A week ago I had a surreal moment while reading headlines on Facebook. It was the clear impression that the world had indeed gone mad - and not in a harmless or amusing mad way, but in a cruel and soul-less way. Among the things that caught my eye:
- 10-Year-Old Survives Life Threatening Complications To Give Birth To Son Prematurely Likely a victim of rape.
- House GOP Classifies Pizza As A Vegetable To 'Prevent Overly Burdensome' School Lunch Regulations. They grow on trees, you would think.
- How the Telecom Industry Seeks to Confuse About the Dangers of Cell Phones. "From the way it was set up originally, this deeply flawed study was designed to fail to find an increased risk of brain tumors tied with cellphone use."
- TSA Puts Off Safety Study of X-ray Body Scanners. At least they are backtracking in Europe. But what harms Europeans is OK for Americans?
- Seattle Police pepper-spray 84-year-old woman and pregnant teen. Because they can.
It's tempting to make predictions once you more or less have a handle on things in your mind. That is what so-called futurologists do. They detect trends, extend them twenty or thirty years into the future and come up with a picture of what the world may look like. Sometimes they get it right, but most often they don't, as they will themselves admit. The main reason is that history does not move in straight lines. Often 'mega-trends' are disrupted by unforeseen events which come from either a previously overlooked trend or just from completely out of the blue.
Here I am not interested in what will happen decades into the future, but in our more immediate future. Even if the time-frame is shorter, the task is no less difficult, as the collapsing lines of dominoes are intertwined and not exempt from possible surprises.
Do you remember reading a year and a half ago in an installment of the Connecting the Dots series how the global economic crisis entered a new phase with Greece and the "PIIGS" making the headlines? The fact that it was planned in Wall Street left a great impression on me then.
It doesn't get much more explicit than this folks. As reported by the Wall Street Journal, a very special and very private "idea dinner" was held on February 8 in Manhattan. Invited were a list of Wall Street hedge-fund representatives from SAC Capital Advisors, Soros Fund Management, Greenlight Capital and Brigade Capital. At the dinner, the speculators are said to have 'predicted' that the euro is likely to plunge in value to parity with the dollar. The euro has been under pressure because of Greece's debt crisis, in addition to similar fiscal worries about Portugal, Italy, Spain and Ireland ("PIIGS", in financial parlance - ingenious, no?) But the euro has also been sapped of its strength because certain hedge funds have been placing huge bets on the currency's decline, which could make the speculators hundreds of millions in profit. In other words, the expectation of the euro's decline is a prophecy that the financial mafia is happy to fulfill itself. Goldman Sachs, Bank of America-Merrill Lynch and Barclays Bank of London were also playing "let's sink the euro," cashing in on the trend by betting on the currency's fall. And this was worked out over dinner. That's all it takes for a handful of psychopaths to cause untold misery for millions upon millions of people.Italy. There's a lot of talk about what Germany will do about it. At least we won't have to put up with Berlusconi's antics any more. But alas, in exchange Italy got Mario Monti, the European Chairman of the Trilateral Commission and "an international advisor to Goldman Sachs". You can't serve both God and the Devil.
China, some say, is expected to save the day, but at the same time it is supposed to sort out its currency wars with the US. Obama is not happy that China keeps a comfortably undervalued currency which allows it to flood US markets with cheap trinkets that make it difficult to compete with. China, which holds $1.5 trillion in US Treasuries, is not happy that the US moves every day one step closer to defaulting.
In the meantime, the bottom line is that we the people find it increasingly hard to get a decent job (or even a job) and to make ends meet under the only remedy that the predatory banking and financial system knows of: 'austerity' measures, which translates into cuts to social programs and government funding, all for the sake of maintaining the status quo for those who know how to squeeze the financial roulette. The situation is hard for Western Europe and the US and Canada, who hold the best standards of living on the planet. Now imagine how it is for people in the rest of the world. (In Mexico, where I come from, it is said that if the US gets a cold, Mexico gets pneumonia.)
As Facebook would put it, it's complicated.
Is European economic integration heading for a resounding failure that will deliver the final blow to the global system that we know as capitalism? Or on the contrary, will they demand further integration and centralization of financial policies as the only solution and at the expense of whatever sovereignty countries have left? What matters most for me is how macroeconomic changes will affect the daily lives of billions. I have to say, I am not optimistic. Richard K. Moore has some interesting (and grim) ideas of how the dystopia of the 'new order' might look like. Its supporting myth would read like this:
In those terrible dark days, before the blessed unification of humanity, anarchy reigned in the world. One nation would attack another, no better than predators in the wild. Nations had no long-term coherence; voters would swing from one party to another, keeping governments always in transition and confusion. How did anyone ever think that masses of semi-educated people could govern themselves, and run a complex society? Democracy was an ill-conceived experiment that led only to corruption and chaotic governance. How lucky we are to be in this well-ordered world, where humanity has finally grown up, and those with the best expertise make the decisions for the whole globe.
Capitalism is about growth, progress, and change. Under capitalism the virtues of ambition, initiative, and competitiveness are praised, because those virtues serve the dynamics of capitalism. People are encouraged to always accumulate more, and never be satisfied with what they have. Under capitalism, people need to have a bit of liberty, and a bit of prosperity, so that the dynamics of capitalism can operate. Without some liberty, ambition cannot be pursued; without some prosperity, how could accumulation be pursued? In the post-capitalist world, the capitalist virtues will be demonised. This will be very important, in getting people to accept poverty and regimentation...
The pursuit of money is the root of all evil, and the capitalist system was inherently corrupt and wasteful. Anarchy reined in the marketplace, as corporations blindly pursued profit, with no concern for human needs or for the Earth. How much more sensible are our production brigades, producing only what is needed, and using only what is sustainable. Capitalism encouraged greed and consumption; people struggled to compete with one another, to 'get ahead' in the rat race. How much wiser we are now, to live within our ration quotas, and to accept our assigned duties, whatever they might be, in service to humanity.
In this regime change, ushering in the post-capitalist era, we're seeing a conscious orchestration of economics, politics, geopolitics, and mythology - as one coordinated project. A whole new reality is being created, a whole new global culture. When it comes down to it, the ability to transform culture is the ultimate form of power. In only a single generation, a new culture becomes 'the way things are'. And what, we might inquire, might stand in the way of any future manipulations of the cultural regime that the bankster royal family might contemplate?
Ever since public education was introduced, the state and the family have competed to control childhood conditioning - and it is in childhood that culture is transmitted to the next generation. In the micromanaged post-capitalist future, we'll most likely see the 'final solution' of social control, which is for the state to monopolise child raising. This would eliminate from society the parent-child bond, and hence family-related bonds in general. No longer is there a concept of relatives, just fellow members of the hive. The family must be demonised. Already, here in Ireland, there are daily TV spots dramatising the plight of children who are being abused or neglected by their parents...
Communism, according to Marx, comes only after a final global revolution. But the bearded one was too enamored with his black and white historical materialism to realize that revolutions come in many shapes and forms. They imply chaos and have a large element of unpredictability.
Do you recall how it started? There were several instances of discontent in many countries as a result of the economic crisis, notably Greece, Spain and Italy. However, the first signs that the masses were seriously stirring for regime change came from Northern Africa. Late last year a man In Tunisia, Mohamed Al Bouazizi, set himself alight during a protest against unemployment. His self-immolation sparked protests and peaceful uprisings in Algeria and Egypt, moving swiftly into many countries in the Middle East. It was both amusing and sad to watch how Western hypocrites would demand respect for the rights of Egyptians or Syrians while ignoring blatant oppression and murder in Bahrain - Saudi Arabia's backyard.
riots across major cities, starting in London. The media and the authorities insisted that this was nothing but a gang of looters and thieves with no cause. Whether some or most were, the fact is that a social class that knows itself to be destined to remain under the sole of the rest of society was venting years of accumulated anger. They did not go out on the streets spontaneously. The riots were sparked by the police murder of Mark Duggan, a low level 'gangster' who we now know was unarmed at the time of the shooting - contrary to the assertions of police authorities.
Finally the revolutionary mood touched the US. For years we had been wondering just how much economic inequality and how many unjustified wars in their name the American people would suffer in silence. Following a prelude of protests in Wisconsin against the curtailing of rights of public sector union workers, groups such as anti-consumerism organization Adbusters and 'hacktivist' online group Anonymous called on people to "occupy Wall Street" peacefully on the 17th of September in protest against "the abuse and corruption of corporations, banks and governments". Good for them.
The authorities probably thought they would just have to put up with a couple of hundred youngsters getting in the way of brokers as they walked into their offices for a few days and that would be it. But no! Of all the myriad of expressions of discontent, this was the one that tuned into the rightful frustrations of the common people - or the 99%, as they prefer to call themselves. Since then the Occupy movement appeared in several cities across the US, such as Baltimore, Chicago, Phoenix, Oakland, and L.A. It has also crossed borders and similar Occupy encampments are to be found in London and Toronto.
according to Frank Miller, creator of severely disturbing graphic novels turned into movies and obviously a disturbing character himself.) You would let them be for a while, hoping that after having their 'catharsis' they would all go back to their homes. After a month or two you would grow impatient, but happily you would realize that the solution has been already put into place many years before by your own class. Indeed, the so-called 'war on terror' which has allowed for a multitude of draconian measures in paper and in practice finally finds its real raison d'etre in the control and management of what you always knew would be the inevitable discontent of the people. And so it was that the line between the common people and the 'terrorist' blurred further when Homeland Security coordinated an 18-city police crackdown on Occupy protests across the US in the last two weeks or so.
Although the Occupy movement was always peaceful, the police did not return the gesture. On the contrary, they seem to have relished their role as oppressors of an unjust regime, setting an example for like-minded types around the world. Their heavy-handedness makes a mockery of Obama's calls to Middle Eastern governments to respect the rights of protesters. You likely know about this infuriating and shameful episode by now, but here it is again, just in case you missed it:
And if that didn't make your blood boil, here is Fox News in a pathetic attempt at spinning the story. If you can bear it, watch Megyn Kelly tell Bill O'Reilly that pepper spray "is a food product, essentially" (it is in fact potentially lethal.) Historical rumor says that once upon a time in France a certain queen would not be troubled by the poverty of her subjects and suggested to "let them eat cake". You know what happened to the French monarchy in the end.
I watched V for Vendetta (again) recently. When I noticed the many instances of police brutality taking place in the US, I couldn't help but think of this dialog from the movie:
Finch: The problem is, he knows us better than we know ourselves. That's why I went to Larkhill, last night.Police officers are already doing something stupid. Will things turn nasty, will the people find new creative modes of resistance, or will they quietly accept their position at the bottom of the pyramid as part of the 99%? Nothing is written in stone, but if I had to bet on the most likely scenario, it would not be the last one. I get the feeling that the global population's mood won't take much more submission.
Dominic: But that's outside quarantine.
Finch: I had to see it. There wasn't much left. But when I was there it was strange. I suddenly had this feeling that everything was connected. It's like I could see the whole thing, one long chain of events that stretched all the way back before Larkhill. I felt like I could see everything that happened, and everything that is going to happen. It was like a perfect pattern, laid out in front of me. And I realised we're all part of it, and all trapped by it.
Dominic: So do you know what's gonna happen?
Finch: No, it was a feeling. But I can guess. With so much chaos, someone will do something stupid. And when they do, things will turn nasty. And then Sutler will be forced to do the only thing he knows how to do. At which point, all V needs to do is keep his word. And then...
[Dominoes collapse with TV footage showing conflicts between rioting citizens and the anti-riot police]
Chris Hedges wrote recently:
The rogues' gallery of Wall Street crooks, such as Lloyd Blankfein at Goldman Sachs, Howard Milstein at New York Private Bank & Trust, the media tycoon Rupert Murdoch, the Koch brothers and Jamie Dimon at JPMorgan Chase & Co., no doubt think it's over. They think it is back to the business of harvesting what is left of America to swell their personal and corporate fortunes. But they no longer have any concept of what is happening around them. They are as mystified and clueless about these uprisings as the courtiers at Versailles or in the Forbidden City who never understood until the very end that their world was collapsing. The billionaire mayor of New York, enriched by a deregulated Wall Street, is unable to grasp why people would spend two months sleeping in an open park and marching on banks. He says he understands that the Occupy protests are "cathartic" and "entertaining," as if demonstrating against the pain of being homeless and unemployed is a form of therapy or diversion, but that it is time to let the adults handle the affairs of state. Democratic and Republican mayors, along with their parties, have sold us out. But for them this is the beginning of the end.Imperialism
I have seen my share of revolts, insurgencies and revolutions, from the guerrilla conflicts in the 1980s in Central America to the civil wars in Algeria, the Sudan and Yemen, to the Palestinian uprising to the revolutions in East Germany, Czechoslovakia and Romania as well as the wars in the former Yugoslavia. George Orwell wrote that all tyrannies rule through fraud and force, but that once the fraud is exposed they must rely exclusively on force. We have now entered the era of naked force. The vast million-person bureaucracy of the internal security and surveillance state will not be used to stop terrorism but to try and stop us.
Despotic regimes in the end collapse internally. Once the foot soldiers who are ordered to carry out acts of repression, such as the clearing of parks or arresting or even shooting demonstrators, no longer obey orders, the old regime swiftly crumbles. When the aging East German dictator Erich Honecker was unable to get paratroopers to fire on protesting crowds in Leipzig, the regime was finished. The same refusal to employ violence doomed the communist governments in Prague and Bucharest. I watched in December 1989 as the army general that the dictator Nicolae Ceausescu had depended on to crush protests condemned him to death on Christmas Day. Tunisia's Ben Ali and Egypt's Hosni Mubarak lost power once they could no longer count on the security forces to fire into crowds.
To be fair, imperialism has always been with us. Long before the days of the American Empire, there has always been one or more nation hungry for the resources and territory of its neighbors ('neighbors' today of course is a flexible enough term which can be applied to anywhere on the entire globe). Over the past decade the US war machine has been ramped up to a whole new level. With major interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan and a number of instances of further military involvement (covertly or overtly) in Asia and Africa, history is weighing heavily in my mind, as I am sure it does in yours too.
There are three things at this point in time that I find interesting. First, how little things changed when Obama came to power. In fact, you could argue that they changed for the worse, as Obama has behaved as a neocon sans the 'cowboy discourse' and obvious stupidity characterized by his predecessor. Thus people tolerate him for longer. Personally, I lost all sympathy I had for him when as president-elect he failed to raise his voice against the brutal Israeli invasion of Gaza in early 2009. Not that I ever had much faith in him anyway. In any case, it seems obvious to me that the war machine has been following an agenda for the past decade and whether presidents and parties come and go, it makes little difference. This tells me that elected officials have never really been in charge. Don't you find that a little unsettling?
reports from the ground, largely supported Gaddaffi - but instead lay in their economic interests in an oil-rich country.
Third, I find it both disturbing and telling that as soon as Gaddaffi was murdered, the discourse of the US and Israel immediately shifted focus back into Iran. Served - next! I will not even get into dismantling the ludicrous arguments that are being used to justify another war in the not-too-distant future. I will assume that you have done your reading, that you have a working brain and can see through the fallacies surrounding the idea that "we must stop Iran before it nukes us". I will simply remind you of a certain Collin Powell speaking at the UN nine years ago, showing grainy satellite pictures of a truck and a bunker, and assuring us that this was the ultimate proof that Saddam had Weapons Of Mass Destruction. Shivers run through my spine when I recall that, not because of the '45-minute-to-launch-attack' lie that Tony Blair assured Europe was at risk from the Iraqi regime, but because there are people out there who actually believed these clowns.
And yet here we go again. "The time has come" to deal with Iran, says the Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak. In fact, they may already be dealing with it, as it has been reported that the Israeli Mossad was responsible for a blast at a military facility in Iran, in which 17 people were killed and a further 15 wounded. No one calls it terrorism.
Now consider for a second how the above three lines of force that are shaping the world right now come together and affect each other. The economic crisis means unemployment, poverty and frustration. People reach their limits and protest or fight back one way or another. The elite has a twisted idea of how to manage a crisis, and decides that perhaps a war or two will not only distract the population but stimulate the economy. If they don't like it they can eat pepper spray. You would think that this mess is leading somewhere, some precipice just around the corner, and if it doesn't manifest in total economic collapse, it will be with revolution or war. Or all three.
But that is not all.
There is a certain degree of predictability regarding societies. After all, we are all human and if we've read some history, we can attempt educated guesses at what is going to happen next. In principle it is also possible to predict, to some extent, natural changes. That is what climatologists and meteorologists do. The problem with medium to long-term global climate prediction is that it is not only far more complex to determine than your local forecast for the next couple of days, the task is made more difficult by special interests that have co-opted science to the point that we are being fed stories that are simply not true. Whether because of bad science, political or economic interests, or the desire to secure a job in a research institute, it is quite clear by now that the theory of anthropogenic global warming is wrong. Pay attention to the arguments of Professor Bob Carter on the issue, and have a look at the most recent batch of hacked and leaked emails from the scientists who were at the center of the Climategate scandal two years ago. Once more they sound less than certain that they have a solid case for their AGW theory. So why do they insist? Is it because they fear for their careers or something else?
I'm not disregarding the extreme weather phenomena we have seen around the world in the last two or three years. But rather than heralding a warm wet future of intolerably hot summers for everyone it could all be a prelude to a significant shift in our planet's climate in the other direction. The number of natural catastrophes of the past several months has been alarming. It has included all the contents in Pandora's box, from floods to droughts, heat-waves to blizzards, and even geological phenomena such as earthquakes and volcanoes.
presentation, you will have noticed his remark about the likelihood of the planet entering a cooling phase, rather than warming. Just yesterday I read an interview with NASA solar physicist Dr. David Hathaway, who is one of a number of scientists seeing a falling trend in the number of sunspots, and therefore decreased solar activity. There is speculation that this could be the beginning of a solar minimum, and if so, a cold spell for us. Just how cold remains to be seen.
There are two catastrophes involving human intervention that have got me particularly worried. One is the British Petroleum oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico. A tremendous amount of oil was leaking from the seabed after an explosion took place at the Deepwater Horizon platform, which was a consequence of greed and irresponsibility. How did they solve it? They didn't. Instead, they polluted the sea waters with the toxic substance Corexit - an oil 'dispersant' - which sank along with the oil to the ocean floor. They also pretended that the leak was sealed, but according to environmentalist attorney Stuart Smith, oil is still leaking 16 months after the well was declared sealed. New oil is washing up on barrier islands in Louisiana and Mississippi. Indeed, how could it be any other way? The depths were too great and the pressure too strong, as evidenced by the failed attempts to cap the well that were actually reported by the media. The alleged solution felt too much like an exercise in public relations to this humble observer. The principle behind the policy of the US government and BP has been 'out of sight, out of mind'.
Taking into account that eight months have passed since the earthquake and tsunami without any improvement, the architect of Fukushima Daiichi Reactor 3, Uehara Haruo, has declared that it is inevitable that melted fuel has gone out of the container vessel and sunk underground. If fuel reaches an underground water vein, he explained, it will cause contamination of underground water, the soil and sea. Not only that, but if the underground water vein keeps being heated for long enough, a massive hydrovolcanic explosion will occur!
What remains for the viability of Japan as a nation? What future is there for a generation practically doomed to get cancer in a few years time?
What makes the BP oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico and the Fukushima disaster so ominous and hopeless is that there is no solution except in the long term, and even that is doubtful as it would require committed work from different nations. With psychopathic personalities in the global elite, there is not much hope that we will see such an effort. In the meantime, nuclear particles travel across the winds to the other side of the world, and a mixture of oil and Corexit destroy the ecosystem of the Atlantic Ocean and perhaps even the other oceans through connecting currents, in turn affecting the climate in unpredictable ways. Remember the all-important Gulf Stream which prevents northern Europe from freezing.
If the dominoes look like they are about to fall in terms of society, politics and economics, how do we factor in Mother Nature? I realize how insignificant we are when I see pictures of our planet from space. To think that it is only the crust of Earth that we touch, and that we are like tiny pixels on a massive canvas - a relatively new species which, we are told, evolved in the last two seconds of the whole 'day' of life on Earth. Nature could turn out to be a 'game-changer', making all that I previously wrote irrelevant. If so, I am tempted to wonder if there is a certain interactivity between what comes from 'above' and what we do 'below'...