Lies That Capitalists Tell Us

By William Hawes and Jason Holland

CounterPunch, June 26, 2017

 

While idiotic supporters of our two-party system wring their hands over the sensationalist nonsense reported by the mainstream media, we thought it might be worth touching on the most dangerous lie of all-time: capitalism. It’s an all-encompassing delusion, including: the myth of continual technological progress, the mendacious assumptions of endless economic growth, the lie that constant bombardments of media and consumer goods make us happy,  and the omissions of our involvement in the exploitation of the planet and the resources of distant, poorer nations, among other things.

We’ve taken the time to hash out some of the most pernicious mendacities we’ve come across in our (relatively) young lives, in the workplace, in our private lives, and in the media. ***

Please share these counter-arguments far and wide, in order to educate your fellow citizens, and, if necessary, to provide the intellectual beat-downs needed when arguing with pro-capitalists. So without further ado, here is our list of the most devious “Lies that Capitalists Tell Us”:

1) Wealth will “trickle down”

It’s hard to believe an economic policy that conjures images of urination could be wrong, but the idea is as bankrupt as the lower classes who have been subjected to the trickling. Less than ten people now have the financial wealth equivalent to half the planet, and the trickling seems a lot more like a mad cash-grab by the (morally bankrupt) elites. Rather than trickle down, the 1% and their lackeys have hovered up the majority of new wealth created since the 2008 crash. After 40 years of stagnant wages in the US the people feel more shit on than trickled upon.

It’s not a mistake that the elite reap most of the profits: the capitalist system is designed this way, it always has been, and will be, until we the people find the courage to tear it down, and replace it with something better.

2) I took all the risks

It can be argued the average employee takes far more risks in any job than the average person who starts a business with employees. The reason being is that the person starting a business usually has far more wealth, where most Americans can’t afford a 500 dollar emergency. Meaning if they lose a job or go without work for any stretch it means some tough decisions have to be made. A person with even a failing business cannot be fired, but the employee can be fired for almost any reason imaginable, they are operating without a net at all times.

The capitalist uses all sorts of public infrastructure to get his/her company off the ground. From everything to the roads to get you to your job, colleges, public utilities, tax breaks, electricity, etc. Even the internet itself was created from public research. Yet still, elite business owners still have the audacity, and are so full of hubris, that they believe in the hyper-individualist, macho, rugged-cowboy/pioneer façade they affect.

3) I could pay you more if there were less government regulations

Many capitalists argue that layers of government bureaucracy prevent them from paying their employees a fairer, living wage. This is a huge whopper, as our regulations (like no child labor, a minimum wage, disability and worker’s compensation, basic environmental impact studies, etc) actually provide safety against the worst type of exploitation of workers and destruction of the land by corporations. Without these minimum regulations, an age of even more outright neo-feudalism would occur, where employees could be layed-off and rehired ad-infinitum, based on downward market wage forces, at the wishes of ever-more capricious owners, management, and CEOs.

4) If you work hard, one day you can be rich like us (We live in a meritocracy)

America is not a meritocracy, and no one should think it is. There exists no tie to the intelligence of work done or the amount of it that guarantees success. Rather to be rich depends more on either being born into it, or being exceptionally good at exploiting others so one may take the bulk of the proceeds for themselves. This is the magic formula for wealth in this ever so “exceptional” land – exploit, exploit, exploit.

Inheritance & exploitation is how the rich get rich. To understand the exploitation aspect takes some understanding of how the rich function. Next to none of the super rich become that way solely by meritocracy. Their income is created through complex webs of utilizing leverage usually to extract some form of passive income. They are the rentier class or con artists, or both.

You only have to look at what the rich are dabbling in. Like Robert Mercer for instance, who made his money via “a hedge fund that makes its money by using algorithms to model and trade on the financial markets.” . Skimming money off corrupt financial markets hardly seems like a worthwhile activity that contributes anything to humanity, it’s a hustle.

Or take Bill Gates, who did some programming for a few years, poorly, and became rich by landing a series of deals with IBM initially, and then by passively making money off the share values of Microsoft. The late Steve Jobs may have been one of the more hands-on billionaires, but even he required thousands of enslaved asian hands to extract the kind profits Apple was able to make.

Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson almost certainly has organized crime links, as if owning a casino wasn’t enough of a con to begin with.

Rich DeVos became a billionaire by running a pyramid scheme most are familiar with called Amway.

The Walton family, owners of Wal-Mart, pays a median wage of 10 bucks an hour (far below a living wage), they strong arm vendors, and also rely on products made with working conditions that resemble old world slavery, while having more wealth than the bottom 40% of Americans.

There’s just no way to make that kind of money without having a major market advantage and then profiteering off it. Lie, cajole, coerce, manipulate, bribe, rig, and hustle. These are the tools of the rich.

No one is worth this kind of money and everyone needs each other’s help to function, but in the minds of the rich they consider themselves the primary cogs in the machine worthy of their money for doing not much else than holding leverage over others and exploiting it.

5) This is as good as it gets (there is no alternative, TINA)

Through a process of gaslighting and double bind coercion the choices we are fed are propagandized via controlled media outlets owned and operated by elites. We are told our choices must be between the democrats or republicans, attacking the Middle East or face constant terrorism, unfettered capitalism or state run communism. We are given binary choices that lack all nuance, and nuance is the enemy of all those who seek to control and exploit. They feed us a tautology of simpleton narratives which unfortunately do exactly what they hoped, keep people dumb and biting on their red herrings.

Capitalists make it seems as if there is no alternative because they hoard all the money, have all the hired guns, and pay off teams of servile lawyers, judges, and lobbyists to write and enforce their anti-life laws. Capitalists demand “law and order” whenever their servant classes get too restless. In general, the most hardened, dogmatic capitalists exhibit bewilderment and/or disgust at genuine human emotions like joy, creativity, spontaneity, and love. Many capitalists have an unconscious death wish, and want to drag the rest of us and the mother Earth down with them.

Capitalists have stolen all the farmlands, hold all the patents to technology, and don’t pay enough to mass amounts of citizens to get out of the rat race and get back to the land, to live off of. The screws are turned a little tighter every year. If we are not done in by massive natural disasters or an economic collapse, expect a revolution to occur, hopefully a non-violent one.

6) We give back to the community

Corporations set out to create non-profits as a public relations move. They cause the problems and then put small band-aids on the gaping wounds they have directly contributed to and use the charity as a source of plausible deniability to obscure the fact that they are exactly what we think they are: greedy.

Handing out bread-crumbs after you’ve despoiled, desecrated, and bulldozed millions of hectares of valuable habitat is not fooling anyone. The elite one-percenters are the enemies of humankind and the biosphere itself.

7) The system (and economic theory) is rational and takes into account social and environmental costs

People tend to think someone somewhere is regulating things to keep us safe. They look around and see sophisticated technology, gleaming towers in the sky, and what they believe to be is a complex intelligent world. But in truth no one is running the show. The world functions as a mad cash grab driven by neo-liberal ideology. Our leaders are driven by power, fame, and money, and exhibit strong psychopathic, sociopathic, and narcissistic traits.

The problems of modern industrial capitalism and its impact on the world is clear – our exploitation of the resources, people, and other species are a direct result of our consumer based infinite growth model. Just a few of the problems we face are species extinction, climate change, ocean acidification, and a toxic carcinogen filled trash dump of a planet that reached population overshoot decades ago.

If the system was rational, we would begin planning to lower birth rates to decrease the world’s population, and voluntarily provide education, decent, dignified jobs, as well as birth control and contraception to women worldwide.

We live by money values, and think in money terminology. When we discuss healthcare the topic arises about how to pay for it before nearly anything else. The priority isn’t on saving lives but how to pay for things. Yes, how will we pay for healthcare when banks can create money on a computer through the magic of fractional reserve banking, which they often use to bail out their crony friends. The money isn’t real but the implications of restricting it from the populace are. Money is created out of thin air by the magic of the Federal Reserve, yet we have all heard our bosses, and the pricks in Washington complaining that “we don’t have enough money for that” when it comes to healthcare, improving schools, and humanitarian relief for the poorest parts of the world.

Again, if the system was rational, world poverty would be solved within a few short years. Money destined for weapons and “defense” could be used domestically as well as abroad to Africa, South Asia, and Latin America, and there is more than enough money (75 trillion is the annual world GDP, approximately 15 trillion in the US alone) to pay for a good home, clothing, and food for every family worldwide, with an all-renewable powered energy grid.

8) The future will be better

When Trump’s slogan make America great again was on the lips of every alt-right fascist, most of us stopped to ask, when was it great? The truth is that politicians have been promising something better since the inception of this country and better has never arrived.

There is always another expensive war to fight and another financial meltdown occurring on average every eight years. Wait, you might say, what about those sweet post-WWII growth years brought about by the New Deal? The sad truth is those years were only materially beneficial to white, middle-class men, who were highly sexist, racist, and complicit in incubating today’s consumer-driven Empty Society.

The post-WWII era was an aberration in our history and the result of having more jobs available than people, but as the country rapidly exploited its natural resources and reached the limits of linear growth while the population exploded the leverage that allowed people to have higher wages receded. Even though efficiency increased enormously, the people lost leverage to demand higher wages.

Without leverage held by the people capitalism will return to its status quo goal – exploit, and that’s just what it did. In the US, corporations grew richer and the people grew poorer starting from the mid 1970’s to the present.

9) It’s Just Business

Employees devote years of their lives to companies and when they are let go they are told it’s nothing personal, it’s just business. This is how all bad news is delivered even when personal, it’s says we are cold-hearted organizations that adhere to a bottom line first and human needs second. So know when they say “it’s just business” what they are saying is understand we are sharks, and acting like a shark is just what we do.

This is also the logic behind defending war crimes and similar atrocities. Nations like the US claim they have a “responsibility to protect” civilians from terrorists. Then, when American bombs kill civilians (or their proxies use US-made weapons), they are referred to as “collateral damage”.

10) Financial markets & debt are necessary

The health of the entire economy is too often gauged by the stock markets. But the reality about financial markets is they are extraneous gambling machines designed to place downward pressure on companies to post good numbers to elevate share prices. These financial markets funnel capital to a smaller and smaller number of multinational corporations every year, and perpetuate non-linear economic growth (and therefore more pollutants, CO2, pesticides, strip mining, razing of forests) that is killing the planet.

Debt is the most fundamental lie in our economy. Money is only supposed to be a tool to move goods efficiently around a market, but for money itself to be a wealth engine is a Ponzi scheme. And we all know how that ends.

 

 

*** For a wider taste of our oeuvre, visit Reason Bowl Radio to watch Jason expose the Trump administration for the sorry sacks of shit that they are, and discuss current events, as well as Jason and Bill’s commentary and ramblings about topics such as psychedelics, the nature of consciousness, and reflections on how to effect social change.

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Interview with Muslim Press

Muslim Press, June 25, 2017

 

U.S. President Donald Trump has signed a huge arms deal with the Saudis despite the monarchy’s atrocities in Yemen. How would this deal and Trump’s actions affect the region?

William Hawes: This will only embolden the Saudis to ramp up their war against Yemen. And remember, it’s not just weapons and technology that the US is providing. The US and the UK have military officers in Saudi Arabia providing intelligence, military strategy, satellite imagery, etc. So, the Americans and Brits are really a driving force behind this war. Even with all their high-tech death gadgets, the Saudi military is hopelessly inept, so any gains are soon taken away by the toughness of the Houthis.

The losers, of course, will be the Yemeni people, who are already enduring massive hardship, thousands of deaths, starvation and childhood malnutrition, mass poverty, many people whose lives have been shattered. It’s an absolute tragedy.

Also, Tehran will be watching very carefully and taking calculated, defensive steps to counteract this buildup of military hardware in the region.

Since Trump’s inauguration, he has conducted massive military attacks in some Middle Eastern countries including Syria and Afghanistan. What’s your take on his foreign policy regarding the Middle East?

William Hawes: To say that the Trump administration has any decipherable foreign policy at all is a stretch. American foreign policy spreads death and chaos around the globe, and at a pace which seemingly gets worse every year. I believe I just read recently that Trump’s “amazing generals” are conducting something like four times the amount of drone strikes compared to Obama. And Obama launched more strikes than Bush Jr. The “leaders” in Washington are mindless killers, war criminals, with no moral compass. US foreign policy is becoming increasingly divorced from reality, with extremely dangerous implications for the entire world.

In his campaign, Trump made various statements which gave a sliver of hope that he would not intervene in the Middle East. It seems now that has changed, as the rhetoric coming out of Washington is increasingly anti-Assad and anti-Iran. You can bet that the sniveling, cowardly regimes in Tel Aviv and Riyadh are pleased.

In terms of a wider view, US foreign policy hasn’t changed much since 2001. Wesley Clark was told around 2003 that the US would be “taking out” seven countries in five years, and while here we are sixteen years later, they’re still in the process of trying to do that. So the foreign policy is to divide and conquer, keep any potential regional power from rising and establishing hegemony in the Middle East, even a peaceful rise, whether that’s Turkey or Iran. This was spelled out in the Yinon Plan, authored by a former Israeli policymaker, which described how the Middle East could be balkanized by dividing its peoples along ethnic and religious lines.

What’s your take on the recent row between Qatar and Saudi Arabia and Washington’s role in it?

William Hawes: I’d say at this point Washington’s role is still hazy. There have been differences and conflicts between Riyadh and Doha for a long time now. The Saudis might be feeling brave because they assume they have special relationship with the Trump administration, and want to extract concessions from Qatar. It’s no secret the Saudis oppose the populist political Islam that the Qataris are engaged in, between Al Jazeera’s popularity and Qatar’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas.

Trump has also tried to ban citizens of six Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States. The list, however, excluded Saudi Arabia. What does that tell us?

William Hawes: This tells us the ban is ideological, and based on ignorance, racism, and fear, rather than logic. Fifteen of the nineteen hijackers on 9/11 were Saudi Arabians, but there was no travel ban imposed after the attack. What it says it that the US doesn’t care about human rights. As long as you sell America oil, buy our weapons, and are aligned with US geostrategic imperatives (i.e., dominating the world), US leaders don’t care if you start wars with your neighbors, oppress women, or torture and behead your own citizens.

 

 

 

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Pay Attention: The Police State is Here

CounterPunch, June 8, 2017

“The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and the realities of the universe, the less taste we shall have for destruction.”

-Rachel Carson

“We are who we are waiting for

We can make a change”

-the author, singing to his daughter recently

 

There’s a storm coming, folks. The police state has already been with us awhile now. The two attacks in the UK could be a preview of things to come, even across the pond, here in the US.

Just two weeks before the UK elections, we’ve seen two horrific incidents in Manchester and London. Is this a coincidence? One wonders whether these attacks have been orchestrated or allowed to happen by the US-UK intelligence services to swing the vote towards Theresa May. The most recent attack on June 3rd could even be a distraction from Trump’s reneging on the Paris Agreement. Or perhaps the play is to ratchet up public fear for a possible US-UK-backed war against Syria or Iran. How deep down the rabbit hole are you prepared to look?

In a recent essay, John Pilger destroys the UK official narrative that Abedi, the supposed perpetrator of the Manchester bombing, wasn’t well known among intelligence agencies. If Abedi, his father, and other Libyan jihadis were allowed travel all over the UK and Europe, it’s fairly certain they were some sort of patsies or agents of UK spymasters and their military-corporate overlords. At least one of the London attackers was also reported to the authorities, who apparently did nothing.

Don’t be so naïve to think that it couldn’t happen this way. Since WWII, the Anglo-American axis has destroyed North Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and the list goes on. US-UK black ops have been coordinating and killing anti-capitalists, revolutionaries such as Che Guevara, and human rights activists like Oscar Romero for decades. US intelligence has in the past cooked up such treachery and villainy as Operation Northwoods, the attack on the USS Liberty, almost certainly was involved in JFK’s assassination, and has overthrown and killed elected leaders in Guatemala, Iran, Chile, the Congo, Haiti, and more.

Soon, there could easily be a lockdown in London, perhaps in other UK cities, in France and/or Germany, and possibly even here in the US if things deteriorate. The blowback from our wars in the Middle East and North Africa region are coming back to haunt us with a vengeance.

Unfortunately, I don’t see the necessary urgency among many self-described Leftists, activists, and journalists, even those in the alternative media.

I don’t mean to scare, my aim is to prepare. We all have to start making preparations to transform our lives, individually and collectively.

For starters, peace activists must form a movement to remove all NATO troops from the most severe conflict areas: Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen. Further, we must vacate all US bases from overseas, and put an end to the multiplying special operations around the world and increasingly in Africa, as Nick Turse explains here.

The media is going to do everything it can to spook us into submission, into obeying the orders of our politicians. We must resist this mainstream “culture of fear”. This fear is pervasive in mainstream politics.

There is a sort of sixth sense that we all have, observing the energies that different people give off, which cannot be quantified or empirically observed by science, yet exists nonetheless. There’s a sort of ominous aura that emanates from mainstream talking heads as well as our political and military leaders.

There is very low frequency energy; fearful, dark, unstable energetic vibrations occurring when you watch a blowhard imperialist on CNN or Fox News, or watch a leader such as Trump, Obama, Bush, or Clinton speak. The same applies to foreign leaders like Xi, Duterte, Putin, Erdogan. They worship power and money. Passively viewed by millions who accept their arguments based on authority, this dark energy is disseminated and transferred, the populace inculcated to support the leader’s worldview, and compassionate humanitarian instincts atrophy.

Power is given to an unaccountable few, trauma is transmitted, societies become divided, democracy is shattered, the fear and blood-craving is reproduced, and you’ve created an obedient mass of killers, and those too cowardly to speak out against the atrocities. There are so many little Eichmanns now, around the world.

To rise above this, anti-war activists and non-violent protestors must continue the epic struggle to raise consciousness, to continue to give off “good vibrations”. Part of that means not being frustrated and outraged over every political fiasco: there is nothing new here, those in power are simply doing what they’ve always done, spreading chaos and death.

Activists must begin to hold attention. The technocratic neoliberal era is waning, and right-wing authoritarians are ascending power worldwide. We are in the midst of the sixth mass extinction event of our planet, with species disappearing at about 1000 times the background rate. Overpopulation and lack of resources are fueling ethnic conflicts in Syria and South Sudan, most notably. There must be a voluntary worldwide acknowledgment to begin lowering the world’s population right now, to avoid ecosystem destruction and present and future human generations from the ever-increasing chances of mass devastation.

This year, twenty million people are at risk of starving, the highest since WWII. The world is soon headed for another large-scale recession at the least, despite what the Wall Street lucre-worshippers may say. Most of the developing world has been dealing with imperialism and colonialism for centuries. They know collapse, because they’ve always been living in it, as have their ancestors.

The predictable repressive and authoritarian response to come by the UK government in response to these attacks can be viewed as a form of social collapse. It reveals a cultural deafness, and a lack of critical thought in regard to the plight of those killed, maimed, and traumatized by war. It also reveals a wide-ranging ignorance of how Western-NATO backed war fans the flames of hatred and terrorism. Immigrants, refugees, minorities, and terrorists are denounced as invaders, as inherently “evil”, with no social or historical analysis as to the root causes.

Neoliberalism now lies in ruins. The oppressive propaganda of mainstream media is no longer working, and Western populaces are revolting, although the true enemies, sexism, racism, class warfare, poverty, and militarism, are not addressed. The real issues have been displaced by the elite one-percenters and their quislings, who conjure up pseudo-conflicts in order to distract from the real issues of our age.

This is the sort of social disintegration that Nietzsche foresaw when he defined the “Last Man”, the coward who will always choose comfort, security, and material affluence over the hard struggle for liberation of the human spirit. With the socio-cultural collapse already well underway, and no left movement to hit the brakes on neoliberal globalization, the material and economic collapse is the next logical step, and nearly inevitable at this point.

Of course, the crumbling of the empire will fall hardest on the developing world, and if systemic change doesn’t occur, the West will continue to lie, turn its eyes away, obfuscate, and give token gestures to those less fortunate in order to assuage its own guilt.

Another aspect to consider is that presidents and prime ministers get what they want, if not in the legislature, but in the realm of geopolitics. Many times, it would seem they don’t even have to ask. Thus, we can imagine that just as some statements are dog-whistles for voters, other public speeches could be considered dog-whistles for the military and intelligence communities.

When May calls for a “strong and stable” country, when Trump tweets that “if we don’t get smart it will only get worse” regarding terrorism, one can imagine fascist spooks and military officers would be willing, if not outright excited, to conspire to carry out false flags on behalf of their authoritarian masters.

Only a civically engaged and vigilant, united public can combat such barbarism. It must be acknowledged that if the US and UK governments are willing to commit mass atrocities abroad; there is no reason to believe they haven’t and will not try it domestically, to rally support for an ever-expanding police state.

There isn’t time to wait around to elect a new congress or president: our representatives are controlled by corporations and lobbyists in the current system. Only a mass protest movement, coordinated in all major cities and Washington DC, practicing nonviolence and civil disobedience, and promoting egalitarian democracy, social justice, and ecological wisdom, will be able to smash the power structure.

The time to act is now, the stakes have never been higher, and there are no superhero saviors waiting in the wings: we are who we’ve been waiting for.

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Where Are Your Minds?: An Open Letter to Thomas de Maiziere and the CDU

CounterPunch, May 24, 2017

I am not sure if you realize what you have done, Herr de Maiziere, but your recent talk of a German leading/dominant culture (leitkultur) in the tabloid Bild has proven very divisive. Many observers around the world are disgusted at your ignorance. Are you capable of understanding why?

Let us give credit where it is due: Germany did a great thing by opening up its borders for approximately one million refugees in 2015. The fact that there are integration problems is not surprising. However, what you are calling for is assimilation, pure and simple. You are afraid, and your words betray your fear.

You claim to be promoting an “open society”, yet when you say things like “we show our faces” and “we are not the burqa”, it’s very clear that your rhetoric is targeted against Muslims. You are playing with the notion of being “more German” than others, as somehow being an ideal political goal. Instead of promoting a society of tolerance and multiculturalism, you are dividing people based on your dangerous, arbitrary, and vacuous notions of patriotism.

Leitkultur as a political term was coined by Bassam Tibi, and referred to pan-European, not specifically German, notions of pluralism, religious freedom, universality, and a true multicultural society. In short, Tibi was referring to cherished Enlightenment values which are worth saving.

You, au contraire, have misconstrued the term for your own political ends. You will now have to lie in the bed you’ve chosen, and the CDU will be judged based on its associations. Notice how the AfD did not criticize your ideas, only your opportunism before a regional election, to score votes from the “right-wing populists” (a dubious political identity if there ever was one). One wonders what the horror show that is PEGIDA thinks of your ideas.

Your words act as a dog-whistle, unsubtly racially coded, are an obvious incitement towards discrimination, and may result in violence. They are inflammatory, hurtful, and clearly promote a malignant form of German nationalism. There are similarities between your talk of a “dominant/core/leading culture”, however well-intentioned you claim to be, with the ideology of fascism.

The CDU continues to disgrace itself, with its support of NATO’s endless wars, submission to NSA spying, and now this. Your version of leitkultur leads to the sort of thinking behind “American exceptionalism”, which has wrought disastrous consequences for centuries. In fact, your notions are only slightly less xenophobic and redneck than when white Americans are overheard insulting Latinos to “speaka tha English”.

Many around the world would like to possibly visit Germany, to study there, to live there. However, your views will clearly give many second thoughts.

Many others, millions of people, have seen their lives, or those of their loved ones and ancestors, hurt or outright destroyed by past German notions of supremacy.

Therefore, I cannot stand by silently as you denigrate others because they have not integrated well enough to your parties’ liking. Therefore, I stand ever vigilant against such minority and religious-bashing, having seen what has come before.

Only sincere tolerance, openness, and mutual respect will heal divides between communities. Only by providing immigrants and refugees with a dignified life, with jobs, decent housing, and a vibrant, accepting society, will tensions and disagreements cease.

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Reason Bowl Radio

Here is the second video I’ve done with Jason Holland for Reason Bowl, we dive into psychedelics and the nature of consciousness:

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Rewilding America

Counterpunch, May 11 2017

It’s time for us as a people to come together, to form an understanding about our natural environment, and our connection to it. If we are to survive long into this century and beyond, our society will have to learn to re-indigenize itself. This will be a painful process for those dependent on creature comforts, on the electrical grid’s continuous power supply, on the streams of TV, Netflix, even the internet itself, on factory-made pharmaceuticals, etc. It will be difficult for those whose illusions are about to be shattered, for those who thought they could live for so long and have it so good at the expense of others and to the detriment of their natural, wild surroundings.

We aren’t going anywhere. There will be no moon and Mars colonies to flee to. Isn’t it suspicious, though, how little talk there is about the parallels between the past colonialists of North America and the sci-fi dream of future colonies in space? Any potential future space colony wouldn’t be a glitzy affair: it would be similar to past and present immigrants and refugees streaming across continents, trying to escape death, privation, despair. In short, the dream of human habitation of the solar system exists because of the utter destruction of landscapes and the indecency of human societies in many parts of our planet.

Imagine if we actually decided to collectively care for our own world instead of having day-dreams and wasting billions on rockets and gadgets to propel us towards the “final frontier”. Doesn’t that sound nice? Luckily for us, the resiliency of our planet towards habitat degradation is very, very strong. That is why a policy of rewilding must be introduced into mainstream thinking and politics. Coined by David Foreman, rewilding refers to conservation methods that strengthen and maintain wildlife corridors and large-scale wilderness areas, with an emphasis placed on carnivores and keystone species which act as linchpins for ecosystem stability. Rewilding leads to increased connectedness across previously fragmented habitat due to roads, railways, urban sprawl, etc.

In the Americas, please consider educating yourself and others about these issues, and donating to a few of the fine organizations promoting wildlife corridors, such as: the Yellowstone to Yukon Initiative, the Paseo del Jaguar program led by Panthera, and the American Prairie Reserve.

Strengthening our ecosystems will provide a higher quality of life for future generations, as well as your children and grandchildren. Now that’s a return on investment. Forget about yourself, your fragile ego, and your “standards of living”, for a moment. Western capitalism and colonialism has been degrading habitats for centuries, with benefits mostly accruing to white, older men. Only by giving back to the land, and in many cases, non-intervening and letting our soils and waterways heal on their own, will allow for a more equal distribution of wealth. It is natural resources, not money, which are the real inheritance we will leave behind to our youth.

The distribution of the “common-wealth”, by the way, used to be far more equitable hundreds of years ago, when land was freely available for hunting, fishing, foraging, and farming. Yes, there is less abject poverty in Europe and the US today compared to centuries ago, but it has come at a steep cost: there is no self-reliance, no collectively and culturally stored traditions of farming, crafts, weaving, pottery, home-building. Corporations have swallowed all this, citing the “need” for specialized divisions of labor. Self-sufficiency and homesteading are looked upon with scorn, and we are told to buy everything we could ever need (and desire), instead of co-producing tools, clothes, food, and more.

Sharing of community resources needs to be re-instilled in the populace. The average garage, shed, or extra closet of today’s Westerner is filled with useless crap used maybe a few times a year, all purchased from a few companies. Recycling usable equipment and renting for small fees throughout the communities will significantly decrease consumption and foster closer neighborhood ties.

Today, the legal webs and labyrinths of “property laws” and low-wage work have imprisoned the average person. So has the spread of capitalism and unequal distribution of money, division of labor, separation of classes. The lives of masses of working people, the precariat, are just as unstable and misery-inducing as they were centuries ago, when Frederick Douglas said:

“Experience demonstrates that there may be a slavery of wages only a little less galling and rushing in its effects than chattel slavery, and that this slavery of wages must go down with the other.”

This all underscores the need for rewilding the American people, not simply expanding our National Forests and wildlife refuges. It calls for a transformation in consciousness, to promote understanding of different cultures, openness towards change, and advocating for compassion and peace. We can begin by starting to support a 15 dollar wage, to fight for climate science funding, to promote renewable energy. Yet there needs to be an understanding that those actions, while a good start, are simply a few first baby-steps towards re-orienting our culture.

Ultimately, the longing for spiritual rejuvenation and community empowerment will break through the cage of modernity, if we are not first destroyed by ecological devastation and/or economic collapse. Longing, in all actuality, is too mild a term; actually, there is an intense craving for unique and authentic notions of identity, for belonging to a caring culture, for sharing and cultural blending. There is also, to an extent, evolutionary reasons and epigenetic possibilities for the deep desires, for instance, to want to sing and dance around a fire, to go on long walks to calm the mind, to talk to plants and animals, to feel the Earth’s joys and pains, to partake of psychedelic plants. It’s what our species has done for millennia, and no freeways, high-rises, fluorescent-lit malls, or gated communities can possibly make up for these urges.

Inner calmness and contentedness, feeling joy at other’s successes, altruistic actions of bravery, spontaneity, the creative act, and transpersonal experiences all teach us that our egos are illusions. The drive of the ego is the drive of civilization, with all its life-denying baggage. It is this ego-based desire to dominate, to harness and pillage nature, which expands outwards to include all life-forms, including even our close loved ones. The judgments and pain inflicted on others are projections of our own, deep inner hurting. The ego shifts the blame, projecting, always outwards onto others, always disguising and rationalizing its selfish deeds.  Indigenous life is not without problems, but it recognizes and integrates the shadow-side of ourselves: there was no need for modern psychology until modern, Western man ramped up the process of destroying the world, all in order to fill the gaping void within the soul.

Thus, rewilding our psyches will mean dissolving the ego, recognizing it as a small part of the mind, occasionally useful in survival-enhancing or problem solving situations, but not as an absolute master of our sense of self. In short, it must be acknowledged that there are many aspects to individual minds, spectrums of ways of thinking, just as specific brain-waves exist, and differing states of sleep and dreaming.

Shrinking the ego will re-establish our commitment to protecting the Earth. As creator and protector of life, our planet, along with crops, animals, mountains and rivers, all have been venerated and deified across history. Thus, the sacredness of life and its continuity can be seen for the miracle it truly is. New spiritual and religious groups will be founded, with cross-fertilization and syncretism causing an explosion of kaleidoscopic cultures. Shrinking petty individual desires and grievances enlarges our view of nature: it allows for free living and amicable relations, promoting an idea of an Unconquerable World which can triumph over the capitalist-dominated, chaotic, absolutist, totalitarian impulses of modern life.

This has serious implications. What cannot be used, i.e. extra physical products, food, and extra income must be given away to less fortunate countries. Open-source medicine and technology will have to be distributed to developing nations to stave off the worst symptoms of global warming and habitat degradation. In the wealthy West, the rich should look to the example of the indigenous, where in some tribes the chieftains distributed their personal wealth among their tribe, often to be rewarded in kind at a later ceremonial/seasonal time of the year. Companies that produce weapons or various useless waste will be forced to shut down. Education will be reoriented to focus on the potentialities of each individual student, not as a one-size-fits-all indoctrination mill, churning out damaged, submissive, domesticated youth.

Green constitutions will have to be drafted to provide regulations to protect humans and wildlife from unnecessary pollution and production. It’s not just the West that will lead: the Chinese must realize, and be planning for, the eventuality that the demand for crappy plastic goods and gadgetry at big-box stores is going to decline, worldwide, in the coming decades. A new international order based on the UN, or otherwise, will be needed to uphold climate change commitments, speedily develop renewable energy tech, sustainable agriculture plans, and distribution of resources. Basically, this requires a shift from an anthropocentric outlook to an ecocentric outlook.

This will require a global awakening, and a moral/spiritual transformation of consciousness. It is the only way for our societies to move forward. Adaptability and having a broad range of skills and a wider knowledge base will be preferred over the narrow, technological elitism we see today in the corporate world and reflected in culture and the media. Ultimately, rewilding ourselves means learning how to live free, i.e., unlearning what our consumer-based culture has brainwashed us into believing.

I don’t intend to shy away from the hard political questions of what the world and the US could look like in the near future, if the above steps are taken. Most likely, the modern nation-state will perish, America included. Our national experiment has been blood-drenched and steeped in genocide, slavery, domination by capitalists, and structural racism from the very beginning. A new era of cooperation is called for, with true democratic consensus and citizen involvement in governance as well as the workplace. Smaller areas based on bioregionalism and the city-state will replace the nation-state (which Gore Vidal, among others, spoke out in favor of) and will be more likely to prosper, as they will be more likely to provide for their citizens. Climate refugees and nomadic ways of life will increase for those fleeing disaster, or simply seeking better opportunities. Decentralization of power as well as a closer connection to the land will foster a reawakening of the tribal ways of life, where tight-knit communities care for the sick, the elderly, disabled, and troubled souls, instead of shunting them into various soul-crushing institutions like jail, mental hospitals, etc.

A new era of solidarity and care for the meek must begin. This will mean feeding the millions per year who die of starvation, drought, lack of medical care, etc. This will mean reprioritizing our lives, with no excuses. Radical egalitarianism and faith in the boundless potential of each and every person must be instilled in our societies. Some will denounce this as radical, utopian, unachievable. Those who say so are without hope, without faith, having been indoctrinated by mainstream media and enshackled by capitalist ideology. Recently, in an interview, China Mieville explained this quite well:

“We underestimate at our peril the kind of onslaught of received opinion from the media, from the sort of cultural establishment, basically kind of ruling out of court any notion of fundamental change. Ridiculing it as ridiculous, to the extent that, you know, when you start to talk about wanting a better world you see the eyes rolling. What kind of despicable pass have we come to, that that aspiration raises scorn? And yet that’s where we are, for huge numbers of the political establishment.”

What sort of ideology can replace this cynicism, this nihilism? What kind of world to we want to create? I defer to Carl Rogers:

“Let me summarize my own political ideology, if you will, in a very few words. I find that for myself, I am most satisfied politically when every person is helped to become aware of his or her own power and strength; when each person participates fully and responsibly in every decision which affects him or her; when group members learn that the sharing of power is more satisfying than endeavoring to use power to control others; when the group finds ways of making decisions which accommodate the needs and desires of each person; when every person of the group is aware of the consequences of a decision on its members and on the external world; when each person enforces the group decision through self-control of his or her own behavior; when each person feels increasingly empowered and strengthened; and when each person and the group as a whole is flexible, open to change, and regards previous decisions as being always open for reconsideration.” (1)

Notes:

1.) May, Rollo, et al. Politics and Innocence: A Humanistic Debate. Saybrook Publishers, 1986. P. 6

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World War Whatever

Dissident Voice, April 27, 2017

“Check out the real situation/Nation war against nation/

Where did it all begin?/When will it end?”

-Bob Marley, “Real Situation”, from the album Uprising

Where is the outrage regarding the Trump administration’s bellicose attitude towards North Korea? The past two weeks have been a blur of outright savagery towards other nations, with cruise missiles raining down on Syrians and one giant bomb on an ISIS “cave complex” in Afghanistan. Now, the Donald has promised to send his “armada” towards the Sea of Japan, after it was found heading the opposite direction a couple weeks ago.

This shifting of belligerent, callous violence and threats around the world could indicate a policy of distraction, orchestrated by the Deep State. Literally all that would have to be done is present Trump with manufactured “atrocities” by Assad, ISIS, or even the DPRK regime and wait for him to react. He can then show his “humanitarianism” by dropping bombs.

Perhaps having Ivanka crying in the room over some real or fake pictures of chemical attacks is what really convinced Trump to intervene in Syria. This game of playing on his loved ones’ emotions could be repeated ad infinitum, on whoever is the enemy of the day. Wag the dog, anyone? Although, in this theory, the public is not the direct object of manipulation: it is the President, his family and inner circle, who could very well be the object of cloak and dagger games played out by the Pentagon, CIA, NSA, or National Security Council.

This all goes back to understanding the President as a puppet. Sure, the elite will let him de-regulate certain fossil fuel industries, hollow out the EPA and education, but he won’t be allowed to touch foreign policy. I think this hypothesis does have some merit, as it has played out before in history: during the Roman Empire it was often the Praetorian Guard who exercised the real power behind the scenes, taking bribes to confirm new Emperors and deposing ones who didn’t conform.

Do Americans even care about our endless wars anymore? China literally warned the world that “conflict could break out at any moment,” and yet the press is treating this as just another day at the office. Apparently, it is cool not to care about the history of Korea, our involvement in the destruction of a nation, and the continued impoverishment of the North Korean people. North Korea has nuclear capabilities which are unknown, yet this topic is brushed off by mainstream talking heads. War is all around us, our financial system is mired in debt, the warning lights are flashing due to the coming catastrophes of global warming and habitat destruction, yet by and large, the public has been indoctrinated not to discuss the most important issues of our age.

When did the shift occur to Americans: that any world news outside of, say, the Anglosphere, along with Western Europe, is of lesser importance, or doesn’t matter? That it is somehow inappropriate to badmouth the government, to revolt, to collectively organize and resist against the US Empire? We are facing a Leviathan, and only a concerted effort can force the hand of our masters.

Do Americans have a broad internationalist outlook, as a significant minority did during the Cold War? The answer is no. US citizens have retreated to an insular, selfish attitude towards the rest of the world. How many can point to Iraq or Afghanistan on a map? How many view dead Middle Easterners as “collateral damage”? That type of outlook is pure barbarism, and must be changed fast, before our culture as well as our standard of living descends rapidly to levels of a full-blown dark age.

What kind of war are we even in now? We have proxy war, hybrid war, drone war: or are we approaching yet another World War? Whatever, the pundits swagger. Bring it on.

There have already been more than two world wars, despite what the official history books may say. The modern world, and the general psyche of untold millions, has in fact been shattered by world wars. The Cold War definitely can count as WWIII. Just ask citizens of both Koreas, Vietnam, Nicaragua, Angola. The list goes on. The global war on terror could count as a World War, as well. Of course, Obama told us it was over, although the carnage continues throughout the Middle East and North Africa. So is it world war four, or five? Pope Francis has warned of a “piecemeal” world war, and Pankaj Mishra writes of a “global civil war” in Age of Anger: A History of the Present, which I have reviewed here. Within the USA, where is the resistance against this imperial, mega-violent conflagration spreading across continents?

Americans had better wake up, quickly. Place of birth, international borders, and cultural differences are used by our elites to distract, divide, and conquer ordinary citizens’ minds, bodies, and souls. It’s time for our society to reevaluate our priorities, pay attention to the diabolical geopolitical games and schemes being hatched in our midst, and confront what we’ve been avoiding for so long. Public apathy must be called what it is, apathy. Resistance must begin in every neighborhood, every town, every city, with the acknowledgment that we have dragged our feet for too long. As Martin Luther King Jr. pointed out in April of 1967:

“A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social justice is approaching spiritual death.”

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