was no explosion of blood, just some clear liquid flowing out slowly.  She took her arm from my grip and wrapped her right hand around the “wound” and when she removed her hand there was no sign of the cut.  She was still smiling as if the whole thing was a bit of a joke.  Which to her it must have been.  Such primitives, she must have thought.

Judge: “Raise your left arm, please, miss Haley.”  She did and turned it around for all to see that there was no harm done at all.  She had never screamed, never expressed any pain, not even winced while I slashed her.  It was, well, amazing?  More, it was a revelation.

So what could they do but let her go?  They knew they couldn’t hold her in any case; that she wasn’t doing any harm, quite the opposite.  Now you’re probably wondering, assuming you believe this tale, where she is at the moment.  What can I tell you?  I wanted to interview her but she “disappeared” almost as soon as she was told she was free to go.  I tried to locate her through the Internet alternative media, looking for some weird news about mass healings somewhere, anywhere, but found nothing certain.  Rumours and more rumours, and huge “alternate facts” spin-outs from the court hearing.  Do yourselves a favour: don’t tune in the Alex Jones’ Infowars for information, he’s got hold of the court story and has gone deeper down his rabbit hole than ever before.
What do I think?  I like to think that she’s not only out there, healing people and teaching compassion, but calling more of her kind to assist her.  We could do with more of her kind practicing medicine without a license.  In fact we could do with more of our own kind doing the same thing because these days, really, it seems rather obvious that having the license and charging for services rates much higher than actually having any healing success.  By success I mean that after the medical coteries are done with you, you should be thoroughly healed, not become a crippled dependent on more “specialists” and drugs, ’til death do us part, Amen.

 

Tomgram: Ira Chernus, Now Who’s The Enemy?

I think this article is on point, and it’s a great read.  It only takes a few minutes and suddenly one gets a better, if not less confusing, perspective on the politics of Washington, particularly under president Trump.

The question that came to my mind as I read through the following is, “Should the people of the “West” so-called, be legitimately afraid of Islam and Muslim people, or are the “world leaders” of Washington perpetrating a massive scam on American people so they can fleece them, not only of their money and property, but of their democracy, their freedom, their very soul as a people living in 21st Century earth?”

The second question is, “If we cannot clearly identify “the enemy” then do we really have an enemy at all, or is it that the real enemy of the country is ensconced in, ruling from, the White House?”

As you read through, consider this quote from Trump’s national security adviser, Michael Flynn: “we will do whatever it takes to win… If you are victorious, the people will judge whatever means you used to have been appropriate.”

Tomgram: Ira Chernus, Now Who’s The Enemy?

Posted by Ira Chernus at 4:08pm, February 5, 2017.
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Let’s face it: since 9/11 everything in our American world has been wildly out of proportion.  Understandably enough, at the time that attack was experienced as something other than it was.  In the heat of the moment, it would be compared to city-destroying or world-ending Hollywood disaster films (“It was like one of them Godzilla movies”), instantly dubbed “the Pearl Harbor of the twenty-first century,” or simply “A New Day of Infamy,” and experienced by many as nothing short of an apocalyptic event inflicted on this country, the equivalent of a nuclear attack — as NBC’s Tom Brokaw said that day, “like a nuclear winter in lower Manhattan,” or as the Topeka Capital-Journal headlined it in a reference to a 1983 TV movie about nuclear Armageddon, “The Day After.”  It was, of course, none of this.  No imposing imperial challenger had struck the United States without warning, as Japan did on December 7, 1941, in what was essentially a declaration of war.  It was anything but the nuclear strike for which the country had been mentally preparing since August 6, 1945 — as, in the years after World War II, American newspapers regularly drew futuristic concentric circles of destruction around American cities and magazines offered visions of our country as a vaporized wasteland.  And yet the remains of the World Trade Center were regularly referred to as “Ground Zero,” a term previously reserved for the spot where an atomic explosion had occurred. The 9/11 attacks were, in fact, mounted by the most modest of groups at an estimated cost of only $400,000 to $500,000 and committed by 19 hijackers using our own “weapons” (commercial airliners) against us.

However, the response from a Bush administration eager to strike in the Greater Middle East, especially against Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, was to act as if the country had indeed been hit by nuclear weapons and as if we were now at war with a new Nazi Germany or Soviet Union. In the process, Bush officials took that first natural urge to go apocalyptic, to see our country as endangered at an existential level, and ran with it.  As a result, from September 12, 2001, on, the confusion, the inability to see things as they actually were, would never end.  The Bush administration, of course, promptly launched its own “global war on terror.” (GWOT was the acronym.)  Its officials then made that “global” quite real by insisting that they were planning to fight terrorism in a mind-boggling 60 or more countries around the planet.

Fifteen disastrous years later, having engaged in wars, occupations, or conflicts in at least seven countries in the Greater Middle East, having left failed or failing states littered in our path and spurred the spread of terror groups throughout that region and beyond, we now find ourselves in the age of Trump, and if it isn’t obvious to you that everything remains dangerously out of whack, it should be. Consider the set of former military men and associated figures the new president has appointed to run the national security state.  As TomDispatch regular and professor of religious studies Ira Chernus points out today, they uniformly believe — shades of GWOT — that our country is in a literal “world war” at this very second, and they seem to believe as well that its fate and the planet’s are at stake, even if none of them can quite decide whom it is we’re actually fighting. This struggle against, well, whomever, is so apocalyptic that, in their opinion, our very “Judeo-Christian” civilization is at stake. (Hence the recent Muslim ban, even if not quite called that.)  On all of this, Chernus offers their own grim, whacked-out words as proof.

Who could deny that, by now, many Americans have lost the ability to see the world as it is, put much of anything in perspective, or sort out genuine threats from fantasy constructs?  As a result, we’re led by delusional officials overseen, as if in some terrible Hollywood flick about the declining Roman Empire, by a mad, driven leader (who may be quite capable, in a matter of months, of turning the whole world against us).  If you don’t believe me, just plunge into Chernus today and into a fantasy war and an apocalyptic fate that supposedly awaits us if we don’t fight to the death against… well…

Perspective, context, proportion? Sorry, we don’t grok you, Earthling. Tom

Field of Fright 
The Terror Inside Trump’s White House
By Ira Chernus

What kind of national security policy will the Trump administration pursue globally? On this issue, as on so many others, the incoming president has offered enough contradictory clues, tweets, and comments that the only definitive answer right now is: Who knows?

During his presidential campaign he more or less promised a non-interventionist foreign policy, even as he offered hints that his might be anything but.  There was, of course, ISIS to destroy and he swore he would “bomb the shit out of them.” He would, he suggested, even consider using nuclear weapons in the Middle East.  And as Dr. Seuss might have said, that was not all, oh no, that was not all.  He has often warned of the dangers of a vague but fearsome “radical Islam” and insisted that “terrorists and their regional and worldwide networks must be eradicated from the face of the Earth, a mission we will carry out.”  (And he’s already ordered his first special ops raid in Yemen, resulting in one dead American and evidently many dead civilians.)

And when it comes to enemies to smite, he’s hardly willing to stop there, not when, as he told CNN, “I think Islam hates us.” He then refused to confine that hatred to “radical Islam,” given that, on the subject of the adherents of that religion, “it’s very hard to define, it’s very hard to separate. Because you don’t know who’s who.”

And when it comes to enemies, why stop with Islam?  Though President Trump has garnered endless headlines for touting a possible rapprochement with Vladimir Putin’s Russia, he also suggested during the election campaign that he would be tougher on the Russian president than Hillary Clinton, might have “a horrible relationship” with him, and might even consider using nukes in Europe, presumably against the Russians. His apparent eagerness to ramp up the American nuclear arsenal in a major way certainly presents another kind of challenge to Russia.

And then, of course, there’s China.  After all, in addition to his own belligerent comments on that country, his prospective secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, and his press secretary, Sean Spicer, have both recently suggested that the U.S. should prevent China from accessing artificial islands that country has created and fortified in the South China Sea — which would be an obvious American act of war.

In sum, don’t take the promise of non-intervention too seriously from a man intent, above all else, on pouring money into the further “rebuilding” of a “depleted” U.S. military.  Just who might be the focus of future Trumpian interventions is, at best, foggy, since his vision of The Enemy — ISIS aside — remains an ever-moving target.

Suppose, though, we judge the new president not by his own statements alone, but by the company he keeps — in this case, those he chooses to advise him on national security. Do that and a strange picture emerges.  On one thing all of Trump’s major national security appointees seem crystal clear.  We are, each one of them insists, in nothing less than a world war in which non-intervention simply isn’t an option. And in that they are hardly kowtowing to the president.  Each of them took such a position before anyone knew that there would be a Donald Trump administration.

There’s only one small catch: none of them can quite agree on just whom we’re fighting in this twenty-first-century global war of ours.  So let’s take a look at this crew, one by one, and see what their records might tell us about intervention, Trump-style.

Michael Flynn’s Field of Fright

The most influential military voice should be that of retired Lieutenant General and National Security Adviser Michael Flynn (though his position is already evidently weakening).  He will lead the National Security Council (NSC), which historian David Rothkopf calls the “brain” and “nerve center” of the White House.  Flynn laid out his views in detail in the 2014 book he co-authored with neocon Michael Ledeen, The Field of Fight: How We Can Win the Global War Against Radical Islam and Its Allies (a volume that Trump, notorious for not reading books, “highly recommended”). To call Flynn’s views frightening would be an understatement.

America, Flynn flatly asserts, is “in a world war” and it could well be a “hundred-year war.” Worse yet, “if we lose this war, [we would live] in a totalitarian state… a Russian KGB or Nazi SS-like state.” So “we will do whatever it takes to win… If you are victorious, the people will judge whatever means you used to have been appropriate.”

But whom exactly must we defeat? It turns out, according to him, that we face an extraordinary network of enemies “that extends from North Korea and China to Russia, Iran, Syria, Cuba, Bolivia, Venezuela, and Nicaragua.”  And that’s not all, not by a long shot.  There’s “also al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, ISIS, and countless other terrorist groups.” And don’t forget “the merging of narcotics traffickers, organized criminals, and terrorists.” (Flynn has claimed that “Mexican drug cartels” actually post signs at the U.S.-Mexican border — in Arabic, no less — marking “lanes of entry” for Islamic terrorists.)

Now, that’s quite a list! Still, “radical Islam” seems to be America’s number one enemy on most pages of the book and Flynn puts the spotlight of fear squarely on one nation-state: “Iran is the linchpin of the alliance, its centerpiece.”

How Shi’ite Iran can be the “linchpin” in what turns out to be a worldwide insurgency of the Sunni Islamic State (aka ISIS) is something of a mystery.  Perhaps it’s not any single version of Islam that threatens us, but the religion in all its many forms, or so Flynn seems to have decided after he published his book. In this spirit, in February 2016 he infamously tweeted “Fear of Islam is RATIONAL” as an endorsement of a video that indicted and vilified that religion of 1.6 billion people. And to this day he evidently remains unsure whether “radical Islam” — or maybe even Islam as a whole — is a religion or a political ideology that we must fight to the death.

In our present world, all of this highlights another glaring contradiction: Why would Vladimir Putin’s Russia, for so long fiercely resisting Muslim insurgencies within its own borders and now fighting in Syria, ally with global radical Islam? In his book, Flynn offers this facile (and farfetched) explanation meant to clarify everything that otherwise makes no sense whatsoever: all the forces arrayed against us around the world are “united in their hatred of the democratic West and their conviction that dictatorship is superior.”

Anti-democratic ideology, if you’ll excuse the choice of words, trumps all. Our enemies are waging war “against the entire Western enterprise.” In response, in his book Flynn ups the ante on the religious nature of our global war, calling on all Americans to “accept what we were founded upon, a Judeo-Christian ideology built on a moral set of rules and ties… The West, and especially America, is far more civilized, far more ethical and moral, than the system our main enemies want to impose on us.”

As it happens, though, Flynn seems to have come to a somewhat different conclusion since his book was published.  “We can’t do what we want to do unless we work with Russia, period,” he’s told the New York Times. “What we both have is a common enemy… radical Islam.” The Russians, it turns out, may be part of that Christian… well, why not use the word… crusade against Islam.  And among other things, Russia might even be able to help “get Iran to back out of the proxy wars they are involved in.” (One of which, however, is against ISIS, a reality Flynn simply ducks.)

Of course, Russia has not significantly changed its policies in this period. It’s Flynn, at a moment when geopolitical strategy trumps (that word again!) ideology, who has apparently changed his tune on just who our enemy is.

“I would want this enemy to be clearly defined by this president,” Flynn said when talking about President Obama. Now that Donald Trump is president, Flynn’s the one who has to do the defining, and what he’s got on his hands is a long list of enemies, some of whom are visibly at each other’s throats, a list evidently open to radical revision at any moment.

All we can say for sure is that Michael Flynn doesn’t like Islam and wants us to be afraid, very afraid, as we wage that “world war” of his. When he chose a title for his book he seems to have forgotten one letter. It should have been The Field of Fright. And his present job title deserves a slight alteration as well: national insecurity adviser.

An Uncertain (In)Security Team

On the national insecurity team Flynn heads, everyone seems to share a single conviction: that we are indeed already in a global war, which we just might lose. But each of them has his or her own favorites among Flynn’s vast array of proffered enemies.

Take his top assistant at the NSC, K.T. McFarland.  For her, the enemy is neither a nation nor a political unit, but a vaguely defined “apocalyptic death cult… the most virulent and lethal in history” called “radical Islam.”  She adds, “If we do not destroy the scourge of radical Islam, it will ultimately destroy Western civilization… and the values we hold dear.” For her, it’s an old story: civilization against the savages.

There’s no way to know whether McFarland will have real influence on decision-making in the Oval Office, but her view of the enemy has been voiced in much the same language by someone who already does have such influence, white nationalist Steve Bannon, whom the president has just given a seat on the National Security Council.  (He reportedly even had a major hand in writing the new president’s Inaugural Address.)  Trump’s senior counselor and key adviser on long-term foreign policy strategy offered rare insight into his national insecurity views in a talk he gave at, of all places, the Vatican.

We’re in “a war that’s already global,” Bannon declared, “an outright war against jihadist Islamic fascism.” However, we also face an equally dangerous threat: “an immense secularization of the West,” which “converges” with “radical Islam” in a way he didn’t bother to explain. He did, however, make it very clear that the fight against the “new barbarity” of “radical Islam” is a “crisis of our faith,” a struggle to save the very ideals of “the Judeo-Christian West … a church and a civilization that really is the flower of mankind.”

New CIA Director Mike Pompeo seems to agree wholeheartedly with Bannon that we’re in a global religious war, “the kind of struggle this country has not faced since its great wars.” Part of the key to survival, as he sees it, is for “more politicians of faith to infuse the government with their beliefs and get the nation back on track, instead of bowing to secularism.” In this battle of churches and mosques, he also claims that the line has been drawn between “those who accept modernity and those who are barbarians,” by which he means “the Islamic east.” In such a grandiose tangle, who exactly is who among our enemies remains up for grabs. All Pompeo seems to knows for sure is that  “evil is all around us.”

Retired General and Secretary of Defense James Mattis admits forthrightly just how confusing this all is, but he, too, insists that we have to “take a firm, strategic stance in defense of our values.” And who exactly is threatening those values? “Political Islam?” he asked an audience rhetorically. On that subject, he answered himself this way: “We need to have the discussion.”  After all, he went on, “If we won’t even ask the question, how do we even recognize which is our side in a fight?”

Several years ago, however, when Barack Obama asked him to spell out his top priorities as CENTCOM commander in the Greater Middle East, Mattis was crystal clear. He bluntly replied that he had three priorities: “Number one: Iran. Number two: Iran. Number three: Iran.” Moreover, in his confirmation hearings, he suddenly proclaimed Russia a “principal threat… an adversary in key areas.”

Still another view comes from retired General and Secretary of Homeland Security James Kelly. He, too, is sure that “our country today is in a life-and-death struggle against an evil enemy” that exists “around the globe.” But for him that evil enemy is, above all, the drug cartels and the undocumented immigrants crossing the U.S.-Mexican border.  They pose the true “existential” threat to the United States.

Everyone on Trump’s national insecurity team seems to agree on one thing: the United States is in a global war to the death, which we could lose, bringing some quite literal version of apocalyptic ruin down on our nation. Yet there is no consensus on whom or what exactly we are fighting.

Flynn, presumably the key voice on the national insecurity team, offers a vast and shifting array of enemies milling around pugnaciously on Trumpworld’s field of fright. The others each highlight and emphasize one or more groups, movements, or nations in that utterly confused crew of potential adversaries.

We Need an Enemy, Any Enemy

This could, of course, lead to bruising disagreements and a struggle for control over the president’s foreign and military policies.  It’s more likely, though, that Trump and his team don’t see these differences as crucial, as long as they all agree that the threat of destruction really is at our doorstep, whoever the designated deliverer of our apocalyptic fate may be. Starting out with such a terrifying assumption about how our present world works as their unquestioned premise, they then can play fill-in-the-blank, naming a new enemy as often as they wish.

For the last near-century, after all, Americans have been filling in that blank fairly regularly, starting with the Nazis and fascists of World War II, then the Soviet Union and other members of the “communist bloc” (until, like China and Yugoslavia, they weren’t), then Vietnamese, Cubans, Grenadians, Panamanians, so-called narco-terrorists, al-Qaeda (of course!), and more recently ISIS, among others. Trump reminds us of this history when he says things like: “In the twentieth century, the United States defeated Fascism, Nazism, and Communism. We will defeat Radical Islamic Terrorism, just as we have defeated every threat we have faced in every age before.”

The field of fright that Trump and his team are bringing to the White House is, by now, an extreme version of a familiar feature of American life. The specter of apocalypse (in the modern American meaning of the word), the idea that we face some enemy dedicated above all else to destroying us utterly and totally, is buried so deep in our political discourse that we rarely take the time to think about it.

One question: Why is such an apocalyptic approach — even when, as at present, so ludicrously confused and unsupported by basic facts, not to say confusing to its own proponents — convincing for so many Americans?

One answer seems clear enough: it’s hard to rally the public behind interventions and wars explicitly aimed at expanding American power and control (which is why the top officials of the Bush administration worked so hard to locate fantasy weapons of mass destruction in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and bogusly link him to the 9/11 attacks before invading his country in 2003). Americans have assured pollsters for years that they don’t want to be the cops of the world. So, as successful leaders since President Franklin Roosevelt have recognized, any wars or steps toward war must be clothed in the word defense, and if you can add a sense of apocalyptic menace to the package, all the better.

Defense is little short of a sacred term in the American lexicon (right down to the “Defense” Department, once upon a time known far more accurately as the War Department).  It bestows an aura of moral justification on even the most violent and aggressive acts.  As long as the public is convinced that we must defend ourselves at all costs against an enemy that threatens our very world, anything is possible.

Trump and his national insecurity team are blessed with an added benefit in this process: the coming of all-news, all-the-time media, which has a tendency to inflate even the relatively modest (if bloody) acts of “lone wolf” terrorists until they seem to engulf our lives, 24/7, threatening everything we hold dear. Images of terror that might once have been glimpsed for a few minutes on the nightly news are now featured, as with the San Bernardino or the Pulse night club killings, for days, even weeks, at a time.

Certainly, when so many news consumers in the world’s most powerful nation accept such fearsome imagery, and their own supposed vulnerability to it, as reality itself (as pollsters tell us so many Americans indeed do), they do so in part because it makes whatever violence our government inflicts on others seem “regrettable, but necessary” and therefore moral; it absolves us, that is, of responsibility.

In part, too, such collective apocalyptic anxiety gives Americans a perverse common bond in a world in which — as the recent presidential campaign showed — it’s increasingly hard to find a common denominator that defines American identity for all of us. The closest we can come is a shared determination to defend our nation against those who would destroy it. In 2017, if we didn’t have such enemies, would we have any shared idea of what it means to be an American? Since we’ve been sharing that sense of identity for three-quarters of a century now, it’s become, for most of us, a matter of unquestioned habit, offering the peculiar comfort that familiarity typically brings.

At this point, beyond upping the ante against ISIS, no one can predict just what force, set of groups, nation or nations, or even religion the Trump administration might choose as the next great “threat to national security.” However, as long as the government, the media, and so much of the public agree that staving off doom is America’s preeminent mission, the administration will have something close to a blank check to do whatever it likes. When it comes to “defending” the nation, what other choice is there?

Ira Chernus, a TomDispatch regular, is professor emeritus of religious studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder and author of the online MythicAmerica: Essays.

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, John Feffer’s dystopian novel Splinterlands, as well as Nick Turse’s Next Time They’ll Come to Count the Dead, and Tom Engelhardt’s latest book, Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World.

Copyright 2017 Ira Chernus

The Third Option Explained: where does man come from?

      [thoughts from  ~burning woman~  by Sha’Tara]

As a species, we believe in two basic approaches to human beginnings and development. 

The first is based on religious myths, that some gods, or God, created man from dirt and air and made “man” a living soul.  Then as some sort of afterthought, seeing as his man was lonely, he took a rib from the man and made him a “help mate” i.e., companion, a slave, a sex toy, a secondary appurtenance, a wo-man.  That skewed and screwed up pair of cursed Earthians then proceeded to wander off into the real world and make babies, according to the command to be fruitful and multiply.  I need to add here that if there ever was one divine commandment “man” did take to heart, that’s the one.  Believers and unbelievers alike bend themselves (or stretch themselves) eagerly to fulfill the commands of their God. I also  need to point out that their very first born, a male of course, being “the best of the best of the best, Sir!”  proceeded to murder his only brother because he was pissed at God.  Not an ostentatious beginning all around, was it, but that’s the patriarchy’s crowing (I meant “crowning” but “crowing” is rather fitting) moment.  

Flip the coin over and man’s lofty beginning is ratcheted down by quite a lot.  Now he’s simply the result of billions of years of bits and pieces of sub-atomic particles, then assorted cells (matter) assembling themselves from muck and mire into “man” presumably complete with self-awareness and a sense of “right and wrong” which of course in the ultra-conservative Darwinist sense, makes absolutely no sense at all because in evolution, how can there ever arise consciousness; the sense of right or wrong?  Of morality? Of beliefs in gods and need to worship same?  Well, them’s been thorny issues for die-hard evolutionists, but they’ve certainly been bold in promoting all kinds of laughable theories on how that came about.  I can let that go, there’s enough material on it out there to choke a herd of elephants, not that I’m promoting the idea we should choke a herd of elephants, it’s just a figure of speech. 

What’s the truth then?  How did “we” develop into the truly crazy, twisted numbties we are, poised on the edge of blowing ourselves up sky high; definitely over-breeding and over-populating; poisoning every aspect of our living environment, destroying its ecology for rising numbered stakes? 

Is there a Third Option; another approach to man’s appearance, development and current condition we should be looking at?  An option that the “System” is desperately determined to prevent us from looking into, discovering and worse case scenario for the System, to accept as logical and obvious?  Something logical that would explain “us”?

I’ll say this: it’s possible.  I don’t do facts; I don’t do truth.  There are no such things as facts and there is no such thing as “the truth” in my mind’s world.  There is no Way.  There is no Source.  There is no Law.  There is no One.  And just to emphasize it again, there is no Secret. 

Note that play on words: there is no One.  There is no-one.  Now add “else” to that and you get, there is only me.  Is this a great place to be or what?  From “me” I free myself to “know” how I was made, where I come from, what I am, what I want to be (when I grow up, which is probably never).  I am the only One; the only Truth; the only Way, the only Source, the only Law.  How does that work?  It works perfectly well because none of that matters to me, nor should it matter to anyone when properly reasoned.  After all is said and done, after all the dark clouds have floated over; the lightning has spent itself and the last peels of thunder have echoed and died beyond the far valley of the shadow of death, I still don’t know, nor does anyone else.  I know as much, and as little, as anyone else.  That’s the great equalizer.  

What I’ve just written should be as obvious to anyone as a sore thumb that’s just had an unofficial encounter with a deranged hammer.  Look at all the books; all the history, the philosophy, the religious tomes, tracts and diatribes, the political speeches, the scientific manuals, the economic theories of past and present; the self-help pulp fiction and health magazines and what have you got?  A lot of information certainly, but of what actual value is it?  What you have is a pile of dollar bills based on non-existent physical commodities.  You have promissory notes, nothing more.  Some promise heaven and nirvana; some promise wealth, or health, or peace or  […] (fill in the blanks), but in the end, none have ever delivered on their promises except for brief and tenuous moments in time or to individuals who would have achieved same without the verbal diarrhea.  

I just “clocked” man’s population and this is what I got: Current World Population  7,479,106,500 (as of midnight, January 21, 2017)

That’s right, we’re now at 7.5 billions and rising by the second.  It’s crazy, it’s madness: it’s man-made with his hand-maid. There is nothing “natural” about that sort of rise in any population.  It’s artificial; mindlessly driven by a programming neither “divine” nor “evolved”- an old implant run amuck. 

Have you ever wondered why in ancient times there arose so many taboos and issues around sex?  Why to this day there is such a problem balancing sexual relationships?  Why women whose bodies certainly sexually attract men more than vice-versa, suffer so much discrimination because of the fact that most female bodies are, in fact, sexual organs, and they never “go out of season” as do those of other animals?  Did you ever wonder, if you are a male, why you are always driven to seek the female, no matter your age or situation; (or no matter your religion!) that having your own female partner creates no substantial ‘protection’ or psychological barrier against your seeking, or being constantly aware of and desiring contact with, the female sex around you? 

Addressing women, do you not wonder why, knowing the conditions of the world and the glaring fact of its human overpopulation and the guarantee of a truly shitty future you still desire to have “your own” children, as if your addition to the problem didn’t matter?  As if “having them” trumps your ability to guarantee them a decent, safe, healthy future? Why women in such dire poverty they cannot feed themselves still have that imperative need to give birth? 

Don’t you think that “nature” should automatically jump into the fray at this point to prevent pregnancies, or cause men to lose their sexual interest in female bodies?  Shouldn’t something biological happen to derail the sex drive, if even for a generation or two, or drive it down to only a very small percentage of the population until we reach a level easily sustainable without earth-destroying poisonous technologies or senseless wars and genocides? 

But “nature” can’t jump in here because this phenomenon has nothing to do with nature.  “Man” as he appears on the earth scene is not a naturally occurring biological entity but something off nature’s charts.  Man is a cloned species, a totally unnatural designer (GMO) species, invented for a particular purpose by a race, or races of space beings who

  1. a) deliberately left no trace of their passage here or
  2. b) whose passage was deliberately obliterated by whomever forcefully removed these aliens, or
  3. c) came after the aliens left, attempting to clean up the mess they left behind. 

They cleaned up as best they could, (imagine the clean up after the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico for example, and the on-going after-effects) removing the most dangerous remnants of alien technology, seeing no good reason the destroy the stone structures, then instead of wiping us off, being perhaps empathetic beings, chose to leave us to our own devices hoping that without our masters to drive us we would all naturally return to nature… They seemed to have overlooked the programming, or hoped that it would breed itself out: it didn’t.

Some of the descendants of the cloned bipedal “slave species of God” didn’t return to nature.  Some “remembered” and rebuilt the “cities of the gods” and re-created some of their technology; collectivized into ever-expanding power groups; into city-states and empires, and proceeded from there to go out and plunder, rape and enslave, as did their godly forebears.  They massacred and enslaved the ones who had re-adapted to the land and systematically destroyed their ways, replacing them with cities and industry – the legacy of their ancient masters, gods and forebears.   

They don’t build stone megaliths now, they still don’t have that technology, and can’t remember why they were originally built in any case, but they build highrises, ICBM’s, aircraft carriers, greenhouses and monster trucks.  They invent poison after poison to destroy a natural environment which seems inimical to them; a constant irritation and enemy.  They have re-invented GMO’s – and cloning – two of their alien forebears’ main accomplishments and the basis of much of their technology.  They cram, kill and destroy, that’s the only lucrative game in town; certainly the most exciting; the specialty du jour.  It’s the programming and they’re lovin’ it!   

Did I make it clear what I mean by “the third option”?  That we are the by-product of alien intervention, manipulation, meddling, in the natural cycle of a planet?  The evidence of this Third Option is irrefutable.  There is us, the pseudo-humans, a species obviously two bricks short of a load as concerns interaction with nature and… lo and behold, we have stone megaliths like the great pyramid, Baalbek and a plethora of other unexplained  (in terms of size, locations and purpose) stone artifacts from prehistory being discovered everywhere, including under seas and oceans; constructs which our benighted “Darwinist evolutionists” and religionists again try with pitiful, childish and laughable pseudo science; anthropological legerdemain or reference to divine miracles, to “explain” away.  But they are not going away and the curse of real science is that it drives the quest for definite explanations and will never rest satisfied with academic pronouncements, comical “pulpitations” and massive doses of propaganda. 

Man’s civilization train doesn’t run on a natural cyclic track but counter to it.  It began with an alien invasion and global conquest; it was built on a straight, downhill track, and it comes to a sudden end.  At the end of the track there’s a safety barrier, of course, as all train track terminals do, but at the exponentially gathered speed of this monster, that barrier has no chance to hold.  The train will plough through it as if it was kindling to fly off over the abyss, plummeting to perdition.  The only survivors will be the few who doubted the train’s purpose and vaunted safety or it’s societal necessity and who wouldn’t get on board, despite the many threats and inducements.  

To those on board, particularly to those partying in the First Class compartments I have one question: do you have any idea how close you are to hitting the barrier? My guess is, none, and you could care less.  Caring about consequences; taking personal responsibility simply isn’t part of the programming.  Only the few who have broken the programming can understand what that means and they’re too few to create much more than a few local disturbances, easily quelled by security forces; the effects sucked in global apathy, leaving no trace. 

World population clock link  http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/

Meet Andrew Logan and Callie Brown

                                             [short story, by Sha’Tara]

Ever since his people had left him behind to observe human life on Earth he had wandered the city, learning the peoples’ ways, their mores, their languages, absorbing and analyzing.  Gradually, over a period of a month he had adapted his earth-human-clone body into a fully functional Earthian body complete with all the feelings and emotions attendant to a born Earthian.  He even gave himself a name, Andrew.  Andrew Logan.  Architect.  He liked the concept.  After all he was a scientist engineer and Earthian technology was at a very low level of development.  There was nothing in it he couldn’t understand and improve after a few minutes of study. 

What truly fascinated him however was the human body, its functions and those strangest of things: feelings and emotions.  He could make the tongue move and speak any language, making sounds was easy, mimicking any human or animal call, simple. He had quickly learned which foods to ingest to keep the body at peak performance and he could keep it awake indefinitely without any negative consequences.  But his feelings, that he did not understand.  Well, it was because he could not prevent them from manifesting; he could not think them gone or reason them away: they just happened and he was never ready for them.  The worst part however was that which followed the feelings; what the Earthians themselves called emotions. 

“I have never known hate,” he thought to himself, “it is a totally alien concept to me, but if I could hate, I’d say I hate these feelings, and more, these ridiculous emotions.  These things are completely unreasonable.  Surely they do not expect to ever develop a properly functioning civilization encumbered with such negative emanations from their brains and bodies?”

“Excuse me, sorry, I was texting.  Did you say something to me?”  The woman had stood beside him at the bus stop.  He was aware of her presence but he failed to realize he was speaking some thoughts aloud and could be overheard.  On his world people only listened when you were actually addressing them.  But here, they has an insatiable curiosity, from every sense.  They reached out to hear, to see, to taste, to smell.  They exuded sexual desire or conversely, revulsion.  Black and white they were.  No peaceful rest of mechanical neutrality.  No wonder they lived such short lives: they literally fried themselves in attempts to answer circular questions, and deal with circular emotions.   

She kept looking at him.  “I haven’t seen you around here” she continued, “Passing through?  Or moving to the neighbourhood?”  How to respond… oh yes, there is a standard appropriate response for everything: “I’m very sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt your activities.  Yes, I’m moving in actually.”  He added to appear totally normal: “I’m looking for an apartment.  Nothing fancy, just a bachelor suite.”  

“That’s wonderful, Mr. huh?” 

“I’m sorry, I meant to introduce myself properly.  My name is Andrew Logan.  I am an architect.”

“Callie Brown.  Real estate agent.  I just finished going through the vacancy list in that apartment building across the street.  There are two bachelor suites, one available now, one at the end of the month.  Would you like to see them?” 

To see them?  How strange that she would ask that.  If she showed him the apartments’ numbers, he could see them.  Surely there was no need to actually take an elevator and walk to the suite to verify that it was there; that what he saw was what existed at that number!  He put it down as another of their strange sayings that do not mean what they say: “Have a chair.”  “Take a seat.”  “Rain check.”  “Do lunch.”  “Night cap.” “Would you like fries with that?” as if he’d somehow forget to state exactly what he meant to order and needed a reminder.

“Sir?”  She had a pleasant voice, and by Earth standards was quite young (he estimated she’d be twenty-eight years, three months and four days old, born at four-thirty-eight of the morning, give or take a couple of minutes, he was quite certain he was “in the ball park” to use another of their nonsensical expressions.)  She was also very pretty, so his body kept insisting, and he felt embarrassingly attracted to her, wanting to get closer, to touch, to feel her.  Frighteningly powerful urges tugged at his brain. 

“Yes.  Do I address you as Miss, Ms., or Mrs.?”  She had a very attractive smile, again as his body eagerly told him. 

“You can just call me Callie; no need for any formalities.”

“Thank you Callie.  Yes, I certainly would like to see the apartments, thank you very much.”

As they rode up the elevator he felt her trying to expose herself to him.  He wondered again, as he had since the very first day he’d felt those attractions, if these people felt that way about each other, why did they hide themselves behind clothes?  Why did they offer so many things that were highly desired, or prized, yet never gave them away to those who wanted them?  He had concluded that there was something very wrong with this sentient life.  When he communicated his findings to the orbiting ship he’d been granted an extended tour of duty.  Of course: he was, after all, Doctor Los, senior analyst.  

Before the decision to actually land an observer on the planet he’d participated on several abductions.  His people had been trying to understand Earthians for many earth years in order to present information to the High Galactic Council as to whether these sentients, now on the verge of developing functional star drives, could safely be allowed to roam outside their solar system.  The problem with abducting the creatures and performing experiments on them is that it did not answer the critical questions.  Because of their primitive brain functions they went “off the charts” when discovering they were on a space ship.  Some got violent.  Some went into cardiac arrest or catatonic and most of the young females, those who didn’t “lose it” as they termed it, just wanted sex with “the gods” as they thought of them and experience “great” sexual orgasms.  All of them had to be time-wiped before being returned to their world. 

We need someone to interact with them as one of them, on their own world, in their own natural environment; on their own terms.  So as senior scientist of the Tholian crew he’d volunteered. 

And here he was.  In a residential apartment building, rising through several floors with Callie Brown to “look” at an apartment.  He wondered then what she’d think, or say, if he told her he already knew exactly, in every detail, what the apartment looked like from extracting the location number in her cell phone?  He let the thought pass, the elevator stopped and they exited to walk down a hallway to apartment 1823.

She pressed four keys on a keypad in the door, inserted a metal key and after two green lights began flashing, opened the door.  “Old fashioned, I know, but residents like this system, harder to break in.”  He stood inside the door, scanning the place.  “Go ahead, it’s OK, it’s vacant.  Wander through, have a good look.  It’s compact and practical.  Now for the terms, it’s $2100 a month plus utilities, or you can purchase a package that includes everything, furniture, utilities, maintenance, telephone, TV, Internet and comprehensive insurance for $2600 a month.  With current market conditions in the city that’s actually a really good deal.”

She had moved very close to him as she talked, now touching just slightly.  Their bodies pulled at each other like magnets.  He enjoyed the sensation.  He moved against her.  She turned to face him, looked up into his eyes, and urgently began to undress him.  He saw the bed in her mind, she lying on top, waiting for him.  He brought himself back to the moment and as she undressed him, he did the same for her.  Soon they were both naked and she walked to the bed, sitting on the side, then deftly lifting her legs and lying prone on it. 

“You’re not from around here, are you Andrew?”  She smiled more, slowly spreading her legs, inviting him.  “Who are you really?”

“We are Tholian analysts from a distant galaxy.  We analyze and grade sentient worlds for the Greater Galactic Council.  I’m performing an in-depth planetary consciousness analysis.”

“That’s like, an alien?  You’re an alien, Andrew?”  She didn’t feel to him as much shocked as excited.

“Yes.”   

“Oh God, my lucky day or what!”  She actually giggled like a young girl.

He stared at her nakedness, her vulnerability, and felt a powerful urge to go down on top of her and meld with her body.  He understood that without the clothes he was naked; that his body was male, and that she desired him to join with her in hormonal polarity.  He also realized that he felt a need in his body to join with her, a nascent but powerful “sexual” need.  By the thoughts in her mind, his erection was all she could think of at the moment.

“It’s how we reproduce” she said as she guided him inside her, “and it’s also the greatest source of pleasure we can ever experience.  But I want this one to blow all the others away!  Are you up for it?  Score: visitor 1, home team 1, we have a tied game?”  She laughed at her own joke then it began in earnest.

Still breathing hard, he said, “I sense that you want a child to come from this union.  Please assure me that I have the correct interpretation of your feelings?” 

“Oh yes, how I wish I could have your child, Andrew.  Unfortunately I can’t.  Something haywire with my reproductive system.”

“That’s not a problem.  These bodies are very simple.  I’ve by-passed its objection to the impregnation.  You will have a child.”

“Oh boy, now you’ve really scared me.  What will he look like?”   There was that shallow concern about visual effects again, as if how one “looks like” could possibly have any relevance to one’s life.

“Oh, he’ll have a perfectly normal body but with a slower physical growth rate and much higher IQ than you are used to on this world.  You see, we look exactly like you, we are not some strange looking green blob monstrosity of your quaint imaginings.  We are humans, just billions of years in your time future.  Now please excuse me for a moment, I need to contact my people on the ship.”  He watched her for a few moments as she settled down on the bed, fluffing her beautiful brown hair over the pillow and closing her eyes with a deep sigh of perfect contentment. She brought her right hand to cup her breast and ritually thumbed her nipple.  Such simple creatures, he thought.  If only they knew they were within a hair’s breath of qualifying as angels… if only they could see the truth of it for themselves and act accordingly.

“I’ve entered into a life-relationship with an earth woman and given her a child.  I’ll require another tour of duty extension as I’ll have to remain somewhat longer to see her through her short life and guide the child in our ways.  Please begin proceedings for clearance for her and the child when she is near her natural termination date, to locate both aboard ship.  She will require full body transplant, of course.  I will cover any energy costs.”

“Yes, Doctor Los, there will be no complications.  We can get all the energy we need from the planet’s sun and satellite.  Give us your coordinates when the time comes.  Have a pleasant stay.”

The years of bliss passed quickly for Callie Brown, years that were but mere days for Andrew Logan, or Doctor Los.  He continued his analysis of Earthian consciousness, and with so much more at stake now for himself.  Though it was such a short time, he learned to love “his Callie” as he called her.  Whatever she wanted, he would have given her, but she just wanted a small house in the country, with a garden.  Here she raised Andrew Junior who grew very slowly by Earthian standards.  She was happy with that.  “It makes it seem like I have so much more time this way.”  She also said to him one day, “It’s as if I never had any other life but this one.  I feel so undeservedly blessed, Los.”  (She began calling him Los so as not to create confusion between him and Andrew Junior.  She didn’t want her son to get used to being called “Junior.”)

Throughout that time, the greatest gift he could give her he withheld from telling her of, that she would be given the choice to enter eternal life, eternal youth, if she wanted it; if she chose to join with the Tholian crew and make Tholia  her new home world.  Andrew Junior, their son (such an atavistic concept) would also have to make a similar choice. 

“She loved simple things…  One morning she wasn’t feeling well.  The next day, she was gone.” (paraphrase from “Meet Joe Black”)