Keith's NO EMPIRE Blog

A radical dissident perspective on various topics. Comments welcome at

Saturday, April 15, 2017

End of an Era

We are at the end of the hydrocarbon era. The end of cheap and plentiful energy. Curiously, the imperial elite seem not to have noticed. A few may have and are keeping the information to themselves in hope of profiting from a chaotic transition. A risky gamble. Yet, the information available from elite gatherings (Bilderberg, etc) and elite Think Tanks (The Council on Foreign Relations, etc) suggests that making the necessary adaptive changes to go from a high energy usage society to a radical conservationist low energy usage society is too disruptive to existing power relations, hence, isn't even under consideration. This, even though failure to successfully transition constitutes an existential threat to the survivability of humans. In fact, current efforts to create fragile global interdependencies are a huge step in the wrong direction, making local autonomy and sustainability increasingly rare, virtually guaranteeing massive global systemic failure in the near future, perhaps leading to nuclear war.

The unprecedented rapid increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide from a benchmark high of 280 ppm to 405 ppm and climbing has set in motion climate changes which will likely overwhelm global plant life's ability to adapt, including our agricultural system. Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels remain in dynamic equilibrium for centuries, recent anthropogenic global warming merely a sample of what is to come. Additionally, the warming of the oceans, particularly the shallower waters of the Arctic, have begun to cause increased methane emissions. There are fears that global warming could soon result in a large methane burp which would have catastrophic effects. Although methane doesn't stay in the atmosphere nearly as long as CO2, it initially is about 80 times more potent at trapping solar energy making it a powerful accelerant to global warming. This could likely overwhelm the adaptive capabilities of our food plants resulting in massive global famines and warfare.

Climatologists have tended to error on the conservative side in their estimates of climate change impacts. As a consequence, their reports, claimed to be "alarmist" by our elites, have in fact understated the problem. It wasn't long ago that environmentalists were calling for actions to limit atmospheric CO2 to 350 ppm. We are now at 405 ppm and climbing. The current increases in the global mean temperature are just the beginning of the eventual warming which will occur. Increased concentrations of CO2 trap additional solar energy. Period. My best guess is that we have entered the tipping point at which time climate changes will become mutually reinforcing. Less Arctic sea ice will cause increased Arctic warming which will cause increased methane emissions, etc. At this stage, it appears virtually inevitable that we will soon enter into runaway global warming. What are we doing to prevent this? Very little. What are we doing to make it worse? A lot.

It is not simply a question of reducing CO2 emissions, or even eliminating CO2 emissions, the 405 ppm level of CO2 currently in the atmosphere is too high and needs to be reduced. Simply waiting for nature to reduce the CO2 levels to around 280 ppm will take centuries and result in significant increased global warming. Even with aggressive efforts to extract carbon from the atmosphere, the time required to reduce CO2 to acceptable levels will still result in significant warming, hopefully not catastrophic. Is that what we are doing? No, we are continuing to emit massive amounts of CO2 causing further increases above the current wildly excessive 405 ppm. Higher concentrations will increase warming and take longer to reduce, hence, catastrophe is virtually inevitable. The only question is how much can be salvaged, if any?

Is this being asked? Has this reality penetrated the popular media, the culture, the educational system, etc. What are we doing besides pursuing business as usual, even as we condemn our grandchildren? Humanity is facing the greatest existential threat to life on planet earth, yet our rulers are primarily concerned with striving for power. The American empire relies upon myths and propaganda to function smoothly, and seems incapable of rationally dealing with the reality insofar as doing so would impinge upon existing power and privilege. We can send men to the moon, but are incapable of changing society to preclude destroying the ecosystem. We are doomed.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Forward to the Past

Most predictions consist primarily of extrapolating recent history into the future. If done accurately, this works reasonably well. Currently, however, we appear to be at the end of an era and headed into a period of disjuncture leading to a future which will be sufficiently different from recent history as to make simple extrapolation dubious at best and catastrophic at worst. There are so many significant changes that it is difficult to know where to even begin. Underlying it all is the reality that the industrial era of rapid growth and technological advancement fueled by abundant cheap energy is at an end. Concurrently, we have already consumed far too many hydrocarbon fuels and emitted far too much CO2 such that catastrophic global warming is now highly probable. Also, nuclear war is an increasingly likely occurrence, survival of the species and of the biosphere in question. How our power obsessed elites will respond to all of this is largely unpredictable, the ability of our rulers (yes, rulers) to see beyond themselves and act rationally for the common good doubtful.

The first point to make is that policy reflects anticipated outcomes based upon anticipated conditions. Examination of current and proposed policies allows us to infer that our rulers are anticipating a future made possible by abundant cheap energy which will be consumed without severe damage to the environment. There is minimal effort being expended to transition to renewable energy sources and to drastically reduce CO2 emissions and mitigate what is already in the air. We are on the threshold of runaway global warming and the consequent agricultural collapse. Then there is the problem of nuclear war which is treated as business as usual rather than an imminent existential threat. We have had several close calls in the past and cannot expect our luck to hold. Yet, there are plans to upgrade the nuclear forces, not eliminate them. This is pure insanity. Finally, there is no discussion concerning our private, debt money financial system which needs to be radically changed before it collapses. And while our rulers could well be deceiving themselves about the environment and nuclear war, it is difficult to believe that the bankers are not aware of the state of the financial system.

Let me discuss the financial system first as it appears to be an underlying force driving events in the near term. Our financial system has evolved into a system which relies upon private banks to create money in the form of credit. The Federal Reserve is a private Central Bank with governmental powers owned by members of the private banking system. It is not part of the government. Since banks effectively create money which they loan out at interest for profit, elaborate rules have been created to restrict the amount of money they can create in relation to their financial reserves. The net effect of all of this is to require that the financial system needs to continually grow to maintain solvency. Historically, a growing real economy, financed by borrowed money, underpinned the whole system. The banks and bond holders effectively hold the mortgage on the real economy, borrowed money (the only kind currently available) the necessary ingredient for prosperity. The real economy has more or less reached its limit of rapid growth, the industrial era at an end. Yet, the financial system needs to continue to grow exponentially, hence, the financialization of the economy whereby the financial system operates separate from (and frequently at odds with) the real economy. Bank and bond loans go primarily for the acquisition of existing assets, not the creation of new productive assets. Also, exotic derivative financial assets are a primary source of financial gain even as they contribute nothing to the real economy. The end game for all of this is that we are moving toward a neofeudal rentier economy instead of a productive economy. Less and less money will be available to purchase goods and services as more and more money goes towards interest payments.

When I say that the industrial era is at an end, I am referring to the unsustainable massive consumption of natural resources powered by cheap and abundant energy. Also, manufacturing as a source of well paid employment. Just as agricultural societies mechanized agriculture thereby eliminating the livelihood of the majority of citizens, so too, automation and robotics will continue to reduce manufacturing jobs in addition to those jobs offshored to low wage countries. All of this could be a huge benefit if societies were organized to distribute the fruits of productivity in a reasonably equitable fashion. Unfortunately, our society is organized to concentrate wealth and power into fewer and fewer hands, hence, we are headed to an era of neofeudal debt peonage.

As things currently stand, the global financial system has been decoupled from the global economy such that financial manipulation is more profitable than real economic activity. This is a direct consequence of the extreme concentration of wealth whereby consumers are strapped for funds even as the super rich have wildly excessive amounts of money which they "invest" in financial instruments creating massive bubbles in the financial system. A collapse of the global financial system is imminent. The end result will be a collapse of the real economy followed by a massive purchase of real assets by the super rich and corporations, particularly the financial corporations. Rather than an economy driven by overconsumption, the emerging neofeudal economy will be driven by debt obligations whereby the former consumers will now be working to service their debt. In other words, we are returning to a rentier economy with the rich and corporations effectively the Lords of Capitalism ruling by the divine right of capital.

The elite drive towards a neofeudal rentier economy reflects their obsession with power, their desire to maintain their power and privilege in a radically changed environment. An environment which requires radical conservation and local autonomy to achieve long term sustainability. A sustainable political economy would be good for the citizenry but would inhibit capitalist power accumulation. This is what the elites are trying to prevent through neoliberal globalization. They are implementing a world of global interdependencies tied together by the elite controlled global financial system. To succeed, they must eliminate pockets of national autonomy like Russia, and potential rivals for global control like China. They are prepared to risk nuclear war to achieve their objectives.

Elite objectives are camouflaged behind a facade of ideology, mythology and lies. To what extent the elites as a whole are consciously aware of what is occurring is doubtful. Their narrow focus is on their own bottom line, and the propaganda which facilitates their power seeking also influences their perceptions as well. It is easy to believe what is convenient to believe, and self-deception is the rule not the exception. Our entire doctrinal system precludes rational solutions to our many problems. Catastrophe looms.

Yet, none of this is being taken into account, at least publicly. There seems to some blind faith in the ability of new technology to miraculously solve all of our problems even though much of this technology has been a consequence of our energy intensive infrastructure. Furthermore, energy intensive technologies and industries are securely entrenched and resistant to adaptive change. And those areas of futuristic thinking, like science fiction, which used to have some predictive validity, have largely failed to adapt to changing reality. The technological explosion fueled by our energy intensive infrastructure is simply predicted to continue and perhaps accelerate even as the availability of cheap energy disappears or becomes unusable. With few exceptions, stories dealing with a radical conservationist (sustainable) society necessitated by diminished resources are non-existent. What is written about, other than outright fantasy, are high tech versions of business as usual involving hyper space travel and galactic colonization. In other words, a high tech version of past events. What hope is there for the future when our vision for the future is but an implausible version of our past? A vision which fails to account for the profound changes required to adapt to profound changes in energy availability and the environmental consequences of business as usual?

We have entered a surreal period where dire existential threats are being ignored. With their myopic focus on power accumulation, the elites ignore or downplay the extraordinarily serious threats to the survival of civilization as we know it, and even to the survival of the species. Acknowledging these threats and taking action would diminish the power of the most powerful sectors of the ruling elite. They continue to ignore reality so that they may continue to compete for power regardless of the consequences. They are power-mad psychopaths, their actions insane. And the intelligentsia and doctrinal system go along because it is their nature to serve power. And, with remarkably few exceptions, society as a whole goes along unquestioningly. Those with power set the course. Those with power are obsessed with power and little else. They misrepresent reality consistent with their objectives. And our society seems incapable of resisting or even acknowledging the utter insanity of current policy. Even those who envision life in the future seem incapable of even imagining the future consequences of current reality. Instead, projecting a high-tech version of the past onto the future. Do we, as a society, lack the ability to collectively think rationally? Alas, I fear we may be doomed.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Imperial Feminism

Mainstream American feminism has become imperial feminism. Initially socially transformative, it has devolved into a movement organized by, about and for white middle class women whose primary goal is breaking the glass ceiling and (secondarily) securing birth control and abortion rights. And while birth control and abortion rights do benefit all women, breaking the glass ceiling benefits only those women who aspire to power within the framework of our current political economy. That is, those who see themselves competing with men to lead our militaristic, war-mongering, neoliberal society in pursuit of global hegemony. Small wonder that these "feminists" support Hillary Clinton, a proven war-monger and the very embodiment of ruthless ambition.

Authentic feminism seeks to fundamentally transform the political economy. Many of the problems which women face are but symptoms of our materialistic and militarized society created to further imperial ambitions. Empire and feminism are mutually exclusive. Women will always be second class citizens in a highly militarized society. How could it be otherwise? The relative handful of female imperial executives are the exceptions which prove the rule, demonstrating only that ambitious women are as capable as men in supporting a system which relies on exploitation and militarism in pursuit of power.

In capitalism, spending shapes the political economy. Some things get funded, others don't. When war and weapons get funded and schools and social programs don't, then militarism and aggression are empowered and compassion and community are disempowered. Warfare and destruction are the traditional province of men and machismo, social services and community welfare the traditional province of women. A true feminism would seek to channel funding toward social needs and community, and away from conflict and destruction. It is a false feminism which seeks to replace male warriors with female warriors, to exalt in the brutalization of the feminine. If our species is to survive, society needs to be restructured away from hyper-masculine militarism towards a more feminine community of shared concern for our fellows, rather than the ongoing exploitation inherent in power-seeking. Yet, most of the better known "feminists" are mostly concerned with their individual power-seeking and their careers within the imperial political economy. How many times has Hillary or her supporters called for the elimination of nuclear weapons, the end to American wars against the Third World, or the elimination of the American led neoliberal global empire? All of these are necessary first steps for authentic feminism to grow and prosper.

And how have these "feminists" supported their Third World sisters? By calling for war and "humanitarian" intervention against those who resist imperial hegemony. How many of these interventions have benefited Third World women? Are the women of Afghanistan better off because of the bombing and invasion? Are the Northern Alliance warlords feminists? Go back to Afghanistan before the US recruited Osama bin Laden and created the Mujahideen, women had it much better before imperial aggression destroyed the country. Iraq? Same story. Iraq is now a terror ridden sectarian state thanks to empire. Libya? From the highest African development index under Gadaffi to a failed state ruled by warring factions of Takfiri terrorists thanks to Uncle Sam. And Syria is now under imperial assault as planned years before. The lives of Syrian women have been turned into a living hell as a consequence of ongoing destabilization by imperial proxy forces of Islamic terrorists supported by the US coalition. Are these Islamic terrorist mercenaries feminists? Why does Hillary Clinton support them? Why do the professional feminists support Hillary and the Syrian destabilization?

Even putting aside overt warfare, where are the feminist voices opposing neoliberal globalization and the expansion of NATO? Neoliberalism targets social spending beneficial to women while creating massive debts which benefit the imperial financial system while impoverishing the 99%, disproportionately women and children. And "trade" deals which make the corporations a law unto themselves. Where is the "feminist" opposition to this direct attack on the majority of women? And NATO, which requires the new members to divert tax money to purchase new American equipment to support the new militarized culture? And where are the American "feminist" voices in opposition to empire and militarism with all that implies for the future of us all?

No, American organized feminism is a fraud. These are imperial feminists seeking career advancement through service to empire and useful to empire as mobilizers of women in service to the imperial agenda. Unfortunately, it appears to be a characteristic of the capitalist system that organized efforts at change ultimately become corrupted, a seemingly inevitable consequence of the monetization of power.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

911 Diversion

Shortly after the 911 attack in 2001, when questions should have been raised regarding the Bush administration's laxity/culpability for these attacks, the focus of citizen concern was diverted from the attacks themselves onto a ludicrous assertion of a controlled demolition bringing down World Trade Center buildings 1, 2 & 7. Not content with promulgating this idiocy, Pied Piper Theologian David Ray Griffin has also questioned the reality of the plane which crashed into the Pentagon, suggesting a missile instead. Forget the witnesses and wreckage. And so, a well-funded David Ray Griffin has acted as the 911 Truth version of Lyndon LaRouche in discrediting those questioning the involvement of the US government in these attacks which were utilized as a pretext for an endless war for imperial hegemony. It should be noted that a core of 911 Truth supporters are, in fact, Lyndon LaRouchies. The 911 Truth movement has sapped the energy of the Left opposition, contributing significantly to the decline of any serious anti-war movement. I wrote about this back in 2006 in a post titled "911 Conspiracy Cult."

I personally think that the evidence against a controlled demolition scenario is so obvious and overwhelming that it is practically an insult to the intelligence to discuss it in detail. Yet, I fear that I must. With the 15th anniversay of these attacks, some unexpected comments caught me by surprise and were truly dismaying. I am going to focus on one in particular because it raises disturbing questions. It is by The Saker, a former military/strategic analyst who has a blog dealing primarily with Russia and the Middle East. Much of what he says on these topics makes sense and provides valuable information. To a degree, I trusted his analytical judgement. Alas, the anniversay prompted him to write about his conversion to the 911 Truth movement. In the article, he references an earlier article which I will quote from to begin my discussion.

"The reasoniong looked all fine and dandy to me until I came to a truly momentous realization: the "official theory" did not explain one major fact: there is absolutely no way that two planes could have brought down three buildings in New York. Not only that, but the way the buildings fell simply cannot be explained by a gravitational collapse induced by fire." (The Saker)

The first thing one should notice is the Creationist logic. Since evolution couldn't possibly create something as complex as the eye, there must have been the divine intervention of a supernatural creator. If evolution is impossible, then God is the default reality. No need to show the existence of a deity or of divine magic. Likewise, 911 Truthers never bother to demonstrate that a controlled demolition following airplane strikes and massive fires is even remotely possible. Their entire "proof" lies in attacking the possiblity of collapse due to structural damage combined with fire damage. That they have hundreds of PhD engineers (out of hundreds of thousands) who believe as they do is seen as additional proof. Creationists and global warming deniers can make the same claim. So, let us see what happens when we turn the tables on the Truther movement and look at the inherent fallacies in their argument.

Let us begin with the obvious. Who would want to collapse buildings 1, 2 &7, and why? Lets begin by designating Osama bin Laden as representing Islamic fundamentalists in general without worrying whether or not he was personally involved. Osama bin Laden appears to have good motivation for crashing airplanes into buildings 1 & 2, the Pentagon and the White House (plane 4). Asymetric retaliation for the empire's Middle East policies. Building #7 a much lower and unrealistic target and of no symbolic value in any event. Bin Laden doesn't have the ability to rig any of the buildings with high explosives, hence, the use of fully fueled airplanes to cause damage. A controlled demolition of buildings 1, 2 & 7 absolutely requires a massive governmental conspiracy involving hundreds of people and thousands of man hours to somehow position tons of high explosives in three building which were occupied and had the walls, floors and ceilings intact. Wow! Outrageous! Normally, we would stop right there, however, I regret that we must proceed with this ludicrous scenario.

Obviously, bin Laden didn't place any high explosives. How about the US government? Many of us are aware of Operation Northwoods and that false flag operations are not uncommon, perhaps even somewhat routine. Indeed, the big boys calling the shots are usually either sociopaths or psychopaths with zero empathy and a history of commiting mass murder. When it comes to false flag operations, however, getting caught tends to be counterproductive. Of course, bin Laden was perfectly capable of enlisting suicide recruits to fly airplanes into buildings, even to train them in the US and Germany. Since many of these terrorists are CIA assets, did the CIA covertly recruit them? Or be aware of them and turn a blind eye? A controlled demolition implies considerable coordination between the US government and the perpetrators. Why a controlled demolition? The airplane strikes alone virtually guarantee that the Bush administration will have their new Pearl Harbor. You think not? The airplane strikes by themselves killed many hundreds of people and essentially destroyed the two buildings. With the support of the imperial media, that wouldn't have sufficed? They had to collapse three buildings (not merely destroy the larger two) to achieve their objectives? Having struck buildings 1 & 2 with airplanes (to make it look like the airplanes alone caused the collapse), they then abandoned all pretense and demolished building 7 with explosives bcause building 7 was so critical to their plans that getting caught out was seen as worth it?

Controlled demolition? A controlled demolition has always placed the primary charges at the base of the structure so that the weight of the building causes the building to effectively implode due to gravity and the force of the impact upon the lower sections. I am unaware of any controlled demolition where the primary charges were set at the top of the building where buildings 1 & 2 failed. Apparently this never before used technique was necessitated by the need to make it look like the airplanes did it. How the planners knew exactly where these fast moving jets would impact (15 stories down? 20 stories down? etc) is a mystery. Also, there has never been a controlled demolition following an airplane strike. One would think that the force of the impact would dislodge many of the explosive charges and disrupt the wiring. And then there is the fire. Both towers had fires of intense heat estimated at up to 2000 degrees Fahrenheit. What type of explosive could be exposed to that and not pre-detonate? Yes, I know that C4 is very stable, but not when armed with detonators as it surely would have been. And building 7? A raging fire for 4 hours with no uncontrolled explosions, then a controlled detonation after that? A controlled detonation following an airplane strike and intense fire is a virtual impossibility. And why wait so long after the strike to demolish the buildings (75 minutes for the first building struck, 45 minutes for the second building struck)? And why demolish the second building struck before the first one struck? A weird sense of humor perhaps? And on and on it goes. People, including a relative small percent of technical people, forcing the facts to fit their bias.

A good example of this forcing the facts to make a Creationist argument is an article that several Truther technical people got published in Europhysics news. "...neither before nor since 9/11 have fires caused the total collapse of a steel-framed high-rise...." (Europhysics News)

An obvious response to the above is "so what?" The collapse of the Twin Towers was a unique event. Neither before nor since 911 have large airplanes been used to cause severe structural damage to high rise buildings followed by intense fire. A thorough investigation of the event followed involving simulations. There is no logical reason to doubt that the Twin Towers collapsed due to the airplane strikes and fire, or that building 7 didn't ultimately collapse after a 4 hour fire. The circumstances were such that a controlled demolition was virtually impossible. There never has been a controlled demolition following an airplane strike. There never has been a controlled demolition following an intense and lengthy fire. The Bush administration (the obvious culprit in a controlled demolition) had no need for a controlled demolition, effectively destroying the Twin Towers would have easily sufficed to qualify as a new Pearl Harbor. A controlled demolition in building 7 was not a realistic option and would serve to jeopardize the entire operation. Using planes to effectively destroy buildings 1 & 2 was a relatively simple operation. A controlled demolition on all three buildings would have been a horrendously complex conspiracy involving hundreds of people and thousands of man hours over a considerable time overseen by a small group of people technically qualified to perform controlled demolitions on all three buildings even without airplane strikes and intense fires.

In spite of the irrationality of the controlled demolition scenario, the 911 Truth movement has been able to attract a surprizingly large number of otherwise rational people who go along with this nonsense. I suspect that the deep state indirectly supports the 911 Truth movement, just as I suspect that the deep state supports Lyndon LaRouche. If something is impossible to hide, simply discredit the critics. The problem for me is when someone like the Saker takes up this nonsense. In so doing, he has gone a long way in destroying his credibility with me. In view of his background, he, more than most, should realize the impossibility of a controlled demolition of a building on fire for four hours. Surely he is aware that high explosives armed with detonators would pre-detonate in short order? So how can I trust his analysis on other matters? Or is he of the same ilk as David Ray Griffin?

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Lesser Evilism

Let us begin by noting that "lesser evil" is a label, nothing more. It is used by many people on the nominal Left ("liberals," "progressives," etc) to justify voting for the Democratic candidate regardless of actual past performance. There has been no attempt to objectively predict the likely consequences of the election of the Republican versus the election of the Democrat, it is merely assumed that the Democrat would be less "evil". The word evil a highly perjorative label which detracts from policy implications, and of the effectiveness in actually implementing a desired agenda, particularly in view of the overwhelming influence of the dominant elites on governmental policy. This is significant in regards to the casual dismissal of Third Party candidates who, if they do well, may actually influence policy options more in defeat than the victory of one or the other corporate candidates.

One of the more significant aspects of the US Presidential elections is how they have been reduced to personality contests, actual policy rarely discussed. From the perspective of the elites this makes sense. Significant policy decisions are made by the elites, not the voters. Many have noted the relative consistency of US policy over time regardless of who or which party is in office. If the voters confine themselves to voting for one of the two corporate candidates, this is the inevitable consequence: policy always consistent with overall elite objectives, frequently to the detriment of the 99%. Currently, this includes neoliberal globalization and imperial global hegemony. These, in turn, require ongoing privatization, austerity, militarism and domestic restrictions and control. Fomenting racial/ethnic/religious conflict is standard, and provide the "liberals"/"progressives" something to rally around as the Democratic candidate pursues the imperial agenda which they claim to oppose, but which they de facto support with their vote. And since they refuse to hold the Democrat accountable at the ballot box, the entire political economy inevitably moves to the right in accordance with the elite agenda.

A significant aspect of the Presidential election marketing campaign is to get the citizenry to feel a part of the whole political process by virtue of their participation in the act of voting and perhaps contributing to and/or working for a particular candidate. There is a certain irony in feeling a flush of victory when your corporate candidate wins, the implementation of policies which you oppose by the candidate you supported virtually inevitable. This is where the "lesser evil" label proves invaluable. No matter how badly your candidate actually performs, the other guy would have been worse, so you convince yourself. Furthermore, any Progressive Third Party candidate is viciously attacked as taking away votes from the Democratic candidate. Should the Republican win, this greatest of all tragedies will be blamed on the Third Party Progressive candidate rather than on the Democratic candidate's record of imperial service. In this way, "liberals" can consistently and self-righteously support empire, militarism and neoliberal globalization by voting for the Democratic corporate candidate, while becoming incensed at those who support genuine progressive Third Party candidates. This failure to acknowledge the consequences of their actions by creating an exaggerated demon enemy whom they are defeating at the polls is a prime reason why the elites are able to manufacture consent for their policies and generate enthusiastic support for the politicians who implement these policies in spite of the rather obvious consequences.

This lesser evilism mindset is particularly relevant to the 2016 U.S. Presidential elections insofar as Hillary Clinton's record in support of imperial militarism and neoliberal austerity is so well known and she is so universally unpopular that it has become necessary for her campaign to literally terrify the Democratic faithful of the Republican candidate, the obnoxious buffoon Donald Trump, so that they will be driven to the polls out of fear of Trump to vote for Hillary. The contention among the "liberal" cadre that Hillary is the lesser of two evils is a defensible position only if you believe what she and The Donald say while ignoring her long history of saying one thing and doing another, and of up front warmongering. The current dishonest attempt to portray Trump as a sort of proxy for Vladimir Putin is a return to cold war red baiting as well as further demonization of Putin. It would seem that the American people are being prepared for a pivotal confrontation with Russia, this one infinitely more dangerous than other recent interventions. We are at the end of an era and the empire is attempting to achieve total hegemony prior to a restructuring of the global financial system and the entire global political economy. Hillary has surrounded herself with hyper-militaristic neocons who are pathological risk-takers, Victoria Nuland (Mrs. Robert Kagan) a telling example. The overwhelming support of organized Jewry for Clinton probably indicates that she will take a very hard line against Iran and Assad's Syria. For all of these reason's and more, I have concluded that Hillary Clinton may well be the most dangerous person to seek the Presidency, hardly the lesser evil. Unlike Trump, Clinton has very broad support among the imperial elite, therefore, will likely win easily. Furthermore, this broad support makes policy implementation likely. A Hillary Clinton administration will likely represent a neocon dominated war administration, the militarists throwing caution to the wind as they seek to remake the Middle East, weaken or destroy Russia and contain China thereby securing complete hegemony for the U.S. led global corporate/financial empire. The risk of a nuclear holocaust has never been higher. How this can be described as a lesser evil is beyond comprehension.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Radical Conservation

Humanity is in dire straits. We are at the end of the hydrocarbon era, yet our elites refuse to deal with this reality. This is tragic, yet understandable insofar as doing what needs to be done would result in dramatic changes in the distribution of power, something which our power-obsessed elites will resist in spite of the dire consequences. I have concluded that little can or will be done to stave off disaster.

Having accepted the more-or-less inevitability of disaster in the near future, I am nonetheless puzzled and disheartened by the lack of realistic discussion of the situation among the dissident intelligentsia and future oriented visionaries. There continues to be too much idiotic talk about finding alternative energy sources capable of powering our current and future energy intensive society, while ignoring the necessity to restructure society to radically reduce energy consumption consistent with the renewable sources available.

Society has developed an energy intensive mindset which hinders our ability to deal with this problem. We have already depleted the easily accessible reserves of fossil fuels which took eons of time to accumulate, wrecking havoc on the environment in the process. Massive energy consumption is inherently destructive to the biosphere. Only radical conservation, including a significant population reduction, will permit low energy solutions to become viable. In short, virtually all of the so-called solutions to the problem are focussed on finding alternative energy sources capable of supporting our energy intensive society rather than restructuring our society to dramatically reduce energy consumption. Radical conservation is feasible, replacing hydrocarbons at current levels of usage isn't.

A big part of the problem of the failure to deal with the need to radically reduce energy usage involves the failure to recognize the link between technological development and the exploitation of cheap, non-renewable hydrocarbon energy sources. From the steam engine to cars to airplanes to rockets to computers, the explosion of rapid technological advancement was more-or-less powered by the intensive and wasteful use of cheap energy. Without abundant and cheap energy, most of the technological development of the past two centuries would not have occurred. Yet, the science fiction visions of the future continue to depict a continuing and perhaps accelerating technological advancement based upon the assumed availability of abundant and cheap energy. Frequently, this involves the  development and use of nuclear power in spite of the extreme danger posed by the creation of large amounts of radioactive nuclear waste which remain environmentally deadly for tens of thousands of years, possibly already dooming humanity to extinction. Some of these writers are rocket scientists or otherwise involved in current energy intensive research, and have a vested interest in continuing current energy intensive programs. In short, all talk of humans colonizing the stars or even our own solar system are hopelessly out of touch with reality and divert our attention from how to change our society to be able to live within our energy means. In other words, even our visionaries are merely extrapolating the present into the future without due regard to future energy reality, frequently merely assuming that human ingenuity will provide a technological fix. As it is, we likely have already consumed too much fossil fuels and emitted too much carbon dioxide to escape massive environmental disruption. If so, the lack of a vision of a low energy use society was and is a part of the problem.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Liberal Zionism and Tribal Anti-Zionism

Both liberal Zionism and Jewish tribal anti-Zionism are variants of Jewish peoplehood, tribalism and kinship which fall outside of hard-core Judeo-Zionism. Like Judeo-Zionism, both seek to maintain Jewish ethnic solidarity and the self-serving nepotism and favoritism which has been a key ingredient in Jewish success. There are, however, differences between these two groupings and the ideology of Judeo-Zionism. It should be noted that there are variations of solidarity and commitment within all three groups, the discussion an attempt to develop a rough approximation of general group consensus. It should be kept in mind that group ideology is established and refined by the group leadership (elites) and adhered to (more or less) by the mass of the group membership. Finally, I am talking primarily about organized groups of Jews and their actions. Individual Jews acting alone have little socio-political impact unless they are wealthy. I am defining a "Jew" as someone who self-identifies as a Jew and is accepted as a Jew by other Jews.

Liberal Zionists are those Zionists who criticize Israeli policies and flagrant violations of human rights while, nonetheless, continuing to support Israel. They are generally identified with the Democratic Party and the old Israeli Labor Party, and in opposition to Likud and other right-wing Israeli parties. Like liberals everywhere, they tend to whine about specific examples of systemic injustice while loyally supporting the system which is the cause of the injustice. They seek to ameliorate the most visible problems while downplaying and excusing the systemic nature of the situation. They remain Zionists and support Israel because they recognize that Zionism and support for Israel and exploitation of the Holocaust was the driving force behind re-uniting the various groups of Jews and re-establishing Jewish kinship, tribal solidarity and nepotism. At a personal level, they do not really feel threatened by anti-Semitism nor do they see Israel as a refuge from potential irrational Gentile Jew-hatred. Yet, they recognize the value of this unifying mythology and tend to support it, even if half-heartedly. In short, they seek to project a progressive image while riding on the coattails of the deeply committed, hard-core Judeo-Zionists.

Jewish tribal anti-Zionists are essentially Zionism's echo. Instead of uniting with other Jews in support of Israel, they unite with other Jews in opposition to the fundamental character of the Jewish state. In effect, Israel forms the basis for organizational solidarity, Jewish Zionists pro-Israel, Jewish anti-Zionists in opposition. Both groups are composed primarily of Jews working in solidarity, the leadership of the anti-Zionist movement heavily Jewish. And while these Jewish anti-Zionists call for equal rights for the Palestinians, there is a certain ambiguity in how they would deal with the Jewish nature of the Jewish state. The goal for many of these Jewish anti-Zionists (or post-Zionists) appears to be to distance themselves from a situation which reflects poorly on them and other US Jews, while simultaneously attempting to maintain Jewish solidarity by other means less likely to generate anti-Semitism in the operational sense of the term, that is, non-Jewish awareness and discussion of Jewish power and privilege. In short, Jewish tribal anti-Zionists are concerned that visible support for Israel is no longer "good for the Jews," and they wish to disassociate themselves from Israel and Israeli actions, while simultaneously preserving tribal unity by other means, initially by organizational solidarity in opposition to Israeli policies. Not all Jewish anti-Zionists are tribal anti-Zionists, of course. Tribal anti-Zionists are generally present in those anti-Zionist groups which are composed primarily of Jews and have a mostly Jewish leadership.

Finally, it should be noted that many Jews (up to one-half?) are not active members in organized Jewish life, therefore, are not part of any kinship network. Certainly, the exploitation of the Holocaust by the Zionist Jews has created a certain sense of Jewish identity among otherwise fully assimilated Jews who might otherwise not even consider themselves Jewish. After all, the prevention of assimilation and the resurrection of Jewish peoplehood was a primary goal of Zionism and remains so today. The ethnic definition of a Jew was created when the religious definition became obsolete. Had it not been for Zionism, the Holocaust and Israel, many secular Jews might not self-identify as Jews. Of course, the success of Zionism and the resultant Jewish kinship has created a situation where it would seem to be advantageous to be a Jew. Even otherwise assimilated Jews who don't believe in the myth of eternal and irrational Gentile Jew-hatred may, nonetheless, find Jewish kinship highly rewarding, even though the end result is a de facto social stratification based upon birthright privilege.

Friday, January 22, 2016


Zionism has evolved into an ideology which has re-united the various strands of organized Jewry to once again function as a united collective, a modern version of what existed during the period of Classical Judaism. It seeks to maintain the prerogatives and effectiveness of a people apart while exploiting the appearance of assimilated individuals. No longer united by a single form of Judaic religion (Classical Judaism), most organized secular Jews, Reform Jews, Conservative Jews and Orthodox Jews now unite in solidarity around support for Israel and Zionism. At the core of Zionist ideology lies a strong sense of victimhood and historical persecution at the hands of Gentiles, whom the Zionist Jews view with varying degrees of contempt and fear, frequently exaggerated.

A key to understanding the current situation is to be aware that Zionism is mostly a response to the threat of assimilation and the loss of the advantages which historically benefited the Jews versus the peasants in the surrounding Gentile communities. During the period of Classical Judaism, Jews functioned as what Yuri Slezkine calls service nomads, providing services for the Gentile nobility which the peasants were unable to perform, such as, money lending, tradesmen, tax collecting, administrative, etc. While most of the Jews may have been humble townspeople, they, nonetheless, were above the majority of Gentile peasants economically and socially. During this time, Jews were mostly separate from the surrounding Gentile community, usually by choice, and evolved a distinctive dress, language and dietary restrictions designed to ensure separation from Gentiles, particularly the peasants/serfs who the Jews looked down upon. In effect, the Jews functioned as a formal collective which provided administrative and other functions enabling the Gentile nobility to control the Gentile peasantry. As such, Jewish loyalty was for the Gentile nobility in opposition to the majority of the Gentiles who were viewed as a problem to be controlled.

Europe, during the period of Classical Judaism, was a violent place. The Thirty Years War, for example, saw the violent death of about one-third the population of Prussia. As such, violence against Jews was not uncommon, yet it is doubtful that Jews were more persecuted than the Gentile peasantry. Yet, Judeo-Zionist myth history claims that virtually all violence against Jews was solely the consequence of irrational Gentile anti-Semitism, Jews always utterly blameless and defenseless victims. It should be noted that according to Bejamin Ginsberg, Jewish financiers financed the Thirty Years War and Jewish provisioners supplied the troops for profit, hardly consistent with the myth-history of Jewish helplessness. Also, during this period of ongoing power struggles, racism of all types was the norm. In other words, European anti-Jewish racism must be evaluated in context and Jewish suffering relative to the suffering of others and to the Jewish social function rather than some myth of irrational anti-Semitism. Certainly, the Jewish elites seem to have done nicely, the Rothschilds and other Jewish bankers dominating early modern European finance.

What also should be kept in mind is that in pre-modern Europe, the Jews were granted considerable autonomy such that the local head Rabbi exercised considerable authority over the Jewish community including collecting taxes and enforcing Jewish law including punishment. Jewish law governed Jewish behavior towards Gentiles and towards other Jews, including Jews from other countries, hence, the Jews functioned as a collective which transcended borders which, in turn, facilitated both international trade and finance.

With the rise of the modern era, societies became much more complex requiring a reorganization of labor with many of the traditional economic roles of the Jews now open to Gentiles. Peasants became farmers and factory workers, and Gentiles en mass entered occupations dominated by Jews resulting in inevitable conflict. To facilitate the transition to modernity, Gentile monarchs restricted the power of the Rabbis and encouraged assimilation. Many Jews welcomed this new freedom from authoritarian Rabbinic control. Jews and Gentiles whose power was threatened did not, the seeds of future conflict sown, racism and hate always a useful tool for the power-seekers. The enlightenment and the growth of democratic forms saw the separation of church and state, as well as the splintering of the Jews into secular Jews, Reform Jews, Conservative Jews and Orthodox Jews. As a consequence, the definition of who was a Jew changed from someone who practiced the Judaic religion to a manufactured racial definition of a Jewish people defined by ancestory and separate from religious beliefs. When combined with the Blood and Soil ideology of Eastern Europe, Jews became the physically unalterable foreigner. This view of an inherent Jewish nature was popular with anti-Semites and with Jewish Zionists who desired to remain a cohesive people apart, the writings of many of the early Zionists similar to the racist ravings which came to hold sway in Nazi Germany.

A significant problem for the early Zionists was that Zionism was unpopular with the vast majority of Jews who had no intention of immigrating to Palestine, Zionist myth-history about Jewish longing to return to the sacred soil of the Holy Land notwithstanding. Few immigrated or could be induced to immigrate, most wanting to remain where they were. Those who were forced to flee European anti-Semitism overwhelmingly chose to go to the U.S. or Britain, and who could blame them? This phenomenon continued even after the Holocaust when Jewish refugees still overwhelmingly chose to go to the U.S. or Britain rather than Palestine if given the option. The Zionists responded by supporting Western restrictions on immigration along with coercive activities within the refugee camps to “encourage” immigration to pre-Israel Palestine.

The lack of enthusiasm for Zionism among the majority of Jews was in contrast to the support provided by the Diaspora Jewish elites who provided the funding which made the venture possible. Due to the skillful exploitation of the Holocaust, the Zionist Jews were able to gain control over the institutions of organized American Jewry, and to apply considerable political pressure resulting in the recognition of the Jewish state of Israel in 1948 following the Zionist conquest and ethnic cleansing of the native Palestinians.

Initially, Jewish Zionist support for Israel was resolute but relatively low key and unobtrusive, large segments of the Jewish intelligentsia uninvolved. Fears of the charge of dual loyalty and potential anti-Semitism caused the Zionists to emphasize their loyalty to the U.S. and to capitalism, Jewish socialists and Marxists a threat by association. The socialist rhetoric and image of the early founders of Israel also a problem. All of this changed in 1967 with the Six Day War in which Israel trounced the Arabs and effectively destroyed the possibility of Pan-Arabism, a huge victory for U.S. foreign policy objectives. This stunning victory elevated Israel as an imperial asset and greatly facilitated Jewish Zionist power-seeking and upward mobility.

The 1967 war was a watershed event for American Zionist Jews. The war established Jewish Zionist bonafides as loyal and strategically valuable members of empire. This new reality permitted a quantum leap in Jewish Zionist power-seeking as the Zionists began to aggressively promote the ideology of eternal Jewish victimhood and irrational Gentile anti-Semitism culminating in the Holocaust. The Holocaust was claimed to be historically unique, beyond comparison to any other historical episodes of mass murder, and which was used to justify much abhorrent Zionist behavior as an understandable search for security. Zionist collaboration with the Nazis and other anti-Semites was not well known and of little concern. Barriers to Jewish upward mobility were attacked and eliminated, consequently, Jewish presence in the imperial power elite, always significant, soon became disproportionately influential. Jewish Zionist power in the government, finance, the media, the courts, and the doctrinal system, combined with nepotistic mutual support (kinship) and unity of purpose, provided the Jewish Zionists with an unrivaled ability to shape imperial policy to their benefit.

Several points. Jewish over representation in the corridors of power and influence primarily involves organized Jews most of whom are Zionists. Non-Zionist Jews who are not part of organized Jewry may receive some slight benefit only. Anti-Zionist Jews will be treated like pariah, however, there will be some tribal cohesion among their fellow anti-Zionist Jews, hence, tribal anti-Zionism. The ascendancy of Jews to wildly disproportionate wealth and power appears strongly correlated with support for Israel and Zionism. Lists of Jewish billionaires who support Israel financially and otherwise have been published. Can anyone name even one Jewish billionaire who is anti-Zionist? Zionism has replaced Classical Judaism as the unifier of the organized Jewish solidarity network which seeks increased power and engages in de facto nepotism, hence, engages in de facto discrimination against non-Jews.

One defining characteristic of Judeo-Zionism is an antipathy and prejudice against non-Jews, particularly non-elite Gentiles. This antipathy is consistent with the ideology of Classical Judaism where the Jews exhibited a strong dislike of the peasants/serfs who they administered for the Gentile nobility. There were no Jewish peasants/serfs. Judeo-Zionist anti-Gentilism revolves around the Holocaust which the Zionists have massively exploited. The two central dogmas of the Holocaust framework, notes Norman Finkelstein, are the historical uniqueness of the Holocaust (and by extension Jewish suffering) and that the Holocaust was the culmination of an irrational, eternal Gentile hatred of Jews. These beliefs logically imply a fundamental and irreconcilable difference between the nature of the Gentile and that of the Jew. This is the mirror image of the anti-Semitic notion that Jews are born with a particular set of inherently Jewish traits. So too, the Judeo-Zionists believe that Gentiles are born with a particularly set of inherently Goyish traits, one of which is Jew hatred. A lack of demonstrable anti-Semitism is interpreted as indicating that these inherent and unalterable traits are merely lying dormant waiting to spring forth in murderous rage. Acceptance of these beliefs lie behind Jewish anti-Gentile prejudice and the psychological separation and estrangement that Jewish Zionists feel toward the surrounding Gentile community which they interact with yet are psychologically incapable of fully assimilating into. This anti-Gentile bias and sense of Jewish kinship is the driving force behind the de facto nepotism and success of Zionist Jews. Since most Gentiles are unaware of who is a Jew and, more importantly, a Jewish Zionist, much of this will be more or less unseen. For what should be obvious reasons, Zionist Jews would like to keep it that way. Of course, no group is monolithic, there will always be variations in the intensity and degree of commitment to these core beliefs, however, the ideology provides the direction and motivating energy of group activity. 

A key tactic of Judeo-Zionist power-seeking is to keep Jewish power and power-seeking activity as unacceptable topics of discussion. Those who publicly discuss disproportionate Jewish power and influence, the power of the Israel (Jewish?) lobby, or any other aspect of Judeo-Zionist collective power-seeking can expect to receive vilification in the form of charges of anti-Semitism, Jew hatred, blood libel, engaging in anti-Semitic tropes, etc. At a time when true anti-Semitism is negligible, when Islamophobia is significant and on the rise and encouraged by Jewish Zionists, when racism against Blacks and other people of color continues, we nonetheless have the Jewish Zionists claiming an alarming rise in anti-Semitism and the need for new laws to promote Holocaust education and outlaw Holocaust denial (very broadly defined) and anti-Semitism itself (broadly defined to include criticism of Israel and/or support for BDS and other pro-Palestine activities). The obvious intent of all of this is to construct an instrument of Zionist indoctrination and legal intimidation where the citizenry needs to be extremely careful what they say about certain important aspects of the political economy lest they risk career wrecking prosecution resulting in jail or financial impoverishment in defending themselves. Also, the onus of being labeled an anti-Semite.

The term anti-Semitism has acquired several meanings. The traditional definition of an anti-Semite is someone who hates Jews because they are Jews. Someone who believes in innate and unalterable Jewish behavior patterns. Essentially, it is similar in logic to the Judeo-Zionist belief in eternal and irrational Gentile anti-Semitism. Both are racist to the core. The effective definition of the “new anti-Semitism,” however, are those things which are corrosive to Jewish interests, that is, which interfere with Judeo-Zionist power-seeking. What this means is that those who question Jewish tribalism and power-seeking favoritism, or oppose Israeli policies, or discuss the Israeli lobby, etc, will find themselves labeled anti-Semites engaging in tropes. Once so labeled based upon the “new anti-Semitism,” the traditional definition of an anti-Semite will be inferred. And once so labeled, a person's (or organization's) information/opinion will simply be dismissed as the anti-Semitic ravings of a Jew hater. Ad hominem assaults based upon spurious labeling and unfounded inferences supported by the organized power of the Zionists who will not tolerate open discussion. The power, I should add, to make the label have real and significant consequences.

The skillful exploitation of the Holocaust has given the Judeo-Zionists what they wished for: the internal solidarity, mutual support, and unity of power-seeking purpose that was lost when, thanks to the Gentile monarchs, Rabbinical control over the Jewish community was reduced or eliminated resulting in the splintering of the Jews, along with the desire of most Jews to assimilate into the surrounding Gentile community. This does not imply the abandonment of the Judaic religion but the abandoning of sectarian tribalism. Nowadays, however, except for the Orthodox, this rebirth of Jewish tribalism has been achieved without Rabbinic authority, distinctive dress and appearance, or most other religious restrictions against Jew/Gentile interaction. And while the non-organized Jews may be truly assimilated, organized Zionist Jews are more properly described as integrated, their separation from the surrounding Gentile community achieved through the incompatibility of the Zionist ideology with Jew/Gentile brotherhood. The Judeo-Zionist belief in eternal and irrational Gentile Jew hatred and murderous impulses ensure Jewish Zionist antipathy towards Gentiles along with mutual support for fellow Jews leading to power and control and mutual safety. At some level, of course, the more successful Jewish Zionists, secure in their power, may sense that their continued success is due, in part, to communal nepotism resulting in de facto anti-Gentile discrimination. Frequently, this gives rise to defense mechanisms which seek to justify power and privilege by disparaging Gentile capabilities versus Jewish meritocracy. All of this is usually invisible to most Gentiles, Jewish identity usually perceived by other Jews, rarely by Gentiles. And where the situation is perceived correctly, Gentiles are reluctant to voice criticism due to the fear of being labeled anti-Semites.

The bottom line is that non-Jewish Americans may be subject to de facto discrimination of varying degrees by Jewish Zionists, particularly the Zionist elites. This discrimination is an inevitable consequence of Judeo-Zionist ideology in which Gentiles are seen as inherently anti-Semitic, hence, a potentially dangerous enemy. This anti-Gentilism is intrinsic to Zionism and essential to the creation of Jewish Zionist tribalism and power-seeking nepotism. This collective Zionist power-seeking is mostly camouflaged by the fact that Jews are not easily identifiable, nor is Jewish kinship favoritism readily apparent, and because all discussions of Jewish Zionist power and power seeking are met with charges of anti-Semitism and tropes. These charges have the appearance of possible credibility due to the massive exploitation of the Holocaust by the Zionists which, following the Six Day War, has intensified. We have become inundated with Holocaust movies, Holocaust museums, Holocaust awareness, Holocaust education, laws against Holocaust denial (broadly construed) and laws against anti-Semitism including criticism of Israel. This massive influence upon the doctrinal system is intended to privilege Jews from criticism and to facilitate Zionist collective goal attainment. And while many Jews are not Zionists, the overwhelming majority of organized Jews are. The ultimate goal of all of this appears to me to protect Jewish power and privilege through the creation of a political economy which is somewhat analogous to pre-modern society where the Jews filled specialized functions far more rewarding than that of the Gentile peasants, and which have evolved into those careers associated with the professional classes and the non-royal elites. In effect, a stratification of society resistant to social mobility in which Zionist Jews would be analogous to birthright Mandarins.

Ultimately, a just and sustainable society needs to deal with the social distribution of power which, in our complex, monetized society, involves the distribution of money and of capital accumulation. The distribution of power in the political economy is an essential topic for discussion by the citizenry. Attempts to squelch this discussion through accusations of anti-Semitism should not be tolerated. Concentrated wealth and power is injurious both to democracy and to the economy. Oligarchic rule leads to disaster regardless of the ethnicity of the oligarchs. We are moving in the wrong direction at a rapid and accelerating rate. The lust for power on a global scale is causing the global political economy to emphasize elite power and control at the expense of justice and sustainability. We likely have already gone too far in the wrong direction to avoid a catastrophic collapse of the biosphere. Yet, the oligarchs continue in their single minded obsession. The ongoing increase in power of the Jewish Zionists, along with the irrational beliefs of Judeo-Zionism, exacerbate an already dismal situation.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Global Capitalism and Global Empire

The global political economy is significantly different than it was even a short time ago resulting in a metamorphosis of empire into a significantly different form. Yet, I have yet to see strategic analysts accounting for these significant differences, relying instead upon an outdated perspective more suited to bygone days. However, there are certain technological changes which have significantly altered the global political economy, yet are not adequately accounted for by those overly influenced by historical precedent. In certain respects, these times are really quite different from anything humanity has experienced until now, and the ramifications of these profound differences need to be accounted for.

My first observation is that the American empire has metamorphosed into a US directed global empire. It is no longer the nationalistic empire of the American nation-state, rather it represents the imperial ambitions of the transnational corporations and global financial institutions. These institutions manifest a global perspective, not a national one, except to the extent that a national perspective enhances their relative capital accumulation. We seem to be moving toward a form of neofeudalism whereby national boundaries and interests are being battered down by "trade" agreements, whereas, functional boundaries (agribusiness, genetic engineering, software, etc.) are being erected to protect "intellectual property rights."

One consequence of this new form of empire is that any analysis done from a strictly nationalistic perspective is probably wrong. It is no longer the elites of country A in conflict with the elites of country B, rather, it is the elites of country A in competition with the elites of country B within a framework of global relationships linked by the global financial system. Additionally, it is no longer the case of the elites of country A being united in opposition to the elites of country B, rather, elite interests and loyalties transcend national boundaries so that the central bankers of Russia and China have a shared interest with the US Federal Reserve in maintaining the current global financial system, their main concern the distribution of financial power within the system. And while Russian and Chinese political leaders may wish to eliminate the dollar as the world's reserve currency, they seek to do so without jeopardizing the global financial system, and may be at odds with their own central bankers.

The new transnational empire is one in which the global elites have a shared interest in maintaining the empire regardless of the will of the majority of citizens. This is one of the consequences of the revolution in computers and telecommunications whereby the global elites are linked into a virtual community, the fortunes of each person/organization sensitive to changes in the US dominated global financial system. Simply stated, their loyalty mostly is to the empire which made them rich and which sustains their power and privilege rather than to the country in which they reside. Nationalistic endeavors are confined to those which enhance their position within the system and never involve direct challenges to the system. Also, the intentionally created global interdependencies make breaking free from the global system extremely difficult. In this regard, it should be noted that computer aided globally integrated manufacturing systems are totally dependent upon the US based global communication systems which permit their functioning. The use of these and other globally integrated systems to achieve economic efficiencies have created de facto dependencies and vulnerabilities which can be exploited for geostrategic advantage. The information highway can be as critical to a nation's economy as access to energy sources in this globalized world.

In addition to a shared interest in maintaining the system which made them rich, the global elites exhibit a more-or-less shared ideology. Many of these elites in business, government and the military (and their children) have been educated in elite universities, primarily Western, where they are indoctrinated in neoliberal orthodoxy. For example, Third World government economists, World Bank economists and business elites all evaluate the political economy through the same biased, Western oriented globalized perspective. Radical deviation from corporate-friendly business as usual is virtually unthinkable. Differing perspectives are harmonized at elite gatherings such as Bilderberg and the Trilateral Commission. And the like-minded bankers of the global financial system tie it all together. Add to all of this the ability of today's elites to easily move their money, business and residences around the globe with the result being a form of gilded, international cosmopolitanism which supersedes nationalism. Furthermore, the ability of the global financial system to freeze elite financial assets acts as a powerful tool for compliance with systemic imperatives, that is to say, with imperial objectives. Finally, there is the explosion of Western developed and controlled internet usage which enables the gathering and evaluation of massive amounts of data by American corporations and intelligence agencies, and also provides an ideal platform for the marketing of ideas on the social media. This, in turn, provides a means of directly organizing anti-government disruptions in targeted countries.

What all of this results in is an interconnected global capitalist system which greatly limits the ability of individual countries to act independently. Furthermore, the entire system is dependent upon the global financial system which is a privately controlled, debt-based money system. That is, on balance, the total global money supply is based upon bank credit, loans which must be repaid with interest. In other words, the entire global economy is mortgaged to the money lenders, who have the preponderance of influence within the global political economy. Up until now, a growing real economy permitted the issuance of new loans to pay off the old loans plus interest as the global financial system grew apace with the real economy. Nowadays, real economic growth is inadequate to keep pace with loan/interest repayments, therefore, new loans go increasingly towards the privatization of existing public assets as the planet reverts to a form of neofeudalism and debt servitude, the end result of the process of neoliberalism. It should be noted that neoliberalism seems to be the prevailing ideological orthodoxy even among the challengers to American hegemony. This cannibalization of the real global economy by the financial elite can only go on for a little longer, at which point the financial system must be restructured or the system will massively default and collapse.

What seems to be occurring now is that the Western elites (primarily American) within the global corporate/financial empire are preemptively eliminating any and all potential competitors for Western primacy within the imperial power structure. Certain weaker Third World countries, such as Libya and Iraq have been destroyed, while Syria is under attack by Western supported "rebels." China is confronting a Western supported destabilization campaign in Hong Kong, along with an ominous US pivot to Asia. Most ominously, the West has instigated and supported a coup d' etat in Kiev leading to a Russophobic civil war in the Ukraine, spearheaded by US supported neo-Nazis in the Ukrainian government. The Ukraine is now a US/NATO controlled vassal state with a collapsed economy, economic aid contingent upon anti-Russian warfare in the east. The extreme violence directed against the Russian friendly eastern sectors of the Ukraine are supported by the CIA and US/NATO special operations forces. The apparent goal is to provoke a Russian intervention pitting Russian troops against Ukrainian forces. Additionally, the US has initiated economic warfare against Russia, including economic sanctions and the orchestrated collapse of oil prices, hence, Russian oil revenue which accounts for about 50% of Russian income.

The intent of the Ukrainian intervention is to scuttle what were plans to increase economic cooperation between Russia and Europe (primarily Germany). This economic cooperation could have resulted in a powerful Eurasian block of nations able to challenge US imperial primacy. That "threat" to American corporate/financial interests has been successfully eliminated by this intervention. As a consequence, Russia and China are trying to join forces, however, it is probably too little, too late. Both the Russian economy and Vladmir Putin are under attack. The goal is to crush Russian ambitions and independence.

Some strategic analysts view US actions as acts of a flailing empire in decline. They see US efforts as ultimately failing as power inevitably shifts eastward, with China at the head of a Sino-Russian block which surpasses Euro-American power. I beg to differ. While the American nation-state is in relative decline, the empire is stronger than ever, with potent new tools for geostrategic advantage at its disposal. The theoretical ascendancy of a Chinese/Russian power configuration is contingent upon the occurrence of future planned events which the empire will likely thwart. These events, such as pipeline construction, transportation linkages and de-dollarization are political agreements which may not be supported by the local oligarchs who have profited so much from the current system. For example, Vladmir Putin's power is far from absolute and his ability to maneuver greatly restricted by the "Atlanticists" within the Russian government and within the entire Russian political economy.

In order to participate in the global economic system, Russia and China have entered into agreements which have opened up their countries to financial and media penetration. One consequence of this has been the rapid development of US dominated internet communications including social media. This has opened up both countries both to the collection of vast amounts of data by the West on their societies (data mining), and to the development of economic dependencies upon this US dominated cyber space. The efficiencies of the commercial use of the internet have transformed both economies, hence, the disruption of internet services could result in significant economic consequences. American dominance of global telecommunications results in significant strategic leverage, and is a significant part of full spectrum dominance.

What must be kept in mind is that the power which the American led global empire can bring to bear on rivals greatly exceeds the power of the US nation-state. Not the least is that a significant percent of the Russian and Chinese elites are part of the global elite network which share goals and philosophy, and which partake in the rewards of imperial success. As such, they work to advance the imperial neoliberal agenda within their own country, and resist nationalistic efforts which may weaken the prevailing imperial system of which they are an integral part. Likewise, they can count on imperial support for their efforts, thereby increasing their power vis a vis their more nationalistic rivals.

In addition to the economic leverage of the internet, another factor is the rise of the social media as an instrument of social control. One has only to see numerous folks ignoring those around them while actively engaging with their mobile phones to see that in the twenty-first century the internet and social media are the opiates of the people. It is worth contemplating the the consequences of the ongoing replacement of physical reality with virtual reality where strangers become "friends" with which to discuss and perceive political economy and current events.

As I write this, massive demonstrations have taken place in France in response to the Charlie Hebdo murders. Demonstrations which were wildly disproportionate to the crime, particularly in view of Europe's record of mass-murder in the Third World and its ongoing demonization of the Islamic faith of its victims. This response appears orchestrated by the Western elites, and likely involves significant use of the social media (facebook, twitter, etc). This ability to produce passivity at home for harsh domestic policies, combined with the rapid arousal of mob anger at official enemies represents a quantum leap in the ability of the elites to manufacture consent. And since the internet knows no borders, to influence populations in targeted countries. The Russian and Chinese governments cannot even conceive of the ability to influence the American public in the way that the global empire is able to influence the Russian and Chinese populations.

To summarize, viewing events in places such as the Ukraine as a contest between the US and Russia is to misperceive the current reality. A more accurate picture would be that of Russia resisting the designs of the corporate/financial global empire and its institutions, one of which is the US nation-state. This is in many ways an internal conflict for power and influence within empire as the global financial system attempts to deal with the inevitable consequences of a private, debt-money financial system in a low growth environment. Neoliberalism is the financial capitalist response whereby public assets and services are privatized and capitalized. The goal appears to be a form of corporate neofeudalism, a dystopian version of a steady-state economy in which the nation-states and political systems would be totally subservient to a global matrix of elite financial and corporate control.

With all of this in mind, it should be at least somewhat clear that to resist the US, Russia must resist the entire American led global empire in which both Russia and China are enmeshed. Successful resistance to empire would likely result in a collapse of the entire system of global interdependencies with all of the consequences which that would entail, including the likely collapse of the Chinese economy. The US, which has long relied upon nuclear brinkmanship to get its way, is now using a form of global systemic brinkmanship to achieve similar results. Whether or not empire succeeds in creating a neofeudal dystopia or the system collapses or we blunder into nuclear war is unpredictable. It is even remotely conceivable that we could muddle through to a saner world. What seems clear, however, is that the global elites will continue their quest for power without due regard to the potential consequences.

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Technology, Power and Social Control

We live in perilous times. We live in an era where new systems of power and control have evolved unnoticed by the majority, yet utlized by the elites to construct a global system of power projection which may ultimately lead to global systemic collapse. Far from growing weaker, the Empire is evolving into a more powerful, malignant form. Contrary to common misconceptions, this is a consequence of high speed computers, global telecommunications and the internet. The common view is that these tools are a liberating force for good. In the service of power, however, these tools have been used to create a massive dependency upon the use of these tools, hence, upon the powerful few who control access to the system.

The first significant change in power relationships occurred when high speed computers and global telecommunications permitted the construction of a real time global financial system dominated by Wall Street and the West. The system greatly facilitated global business transactions, particularly financial transactions, while simultaneously creating a de facto dependency upon this imperial dominated system for survival in a globalized world. Third World countries, particularly smaller ones, found themselves helpless to defend themselves against predatory capital flows, both into the country creating financial bubbles, and the abrupt withdrawl of funds resulting in manufactured insolvency. Add to this American sanctions and the freezing of assets, and the capacity of empire for financial coersion increased enormously. Entangled in webs of debt and locked into an imperial financial system, many otherwise "independent" countries (Greece, etc) have lost local control of their economies which are being directed by the IMF and central banks, their governments relegated to maintaining order while implementing the imperial agenda.

The extent to which foreign countries are dependent upon the US based financial system is incredible. Currently, global inter-bank transfers denominated in dollars are processed through the US based SWIFT system making Russia and China significantly dependent upon the US for their banking needs. Additionally, credit card transactions are processed centrally in Western facilities. When Russia attempted to get VISA to process Russian transactions in Russia, VISA refused and Russia backed down. The internet is a US created and controlled system upon which global business has become heavily dependent. As much as 98% of South American internet traffic is processed in the US enabling the US to easily monitor private communications and to potentially deny service to apply economic pressure. The extent to which foreign countries and businesses are dependent upon US based communications and financial systems makes these systems as potent as oil in securing US hegemony. To be truly independent, countries need to break free from these centralized US based systems. Russia and China are attempting to do just that, however, it remains to be seen whether or not they have waited too long to break free.

Most folks tend to view the internet as a liberating technology which provides a much needed alternative to the corporate media. There is some truth to that, particularly initially when the internet was first becoming popular. Always remember that the internet was developed by the US government to facilitate communications between various government funded researchers, the later commercialization of the web a gift to big business. So too, it should be pointed out that in our political economy big business has a synergistic relationship to government, both in the development and implementation of policy. At this point, the US developed and controlled internet became a nascent yet rapidly growing and powerful tool in service of a maturing US centered corporate/financial empire. As the global economy adapts to the usefulness and power of the world wide web, so too a dependency develops whereby access to the internet and other forms of corporate controlled telecommunications becomes as critical to the functioning of various non-US economies as access to oil and other enery supplies.

Those who misperceive the internet as a free and unlimited source of alternative information sources fail to account for several factors. Significantly, unlimited quantities of information are overwhelming and practically useless. Dealing with a large quantity of information requires a filtering process to identify a manageable quantity of appropriate information. So, unless an internet user happens to know the URL of a particular website, the initial process involves a search engine to identify possible alternatives. It should be fairly obvious, therefore, that the search engine biases our access to the various alternatives, the first fifty or so listings provided by the search engine receiving the bulk of traffic. Likewise, these biased results are likely to be replicated fairly consistently for similar searches by multiple individuals utilizing the same search engine.

The nature of these search engines is such that a few have come to dominate the business for economic reasons, Google the largest, which means that global internet users inevitably are influenced by the search engine bias of a handful of Western corporations, mostly US. In other words, the wide diversity of people who use Google are accessing a miniscule portion of the internet as presented according to Google's US oriented search bias, whether intentional or not. This is much more significant than it might first appear. At the least, global internet usage is strongly influenced by Western corporate bias, in Google's case a bias in favor of imperial advantages for US business favoring support for US foreign policy objectives. This represents a form of de facto control of the information highway which is invisible to the average internet user. This highly centralized and consistent channeling of search inquiries results in a uniform skewing of information choices on a global, Western oriented basis. Furthermore, the economics of the internet make Third World alternatives to the current system difficult and uneconomic to implement in a globalized world. It should also be emphasized that Google's business model involves data mining for sale. It may well be that Google and the US government know more about the average Chinese internet user than China does.

Another significant characteristic of the internet is the extent to which it responds to economic power. It is analogous to the mass media in this regard in that although we as individuals may enjoy free speech, an individual standing on a soapbox is largely irrelevant, whereas, the mass media is able to reach a large audience. Likewise, an individual can start a free blogspot with minimal impact, whereas, a professionally constructed and run website will attract a larger audience but costs a significant amount of money to run. For example, the popular CounterPunch alternative website needs to raise $100,000 during an annual fundraiser to maintain operations. Commercial websites can cost much more. With this in mind, it should be fairly obvious that those with big bucks to spend have a significant, perhaps overwhelming influence on web content. In this regard, the internet can be a much more effective tool of propaganda than the mass media insofar as the message can be tailored to the preconceptions and biases of specific targeted groups. In other words, rather than one crude message for the masses, it is possible to present multiple versions of same message tailored to appeal to the targeted audiences utilizing multiple websites appealing to these various groups. Also, just as years ago some folks thought that "news" must be factual if it appeared in a newspaper, now many place undo credence upon information found on the web. It is well to remember that not everything on Wikipedia is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

One aspect of the inernet and social media which has been inadequately discussed is the use of this technology to identify and organize what can best be described as a youthful comprador class which perceives their personal success best served by globalized, neoliberal capitalism. This network of young 'shakers and movers' is inherently destabilizing in those countries resisting neoliberal globalization and empire. It must be remembered that all empires rely upon local compradors and satraps to maintain local control. The Obama administration came to power significantly aided by young people recruited and organized around the internet and social media. These highly successful techniques have been further refined and are now part of American foreign policy tools applied on a global basis. In this regard, it should be noted that the internet does not stop at national borders nor pass through check points.

It should be further noted that much Third World internet access is via smart phones, the vast majority of which utilize Google's Android operating system. Local Third World information sources have been effectively superceded by an American centered, corporate dominated global information network attuned to corporate priorities. Uncle Sam now has direct access to vast numbers of favorably disposed foreign nationals who receive significant amounts of US technical and financial assistance as they bring pressure to bear to implement the neoliberal agenda and thwart local and national solutions. In essence, the US is the hub of a global network of upwardly mobile elite who identify with and work to implement the transnational corporate agenda as defined by the US.

With the benefit of hindsight, it seems likely that much of the euphoria over the liberating potential of the internet and other communication advances was a direct consequence of corporate marketing activities hyping the wonders of the technology. The personal potential highlighted, the structural reality invisible. All of this taking place in a capitalist culture seeking magical technical fixes for problems created by technology and inherent in our political economy. We are a money driven and money controlled society. The notion that expensive communications infrastructure would be designed to permit the 99% to liberate themselves from the control of the 1% is a naive fantasy. The decline of the mass media is an illusion, a consequence of misperceiving the metamorphisis of the corporate controlled communications media. The rise and fall of specific corporations or technology hardly a revolutionary phenomenon. Also, the extent to which the entire global political economy has been transformed and become dependent upon these technologocal advances, hence, dependent upon those who control these systems. Technology, in and of itself, can never be inherently liberating, only potentially liberating. Almost always, technological advances will be made to serve the interests of those who control the political economy. As a consequence, the internet, along with other communications advances, has increased the level of global corporate control including the unprecedented development of a system of global mass surveillance. Unfortunately, few seem aware of this reality, fewer still have considered how to respond.

Finally, I have decided not to open the Pandoras's box of discussing the social consequences of internet enabled social networks and virtual reality. This is something which I don't fully comprehend which, nonetheless, fills me with dread.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Democracy and Reform

Are there any two words in the English language more abused than these? The worst is the misuse of the word “reform” which literally means to end abusive practices, but now is nothing but a feel good label used to sell some sort of change. As a consequence, most changes are now marketed as “reforms” no matter how odious. The use of this technique of selling by labeling is so ubiquitous that even opponents of these changes usually refer to them as reforms once they have been successfully branded as such. It has reached the point where when I hear the word “reforms” I cringe knowing that it is usually the powerful (or their representatives) who apply the labels, and that their changes rarely benefit the average person.

Following closely is the word “democracy”, yet another feel good label which misrepresents reality. While definitions may vary, democracy should refer to the ability of the broadly based citizenry to have significant input into the functioning of the political economy. I am not aware of any true democracy existing anywhere on the planet, the concept having been degraded to the use of elections to bestow the appearance of legitimacy on the government. In the Western “democracies” this consists of citizens voting for elite funded candidates who effectively manage the political system for the benefit of their elite constituency. Many citizens don’t bother to vote, those that do frequently vote for the lesser evil. Basically, our society is a corporate/financial plutocracy in which groups of elites band together to select candidates which are then sold to the public in an expensive marketing extravaganza. A capitalist democracy where money votes and where elite social control is legitimized “democratically” through elections. That is the reality, democratic theory a misrepresentation of reality. To be fair, in theory elections could provide a modicum of citizen input and control in certain situations.

An example of what I am talking about is the current situation in Hong Kong where “pro-democracy” civil disobedience is now occurring in a supposed effort to wrest control of the nomination process for the Hong Kong executive from a government appointed committee to a more open process involving public participation. Though rarely mentioned, it should be obvious that this public participation will be strongly influenced by the capitalist marketeers who will manufacture consent for policies the elites favor. In fact, the so called “pro-democracy” movement is being largely financed and directed by Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai, along with the usual suspect NGOs (USAID, NED, etc.). This is not to suggest that the people of Hong Kong don’t have real grievances, of course they do. Who doesn’t in an increasingly neoliberal world of austerity and repression? The point being what does real world democracy have to do with any of this? Where in the world has the vote saved the citizenry from being screwed by their elites?

Now whether or not one prefers corporate/oligarchic social control over state-run bureaucratic control, it should be obvious that we are not talking about democracy in any meaningful sense of the term, and that talking about a “pro-democracy” struggle is a marketing technique, nothing more. This is particularly true in view of the numerous examples of US intervention to overthrow democratically elected governments which resisted American efforts to manage their economies in support of Western corporate business objectives. In fact, the very notion of imperial support for true democracy and people power is utterly preposterous.

It should be noted that US support for this anti-government action is part of empire’s overall plan to destabilize and weaken both Russia and China in order to secure continued US global hegemony. It should be further noted that much of the support for these anti-government activities is due to dissatisfaction with the worsening economic conditions for the majority as a consequence of neoliberal globalization, a process which will only be exacerbated by increased corporate/financial control, a likely consequence of these sought after “democratic reforms.” Of course, for the lucky few, a corporate controlled political economy promises rich rewards.

The point I am trying to make is that talking about the Hong Kong protests in terms of “pro-democracy reforms” only obfuscates the reality of the situation. This is a three-way struggle for power. Beijing wants to integrate Hong Kong into the PRC system of state capitalism emphasizing government control. The Hong Kong fat-cats are pushing for increased corporate/financial control of the Hong Kong government and possibly increasing plutocratic influence within China itself. The US wants to destabilize and weaken China as part of a global power struggle. It should be further noted that the internet and social media are important tools in implementing and coordinating dissent in targeted countries, and an integral component in full spectrum dominance.

(rev 12/4/14)

Monday, December 16, 2013

Capitalism and Co-optation

The essence of capitalism is the rule of money, that is, the rule of those individuals and organizations which direct the flow of significant quantities of money. This, in turn, determines what gets funded and what does not, what gets done and what is neglected. We live in a money driven society, individual and organizational actions geared to satisfying the requirements of various markets, activity responding to economic power, the private sector even more powerful than the powerful government modern capitalism requires to achieve business objectives. The US is a capitalist democracy which means that politicians are dependent upon the wealthy and corporations for campaign funding, hence, the capitalists are their real constituency, the voters merely consumers to be seduced through expensive marketing campaigns. Also, important appointed positions of authority usually go to members of the capitalist elite who are then able to ensure that government policy serves business needs.

A critically important feature of modern capitalism is its unique ability to monetize power. He who has the gold rules. This holds true primarily for the advanced economies of the Western democracies where the market and market power has been expanded to include almost all economic activity. The use of money to direct most significant social activity appears to be the most efficient way to run a highly complex society such as ours. The ability to empower activity through funding tends to reduce bureaucratic inertia while maintaining a degree of control at the macro level. A sort of downward delegation of authority with strings attached.

There are several social consequences to this fluidity of economic power, one of which is the capacity of the capitalist system to co-opt the competition. Individuals and organizations seeking to change or ameliorate some aspect of the system require money to fund their activities. Small all-volunteer organizations require little additional funding, however, they usually have limited effectiveness. Larger organizations with at least some paid staff must engage in fund-raising activities to support their staff and other expenses. The “Big Green” environmental groups, for example, although puny compared to big business, nonetheless are very dependent upon significant fund-raising to stay in business. Usually, this involves significant dependence upon major donors and/or grants from grant-making organizations.

Therein lies the rub. In order to maintain organizational staff, facilities and operational activities, the organization must appeal to those with at least somewhat significant financial resources, that is, those most likely to support business as usual in most cases, and oppose significant systemic changes. The choice becomes between financial marginalization versus well-funded accommodation to elite objectives. The professional staff rarely opts to de-fund itself and lose its livelihood, hence, co-optation is the normal course of events in our monetized society. Either that or sustained marginalization. In other words, to be effective, a system challenger or reformer must become a successful capitalist to acquire the funding to effectively challenge the system, the acquisition of which co-ops the individual/organization which then becomes part of the system needing changing. I am referring to the US now. In Third World countries which the empire wishes to destabilize, dissident groups which serve the imperial agenda have access to massive funding as long as they serve their purpose.

Since money is power in our highly monetized society, it should be at least somewhat obvious that the more wealth is concentrated, the more oligarchic society becomes. Conversely, democracy even remotely worthy of the name absolutely requires that the system redistribute income and wealth to achieve a more equitable and wholesome balance, to empower the 99% and limit the power of the 1% and major corporations. Unfortunately, that appears unlikely to occur. Money power controls the doctrinal system and the average person seems incapable of understanding, much less challenging, a system based upon monetary control whereby corporations and wealthy elite have effectively replaced hereditary nobility in ruling society.