Category Archives: History

We the Sheeple: the Blind Reading the Blind

I came across the following article on a blog I follow – Tales from the Conspiratum.  I thought of simply re-blogging, but I don’t like the “Tales” background which makes it difficult to read articles, so I went to the source blog, “Counter punch” and simply copied the entire article and pasted it here with all relevant links.

It’s a bit long but it makes points that some of us have known since we went to grade school about the power that is imperialism.  How do we know whether we are living in a “free” world, or enmeshed in an imperial, world-dominating military dictatorship?  To decide, we need access to certain facts, not myths, legends, hearsay or the hum-drum BS of bought-and-paid-for commercial mainstream media.  We need to read what thinkers have to say.  Here is one such article.  May you find the time to ponder.  _________________________________________________________________________________________

We the Sheeple: the Blind Reading the Blind

Shortly after the fall of Communism in the Soviet Union, then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Colin Powell, made a candid confession to the Army Times, “I’m running out of demons, I’m running out of villains. I’m down to Castro and Kim Il Sung.” Amid the general bonhomie of the military interview, Powell nicely encapsulated a central truth of empire: it doesn’t want peace. Never did. Imperialism, the monopoly stage of capitalism, is based on conquest. Peace is little more than an aftermath in the imperialist vision. It is the dusty rubble-strewn silence that descends on Aleppo when the jihadists have been bussed out. It is the silent pollution of the Danube when the NATO jets have flown. It is the quiet that settles on the Libyan square once the slave auction has concluded. Peace is an interlude between the birth of avarice and the advent of aggression. Little else.

If Powell confessed empire’s disinterest in peace, he also expressed the need of the imperials state for a steady supply of new enemies. Conflict is the lifeblood of imperial capitalism. It is how the ruling class further enriches itself. It is how the global elite expand their dominion over the planet. Those who will not pay tribute under threat of menace, must ultimately face the menace. But this truth, that the imperial state is the carmine tip of elite expropriation, must not be aired among the hoi polloi. It is the unseemly underbelly of power and if it were widely understood it would hack away the legitimacy of the state, which is only justified by its nominal commitment to the welfare of the nation. That claim only appears legitimate in the face of some grim and ghastly threat. Powell understood that with the nasty specter of the evil empire crumbling to ash on an Asian plain, a spine-chilling new antagonist would have to be invented to replace it.

Enter the specter of Islamic terror. Islamic terrorism is largely the product of American terror. It is wittingly conjured into being through our wanton destruction of Muslim societies. We did not attack Muslim nations in order to produce a new enemy. We attacked them to extend our control of natural resources, shape the trade routes of the future, and expand the reach of global capital. But the epiphenomenon of terrorism was both predictable and embraced as a casus belli. It is the hobgoblin used by ruling class media to frighten western populations into acquiescence with the west’s warlike vision for global hegemony.

But western populations have of late grown weary of the terrorist scourge and the endless storylines of restive migrants doing the dirty work of mysterious jihadists on the Disneyfied streets of western capitals. Jets into skyscrapers. Cars into crowds. Backpacks in corners of concert halls. High-rise shotgunners spraying bullets into public squares. Terror fatigue is spreading across a western world that could only sustain permanent stress levels for so long. Thankfully, for the managers of empire and its media flacks, a reborn Russian state, rising from the ashes of a capitalist looting spree, has provided a second narrative front in the war for the mind of the west. A different visage emerges. Not the bearded votary narrating a death wish to a shaky cam. But a Muscovite in a bespoke suit with a supercilious grin on his sly poker face. The optics are different, but in a media environment of constant overexposure, that is a good thing.

Both terrorism and a revanchist Russia represent figments of horror in the minds of western citizens. They are the bête noire with which we can shape our worldview and pepper our cocktail conversations. We do not realize that Islamic terror is largely a product of American terror. We do not see that American aggression provokes Russian self-defense. As such, these orientalist caricatures represent the hypocrisy of imperial neoliberalism, which is forever flying the false flag of economic justice and democratic freedom over its just-conquered capitals. Inhabitants of those broken cities know better, as their standard of living plummets and their dictators are replaced by juntas. They know the west is like Joseph Conrad’s sepulchral city, where an alabaster exterior hides a crypt of rotting flesh. That is the real vision that western media works so feverishly to disguise, one no sane person could stomach. That’s why the media must craft fresh Frankensteins at such a feverish pace. Fairy tales of secular missionaries bringing the gift of free-market democracy to the benighted tribes of the east.

Globalization and Its Discontents

The terminology of that fairy tale is telling. The term ‘globalization’ has been used as a portmanteau containing all of the sly nuance of neoliberalism. Globalization is the rush of capital into every conceivable crevice of the planet in search of profitable new ventures. Unfortunately, markets must be pried open with war when rhetorical picklocks don’t suffice. The term ‘humanitarian’ is the masque we now affix to the gruesome face of war whenever we must attack some recalcitrant socialist backwater. What we used to call a ‘civilising mission’ in Africa, we now call a ‘humanitarian intervention’ in the Middle East. Historians call that ‘progress.’

The effect of this noble-minded fustian is to pacify a population and to marginalize anyone who attempts to reveal the true character of imperial action. Who would oppose a globalizing force of open markets that promise to bring ‘developing’ and ‘emerging’ nations online and on par with our post-industrial west? Those who do can hardly explain the extractive nature of neoliberal globalization or its deindustrializing effect on developing economies before they are skewered by the flagbearers of humanitarianism. Who would deny the righteous cause of intervening to halt imminent genocide? One has barely called into question whether genocide is actually imminent before being fleeced by the rhetorical guardians of the west’s civilizing mission. The righteous R2P. One has hardly breathed a word of how the ‘war on terror’ is largely generated by the state terror we inflict on other nations before being rubber-stamped a traitor and told to leave the country (if you don’t like it).

The fable must be accepted. We are spreading freedom and equality. Simple as that. End of story. Say that the United States is the greatest counter-revolutionary force in the world, and be branded a traitor–by the counter-revolutionaries. Wherever democratic freedom rears its ugly head, you can be sure that U.S. media flacks, as well as special forces, drones, proxy terrorists, and battalions are on hand to crush what they claim to defend.

Softening the Blow

The fairy tales are told by the mainstream media, shamelessly so. The Wolf Blitzers of the world devote themselves to the slavish production of fresh threats. The liberal MSM is represented today by outlets such as the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, CNN, MSNBC, and NPR. These ciphers take the crude evasions of the White House, State Department, Pentagon, and intelligence agencies, and camouflage them. They dress them in muted tones that dampen the drama of blast craters. They massage the story to elide the facts that might produce introspection or taint the purity of our self-image. Self-criticism is inappropriate, but the righteous condemnation of other nations is a moral mandate. Print everything in classic fonts, with well-designed column widths, and add in world-class photography that turns ruination into artistic representation. This is the manna consumed by the acolytes of exceptionalism.

Nothing better embodies the empty ruse of liberalism than the bulky deadwood of the Times. There is of course the elitist coverage of mini-breaks in distant villas, where war-torn peasant societies repair their communities round a communal table. There are the heady profiles of the latest restaurant trends, where the bearded Brooklyn chef with neck tats touts his vegan currywurst to the gentrified hood. There is the fastidious theater review and the effusive real estate forecast. Filler aside, readers will be reminded that war is necessary when America wages it; globalization is inevitable when it means free markets, and free markets mean individual freedom; multiculturalism and mass immigration are desirable to all, irreversible, and a moral imperative; and inscrutable new alien threats are profiled with an Orientalist’s hopeful but ultimately worrisome and mystified gaze. Little mention is made of the fact that our conflicts are provably imperial resource wars; that in nearly every port of call our country wages counter-revolutionary battles that stifle liberation and independence; that globalization has wrecked the American standard of living through labor arbitrage and offshoring; that immigration ought not to be coupled with austerity unless the objective is race wars; that the lives of women, LGBTQ, and people of color are collateral damage in the crosshairs of empire; or that American capitalism has no interest in delivering jobs, living wages, or upward mobility to its extant population, let alone its newest members.

When these mostly taboo subjects are noted, they are presented as a perplexing side effects of a noble project of laissez faire globalization. They are unfortunate but must not be rashly addressed. Better to endlessly maintain the status quo as one wrestles with the philosophic implications of global capitalism. This was Obama’s favorite tactic. Open a dialogue, but don’t change anything important. This dissembling attitude was beautifully expressed in a recent Twitter thread which detailed seventy years of Times articles proclaiming a dizzying succession of reform-minded princes in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where the patriarchy’s misogynist grip on power is as firm as ever, as is Washington’s backing. The last post in that thread noted Thomas Friedman’s sycophantic paean to the new idol of Saudi imperialism, Mohammed Bin Salman, or ‘MBS’ to his fawning admirers. Friedman’s article was printed last week.

When not absorbing the high culture of the Times literary supplement, one finds the corporate liberal Democrat happily digesting bite-sized reports from the National Public Radio (NPR). Here the adherence to the state view is no less vigilant than in print. Thus when NPR interviews a CIA psychologist who tells us that whistleblowers are either psychopaths, narcissists, or lingering in some irresponsible adolescence, the “national security correspondent” fails to challenge these claims. And when Australian broadcasting interviews Hillary Clinton, it allows the venal egotist to smear WikiLeaks as a Kremlin tool and call Julian Assange a narcissistic opportunist without the slightest resistance. Questions about the shady dealings of the Clinton Foundation are feebly set aside at the merest sign of discomfort by Madame Secretary. And Times op-ed writers like Friedman can happily call for support of al Qaeda, destroying target societies, and cheerlead more global wage leveling by chastising workers for not falling in lockstep with the elitist program.

These are the signs of a dead discipline. The mainstream media is no longer adversarial. It takes the official story at face value. It has abdicated its proper role in a democratic society, which is partly why we are no longer a democratic society. As Princeton University has explained, we are effectively a plutocracy. Thanks to the MSM, though, most of us continue to believe the rhetorical platitudes of our corrupt leaders. Media is one of our numberless emasculated institutions, which are now authoritarian and warlike. (See liberal faith in the Mueller investigation, led by a neoliberal imperialist who fought to crush Vietnamese socialism and led the FBI, one of the most regressive and criminal organizations in the world.) Like readers who still place a naive faith in the government, MSM writers continue to believe they are doing independent journalism in the service of truth (“Democracy dies in darkness,” the Post implores us). But real journalism accepts nothing at face value. It is the Socratic voice that unsettles the consensus.

Bot Bylines

Instead of incisive journalism that digs, defies, and holds power to account, we get self-censoring media automatons pampering oligarchs and pretending that all good-thinking people care deeply about the state of the state. Listen to the soothing language of the New York Times on the supposedly earth-shaking Russian influence campaign on social media. It hits all the right notes without seriously challenging the narrative. Note how it bleeds concern. This kind of journalism is a palliative for the conscience of a liberal. Ah, the “thorny debates” inside Facebook, no doubt had “in good faith,” and subject to “fateful misunderstandings,” if Ken Burns were documenting it. “Executives worry” and there is considerable “hand-wringing” afoot in good faith efforts to wipe out “fake news.”

Even the protagonists of the story are usefully quoted. Facebook lawyers, commenting on the miniscule purchase of ads over a two-year period from accounts with even the most tenuous Russian connection, much of it after the election, much of it not even mentioning presidential candidates, and the creation of bots to grow click farms, recoiled in horror and called the knowledge “deeply disturbing” and “an insidious attempt to drive people apart.” This is theater for the masses. Cue the organ grinder.

The goal of this domestic conditioning is to remove the democracy from democracy. The objective is to create a hollow shell of a democratic society, representative on the outside, plutocratic on the inside. The marble tomb inhabited by necrosis. This is deliberate. Read Alex Carey’s Taking the Risk Out of Democracy for a nice overview of how America’s collective conscience has been shaped by corporate forces. Why? Because we are the enemy. The enemy is our freedom of thought and speech, because that is what inevitably leads to democratic, socialist, or communist change that benefit the people as a whole, not just the vanishingly small margin of corporate elites who promote and profit from war, conquest, and rule. The problem with democracy is that it isn’t very profitable for capital. Socialist countries tend to emphasize social services. It is extremely hard to make money delivering quality social services to the poor. Really, the only way to make money off of social services is to deliver inadequate social services to the middle class for extravagant fees. See Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act for a master class in this technique. Monopoly capitalism is incompatible with actual democracy. To the degree that a truly democratic society can have free markets, they must be strictly regulated, prevented from reaching monopoly status, and completely walled off from public institutions. Otherwise, they will cannibalize those institutions, reshaping them as rubberstamp organs of elite profit.

As it is, democracy is merely the mask that disguises the engines of imperialism. It is useful in this regard because, unlike socialism, democracy makes no serious claims on the means of production. It depoliticizes the most political issue of all: economics. Thus the manufacture of enemies, job one for the ruling class media, always targets socialist-leaning nations that sense the need for economic justice alongside social justice. Even if they are mixed economies that provide space for open markets, like Venezuela. It makes no difference. We mustn’t tolerate the slightest majoritarian impulse in the economic arena. All such beliefs must be terminated. We must be refashioned as foot soldiers of exploitation. To this end, western propaganda outlets have made psychologist Erich Fromm’s warning sound less like prophecy than predestination, “The danger of the past was that men became slaves. The danger of the future is that men may become robots.”

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Jason Hirthler is a veteran of the communications industry and author of The Sins of Empire: Unmasking American Imperialism. He lives in New York City and can be reached at jasonhirthler@gmail.com.

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I Lived and Died, Then

Remembrances of a young French woman

by Sha’Tara

The resurgence of Fascism, or Neo Nazism is not something I could easily ignore. This past life piece of an autobiography will explain why that is such an important issue for me. At least that’s what I mean to happen. I have to put heavy restraints on my feelings in order to get this written in some proper chronology. The following is difficult, and painful, to recall and to recount here, even now, at this time and in this life.

Let me take you back to those years of which so much history, so many stories and movies have been written and made, beginning in 1940, and for me, ending in 1943.

In 1940 I was living in eastern France, on the border with Belgium near Mont St. Martin. I was 23 years old, married to a heavy set, tall, abusive drunkard and had no children. My name was Helene Matthieu, nee DuPre. For me the draft had been a God-send as it had taken Henri away from me. What happened to him subsequent to his going to war against Germany I cannot say. I never saw him again, nor heard from him. It may sound callous but I never regretted his disappearance. But then as you will read, those were strange times.

Suddenly though not unexpectedly my small world was invaded by the Germans. I was out on the street of our town to watch the Panzers rolling through, as were just about everybody else in town. The pretty girls were noticed, as I was. Before I knew it I had made the acquaintance of some very handsome, gorgeous German soldiers. One thing to another and I was introduced to the general staff, and promised that I’d be in Paris within the month. I had nothing; there were refugees everywhere. The future looked bleak and Paris was a powerful attractant for someone like myself. I needed this event to disappear from Mont St. Martin. How could someone like me have any idea what living under the Wermacht-SS coalition was going to devolve into?

Subsequently, with my Wermacht contacts I did make my way to Paris after the cessation of overt hostilities. It was a breath of fresh air. Full of their superiority and success, the Germans were gallant to a fault though some were pushy – men are men, whatever they wear, whatever language they speak. I didn’t mind, none of the other girls did either or we would have found ways to return where we came from – though I would never call it home. Paris became my home.

My luck kept up with me. I knew how to drive, even recklessly, so I was trained and hired as a driver for the general staff, mostly to run errands, sometimes to deliver messages. Some of those drives took me to areas bordering the Channel – which we call “La Manche” as you probably know. Though the war raged across the Channel and I heard about it, the horror of what the English, especially in London, had to sustain didn’t come down to us. Our news were carefully filtered, you can imagine. Still for me, the rest of 1940 and to the Summer of 1941 were a good year.

Though I could not know it however, my own black clouds were gathering and these good years were to become the sort of good year you experience reading a romance novel, not in a real life.

Things, strange and troubling, were happening around me. My German friends remained friendly but my mood changed. I saw people taken out of their homes, beaten and taken prisoner. They were Jews and those who had harboured them. Then I saw ordinary French people, including women and children, rounded up and summarily shot. My fear and anger grew day by day though I did not show it. I was beginning to think of a way I could help some of these people being taken away. I had passes and access to Wermacht vehicles. And often enough I was sent to the coast where the great defenses against a sea invasion were being built. The vehicles I drove were large with lots of room inside where a couple of people could hide. My passes meant I’d never be searched.

It was late in 1941, early Winter, when a young man with a bicycle was standing near the entrance to the flat I shared with another woman. He watched me as I unlocked the door to enter, then rushed up, grabbed me, pushed me inside and closed the door – so quickly I had no time to even think of screaming. I fell to the floor, he on top of me. He held me in a stranglehold and had one hand on my mouth. “Shhh!” he said and made the throat cutting gesture. I went limp, waiting, petrified, sure he was going to kill me.

Je suis avec la Resistance” he said. That was enough. Already several women who “collaborated” with the Germans had disappeared. We had one chance to remain alive: join the Resistance and work to defeat the Reich. When he allowed me to speak I told him I had already decided to do that. He knew all about me and what I did so he was cautiously relieved. “Je ne voulais pas the couper la gorge, tu es trop belle.” (I didn’t want to slit your throat, you’re too pretty.)

And so began a terrible cat and mouse game. I was able to carry documents to the coast along with a few terrified Jews and Gypsies, mostly children. There were contact points and small boats came in the dead of night under fog to pick up escapees and survivors. I have to say, as memory serves here, that the English people who came thus to help were probably the bravest and most honourable people imaginable. What a contrast with my swaggering “hosts” in Paris. From today, from another life, once again: Thank you, English water folks.

Such serendipity cannot last. Predictably my clandestine operations were discovered. I was stopped, searched, arrested by the SS only three months (give or take) into my new life as a “Resistante.”

I will not, cannot, describe the sort of tortures they did to me. I’ll tell you the rest from a different viewpoint, from this life.

It is common for children to have terribly frightening nightmares. The most common is the kind where you try to run away from someone, or something terrible and you cannot get up to speed. Something always holds you back, forces you to just drag along. I had those, and another kind where I was walking in a gloomy landscape bathed in greenish light. All around me were those gaping round holes. I had to try to escape by walking around them or jumping a cross them over very narrow ledges. Each step threatened death. But as a child I had a third kind of recurring nightmare, one I could not share with anyone, it was just too hellish and I didn’t, couldn’t, understand why I could see such a thing.

In this repetitive nightmare I saw a young woman chained to a cement wall, spreadeagled. She was naked and there was blood on her skin. Her hair was matted and she either screamed, or moaned. The wall was part of a small, squarish cement room and in the middle was a table. There were usually three men in the room. Two were soldiers in uniforms and oh yes, I did recognize those! The third man, quite older, sat at the table and spoke to the woman. If she answered, she was beaten by one of the other two. If she did not answer, she was beaten, sometimes savagely whipped with a sort of belt.

Years passed and I grew up. The usual nightmares stopped, but not this one. It only became more real, with more details as I could now reason why this woman was being tortured and what they were doing to her, including raping her time and again.

In the late eighties, while under the instructions of “The Teachers” as I call them, the one called “El Issa” – a small woman with a keen interest in all the things of earth – asked me about my nightmare. “Do you know yet what that is all about?” I said no, no idea, but it is very personal and poignant. What does it mean?

She said, I waited to tell you because I wanted you to understand the meaning of true forgiveness. Now I will tell you who the woman is and what happened to her. Her name is (not was) Helene Matthieu. You have been looking at a few scenes of your immediate past life, that’s why I say “is” – for you, all these events exist in real time. You are here, but you are there also. And in many other places, as you will now discover with your power to delve into past lives and perhaps if you are diligent, into future lives as well.

I will finish this story for you. The SS tortured you mercilessly because to them you were the ultimate traitor. They had taken you in and you betrayed the hand that fed you. So you had to pay a heavier price, you see? They raped you in that cell and you became pregnant. They watched as you grew, then they systematically beat you until you aborted. They made you watch that dead child. They burned it in front of you. There were more tortures. Eventually they didn’t even want your answers, they’d gotten all they’d get from you and got nowhere. You were and are, a very stubborn individual. They just continued to torture you until late in the Summer of 1943 you finally gave up fighting to stay alive and died. You were then twenty six years old and you joined millions of other young women who died in similar circumstances: the costs of war; collateral damage.

There is much more to this story; this past life remembrance that is so vivid it may as well be of this life. There is the whole aspect of forgiveness which the event was used by El Issa to stamp into my consciousness. I have written about this here and there, and probably will again. But it’s got to be for another time, this is already so long. And as always when I delve into that time, I feel extremely wiped, mind tired. Thank you for reading. I’m not asking that you accept the reality of other lives – that’s a personal awareness.  Sha’Tara, aka, ~burning woman~

Confessions on War Day

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

Have you ever had those moments in time when you just can’t get out of your own mind?  It’s like those dreadful days at the corporation they call “stock taking” where the business is literally shut down and everybody is expected to become, if not an accountant, at least a counting machine.  The word “boring” doesn’t even begin to describe it.  Fortunately for some of us, we were the “cutting edge” of techie support, always on call and if Lady Luck was in the mood for granting us a boon, we’d get an emergency call, preferably from some McDonald restaurant with a problem that would take at least a day or so to resolve.  We’d make sure to call in the reserves on that day, make friends all around… I digress…

In the many pigeon holes that make up the mind, there’s one large one, generally and thankfully covered over with cobwebs where we file personal information we’re not so fond of, memories of less than scintillating performances among kin, clan, fellow and fellowette students, co-workers, and drib-drabs of conversations held after mass on the church porch while our priest walked around the disappearing crowd shaking hands and soaking up congrats on his sermon.

Taking a huge leap here: I’m in one of those “stock-taking” phases, so I may as well clear the cobwebs and start pulling out the scrolls, rolls and polls.  If you already know even just a little bit about me, you know I’m inclined to tell stories.  I’ve always been able to do that and convince myself that a well told story passed off as truth isn’t a lie, it’s a skill.  It’s art.  I figure that as long as I’m not using it to suck money from the unsuspecting, no one’s hurt.  Mostly it makes it easier to live with myself, whoever that is, I’m still looking for whomever stands behind the mirror.  I don’t like surprises so I cling to my stories so that I never realize that the character behind my mirror is a crazily grinning rattling skeleton.

Be that as it may, if I have to be honest here, after scanning through some of the memory rolls I have to admit that for about half of my life I was an insufferable egotist.  I enjoyed being “in charge” and calling other people short on their performance.  I’m being truthful now, the stories will resume again later.  For the second part of my life unto this day, well, despite a lot of life changing moves, I remain a driving bitch.  I get an idea, see?  I put it through the meat grinder, observe what’s left and woe unto my immediate world if anything remains that shows it’s a valid thought.  I say what I mean and mean what I say.

I did learn this though, and that is to not impose a “new idea” upon the world until I’ve fully tested it.  If it’s going to blow anyone up, it should after all be me, not some poor unsuspecting victim.  So, you’ll ask with bated (baited?  Nah, let’s stick with the other spelling), what’s the new idea then?

I’m going to close off the memory hole now, having taken stock and looking a bit green, and let’s talk about that new idea.

In keeping with the “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help me God” here, this isn’t a story.  The new idea isn’t new at all.  I’ve already been bashing all and sundry with for quite some time, and I call it compassion.  “Oh yeah… (yawn) don’t we know it.  All that stuff about compassion being the great idea to save the world, and how it is incompatible with love.  Can’t you talk about something else?”

I suppose I could but remember I said, “No story: the straight goods this time.”  Yes, I am being annoying.  Yes, I am proposing a world-changing concept that people in general will do all in their power to deny, refuse outright or insist on mixing with a whole lot of sugar so it tastes basically the same as any other world changing concept ever presented to be played with and dog-fought over and thankfully amount to nothing more than establishing another money-sucking group or collective with a colourful title and great mission statement.

The sugar in this case is called love.  A cornucopia of beautiful white granules that can be spread over, or melted in, just about any other idea confection to make it palatable or even a delicacy.  Love, man’s greatest of all feel-good drug.  A spoon-full before sex legitimizes a terribly taboo performance and makes it feel even better.  A meal or two of it just before plunging in the battle of the Somme or the Gallipoli campaign.

Yes, of course love is the great sweetener of war.  No one goes to war just to kill an enemy, or just to be killed.  There aren’t that many outright psychopaths out there, or assisted suicide hopefuls.  Of course not.  And we have, at least in the West, November 11 to be reminded that our wars were and remain wars of love.  Love is what made those “fools” rush in where angels would never tread.  Love in defense of the home land and to keep our loved ones safe from a barbaric enemy.  Does it matter if your commanders, your leaders, are themselves obvious psychos and often the real aggressors?  Ours is not to question why, ours is but to do or die.  We do it for love.  Then we die in love, in heaps and heaps of love.  What I don’t understand is, why are these heroes of love mourned when they should be cheered while we do all that we can to ensure we too get to embark upon another warring love adventure and die for love?  Could it be there’s something not quite right with the picture?

My father, for all his faults, was a veteran of WWII.  He participated in the complete defeat of the French army in 1940, was finally captured and sent to a German prisoner of war camp.  There, despite unbelievable conditions and near starvation, he survived, met people from all over the conquered world and interacted also with German soldiers.  Surprise: they were no different than he was, if only better fed and better educated.  He rubbed shoulders with other Third Reich slaves: gypsies, not yet slated for the slaughter, communists, homosexuals, writers, philosophers, any sort the Reich saw as dangerous enemies and would squeeze to death in the war effort.  Dad, being a great communicator, made friends where it mattered and basically talked his way out of the camp and returned to Brittany to work the fields growing food for the German army holding the coast.  From there into the underground (tracer bullets, he said, are really scary shit) and from there to become a landless and penniless recently married family man forced to emigrate to Canada to try and make a living.  Love was in short supply in the real war and post-war world so maybe I learned to function without much of it myself.

So you see, I’m not the one who’s spreading bullshit stories by proposing we give “love” a break, cast it adrift, and look for something a bit more realistic upon which to build a future.  We’ve already spent all the love we could through our endless wars, and we’re expending a whole lot of that sugary nonsense in the Middle East right now.  We’re eager to cover North Korea with war-love sugar and those crazies don’t understand and want none of it.  Can’t they see how well our love has worked to this day?  Can’t they marvel at how our love wars have made the world a wonderful, humane, free, clean, safe, world where no one need ever again worry about waking up starving, to be blown up or on the wrong side of some great big beautiful wall?

Assuming I’m being just a tad sarcastic, do you see why I would propose we look at something else, something other than, something we’ve never, ever tried in its unadulterated state?  It’s so simple.
a) stop defending love as a legitimate form of interrelationship.  Admit it doesn’t work.  Let it go.  Don’t worry, it won’t go far.  It will keep braying at the barn door day after day to be re-admitted and fed in the hope of engendering new conflicts.
b) just think about compassion, nothing else, as the means to change the world.   Define it for yourself without, just this once, throwing a pinch of it in the mixing bowl amongst a heaping pile of sugary love and calling it compassion.  Try it raw, show your mettle.

That’s the challenge from this honest certifiable bitch.

The alternative is simple: find another means of change that can accomplish the same thing without all the bother of self empowerment, detachment and willingness to give to all who ask; or declare that it is preferable to stick with the tried and failed because, well, it’s what you’re used to and it’s comfortable this way.

Western Leadership does us Proud

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

“History is the fiction we invent to persuade ourselves that events are knowable and that life has order and direction. That’s why events are always reinterpreted when values change. We need new versions of history to allow for our current prejudices.” ― Bill Watterson, Homicidal Psycho Jungle Cat.

    When I wax philosophical in mind I immediately look around, within and without to discover the source of the unease.  I learned over the years that thinking of a philosophical bent is neither natural nor normal.  It doesn’t “just happen” because, say, you were born with a penchant for philosophy.  There is no such thing.
What I suspect there is, however, is awareness.  What is awareness?  It’s that which most people have no concept of, no clue about and would consider a great inconvenience, much like discovering a conscience in an age of decadence and moral turpitude.
“Everything I like is either immoral, illegal or fattening.”  That was one of those “cute” sayings of the 70’s.  Looking back on it, it wasn’t a cute saying at all, but a prophecy of the coming end of civilization.  Since that time it’s been nothing but a mad rush towards the abyss of inhumane and inhuman proclivities, particularly for the western world.
The western world has been a leader in many great things, like banking; like income tax; like false morality; like the making and breaking of laws; like the invention of chemicals to maximize monetary profits in, well, everything; like propaganda and advertising to make lies into tools of success and entertainment; like weapons of mass destruction and endless war.
Particularly, the western world has been a leader in decadence and the making of waste as well as the amazingly successful invention of state and personal debt, putting every nation on earth into hock (including the inventors, but let’s not go there right now).
I was raised within that unthinkable world of applied discipline, meaningful correction, punishment for breaking home and school rules.  I was told never to waste food (and when you work on a homestead as a kid you learn what that means: that waste translates into serious loss which everybody feels – it isn’t loss transferable to unknown denizens of “darkest Africa” or Asian slave pools.  We were our own slaves, and the “plantation” that grew our food was all too real; all too “in your face” and all too ready to turn on you and leave you destitute from one bad move or a turn of the weather.  “Waste not, want not” was our motto.  We didn’t have to like it.
Then came the miracle of corporate propaganda and purchased elections and elected representatives.  Overnight, while almost everybody was sound asleep, all of the western world’s values turned over and were summarily dropped into a “Glad” garbage bag and dragged to the curb for disposal.  America and its satellite states turned into national garbage dumps.  Open waters no longer safe to drink.  Foods that fattened and killed.  Air that poisoned lungs.  Anthropological climate change.  Resource wars.
And, that was that.  A few more years and a Donald Trump sat on the American throne spewing out his bile at the entire world and the people so dummied down over fifty years of living a complete lie, too stupefied to realize what had happened, or what should, or could, be done about it.
So this short rant is all about leadership, you see, because without leadership we could never have accomplished so much, and been such effective trendy leaders.
Isn’t it amazing what we have accomplished?  And to think we’re hardly done yet.  We still have coal, gas and oil to burn.  Weaponry to unleash upon a shocked world.   Bigger lies to spew.  Legitimate regimes and governments to overthrow.  Women to exploit, rape, oppress and beat up.  Blacks to exploit, oppress, disenfranchise, jail and kill.  We still have loads of immigrants who can be used, abused, enslaved, mistreated and deported when no longer of use as field and house slaves.
I can imagine all sorts of ways the western world can continue to lead by example.
Yes, we’re the West… we’re the Shit, man!

The Collapse of Empire, or Something more?

 

[thoughts from   ~burning woman~  ]

Are we really seeing the collapse and downfall of more than just a historically minor event such as the now inescapable fading of the American military/industrial empire?  Are we not in fact entering into the final “hurrah!” of man’s entire global civilization with no possibility of turning back?

Though a majority of people are beginning to feel the slippery slope dragging them and their certainty down, it’s still very much business as usual and if some things appear, well, seriously skewed, there’s got to be something to blame it on which “they” will, of course, correct in due time.  And, we have all the time in the world after all.

It’s been man’s way since… when, exactly?  No one knows, but since history was recorded, man’s way of dealing with massive change and catastrophe has been to throw a lot of money (or equivalent) measured in blood, sweat and tears, at it until “it” was tamed and reconfigured. 

But never fixed: that is something that man considers below his dignity to address.  Fixing would mean serious change and that’s just too deep, too heavy, too complicated, too… utopian.  Utopias are for dreamers in Never-never Land, and for conspiracy theorists. 

What would it entail, to fix our dying civilization (as opposed to screaming, bombing, consuming and poisoning it to death)?  Imagine wholeheartedly coming to terms with our differences, such as race, colour, gender, sex, social status, and choosing peaceful and bloodless co-existence on a planetary scale.  Not just between Earthians, but between all the creatures that make up our biosphere and living/livable space? 

The response to that question: Hell no… we don’t fix nothin’ heah.  If it don’t do what we want it to do, we jes’ beat the tar out of it until it does and if it don’t, we shoot it and bust it up good.  Then we celebrate the dust up if we win, and vow revenge if we lose.  The game goes ever on.

Man’s idea of solving problems is strictly out of a Warner Brothers cartoon world.  In man’s world you can kill at will knowing more always appears to make new targets.  You can destroy all you want, it all grows back.  Whatever it is you destroy you “know” that it will be back tomorrow so you can destroy it some more, and not only have fun doing it, but profit from the destruction.  Somehow, no matter how much abuse we give it, this world is a magical cornucopia that takes a lickin’ and keeps on tickin.’  Why worry? 

Without realizing the total unreliability of his eye-blink historical record, man relies on it to make the critical decision not to care about how the world is reacting to unrelenting and increasing abuse.  After all, says history, there’s never been an end before, just some tough patches some had to go through.  We went down and came back up swinging against, well, just about everything but particularly against nature, for nature has always been, and remains, man’s number one enemy, the one to be subdued through overt pillage and rape. 

It’s all a question of guts and glory.  The planet needs taming and conquering and it’s so big that nothing man does can have any significance when it comes to destruction. 

Right?  OK, so maybe it doesn’t seem right, but it certainly is done that way as observation notes. 

So?  So, here’s something to ponder.  History does say man always came back.  But two things come into this static picture of the past.  One, and obviously, there never was the population density (that we can know of) we are now experiencing, with no place left to go when the life boat seriously begins to take in water, except into the water to drown.  Two, we never had the technology (that we know of) we now have that empowers us to literally destroy most of life on this world. 

Two current problems history has no hindsight on, so cannot help us resolve.  We’re on our own – how about that!  So, what’s local “man” doing about it?  Well, in the midst of what is probably the most serious heat wave ever experienced in this neck of the woods, the local water-slides are doing a booming business.  That’s just one thing I’ve observed.  Certainly not unexpected, but what does that say about the general mindset? 

The First Law of The First World: “Thou shalt not mess with my comfort, my pleasure and my financial profit.”  

Thus we ensure that what we are experiencing is not just the downfall of a particularly deranged capitalistic empire, but the imploding of man’s entire global civilization… with no hope whatever of turning it around.  All I see for “healing” are band aid solutions applied to a global hemorrhage, simply because a real fix would mean loss of, you guessed it, comfort, pleasure and profit and that is unacceptable to the planetary mindset.

A Difficult but Necessary Matter of Balance

 (thoughts from    ~burning woman~   by Sha’Tara)

I haven’t had much time for blogging lately, being as they say, busy.  But surprisingly, I’ve had time, perhaps too much time, to think about this world, about its overall condition and where it is heading, apparently heedless and unaware.  I know this is a judgment forming an opinion, but not once in my entire life of 70 years has my sense of where things are going ever been wrong.  It’s like a compass in my mind, something I can “see” and rely on entirely, basing my personal movements on it, knowing when to “hold and when to fold” as the song goes.

I feel massive waves of sorrow passing over me time and again, triggered by many encounters: a baby in its mother’s arms; an old man hunched over waiting to safely cross a busy street; a homeless lady holding a sign saying, ‘Please buy my CD, I’m hungry’ and displaying a CD she probably found in a dumpster – (she got lucky: I saw her and I chose to believe her despite all the propaganda against her) or even moved to a helpless stop by the wind’s choreography of tree branches not yet covered in leaves.  A house hunched behind a sagging gate; a rusting sign from a business that went broke years before…  

Have you ever just “thought” about “the world” and had tears well in your eyes until they started flowing down your cheeks?  Closed your eyes and brought your hands together as if in prayer, though you don’t pray?  Then thinking, ‘Do I want to be here?’ and knowing the answer is ‘No, I don’t want to feel this, this way, connected to this chaos of ignorance, of pain, of apparent mindlessness.  I don’t want to be the stranger any longer; to not be able to speak to the trees, the birds, the clouds.  I’m tired of just feeling and finding it so terribly difficult to harness those feelings; to draw intelligence, awareness, understanding, acceptance and meaningful teaching from them.  That is probably neither their purpose, nor task but I’m breaking the rules here.’ 

Life, I find, is like driving a street.  Some parts are smooth, some rough.  Some are safe and some, well, you may not get out of alive.  The truly sad part is, much of life is entered into without its overall costs duly assessed.  People are programmed, it seems, to repeat patterns and unable to stop and consider the risks, the odds, based on previous lives, previous experiences of elder people, or people in history.  ‘What are my chances this is going to work as I hope?’ Is not the question asked.  Plunge into the swamp, there are no alligators here!  But there are, disguised as floating logs.  You may have passed your swimming tests and won medals, but guaranteed: terror is but a splash behind you, and it isn’t virtual reality. 

Too dark a vision?  Probably, but some of us have chosen a path that runs counter to that of the herd and we see that which the herd isn’t permitted to see, and would not want to see in any case. 

Someone has to shed burning hot tears for the dying.  It’s a difficult but necessary matter of balance.  

 

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.”

(Page 2)

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.