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Monday, October 28, 2013

Our Invisible Revolution

Our Invisible Revolution

By Chris Hedges
Truthdig.com
October 28, 2013

“Did you ever ask yourself how it happens that government and
capitalism continue to exist in spite of all the evil and trouble
they are causing in the world?”

The anarchist Alexander Berkman wrote in his essay “The Idea
Is the Thing.”

“If you did, then your answer must have been that it is because
the people support those institutions, and that they support
them because they believe in them.”

Berkman was right.

As long as most citizens believe in the ideas that justify global
capitalism, the private and state institutions that serve our
corporate masters are unassailable.

When these ideas are shattered, the institutions that buttress
the ruling class deflate and collapse.

The battle of ideas is percolating below the surface.

It is a battle the corporate state is steadily losing.

An increasing number of Americans are getting it.

They know that we have been stripped of political power.

They recognize that we have been shorn of our most basic and
cherished civil liberties, and live under the gaze of the most
intrusive security and surveillance apparatus in human history.

Half the country lives in poverty.

Many of the rest of us, if the corporate state is not overthrown,
will join them.

These truths are no longer hidden.

It appears that political ferment is dormant in the United States.

This is incorrect.

The ideas that sustain the corporate state are swiftly losing their
efficacy across the political spectrum.

The ideas that are rising to take their place, however, are inchoate.

The right has retreated into Christian fascism and a celebration
of the gun culture.

The left, knocked off balance by decades of fierce state repression
in the name of anti-communism, is struggling to rebuild and define
itself.

Popular revulsion for the ruling elite, however, is nearly universal.

It is a question of which ideas will capture the public’s imagination.

Revolution usually erupts over events that would, in normal
circumstances, be considered meaningless or minor acts of
injustice by the state.

But once the tinder of revolt has piled up, as it has in the United States, an insignificant spark easily ignites popular rebellion.

No person or movement can ignite this tinder. No one knows where or when the eruption will take place. No one knows the form it will take.

But it is certain now that a popular revolt is coming.

The refusal by the corporate state to address even the minimal
grievances of the citizenry, along with the abject failure to remedy
the mounting state repression, the chronic unemployment and
underemployment, the massive debt peonage that is crippling more
than half of Americans, and the loss of hope and widespread
despair, means that blowback is inevitable.

“Because revolution is evolution at its boiling point you cannot
‘make’ a real revolution any more than you can hasten the boiling
of a tea kettle,” Berkman wrote.

“It is the fire underneath that makes it boil: how quickly it will
come to the boiling point will depend on how strong the fire is.”

Revolutions, when they erupt, appear to the elites and the establishment to be sudden and unexpected.

This is because the real work of revolutionary ferment and
consciousness is unseen by the mainstream society, noticed
only after it has largely been completed.

Throughout history, those who have sought radical change have
always had to first discredit the ideas used to prop up ruling elites
and construct alternative ideas for society, ideas often embodied
in a utopian revolutionary myth.

The articulation of a viable socialism as an alternative to corporate
tyranny, as attempted by the book “Imagine: Living in a Socialist
USA” and the website Popular Resistance, is, for me, paramount.

Once ideas shift for a large portion of a population, once the vision
of a new society grips the popular imagination, the old regime is
finished.

An uprising that is devoid of ideas and vision is never a threat to
ruling elites.

Social upheaval without clear definition and direction, without
ideas behind it, descends into nihilism, random violence and
chaos.

It consumes itself.

This, at its core, is why I disagree with some elements of the
Black Bloc anarchists.

I believe in strategy. And so did many anarchists, including
Berkman, Emma Goldman, Pyotr Kropotkin and Mikhail
Bakunin.

By the time ruling elites are openly defied, there has already
been a nearly total loss of faith in the ideas, in our case free
market capitalism and globalization, that sustain the structures
of the ruling elites.

And once enough people get it, a process that can take years, “the
slow, quiet, and peaceful social evolution becomes quick, militant,
and violent,” as Berkman wrote, “Evolution becomes revolution.”

This is where we are headed. I do not say this because I am a
supporter of revolution. I am not.

I prefer the piecemeal and incremental reforms of a functioning
democracy.

I prefer a system in which our social institutions permit the
citizenry to nonviolently dismiss those in authority.

I prefer a system in which institutions are independent and not
captive to corporate power.

But we do not live in such a system. Revolt is the only option left.

Ruling elites, once the ideas that justify their existence are dead,
resort to force. It is their final clutch at power.

If a nonviolent popular movement is able to ideologically disarm the
bureaucrats, civil servants and police, to get them, in essence, to
defect, nonviolent revolution is possible.

But if the state can organize effective and prolonged violence
against dissent, it spawns reactive revolutionary violence, or
what the state calls terrorism.

Violent revolutions usually give rise to revolutionaries as ruthless
as their adversaries.

“Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he
does not become a monster,” Friedrich Nietzsche wrote.

“And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze
back into you.”

Violent revolutions are always tragic. I, and many other activists,
seek to keep our uprising nonviolent.

We seek to spare the country the savagery of domestic violence by
both the state and its opponents.

There is no guarantee that we will succeed, especially with the
corporate state controlling a vast internal security apparatus and
militarized police forces.

But we must try.

Corporations, freed from all laws, government regulations and
internal constraints, are stealing as much as they can, as fast
as they can, on the way down.

The managers of corporations no longer care about the effects of
their pillage. Many expect the systems they are looting to fall apart.

They are blinded by personal greed and hubris.

They believe their obscene wealth can buy them security and
protection.

They should have spent a little less time studying management in
business school and a little more time studying human nature and
human history.

They are digging their own graves.

Our shift to corporate totalitarianism, like the shift to all forms
of totalitarianism, is incremental.

Totalitarian systems ebb and flow, sometimes taking one step
back before taking two steps forward, as they erode democratic
liberalism.

This process is now complete.

The “consent of the governed” is a cruel joke.

Barack Obama cannot defy corporate power any more than
George W. Bush or Bill Clinton could.

Unlike his two immediate predecessors, Bush, who is intellectually
and probably emotionally impaired, did not understand the
totalitarian process abetted by the presidency.

Because Clinton and Obama, and their Democratic Party,
understand the destructive roles they played and are
playing, they must be seen as far more cynical and far
more complicit in the ruination of the country.

Democratic politicians speak in the familiar “I-feel-your-pain”
language of the liberal class while allowing corporations to strip
us of personal wealth and power.

They are effective masks for corporate power.

The corporate state seeks to maintain the fiction of our personal
agency in the political and economic process.

As long as we believe we are participants, a lie sustained through
massive propaganda campaigns, endless and absurd election cycles
and the pageantry of empty political theater, our corporate
oligarchs rest easy in their private jets, boardrooms, penthouses
and mansions.

As the bankruptcy of corporate capitalism and globalization is
exposed, the ruling elite are increasingly nervous.

They know that if the ideas that justify their power die, they
are finished.

This is why voices of dissent, as well as spontaneous uprisings such
as the Occupy movement, are ruthlessly crushed by the corporate
state.

“... [M]any ideas, once held to be true, have come to be regarded
as wrong and evil,” Berkman wrote in his essay.

“Thus the ideas of the divine right of kings, of slavery and serfdom.
There was a time when the whole world believed those institutions
to be right, just, and unchangeable. In the measure that those
superstitions and false beliefs were fought by advanced thinkers,
they became discredited and lost their hold upon the people,
and finally the institutions that incorporated those ideas were
abolished. Highbrows will tell you that they had ‘outlived’ their
‘usefulness’ and therefore they ‘died.’ But how did they ‘outlive’
their ‘usefulness’? To whom were they useful, and how did they
‘die’? We know already that they were useful only to the master
class, and they were done away with by popular uprisings and
revolutions.”

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/our_invisible_revolution_
20131028

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Prayer For The Dying

Prayer For The Dying

By Seal
October 27, 2103

Fearless people,
Careless needle.

Harsh words spoken,
And lives are broken.

Forceful ageing,
Help me I'm fading.

Heaven's waiting,
It's time to move on.

Crossing that bridge,
With lessons I've learned.

Playing with fire,
And not getting burned.

I may not know what you're going through.

But time is the space,
Between me and you.

Life carries on... it goes on.

Just say die,
And that would be pessimistic.

In your mind,
We can walk across water.

Please don't cry,
It's just a prayer for the dying.

I just don't know what's got into me.

Been crossin' that bridge,
With lessons I've learned.

Playing with fire,
And not getting burned.

I may not know what you're going through.

But time is the space,
Between me and you.

There is a light through that window.

Hold on say yes, while people say no,
Life carries on.

It goes on.

I'm crossing that bridge,
With lessons I've learned.

I'm playing with fire,
And not getting burned.

I may not know what you're going through.

But time is the space,
Between me and you.

There is a light through that window.

Hold on say yes, while people say no,
Cause life carries on.

It goes on.

It goes on.

Life carries on.

When nothing else matters.

When nothing else matters.

I just don't know what's got into me.

It's just a prayer for the dying.

For the dying.

http://www.metrolyrics.com/prayer-for-the-dying-lyrics-seal.html

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Criminal Careers Create Career Criminals

Criminal Careers Create Career Criminals

By Ethan Indigo Smith
Opednews.com
October 26, 2013

The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry.
Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out
if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but
leaves, because it was not the season for figs. Then he said
to the tree, "May no one ever eat fruit from you again." And
his disciples heard him say it. ~Mark 11:12-14 and 11:20-25

We live in a war world, a seemingly perpetual global military
industrial complex, where all that is built is created to destroy.

We are all trained and confused to be hateful of brothers and to
see others as brothers only if they fit into adopted institutional
veils.

Society is so confused we do not know the difference between
living and machine, between moral and legal, between
indoctrination and freedom, between our thinking and our
training.

You and I form brotherhood. That' it, that's all.

Any other institutional dogma or requirement put forth on
brotherhood is complete confusion to give away instinctual
understanding of morality and adopt institutional legality.

We are all brothers.

People who wear uniforms often are referred to as brothers, but
just because you wear a leaf from the institutional tree doesn't
mean you wear moral authority or are more a part of a brotherhood
than those who don't.

You and I form brotherhood, not the uniforms, not the leaves
off the tree.

No heroes ever wear uniforms, many acts of heroism are performed
while wearing uniforms, but all the great heroes, prophets, and
brothers, never wear leaves, of institutional trees.

In fact the more we look at history, the more we can see that
every war has laid the groundwork for every future war.

The career criminals are inspired to become so because of the
uniformed criminal careers in the perpetual war world.

There are drug cartels because of the prison industrial complex
prohibition that began with marijuana prohibition.

The institutional tree of the global prison industrial complex, a
relative of the military industrial complex, is simply a corporate
charlatan and anyone wears the uniform is not a brother, but an
institutional tool.

You and I form brotherhood, not a uniform.

Take a look at the history of uniforms.

As people grow weary of wearing them and fighting for destructive
institutional trees, new uniforms are sewn to get new recruits
excited about donning them and adopting the outline presented by
the institutional tree and shedding their humanity, their
compassionate brotherhood.

Take a look at what institutional tools wearing uniforms, leaves
of the tree, have done to the indigenous people of the world, the
indigenous people of the world who like Jesus, and Gandhi, would
never wear a uniform to feel that you and I form.

Take a look at the microcosm of New Brunswick.

People with uniforms have taken from them for generations and
today allow institutional trees to harvest the blood of Earth Mother
from beneath their feet through fracking.

All they have left is clean water and the uniformed brothers
stomp them down.

There is no need to be angry at the people in uniforms, it is
like being angry dogs for peeing on posts, it's just what they
do.

The people in uniforms are only confused.

They were trained and indoctrinated in the war world to think
that people, places, and things, are posts for the big dogs, the
authoritative institutions to do what they want.

Take the uniform off.

You were born in the brotherhood of man, uniforms are merely
institutional leaves off the evil tree that often shame the wearer.

Whether it is immoral prohibition or immoral promotion, in the
case of the oligarchical energy interests that destroy air and
water and the essence of our wellbeing at every turn, it doesn't
matter the legality as far as measure of morality is concerned.

Wrong is wrong no matter if, as in Canada, the destructive
resource extraction is sanctified by the Queen of England.

When moral and legal align, you have benefit for all and when
they do not, when oligarchical institutions collectivize, people
are robbed of everything.

There are four types of acts relative to legality and morality,
morality using the Golden Rule as our level; moral and legal,
moral and illegal, immoral and legal, immoral and illegal.

Peace to the brotherhood of man.

In contrast to Halloween, in light of the spiritually ascended
brotherhood of man, take the uniforms and costumes off and
you will see real heroes do not wear leaves of institutional
trees bearing no fruit.

http://www.opednews.com/articles/Criminal-Careers-Create-Ca
-by-Ethan-Indigo-Smith-Criminal-Justice_Criminalizing-Dissent_Cr
iminalizing-The-Poor_Criminally-Complict-131020-254.html

Thursday, October 24, 2013

America On Fire

America On Fire

By William Rivers Pitt
Information Clearing House
October 24, 2013

At this moment, a sizable percentage of southeastern Australia
is on fire.

More than 62 separate wildfires are raging, the three largest of
which are poised to merge into a single monstrous "mega-fire"
that could eventually threaten the suburbs of Sydney, or even
the city itself.

Hundreds of homes have been destroyed, power has been lost in
thousands of others, and the entire state of New South Wales is
under a state of emergency.

If those three large fires merge, fire officials are deeply
pessimistic about their ability to get the situation under
control.

The rural area where the conflagration began is prone to wildfires,
though not at this unprecedented scale, but that did not stop New
South Wales Premier Barry O'Farrell from successfully spearheading
an effort to slash millions of dollars in funding from the Rural Fire
Services that are now desperately trying to contain the destruction.

Mr. O'Farrell is a fiscal conservative, because of course he is.

"There is not much we can do except wish those extraordinary
volunteers and paid firefighters out there every success and
every luck," said O'Farrell earlier this week.

He's exactly right, too.

Cut their funds and wish them luck as the flames lick their heels.

It's the conservative way.

Here on the other side of the world in America, another sort of
fire is threatening to burn out the futures of millions of people.

A bunch of billionaires are working hammer and tong with their
bottomless pockets, their hired Congressional stooges, their
idolaters in the press, and all those useful idiots who hate
government but love Medicare and always vote, to destroy
Social Security and Medicare because government programs that
actually work really well are the enemy, and must be scourged.

At the forefront of this crusade is the Peter G. Peterson
Foundation,which has already spent a billion dollars trying
to convince Congress to come together on a "Grand Bargain"
that eviscerates the social safety net represented by Social
Security and Medicare, which are only the two most successful
and important government programs besides the GI Bill.

Peterson's wingman is billionaire Stanley Druckenmiller, formerly of
Duquesne Capital, who is spending gobs of cash trying to convince
young people that Social Security is the reason they're looking down
the barrel at an increasingly grim economic future.

Wall Street Journal columnist James Freeman described on Monday
how the heroic Druckenmiller "has been touring college campuses
promoting a message of income redistribution you don't hear out
of Washington. It's how federal entitlements like Medicare and
Social Security are letting Mr. Druckenmiller's generation rip off
all those doting Barack Obama voters in Generation X, Y and Z."

Robert Kuttner of The American Prospect had this to say about
the conniving nonsense being spewed by Druckenmiller and his
pals in the press:

"Where to start? If you itemize all the reasons why recent college graduates face a wretched economy, Social Security doesn't even make the list. What does make the list are unreliable jobs that pay lousy wages, the aftereffects of a financial bubble created on Wall Street, and unaffordable college that leaves graduates starting life with more than a trillion dollars worth of debt."

The biggest lie in Druckenmiller's crusade is the premise that the
income distribution problem is somehow generational and that he,
as a billionaire, has anything whatever in common with most
college students or most recipients of Social Security.

One of his pitches to students is that Social Security is excessive
because he, a very wealthy man, receives it but doesn't need it.

But for the vast majority of the elderly, Social Security is a lifeline,
and a meager one at that.

Some two-thirds of all seniors depend on Social Security for half
of their income.

Fully 46 percent of elderly widows and other unmarried seniors
depend on Social Security for at least 90 percent of their income.

The entire projected 75-year shortfall in the Social Security trust
funds that conservatives make such a big deal about is around
one percent of GDP per year.

We could make it up with modest tax increases on wealthy
people like Druckenmiller.

Mr. Kuttner's excellent analysis of the reasons why young
people today face a brutal economic future left out a few
things.

Spending on "defense" in America accounts for almost five
percent of GDP, and that's just the stuff on the books.

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were funded via supplemental
spending bills outside the federal budget, and that tab has twelve
zeroes on it more than $1,000,000,000,000 and counting.

Then there is the Black Book, the secret stuff we aren't allowed
to know about, because freedom and stuff.

Plus all the handouts to corporate America.

Plus the incredibly kind tax rate for billionaires like Drukenmiller,
who have stashed a vast chunk of their fortunes in secret overseas
bunkers, so as to be spared the agony of paying a pittance in taxes
to help the workers who made them rich when they get old and sick.

And yet, as ever, the impulse in America's delusional center-right
and more right political discourse is to ignore these glaring
problems, which are, in themselves, very simple solutions if they
could ever be properly addressed, and go after Grandma and the
Social Security check she depends on, and which she has already
paid for.

In Australia, the fear is that the fires being battled by heroic public
servants who got their funding cut were initially started by arsonists.

In America, the arsonists are in Congress, on Wall Street,
and in the White House, to no small degree.

As these budget negotiations commence, and cuts to Social Security
and Medicare are bandied about as, "the responsible thing to do" it
is the American people who will have to stand on the fire line and
contain the pyromaniacs in whatever way we can.



William Rivers Pitt is a Truthout editor and columnist. He is also
a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of three
books: "War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know,"
"The Greatest Sedition Is Silence" and "House of Ill Repute:
Reflections on War, Lies, and America's Ravaged Reputation."

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article36625.htm

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Let’s Get This Class War Started

Let’s Get This Class War Started

By Chris Hedges
TruthDig.com
October 22, 2013

“The rich are different from us,” F. Scott Fitzgerald is said
to have remarked to Ernest Hemingway, to which Hemingway
allegedly replied, “Yes, they have more money.”

The exchange, although it never actually took place, sums up
a wisdom Fitzgerald had that eluded Hemingway. The rich are
different.

The cocoon of wealth and privilege permits the rich to turn
those around them into compliant workers, hangers-on,
servants, flatterers and sycophants.

Wealth breeds, as Fitzgerald illustrated in “The Great Gatsby”
and his short story “The Rich Boy,” a class of people for whom
human beings are disposable commodities.

Colleagues, associates, employees, kitchen staff, servants,
gardeners, tutors, personal trainers, even friends and family,
bend to the whims of the wealthy or disappear.

Once oligarchs achieve unchecked economic and political power, as
they have in the United States, the citizens too become disposable.

The public face of the oligarchic class bears little resemblance to
the private face.

I, like Fitzgerald, was thrown into the embrace of the upper crust
when young.

I was shipped off as a scholarship student at the age of 10 to an
exclusive New England boarding school.

I had classmates whose fathers, fathers they rarely saw, arrived
at the school in their limousines accompanied by personal
photographers (and at times their mistresses), so the press
could be fed images of rich and famous men playing the role
of good fathers.

I spent time in the homes of the ultra-rich and powerful, watching
my classmates, who were children, callously order around men and
women who worked as their chauffeurs, cooks, nannies and servants.

When the sons and daughters of the rich get into serious trouble
there are always lawyers, publicists and political personages to
protect them, George W. Bush’s life is a case study in the insidious
affirmative action for the rich.

The rich have a snobbish disdain for the poor, despite well-
publicized acts of philanthropy, and the middle class.

These lower classes are viewed as uncouth parasites, annoyances
that have to be endured, at times placated and always controlled
in the quest to amass more power and money.

My hatred of authority, along with my loathing for the pretensions,
heartlessness and sense of entitlement of the rich, comes from
living among the privileged.

It was a deeply unpleasant experience. But it exposed me to their
insatiable selfishness and hedonism. I learned, as a boy, who were
my enemies.

The inability to grasp the pathology of our oligarchic rulers is one
of our gravest faults.

We have been blinded to the depravity of our ruling elite by the
relentless propaganda of public relations firms that work on behalf
of corporations and the rich.

Compliant politicians, clueless entertainers and our vapid,
corporate-funded popular culture, which holds up the rich as
leaders to emulate and assures us that through diligence and
hard work we can join them, keep us from seeing the truth.

“They were careless people, Tom and Daisy,” Fitzgerald wrote
of the wealthy couple at the center of Gatsby’s life.

“They smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back
into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was
that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess
they had made.”

Aristotle, Niccolò Machiavelli, Alexis de Tocqueville, Adam Smith
and Karl Marx all began from the premise there is a natural
antagonism between the rich and the masses.

“Those who have too much of the goods of fortune, strength,
wealth, friends, and the like, are neither willing nor able to
submit to authority,” Aristotle wrote in “Politics.”

“The evil begins at home; for when they are boys, by reason of
the luxury in which they are brought up, they never learn, even
at school, the habit of obedience.”

Oligarchs, these philosophers knew, are schooled in the mechanisms
of manipulation, subtle and overt repression and exploitation to
protect their wealth and power at our expense.

Foremost among their mechanisms of control is the control of ideas.

Ruling elites ensure that the established intellectual class is
subservient to an ideology, in this case free market capitalism
and globalization, that justifies their greed.

“The ruling ideas are nothing more than the ideal expression of the
dominant material relationships,” Marx wrote, “the dominant
material relationships grasped as ideas.”

The blanket dissemination of the ideology of free market capitalism
through the media and the purging, especially in academia, of
critical voices have permitted our oligarchs to orchestrate the
largest income inequality gap in the industrialized world.

The top 1 percent in the United States own 40 percent of
the nation’s wealth while the bottom 80 percent own only
7 percent, as Joseph E. Stiglitz wrote in, “The Price of
Inequality.”

For every dollar that the wealthiest 0.1 percent amassed in 1980
they had an additional $3 in yearly income in 2008, David Cay
Johnston explained in the article “9 Things the Rich Don’t Want
You to Know About Taxes.”

The bottom 90 percent, Johnson said, in the same period added
only one cent.

Half of the country is now classified as poor or low-income.

The real value of the minimum wage has fallen by $2.77 since
1968.

Oligarchs do not believe in self-sacrifice for the common good.

They never have. They never will. They are the cancer of democracy.

“We Americans are not usually thought to be a submissive people,
but of course we are,” Wendell Berry writes.

“Why else would we allow our country to be destroyed?

Why else would we be rewarding its destroyers?

Why else would we all, by proxies we have given to greedy
corporations, and corrupt politicians, be participating in its
destruction?

Most of us are still too sane to piss in our own cistern, but
we allow others to do so and we reward them for it.

We reward them so well, in fact, that those who piss in our
cistern are wealthier than the rest of us.

How do we submit? By not being radical enough. Or by not
being thorough enough, which is the same thing.”

The rise of an oligarchic state offers a nation two routes,
according to Aristotle.

The impoverished masses either revolt to rectify the imbalance
of wealth and power or the oligarchs establish a brutal tyranny
to keep the masses forcibly enslaved.

We have chosen the second of Aristotle’s options.

The slow advances we made in the early 20th century through
unions, government regulation, the New Deal, the courts, an
alternative press and mass movements have been reversed.

The oligarchs are turning us, as they did in the 19th century
steel and textile factories, into disposable human beings.

They are building the most pervasive security and surveillance
apparatus in human history to keep us submissive.

This imbalance would not have disturbed most of our
Founding Fathers.

The Founding Fathers, largely wealthy slaveholders, feared
direct democracy.

They rigged our political process to thwart popular rule and
protect the property rights of the native aristocracy.

The masses were to be kept at bay.

The Electoral College, the original power of the states to appoint
senators, the disenfranchisement of women, Native Americans,
African-Americans and men without property locked most people
out of the democratic process at the beginning of the republic.

We had to fight for our voice.

Hundreds of workers were killed and thousands were wounded in
our labor wars.

The violence dwarfed the labor battles in any other industrialized
nation.

The democratic openings we achieved were fought for and paid
for with the blood of abolitionists, African-Americans, suffragists,
workers and those in the anti-war and civil rights movements.

Our radical movements, repressed and ruthlessly dismantled in the
name of anti-communism, were the real engines of equality and
social justice.

The squalor and suffering inflicted on workers by the oligarchic
class in the 19th century is mirrored in the present, now that we
have been stripped of protection.

Dissent is once again a criminal act.

The Mellons, Rockefellers and Carnegies at the turn of the
last century sought to create a nation of masters and serfs.

The modern corporate incarnation of this 19th century
oligarchic elite has created a worldwide neofeudalism,
where workers across the planet toil in misery, while
corporate oligarchs amass hundreds of millions in personal
wealth.

There is no way within the system to defy the demands
of Wall Street, the fossil fuel industry or war profiteers.

The only route left to us, as Aristotle knew, is revolt.

Class struggle defines most of human history.

Marx got this right.

The sooner we realize that we are locked in deadly warfare with
our ruling, corporate elite, the sooner we will realize that these
elites must be overthrown.

The corporate oligarchs have now seized all institutional systems
of power in the United States.

Electoral politics, internal security, the judiciary, our universities,
the arts and finance, along with nearly all forms of communication,
are in corporate hands.

Our democracy, with faux debates between two corporate parties,
is meaningless political theater.

There is no way within the system to defy the demands
of Wall Street, the fossil fuel industry or war profiteers.

The only route left to us, as Aristotle knew, is revolt.

It is not a new story. The rich, throughout history, have found
ways to subjugate and re-subjugate the masses.

And the masses, throughout history, have cyclically awoken to
throw off their chains.

The ceaseless fight in human societies between the despotic power
of the rich and the struggle for justice and equality lies at the heart
of Fitzgerald’s novel, which uses the story of Gatsby to carry out a
fierce indictment of capitalism.

Fitzgerald was reading Oswald Spengler’s “The Decline of the West”
as he was writing “The Great Gatsby.”

Spengler predicted that, as Western democracies calcified and
died, a class of “monied thugs” would replace the traditional
political elites.

Spengler was right about that.

“There are only two or three human stories,” Willa Cather wrote,
“and they go on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they had
never happened before.”

The seesaw of history has thrust the oligarchs once again into
the sky.

We sit humiliated and broken on the ground.

It is an old battle.

It has been fought over and over in human history.

We never seem to learn.

It is time to grab our pitchforks.



Chris Hedges writes a regular column for Truthdig.com. Hedges
graduated from Harvard Divinity School and was for nearly two
decades a foreign correspondent for The New York Times and he
is the author of many books.

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/lets_get_this_class_war _started_20131020

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Crisis of Representation and The Liberation of Self

The Crisis of Representation and The Liberation of Self

To overcome the crisis of democracy and reaffirm our autonomy,
we first of all need to liberate our empty self from mindless
consumerism and conformity.

By Nozomi Hayase
Roarmag.org
October 20, 2013

Half a year into Obama’s second term, it has become clear what
has been done under his watch.

He brought to the world massive banking fraud, drone attacks,
indefinite detention, assassination of US citizens and an
unprecedented war on whistleblowers.

The rhetoric of hope and change has finally and undeniably
revealed its true colors.

Prominent dissident intellectual Noam Chomsky has remarked how
Obama’s assault on civil liberties has progressed beyond anything
he could have imagined.

All of these tell-tale signs mark the slippery slide toward
totalitarianism that seems to now be escalating.

Edward Snowden’s NSA files unveiled to the world mass global
surveillance and the fact that the USA has become the United
Stasi of America.

The decay of democracy in the United States is now undeniable,
as all branches of the federal government have begun to betray
the very ideals this country was founded on.

The exposed NSA stories have had a serious global impact,
challenging the credibility of the US on all levels.

Under a relentless secrecy regime, the criminalization of journalism
and any true dissent has become the new norm.

In recent months, a pattern of attacks on journalism has unfolded.

Examples include the APA scandal of the Department of Justice’s
seizure of telephone records, the tapping of Fox News reporter
James Rosen’s private emails and the British government’s
detention of David Miranda, partner of the Glenn Greenwald, the
primary journalist breaking the NSA story.

On top of these recent developments, a media shield law has
moved forward in Washington.

The Senate Judiciary Committee passed a bill that narrowly defines
what a journalist can be, thus taking away First Amendment
protections from new forms of media.

All of this points not only towards deep threats to press freedom,
but to a general trend toward excessive state control and a
centralization of power.

The American corporate media takes all this in stride with a
business-as-usual attitude that carries the meme of “Keep Calm
and Carry On”.

After the NSA revelations, author Ted Rall posed the question on
everyone’s lips: “Why are Americans so passive”?

Obama’s blatant violations of the Fourth Amendment have reached
far beyond Richard Nixon’s Watergate scandal in 1974 that led him
to resign under threat of impeachment.

In the midst of Obama’s aggressive persecution of those who shine
light on government crimes, where are all the courageous Americans?

How have the people allowed such egregious acts by the
government against the Constitution?

As scandals of the NSA continue to shed light on a further
subversion of basic privacy within the internet, the drumbeat
of war, as Obama prepared for an attack on Syria, seemed to
be no coincidence.

Although Snowden’s revelations began to stir up debate and
efforts for reform across the country, compared with mass
protests breaking out in countries like Turkey and Brazil, the
scale of the response has been relatively small and hasn’t
reached the full swing needed for meaningful change.

One can ask: do Americans even care or are they so defeated and
disempowered by a corporatized war machine they feel there is
nothing they can do at all?

The Slowly Boiling Frog and the ‘Good American’

One of the reasons for public passivity is the normalization over
time of radical politics.

The metaphor of the slowly boiling frog comes to mind.

A frog would not jump out of a hot pot if the temperature slowly
rises over time.

The frog’s instinctual reaction to boiling water can be compared
to an innate sense within us that detects dangerous, radical
or controlling agendas and blatant unconstitutional and illegal
actions of governments or corporations.

Our sense to feel the changes of temperature in the habitat of
this supposedly democratic society has been rendered dull and
has eventually been incapacitated altogether by subversion and
perception management.

This control of perception is seen most blatantly in US politics,
with the manufactured pendulum between a faux right and left.

For instance, the handling of the issue of raising the federal debt
ceiling in 2011 illustrates this machination of perception control.

Michael Hudson, President of the Institute for the Study of
Long-Term Economic Trends, spoke of how the rhetoric of
crisis is used to rush through profoundly unpopular and
otherwise impossible agendas:

"Just like after 9/11, the Pentagon pulled out a plan for Iraq’s oil
fields, Wall Street has a plan to really clean up now, to really put
the class war back in business … They’re pushing for a crisis to let
Mr. Obama rush through the Republican plan. Now, in order for him
to do it, the Republicans have to play good cop, bad cop. They have
to have the Tea Party move so far to the right, take so crazy a
position, that Mr. Obama seems reasonable by comparison. And, of
course, he is not reasonable. He’s a Wall Street Democrat, which
we used to call Republicans."

The definition of liberal can move as opponents shift views.

There is a false partisanship that slowly makes the public feel
comfortable with what are actually quite radical and inhumane
ideas and actions.

This subversive form of perception management appears
to have reached its height with the current presidency.

This administration, with its crafted image of the ‘progressive
Obama’, has successfully co-opted the left and marched it into
supporting neoconservative policies that they once claimed to
reject.

Glenn Greenwald, for instance, has described Obama as much more
effective in institutionalizing abusive and exploitative policies than
any Republican president could ever dream of being.

He points out, for instance, how “Mitt Romney never would have
been able to cut Social Security or target Medicare, because there
would have been an enormous eruption of anger and intense,
sustained opposition by Democrats and progressives accusing him
of all sorts of things.”

On the contrary, Greenwald continues, Obama would “bring
Democrats and progressives along with him and to lead them
to support and get on board with things that they have sworn
they would never, ever be able to support.”

In his Death of the Liberal Class, Chris Hedges called the election
of Obama a “triumph of illusion over substance”, and “a skillful
manipulation and betrayal of the public by a corporate power elite.”

Hedges points out how Obama was chosen as the Advertising Age’s
marketer of the year in 2008 and that, “the goal of a branded
Obama, as with all brands, was to make passive consumers mistake
a brand for an experience.”

This subversive form of control seems to have evolved
beyond the political tactics of the past.

During the Bush era, manipulation was much more blunt.

Naomi Klein, author of The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster
Capitalism, outlined the state’s use of public disorientation during
crises and catastrophes for purposes of manipulation.

Klein shows how, from natural disasters to terrorists attacks,
the state exploits crises by taking advantage of the public’s
psychologically vulnerable state to push through its own radical
pro-market agenda.

A prime example of this Shock Doctrine was the lead-up to the
invasion of Iraq.

After the 9/11 implosions of the Twin Towers, a climate of fear was
manufactured using the rhetoric of a “war on terror”, accompanied
by the repeated images of those towers collapsing.

This, in turn, was followed by Secretary of State Colin Powell’s
shameful performance of deceit at the UN Security Council about
Iraq’s supposed weapons of mass destruction.

Before the public recovered from the horrendous tragedy, the
nation was rail-roaded into an illegal war.

Obama’s manufactured brand has until now been quite effective
in hiding its real intentions and those of its corporate overlords.

The late comedian George Carlin pointed to the emergence of
creeping total government control, saying that “when fascism
comes to America, it will not be in brown and black shirts. It
will not be with Jack-boots. It will be with Nike sneakers and
smiley shirts.”

Under this guise of a liberal president, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate
and constitutional scholar, Obama seems able to get away with
policies unheard of since the last attempt at building up an imperial
totalitarian state.

The pretence of liberalism normalizes the most extreme policies
with glib rhetoric of national security, thus neutralizing any
oppositional force.

In responding to recent NSA leaks, Obama justified the state’s
espionage campaign as a vital part of the government’s counter-
terrorism efforts, remarking that privacy is a necessary sacrifice
for assuring security.

What has unfolded in the US political and social landscape is a
kind of numbing of the senses.

The machinations of public relations, tawdry distractions and
manufactured desires create an artificial social fabric.

It is as if a layer of skin has been added around the body that
prevents us from having direct contact with the real fabric of
our immediate environment.

Entertainment and corporate ads desensitize us.

They create a lukewarm feel-good political bath replacing authentic
human experience with pseudo-reality.

This artificially installed skin intermediates our experience of
actual events.

It misinforms those inside the boiling pan, and prevents them
from getting to know the world through direct experience.

Martin Luther King, Jr. once said that “history will have to record
that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not
the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of
good people.”

History has shown how many people remain silent while witnessing
the most egregious crimes against humanity.

During the rise of Hitler in Germany, it was the ‘Good Germans’
who became bystanders, supporting by default the horrendous
acts of one man and allowing him to dictate life and death
within an entire nation.

At the ceremony of the prestigious German whistleblower prize in
Germany, the acceptance speech from Edward Snowden was read
by security researcher and activist Jacob Appelbaum.

Appelbaum spoke to the audience of how he now lives in Berlin
because in his home country of the United States, true journalism
has become a dangerous trade.

He conveyed the importance of not forgetting history and asked all
Germans to share with Americans their history and experience with
totalitarianism.

Numbed people of nations in the grip of fear easily lose connection
with reality.

Once we are divorced from our own senses, we come to rely on
these signals from outside and regard them as our own.

This creates a blind obedience to perceived outside authority, and
in face of abuses and injustice it is all too easy to become passive
and silent.

No one person or nation is immune from this and the American
people are far from an exception.

As Snowden put it, we now live in a global turnkey tyranny.

The key to overt fascism has not yet been turned, but smiley
faces are everywhere.

In the slowly boiling water of the United States of Amnesia, it
may be that many are now becoming the ‘Good Americans’ who
won’t speak up before it’s too late.

The Empty Self and Representation As a New Authority

How have the American people lost touch with reality?

What made them so vulnerable to manipulation and political
and media misinformation?

No doubt the corporate media played a large role in the controlling
of perception, yet there is something deeper at work.

The root causes of the passivity and apathy of the populace can be
better understood by looking into a particular configuration of self
that has emerged in Western history.

In Constructing the Self, Constructing America, psychoanalyst
Phillip Cushman analyzed how in the post-WWII United States,
modern industrialization broke down the traditional social bonds
and restructured the reality of community.

Out of this, he argues, a specific configuration of self emerged.

Cushman called it “the empty self” — “the bounded, masterful
self” — and described how this empty self “has specific
psychological boundaries, a sense of personal agency that
is located within, and a wish to manipulate the external
world for its own personal ends”.

Cushman further characterized this empty self as one that
“experiences a significant absence of community, tradition
and shared meaning, a self that experiences these social
absences and their consequences ‘interiority’ as a lack of
personal conviction and worth; a self that embodies the
absences, loneliness, and disappointments of life as a chronic,
undifferentiated emotional hunger.”

Cushman argued how this new configuration of self and its
emotional hunger was indispensable to the development of
US consumer culture.

Stuart Ewen, in his classic, Captains of Consciousness, explored how
modern advertising was used as a direct response to the needs of
industrial capitalism through its functioning as an instrument for
the “the creation of desires and habits”: “The vision of freedom
which was being offered to Americans was one which continually
relegated people to consumption, passivity and spectatorship.”

Ewen saw this in the economic shift from production to
consumption and in the personal identity shift from citizens
to consumers.

It did not take long for this covert manipulation of desires to be
widely used for advancing certain economic or political agendas.

Through unpacking his uncle Freud’s study of the unconscious, the
father of modern corporate advertising, Edward Bernays, gained
insight into the power of subterranean desires as a tool for
manipulation.

In Propaganda, Bernays put forth the idea that “the conscious and
intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the
masses is an important element in democratic society.

Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute
an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our
country.”

This deliberate work of controlling perception came to be
understood as propaganda, and has been identified as “the
executive arm of the invisible government.”

How does this invisible force of governance work?

How is such an effective manipulation of desires on such a mass
scale accomplished?

It has to do with mechanisms of the unconscious; desires and drives
that most people don’t even know exist.

Psychoanalyst Carl Jung took Freud’s discovery of the unconscious
and examined the phenomena he identified as projection.

Jung described how one meets one’s repressed materials in the
form of projections outside and that this projecting is carried out
unconsciously.

The marketing and PR industries channel our psychological needs,
then convert them into specific desires for certain products or
political candidates.

This manipulation of desires relies on the ability to craft effective
images of products that would induce the involuntary process of
projection from the individual.

Whether it is images of elected officials or celebrities, the latest
laundry soap or high definition TV screens, images outside present
themselves as something that speaks to internal desires.

They quickly appear before us as desirable objects and the
representation of unconscious desires.

Representation thus becomes simply an externalization of those
unconscious and internal desires and emotions that are mostly
unknown to us.

The manipulation of desires in a form of representation squashes
our capacity to create images.

Instead, images are imposed upon us from the outside.

We lose connection with our own desires and, not knowing the real
roots of our emotions and drives, we are cheated in the act of
determining our own actions.

Activity of imagining is interrupted and short-circuited to a finished
product as multiple ways of manifesting our desires are narrowed
down to the simple act of consuming.

We become passive and end up carrying out the will of others.

Representation places the source of legitimacy outside of oneself.

Whether it is a corporate brand name, political party, an ideology
or slogan, one looks for objects of representation through which
something inside can be projected out onto the world.

A good example is seen in the US political system, in the so-called
representative form of government: the system of electing officials
to whom power is delegated to enact changes on behalf of the people.

Another example can be found in the operation of corporations,
where individuals, through the purchase of company stock, become
shareholders and supposedly indirectly influence the direction of
the corporation.

The theory is that the corporation as an entity could represent
their economic interests.

Many began to regard these outer forms as possessing intrinsic
authority, giving them power to govern and influence their own
lives, when in reality what underlies both cases is simply something
that represents what lives in us unconsciously.

The mechanism of representation harvests a mindset that makes
people believe real solutions to problems can only come from
somewhere outside, often from those very people who are divorced
from and not really affected by any of those problems.

With the advent of consumer culture and the apparatus of image
manufacturing that further reinforced the conditions of the empty
self, the notion of representation has come to form a new authority.

Unlike the traditional authority of churches and the nuclear family,
in representation an authority is internalized and its force of
control becomes more unrecognizable to those under its governance.

Cushman noted that “The only way corporate capitalism and the
state could influence and control the population was by making
their control invisible, that is, by making it appear as though
various feelings and opinions originate solely from within the
individual.”

This is seen most clearly in electoral politics, where candidates are
pre-approved and outcomes are manipulated, yet we are made to
believe we are actually making rational, independent and individual
decisions about who best represents our common interest, when in
reality there is no real choice and we often end up voting against
our own self-interest.

Beneath the universally celebrated idea of freedom lies the false
freedom of an illusion of choice.

We no longer connect with the source of our desires.

Our human needs have become intermediated and manipulated
by corporate interests.

What is engineered in the guise of individualism is actually a new
form of conformity.

When the forces of control became invisible through the merging
with the self, it became much more difficult for us to challenge the
legitimacy of unequal power relations, or even to recognize them
for what they are.

Crisis of Representation and Autonomy of Self

The centralized control and coercive power of the state
and corporations lies in their ability to sustain the image of
representation through careful manipulation, by creating a
strong emotional bond within individuals.

This bond of representation gives those in power access to
unconscious desires.

Those who control the image of representation can then generate
motives and impulses and govern the will of a mass of people
seemingly without exercising direct control over them.

The media have played a crucial role in the control and distortion
of these images of representation, hiding the real actions of those
who claim to represent us.

TV commercials allure us with images of perfect products and
suitable political candidates, products and politicians are sold
as a solution to everyday problems.

Yet some signs of deep change are arising.

Images of representation are no longer so easily held.

Many who use social media and who are used to sharing information
are suddenly beginning to challenge the monopolized image and
single-message echo chamber of the consolidated media.

When one is surrounded by a multiplicity of images that are not
produced by or mediated through outside powers, the projection
that once mesmerized us can no longer exercise its traditional
power.

As a result, the legitimacy of these external forms of authority
is now being challenged.

Waves of whistleblowing have emerged in recent years, from
Chelsea Manning, to Edward Snowden, combined with the power
of social media and courageous journalist like those at WikiLeaks,
who continue to counteract the propaganda.

Recent protest movements around the world have been challenging
the perception of authority of the nation state and its governance
models as well.

The year 2011 marked the beginning of worldwide uprisings.

Movements from abroad found resonance in North America.

Inspired by people’s struggles overseas, the disfranchised American
rose up, taking to the streets at the centers of wealth and
corruption.

Occupy Wall Street, which began in the fall of 2011, captured
the imagination of the public.

From Brazil to Turkey, Egypt to Bosnia and Bulgaria, new
insurgencies are still rolling in, challenging the legitimacy
of, “representative” governments worldwide.

What these movements from below reveal is how in virtually every
corner of the globe, democracy, as we have known it so far, is in
crisis.

Jerome Roos, a PhD researcher at the European University Institute,
synthesized the waves of revolutions since the Arab Spring of 2011
and sees them as a symptom of the global legitimation crisis of
representative institutions.

Pointing out a number of characteristics commonly shared in those
seemingly isolated events, such as disengagement from the existing
power structures and the end of political parties, he suggests that
“only radical autonomy from the state can take the revolution
forward.”

People are moving more and more outside of electoral politics.

A call is arising for a new type of governance, for a real democracy
where each person participates directly and manifests their own
voice.

This is a political act, but it is also much more.

The current crisis of democracy is a crisis of representation.

Images that perpetuate illusions about ourselves can no longer
sustain our humanity.

From Mubarak to Morsi, from Bush to Obama, the false images
and masks of leadership are beginning to fall away as people
begin to disengage with the charlatan faces of recycled puppet
leaders.

The mirror that has for too long reflected back false promises
is now being shattered.

What happens when people’s faith in institutions crumble?

We are seeing chaos and destruction as never before.

In this crisis of representation, for the first time we are left
with ourselves, empty and hollow, yet truly with ourselves.

In this nakedness lies the possibility for true freedom.

Only when our emptiness is fully confronted and accepted can
we find our true autonomy.

Only with emotions and desires that are truly our own can we
guide the world into a future that springs from the depth of
our imagination.

Who am I? Who are we? What do we want?

The rejection of false representation is a rejection of artificially
imposed identity.

Around the world, the message is loud and clear.

People are saying we are no longer to be mere consumers, passively
accepting the commercialized visions of a future handed down to
us, with corporate values and political candidates sold to us like
many brands of toothpaste.

This is a voice resonating in all these movements around the world
and calling for deep systemic change.

The thirst for real democracy is a thirst to be free.

It is the spirit that drives us to find our true aspirations within.

Our self is empty.

When society loses its grip and leaders become devoid of morals
and compassion for humanity, we need to declare autonomy from
all those outside who try to allure us and who promise to fulfill
our dreams.

By connecting back with our own desires and passions we can fulfill
the void of the empty self and transform empty slogans into real
action.

Only then will it be possible for us to become the authors of our
own lives, transform history and take charge of our common
destiny.



Nozomi Hayase is a contributing writer to Culture Unplugged.
She brings out deeper dimensions of socio-cultural events at
the intersection between politics and psychology.

http://roarmag.org/2013/10/crisis-representation-autonomy-self

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Amazing Grace

Amazing Grace

On the morning of October 09, 2013 an attempt was made on my
life by a knife wielding assailant.

I sustained a cut from my assailant's knife across my neck area,
as well as a stab/puncture wound on my left leg.

By the grace of God, my assailant missed cutting any of my
main arteries and/or my jugular vein, as he wildly swung his
knife around my head and my entire neck area.

Today I would like to personally thank Carl, Yusef, Franky, and Rob,
for saving my life on this past Wednesday morning.

Brothers, I owe each of you a very huge debt of gratitude, as well
as my life, because each of you risked your own life, as well as
your own personal safety, just to save me from this knife wielding
lunatic, and I will never, ever, ever, forget you guys, or forget what
you have now done for me.

I salute the peace, love, wisdom, faith, divinity, strength, courage,
and bravery, that dwells very deep inside of each of you and may
God, bless and keep all of you safe from harm, as each of you
continues working in your individual roles as Security Professionals,
and as "True Warriors" in the Lord's Army.

Sincerely,

Tony

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Son of God Goes Forth to War

The Son of God Goes Forth to War

By Reginald Heber
October 10, 2013

The Son of God goes forth to war,
a kingly crown to gain;
his blood red banner streams afar:
who follows in his train?

Who best can drink his cup of woe,
triumphant over pain,
who patient bears his cross below,
he follows in his train.

That martyr first, whose eagle eye
could pierce beyond the grave;
who saw his Master in the sky,
and called on him to save.

Like him, with pardon on his tongue,
in midst of mortal pain,
he prayed for them that did the wrong:
who follows in his train?

A glorious band, the chosen few
on whom the Spirit came;
twelve valiant saints, their hope they knew,
and mocked the cross and flame.

They met the tyrant's brandished steel,
the lion's gory mane;
they bowed their heads the death to feel:
who follows in their train?

A noble army, men and boys,
the matron and the maid,
around the Savior's throne rejoice,
in robes of light arrayed.

They climbed the steep ascent of heaven,
through peril, toil and pain;
O God, to us may grace be given,
to follow in their train.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

A Freedom To Live or a Freedom To Die

A Freedom To Live or a Freedom To Die

By Eve Human
Dissident Voice
October 3, 2013

What is freedom, really?

Is it the ability to do whatever you like without regard for anyone
but yourself?

Some people think so.

But more often than not there will eventually come a time of the
great hangover, when that ultimate freedom that had been sought
so diligently has somehow lost its meaning.

"Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing."

This is what Shakespeare’s Macbeth laments after his wife, driven
by her feelings of guilt, has committed suicide.

Lady Macbeth had succumbed to one form of insanity, while
her husband has succumbed to another form of it — Nihilism.

What Shakespeare knew, but would not allow his anti-hero to
recognize, is that the “tale told by an idiot” is a result not of
fate’s unpredictability but of Macbeth’s own actions in breaking
all the rules of his society, murdering the king and covering up
this murder by yet more murders.

This led then to his ever more paranoid actions of killing in
massacres everyone that might even potentially become a
threat to him.

It was those massacres and nothing else that brought on the
resistance to his rule and his eventual downfall.

Nihilism, the annihilation of societies, moral rules and values
would, according to Shakespeare, in the long run lead to self-
destruction.

For a 16th century man Shakespeare was a pretty perceptive
observer of society and human nature, and that he was far more
enlightened than many of our contemporary authors, thinkers and
social scientists.

During the 20th century many of those thinkers had come to the
conclusion that Nihilism, the overthrow of moral rules in exchange
for a perceived ultimate freedom of the individual, would create
the best of all societies.

The most important tools for this freedom for all would be the
freedom of the markets liberated from all restraints of morality
and concerns for the common good.

The unrestrained self-interest of the financial players in the global
markets would, according to those thinkers, create the best of all
worlds.

They were the models for the truly free individuals of which all
societies should be since the struggle for survival and proliferation
of one’s own genes and the fulfillment of one’s own self-interest
were the biological foundation of the human being and his real
purpose in life.

If everybody would act according to those principles, human society
as a whole would prosper.

Many of those who ascribed to this philosophy were originally
disciples of Ayn Rand and her ideas, which she called Objectivism.

One of her early followers was Alan Greenspan, former head
of the Federal Reserve and master-mind of the financial
deregulation policies in the US.

Today we know that this belief in an unrestrained market has not
only brought on the financial collapse of 2008 and the instability
of the whole financial system, but also the economic destruction
of many nations.

What the freedom of the free markets brought to most people all
over the world was the freedom to die early of malnutrition and
untreated illnesses or of violence and political instability.

To others it brought the freedom to live without a roof over their
heads or a safe source of income and steady employment.

To those who still have those things it brought the freedom of
an every day fear of loosing the little security they have and the
ability to support themselves and their families.

On the other side of the spectrum, however, the freedom for the
markets has given a tiny minority of people the liberty to increase
their wealth enormously and at the same time use this very wealth
to increase their influence on the foreign and domestic policies of
their nations and on the mass-media, which in turn has worsened
the situation even further.

In the story of Macbeth, serving one’s self-interest also includes
the use of lies, deceptions and the justification of mass-murders,
killing those who in the future might become a threat.

American foreign policies have clearly taken on the form of
Macbeth’s paranoia.

This can be seen in the NSA spying scandal even on America’s
closest allies, as well as in the threatening and the actual
destruction of any country that might show a slightly different
economic or political model.

No matter how small and insignificant these countries might
be economically or militarily, their very existence is seen as
a future impediment to the elites’ power and domination and
the fulfillment of their self-interests.

The use of violence and the destruction of ethical rules had
driven Macbeth to such a height of insanity that he could no
longer perceive his own responsibility in the events enfolding
around him.

America’s serial acts of military violence and overt and covert
warfare, and its negation of the rules of international law, have
driven the country’s political and economic elites into a similar
madness, displayed quite recently by President Obama in his
scripted UN speech, where he still insisted on America’s
exceptionalism and its military’s positive and important role in
bringing justice and stability to the world.

Some consider the speech as an example of the ultimate hypocrisy,
but it could just as well be a sign of the most pervasive form of
self-deception, a blindness to one’s own responsibility for the
pains inflicted on one’s victims, the symptoms of a psychopath.

The story of Hope and her ancestor David in, “When Hope Came”
was originally conceived as an anti-Ayn-Rand tract.

The story counters the idea that being rational means being
self-seeking and purely out for one’s own self-interest, with
the idea that the ultimate human rationality lies in altruism
and the realization that the other person’s interest must be
considered equal to one’s own for a society to be sustainable
in the long run.

Observations of recent events have shown once again that a
culture governed by the ideology of unrestrained selfishness, is
unstable and will eventually become violent towards the outside
and self-destructive inside, towards itself.

This destruction within and without will subsequently even effect
and harm those who initially profited most from their self-seeking
attitudes.

Rand’s philosophy failed in its own presumptions, that personal
survival and the fulfillment of all one’s own desires and ambitions
should be the highest goal to be achieved in every individual’s life.

When looking at the observed outcome of Ayn Rand’s Objectivism,
her ideas turned out not to be rational but rather irrational, since
they have sacrificed long term survival and well-being of the
individual and his or her descendants for short-term interests.

The reality is that human beings are, by their very nature, not
designed to be lonely tigers, but to be social beings within the
context of a community.

But living within a stable community will always demand of you
responsibility for, and cooperation with, others and also the
compliance to commonly accepted rules.

While these might be seen by some as constraints to their personal
freedom, in the end, however, society’s acceptance of ethical rules
will give you a real and most important freedom, the freedom to live.



Eve Human, is a healthcare worker, a blogger, a poet, a writer of
a political science fiction novel, a peace and human rights activist
living in Iceland.

http://dissidentvoice.org/2013/10/a-freedom-to-live-or-a-freedom
-to-die/#more-51008