Saturday, February 6, 2016

Will The Real Invader Please Stand Up?

Conversations between some people can seem a lot like beating a dead horse over and over again until the horse has been turned into equine hamburger.  This is especially true when one party in the conversation is trying to communicate the truth, and the other party has made up his mind to refuse to understand that truth - presumably, because it's to the other party's advantage to not understand.  As Upton Sinclair once wrote, "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on him not understanding it."  So it seems to be with many who are commenting on the influx of refugees from the Mideast and North Africa into Europe.

Most of these commenters have written at great length of the dangers of letting said refugees (dirty, uncouth and savage "invading hordes") into the pure, precious, civilized sanctuary that is supposed to be Europe.  Indeed, such charity has been characterized as "committing suicide" (culturally, I presume) by at least one highly placed Eurasian politician.  Granted, there are Europeans who - very, very grudgingly - acknowledge that maybe, just maybe it is a good and moral thing to give a little bit of sanctuary to the Arab and Mideastern refugees whose homelands Europe has recently helped to destroy.  Yet many of these same Europeans object fervently to letting black Africans into their special precious sanctuary.

Well, okay, if that's the way you want to be, fine (although I am of African descent, and I am black!)  But have you thought of asking why Black Africans might want to emigrate to Europe in the first place?  If so, I have some ready answers to such a question.  In an earlier post, I described how forced migrations of peoples result from the robbery and plunder of those peoples by a nation skilled at robbery which then concentrates the majority of the resources of nations within its own borders, leaving almost nothing for those nations which it has robbed.  When we look at what European nations have done to Africa, there are plenty of examples of this process.  I will name a few recent cases for you to chew on.

First, there is the case of Nigeria, where the peoples who inhabit the Niger delta have suffered for at least two decades from the petroleum extraction activities of rich multinational corporations such as Royal Dutch Shell.  The pollution, not only from routine oil extraction, but also from lax operations and oil spills, has severely degraded living conditions in the Delta, and has seriously disrupted indigenous ways of life that were far less destructive to the land than the changes which the Europeans have brought.  Not only this, but the leaders of the Nigerian government have been installed by European and American multinationals for the purpose of keeping oil extraction costs low and profits sky high, thus insuring that the ordinary people of Nigeria will not benefit from the exploitation of their nation's resources.  Many of these ordinary Nigerians have risen up in opposition to this exploitation, and are now being branded as "terrorists" and "insurgents."  (See this and this also.)  As their homelands are wrecked in order to satisfy the European and American thirst for petroleum products, where will these people go?

The Nigerian oil situation is but a very small subset of the issue of the way Europe and the United States look at the African continent and the peoples who reside there.  I am thinking particularly of recent articles I have read in the financial press, as well as press releases by various mining companies which all describe Africa as a "treasure trove" of various things wanted by Europe and the Anglo-American empire.  There are also a number of interesting "players" in the African resource-extraction market, such as African Minerals, a mining company based in Sierra Leone, which was sued by villagers in that country for violently evicting those villagers from land wanted by the company, along with violent treatment of its workers, including a fatal shooting of a worker by police.  The incidents took place from 2010 to 2012.  The head of African Minerals, a Mr. Frank Timis, led his company into bankruptcy in 2015, and is now embroiled in a bitter legal dispute with investors.  Mr. Timis, who possesses dual Romanian and Australian citizenship, was also convicted twice for dealing heroin.

Then there is the matter of coastal African nations and the peoples who make a living on those coasts by fishing.  They have a long-standing problem, namely, that European fishing operations have depleted their coastal fisheries to the extent that the locals can no longer easily make a living.  When the locals try to oppose the overfishing of their own resource because they can no longer make a living, they are branded as "pirates."  (See this also.)

Lastly, there is the issue of land grabs, either by foreign multinationals or by the local government proxies installed by these multinationals.  Take Ethiopia, for instance, whose government is taken from a minority of the population, yet which uses its power (financed in no small part by the United States) to expel members of the majority Oromo population from their lands in order to clear the way for "development."  (See this, this and this.)

The instances I have mentioned are but a small scratch of a very large surface, beneath which lies a very large reservoir of wrongdoing.  These things are the means by which life in Africa has become a painful burden for many Africans, and the motivation behind their desire to escape to places where they may live in peace and safety.  Peace and safety - two things for which almost every human being longs.  And yet, there are those in Europe, who after plundering and destroying other peoples' homelands for the sake of enriching their own, can't seem to understand why those other people would want to seek peace and safety in Europe.  Those who regularly read my blog know that I seek to promote mutual hospitality and Christian charity of all peoples one toward another.  I really mean that.  Sharing, mutual exchange, and learning from one another ought to be encouraged as much as possible.  However, if Europeans don't want to have to share their precious society with "invading hordes" whom they themselves have created, then let them get out of Africa (and other places!).  Stop looking at other people's homelands as a "treasure trove" to be exploited for the use of pure, special Europeans.  Stop stealing other peoples' stuff.  It is that simple.  (You can even stop looking at the deserts of North Africa as an untapped solar resource, as far as I'm concerned.  I am sure you'd try to find a way to exploit that resource without paying the inhabitants of the lands you used.)  Once you all start leaving other people alone, you'll be free to give up your Munchausen-false flag complaints about other people trying to overrun or "de-civilize" your pure society.  Fortunately, Europe and the U.S. are currently being helped (albeit involuntarily) to give up their thievery by the current collapse in commodities markets.  After a while, in most cases, crime really doesn't pay.  In the long run, it never pays.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

An Alternative View of China

A lot has been written lately in the financial press and in the "doom-o-sphere" about the supposed implosion of China's economy.  If you read sources like the Wall Street Journal, or listen to people like George Soros, the current deflationary financial crisis which is sweeping the world is supposed to be hitting China especially hard.  Yet there is an alternative view.  Remember that China, like Russia, is one of the last large nations which is fighting to maintain its sovereignty in the face of efforts by the Anglo-American empire to wreck and subjugate it.  Remember also the attempt at a "color revolution" which was staged in Hong Kong in 2014.  I am also thinking of a podcast which I heard in which the speaker suggested that the West might try to punish China for its support of Russia during recent Western efforts to wreck the Russian economy.  It stands to reason that the attempted punishment of China would be performed with the same tools used to attempt to punish Russia.

To be sure, China's economic policies could stand a bit of correction.  It's not a sustainable policy to try to get something for nothing by attracting foreign investors to bet on perpetual economic growth in a finite country on a finite planet.  A much better policy at this stage of the game is to voluntarily transition one's country to the kind of society that can function well and sustain itself even in an age of scarcity.  That way, other countries can't hold you hostage.  Nevertheless, I would not be willing to bet that China is ready to collapse.  That doesn't seem to be a safe bet.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Relevant News, 29 January 2016

A couple of links to news stories of interest:
  • Stupid Goes All The Way To The Bone: "Staff At Paris Airport Angry After Finding Fake Bombs Ordered By American Embassy".  The comments are especially helpful in seeing how the rest of the world sees us.  Read them, if you dare.
  • Long Spoons In Hell: "В Польше избили украинских гастарбайтеров (ВИДЕО)"  ("Ukrainian Migrant Workers Beaten In Poland (Video)")  (It helps if you are fluent in Russian, but if not, Google Translate is much better than nothing.)  Basically the story is that even refugees from the Ukranian crisis are facing hostility in some of the countries to which they have fled.  In the incident described in the article, the Polish police decided not to charge the perpetrators.  (Update: other sources are suggesting that charges might actually be pressed.)  I guess in some places, the moment you become a refugee, you lose a lot of your social acceptability, no matter how light your skin color.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Breakup of Pathological Spaces

Today, I am offering a re-post of "The Breakup of Pathological Spaces".  I want to add a couple of clarifying comments.  Some might read this post and think immediately of how the European Union is currently under attack from those who want to secede from that union.  Many of the "secessionists" in this case are fascist ultra-nationalists motivated by a strong racial pride and a strong desire to exclude refugees who are entering European nations from Mideast nations which the EU has helped to destroy.  Hence their love for border guards, walls and fences.  While I agree with them that the EU as currently constituted should die, I question their ultimate motivations.  They should be careful, lest they succeed in breaking free from one pathological space by creating other, smaller pathological spaces, which is what they would turn their countries into by pushing their agenda.

In thinking of a "healthy" breakup, I am reminded of "Third World" countries which have managed to escape from the larger pathological space created by the earth's dominant nations.  I think of Cuba under Fidel Castro, Zimbabwe under Robert Mugabe, Venezuela under Hugo Chavez (while he was still alive), and Bolivia under Evo Morales.  These leaders have all had the same goal: namely, to return sovereignty and self-determination to their own people, and to end the exploitation of their people by Europe and the Anglo-American empire.  Each of these countries has had varying degrees of success in achieving that goal, and each of these countries had to pay a price for setting that goal for themselves.  But each of these countries is still standing in some sense as sovereign nations.   Their citizens have not been turned into refugees.  Over the last decade, they have been joined by Fiji.  (See this also.  The "undemocratic" rulers of Fiji have an approval rating of at least 66 percent, due in part to their policies to help the poor and to reduce ethnic conflict.  How many people have to like you before you stop being "undemocratic"?)

To be sure, in the West, there is a much more negative view of how well these nations are doing, and how well their leaders have done for them.  The negative Western view is promulgated by Western media and Western "journalists".  But is it not obvious by now that most of these "journalists" are liars?  (See this also.)

Thursday, January 21, 2016

The Inevitable Osmosis

(First, many thanks to commenters.  I apologize for being slow in posting comments.  I had a gnarly homework assignment to finish, on top of working nearly full time.  Sleep will taste really good tonight...)

Let me start this post with a slightly loopy analogy.  And as we begin, we must define two terms.  Osmosis (as defined by Wikipedia and others is "the spontaneous net movement of solvent molecules through a semi-permeable membrane into a region of higher solute concentration, in the direction that tends to equalize the solute concentrations of the two sides...Osmotic pressure is defined as the external pressure required to be applied so that there is no net movement of solvent across the membrane."  Let's unpack that definition a little.  Take a glass jar, and divide it into two halves by inserting a watertight semi-permeable membrane down the middle.  Fill one half of the jar with pure water, and the other half with salty water, and wait a while.  What you will eventually see is that the liquid level in the pure half of the jar has gone down and the liquid level in the salty half of the jar has gone up.

Osmosis illustration courtesy of OpenStax College, Anatomy and Physiology.
What you've just witnessed is osmosis.  You started with two liquids, one a pure solvent (water in this case), and one comprised of that same solvent in which a high concentration of impurities was dissolved.  The molecules of the solvent were small enough to flow through the molecular "holes" in the semi-permeable membrane, and they did so, diluting the concentrated salt solution as they flowed into it.  The process continued until the mass of diluted solution grew to an extent that it was able to exert a force on the membrane equal to the osmotic pressure, at which point the flow of water from the pure to the salty side of the jar stopped.  Note that the salt ions could not flow from the salty side to the pure side of the membrane, because they could not fit through the molecular "holes" in the membrane.  Osmosis happens spontaneously whenever there is a pure solvent separated by a semi-permeable membrane from some of that same solvent in which impurities have been dissolved.  When the net concentration of impurities in a solution is equal on either side of a semi-permeable barrier, there is no net natural tendency for osmosis to take place.  Lastly, it takes the input of energy (usually applied through a pump) to use reverse osmosis to extract a pure solvent from a solution in which impurities have been dissolved or suspended.

So it is with nations.  In a world in which everyone had equal access to natural resources and everyone enjoyed the same standard of material wealth, there would be no large-scale tendency for people to emigrate.  After all, if you had everything you needed right where you were, what would be the point of moving?  But alas, that's not the world in which we live.  Quite apart from the situations of wealth or scarcity caused by the vagaries of nature (drought, famine caused by crop failure, bumper crops caused by very good weather, etc.), there is the little matter of our fallen human tendency to rob each other.  Some people are better and more ambitious robbers than others, and some of these people become heads of nations which become really good at robbing other nations.  Thus we see the ever-increasing concentration of wealth in these robber nations and the ever-increasing impoverishment of those nations which are their victims.

This leads to a situation not unlike that which exists in our osmosis jar: a huge concentration of solute on one side of a semi-permeable membrane and a large body of pure solvent on the other side.  Except that in this case, we have a huge concentration of wealth on one side of a national border and a huge mass of people who have been "purified" of their possessions on the other side.  In this respect, the robber nations serve as "reverse osmosis" devices whose components consist of armies to rob other nations with, and border guards and fences and walls to keep those whom they have robbed on the outside.  Of course, all this machinery requires energy and other inputs, because the natural tendency is for good old-fashioned osmosis to occur: if you concentrate all the world's best precious things in the hands of a few nations and leave the rest of the world to either starve or try to find a few crumbs by emigrating to the "favored" nations, you can't grumble if a few of the rest of the world's citizens show up at your doorstep.

The picture of osmosis has thus helped me to see the rise of far-right ultra-nationalist movements in the United States and Europe from a different perspective.  And that can be helpful, just as looking at another planet through lenses designed to filter or transmit certain frequencies of light can help us to see things we might have missed if we had viewed the planet through visible light only.  I've been looking at the behavior of nations through the lens of narcissism lately.  Let's try out a different lens tonight.

So we have a bunch of ultra-nationalists and proto-fascists who have become rather well-known lately.  In Europe, there is the Golden Dawn party of Greece, there is UKIP in Britain, and there is the National Front in France, not to mention the Ukraine or the many Eastern European countries which have taken a hard right ultra-nationalist turn recently.  And then there's the Republican Party in the United States, and its Presidential frontrunner Donald Trump.  And I'm wondering how it is that those who might in any way have been called "left" or "left-leaning" in any of these nations have been totally eviscerated so that the only "alternative" we have to what some call "the extreme center" is a bunch of people who want to insist that they and their nations are All That And A Bag Of Chips, and that the rest of the world can go to blazes.  And all this bluster and bravado is being built on a history and tradition of having made a home stuffed full of precious things at the expense of the rest of the world. 

Note: Some of these people try to base their nationalism on their interpretation of Christianity.  But the Good Book states clearly in both the Old and New Testaments that the Lord's chosen people are to be hospitable to strangers, and are forbidden from oppressing the stranger, the orphan or the widow.  Now I know that there's not really any such thing as a "Christian nation" in the world, and that expecting nations to model this kind of hospitality is sort of like trying to teach pigs to fly - it wastes your time and annoys the pigs.  But at the least, the nations who consider themselves "special" and "precious" could leave off robbing other nations, don't you think?

And the robbery is what enabled these special nations to make their nations a home of all precious things.  But now, on the far side of Hubbert's peak, not only with regard to shortages of easily extracted oil, but with regard to a host of other natural resources, those precious things are being threatened.  And the machinery of reverse osmosis (or, robbery) is being strained to breaking.  The rise of fascist ultra-nationalism may well be the fearful response on the part of some very wealthy people and their mouthpieces in politics and the media to that breaking, and to the increasing likelihood that they will be forced to share their stash of precious things with the people from whom those things were forcibly taken.

One last thing.  There has been a lot of demonization of the Syrian refugees and others who are fleeing from the destruction of their countries which was engineered by the U.S. and its allies.

Drowned refugee child on a beach in Libya.  Image courtesy of U.S. Uncut.

One of the latest accusations against these refugees is that they organized a mass rape of "pure," "innocent" European women in the city of Cologne on New Year's Eve.  At first, I was inclined to believe the accusations, but now that it has been reported how systematically the attacks were planned and executed (for instance, the attackers supposedly coordinated their attacks by means of social media like Facebook and Twitter), the story is starting to stink - and I'm not the only one who notices the smell.  Why use attacks like this to seek to demonize and implicate refugees and aliens?  I think the answer is not just narcissism (although it is certainly that), but that there is a much more practical reason.  If you build your nation by robbing other nations, and the people of the nations you robbed emigrate to your nation and become citizens, they may have strong objections to you embarking on future robbery sprees.  Racist uber-nationalism is the perfect ideology for a nation that wants to exalt itself by conquering and plundering other peoples.  (That, by the way, explains a lot of European history and culture.)  Pulling such shenanigans is a lot harder to do when you are the head of a multicultural nation.  Also, excluding others from your stash of loot leaves more of that loot for you to enjoy.

The eventual end of robber empires is that they themselves get robbed, or their machinery of reverse osmosis breaks.  For instance, the reverse osmosis pump consisting of armies to rob other nations starts to cost more than it takes in, and the semi-permeable membrane consisting of border guards, walls, and barbed-wire fences becomes too expensive to maintain on a large scale.  Then everyone gets poor more or less equally, including the citizens of the formerly "special", "precious" robber empire.  Once that happens, there's no further point in fascist ultra-nationalism, is there?

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Culture-Wreckers and Culture Repair, Part 2

I'm glad that many people read my last post.  After I wrote it, I was a bit embarrassed, as it seemed to me that my thinking wasn't as clear as it could have been.  After all, TV isn't the only way of wrecking a culture, and it isn't as if the culture of the United States hasn't been seriously ugly in serious ways from the very beginning.
Still, it is useful to consider the theme of that post, namely, why cultures are perverted, who does the perverting, and the means they use to do it.  That can lead to an exploration of the self-organizing cultures that might likely arise in a society whose masters are losing their grip on society because their tools are losing their effectiveness.  What happens to people who no longer watch TV, who don't even have Internet access at home (see this also), who have also begun to be cut off from access to the American orgy of consumerism - for instance, people who don't drive or own a car because they can't afford to?  How do they respond to attempts to inject free-market, greed-is-good, Dave Ramsey-"Financial Peace" propaganda into their brains?  How do they respond when they begin to realize that none of what they see in real life matches anymore the TV commercials showing the perfectly manicured "American Family" with their 2.2 kids in a McMansion in the suburbs, SUV parked in the driveway?
I'd like to do a series of posts exploring these questions, and to expand on the theme of culture and the difference between healthy and perverted cultures.  I'd like to finish by addressing whether there's any hope for the redemption of mainstream American culture.  Such an exploration would take in a few other sources, such as Soong-Chan Rah's book, Many Colors: Cultural Intelligence for a Changing Church.  (Dr. Rah said something fascinating a few years ago, namely, that while every culture is fallen, every culture is redemptive.  It would be interesting to test his statement against American culture as it now is.)  Such a consideration would be especially interesting in light of the culture of violent narcissism now being promoted by the wealthiest members of American society.  I am thinking especially of Donald Trump and Cliven Bundy.
The trouble is, school has started again, and I need to think about some other things for several weeks.  So those posts on culture may be slow in coming.  In the meantime, here's another example of culture worth enjoying.  (I told you I've been picking up some good music from churches outside the American "mainstream"...)

Буду петь Господу

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Culture-Wreckers and Culture Repair

It can be devilishly easy to wreck a culture, and devilishly hard to clean it up afterward.  If you want to wreck a culture, it helps to be very rich and to own most if not all of the main voices in the culture you want to wreck.  Those who have to clean up your mess afterward are usually people without a voice in the culture, and they find themselves facing the same set of issues, regardless of where the wreckage occurred.  So it is with those who have to deal with the messes made by the United States in various places.  For the Ukraine and Eastern Europe, the question is how to de-Nazify these places.  That Nazification took place over a period of several decades, amply funded both by neocon elements in the United States government and by some of its wealthiest citizens.  A key element of that Nazification was the wide dissemination of propaganda through various media outlets.  That process has resulted in a wrecked Eastern European country, and a number of other countries who have a dangerously inflated view of themselves, and who thus may no longer be able to live at peace with each other.  A similar process has taken place in Syria, where a culture has been partially wrecked by means of the funding of foreign rogues by the United States and its allies as they attempted to overthrow the government of President al-Assad.  The toxic culture created by the ISIS and al-Qaeda "moderate freedom fighters" funded by the U.S. and others has begun to damage even some Syrians.  It too was helped by American funded mass media.  The question, both in the Ukraine and in Syria, is how those who remain undamaged can clean up the toxic culture created in these places by foreign intervention.

But a similar question awaits those who seek to heal the culture of the United States.  For a lot of money, time and effort has gone into poisoning the culture of our nation.  Contrary to the propaganda many of us learned in grade school, the culture of the United States was never very virtuous.  But it seemed that during the late 1960's and 1970's, this country was stumbling toward the first grudging acknowledgement that all humans are created equal and ought to be treated as equal, regardless of race, creed, color, national origin, country of residence, or economic status.  However, there were people at that time who regarded such an acknowledgement to be an intolerable threat to their self-created identity as masters of everything, "more equal" than everyone else.  So these people began working to create a toxic culture which glorified the wealthy, the powerful, and the Anglo-American at everyone else's expense.  They began with people like Wally George and continued through the building of the radio empire of Rush Limbaugh and the rise of the media empire of Rupert Murdoch.  By now, their control over most of the organs of mainstream American media is nearly complete.  And they have done a really good job of poisoning the culture of this nation, having accomplished the revival of a sort of ugliness that hasn't existed since the Jim Crow days of the American South.

Cultural messes are created by people who want to legitimize the raw use of force to achieve selfish ends and to victimize the powerless.  And when cleaning up a mess, the first thing that must be done is to put a stop to whatever is making the mess.  If the pipes burst in your house and the floor gets flooded, it makes no sense to grab a mop and bucket until you've shut off the water.  Similarly, it may not be too useful to have public and private employers host "equity workshops" and "diversity trainings" for people who will simply turn around and sit in front of a propaganda-spewing TV set when they go home.  Maybe the first thing to do is to stop the river of sewage flowing from the outlets of mass media.

The thing is, it looks like that stoppage may be happening in the United States, and that it may be the result of the choice of an increasing number of people to get rid of the sewage outlet in their living room.  I've been reading lately about the increasing numbers of Americans who are going without TV, and the increasing number of households who do not even own a TV.  And while some analysts blame the decline in TV ownership on Internet entertainment and live movies, there are reports that revenues from online entertainment and live movies has also been dropping.  Here are a few links to what I'm talking about:
There's plenty more where that came from, but I'm sure you get the point.  These articles don't even touch the subject of the growing number of people who are not watching any kind of electronic media, or the increasing number of people who no longer go out to watch movies.  One of the primary means of wrecking a culture has been to buy up all the voices of mass dissemination of that culture.  But now, an increasing number of people in the culture are no longer listening to those voices.  The average age of the typical broadcast TV viewer is now over 50.  The empires of Rupert Murdoch and people like him are becoming less and less effective, and people are starting to engage each other in the face-to-face creation of cultures of their own.  This is a hopeful sign that a safe space may be opening for those who want to create healthy cultures.

Yet all is not rosy.  There are other ways of creating a cultural mess besides the use of legacy broadcast, cable and print networks, and these ways are being exploited by the supremacists who are behind the great American culture-wrecking project.  In the age of the Internet, our best weapon against such people and their tactics may well be to display an unwavering decency, both in realspace and in cyberspace.