Category Archives: Democracy

The Fly in the Ointment

[thoughts from ~burning woman~ ]

There are “bad” people in the world, and there are “good” people. For the sake of argument, we’ll say that for every “good” person, there are on average, say, 100,000 “bad” people (I’m sure it’s way higher than that but let’s be generous). When I say “bad” people I’m not saying “criminally bad people” per se, I’m talking about people who simply don’t care, being self-centered and selfishly motivated, whereas “good” people are those who care about things other than as they affect them, or as they may harm or benefit them personally, i.e., “good” people are relatively selfless.

That said, there is a third, tiny minority of people who exist, it seems, strictly to throw the proverbial monkey wrench in the gears: the fly in the societal ointment. In ancient times they were known as prophets and these “naysayers” were always at odds with the propagandists (the false prophets – today’s main stream media and priesthood of that always popular self-help and positive thinking church) and with society’s leadership and society at large (the Establishment). Their end was often quite violent.

I happen to fit the label of the latter, whether I like it or not. Although the areas where such as myself can speak freely are rapidly diminishing I am thankful that I can still do it, for people with the prophetic curse/gift must speak or die. Remember Cassandra’s curse! As Lord Byron wrote: “If I do not write to empty my mind, I go mad.” We speak “the truth” not only as we see it, but as we are driven to see it and speak it. That more than anything else, is what really irritates people; not just those who stand to lose greatly if we are listened to, but basically everybody. And here’s why.

In a world such as man has made of this earth, the truth is neither pleasant nor painless for anyone confronted with it. It is civilization’s scalpel, and the more diseased civilization, the deeper the scalpel must cut in order to attempt removal of diseased parts and allow for re-construction. Once convinced of the seriousness of a particular disease and the need to amputate, a patient may finally accept the fact and come to rely on the surgeon to save her life. Here’s the rub: a prophet is not the surgeon who’s going to amputate the cancerous parts of the body politic and help activate healing and possible re-growth of missing parts. The prophet does two things: s/he will tell you what your problem is based on your symptoms, and s/he will also tell you whether any surgery can fix the problem or whether it’s too deep, too endemic, to be arrested and a healthy recovery possible.

The prophet does not wield the scalpel: you, as a member of that body, are the surgeon.

You, with full cooperation and participation of all other parts of the body politic must perform the surgery, must endure to pain, accept the prophet’s “prescriptions and diet” if there’s to be any hope of recovery.

If the prophet says the disease has delved too deeply and greedily inside the body for the body to recover, that is not the end of the matter either. If (that’s a huge “if”) all the parts of the entire body still insist they want to live as a body, nothing is ever impossible, nothing is written in stone. Recovery remains possible, but the costs of attempting such a recovery may be way higher than most are willing to undertake. Since the majority “share holders” of the body are endemically “bad” people, i.e., bad stewards and managers, the prophet, taking that into account, will say (to the “good” people), “Honestly Pete, it ain’t happenin.”

This little essay is a warning to all the “good” and certainly well-meaning people I’ve encountered, whose efforts on behalf of the world, the animals, the environment, the poor, the oppressed, the war-torn refugees are beyond stalwart, to not expect those efforts to actually change to body politic for the better. They are band aids, nothing more, because they will never be allowed to be more than that. Success would mean loss of privilege, profit and comfort for that overwhelming majority of “bad” people. As a prophet I’m not advocating the “good” people stop their selfless efforts on behalf of what they perceive as needy, including the global environment, far from it. But to avoid burn out, disappointment and worst-case scenario, despair, make it a purpose, not a goal. Be there, without expectations. Be there because that’s where you belong; because that’s who and what you are. Then come hell or high water, all will be well, even when you are drowning in tears of sorrow and the tiny beachheads you’ve created though a lifetime of effort are wiped out overnight by the men in jackboots.

We are daily made aware that we are awash in the blood of martyrs. That blood is not a healing balm upon the earth, but an acid burning Earthian civilization to its bones and to its very marrow. So much blood has been shed in the last century and the first decade and a half of this one that nothing but a complete wipe out of man’s current civilization can begin to expunge man’s grossest-ever crimes committed against helpless and peace-seeking innocence. As a species, man has plunged (and continues to plunge) lower than even hell can imagine. That’s not the worst part. The worst part is, that for the vast majority it’s just more “business as usual.”  The day belongs to the “bad” people. 

“We have met the enemy, and he is us.” A quote not to be used lightly in these, the last days of this civilization. Yes, the last days, for the necessary will to change does not exist and will not be allowed to come to pass.

I’ve got Questions: You got Answers?

[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?      

What’s the good of Freedom to the Ignorant?

                     [thoughts from   ~burning woman~   ]

“What’s the good of freedom to the ignorant?” (Ursula K. LeGuin, “Powers”)

A critical question that should be endlessly considered by those who claim to live in freedom; who claim to live within democracies.  Are these people intelligently educated, and are they, in fact, free?  To the intelligently educated, the word “freedom” conveys an endless number of meanings, and shades of meaning, constantly being internally debated.

But what does it mean to an ignorant lout?  A redneck?  A “fool” who lives at the beck and call of guts and brawn?  To the consummate shopper?  To the assembly line worker mind-numbed and beaten by endless, meaningless labour? To the denizen of the computerized cube farm? 

Raised in “relative poverty” (Canadian style, meaning we almost always had enough to eat, and enough clothing and housing to survive the harsh elements of a northern clime – nobody froze to death) I remember only too well having to interact with braggart, illiterate ignorance in grade school.  Later, standing alongside never stopping feed belts in canneries, numbed by the repetitiveness and clanking, hissing noise, checking, adjusting, clearing, stacking… I remember my quickly fading choices.  Was this back-breaking, brain-numbing work going to be my life?

To the ignorant, such situations call for camaraderie: misery loves company, and there was a lot of company; too much company.  These are also great opportunities for ass-kissers and bullies to rise quickly to their own levels of incompetence, loved by higher levels of managers because they consider this loyalty to the company, hence to themselves.  These are the people who snitch and prevent rebellions and talk of unionization, or who management encourages in seditious talk against unions to other employees in hopes of de-certification.  

And so, the ignorant are the great base, the pedestal upon which the masters wine and dine themselves, taking, taking and taking, never having to give any account to anyone because they have their ignorant base to walk over; to dance on. 

In America, the world just witnessed the “election” of a thorough boor, elected and to this moment, supported, by the ignorant masses who fear freedom above anything else, because they know that freedom entails responsibility and responsibility demands the kind of commitment they aren’t willing to put their minds into.  The chains worn by the consumer society do not seem so onerous to bear.

“The wall of forgetting was down.  I was able to think, to speak, to remember.  I was free.  Freedom was unspeakable anguish.” (Ursula K. LeGuin, “Powers”)

In such a morally depraved civilization as this, if “it” is making you feel safe, comfortable, happy, “it” isn’t freedom.  If it is making you rich, with power over others, “it” isn’t freedom.  If if demands that you arm yourselves to the teeth to go and oppress and exploit others in their own countries, to force them to your ways and to take their resources and labour, “it” certainly isn’t freedom.  Conversely, if “it” is dispossessing you; pushing you into deeper debt; into poverty; unto the street to survive by begging or crime, then obviously “it” isn’t freedom. 

Freedom neither gives, nor requires, any of those things.  Freedom can only be given, and shared, freely between willing participants.  This is what the promoters of “freedom and democracy” western style fear anyone learning about. 

To forestall such a thing becoming too common knowledge they invented the now practically global public school system, unofficially known as Official Brainwashing.  At the end of twelve years, give or take, of this waste of youthful years ooze the drones: workers, believers, consumers, hoarders, spectators, whiners, bitchers, complainers, addicts, gamblers, inmates and voters: the entitled to freedom, western style. 

For those who continue seeking after greater official ignorance comes Academic Higher Ignorance.  At the end of that, degrees indicating successful completion of various courses in Official Master Ignorance are handed out.  Having proved themselves adept at rising to their own level of State Approve Ignorance,  these may then be able to go into various channels of rip-off industry, including banking, politics, drugs, medical business, law, corporate engineering, technology and scientific research and through it all, the military, or Official Murder Industry.  Less prevalent today, but always eager to make a sudden come-back is Religion.  It too demands its slate of Officially Mandated leadership in Statutory Ignorance. 

To ensure only a minimal number ever wake up long enough to realize the massive scam they’ve been led into,  the System saddles their Worthy Ignorant with tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of “student debt”, another euphemism for the slave collar. 

You can’t be rebellious when you need a position to repay your debts, buy a house, and try to match the lifestyle of other Officially Ignorant in your line of pretend expertise.  And if you are not rebelling, you are acquiescing, and if you are acquiescing, you are supporting, and if you are supporting, you are a slave along with the others in your slave quarters.  And your greatest curse is that a part of you is always aware of this fact; a fact that can only be borne by an endless stream of distractions.  Enter the entertainment, news and social Media, organized Sports and spectator politics.  And war.  Ultimately, was is the greatest distraction of them all.  That’s why it’s unofficial title is The Endless War.

Freedom?  Of course I’m free.  I’m free to be an ignorant slave.  No anguish; no moral issues; no agonizing conundrums; no worries.  The “House” will take care of us and all our needs, for the “House” owns us all, amen!  

There Are Times…

[thoughts from   ~burning woman~   ]

There are times when, as I read stuff, I wish I was an Android with a hard drive instead of a leaky human brain so I could store all the information and have it “there” at my fingertips (so to speak) when I think about something, or quote something I’ve read, with full ability to regain the context of it.  “Sigh!” – it doesn’t seem to be happening.  Oh well, at least I have learned to speed things up in collecting information; to turn my email program (that wonderful Microsoft Outlook 2002 which nothing can touch for clarity and efficiency) into a library of congress sort of filing system…

Here are a few “odds ‘n ends” from my eclectic collection of thoughts and ideas and word imagery.

CRONY CAPITALISM is a term describing an economy in which success in business depends on close relationships between business people and government officials. It may be exhibited by favoritism in the distribution of legal permits, government grants, special tax breaks, or other forms of state interventionism.

THEREMIN:  electronic musical instrument played without touching, invented by a Russian physicist, Leon Theremin circa 1919 (patented in 1928).  Used in popular music of many movie soundtracks.

ANODYNE PHRASE is a weak statement intended to hide an ugly truth. Another name for that would be political correctness.

UTILITARIANISM: Doctrine that the useful is the good; especially as elaborated by Jeremy Bentham and James Mill; the aim was said to be the greatest happiness for the greatest number. (Imagine that!  The more you slave for your elites, the happier you will be!)

THE EASIEST WAY to solve a problem is to deny its existence (Isaac Asimov)

ELECTRICITY is NOT an energy SOURCE.

IF THE CIA ever told the truth, it would genetically implode (David Icke)

THE GREAT PYRAMID weighs 6 million tons; covers 13 acres; is 750’ per side; 481’ tall and contains over 2.5 million individual blocks of stone.  None of this answers my question: why was it built, and by whom?

AMERICAN EXEPTIONALISM:  the US’s power to make and break deals world-wide with no accountability to results.

I AM WRITING the book of human sins.  When I’m done I’ll cast it into the fire and all their sins will be gone. (The Island – Russian movie)

THE UNTIED NATIONS – once known as the United Nations…

BRICS nations: Brazil, Russia, India, China, S. Africa.

IDIOCRACY:  It’s hard to be smart with so many dopamine-producing distractions and so much online approval for our uneducated opinions. (from a Joel Stein article in Times magazine)

DONALD TRUMP, proud President of Saudi America.

EGREGIOUS:  conspicuously and outrageously bad or reprehensible (and didn’t I just mention Donald Trump?)

ECONOMICS is not a science, it’s a set of values pretending to be science.

IT’S DISCOURAGING to think how many people are shocked by honesty and how few by deceit (Noel Coward)

IT IS MY OPINION, subject to change only under extreme duress, that mankind (Earthians as my Teachers call them) were genetically engineered and remain unnaturally so.  That tends to explain a few ridiculous things the species clings to as if its survival depended on them, like Religion, Politics and Money. 

SOME WORDS that need re-defining:  salacious means lust or moral looseness whereas pulchritude means a physically beautiful woman.  I would turn those definitions around.  Salacious sounds so much nicer than pulchritude, I mean, really…

PRECARIAT: the growing majority population whose lives are marked by precariousness, lack, anxiety and fear.

USSA, acronym for United Slave States of America.  Another acronym that needs no interpretation: UKKKA.

PSYCHIATRY is the science of lies. (Thomas Szaz)

FEDERAL RESERVES is a parasite.

THE SUREST SIGN that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that it has never tried to contact us. (Bill Waterson)

WHY THE MILITARY needs so much money to accomplish so little is explained by this military description of a screwdriver – “rotational torque-adjustable fastener applicator.” 

WHEN FACTS don’t fit preconceptions, deny the facts.

US DIPLOMACY can be fully explained in three words: Convert, Co-opt, Conquer.  

A FORTNIGHT is 14 consecutive days, or two weeks.  (Go figure that one out!)

DEMOCRACY is a chimera invented to keep the bottom dwellers in their place without having to resort to police state brutality or chancing violent revolutions.  Democracy and Capitalism are diametrical opposites, but who notices these little things?

PEOPLE in general have an innate need to find something larger than themselves to be a part of. (Matthew Quirk)

CANT: stock phrases become nonsense through endless repetition.

AD HOMINEM: appealing to personal considerations rather than to facts or reason.

TUGAREZ VRAS means “Thank you” in Breton.  (That should be my mother tongue but my parents didn’t use it so defaulted to French.  Life can be so unfair…)

… and finally, let’s give full credit to computerization when it is due.  In looking up the word “eclectic” in my Wordweb dictionary using the control-right click sequence, this was the result: word not found:  “Lrzlililfiwlectiifrzlfilnrs”  – I couldn’t make that up!  (Maybe I should re-think that android brain?) 

 

Imperialists’ Contradictory Truths

{ahhhh… a poem.  One that tries to keep pace with the times, as once in a while the girl has to express what she feels inside, what she reads, what she observes.} 

***I was remiss in not stating that the quote, “postage stamp mindset” is not something I made up, but that I read from DAVID ICKE. ***

[thoughts from   ~burning woman~  ]

From discomfort we loudly proclaim our comfort;
Our corruption defines our character strength;
By feeding generic hate we express our love.

Denial of reality is our unshakeable reality;
Our leaders’ lies are beacons for sacred truth.
From endless deceptions we draw certainty.

With guns and prisons we proclaim freedom;
Prejudice and bigotry: these are our banner;
Turpitude measures our standard of excellence.  

Our wars attest it: we stand for world peace,
However many we must kill to attain this.
The world trembles and bleeds at our holy name.

For we are America, bastion of democracy,
Land of the free, home of the brave;
Ever safe inside our postage stamp mindset.

 

 

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

Fake Democracy Today: give me Slavery, or give me Death!

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

I have heavily criticized and mocked, the modern concept of democracy.  I particularly despise the use of the word democracy as it is applied to those Western nations that but recently emerged from the oppression of their imperial rulers.  They are at best plutocracies.  A better description is, kleptocracies.  

Truth be told, there is nothing democratic about any self-styled democracy.  There may be vestiges of it in some European countries, though I seriously doubt that.  At least based on my interpretation of the concept of democracy.  Socialism as practised in Scandinavian countries doesn’t mean democracy; one is more likely to encounter meritocracies.

Why can’t I accept the term “democracy” as it is applied to Western republics or constitutional monarchies?  It’s very simple: a real democracy would exist freely without any undue influence from any economic, religious or pre-eminent political forces.  It would operate freely under the flow of freely cast majority of votes. Never would it be influenced by advertising or propaganda.  Note the emphasis on “free.”

Let’s get right to it.  During a political campaign, the campaigner would have his or her expenses defrayed by the democracy (the commons) because, you see, it would be the democracy, not her/his ego that got them on the campaign trail.  Do we need reminding that an elected representative in a democracy is a servant of the people, and not of one’s ego?  

Let’s see how our current “representatives” compare:

If a campaigner was caught uttering lies during a campaign, not only would s/he be instantly disqualified from being a representative of the democracy, but subject to severe censure and legal repercussions likely to result in a jail term.  If a campaigner was caught being subverted by a lobbyist, both candidate and lobbyist would be arrested and charged with violating the public trust, the equivalent of being a traitor to the country.  And let’s face it, it is a treasonous act.    

Critical point:  It is my contention that any elected representative in a real democracy could never earn more than the least paid member of said democracy.  To expect more pay than anyone else is to mock the concept of equal representation.  No democracy can function properly under the economic system called capitalism, much less under the current system justly called “predatory capitalism.” 

In a democracy, no election can be valid unless, and until, every member of said democracy has voted, no exceptions allowed except in situations where the individual is mentally or physically unable to complete her or his vote, in which case a person could be duly authorized to cast their vote through power of attorney.  As to voting age, I say the sooner a member is made aware of her/his responsibility, the better.  Voting age? 16.

Obviously in a democracy there can be no political parties, that being a contradiction.  The electoral process would be quite simple, really.  It begins at the most local level.  A community elects a representative to run for governor of a state or province.  That person then runs against all other elected representatives from other communities.  The one who is elected governor is then automatically qualified to run for president, or prime minister.  The one who wins the final round of votes becomes the president.  Too complicated? 

She or he, cannot represent any other group or be attached to any business enterprise, religious organization or other pressure group during the time in office.  A contract to that effect must be signed by the president elect and any violation of this contract would mean a life sentence without parole.  Are we clear on this?

If a people is going to insist they want to live in a democracy it’s high time they took responsibility for their claims.  It’s more than high time the people put an end to the current farcical events of “elections” bought by the highest bidder and candidates coming from the richest members of that society.  Any individual expected to vote under current conditions, if any intelligence was in play, would automatically say, “How stupid do you think I am?” 

I’m sure that with a bit of thinking about it I could come up with an even better description of a proper, working democracy, but for now, this is enough to create some food for thought.  Yes, and I know that these simplistic ideas of mine will be relegated to the garbage pile of non-history as non-applicable, pie-in-the-sky bullshit.  Why?  Because the brainwashing says they can never work.  Not common sense; not simple facts: brainwashing.  Slosh-slosh goes the big political brainwasher through the years until it goes into full spin during the election.  After which, when the insults and punches have been thrown, everybody gradually regains their balance from being spun dizzy, and it’s business as usual.  And you call that a democracy?  “How stupid do you think I am?”   

But just so you know, I happen to know these ideas I presented above are totally applicable, totally practical and absolutely necessary if a working political system is to be called democratic. 

They will not ever be applied, or even tried, however, because our elites will make sure we never get it; that we continue fawning to, and supporting sociopathic, narcissistic, political ponerologists; the war-mongers and billionaires with their locked-in institutions: public education, religious organizations, banks, spying, defence and policing agencies, political parties and all their “grassroots” affiliates, the main stream media, Big Pharma, the medical system and academia, in which we all must trust for no better reason than that they eat us and our world alive, killing our neighbors, enslaving and imprisoning our families, our descendants, leaving always tiny thread of hope for baseless dreams to keep us performing: working, voting, studying, arming, shopping and believing. 

With that much institutional brainwash knocking us about, they can be assured that we’ll never clue in as to what’s actually going on.  Oh sure, we’ll read about it, maybe even think about it, and we’ll certainly talk ourselves blue in the face about it but we’ll never – GET IT.

The “system” says we need to believe… in anything, anything at all, as long as we don’t GET IT.  As long as  we never learn to trust one-another or lean on one-another.  The “system” has us trusting in literal demonic forces.  Even if every one we met or encountered walked around lovingly caring for others, looking and acting like angels from heaven: yes, even so, when it comes to choosing a leader, we’ll go find and choose the demon.  Only the demon is qualified to rule and the ruler must be given sycophantic armed support and protection if deemed necessary, the adulation of fandom and handed the key to the national storehouse and if possible, to all planetary reserves. That’s the brainwash. 

That’s the age-old programming, obviously too much of a headache to try to hack into and neutralize.  The real slogan of any so-called democracy today is, “Give me slavery or give me death!” 

“We do not have to visit a madhouse to find disordered minds; our planet is the mental institution of the universe”.  Johann Wolfgang von Goethe