Military

And the winner of the Jihad World Cup is…

Off the keyboard of Pepe Escobar
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Originally published in RT on June 6, 2015

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The US-assembled coalition of the willing that – supposedly – is fighting ISIS/ISIL/Daesh across “Syraq” met in Paris this week. In theory, they’d examine what to do next after the loss of Ramadi in Iraq and Palmyra in Syria.

The script, though, came straight from the Surrealist Manifesto.

The US State Department’s number two, Tony Blinken, swore Washington does not doubt its “winning” strategy. He insisted that the “winning” strategy has killed at least 10,000 fake Caliphate jihadists. A chorus of CIA spooks was forced to raise their eyebrows.

Blinken also insisted on “progress”; he might have confused the issue with the FBI nailing FIFA bigwigs. The coalition, predictably, supported Baghdad – with plenty of rhetoric and a vague promise of more weapons, and extolled the government to be more inclusive towards Sunni tribes.

No one addressed the fact that it is a Ba’athist support base among Sunnis – call them, Donald Rumsfeld-style, “remnants” of the Saddam regime – that has ensured the fake Caliphate’s success in Anbar province. And that’s what prevents Baghdad from being more inclusive.

The coalition, also predictably, barely mentioned Syria. There is absolutely no ideological/religious difference between Jabhat al-Nusra – al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria – and ISIS/ISIL/Daesh. And yet Qatar and Turkey are totally in bed with al-Nusra, while suggesting they are opposing the fake Caliphate.

The fiction remains that the coalition is supporting remaining “moderate rebels” of the Free Syrian Army (FSA). There are no “moderate” rebels left; they all migrated to al-Nusra or ISIS/ISIL/Daesh because that’s where the action is – from tons of weapons to actual military prowess on the ground.

And then there’s Jaish al-Fatah – the Army of Conquest; a fabulous newspeak concoction that veils the fact the “progressive” West – in tandem with the proverbial Gulf petro-monarchy vassals – showers al-Nusra with weapons and cash. The Army of Conquest is in effect a hazy collective of takfiri outfits which include Jabhat al-Nusra; whatever “alliances” exist among them dissolve non-stop in the desert sands.

It gets nastier when we know that Doha – via al-Jazeera Arabic – now poses as an official sponsor of al-Nusra, inviting their leaders on air, and trying hard to erect a (virtually non-existent) barrier between al-Nusra and ISIS/ISIL/Daesh. In one of these interviews, al-Nusra made it clear; the West won’t be attacked, al-Qaeda-style, as long as their outfit keeps being weaponized and showered with US dollars and euros. Their “mission” in Syria remains regime change; exactly what Doha, Ankara, Riyadh, Tel Aviv and – for that matter – Washington want.

Al-Qaeda as the new normal
Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet linked to a video showing the Turkish spy agency MIT weaponizing al-Qaeda in Syria by the truckload.

And this while Ankara persists in the fiction it is training “moderates” to fight against the fake Caliphate. Nonsense; once again, there are no “moderates” left, only takfiri outfits. The minute the “moderates” cross the Turkey-Syria border, they become takfiri.

Meanwhile ISIS/ISIL/Daesh is steadily advancing towards Aleppo, trying to capture villages northeast of the city. Needless to add, the coalition is just a spectator. What makes it even more absurd is that a series of opposition groups who refuse to be labeled takfiris – like the Syrian Revolutionaries or the Levant Front – but are fighting along the takfiris, have asked the Pentagon to bomb the Caliph’s goons, to no avail.

So while the Pentagon complains of running out of targets and at the same time is incapable of bombing jihadi columns in the open desert, and while the suits talk in Paris, ISIS/ISIL/Daesh is about to conquer an extremely strategic area from northern Aleppo all the way to the Turkish border.

If that happens, everyone – from Assad’s troops to supposedly “moderate” rebels – will be cut off.

One “moderate” outfit, the al-Izz Front, is about to exit the coalition. Their leader, Mustafa Sijari, made an extraordinary claim; he allegedly was ordered by the Pentagon to fight ISIS/ISIL/Daesh and forget about Damascus. Assuming this is true, that’s yet another proof the Pentagon is acting like a bystander – as in let Arabs kill Arabs, whichever way they want and whatever they believe in.

As for Washington’s “strategy”, there’s no strategy; the foreign policy advisers of the self-described “Don’t Do Stupid Stuff” Obama administration are a joke.

Pro-administration factions in the Beltway argue Washington cannot alienate Tehran by attacking Damascus, because the US needs Iranian support – via an array of Shi’ite militias – to fight ISIS/ISIL/Daesh in Iraq. And yet, in Syria, the US counts on those elusive “moderates” not only to fight the fake Caliphate but also to inflict harm on Damascus.

One can already start counting the multiple permutations of blowback out of this murky scenario. The Empire of Chaos excels in fomenting – what else – chaos; as for the resulting destruction, it’s up to the locals to bear the burden, while the Empire watches in the sidelines.

It’s always important to remember sectarian tribal militias at loose in Iraq – and then, years later, in Syria -, that was a direct consequence of the Made in USA “policy” of Divide and Rule, set in motion after the initial destruction of the Iraqi state.

The bottom line: chaos will continue to prevail. ISIS/ISIL/Daesh will keep advancing in Syria, immune to Pentagon firepower; but may be effectively counter-attacked in Iraq, thanks to Shi’ite militias, and not Pentagon firepower. This is what the State Department defines as a “winning strategy.”


Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

Why NATO Is Terrified of Russia

Off the keyboard of Pepe Escobar
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Originally published in RT on May 1, 2015

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The twin-pronged attack – oil price war/raid on the ruble – aimed at destroying the Russian economy and place it into a form of Western natural resource vassalage has failed.

Natural resources were also essentially the reason for reducing Iran to a Western vassalage. That never had anything to do with Tehran developing a nuclear weapon, which was banned by both the leader of the Islamic revolution, Ayatollah Khomeini, and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei.

The ‘New Great Game’ in Eurasia was always about control of the Eurasian land mass. Minor setbacks to the American elite project do not mean the game will be restricted to a mere “war of attrition”. Rather the contrary.

All about PGS

In Ukraine, the Kremlin has been more than explicit there are two definitive red lines. Ukraine won’t join NATO. And Moscow won’t allow the popular republics of Donetsk and Lugansk to be crushed.

We are coming closer to a potentially explosive deadline – when EU sanctions expire in July. An EU in turmoil but still enslaved to NATO – see the pathetic “Dragoon Ride” convoy from the Baltics to Poland or the “Atlantic Resolve” NATO show-off exercise – may decide to expand them, and even try to exclude Russia from SWIFT.

Only fools believe Washington is going to risk American lives over Ukraine or even Poland. Yet let’s plan a few steps ahead. If it ever comes to the unthinkable – a war between NATO and Russia in Ukraine – Russian defense circles are sure of conventional and nuclear superiority on sea and land. And the Pentagon knows it. Russia would reduce NATO forces to smithereens in a matter of hours. And then would come Washington’s stark choice: accept ignominious defeat or escalate to tactical nuclear weapons.

The Pentagon knows that Russia has the air and missile defense capabilities to counter anything embedded in the US Prompt Global Strike (PGS). Simultaneously though, Moscow is saying it would rather not use these capabilities.

Major General Kirill Makarov, Russia’s Aerospace Defense Forces’ deputy chief, has been very clear about the PGS threat. Moscow’s December 2014 new military doctrine qualifies PGS as well as NATO’s current military buildup as the top two security threats to Russia.

Unlike non-stop Pentagon/NATO bragging/demonizing, what Russian defense circles don’t need to advertise is how they are now a couple of generations ahead of the US in their advanced weaponry.

The bottom line is that while the Pentagon was mired in the Afghanistan and Iraq quagmires, they completely missed Russia’s technological jump ahead. The same applies to China’s ability to hit US satellites and thus pulverize American ICBM satellite guidance systems.

The current privileged scenario is Russia playing for time until it has totally sealed Russia’s air space to American ICBMs, stealth aircraft and cruise missiles – via the S-500 system.

This has not escaped the attention of the British Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) – as it gamed sometime ago whether Washington might launch a first strike against Russia.According to the JIC, Washington might go rogue if “a) an extreme government were to take over in the United States, b) and there was increased lack of confidence by the United States in some if not all of her Western allies owing to political developments in their countries, c) and there was some sudden advance in the USA in the sphere of weapons, etc. that the counsels of impatience may get the upper hand.”

US ‘Think Tankland’ spinning that Russian military planners should take advantage of their superiority to launch a first strike nuclear attack against the US is bogus; the Russian doctrine is eminently defensive.

Yet that does not exclude Washington doing the unthinkable the next time the Pentagon thinks of itself to be in the position Russia is now in.

SWIFT changes

The whole game used to be about who ruled the waves – the geopolitical gift the US inherited from Great Britain. Control of the seas meant the US inheriting five empires; Japan, Germany, Great Britain, France, the Netherlands. All those massive US carrier task forces patrolling the oceans to guarantee “free trade” – as the hegemonic propaganda machine goes – could be turned against China in a flash. It’s a mechanism similar to the carefully choreographed “leading from behind” financial op to simultaneously crash the ruble/launch an oil war and thus smash Russia into submission.

Washington’s master plan remains deceptively simple; to “neutralize” China by Japan, and Russia by Germany, with the US backing its two anchors, Germany and Japan. Russia is the de facto only BRICS nation blocking the master plan.

This was the case until Beijing launched the New Silk Road(s), which essentially mean the linking of all Eurasia into a “win-win” trade/commerce bonanza on high-speed rail, and in the process diverting freight tonnage overland and away from the seas.

So NATO’s non-stop Russia demonizing is in fact quaint. Think about NATO picking a fight against the constantly evolving, complex Russia-China strategic partnership. And in a not so remote future, as I indicated here, Germany, Russia and China have what it takes to be the essential pillars of a fully integrated Eurasia.

As it stands, the key shadow play is Moscow and Beijing silently preparing their own SWIFT system while Russia prepares to seal its air space with S-500s. Western Ukraine is doomed; leave it to the austerity-ravaged EU – which, by the way, doesn’t want it. And all this while the same EU tries to handicap the US commercially with a rigged euro that still doesn’t allow it to penetrate more US markets.

As for an irrelevant NATO, all it can do is cry, cry, cry.


Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

Bomb Iran? Not now: bomb Yemen

Off the keyboard of Pepe Escobar
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People walk past a car damaged by an airstrike in Sanaa April 8, 2015. (Reuters/Khaled Abdullah)

People walk past a car damaged by an airstrike in Sanaa April 8, 2015. (Reuters/Khaled Abdullah)

Originally published in RT on April 9, 2015


‘Operation Decisive Storm’ – the Pentagon-style House of Saud glorifying of its ghastly ‘Bomb Yemen’ show – could be summed up in a single paragraph.

The wealthiest Arab nation – the House of Saud petro-hacienda – supported by other GCC petro-rackets and also the wealthy “West”, has launched an – illegal – bombing/war/kinetic operation against the poorest Arab nation in the name of “democracy.”

And this absurdity is just the beginning.

The EU’s foreign policy chief, the innocuous as a stale cannoli Federica Mogherini, seems to be mildly alarmed. She remarked that Saudi bombing of hospitals and “deliberate targeting and destruction of private homes, education facilities and basic infrastructure cannot be tolerated.”

Well, the EU tolerates exactly the same thing in Donbass perpetrated by Kiev’s goons – so nothing will come out La Mogherini’s feigned outrage.

The Red Cross and the Russian Federation, for their part, at least are demanding a temporary ceasefire to allow for humanitarian relief. Humanitarian relief is incompatible with the House of Saud’s bloodline. So after two weeks of Saudi ‘Shock and Awe’, the current toll of at least 560 Yemeni civilians dead (and counting), and 1700 wounded – dozens of them children – is bound to increase.

Bab-el-Mandeb me, baby

Bomb Iran? Not now; the new normal is bomb Yemen. But still bomb Iran might be back in a flash. Pentagon supremo Ash Carter confirmed last week “all options are on the table” even if an Iran-P5+1 nuclear deal is finally reached in June. So, for the record, the Pentagon is affirming nuclear negotiations are just white noise unable to deter the tantalizing prospect of yet another nice little Middle East war.

Needless to add, the so civilized ‘West’ didn’t even flinch when “our bastards” the House of Saud invaded and started shockin’ an’awin’ dirt-poor Yemen. No UN Security Council resolution. Not even a mandate from the totally discredited Arab League. Who cares? After all the ‘Empire of Chaos’ has done the same over and over again with total impunity.

Much hysteria has been raging on whether the Houthis are about to take control of the Bab-el-Mandeb – one of the key strategic global energy chokepoints along with the Straits of Hormuz, and as crucial as the Suez Canal. Nonsense. Whatever the House of Saud does, the not so hidden ‘Empire of Chaos’ agenda is never to lose control of the Bab-el-Mandeb, the Gulf of Aden, and the Socotra Islands.

A man reacts as he inspects the damage of a building caused by an air strike in Sanaa April 8, 2015. (Reuters/Khaled Abdullah)

A man reacts as he inspects the damage of a building caused by an air strike in Sanaa April 8, 2015. (Reuters/Khaled Abdullah)

This is part of what we could dub ‘Chokepointistan’; wars taking place near or around energy bottlenecks, and always narrated in Global War on Terror (GWOT) deceitful terminology. US Think Tankland is more straightforward, carefully following US naval deployments. That’s what this is all about; an Orwellian “freedom of navigation” masquerading a hardcore strategy of shutting out the geopolitical enemy – be it Iran, Russia, China or all of the above.

‘Chokepointistan’ is all over the place: just watch the war or pre-positioning action in the Bab-el-Mandeb (with spillover effects from Yemen to Somalia, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Djibouti); the Straits of Hormuz (all about Iran); but also the strait of Malacca (all about China), Panama (about Venezuela), the coming Nicaragua canal (about China), the Korean Strait, the Taiwan Strait, the Kuril Islands, and last but not least the Baltic Sea.

A Grand Armada Run Amok

Saudi intel knows the Houthis can’t possibly control the Bab-el-Mandeb – not to mention Washington would never allow it. What freaks the Saudis out is that the Houthi rebellion in Yemen – supported by Tehran – may encourage bright rebellion ideas among the Shi’ite majority in the eastern provinces in Saudi Arabia, where most of the oil is.

And this where the Saudi excuse for war interfaces with the empire’s paranoia of preventing Iran, Russia and/or China from establishing a possible strategic presence in Yemen, at the Bab-el-Mandeb, overlooking the Gulf of Aden.

So we have once again Pentagon supremo Carter insisting, “The United States supports Arab plans to create a unified military force to counter growing security threats in the Middle East, and the Pentagon will cooperate with it where US and Arab interests coincide.” Translation: we gave the green light for our bastards to maintain “stability” in the Middle East.

Yet there’s a spanner in the works; the possible Washington-Tehran rapprochement, assuming a nuclear deal is reached. For the self-described “Don’t Do Stupid Stuff” Obama administration, the nuclear deal will be their only foreign policy success. Moreover, without Tehran there’s no meaningful fight against ISIS/ISIL/Daesh in “Syraq”.

None of this mollifies the cosmically paranoid Saudis, who assembled in a flash a Grand Armada Run Amok (GARA) – 100 jet fighters, 150,000 soldiers – respectfully described by US Think Tankland as a “coalition” of 10 countries. Without even blinking at UN norms, the Saudis instantly declared the whole of Yemen as a no-fly zone.

Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif addresses during a joint statement with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini (L) in Lausanne April 2, 2015. (Reuters/Ruben Sprich)

Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif addresses during a joint statement with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini (L) in Lausanne April 2, 2015. (Reuters/Ruben Sprich)

And along with routine bombing of residential complexes, the al-Mazraq camp for the internally displaced in Hajjah, a dairy factory near Hodeida, and other instances, came, what else, hardcore internal Saudi repression, via a crackdown with tanks and indiscriminate shooting in Awamiyah, in the eastern provinces; Shi’ites there can’t even think of organizing protests against the bloodbath in Yemen.

In a nutshell, this is the immensely wealthy, corrupt, medieval Saudi regime busy at war against their own people. The usual hard-line Wahhabi imams are busy working up anti-Shi’ite and anti-Iranian fever everywhere; these are all “apostates” under the takfir doctrine, and Iranians are lowly “Safawis” – a quite pejorative reference to the 16th century Safavid dynasty. It’s crucial to remember that Islamic State treats Shi’tes and Iranians the exact same way. But forget about any of this being reported by Western corporate media.

The General and the Sheikh

The House of Saud insists it wants to reinstall the government-in-exile of Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi. Or, as Saudi Ambassador to the US, Adel al-Jubeir glowingly put it, “protect the legitimate government of the country.”

Royally paid Saudi lobby hagiographers are once again frantically spinning the Sunni versus Shi’ite sectarian narrative – which totally ignores the mind-boggling tribal/class complexity of Yemeni society. In a nutshell, this laughable Saudi defense of democracy is paving the way for a ground war; a long, bloody and horribly expensive ground war.

And it gets, as expected, even more absurd. Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was recently asked during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing whether he knew of “any major Arab ally that embraces ISIL.” His response: “I know major Arab allies who fund them.”

Translation: the US government not only does not sanction or punish these “allies” (the real fun is to sanction Russia) but showers with logistical and “non-lethal” support the “coalition” that is arguably fighting the same Islamic State they are funding. No one is making this up; this is how the endless war on terra remains the gift that keeps on giving.

It gets even curioser and curioser when we have Dempsey on the same page of Hezbollah’s Sheikh Nasrallah. In this crucial speech, Sheikh Nasrallah offers the most extensive and precise account of the origins and ideology of ISIS/ISIL/Daesh. And here he expands on Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Iran.

So what we have is the ‘Empire of Chaos’ ‘leading from behind’ in the war on Yemen and also de facto ‘leading from behind’ in the fight against ISIS/ISIL/Daesh; the ones doing the heavy lifting are Iraqi militias supported by Tehran. The hidden agenda is always – what else –chaos; be it across “Syraq” or inside Yemen. With an extra bonus; while Washington is engaged on striking a nuclear deal with Tehran, it also turbo-charges an alliance against Tehran using the House of Saud.

Vietnam in the desert

The House of Saud badly wants Pakistan to take no prisoners, supplying bomber jets, ships and lots of ground troops for their war. Riyadh treats Islamabad as a vassal state. A joint session of the Pakistani Parliament will decide what to do.

It’s quite revealing to learn what happened when Pakistan’s most popular private TV channel assembled representatives of all major political parties to explain where they stand. Soon they reached a consensus; Pakistan should be neutral; act as mediator; and commit no troops, unless there was a “tangible threat” to the two holy mosques in Mecca and Medina, which is far from the case.

The House of Saud remains on overdrive, showering tons of cash over Salafi and Deobandi preachers to bullhorn their war; that includes a delegation of ulema visiting Riyadh. Support has already duly poured from Pakistan-based hardcore groups that trained with al-Qaeda and fought with the Taliban in Afghanistan; after all they are all funded by Wahhabi fanatics.

Followers of the Houthi movement attend a protest against the Saudi-led air strikes in Sanaa April 5, 2015. (Reuters/Khaled Abdullah)

Followers of the Houthi movement attend a protest against the Saudi-led air strikes in Sanaa April 5, 2015. (Reuters/Khaled Abdullah)

Meanwhile, in the front lines, a real game-changer may be ahead, with the Houthis already firing missiles across the border at Saudi oil installations. Then all bets are off – and the possibility that long-range missiles have been pre-positioned becomes quite credible.

That scenario would mean a foreign intel agency luring the House of Saud into its own Vietnam quagmire in Yemen, setting them up for a barrage of missiles hitting their pumping stations and oil fields, with catastrophic consequences for the global economy. It’s crucial to remember that the Grand Armada Run Amok (GARA) assembled by Riyadh happens to account for no less than 32% of global oil production. This cannot possibly end well.

Everyone in Yemen has an AK-47, not to mention RPGs and hand grenades. The terrain is guerrilla heaven. History spells out at least 2,000 years of hardened tribes fighting foreign invaders. Most Yemenis hate the House of Saud with a vengeance; a majority follows what the Houthis announced in late February, that the House of Saud and the US were planning to devastate Yemen.

The Houthi rebellion includes both Sunnis and Shi’ites – thus totally debunking the Saudi narrative. When they captured the Yemeni National Security Bureau, which was basically a CIA station, the Houthis found a wealth of secret documents that “compromised” Washington’s Yemeni chapter of the war on terra. As for the Saudi Army, it’s a joke. Besides, it employs a huge contingent of – you guessed it – Yemeni soldiers.

“Operation Decisive Storm” – yet another Pentagon-style illegal war – has already plunged Yemen into the twin plagues of civil war and humanitarian disaster. The remains of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), and most of all ISIS/ISIL/Daesh (who hate the Houthis and all Shi’ites with a vengeance) couldn’t be happier. The ‘Empire of Chaos’ couldn’t give a damn; the more widespread the chaos, the better for the Pentagon-defined Long War (on terra).

Over five years ago I wrote that Yemen is the new Waziristan. Now it’s also heading towards the new Somalia. And soon it may become the House of Saud’s Vietnam.


Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

EBOLA-BUSTERS! TOP MEN ON THE JOB!

logopodcastOff the microphone of RE

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Aired on the Doomstead Diner on October 23, 2014

Discuss this Rant at the Medicine & Health Table inside the Diner

Snippet:

…The Tried & True meme here in Amerika when anything isn’t going exactly as planned is to Send in the Marines, aka enlist the Military as the Ultimate Problem Solver. This I guess is because the military has proven so effective in Vietnam, Aghanistan, Iraq et al? The military has done such a fabulous job with establishing Peaceful Democracies after dropping the Death from Above that we can trust them to handle an Ebola epidemic? WTF?

So, in the Dumb & Dumber Military Solution, besides the 3000 Sacrificial Lambs being pitched into the middle of the Plague in Africa, the other media propaganda Prep to prevent wholesale PANIC is the announcement that the Military is forming a Crack team of 30 Ebola-Busters who can be deployed anywhere in the FSoA inside 36 hours to handle any Ebola case that crops up inside the FSoA. Man, even the Ghostbusters couldn’t handle all the Paranormal Activity inside the Big Apple when Evil started running amok there, and those guys HAD all the best Slime Fighting Equipment! LOL….

No Worries folks,  the Pros from Dover & TOP MEN are on the Job!

For the rest, LISTEN TO THE RANT!!!

Ebola v2.0

Off the keyboard of Michael Snyder

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Published on The Economic Collapse on October 19,2014

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Top Scientist: This Version Of Ebola Looks Like ‘A Very Different Bug’

Ebola Virus Particles - Photo by NIAIDBarack Obama and the head of the CDC need to quit saying that we know exactly how Ebola spreads.  Because the truth is that there is much about this virus that we simply do not know.  For example, a top Ebola scientist that is working in the heart of the outbreak in Liberia says that this version of Ebola looks like it could be “a very different bug” from past versions.  Other leading scientists are echoing his concerns.  And yet Barack Obama and Thomas Frieden continue to publicly proclaim that we know precisely how this virus behaves.  Not only is that bad science, but it could also potentially result in the unnecessary deaths of a very large number of people.  For example, Obama has refused to implement an Ebola travel ban because he is greatly underestimating the seriousness of this virus.  This decision could turn out to be incredibly costly.  If what you will read about below is true, we could be dealing with some sort of “super Ebola” that nobody has ever seen before.

Peter Jahrling of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease is on the front lines fighting this disease in Liberia.  He is one of the top authorities in the world on Ebola, and what his team has been seeing under the microscope is incredibly sobering

Now U.S. scientist Peter Jahrling of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease believes the current Ebola outbreak may be caused by an infection that spreads more easily than it did before.

Dr Jahrling explained that his team, who are working in the epicentre of the crisis in the Liberian capital of Monrovia, are seeing that the viral loads in Ebola patients are much higher than they are used to seeing.

He told Vox.com: ‘We are using tests now that weren’t using in the past, but there seems to be a belief that the virus load is higher in these patients [today] than what we have seen before. If true, that’s a very different bug.

‘I have a field team in Monrovia. They are running [tests]. They are telling me that viral loads are coming up very quickly and really high, higher than they are used to seeing.

It may be that the virus burns hotter and quicker.’

Other top scientists are making similar observations.

The following comes from a recent article posted on Washington’s Blog

The head of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota – Dr. Michael Osterholm – is a prominent public health scientist and a nationally recognized biosecurity expert.

Dr. Osterholm just gave a talk shown on C-Span explaining that a top Ebola virologist – the Head of Special Pathogens at Canada’s health agency, Gary Kobinger – has found that the current strain of Ebola appears to be much worse than any strain seen before … and that the current virus may be more likely to spread through aerosols than strains which scientists have previously encountered.

I have posted video of that talk on C-Span below…

But even if we were dealing with the exact same strain of Ebola, that does not mean that our leaders are telling us the truth when they say that it is not an airborne virus.

Just check out the following quotes from top scientists about the spread of Ebola from a recent Los Angeles Times article

Dr. C.J. Peters, who battled a 1989 outbreak of the virus among research monkeys housed in Virginia and who later led the CDC’s most far-reaching study of Ebola’s transmissibility in humans, said he would not rule out the possibility that it spreads through the air in tight quarters.

“We just don’t have the data to exclude it,” said Peters, who continues to research viral diseases at the University of Texas in Galveston.

Dr. Philip K. Russell, a virologist who oversaw Ebola research while heading the U.S. Army’s Medical Research and Development Command, and who later led the government’s massive stockpiling of smallpox vaccine after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, also said much was still to be learned. “Being dogmatic is, I think, ill-advised, because there are too many unknowns here.

And I have written about this before, but so many people don’t know about this that it bears repeating.  The following is an excerpt from a news story about a study that was conducted back in 2012 that demonstrated that the Ebola virus can be transferred from one animal to another animal without any physical contact whatsoever…

When news broke that the Ebola virus had resurfaced in Uganda, investigators in Canada were making headlines of their own with research indicating the deadly virus may spread between species, through the air.

The team, comprised of researchers from the National Centre for Foreign Animal Disease, the University of Manitoba, and the Public Health Agency of Canada, observed transmission of Ebola from pigs to monkeys. They first inoculated a number of piglets with the Zaire strain of the Ebola virus. Ebola-Zaire is the deadliest strain, with mortality rates up to 90 percent. The piglets were then placed in a room with four cynomolgus macaques, a species of monkey commonly used in laboratories. The animals were separated by wire cages to prevent direct contact between the species.

Within a few days, the inoculated piglets showed clinical signs of infection indicative of Ebola infection. In pigs, Ebola generally causes respiratory illness and increased temperature. Nine days after infection, all piglets appeared to have recovered from the disease.

Within eight days of exposure, two of the four monkeys showed signs of Ebola infection. Four days later, the remaining two monkeys were sick too. It is possible that the first two monkeys infected the other two, but transmission between non-human primates has never before been observed in a lab setting.

So when Barack Obama and Thomas Frieden get up and tell us that they know with 100% certainty that Ebola is not airborne, they are lying to you.

There is so much about this outbreak that we simply do not know.

Our public officials should be honest about that.

Instead, it seems like they are flying by the seats of their pants and just saying whatever they think will keep everyone calm.

We are potentially facing the greatest health crisis of this generation, and bad science and false assurances are not going to help anyone.

Sadly, Barack Obama just continues to make bad decision after bad decision.  This includes his very foolish decision to send thousands of U.S. troops right into the heart of the Ebola death zone.

It is being reported that these troops are only going to get just four hours of Ebola training, and the Pentagon is saying that they “will only need gloves and masks” to protect themselves…

Troops from the 101st Airborne Division leading the military response to Ebola in West Africa will only need gloves and masks to protect themselves from the deadly virus, so said Gen. David Rodriguez at a Pentagon briefing Wednesday.

“They don’t need the whole suit – as such – because they’re not going to be in contact with any of the people,” the commander of U.S. troops in Africa said.

Soldiers from the 101st Airborne will primarily be building hospitals, ultimately leading what could be a contingent of 4,000 American service members. They’ll be housed either in tent cities at military airfields or in Liberian Ministry of Defense facilities, Rodriguez said.

Soldiers’ health will be monitored through surveys and taking their temperature on their way in and out of camps. If a service member does get sick, Rodriguez said they will be flown home immediately for treatment.

Who is going to be held accountable when these young men and women start coming home sick?

So far the federal response to this Ebola crisis has been a parade of incompetence.

And yet we continue to be told that “everything is under control”.

I don’t know about you, but I have a bad feeling about all of this.

The Evolution of Governance

Off the keyboard of George Mobus

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Published on Question Everything on September 24, 2014

human-evolution

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The Evolution of Governance

Previous posts in this series:

  1. How Does Nature Manage Complexity?
  2. Systems Science and the Political Economy
  3. Governance of an Economy
  4. A Sapient Political Economic System

A Brief History of Evolving Social-Economic Governance

In the blog post, Systems Science and the Political Economy I tried to show how the concepts of economics, social organization, and the political process are all intertwined and based on extended physiology — the interactions between the physiologies and psychologies of eusocial beings. I started with a primitive social system where the participants were starting to specialize by talent in the production of tools or services that were needed to keep the group successful and fit. As Adam Smith had long ago recognized, specialization and cooperation is the key to success of the whole enterprise (this latter observation was expressed in his lesser referenced book, The Theory of Moral Sentiments). In this post I would like to run through a brief recount of how social and economic governance has evolved through history. There is a single caveat to make: all of this history is based on the fact that the decision agents involved in both the general social organization/economy and the governance structures have been humans and only as sapient as the species had evolved in the late Pleistocene.

In all likelihood early sapiens formed groups based on extended families. These groups were small, maybe twenty to fifty individuals across all ages. They were hunter-gatherers with a still relatively primitive set of tools consisting of digging sticks, stone blades and axes, and possibly thrusting sticks (spears). They may have scavenged meat more than hunted it but they had mastered the use of fire for cooking and hardening wooden shaft points. They probably built temporary shelters but were primarily nomadic, at least over a large territory, following food opportunities. This was the milieu in which we imagine the first specialists emerged. Certain individuals were good at chipping rocks, others good at finding root foods, etc. Men were probably the primary hunters and as tools like throwing spears and later bows and arrows improved we suspect certain individuals tended to excel in the hunt while others were good at butchering. If we can extrapolate from contemporary indigenous peoples’ organizations then the tribe was guided strategically by the wise elders, a council group, with perhaps a headman providing tactical leadership for hunting and conflicts with other groups when they occurred. I consider this as the root form of governance that evolved along with and because of human genetic evolution. Language was an integral part of this evolution as the organization of a primitive market of specialist agents undoubtedly required significant communication to coordinate activities. Aside from the time-to-time conflicts over territorial disputes, groups interacted with one another to trade special goods and especially brides to ensure against inbreeding. The main form of interaction within the group was cooperation even while that between groups vacillated between competition and cooperation (trade). Thus logistical management was probably minimal since all individuals could easily see everything that went on within the tribe and each individual’s behavior was guided by a strong moral sense of what was best for the group.

This root form persisted even after the discovery of horticulture as a process. Originally tribes, probably driven by climate changes in Africa, started settling in year-around camps where they could be assured of water and good soils. Effectively they were still tribes and they still tended to generate specialists, but now doing farming instead of hunting and gathering. Note, however, this was not a universal phenomenon. Some tribes in more arid areas remained nomadic and reliant on herding of ungulates for a living. These tribes would evolve a governance form that was more suited for a more demanding and constrained lifestyle.

Early agriculture was wildly successful and tribal villages grew into larger many-family units. As the Mesolithic age transitioned into the Neolithic and later the Bronze age tools were evolving rapidly. The plow, drawn by oxen, for example, revolutionized agricultural practices and provided for an explosion in food production and, consequently, populations. With increasing complexity and decreasing transparency in terms of the work of specialists, the need for logistical management arose as did a class of ‘managers,’ such as the granary manager and the scribes who accounted for the volumes of grains and other food stuffs stored for future consumption. The need to protect farmlands and villages also called for some of the stronger men to become warriors from time to time. They needed weapons (built by specialists) and supplies when needed. Thus the interface between logistical and tactical management for protection was established. The same was true for trade with more distant settlements. Someone had to organize the trade excursions and then manage the artifacts and foods to be traded. Coordination management emerged as a class of people who did not get directly involved in the on-going production of food or the crafts that produced the artifacts needed to produce food and support daily living. The beginnings of a layered hierarchical management system emerged from the need to coordinate many specialized work processes and coordination specialists emerged from this structure. The bureaucracy was born.

The question of strategic management is not easily discerned. As with the above described tribal organization, a council of wise elders and a headman or chief whose primary duty was to implement the strategic decisions of the elders may have morphed as the needs for tactical and logistical management grew more prominent. Once permanent villages were formed, in essence the strategy of life became fixed. Grow food to feed the population, protect the land, and seek out alliances for trade and protection purposes. The wise elders probably devolved into the function of advisors as opposed to leaders. The role of the headman evolved into that of mayors and later kings. They took more power as leaders and eventually “law givers.” The beginnings of autocracy and authoritarian rule vested in one individual were at hand. This is the point in cultural evolution when the selective forces that had favored increasing sapience were reduced. The selective forces for ruthlessness and power seeking from competition between the various coordination level managers for the leadership job took over. Most often, history tells us, the top dog was the one most honed in military capabilities. As regional populations grew and put pressure on the land, competition for resources (soil in particular) came to be a permanent pattern of interactions. Thus military men gained the skills in leading.

This new framework for organization was incredibly successful. Within a seemingly short time small villages gave way to more elaborate towns and cities in key environments (e.g., Egypt and Mesopotamia). The age of civilizations and empires emerged and the complexity of life exploded. The surrounding farm villages and the farms themselves were somewhat unaffected by this transition in terms of daily life. But of course they became subservient to the city centers that now needed resources brought in from the surrounding land. A more elaborate military was needed to protect the towns and surrounding lands. Tactical management was raised to a new level. For some reason, however, logistics management in its full form never advanced beyond the issuance of currencies and collection of taxes, which are not really serving the economy so much as making the bureaucracy possible. Even as cities grew in complexity and workshops became increasingly opaque to their customers, the governing class left the logistics pretty much to the marketplace. They could get by with this approach only because the vast majority of humans are inherently motivated by cooperative moral sentiments. The proportion of cheaters was (and still is) relatively small by comparison with the cooperators and the instances of dispute could be managed by a magistrate judiciary. Occasionally truly egregious disputes and wrongs needed to be referred to a “higher court”, but for the most part the marketplace remained reasonably self-regulating[1]

Rather than governments taking a direct hand in logistic management, by assisting the direct regulation of interprocess transactions and distribution of resources, a different, non-governmental form of logistic management emerged from the practice of sequestering excess foodstuffs for later consumption and as insurance against a bad harvest. Once abstract monetary tokens came into widespread use, they rapidly began to represent stored wealth and a new institution, the bank, arose as a means for sequestering these tokens. The idea that bankers should receive their income from a portion of each savings account was probably the first version of managing that resource. But very soon another practice came into existence. As with granaries that stored seeds and from which seeds could be borrowed, for example, to start planting a new field (an investment in the future), banks started lending small amounts of stored money to finance new trade ventures. And just as the granary needed to be paid back in full (with possibly a small increment more), the bank could charge a fee for the use of the money — interest payments. But here is where the twist came in. In order to convince the people saving their “wealth” in the bank that this practice was sound, they paid the savers a small fee for keeping their money in the bank and thus available to the bankers to make loans. This was the first foray of the monetary system into logistics (as described in A Sapient Political Economic System as the origin of “monetary policy.”) Banks loaning money out to borrowers effectively creates second-order money because it is cash that is supposedly existing in two places at once. It is both in the bank at least on the ledgers, and in the hands of someone else being used to buy things. If the savers want their money back, the bank would have to rob Peter to pay Paul, take out more money from other peoples’ deposits to restore the full amount of the account that is being withdrawn. The obvious risk is that if everyone wanted their money out at the same time the bank would not be able to give them their full due unless it could turn around and quickly pressure the borrowers to pay them back. Messy business.

This basic pattern worked pretty well most of the time. The banking industry achieved full status as an institution and with due prudence became respected and trusted. But then, banks struck an unholy alliance with governments. They started loaning money, for example, to finance armies and navies for war efforts. Those loans could only be paid back if the wars were won so those were risky business deals. In any case bankers became influential in government affairs (see, for example, The House of Medici) and, indeed the financial machinations of bankers and those of political heads of state became extremely intertwined and remain so down to the present. In spite of numerous downturns and failures, the banking industry seems to have survived quite well. The next major “innovation” in financial management came with the invention of bonds and stocks. Capitalism is basically a set of ways in which an investment class, those with the financial resources, can lend their “excess” wealth, or what would have been called savings, to new ventures, not unlike the loaning of seeds to start new fields.

As I wrote in A Sapient Political Economic System even today governments do not engage in true logistical management, preferring and believing that markets can solve all of those pesky distribution problems more efficiently than can people. This belief emerged and evolved into its current “free market” version as a result of the observations made by Adam Smith regarding the mythical “invisible hand.” Indeed, Smith was noting that there was a logistical function that seemed to be taken care of by self-interested parties working out trades in an open market setting. Smith’s observation may have hit on an underlying truth about coordination even as it has been lost on those eager to use this observation as an excuse for maximizing profit taking. In one sense Smith’s observation, made in much simpler marketplaces, is basically true, if the decisions are left strictly to people to make when all relevant information is available to them. But as I also pointed out, with proper scientific-based methodologies and an appropriate objective function those decisions could be based on facts-of-the-matter and not human opinion. Better still, with sapient agents there would be little question as to the efficacy of logistical decisions.

The notion of a free market being the solution to all problems has been reinforced by the the failures of so-called planned economies. The few attempts that governments have made to “plan” an economy have ended fairly disastrously. The former Soviet Union comes to mind. China was going down the same road but has recently morphed from a communist state to a modified capitalist state with somewhat less planning and a good deal of new knowledge gleaned from watching the progress of the West and the failures of the Soviet Union. But even in the modern China we have evidence of the failures of their approach to logistic management. For example, China has a horrendous commercial real-estate bubble (as well as a private bubble) due to poor planning.

Evolution of a Sapient Socio-Economic Management System

If human socio-economic hierarchical management were to have evolved in ways that reflect a more “organic” form, what would be different between what was described above and some kind of “ideal”? This is an exercise (possibly in futility) to try and discern how such a system might be obtained. As a starting point, assume that there will be a reset of civilization. And not just to a lower technological civilization but to a very low technology collection of tribes. Let’s consider what a future evolution of society might look like. Furthermore, let’s consider what that evolution might look like in the case where the social agents, the people, have evolved greater sapience[2].

I suspect that the main difference at the operational level, the level where people are attending to daily life and production of goods and services will come from something that might look like altruism but is actually the result of desires to cooperate and to do what is good for society. The profit motive will have been reduced back to the need to make and save a small profit as a buffer against bad times. Indeed, when the larders are full and account for the average demand during those bad times, the producers of goods and services may elect to back off of volume and/or price. Volume could be adjusted based on demand/need and price could reflect the actual costs of production. There would be no premium to collect to take advantage of fellow tribespeople. Every producer would consider the whole of the society in setting prices and availability based on actual costs and availability of inputs. These are morally-motivated decisions and not profit-motivated.

Operational level management is primarily concerned with quality aspects of products and services. Just as craftspersons of old cared about their reputation and thus paid careful attention to quality details, sapient producers would monitor their outputs for quality sake and make adjustments to maintain or improve that quality. But a big difference is a subtle shift from concern for reputation to keep sales up to concern for the customer’s capacity to find value in the product or service. In other words this too looks a bit like altruism but is not because the producer is not compromised by performing the necessary acts. Indeed, both producer and customer are enhanced as a result of the synergy afforded by the product or service. Society is better off as a result of a qualtity product being used, possibly to construct another quality product.

At the coordination level the question might be posed: If everyone is so cooperative and morally-motivated by their interactions in transactions, wouldn’t the market be sufficient to provide logistic coordination? And it is likely that with agents who are more discerning and honest in their communications, the likelihood that the marketplace could serve as a sufficient medium for logistics is probably high. But only as long as the complexity of the web of buyers and sellers is relatively simple and the nature of products and services is also relatively simple. At the stage of social evolution where the farming community is the mainstay of society, then this condition probably holds and simple marketplace mechanisms along with the above mentioned cooperativity and motivations of the agents would lead to efficient and satisfactory outcomes. This is what Adam Smith observed in Wealth of Nations, at least in terms of the workings going on in the lower echelons of commerce. Unfortunately, higher forms of financing and obfuscated transactions were already developed and starting to negatively impact those lower echelons even in Smith’s time. Just at the start of the Industrial Revolution, the bankers and lack of state-based logistics management were deepening the wedge between the rich rentier-capitalist classes and the poor working class. The moral sentiments that Smith also wrote about were fading.

Recall the main tools of logistic management, the budget and the accounting system? The evolution of a true hierarchical cybernetic system would involve the employment of these to help producers and consumers regulate themselves at the operational level and maximize cooperation. For the society, the maintenance of a global accounting system would allow all members to have information about the costs of everything and the prices that reflect fair trade. Something akin to a financial accounting system would let everyone know and understand the state of the whole community. With that knowledge, sapient agents would be able to adjust their activities and expectations. In the early agricultural days, and even before in the hunter-gatherer stages, everyone in the tribe knew very well what the status of the whole tribe was with respect to food and other resource supplies. Everyone got complete visability when it came to the stores of those resources. They could then individually take whatever action would be necessary to do their part to maintain or improve the status of the group. A global accounting system, not just for the governing “agencies” but for every operation within the society, would provide this same sort of information for more complex systems.

I imagine that at some point, as societies do grow within the limits imposed by the carrying capacity of the environment and by the availability of energy, there would need to be a function devoted to summarization and interpretation of the accounts. The information load from an accounting system, even for a moderate sized company requires a controller and financial managers to monitor the assets, liabilities, and equities as well as cash flows of the whole enterprise. Similarly, budgets relating to the whole community, the activities of individual producers and consumers would be employed to plan for resource allocations. Unlike planned economies such as tried in communist countries, budget development is not a strictly top-down process. Each operating unit provides input based on their operating experiences and the trends they see. For example, a producer may note an uptick in demand for a specific product and project the continuation of that demand increase. They would request additional resources to meet the demand and the budgeting process would ascertain the feasible allocations of resources given those requirements. The logistics coordinator would have to make decisions about actual allocations and their timing. But they would not simply decide one fine morning that making more “tractors” would boost the manufacturing sector of the GDP which would look good when reporting to their superiors. An approach to logistical management has simply never been tried in any economy. Yet it is the necessary form of management needed to deal with the kind of complexity found in societies beyond the simple village.

Higher sapience would make this kind of management possible simply because people would not feel they have to hide anything. The sentiment of proprietorship and secrecy about what goes into production would be much minimized. Thus agents would be willing to participate in accounting reporting (cost and financial) and would be happy to have comprehensive information about products and services. However, the major driving sentiment behind a sapient logistic management system would be the a priori willingness, even desire, for all participants to cooperate for the good of the whole. Today, perhaps due to cultural aberration and pressures to conform, most people are primarily interested in maximizing their own situation. Fewer in number, but still enough to make things really bad, are those who hold that same sentiment and are perfectly aware that doing so will harm others, yet they do not care. Nothing could be further from a sapient mind.

The form of tactical management would be as described in A Sapient Political-Economic System. But how would it evolve as societies evolved to greater complexity? Tactical management of a small community starts with attending to the state and trends associated with the community’s environment. The very first problem is how to grow enough food to maintain the health of the community. But other issues include finding building materials for shelters and materials for making other tools. Under the assumption of a reset of social evolution with small communities and those are spread out, and with the members of communities having some greater level of sapience, it is not hard to imagine that the tactical issues of interacting with other societies would be trade of goods and genes. However there is also the trading of information that would need special attention. If one group is experiencing stresses, say due to poor harvests, they might share this information with the other groups nearby. They might find out that those other groups, too, were experiencing stresses. Then, the groups might find ways to symbiotically cooperate to find synergies that would help all through the rough times. At minimum they could agree to spread out further apart to lessen the total human load on the environment. Of course I am not saying this would be easy, but more sapient minds would be more likely to seek cooperative solutions than resort to violence. More sapient minds, armed with knowledge about how the world works, would be in a position to find solutions. More sapient minds, remember, are strategic as well as morally-motivated. They would be less prone to the US-vs-THEM psychology that dominates our weaker form of mind.

Of course there is always the possibility that clusters of less sapient communities will have survived as well. Such communities are more likely to resort to violence in acts of desperation. Thus tactical management will also necessarily include military-like approaches for protection. There is nothing about higher sapience which precludes self protection. So, until or unless the lower sapient groups die off (due to unsuccessful competition with more sapient groups) the construction and maintenance of military capacity would remain part of the tactical management process.

What would be different is the role that strategic management would take in all tactical affairs. Agents tasked with tactical management (e.g. monitoring the health of the environment and the activities of potential enemies) would necessarily consult with the those tasked with strategic management — the wise elders or, in the case of smaller communities, the wise leader. Strategic management is always concerned with the state and trends of the world around the community. They also keep themselves informed of the state and trends of things within the community, the logistics and operations. They know and think about the strengths and weakness of the community and the threats and opportunities in the environment. Their job is to wisely guide the activities, both logistical and tactical, for the long-term stability and maintenance of the community.

Where do wise elders come from? Or a wise leader? If you read my working papers on sapience, especially about the evolution of sapience you would recall a discussion of the statistical distribution of sapience strength. In the extant population I conjecture that the distribution is not the ordinary normal curve but is quite skewed toward the low end of the scale. That is, the mean sapience level (like an SQ) is relatively low, with a rapidly declining tail off toward the high end. This is the result of the newness of the traits involved in integrated sapience. Given enough time in biological evolution and a continuance of selection factors favoring sapience, the curve would eventually tend toward normal (bell shaped). Well, if our reset populations are somehow more sapient that is what we would expect to see. And there will always be a minority (but a non-trivial one) of individuals who are much higher in the distribution just as there are people with higher IQs now.

The Key to a Hierarchical Cybernetic System

The key is good inter-module communications and veridical models for making control adjustments. Because no communication channel is perfect, there is always noise and ambiguity, nature learned a long time ago how to build communications systems with clever coding and redundancy. We humans have learned to do the same, but we low sapient humans have also managed to inject noise and ambiguity to hide reality from others we see as competitors (or suckers) and to hide from reality ourselves. We know how to do it right we just don’t have the guts to do so. At every turn we can rationalize obscuring the truth by believing that everyone else does so and we are just protecting our own interests. In a sapient society, a wiser people would understand the importance of reliable and complete communications. Unlike in the game of “Telegraph” where everyone laughs about the mangling of a message passed on by whisper from one person to another wiser people would work hard to ensure the fidelity of messages they handle.

This is not merely true within the marketplace but up and down the hierarchy of management. Workers would not hide mistakes from their coordinators for fear of punishment. They would be wise enough to realize that it is important to report problems so they can be fixed. They would have no fear because they also realize their coordinators are wise enough to understand that mistakes happen, things go wrong, and that it is not in anyone’s best interest to punish anybody when they do.

Similarly, the models of the subsystems used to make decisions must be as close to reality as they can economically be made to be. Models that are not sufficiently complete or riddled with ideological beliefs(such as the neo-classical, neo-liberal economics we mostly rely on today) that do not correspond with reality are worse than useless. They cause damage. In our current population of sub-sapient people beliefs in models of governance based on totally unfounded ideologies (and they are all pretty much this way) are the cause of our current crises in government, politics, and economics. They are the reason that our civilizations are collapsing in front of our eyes. Sapient beings learn from mistakes and that learning turns into more precise and/or accurate modelling of the processes that need to be managed. Models become more veridical as the system evolves.

Ultimately, and I realize I repeat myself, a true hierarchical cybernetic system depends on the sapience of the decision agents at all levels in the hierarchy. While there may still be a statistical distribution across levels of sapience and intelligence, this need for all to be sufficiently wise in their judgements also implies a more egalitarian social fabric. Just because an individual is performing the role of strategic decision maker does not mean that that individual is “worth” more in material rewards for doing their job. Is this socialism? Is this the feared plague that is the antithesis of capitalism? Well yes and no. Egalitarianism among sapient beings is not the same as rewarding a lazy sub-sapient just because he is breathing. Higher sapience implies greater sentiments of responsibility and effort applied. Only if every participant in society contributes to the good of the whole can there be a true hierarchical cybernetic system. And only if the latter is achieved can there be a sustainable form of society and culture.

I called this posting “The Evolution of Governance.” Many readers may have noticed that I then described what sounds like a “designed” governance system. However, I claim that even human designs are the result of evolutionary process. From the earliest times of Homo sapiens humans have tinkered and tested technology and organizations. The governance systems that have emerged over the history of man, especially since the advent of agriculture, show that these were merely experiments. So it is the same with the current experiment in liberal democracy and capitalism relying on an all-knowing market. This too is an experiment and one that has proven disastrous even as it produced untold material wealth.

If humans can make it past an evolutionary bottleneck and if the average level of sapience can be boosted then the next experiment, built from what was learned by this last one and knowledge of hierarchical cybernetics should be an improvement. In some sense mammals and birds can be viewed as a kind of brain/mind organizational improvement over dinosaurs. But it took a major global calamity to give them the chance to emerge and evolve further. I take comfort in thinking that the next round of governance evolution, based on increased sapience and hypersociality will demonstrate the same kind of improvement in form and function. Nothing is “perfect,” only better than what came before.


Footnotes

[1] I forgot to mention in that previous post the role of the law, especially contract law, in helping to ensure transactions are conducted fairly. Their are laws mandated by Congress and there are laws that are subject to interpretation by the courts and the enforcement evolves according to the history of application. While these laws seem to be in place to regulate fairness and thus reinforce cooperation, they are not actually part of a logistical management framework. Rather they seem to be compensating for the lack of sapient-based cooperation that would preclude cheating and the taking advantage of others due to higher levels of empathy, etc.

[2] Some readers will argue that perhaps sapience can be improved by learning or being influenced in childhood by being in a sapient community. Perhaps it will not require neo-Darwinian evolution to produce a more sapient group. That is indeed possible in my opinion. Certainly by comparison with the state of affairs at present even slight improvements in morally-motivated judgement would make a substantial difference. Coupled with an effort to maintain that knowledge of how the world really works that we have gained through science, it is conceivable that educating for wisdom would contribute significantly to a morally-motivated society. Then, as with all biological-cultural coevolution there would exist a return to the selection forces that gave rise to and promoted sapience in the first place. For purposes of this discourse either education for wisdom, or some directed selection for greater sapience will have similar effects.

How to Destroy a Civilization

Off the keyboard of Ugo Bardi

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Published on Resource Crisis on May 14, 2014

EasterIsland

Discuss this article at the Energy Table inside the Diner

This is the third post of comments on the “NASA-funded paper” (a term that went viral) on societal collapse by Motesharrei, Rivas and Kalnay (MRK). In my first post on the subject, I noted some qualitative features of the model. In the second post I commented on the debate. Here, I am going more in depth in the structure of the model and I think I can show that the results of the MRK model are very general as they can be reproduced with a simpler model. In the end it IS possible to destroy a civilization by spending too much on non-productive infrastructures – such as the Moai of Easter Island (image above from Wikimedia, creative commons license)

Mathematical models may be a lot of fun, but when you use them to project the future of our civilization the results may be a bit unpleasant, to say the least. That was the destiny of the first quantitative model which examined the future of the world system; the well known “The Limits to Growth” study, sponsored by the Club of Rome in 1972. This study showed that if the world’s economy was run in a “business as usual” mode, then the only possible result was collapse.

This kind of unpleasant results is a feature of most models which attempt to foresee the long term destiny of our civilization. Not that it should be surprising considering the speed at which we are wasting our natural resources. Nevertheless, whenever these studies are discussed, they generate a lot of criticism and opposition. It is the result, mainly, of emotional reactions: there is nothing to do about that, it is the way the human mind works.

But let’s try to put aside emotions and examine a recent study by by Motesharrei, Rivas and Kalnay (MRK) on the destiny of human society that became known as the “NASA funded model” after a note by Nafeez Ahmed. The model has attracted much criticism (as usual) but it is worth looking at it with some attention because it highlights some features of our world which we should try to understand if we still think we can avoid collapsing (or at least mitigate it).

The MRK model has this specific feature: it divides humankind in two categories, “commoners” and “elites”, assuming that the first category produces wealth while the second doesn’t. In some assumptions, it turns out that the elite can completely drain all the resources available and bring society to an irreversible collapse, even though the resources are renewable and can reform the initial stock.

I think this is a very fundamental point that describes events which have happened in the past. As I noted in a previous post, it may describe how the Roman Empire destroyed itself by excessive military expenses (we may be doing exactly the same). Or, it may describe the collapse of the society of Easter Island, with a lot of natural capital squandered in building useless stone statues while putting a high strain on the available resources (the story may be more complex than this, but its main elements remain the same)

So, it looks like elites (better defined as “non productive elites”) may play a fundamental role in the collapse of societies. But how exactly can this be modeled? The MRK model does that using an approach that, as I noted earlier on, is typical of system dynamics, (even though they do not use the term in their paper). Not only that, but it is clearly a model in the style of those “mind sized” models which I had proposed in a paper of mine. The idea of mind sized models is to avoid a bane of most models – of all kinds – that of “creeping overparametrization”. Since, as a modeler, you are always accused that your model is too simple, then you tend to add parameters over parameters. The result is not necessarily more realistic, but surely you add more and more uncertainty to your model. Hence, the need for “mind-sized” models (a term that I attribute to Seymour Papert)

So, let me try to rework the MRK model; simplifying it a little and making it more streamlined. Instead of speaking of “elites” and “commoners”, let us speak of two different kinds of capital. One kind we call “productive”, the other “non productive”. Capital is the result of the exploitation of natural resources. “Productive” capital is the kind that leads to further exploitation and growth of the economy; the other kind is capital which is simply wasted.

Let me explain what I mean with the example of Easter Island’s economy, productive capital is the agricultural structure, while non-productive capital is the Moai building structure. Agriculture sustains people who cultivate more land. Moai building doesn’t do anything like that – it is a pure waste of resources and human labor. In our times, we can say that the productive capital is everything that exploits the available resources, from refineries to fishing boats. The non-productive capital is everything else, from private yachts to battle tanks.

So, can we build a model that includes these elements? Surely we can; here is a version of the model in the style of “mind sized” models. (done using the “Vensim” software).

The model is a streamlined version of the MRK model, where I added a “pollution” stock (missing in the MRK model) and where I simplified the productive cascade structure. It would take some time to explain the model in detail and there is not enough space here. If you want to go more in depth in this subject you can read my paper on “Sustainability” or this post of mine with the rather ambitious title of “peak oil, entropy, and stoic philosophy.” But, please, understand that the model, though very simplified, has a logic; what it does is to describe the degradation of the thermodynamic potential of the starting resources (the first box, up left) into a series of capital reservoirs which, eventually, dissipate it in the form of pollution. The “Ks” are constants which determine how fast capital flows from one stock to another. The arrows indicate feedback: we assume here, for instance, that the production of industrial capital is proportional to the size of both the resources and capital stocks.

Now, let’s go to the results obtained with some values of the parameters. Let’s take r1=0.25, k1=0.03, k2=0.075, k3=0.075, k4=0.05. The initial values of the stocks are, from top to bottom, 5, 0.1, 0.1, 0.01 – you may think of the stock as measured in energy units and the constants in energy/time units. With these assumptions, the model produces the same phenomenon that MRK had observed with their model. That is, you observe the irreversible collapse of the system, even though the natural resources reform, becoming abundant as at the beginning of the cycle.

You see? Producing and non-producing capital (which MRK calls “commoners” and “elites”) both go to zero and disappear. But note how the natural resources reform and return to their former value (actually higher than at the beginning!). This civilization had destroyed everything and won’t restart to accumulate capital again for a long, long time. Note also how these results depend on the assumption that non-producing capital cannot be turned into producing capital. It is maybe a drastic simplification, but it is also true that turning swords into plowshares is a nice metaphor, but not something easily done.

At this point, let me say that this post is just a sketch. I can tell you that it took me about 15 minutes to write the model; a few hours to test it, and about one hour to write this post. So, these considerations have no pretense to be anything definitive: the model needs to be studied much more in detail. When I have time (and as soon as I can fix my cloning machine) I would like to write a full paper on this subject (anyone among the readers would like to give me a hand? Maybe someone with a better cloning machine than mine?).

Nevertheless, even though these results are only preliminary, I think that the fact that the MRK results are so easily reproducible indicate that there is something there. They seem to have identified a feature that, so far, most models had neglected. Although you can always accumulate capital by exploiting natural resources, the final outcome depends a lot on how you spend it. The model tells us, for instance, that a popular recipe to “save the economy” by “stimulating consumption” may actually destroy it faster.

So, are we destroying ourselves because we are wasting our natural capital in useless tasks, from battle tanks to SUVs? (and lots of bureaucracy and an overblown financial system, too). Are we destroying our civilization by building these useless structures just as the Eastern Islanders destroyed themselves by building Moai statues? It is something we should think about.

Note 1: I think this model has a lot to do with Tainter’s idea of the “declining returns of complexity, if we take “complexity” to mean that lots of resources are used to build something that produces nothing. I already tried to model Tainter’s idea with a mind-sized model in a previous post of mine and I am sorry to see that Tainter didn’t like so much the MRK model. But I think it is mostly a question of different languages being used. If we work on communication, I think it is possible to find a lot of points of contact in the different approaches of modelers and historians.

Note 2. Doesn’t this model contradict the conclusions of my book “Extracted“, that is that our society is collapsing as a result of the depletion of mineral resources? No, it doesn’t. The parameters I used for the run shown here are chosen to reproduce the results of the MRK paper, which assumes that resources are fully renewable. You can run this model in the hypothesis that resources are NOT renewable, which is an assumption closer to our situation. In this case, the model will tell you that the system will collapse leaving unused a large fraction of these theoretically exploitable resources; the larger the more overblown the non-productive capital stock will turn out to be. This is something that I think is very relevant to our situation: we saw it happening with the financial crisis of 2008 and the next financial crisis, I believe, will generate again this effect. (h/t Tatiana Yugay)  

Loathesome US Military Gonna Bomb PARADISE

Off the keyboard of Stucky

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Published on The Burning Platform on November 1, 2013

evil

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Hey … I ain’t no tree-hugging, save-the-whale, worship Mother-Earth libtard. That’s my sister. But, GODDAMMIT, this is ridiculous …. and we’ve been doing it for decades.

ABOUT PAGAN ISLAND:  — “Pagan is a small island, the Crown Jewel, in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands  It is one of the most biologically and geologically diverse islands in the archipelago, and is home to many threatened and endangered species, some of which are found nowhere else in the world. Aside from its stunning beauty and rich ecological resources, Pagan is also one of the most habitable of the northern most islands in the CNMI. In fact, this island has supported the ancestors of Pagan islanders for over 3,000 years, as evidenced by Chamorro stone ruins found skirting her beautiful beaches.”

Pagan-Island

Pagan-Island

Pagan-Island

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The US military announced its intention to use the Island as a live-fire training range. In plain English, they plan to blast it to pieces.

What is the purpose?  To prove that warships can hit a very large stationary object?  That, fuck yeah!, bombs explode when we drop ‘em?  That indigenous life is obliterated when we bomb the shit out of it?  If you want to prove all that ….. why don’t they just choose Washington, D.C?

 

 

So, Kiss Paradise Goodbye, Muthafuckers!! Goodbye to the unique species which have inhabited this paradise for thousands of years and goodbye to the livelihoods of the Pagan Islanders, the indigenous population which has lived with and beside the endemic species in harmony for three thousand years. Goodbye to the island’s rare birds, bats, insects and plants that will be destroyed by toxins and bombing campaigns.  We’re Amurika, we’re big, we’re powerful, and we need to blow shit up, thank you very much.

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If you want to express your opposition to this Island Rape — yeah, I know, what good would that do? —- but, if you want to give it a shot, go here ——– >   http://savepaganisland.org/

The Absurdity of Authenticity

Off the keyboard of Guy McPherson

Published on Nature Bats Last on September 14, 2013

happiness

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I’m often accused — or credited, depending on one’s perspective — of leading an authentic life. As nearly as I can tell, the accusation or accolade refers to the following definition from Merriam and Webster: true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character.

Fundamentally, aren’t we all true to our personality, spirit, and character? How could we act otherwise, in the absence of multiple personalities? I have concluded that we’ve been captured by the culture in which we’re immersed. We are unable to escape without killing ourselves, yet the culture is killing us.

We’re six millennia into the culture of Abrahamic religions. We’re more than two millennia into western civilization and the six questions of Socrates: (1) What is good? (2) What is piety? (3) What is virtue? (4) What is courage? (5) What is moderation? (6) What is justice? Furthermore, every person reading these words is a product of an industrial civilization that depends upon expansive use of fossil fuels.
Is this the only way to live? Is this the best way to live? Do our hyper-connected, high-tech lives lead us along paths of excellence, in the spirit of Socrates?

This culture is steeped in patriarchy and depends upon violence for its continuation. Is it safe to assume this culture is the ultimate expression of our humanity? Is it safe to assume that this culture is the best we can do simply because this culture is the only one we have known? Is it safe to assume there is no other way beyond the hierarchical omnicide we’ve come to depend upon for money, water, food, and personal identity?

Questioning this culture and its underlying assumptions follows the model promoted and popularized by Socrates. Answering these questions requires one to step outside the normalcy bias and profound enculturation of the way we live. Asking challenging questions, much less answering them, requires enormous courage when the questions themselves refuse to validate, much less approve, this irredeemably corrupt system.

I do not claim to know the answers to these questions. I’m not certain they have answers independent of the person pondering them and his or her personal experiences. I nonetheless believe it is important to ask the questions and develop personal responses to them. As a result, I will tackle these and related questions in this chapter. For the most part, culture discourages us from asking, much less answering, most of these questions.

Questions, questions, and more questions

Throughout our lives, we spend considerable time seeking feedback from people and institutions, but the feedback we seek generally falls within a small subset of important issues. Furthermore, I question the wisdom of seeking validation, much less approval, within the realm of an irredeemably corrupt system.

Some of us seek to conduct meaningful lives. However, the universe imposes upon us a meaningless existence. There is no meaning beyond the meaning(s) we create. In attempting to create meaning, which often involves attempts to outrun our mortality, we generate distractions. We occasionally call them objectives, goals, or acts of service to others. And the result is our legacy.

Yet it’s too late to leave a better world for future generations of humans. The concept of leaving a legacy becomes moot when staring into the abyss of near-term human extinction. What, then, is the point? Are we, in the words of English poet Frances Cornford, “magnificently unprepared for the long littleness of life”?

As we seek feedback about the conduct of our lives, we simultaneously seek distractions. The distractions include the movies we watch, the books we read, the trips we take, the discussions in which we engage. The line blurs between distractions and authentic work until we are defined by the combination. The totality becomes who we are. The nature of our distractions is what makes us human, in the sense of differentiating us from other primates. Non-human primates don’t read books, much less discuss them. Such distractions do not enable our survival and in that sense are not “necessities” (cf. food, water, shelter). However, they are not necessarily “luxuries,” either. Apparently there are shades of existential gray.

Shades of gray

Shades of existential gray are evident in our pursuit of meaningful lives. How do we differentiate between necessity and luxury? How do we distinguish what we want from what we need? And are these distinctions important?

When I began the ongoing process of walking away from the omnicide of industrial civilization, I felt I had no choice. My inner voice overrode outer culture. I have subsequently come to realize that most people born into this set of living arrangements are literally and figuratively incapable of making a similar choice. Distinguishing between needs and wants, between necessity and luxury, is hardly clear.

Occasionally we turn to wise elders in our attempts infuse our lives with meaning. Kurt Vonnegut often wrote, in response to the question about meaning, that we’re here to fart around. His son Mark, between the loony bin and Harvard Medical School, responded to the question, “Why are we here?” with the following comment: “We are here to help each other through this, whatever this is.”

I love Mark Vonnegut’s response, but it fails to acknowledge that service to others is important and it’s a trap. Service to others is no longer virtuous when the entrapment includes self-inflicted harm (including emotional or psychological suffering).

As the Buddha pointed out more than two millennia ago, life is suffering. Do we have an obligation to minimize suffering? Does that obligation extend to our individual selves, as well as to other humans? Does it extend to non-human species?

German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer famously defined happiness as the alleviation of suffering, implying a temporary condition. The pursuit of happiness — from Schopenhauer’s perspective, the alleviation of suffering — is a right guaranteed by the founding document of the United States, but I’ve no idea why it’s guaranteed or if it stops at the alleviation of suffering. If the alleviation of suffering qualifies as happiness, then it seems wearing shoes that are two sizes too small is a great strategy for producing happiness, if only at the end of the day when the shoes are removed from one’s feet.

If happiness goes beyond the alleviation of suffering, perhaps it includes joy. But the notion of such an idea drags into the discussion the notion of documentation, hence measurement. How do we measure joy? Is it the same as the bliss produced by ignorance? How do we know when we’ve stumbled upon it? And if joy is meritorious, even at the expense of suffering by another, how to we balance the existential books?

Consider, for example, a single example for the Abrahamic religions (aka patriarchy): marriage. Do we have an obligation to minimize the pain when a monogamous relationship become personally painful, or even a matter of indifference (i.e., lacking daily joy)? Contemporary culture suggests we muddle through, in sickness and health, until death. And then, the ultimate personal endpoint solves the problem of suffering.

The cost of happiness

If happiness is a goal, and if that happiness extends beyond the mere alleviation of suffering, how to we evaluate happiness? If our own happiness comes at the expense of another, how do we justify our gain? Equally importantly, but rarely considered, is the converse question: If our suffering brings happiness to another, how do we justify the personal pain? Is our own suffering less important than that of another?

How do we minimize suffering? Is such a quest restricted to humans, or are other organisms included? What is the temporal frame of the quest? Does it extend beyond the moment, perhaps to months or years? Does it extend beyond the personal to include other individuals?

We could minimize suffering to humans and other animals by playing solitaire in the woods. But even that seemingly humble act takes life. Tacking on the seemingly simple acquisition of water, food, clothing, and shelter for a single human being in the industrialized world brings horrific suffering to humans and other animals. Attending to the needs of the 7.1 billion humans currently inhabiting Earth comes at tremendous cost to the water, soils, and non-human species on the planet. Contemplating the desires of an increasing number of people on an overpopulated globe is enough to drive a thinking person to despair.

There is nothing inherently wrong with pleasure, yet the Greek word for “pleasure” forms the root of the English word “hedonism.” According to my pals Merriam and Webster, hedonism propounds that pleasure or happiness is the sole or chief good in life. When stated in this manner, pleasure seems to have taken a step too far. But drawing the line between personal pleasure and hedonism is no mean feat. Less often considered is the line we draw between personal suffering and the attendant happiness of others.

But, lest we take that step too far, we should remember that the idea of hedonism some 2,500 years ago when Socrates was haunting the Mediterranean region was a bit different than the idea today. Back then, humans comprised a tiny drop in the large bucket known as Earth. The quest for personal pleasure and happiness at that time would have essentially zero impact on the natural world relative to the impact of today’s quest for gratification by 7.1 billion people on an this ever-shrinking and -depleted orb.

When my happiness requires the suffering of another, is my happiness warranted? When the pleasure of another requires my suffering, is the suffering warranted? Does failing to contemplate questions about our needs and desires commit us to nihilism? Does living within the Age of Industry, hence participating in untold horrors to humans and other organisms, violate the Socratic notion of good?

What about empire?

American Empire is merely the most lethal manifestation of industrial civilization, hence any civilization. Because this culture is inextricably interconnected with this civilization, I have concluded that contemporary culture is worthy of our individual and collective condemnation. Walking away from empire is necessary but insufficient to terminate this horrific culture.

As nearly as I can determine, maintaining American Empire — or any empire, for that matter — requires three fundamental elements: obedience at home, oppression abroad, and destruction of the living planet. Unpacking these three attributes seems a worthy exercise, even acknowledging Voltaire’s observation: “It is dangerous to be right in matters on which the established authorities are wrong.”

Obedience at home means capitulating to culture and the government. It means abandoning a culture of resistance in favor of the nanny state. It means allowing the government to control the people instead of the other way around. It means giving up responsibility for oneself and one’s neighbors and expecting the government to deal with all issues. Considering the excellent record of the government in transferring wealth from the poor to the rich while promoting an economy rooted in war, I’ve no idea why the people with whom I interact are fans of this government.

Oppression abroad is obvious to anybody paying attention to American foreign policy during the last hundred years. The government of the United States of Absurdity extracts taxes from the citizenry to build the most lethal killing force in the history of the world. This military, supported by cultural messages and therefore most of the consumer-oriented citizenry, is then used to extract materials such as fossil fuels from other countries. The resulting “riches” enjoyed by Americans serve to pacify the masses, embolden the government, and enrich the corporations that exert strong influence over both the media and the government.

Destruction of the living planet is imperative if we are to support seven billion people on the planet, many of whom want “their” baubles. Are we not entitled to transport ourselves around the world, dine at fancy restaurants for a few hours’ work at minimum wage, entertain ourselves with music and movies, and all the rest on an essentially limitless list? Where do the materials originate for each of these endeavors? Are we so filled with hubris that we believe driving dozens of species to extinction every day is our right? Do we lack the humility — and even the conscience — to treat non-human species with respect?

Each of these three broad elements serves a subset of humans at the expense of others. Although obedience to culture prevents us from being viewed as “odd” to our straitjacketed acquaintances, it also serves the oppressors. Giving up on radicalism — i.e., getting to the root — fails to serve our needs while lessening our humanity. But it nicely serves those who pull the levers of industry.

Perhaps it is time we heed the words of deceased American social critic Christopher Hitchens: “To be in opposition is not to be a nihilist. And there is no decent or charted way of making a living at it. It is something you are, and not something you do.”

Imperialism has consequences

The U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights are bobbing along the same waves as social justice and environmental protection, sold down the river by a nation addicted to growth for the sake of growth (the ideology of a cancer cell). Indeed, it seems very little matters to the typical American beyond economic growth. And for that, most importantly, we need an uninterrupted supply of crude oil. We need the Carter Doctrine — the world’s oil belongs to us — and an unhealthy dose of faux patriotism.

Our lives are imbued with faux patriotism. We are manipulated by the war-loving corporate media and the war-loving politicians that, unsurprisingly, are enriched by war. We support the troops that bring us the baubles we’re convinced we deserve, and we rarely question the real, underlying costs of the baubles.

Support the troops. It’s the rallying cry of an entire nation. It’s the slogan pasted on many of the bumpers in the United States.

Supporting the troops is pledging your support for the empire. Supporting the troops supports the occupation of sovereign nations because might makes right. Supporting the troops supports wanton murder of women and children throughout the world. And men, too. Supporting the troops supports obedience at home and oppression abroad. Supporting the troops throws away every ideal on which this country allegedly is founded. Supporting the troops supports the ongoing destruction of the living planet in the name of economic growth. Supporting the troops therefore hastens our extinction in exchange for a few dollars. Supporting the troops means caving in to Woodrow Wilson’s neo-liberal agenda, albeit cloaked as contemporary neo-conservatism (cf. hope and change). Supporting the troops trumpets power as freedom and fascism as democracy.

I’m not suggesting the young people recruited into the military are at fault. Victims of civilization and a lifetime of cultural programming — like me, and perhaps you – they’re looking for job security during a period of economic contraction. The entire process is working great for the oppressors pulling the levers of industry.

Perhaps most importantly, supporting the troops means giving up on resistance. Resistance is all we have, and all we’ve ever had. We say we’re mad as hell and we claim we’re not going to take it anymore. But, sadly, we gave up on resistance of any kind years ago.

We act as if America’s cultural revolution never happened. We act as if we never questioned the dominant paradigm in an empire run amok, as if we never experienced Woodstock and the Summer of Love, bra-burning hippies and war-torn teenagers, Rosa Parks and the Cuyahoga River. We’re right back in the 1950s, swimming in culture’s main stream instead of questioning, resisting, and protesting.

We’ve moved from the unquestioning automatons of Aldous Huxley and George Orwell to the firebrands of a radical counter-cultural worldview and back again. A generational sea change swept us from post-war “liberators” drunk on early 1950s propaganda to revolutionaries willing to take risks in defense of late 1960s ideals. The revolution gained steam through the 1970s, but lost its way when the U.S. industrial economy hit the speed bump of domestic peak oil. The Carter Doctrine coupled with Ronald Reagan’s soothing pack of lies was the perfect match to our middle-aged comfort, so we abandoned the noble ideals of earlier days for another dose of palliative propaganda. Three decades later, we’ve swallowed so much Soma we couldn’t find a hint of revolution in Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto.

In short, the pillars of social justice and environmental protection rose from the cesspool of ignorance to become shining lights for an entire generation. And then we let them fall back into the swamp. The very notion that others matter — much less that those others are worth fighting for — has been relegated to the dustbin of history.

A line from Eugene Debs, five-time candidate of the Socialist party for U.S. president, comes to mind: “While there is a lower class I am in it, while there is a criminal element I am of it; while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.”

I don’t harbor any illusions about my freedom. I live in Police State America.

Imperial illusions

Ultimately, I wonder why any of us bothers trying to be a good person As Ernest Hemingway indicated: “The best people possess a feeling for beauty, the courage to take risks, the discipline to tell the truth, the capacity for sacrifice. Ironically, their virtues make them vulnerable; they are often wounded, sometimes destroyed.”

Vulnerability isn’t so bad. But few knowingly bring on their own destruction. Instead, I suspect most humans — even those who consider themselves good — actually benefit from and even promote contemporary culture, the problems with which are legion.

Do good people promote patriarchy? Do they pursue and promote the notions of marriage and monogamy even when knowing these ideas are steeped in the patriarchy of a culture gone seriously awry? Marriage and monogamy are obligations of empire rather than outcomes of natural law. Instead of abiding and supporting imperialism, shall good people attempt to reduce or eliminate patriarchy, hence civilization, one act at a time?

When we recognize patriarchy and its impacts, where does that leave those of us pursuing authenticity? Indeed, attempting to conduct an authentic life in a culture dominated by patriarchy and engendering destruction is analogous to pursuing meaning in an uncaring universe. Does authenticity have meaning in such a universe? Is authenticity a desirable goal, if goals are merely cogs in the machine of a culture run amok? Is authenticity another stumbling block on the road to happiness? Is authenticity yet another piece of propaganda promoted by the thieves and liars pulling the levers of civilization to trap decent people into lives of service? Do we ultimately and perhaps unwittingly serve civilization, hence omnicide, when attempting to serve humanity?

If a life of service is a trap, why step into the trap? In avoiding the trap are we embracing nihilism, “a viewpoint that traditional values and beliefs are unfounded and that existence is senseless and useless”? And, if so, does the embrace constitute a pact with the proverbial devil?

As individuals and a society, have we become so broken we cannot pursue the truth about ourselves and our culture? Have we become so marginalized, demoralized, and humiliated by this insane culture that we are no longer able to rise up against cultural insanity?

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This essay is (barely) modified from a series of essays for the Good Men Project. The original essays are listed and hyperlinked below.

Questioning Culture: A Series

Questioning Culture: The Long Littleness of Life

Questioning Culture: Shades of Existential Gray

Questioning Culture: When Personal Happiness Brings Suffering to Others

Questioning Culture: American Empire

Questioning Culture: Our Addiction to Growth

Questioning Culture: The Absurdity of Authenticity

Sailing Away from Insaneistan

Off the keyboard of Ray Jason
Graphics Edited by RE

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Published on The Sea Gypsy Philosopher on September 22, 2013

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Indio_boy_coconut_and_chicken

http://oceanleadership.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/6125731.bin_.jpgMy new neighbors seem to like me. This is quite lovely – because they are dolphins. And it is even more wondrous because they are a mother and her child. Today is the fourth morning in a row that they swam a lazy circle around my boat.

Each day I greet the sunrise with an enthusiastic blast from my conch shell. It connects me with my post-civilized, feral self. It also seems to amuse the nearby creatures of the sea and the sky. No people are disturbed, because I am the only human animal in the vicinity. More importantly, it attracts the mom and her baby dolphin. They arrive just after I serenade the sun with my tribal horn.

Yesterday, the little Indio boy who sells me fresh coconuts from his tiny cayuco, also brought along a live chicken. Although he offered her at a good price, I declined. But I did buy some of her eggs. Their yolks are so intensely orange that they match the morning sun nudging above the hazy horizon. They are tasty and nutritious and perfect with my Tarzan Tea. That’s my name for the water from the young coconut that I open with my machete.

http://www.concierge.com/images/destinations/destinationguide/latinamerica/costarica/costarica_033p.jpgI call my neighborhood the Archipelago of Bliss. It bequeaths me immense joy – mostly because it is totally removed from the “real world.” As I sit here with my notepad and pen, I am completely severed from anything modern, and totally immersed in many things primal. Everything around me is ancient and elemental. This same type of flora and fauna has been here for over 100,000 years. The mangroves, the howler monkeys, the birds in the shallows – all preceded any human presence.

I call my slow simple life, the Way of RATAWI. That is an acronym I created which stands for Reading and Thinking and WritingInspirationally. My day revolves around those axis pursuits. Interspersed with them, are swimming, rowing, exploring, healthy eating and observing my neighbors – be they animals, clouds or planets.

When I need supplies or fellowship, it takes only a few hours to sail back to a little town abundant with eccentric characters – sailors, backpackers and surfers. Usually, about a week of visiting friends, replenishing my cupboards and emailing out essays is sufficient. Then I head back out to whichever vacant anchorage suits my fancy.

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Needless to say, most modern people would find this sort of existence … terrifying! The lack of around-the-clock stimulation and incessant electronic connectivity would be barely survivable. Even my friends, who seemingly find merit in my life path, are probably troubled by it on some level. “I mean, come on, Ray, this sea gypsy stuff is fine for a while, but isn’t it time you came home?”

http://llwproductions.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/pepper-spraying-cop-john-pike-spraying-statue-of-liberty-in-planet-of-the-apes.jpgWhen I respond to such well-intentioned counsel by explaining that my life is blissfully happy and meaningful, they chalk it up to my lifelong, unrepentant romanticism. But it is not my romantic disposition that inspires me to surrender to the embrace of nature. On the contrary, it is my capacity for perceiving reality that keeps me out here wandering the Wide Waters.

My exile from “The Great Frenzy” bequeaths me a much clearer perspective on it. If you stand a foot away from the Statue of Liberty you will not see it as well as you would from 100 yards away. Because they are so close to it, my friends cannot perceive how degraded the USA has become. Yet from afar, it is so obvious that I now jokingly refer to it as Insaneistan!

*******

Although many react to this tragic decline with anger, my response is sadness. The founding documents of the United States are so brilliantly enlightened, that they almost take one’s breath away. As someone who is aware of more than just the whitewashed version of U.S. history, I realize that from the very beginning we did not live up to many of the principles in the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution. (Slavery and Native American genocide are the obvious examples.) But the concept of government of, by and for the People, was such an improvement over rule by monarchs or mullahs, that it deserves the utmost admiration.

And there were periods when America did seem to be that inspirational Beacon on the Hill. We had citizen legislators rather than professional politicians. We got things done of genuine value to the planet, such as the Panama Canal. And we interceded to subdue vicious tyrants, as in WWII.

But shortly after our greatest triumph, the seeds of our tragic demise were sown. When the evil of Hitler was vanquished, we did not dismantle our war machine as we had done after WWI. Instead the Military Industrial Complex made its gruesome entrance onto the global stage. An enormous secret alliance of military and industrial and financial and espionage beasts spawned a lurid Leviathan that needs to engorge itself on Perpetual War in order to survive. President Eisenhower warned us about this monster in his farewell address, but his message went unheeded.

http://cloudfront-media.reason.com/mc/_external/2013_07/we-are-all-criminals-heritage.jpg?h=336&w=225As a result, money and madness wormed their way into the American body politic like devouring parasites. Now we are controlled and manipulated by “career politicians.” We no longer build canals; instead we sell high-tech weapons of death and mutilation. And rather than playing the role of schoolyard monitor to the world, we have become its most feared and hated bully.

This is not just personal opinion; this is verifiable fact. Most of the members of Congress are not schoolteachers or shop owners. They are multi-millionaires, who enrich themselves even further once they are in office. In a Republic, elected officials are supposed to represent the needs and interests of the people. Here is a short list of things that our government has imposed upon us in recent decades. I bet that neither you, nor anyone you know, asked for any of these.

  • More than a dozen separate spy agencies, who can’t seem to communicate with each other, but who have no problem invading every aspect of anybody’s personal life – including phone calls, emails, online purchases etc.
  • Economic and monetary policies that enrich Wall Street and the obscenely wealthy, while destroying Main Street and the middle class.
  • The militarization of local police forces. With tanks and battlefield equipment, they look like Galactic Storm-troopers rather than friendly neighborhood cops. Is the police mandate still to protect the citizens and solve crimes, or are they “gearing up” for expected mass social uprisings?

http://assets.nydailynews.com/polopoly_fs/1.965988!/img/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_635/alg-la-swat-jpg.jpg

  • An Imperial foreign policy with over 700 military bases blanketing the planet in more than 110 countries. Our “statesmen” claim that this global presence is in our national interest, and enhances our safety. But only a fool fails to see that this over-reach is spawning new terrorists every day, which actually decreases our security.
  • The perpetual misallocation of money and mind-power on the development of ever more horrific weapons of needless destruction. The litany seems endless, because it IS ENDLESS! Atomic bombs, hydrogen bombs, neutron bombs, napalm, agent orange, chemical weapons, depleted uranium, white phosphorus, biological weapons and drones. And now the DARPA maniacs are working on robot soldiers, weapons in space, and cyber combat.
  • The privatization of prisons. By making incarceration a “growth industry” they have incentivized the imprisonment of our sons, daughters and neighbors. And what kind of heinous criminals are we being protected from? Mostly drug users and minor dealers. The prison industrial complex is a shameful, hideous racket.

Now that I have shared this little “government in action” sampler with you, I’ll repeat my question from a few paragraphs ago: “Did you, or anyone you know, ask for any of these things?”

*******

http://americandigest.org/aconsumer.jpgUnfortunately it is not just politics that has declined so shockingly in the U.S. It is society as a whole – what I term the “Un-culture.” America has become a nation of obese, dumbed-down, television addicts, who live vicariously through a galaxy of the most vapid, self-absorbed “stars.”

The average person spends an enormous amount of their time fixated on their Smartphone. They sit on a bus texting their 347 cyber “friends” while being unable to make a new real friend in the seat beside them – because that person is buried in their iPhone43.

The movie industry, which both shapes and reflects the public consciousness, can no longer make a film about the complex joys and sorrows of actual people. Instead, they spew out preposterous comic book superhero fantasies that grotesquely distort the true human condition. This produces a population of dangerous male adults with violent juvenile values.

To highlight how sad and ludicrous daily existence in the USA has become, here are some of the categories in which America leads the world:

  • Obesity
  • Teen pregnancy
  • Lawyers
  • Murders
  • Adults who believe in angels
  • Incarcerated citizens
  • Laws
  • Mental illness
  • Fast food consumption
  • Rapes
  • Military spending
  • TV viewing
  • Prescription drugs
  • Arms sales to foreign countries
  • Divorce
  • National debt
  • Plastic surgery procedures

Hopefully, you are a lot less inclined to chant “We’re # 1” or “U-S-A” after seeing that list. Although I jokingly refer to it as Insaneistan, it should be clear from my synopsis that the situation in the USA is not funny at all. It used to be wonderful in so many ways, but now it has deteriorated so profoundly that it is just a sad, tragic caricature of its former greatness.

*******

It’s twilight now; and I’ve added a touch of rum to my Tarzan Tea. I chuckle while pondering whether this is to avoid melancholy or to embrace it. A black-crowned night heron glides by, and the kind words of my friends revisit me. “I mean, come on, Ray, this sea gypsy stuff is fine for a while, but isn’t it time that you came home?” Fortunately, I AM HOME! And even though my neighbors may be dolphins and egrets and spotted eagle rays, our world is sweet and genuine and enduring.

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Podcast: FTN

Article off the keyboard of Lucid Dreams
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Published on the Doomstead Diner on August 24, 2013

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I remember how I felt on that god forsaken boat, in that sea where we stole Poseidon’s fury and hurled it at the nomadic desert people we didn’t know. Alexander the Great, the Russian’s, and now America go to that mountainous region to end their hegemony over the world. I was close to that physical location, but I remained at sea…the Arabian Sea. For 115 days I was at sea. I counted the days with each four hour rack visit, (sleep) the pinnacle of my day. If I didn’t have to go to sleep to the sound of some whimsical dumb ass USN sailor nuke whackin’ off, it was an even better end to a shittier day then the day before (every day at sea is shittier then the day before by default). I hated my life, and what I was being forced into, due to the nature of being at sea. There is no escape.

The days and nights melt, as do the months, when you are at sea, but they melt into a stinkin’ ooze that keeps coming from an abcess the size of a watermelon on your ass that you got because you worked, shit, bathed, and slept in boat funk. I went weeks without seeing the sunlight due to watch rotation. I went days without showering (I think I went 5 days once…my watch station ambient temp was 104 degrees…and my stink didn’t stick out beyond everybody else’s contribution to the boat funk…which is mostly recycled farts, engine room oil, and old moldy cum smell), not because I didn’t have the opportunity, but because it was time away from the rack…and I didn’t give a shit about my hygiene any longer. The only time I went outside was to smoke a cigarette. The five minute smoke break was considered sacrosanct in the navy and it always lasted about 15 minutes by the time you climbed all of the ladder wells out of the plant to arrive at the hanger bay smoke deck. There were two smoke decks the size of a standard bedroom on that ship to service all of the enlisted personnel (somewhere around 5000 people if I recall…6000 total on the boat) whom pretty much all smoked because, well, how else were you to get that five minute break. And the only other thing you had to look forward to was jacking yourself to sleep. We got our smokes from the vending machines in the galley. I remember for the Christmas of 2001 (I was at sea bombing Afghanistan…although I believe we may have stopped bombing on Christmas) I got a carton of Camel Special Lights, which were my favorite cigs. That’s what my mom bought me for Christmas that year (which sounds worse than it is…I was killing people for God’s sake…WTF I’m worried about cancer?…it’s what I asked her for…and they are the only smokes my mother ever bought me).

I seriously contemplated crawling into a bilge and refusing to come out until they swore they would fly me off the ship with the next cargo plan. When you stand five hour watches, where there are no bathrooms and you can’t leave the plant…well you piss into the bilge. You also spit your dip into the bilge (as well as make bilge wine…but that’s another story which I think I tell in this podcast). I’m pretty sure bored sailors probably whacked off into the bilge to (there was a lot of sea goin’ chicken chokin’ goin’ on on that boat, unless of course you paid for a boat ho, what the USN sailor prostitutes were called…yes there was a prostitution ring complete with pimps on the boat…which again…another story). So yeah…I was going to crawl into one of those disgusting ass bilges to stage my refusal to bomb brown people I didn’t know campaign.

Which, the Navy wasn’t one to not grant such disgusting realities. One day, we had a “steel beach picnic” which is where they fly beer and steaks onto the boat, stop launching jets for a day, and everybody on the boat has the day off and gets to wear civilian clothes and hang on the flight deck. This is a huge deal while at sea. Just to get to drink a beer was heaven enough…and I’m talking expired Budweiser here. We got two beer chits. A band that happened to be formed on the boat played an electric concert and we got to eat horse meat steaks.

Well…I didn’t. You see there are two nuclear power plants on a carrier. Because we were not launching jets our steam demand was way down so Reactor department decided they couldn’t waste the opportunity, and Reactor plant two got shut down. I worked in reactor plant two. I had only qualified one watch at that point, which placed me on the bottom of the totem pole. I wept as I had to give my beer tickets away and remain in my stickin’ ass coveralls. Because I was barely useful in the power plant I got to crawl my happy ass into that bilge to needle gun the spagma off the side and apply new paint (in case you weren’t paying attention the dip spit, piss, occasional turd, and probable sailor jizzum which is exceptionally nasty is mostly what bilge spagma is composed of). I got to crawl out of that nasty ass sailor excrement pit to hall ass up to the flight deck to woof down my horse steak sandwich. I got to fart it out back in that bull shit black hole of a bilge in the nuclear power plant, and it smelt better coming out my ass then it did going down my gullet. My skin was orange for two days after that. But that’s got nothing on the time I had to squeegy six inches of shit off of the head floor where some dumb ass hull tech turned the wrong valve in the shit tank flushing sequence causing hundreds of gallons of shit to explode out of the shitters. Good thing the head had water tight doors. That punishment was for being two minutes late for watch.

Then there was the restriction and the solitary confinement, bread and water, in the class charlie federal penitentiary in Bangor Washington that I got to stay at for being out of my rack past 2200 hrs while on restriction.

Fuck the Navy…I guess is my point.

FTN

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Published on Epiphany Now on December 2, 2012

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I’ve told this story too many times. To myself, to patrons of the bars I’ve worked at, to associates, to acquaintances, to friends, and I’ve written it in many different ways as well. It’s true, and not really that interesting, but it had a large impact on who I am now. I never wanted to be a nuclear engineer, not even while I was one. That title “nuclear engineer” is really a misnomer because what I actually was was a steam plant mechanic; it just so happens that I was standing about fifteen feet from a nuclear reactor while I was mechanicing. What makes my story a bit more interesting is not that I was standing watch in the nuclear bowels of an air craft carrier just outside of the straits of Hormuz when 911 happened, but that I did not want to be there. I don’t think anybody really wanted to be there, but I went to great measures to no longer be there.

On September 11 2001 the U.S.S. Carl Vinson was prepared to pass through the straits of Hormuz into the Persian Gulf. The skin of the ship was secure and nobody was allowed outside due to the potential small arms fire. When a carrier passes through the straits, the indigenous population has a habit of popping off rounds, which can actually hit the ship. I was in my rack sleeping, and I was woken by a shipmate of mine “McCarty, McCarty…wake up man, we’re at war.”

“War!!! What the fuck are you talking about?” I got up and went into the berthing lounge, where there was a television mounted in the corner that the Captain would occasionally connect to CNN via satellite link for important news. Just as I was wiping the sleep out of my eyes, I looked up in time to see the second plane crash into the building. We could feel the ship listing as it turned around to head back out into the Arabian Sea to begin “Operation Enduring freedom.” The fact that we were launching jets off of the flight deck around the clock really didn’t change my life much. Either way my job was the same; make sure the nuclear power plant was working just fine for all of the steam that we needed to keep the war machine functioning. I had a small part to play in that, and that mainly consisted of standing watch at the main feed pumps (MFP). These pumps pumped water into the steam generator which cooled the reactor water and produced steam to power everything on the ship. There were many other watch stations for me to stand around at, but like everything else in the nuclear navy I had to first “qualify” to stand them. The MFP station just happened to be the first one I qualified for while we were at sea.

Life at sea sucked with more power than a black hole, and in fact THE bull shit black hole that services the United States was located in that power plant. It required constant heapings of bull shit to remain satiated. It’s favorite type of bull shit was bureaucratically generated. Every day at sea was a work day, except for Sundays, but even then we had to stand five hour watches. I could go on and on about why being at sea sucked so bad, and I have for a 100 or so pages in a book titled “Surrender” that I have never finished writing, so I won’t be doing that here. Suffice it to say that we ate food that had “not fit for human consumption, military and prisoner use only” stamped on the side of the boxes, we breathed what we called “boat funk” which was a mix of recycled engine room oil, nut sack jam, and farts, and you did this on an average of five hours of sleep a day (except for the boat funk part…that was 24/7)…all while being surrounded by nothing but navy fucks. It sucked.

My problem was not so much how bad it sucked (although I had a bit of a problem with that part as well), but with the fact that we were dropping bombs and firing missiles day and night at a nomadic peoples who had no idea what the fuck was going on. After 115 days at sea (which is how long I went without seeing land), we were informed by some douche bag admiral that had flown onto the boat, that between the Vinson and the Kitty Hawk we had dropped 3 million tons of ordinance. I believe it. They stored the munitions in huge storage rooms just beneath the aft galley. I would routinely be eating my not fit for human consumption non-food while the gunnies busied themselves carting bombs past me to the hanger bay. They had fun writing racial slurs on the sides of the bombs as a personal touch for the innocent people they were to destroy. Did I mention that I became a Buddhist while I was in the navy? It’s safe to state that I was a bit conflicted by my station in life.

So, one day, having had enough of this naval nonsense, a friend and I decided that we would do something about it. There are all manner of tactics that can be employed to get your ass out of the navy while at sea. Indeed, they were employed often. We heard about them through the grape vine; pissing yourself in your rack every night while refusing to bath, lodging yourself in a bilge while refusing to eat, attempting suicide by all manner imaginable, one guy even jumped off of the flight deck into the dark Arabian sea in the middle of the night (luckily for him one of the boatswain mates who’s job it was to look out into the dark sea for people such as he, spotted him before he became shark bait), but we didn’t want to harm or kill ourselves. We elected to employ what was colloquially known as a “rainbow chit.” My buddy and I wrote little notes that said “I, insert name, social, rate and rank, willingly admit to being a homosexual and because of that would like to be separated from the navy.” We turned them into ships admin and waited.

They say that one enlisted nuke costs the navy in the neighborhood of 250,000 dollars to get through the “nuclear pipeline.” It takes two years from boot camp to the fleet to create a nuke. Once on the ship it’s another couple of months before a nuke is no longer a “nub” (none useful body) and can actually contribute by standing watch and performing maintenance. The navy has a hard time filling all of their nuclear positions. Most people who are intelligent enough to become a nuke don’t, they go to college, or choose other more fulfilling career paths like panhandling or suckin’ strange wieners for smack. The point is that once you are in the nuclear program (more so once you complete it) you are not getting out of it.

So my buddy and I ended up at the Captain’s at sea cabin one night. The at sea cabin is located on level ten. Level 10 is located in the tower which is the highest structure on the flight deck. This is the Captains own personal chill pad. At any rate, me, my buddy, the Master Chief in charge of reactor department, and the Captain are all standing there in his at sea cabin staring at one another. The Captain (whom I had never seen in person in the five or so months I’d been on the carrier) looks at me and says “I’ve read your letter, and I’m here to tell you to go back to work.” So much for the “don’t ask don’t tell policy.” At that moment I looked at my buddy, and he looked at me, and we both contemplated making out with each other in front of both of them. I almost leaned in to go gay for a minute, but at the last minute decided that as much as I liked my buddy, I wasn’t going to make out with him. I wanted to say to the captain “so you mean we can continue pushin’ each other’s shit in while in the showers and you don’t care?” But I didn’t, I just hung my head and prayed to whatever would listen that nobody on the ship would find out that I was “homosexual.” People got their asses beat for those sort of proclivities.

I was pissed off at the fact that we had to follow the rules and they didn’t. “Don’t ask don’t tell” applied to the entire navy, so long as it wasn’t the nuclear one. That’s why the Captain did what he did. He was just calling our bluff. I guess he figured if we were telling the truth somebody would eventually catch us blowin’ one another and he’d kick us out then. So it was back to the engine room for my sorry ass. I had another trick up my sleeve, and as soon as we pulled into San Diego to drop off the air wing I pulled it out. We got four hours of liberty while in port, and I took advantage of my “liberty.” I grabbed a few of the civilian things that I had and fuckin’ left. The same buddy that I had turned my rainbow chit in with had actually scheduled to go on leave for two weeks while we were in San Diego. I had him pick me up, and I was enroute to his house while the boat was leaving without me to return to Bremerton Washington.

We got an ounce of herb and smoked it all. 28 days latter I walked my ass back onto the boat and turned myself in. Due to the fact that we were “at war,” at 30 days I became a deserter and could technically be put to death for my desertion. I didn’t want to test out that theory. After being gone for 28 days, the Master Chief gave me my military I.D. back and said he’d see me in two weeks. I was confused, but I didn’t argue. I walked back off of the boat and drove back to California to enjoy another two weeks off of the boat. My family was devastated. Nobody understood why I had done what I had done. While I was UA (the navy’s version of AWOL…Unauthorized Absence) the navy sent all manner of threatening letters to my family, as well as called repeatedly trying to ascertain my whereabouts. I didn’t care about the consequences. What I cared about was no longer participating in “Operation Enduring Freedom.”

To my mind, it was just senseless violence, and I didn’t understand it. I had no idea why 911 had happened, and I didn’t know who Osama Bin Laden was, or that the whole thing was really about oil. I had never heard of Peak Oil at the time, and I had no idea about fiat currency or infinite growth on a finite planet. I was 21 years old. All I wanted was to get stoned on the beach, fall in love with a woman, make love, read, write, create art and music, and maybe eventually check into a Buddhist monastery to meditate my way to Nirvana (if the whole making love thing didn’t work out). What I knew with certainty was that I was not going to participate in the madness of war any longer. I’ve heard the argument “well you willingly signed up to join the military…what did you think the military was about,” and? Yeah, I was 19 when I signed up for the military. I had been indoctrinated by my society to believe in patriotism and the flag. I was in JROTC for four years. To the people who say to me that what I did was wrong, I say too bad for you. I raised my level of consciousness to worldcentric and could no longer abide senseless killing. I did what I had to do to not abide it. The navy wasn’t done with me yet…I had a pointless and torturous crucible to go through to reach separation and receive my “other than honorable discharge.”

Mena- A Model of the Future?

Off the keyboard of George Mobus

Published on Question Everything on July 2, 2013

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Political Unrest – Why?

It is interesting the way the MSM characterize the unrest going on in Egypt. The typical perspective is that the people of Egypt are unhappy with the way the Morsi government has turned out to be almost as autocratic as the Mubarak regime had been. Morsi was elected in the first “democratic” election in the country’s history, but he recently declared himself to have powers that were not part of the bargain. He is from the Muslim Brotherhood movement, a supposed Islamic political party-like organization that supports Sharia Law as the foundation of governance. A large majority of Egyptians appear to prefer secular laws and thought originally that Morsi would honor that position.

Thus to the MSM the unrest is political in nature. They focus on the notion that the Egyptians want democracy and that Morsi has failed to deliver. But what this perspective fails to take into account is that politics ultimately come down to who controls the resources. The irony in Egypt is that they really haven’t got much in the way of resources. They cannot sustain a program of development because they have nothing to develop and nothing to drive such development (e.g. net energy). So Morsi is actually incapable of delivering any of the demands that the people are voicing. What is more important to the people of Egypt than whether their governance is based on Islamic doctrine or not is that they need to eat. They need to have shelter and some income. And there is no regime that can deliver that. Even if Morsi capitulates and a new government is installed, or perhaps more likely, the military takes over again, the needs of the Egyptian people will never be met.

The unrest is not about democracy. We only characterize it that way because we, in the west, think that we have democracy and that it the reason we’ve been so successful economically. If the MENA states could have democracy, the reasoning goes, they too would become economically successful. What remarkably shallow, indeed empty, thinking this is. Democracy did not produce food on the table and shiny new cars. The fact that communism failed to do so is not a proof that it did. Growing net energy per capita did that. It is easy to support something that looks like democracy and free markets when you have oil gushing out of the ground.

We are observing a model for collapse unfolding as country after country depletes whatever resources they had. The entire North African, Middle East, all the way to Afghanistan and Pakistan, are facing the exact same forces. Political unrest derives from physical stress. What other part of the world with significant populations better fit this model? I suspect that India, parts of China, and Mongolia are close behind.

Unrest Moving West, North and South

The US’s and Europe’s problems appear to be financial because these countries were part of the industrialization growth of the 19th and 20th centuries where rapid developments of fossil fuels mirrored that going on in the US. Indeed England led the pack with the use of coal even earlier. But as the net energy per capita available from fossil fuels started first to decelerate in growth and then, around the 1970s peak, the reliance on debt to finance production took over. During the period of rapid growth in industrialization we observed that wherever one was in time one could reasonably expect that even more wealth would be produced in the future, enough extra to pay back the principal along with interest (rents paid for using the capital). So borrowing against the future made sense. What nobody paid attention to is the fact that this experience of growth was based on increasing net energy flows and that the majority of that net energy came from fossil fuels, particularly oil. Also what everybody lacked was an understanding of the fact that the extraction and processing of fossil fuels would become increasingly expensive (in terms of usable energy required). Nor did most pay attention to the well understood and predicted peaking in gross production due to depletion of finite resources. The latter has accentuated the problem with declining net energy per capita.

The western nations are stagnant or in deep recession with unacceptable (by earlier standards) unemployment rates. The blame is being put on financial institutions, corporations, governing bodies, all of the usual suspects have been lined up. I suppose this is a failure of imagination to think there might actually be a deeper and more dangerous cause. Ignorance must play a major role as well.

Unrest is popping up in the Southern European region. Whereas in MENA states the blame is supposed to go to non-democratic governance, in the west it goes to finance and political battles between conservatism (austerity required) and liberalism (Keynesianism required). The US Federal Reserve Bank has been trying to put a band aid on the financial system by buying bad paper (quantitative easing) and thus creating money, essentially. But this is only going to cause the crash to be more severe when it comes. The underlying cause in the west as well in MENA states is fundamentally the same. We are running out of net energy per capita at an alarming rate. The MENA states had a slight advantage over the west in that their populations had very low net energy per capita needs (same story for China and India where jobs were shipped from the US to save labor costs). They were more in touch, as it were, with the physical realities and did not have this veil of financialization to confound their thinking. Right now they very much realize that they are at the precipice and being pushed off.

States to the further east are soon to follow. China, using their low energy requiring citizens as enticements and some healthy savings, has succeeded in convincing their population that they SHOULD want to consume more energy! And now that work force is starting to demand more in wages so they can do so. Unfortunately China’s leaders did not really understand the net energy per capita source problem. When they became vaguely aware of it they started scrambling to import oil and coal from other regions. Instead of realizing that depletion would soon render that strategy moot, they blindly go ahead with their ambitions because they are trying to avoid the political unrest that will ensue when their people, promised the “good life,” realize they not only won’t achieve that but that life will get worse (especially for the many who gave up farming for the cities).

Russia has never really recovered from the collapse of the Soviet Union. Putin probably has dreams of glory but he has no investment stream to put into developing what resources they have. Russia does have richer biological and mineral resources but in climate and terrain-challenged areas that would require substantial capital for development. Their oil exporting appears to have peaked and if they allow foreign oil companies to participate in further development they have to realize their revenues from export will drop. They are between a rock and a hard place. Their only possible advantage is that the people have already been through a collapse/contraction and probably don’t have the same kinds of expectations that the Chinese and Indian people have for the future. They may simply resign themselves to a worse future.

Will the Earlier Collapse of MENA Trigger the Rest?

Since ME states like Saudi Arabia are still supplying oil to the west it is very possible that major troubles in that region could disrupt the flow of an already declining one. Any sudden shutting off of the spigot is likely to have devastating effects on the western nations.

A lot of people in the US think they are buffered from such a catastrophe. There is a meme floating around the MSM about how the US (with Canada’s help, of course) will achieve energy independence. The tight oil and gas reserves along with the tar sands in Alberta are touted as providing us with huge energy sources into the future. President Obama is making noises about investing in alternative energies, especially to reduce coal-fired power plants to reduce CO2 emissions. It is all wishful thinking. The production profile on tight oil and gas wells suggests (strongly) that they will never produce the abundance being promised. Moreover all of these non-conventional sources have terrible EROIs that cannot be sustained long. Already the companies exploiting these resources are running into financial problems. They cannot fund further development out of profits because their profits are being squeezed tightly. Costs of development are too high — a reflection of the low EROIs. As long as they can hype the investment community they might eke out a little more working capital, but that will not last very much longer.

There is nothing supporting our huge bubble. All it will take is a trigger event, either like the collapse of MENA states, dragging Europe along, or an internal event in the financial markets. My favorite scenario is that graduates who cannot find meaningful employment will simply stop paying back their education debt. That will burst a 1.2 trillion dollar bubble and could take the rest of the financial system down with it.

It is somewhat ironic that Greece was one of the first EU countries to experience severe hardships and the start of collapse. It gives new meaning to the phrase “Greek Tragedy” that the whole world is now embroiled in a demise crafted by our own flaw in character. We are not bad as a species. But we are clearly merely biological when it comes to trying to obtain more resources and grow. We evolved great clever brains that enabled us to do so with abandon. We did not evolve adequate sapience to moderate that cleverness and dampen the biological mandate. That is the flaw — lack of wisdom in pursuing our future. Now we have none, for the most part.

I still won’t make any predictions as to timing of, say, major events that would be clearly signs of collapse well under way. I think collapse is starting and is gaining momentum as we witness unrest spreading around the globe. Some regions, like MENA, will likely collapse very rapidly, possibly taking others with them in a domino effect. Other regions may drag it out a bit as oh-so-clever masters of the universe try more tricks to keep the dream alive. But they can’t do it forever.

All I will say is that if you want to see what collapse looks like on the ground (and this is for every region eventually) watch what happens in Egypt. And for you American readers, enjoy your celebration of the Fourth of July commemorating winning your democracy!

July 3, 2013

How Long Will it Take for the Egyptians to Realize…

… that Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood were not the root cause of their problems? Now he is out and the military has taken over. They are claiming they want new elections so are still convinced that a democratic government can somehow fix their broken nation. They still think there is a political solution to a physical problem. If only people are free to make choices and live their lives as they want. If only political stability were to return then investment money would come flowing in and tourists would return to the pyramids.

If there was enough time those magical wishes might actually start to come true! After all there are still much richer people in the world who are always looking for an angle to make a buck or have discretionary funds to go on vacation – at least for a while. Unfortunately I don’t think they have the time. People on the ground are already hurting and need relief now. It takes a long time to set the wheels in motion for establishing a truly stable government, time I don’t think their society has.

It is probably the case that both Mubarak and Morsi made matters worse in being so autocratic at a time when people were expecting some more “freedoms”. But you can’t blame their failures strictly on their incompetence, which extends to corruption and cronyism; those surely didn’t help. But as I said in my prior post Egypt’s and the whole MENA region’s troubles go much deeper than lack of democracy. In fact, ironically it is probably an autocratic rule, which does not automatically mean corruption, etc., that would lessen the woes. Democracies have a great deal of difficulty making timely decisions in this crises world. Look at the US Congress as a prime example of what happens when you let a lot of very foolish people with big egos try to agree on important decisions.

Autocrats, if they are competent and wise, can get the right things done in a more timely fashion. But since there are no philosopher kings in the waiting room… This is what makes this predicament intractable. There are no solutions that don’t involve massive population reductions in short order. If a region cannot support its own population and has absolutely no skills that would add sufficient value to what other regions that can produce food need, well, put bluntly, they are screwed.

How long will it take the Egyptian people to discover that things are not getting better? How long will they, and the rest of the world, continue to blame it on a “stalled revolution?” How long will they continue to belive that democracy and a stable government would save them?

So, keep your eyes on Egypt and carefully observe what transpires. You may be looking at your own situation within the next decade if things devolve at an accelerating rate.

Solitary Confinement

Off the keyboard of Lucid Dreams

Published on Epiphany Now on December 11, 2012

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I put my utilities on and was escorted to the master at arms shack. They had rounded up four others from berthing. All four of them had been participating in the drinking and gaming. I had been there, watching, and smoking cigarettes, but I wasn’t drinking. What mattered was that I was out of my rack past 2200 hrs. That one infraction was enough to earn me a ticket to Captain’s Mast, which is more non-judicial punishment, which just means there isn’t a lawyer involved. A week or so went by and then it was time to go to the navy’s kangaroo court to defend myself against my terrible crime of being found out of my rack past 2200 hours while on restriction.

 
When I got down to the lair of the ship where the Captain’s Kangaroo Court was located there were about 30 of my shipmates standing in formation waiting. There were so many of us, in fact, that the Captain was cycling us through four at a time. I guess they figured we were all guilty of the same thing, being shit bags. They march us in to stand in front of the captain and he read off our charges. All four of us were being charged with drinking and gambling (I was honestly just watching). The captain then asked if we had anything to say. I did. “Sir, I was not drinking or gambling. I was in the shower while all of that was going on (which was a lie, cause I was watching, but they didn’t know any different). I was caught returning to my rack.” By this point the captain was familiar with me. He no doubt remembered me from my “rainbow chit” and I had been to mast once before upon returning to the boat from being UA and missing ships movement. This was the third time I had been before him for being a shitbag. The captain pointed his finger at me and said “fireman McCarty, you will not win, you will lose, three days bread and water in solitary confinement.” I couldn’t believe it.
 
The next thing I knew I was being hand cuffed by a master at arms. I was escorted up to the hanger bay and paraded by the ships crew. I was cuffed with my hands behind my back. There were three master at arms escorting me to berthing where I was to acquire the items on a list under direct supervision. Toothbrush, white t-shirts, skivvies, utilities, socks. Once all of the items were acquired I was escorted off of the ship and into a prison van that was waiting for me. I was driven to naval base Kitsap in Bangor Washington where they have a military penitentiary. The place has maximum security capabilities. That’s where they were taking my happy ass. We arrived and I got processed in. I had to strip naked so that prison staff could inspect my body. They even noted where my tattoos and scares were located. I had to bend over and spread my butt cheeks so they could have a look see up my ass hole. I had to take a physical with a physician so that he could verify that my body was fit for three daysof bread and water.
 
I was given five minutes to take a cold shower, and I was informed that it would be the last shower I would receive while there. From there I was taken past the main control center for the prison. There were several halls I could see to my right because the upper walls were made of glass. Through the halls I could see a large area with inmates milling about (general population), and I could also see a circular command and control structure in the center. I was taken into a large room that had lockers and a picnic table in it. The stuff that I had gathered was placed in one of these lockers. I wouldn’t see that stuff until I left, so I don’t know why they had me gather it. Before they stuffed me in the cell they took my belt and my boot laces. They didn’t want me opting out. I guess they had a problem with people on bread and water killing themselves in the past. There were four cells in this room all adjacent to one another. I had one other guy to the left and two to my right. There were already two prisoners present. Me and another guy that was awarded solitary from that night would be filling up their solitary capabilities.
 
I was shuffled into the small cell and quickly shown around. The guard with the duty of acclimating me to my new home said, “There’s the sink with a styrofoam cup for drinking tap water, the overhead fluorescent stays on 24 hours a day. You are not allowed to lay on the bed until 2200 hrs, you can sit on it. You are not allowed to cover your head while sleeping. We will be by three times a day to give you your bread. Here is your reading material.” He handed me a copy of the prisons “rules and regulations.” “Any questions?” I just looked at him until he decided to close the door, lock it, and leave. There was a sink, a toilet, a metal rack with a very thin cushion, a thin military wool blanket, a feather pillow, a window that was about two inches wide by three feet long that I could see through by getting on my tip toes on the rack (which was not allowed, and would have gotten me a couple more days of solitary if caught), and the door to the cell that had a slit in it big enough to pass a loaf of bread through with a window that was about a foot square. I had three days and three nights to go.
 
I learned what it was like to be locked away by the machine while I was in that cell. I knew that it was only for a short period of time. I knew that it would pass, and I would eventually be free from this nightmare that the navy had become for me. I was angry about why I was in that cell. It did not feel justified to me to have to endure three days of solitary confinement bread and water style over such a small infraction. The Captain was using me as an example to all would be restrictee offenders. He had grown to not like me for obvious reasons. I was 22 years old. I decided that I would make the best of it and treat this like training for monastery life. I sat down on the bed and began meditating. I could meditate for an hour or two at a time before needing to get up and move around a bit. Eventually I learned that I could hear the door to the outer room open and shut when the guard would enter to check on us. It was a very faint sound, and I had to stand at the window and watch the guard to identify it. Once I knew the sound, I knew when I was not being watched. I would lay on the bed for hours and try to keep a feather suspended in the air as long as possible by blowing up in it’s direction. Time slowed to a grinding halt and it seemed like I would never get out of there.
 
Sleeping was difficult because the fluorescent light was just above my rack. Three times a day they would come by and give me a white loaf of bread through the door and allow me fifteen minutes to eat as much of it as I wanted. They give you a choice between white and wheat. I chose wheat and they gave me white. I confronted the guard about it and he said “sure enough, you did ask for wheat…you want this white bread or not?” I think it was just more psychological games. I would roll the slices of bread up as tightly as possible and make gooey bread sticks out of them. Keep in mind that they fed their best servicemen food that had “not fit for human consumption, prisoner and military use only” stamped on the box. This wasn’t your grandma’s homemade bread. One can only eat so much white bread no matter how hungry one is. I would eat about seven to eight slices per feeding before I would no longer want to eat. Sometimes I didn’t eat at all. I didn’t shit for weeks after I got out of there.
 
At one point the dude in the cell next to me lost his mind. He started screaming and yelling wildly and would not shut up. I also remember that he was singing songs from Pink Floyd’s “The Wall.” This got the other two inmates screaming for him to shut the hell up. It sounded like a bunch of wild rabid zombie chimpanzees. I think the dude losing his mind was in there bashing his head against the walls. At least that’s what I assume those dull thumps I heard were. His name was Guideon, and he was on restriction with me, but he had more time to do then I did. I saw them cart him off to somewhere. He was fighting and thrashing against the guards to no avail. There was blood present. I don’t know what happened to him, but I never saw him or heard from him again. There is no telling what happened to him. They kept us in line by threatening more solitary confinement. They made it clear that if you were caught breaking any of the rules you would have weeks and months tacked on. We were informed that there was no limit to the amount of time they would keep us locked up if we did not behave. That’s how they kept us in line. Knowing Guideon’s stupid ass, he’s probably still in that fucking prison in solitary confinement.
 
This was the climax for me in the Navy. This was my most precious and deep message. I was lucky to learn it as easily as I did. I now know what it is to be locked away by the defenders of our hologram. I experienced the tyranny that is perpetuated by one man at a time. I saw it in the way the guards looked at me and in the tones of their voices. I experienced it as the beginning level of the depravity that they were more than happy to perpetuate for me. It was an environment where nobody cared about you in the least. They really did not care if I rotted my life away in that cell. There was no compassion to be had anywhere in that place. My family had no idea I was in that cell. The feeling was that I could be left to rot, and my family would just wonder what had become of me. I’m sure the navy would have just told them that there was a training accident. That’s what it’s like in the military. My stay in that brig was a very surreal experience of what the military industrial complex considers a person. We are numbers, nothing more, and nothing less. I know this in my bones now.

…Or May the Heavens Fall

Off the keyboard of Phillip Farrugio

 

Discuss this article at the Epicurean Delights Smorgasboard inside the Diner

From the bible: “Let justice prevail or may the heavens fall” Goodness me the heavens did fall yesterday over the entire northeastern part of our great nation. The damage to life and property, the power outages and the crippling of commerce was devastating. So many nine to five Americans were hurt… along with the super wealthy. Even the temple of corporate profit had to close down for two whole days! One television stock market pundit went so far as to say that there was no need to close Wall Street because of the hurricane. He did not even dare mention the tremendous losses or threats of no shelter, food, electricity, heating or transportation. No, this guy only cared about the loss of two trading days.  Imagine if he was an Iraqi investment pundit in March of 2003, when the real Shock and Awe occurred? There must be this thing called karma after all.

 

New York City, in addition to having so many good and decent Americans from all walks of life and nationality, also is the most negative place in the entire country of ours. The packs of corporate sharks who earn their corporate profits from the pain and suffering of the poor and the working stiffs operate in NYC and surroundings. The Occupy movement did not initiate in Chicago or LA or Dallas. No, it engaged itself in protesting the very core of the nest of greed and corruption, which happens to be in NYC. Where do most of these predatory skunks reside or have their summer homes and estates? Well, the rich are as equally enamored by the ocean as the rest of us. Sadly, as the universe rolled those 11 foot sea walls onto the land and destroyed many palatial properties, the homes of John and Joan Q Public got wasted away as well. Karma can be a bitch.

 

Governor Christie of New Jersey had to call out the National Guard to help with the hurricane. How many of them were around to help? How many of our Guard are still in the desert hornet’s nest? The governor spoke to the media about the amount of infrastructure that was destroyed or rendered useless. What he failed to connect is the fact that for every soldier we keep (and kept) in Iraq and Afghanistan for one year, that costs our treasury over one million dollars! How much New Jersey infrastructure could those one million dollars have helped improve and strengthen? Do the math, governor, and see what your support for phony wars and occupations has been doing. That goes for the Democratic governors who support their Democratic president and his foolish foreign endeavors. The only ones laughing are the corporate and Pentagon wolves who make their livings from more and more phony wars and threats of wars.

 

A storm held our greatest city and surrounding region hostage. Similar to what Wall Street and its Military Industrial Empire’s controllers have been doing to us serfs for Lord knows how long. When will  the day come and the mass of our fine and decent citizens get off their duffs and stand in unison for a cause far greater than most: Save our nation by pulling back this empire before it totally pulls us under! ?

PA Farruggio

October 30th, 2012

 

{Philip A Farruggio is son and grandson of Brooklyn, NYC longshoremen. He is a free lance columnist (found on Information Clearing house, Doomstead Diner, Op Ed News, Dandelion Salad, Activist Post, Dissident Voice and many other sites worldwide). Philip works as an environmental products sales rep and has been an activist leader since 2000. In 2010 he became a local spokesperson for the 25% Solution Movement to Save Our Cities by cutting military spending 25%. Philip can be reached at paf1222@bellsouth.net

Understanding the Slave Mentality

Published originally on Alt-Market on Monday, 02 April 2012 07:48  by Brandon Smith
 

In the initial stages of nearly every recorded tyranny, the saucer eyed dumbstruck masses exhibit astonishing and masterful skill when denying reality.  The facts behind their dire circumstances and of their antagonistic government become a source of cynical psychological gameplay rather than a source of legitimate concern.  Their desperate need to maintain their normalcy bias creates a memory and observation vacuum in which all that runs counter to their false assumptions and preconceptions disappears forever.  It is as if they truly cannot see the color of the sky, or the boot on their face.  The concrete world of truth becomes a dream, an illusion that can be heeded or completely ignored depending on one’s mood.  For them, life is a constant struggle of dissociation, where the tangible is NOT welcome…

This is the problem that we in the Liberty Movement deal with most often in our writings and films.  Our confrontation with willful ignorance has been epic, even by far reaching historical standards.  The gains in social awareness have been substantial, and yet the obstacles are incredible.  Unprecedented.  As an activist trend, we have an almost obsessive drive to draw back the curtain so that the public has at least the opportunity to see what is on the other side.  Unfortunately, there is another danger that must be taken into account…

It is one thing to bear witness to the rejection of truth in our time and the oblivious attitudes of many towards the growth of totalitarianism.  Eventually, though, a second phase in the development of oligarchy arises.  I am speaking of the point at which tyranny becomes so blatant that the skeptics have to acknowledge its existence, but after doing so, they choose to rationalize it as necessary.  Yes, there are many in this world that will laugh at the prospect of the Orwellian nightmare only to happily embrace it when it arrives in full color.      

I was recently looking into the divisive issue of U.S. Marine Sgt. Gary Stein, whose position has come under threat due to his criticisms of Barack Obama and his founding of the ‘Armed Forces Tea Party Facebook Page’.  What I discovered was a large number of Americans in support of Stein’s right to speak as a citizen (even under Marine regulations) against the unconstitutional actions of any president or presidential candidate.  I also discovered a considerable number who wanted to see the soldier dishonorably discharged, or even set upon a noose as punishment. 

Now, we all know that the Department of Defense monitors web news and social networking activity, and they have been caught red handed in the past posing as regular citizens with strangely militant pro-authoritarian views (look into their organized propaganda attacks on websites dealing with the levee failures during Katrina, for instance).  It is by no means a stretch to suggest that they would also troll the comments sections of mainstream news articles in an attempt to engineer a fraudulent consensus that Sgt. Stein’s actions have been negatively received by the majority of Americans.  But that aside, the underlings at the DOD are still Americans, and the views they espouse are still expressions of a subsection of this country (a small elitist one).  Also, sadly, there are plenty of non-government-paid people out there who believe exactly as they do.

Surely, we can debate over the details of Marine regulations until our ears bleed, and I could point out several facts that the mainstream media did not cover in their hit pieces on Stein (like the fact that he went to his superiors and asked them to advise him in the handling of his political position long before the present charges against him were ever formulated, and the fact that he followed many of their suggestions…), but ultimately, the regulations of the Marines or the Federal Government are irrelevant.  Such laws are transitory, and are usually written so broadly that the authorities of the day can execute them however they wish to fit their needs at the moment.  The real question here is one of principle, moral compass, and Constitutionality (a document which is a reflection of eternal natural law).  We have to set aside the pointless legalese of defense standards in the case of Sgt. Stein and ask ourselves an important question; do U.S. troops have a right to free speech? 

If you believe so, then their rights are not limited or exclusive.  They are free to say whatever any other American has a right to say.  If you believe they do not, then you have relegated the troops to the position of second class citizens, or even property of the state.  There is NO in-between.  Discipline and military coherence be damned.  Either these men and women have First Amendment protections and are full citizens or they are mechanisms of the government whose civil liberties have been erased.

Even though I understand the psychology behind it, I am still shaken with raw electrical astonishment when confronted by those who support the latter notion that American soldiers are indeed property of the state, that their actions must be dictated by the president and not the Constitution, and that this is required for the military to function.

Very few of these absurd multitudes ever ask what “function” such a military, populated by ethical robots who are blindly subservient to the dictates of a single man, would actually serve?

What good is an unprincipled military?  An unprincipled government?  An unprincipled society?  What reason is there for these constructs to exist?  The Nuremberg Trials solidified the reality that soldiers will be held accountable for following criminal orders, and still, there are some who claim that our troops must adopt a shoot first pay later methodology. 

I bring up the circumstances of Sgt. Stein to illustrate the situation our nation is currently facing; we are on the threshold of total despotism, where the naysayers who shrugged off the threat of rogue government yesterday suddenly embrace it and support it today.  When Stewart Rhodes first formed the Oath Keepers organization, the same talking point was consistently used in an attempt to derail it; “The orders you would refuse to obey could never occur in this country…”  And yet, many of the warnings of Oath Keepers have come to pass, including the unlawful disarming of peaceful U.S. citizens during the disaster in New Orleans, the institution of government directed assassination programs of U.S. citizens under Bush and Obama, the passing of NDAA legislation which includes provisions for indefinite detainment of Americans without trial, warrantless wiretapping, surveillance, and even home invasion by authorities is becoming common, and the Obama Administration has put into place several executive orders (including the The National Defense Resources Preparedness EO) which pave the way for Martial Law to be declared.

The cold hard reality is, the Oath Keepers were right, and Sgt. Stein is right.

And, now that this is becoming undeniable, the opponents of their tenets are switching gears to fight for the implementation of unconstitutional laws which they used to deny were even possible.  Can this situation be any more insane?  Oh yes…

There are no limits to the surrealist hell that can be unleashed when dealing with what I like to call the “Slave Mentality”.  The slave mentality takes many shapes.  It is pervasive in times of social distress, and, it can be infectious.  The psychologist Carl Jung wrote in his book ‘The Undiscovered Self’ that the cruel sociopathy seen in the populations of Nazi Germany or Stalinist Russia is actually latent in many of us.  All it needs is the right set of sociopolitical circumstances and a weak enough will, and the shadows in the hearts of lesser men are given license to come out and play.  This is just as true in America, where people now operate on assumptions that the state is an absolute provider in the event of national calamity.      

But what are the signs of this unconscious desire for collectivism and control?  What makes a slave do what he does?  Here are just a handful of explanations to consider…

The True Slave: The true slave is not a person who has been shackled, beaten, tortured, and made to comply under threat of death.  As long as that poor soul has the spirit of rebellion and is ever seeking freedom, they are not imprisoned fully.  The true slave is a person who enjoys their subservience, who is weighted with fear by the very idea of independence from the system, and who would actually fight and die to maintain the establishment which enslaves them.  The true slave is not able to imagine living any other life beyond his micro-managed existence.

The Facts Lose Value: The worst flaw of the slave is not necessarily his ability to overlook the truth, but his ability to see it, comprehend it, and then shrug it off anyway because it is contrary to his mission to fulfill his private delusions.  For the slave, the truth exists, but is no longer useful.  Lies make his universe turn, and facts are a tool to be used or cast aside at his leisure.

The Obsession With The Law:
The slave mentality, though illogical and psychotic, still requires a certain foundation to hold it together.  The laws of governments tend to suffice.  These laws may go completely against the force of inherent conscience, but because the slave has already abandoned listening to his inner voice of reason, this does not bother him much.  If you have ever wondered why modern tyrannies always feel the need to put their horrific enforcements in writing first, THIS is why.  Oligarchs understand that the law provides the slave with a means to rationalize his participation in the crimes of the state.  After all, if some gut-bloated bloodthirsty elitists in government etch their mad inbred ramblings into law, then we have no choice but to follow them, right?

The Need To Be Accepted: A slave seeks harmony not within, but without, even when that “harmony” is with a system that is designed to destroy him.  The viciousness of collectivism lay in its ability to comfort converts with atrocity.  As long as the slave feels as though he is a part of the machine, and accepted by the group, he cares not what the machine does to others.  Common arguments include; “We all have to live together, and so we must sacrifice our selfish individualism for the greater good…” or “Governments are here to protect us and we should do everything we can to make their job easier…”  Rarely if ever do they question if the system is legitimately helpful or harmful.  The system just “is”, it fulfills their need to be coddled, and that is good enough for them.  For all their talk of “unity” and the “greater good”, collectivists are for the most part deeply selfish.  They do not support or participate in the collective for the sake of others.  They do it to satiate their personal desires.

The Need For Control:
I suppose it’s ironic, but the average slave loves tyranny because it affords him a perceived seat at the table of power, perhaps for the first time in his entire life.  Collectivist slaves are often people who have felt weak and inadequate since childhood.  While honorable human beings fight this personal uncertainty by strengthening themselves physically and mentally, and improving upon their own character, the slave takes the easy route by joining with bureaucracy and living vicariously through its conquests.  Through the state, the hollow, cowardly, and stupid, have the ability to “show the world who’s boss”, and get revenge for a life filled with meaninglessness. 

The Need For Structure:
An individual takes responsibility for himself, learning over time to provide his own structure which works at his pace and serves his unique needs.  A slave does not have the energy or the drive to do that, and so, he asks the establishment to tell him how he should live.  He will hold at face value the word of nearly anyone in a position of petty authority.  When confronted with those who go their own way, or who rebel against the cookie-cutter template for social participation, the slave sneers in disgust.  Independent rebellion is abhorrent to him, because the system provides him with his very identity.  To insult the fabric of the system is to insult who he is.  It’s pathetic, but common…

The Need For Vindication: Sometimes it is not enough for certain people to have their own world view.  The slave seeks approval for his world view at every turn, even if that world view is twisted by bleary eyed logic, and will go so far as to force others to agree with it so that they can feel safer in their beliefs.  It is natural for people to seek out others with similar views and ideals, but, it is not natural or healthy for those same people to use the government apparatus as a weapon to frighten the rest of us into submission just so they can become more confident in their ludicrous slapdash philosophies.  Slaves want a world without contradiction.  Laughably, everything they do is a contradiction.                        

What I have seen in a number of the reactions to the honest activism of Sgt. Gary Stein is a knee-jerk bias that reeks of the slave mentality, but it offers us a window in gauging the leanings of the general public.  Now that the once theoretical dangers of federal fascism are breaking the surface of the water and circling the American sinking ship, the great test is to watch closely where the masses place their priorities.  Will they take the path of the individual, admit to the laboratory mutation that our government has become, and try to make things right again?  Or, will they take the path of the slave, forget their past follies and empty arguments, and jump on the totalitarian bandwagon?  Certainly, it is not as if the cheerleaders of the state usually get out of the tumult with all their limbs intact.  In most cases, they are lucky to get out alive once the smoke clears.  One might think that the lessons of history would be guide enough, but then again, the average slave has taken every conceivable measure to ensure that his particular fantasy land is magical enough to withstand substantial examination.  The system is their drug, and the upheaval that free thought brings is such a buzz-kill…

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Going Cashless

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Simplifying the Final Countdown

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Bond Market Collapse and the Banning of Cash

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Do Central Bankers Recognize there is NO GROWTH?

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Singularity of the Dollar

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Kurrency Kollapse: To Print or Not To Print?

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SWISSIE CAPITULATION!

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Of Heat Sinks & Debt Sinks: A Thermodynamic View of Money

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Merry Doomy Christmas

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Peak Customers: The Final Liquidation Sale

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Collapse Fiction

Useful Links

Technical Journals

This study analyzed the trends of extreme daily rainfall indices over the Ouémé basin using the obse [...]

Climate change is prevalent across the world and can have large influence on plant regeneration, rec [...]

This study aims to estimate the influence of atmospheric circulation modes on future Baltic Sea leve [...]