Category Archives: The Ugly Materialistic Culture

Obsolescent and Pointless


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

I’ve been thinking a lot more about man’s civilization.  There’s a word that keeps coming up: obsolescent.  According to the definition, that word means something is on the way to becoming obsolete.  Implied: it isn’t there yet, but most likely to become so.  We know that all systems tend towards entropy, a state in which no energy is available to do any work.  It’s there but not in any usable form.
To plagiarize the “Good Lord” and his introductions to some parables: “And to what shall I compare this Earthian civilization?  There was a man who was looking for transportation, for a car.  He walked and walked and came to a town, not surprisingly named “Car Town” and he being in search of a Car, decided to find one in this town.  He walked around and counted eleven car dealerships.  Every dealership, he noticed, had hundreds of cars for sale, compact, subcompact, medium size, and some big monsters.  There was a wonderful array of colours of cars to choose from, and many sales people waved at him from office windows, and from the yards.
    Finally he entered a dealership and was accosted by a saleswoman who excitedly brought him to their special of the week.  It was a lovely car.  He asked for the key so he could try it out.  Her face fell at the request, but she dutifully produced the key and he tried to start it.  It turned over but wouldn’t start.  Another car did start but died just as he was entering the street.  Another had two flat tires.  On and on.  He went to dealership after dealership but none of their cars worked properly.  There was always something wrong, or he could tell that none would last any length of time and he’d be wasting his money.
    Despondent, he walked out into the outskirts of the town, towards the slums.  Over the barking of dogs and the jeers of kids “just hanging” he heard the sound of a motor.  Intrigued he went down an alley between derelict house trailers to find a young girl and a boy working over a cart in which was installed a small motor.  He noticed that the motor had a v-belt pulley and a belt that went to another pulley on the rear axle of the cart.  The girl got in the cart and engaged a lever that pushed an idler pulley against the inside of the v-belt, thus transferring the power to the rear wheels and the cart jumped forward and she threaded it through several obstacles in the yard, then down the alley and disappeared.
    The man approached the boy and said, “That is an amazing piece of work, and it can be used for transportation as well?”  “Yes” replied the boy, “my sister is going to use it to fetch groceries and stuff for granny and granpa ’cause they can’t walk to the store anymore and it’s dangerous for old people to walk the streets – they are often attacked by gangs of kids, for their money.”
    “I see” said the man, “So when you are old enough for a license, you’re going to buy a real car from one of the dealers in town?”
    “Not a chance,” replied the boy, “None of their junk works.  They used too, so says granny, but they rushed and rushed to build them, using cheaper and cheaper parts so they could display more cars but eventually they were so badly built none of them ran.  I’m going to build my own car once I can afford to have proper parts made for it.  I have a friend whose mom is a welder, and my teacher was an army engineer.  He’s going to help me build it.  I don’t imagine it’ll be fancy, but it will run, that’s the main thing.” 
    Thus endeth the parable. 
    There are many I realize, who still hope and pray and wish, and have faith in the greater love of man, that those beautifully useless cars in the dealer car lots of Car Town can yet be fixed and put on the road.  I can’t blame them for their faith in man: I’ve been there and I know how hard it is to let go of the self-delusion and face the music of the times.  This civilization isn’t going anywhere but down.  It is obsolescent.
    It is more than obsolescent, if that wasn’t enough: it has become redundant, pointless, meaningless.  There will be nothing new to sprout under this sun. Let me mention a couple of things I read about recently that illustrate where this society is going.  You be the judge here.  The following quote is from yesterday’s article by George Monbiot titled, Urge, Splurge, Purge – monbiot.com
    QUOTE: “A system that depends on growth can survive only if we progressively lose our ability to make reasoned decisions. After our needs, then strong desires, then faint desires have been met, we must keep buying goods and services we neither need nor want, induced by marketing to abandon our discriminating faculties and succumb instead to impulse.
    You can now buy a selfie toaster, that burns an image of your own face onto your bread – the Turin Shroud of toast. You can buy beer for dogs and wine for cats; a toilet roll holder that sends a message to your phone when the paper is running out; a $30 branded brick; a hairbrush that informs you whether or not you are brushing your hair correctly. Panasonic intends to produce a mobile fridge that, in response to a voice command, will deliver beers to your chair.
    Urge, splurge, purge: we are sucked into a cycle of compulsion followed by consumption, followed by the periodic detoxing of ourselves or our homes, like Romans making themselves sick after eating, so that we can cram more in. Continued economic growth depends on continued disposal: unless we rapidly junk the goods we buy, it fails. The growth economy and the throwaway society cannot be separated. Environmental destruction is not a by-product of this system. It is a necessary element.”
    Can a society pushed willy-nilly by such marketing techniques, have any future?  Does it deserve to have one?  Let’s try a simpler question: what would it take, using any of the tried (and failed) methods of religious-political-financial self-correction, to fix such a society?  Rhetorical questions, to which we all know the answer(s).
In the New Testament (Christian bible) the book of 1 Corinthians, chapter 13, verse 13 concludes with: “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these is love.” 
Let’s look at that because many people get a good, warm, emotional response from reading this quote.  It’s pure propaganda, and poisonous to the mind.  As a detached, self empowered being I have no need of faith, hope and love, nor is love the greatest.  It isn’t “love” that makes people support the system, to the detriment of everything that has any qualifiable value.  It’s primarily faith.  Faith makes people cast about for an answer when they sense that something isn’t right.  Faith says, vote in someone else, or buy a different brand or type of food.  Drive a different car, or use public transit.  Install solar panels on your house and “get off the grid.”
As if!  Are the appliances used, the food ingested, the roads used, the water, sewer, computers, heat or house construction, maintenance and repairs “off the grid”?
A better question: can an entire city of say, 10 million people, exist without a “grid” to make it function?  Isn’t a city in essence a machine?  A machine needs many things to function before it even begins to operate whatever it is supposed to operate.  Are the mines that scour out the minerals that become the metals that are used to build high-rises for example, “off the grid”?  Are the gas and oil companies off the grid? No.  The Tooth Fairy is off the grid, of that I’m pretty certain ’cause the Tooth Fairy doesn’t live in any city.  She only visits to leave small change.  But no city, and no resident of said city, can ever claim to live off the grid.
Can we say, let’s go off the grid incrementally, as is now proposed in so many articles and books available to read?  Unless we mean only one small aspect of “the grid” (say, hydro electricity) our efforts are entirely wasted unless we also control the source of the materials we use to “go off the grid” with.  The biggest problem with the “off the grid” chimera is technology.  You cannot have any technology and claim to be moving off the grid: it won’t let you because “THE GRID” is what technology is all about.  It is THE GRID.  Just think “Internet” and try to imagine THAT being off the grid, and see where that leaves you.  In the dark, and I don’t mean the dark web.  Your ISP is THE GRID.  Your government and banks are THE GRID.  And so on, and so on.  Everything Matrix is grid.  Nothing is incremental about the Matrix: it’s a dictatorial power, all or nothing.  It will let you use solar or wind power if it can profit from it, and control how you use it, and how much.  Can’t put meters on wind, or sun energy? Hah! Bad bet.
A California based water corporation, I think it was the Bechtel Corporation, managed to have laws enacted in certain cities of Latin America whereby they “owned” rain water and the people literally had to rebel against their local councils to regain control of their right to collect rain water without having to pay for it.  Those who collected rain water without paying a tax on it were fined, or jailed.  Oh yes, it is all about money, never about life.
And… that is why this global civilization is obsolescent.  It has become a predatory, bloody, sectarian, self-centered, selfish, decadent exercise in utter stupidity, foolishness and meaninglessness.  When this entire global civilization collapses and dies, so will the Matrix die with it.  Whatever survives of the Earthian ISSA beings will be of necessity “off the grid” and they will build something truly new, something as yet unheard of.  This isn’t “hope” on my part, it’s from the certainty of observation.
Oh yes, we can “see” the future. It’s not “nothing” as yet.  It exists, of necessity, since what we construe of as “the present” is simply the future sliding past our observation point into the past.  If we can “see” the future as little as a minute hence, that means it already exists.  If it exists a minute hence, it exists beyond any time definition.  We can learn to stretch that minute into years, centuries, millennia even, since “time” is an artificial construct of our #1 enemies: the Time Lords.  Some people call this state of awareness “imagination” and some say that those who see the future are “the dreamers” but it is neither.  What it is, is a reality we have been told is taboo to look into.  Why don’t we stop being children, stop living “by faith” and grow up?  It could mean billions of lives saved, not to mention much of the planet’s ecology.
What to think, when all around of what is familiar is being destroyed or falling apart?  Know that it is not a death, but a renewal.  The cocoon that has nurtured and constrained man’s civilization is breaking open.  A scary necessity. 
I want to do more than see my wings: I want to use them.

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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.

Destiny?  What Destiny?

[thoughts from   ~burning woman~]

While trying to assemble the human jigsaw puzzle in my mind, I have been keeping track of the missing pieces which must eventually spell the end of civilization as we’ve known it through history and as we sadly observe it today. 

One of these major missing pieces is a sentient species’ sense of destiny.  Most people, it seems, do not possess a personal sense of destiny – certainly not in any serious sense.  The same is true of man as a species: it does not have a declared sense of destiny.  The question to keep in mind while considering this problem is, “Can a sentient species call itself human and not have a sense of destiny?” (Question for another time.)  

For millennia we’ve relied on the gods to map our destiny for us.  We were “powerfully motivated” not to think about destiny except as decreed by the gods’ varied and various institutions and we responded with slavish obedience and mindless praise.  The gods died, one by one, and one day when no one was really looking, they’d been officially replaced by crass materialism, Marxism and evolutionary Darwinism.  What should have been a triumph of humanitarian accomplishments and freedom turned out to be a giant, possibly catastrophic, step backward for man and his little world.  OK, backward is wrong.  Better put, two giant steps sideways, one to the left and one to the right.  

Whereas the gods had always offered specious promises of some type of eternal life thus unwittingly providing a bulwark against massive and unchecked growth and material exploitation, Marxism and Darwinism created the dead end, fall over, cliff into perpetual darkness.  The new gospel proclaimed that an individual came from nothing and passed into nothing.  The future of mankind was no longer to be found in spiritual development or mental expansion but would be tied to the vagaries of a mindless finite material universe.  If a thinking individual thought of “the future” at all, it was in terms of some nebulous “future of mankind” or “future of the planet.” 

The results of this approach were not long in manifesting.  There came a rage to “live in the now” manifested as mindless consumerism and hedonism.  Destiny, if it was even thought of in those terms, was understood as the bolstering, protection and expansion of the Status Quo as determined by a numerically shrinking, exponentially richer class of elitist individuals and “noble” families. 

Our civilization is plunging into chaos because it isn’t aware of whether it serves a greater purpose, or none at all or whether it is just supposed to serve itself… at whatever costs to… whatever and whomever.  

Before science took over man’s mind, the gods, or increasingly the great male god, provided man’s purpose and that dead end purpose was stated as “to praise, serve and obey god.”  No other reason was given whereby man could find his purpose in life and if man refused to kowtow to god, his end would be inconceivably horrible.  If he managed to jump through all the legalistic hoops and traps set out by the god’s priesthood, remaining on the straight and narrow every minute, he just might be saved.  That kept some people very busy, very fearful and very poor.  It also kept them very ignorant of everything, particularly of the cosmos they lived in.  

Then science, or perhaps better put, pseudo science, prostitute of political and financial forces, took the upper hand, using obvious foolishness and fallacies of organized religion to push its own theories on how it all worked, onto civilization’s stage.  It claimed the limelight and after a few lucky guesses, established itself as “the Voice” of reason and knowledge.  Once established, it could now stick out its hand and receive the dues from the Status Quo that used to flow into Religion’s coffers.  The same dirty money into a different set of bloody hands. 

What did man get from that exchange of powers?  A new pseudo destiny, probably best described by a novel I read once: Tomorrow, the Stars (Heinlein, if you must know!).  Key word here?  Tomorrow.  Religion, all over again.  Patience, hope, faith… and tomorrow you’ll have it, if you donate, believe, pay your taxes and accept marginalization.  The problem with this is, “tomorrow” never comes.  All the tomorrows of science were soon sold out to the highest bidder, and instead of “light ships” capable of doing many times the speed of light ploughing through space to find “brave new worlds and new civilizations” man inherited nuclear weaponry and other weapons of mass destruction.  He was given poisons with which to kill unwanted lifeforms and increase depleted soil yields and science called that “the Green Revolution.” He was given nuclear power plants and dams… and pipelines and highways on which to burn whatever flowed out of the pipelines.  In short, man was given a much wider and faster treadmill than he’d ever experienced and he was ecstatic.  For a very short while.     

Religion gave man death through endless wars.  Science added a poisoned environment to endless wars. 

Of our destiny we remain blissfully ignorant.

The Years of Purple Mountains

[a poem by   ~burning woman~]

 How well I remember
The years of purple mountains
Rising above morning mists
In a distant west;
Of bright blue skies
Dotted with white clouds
Shadowing green hills
And higher still
Dark lines of evergreens
Demarcation between grass
And stark grey rocky faces,
Postcard of nature’s mantle.

I remember placid cows
Peacefully grazing
Rolling fields of rich clover;
Colourful barns and tall silos
Enclosed in white fences
And colts galloping freely
While a mighty river
Flowed majestically
To the grey ocean.

How well I remember
Those years of growing up,
Dreaming of such a land
As images passed by
On the breakfast table
Day after day after day:
Pretty labels, pretty ads
On cans of milk;
On cereal boxes
That fed childhood dreams.

Years later I did see
The purple mountains in morning mists,
The placid cows and gamboling colts.
I saw that river flowing to the grey ocean,
Made my home by it’s shores
And learned to paddle its currents.
I smelled the spring flowers;
Tasted the briny air while watching
Grey waves slither and slide
Over gravelly and sandy shores

And I fell in love.  Long ago.

Now many more years have passed:
The mountains are scarred,
Dry and dead, snows melted off;
Streams of mud and slash
Fill a poisoned river with mud;
Gated communities and high-rises
Replace the grass, feedlots
Mud and steel replace white fences
And flowers no longer grow
Along the roadsides.

One generation, armed with science
Technology and moved by greed:
All it took to kill it all. 
Has this horror made it stop?
No. Like the forever war,
The killing continues apace.

Death, the only possible legacy
of a generation of the entitled.

Paraphrase:  Esau came back from his fields hungry.  His brother Jacob had a pot of beans cooking on the fire and the smell stirred up his hunger even more.  Give me some of your beans, Jacob, I’m dying of hunger.  Jacob replied, I’ll feed you if you trade me your elder’s birthright for my beans.  Esau reasoned thus, What good is a birthright when I’m dying of hunger?  He made the trade, sold his birthright for a “mess of pottage.” There be a lesson never learned in that biblical tale.    

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.

 

 

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…}

_______________________________________________________________

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.

 

Dear Miss Liberty

(Thoughts du jour)

IRQGIRL

In the aftermath of the invasion of Iraq
Whichever one or was it the Gulf War
Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Palestine?
Or is it just the endle$$ War?
Africa’$ in there somewhere

 

Mourn, mourn!
For the thousands
fleeing from their homes
when the bombs dropped
and death rained from torrid skies;

Mourn, mourn!
For those pulverized in the streets
mixing blood and sand,
steel and plastic –
fusing burning human flesh and glass
in depleted uranium.

~*~*~*~

Becoming one
with all that is: what a simple feat
that children, dogs, mice and blades of grass
can accomplish with ease
when war falls
from the oppressor’s lips
and its fire spews from heaven –

did you not hear the monster pray
before he gave the word?

~*~*~*~

Mind dead, heart blind
the power-butchers kill the innocent
claiming it their divine right,
no, more: their sacred duty.
It’s a matter of interpretation
(not to be confused
with questions of morality
or basic human decency):

~*~*~*~

Did not a Master once say
the kingdom of heaven
belongs to little children?
There you have it: kill them now
while they remain children
and give them back to God –

kills two birds with one smart bomb:
gets them out of the way
so they don’t grow up to be terrorists
against the invader –
sorry, against the Chosen Ones.

~*~*~*~

If this seems an oxymoron –
what’s your take on it?
Where were you
when prayers aimed at heaven
rained back down as cluster bombs
upon the innocent
?

~*~*~*~

“Now, Mi$$ Liberty,
How do you wish to pay for those bombs?
American Expre$$?
Of course: thank you.
A pleasure doing busine$$!”

($mile!)