Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Appropriate Technology, Narcissism and the Savior Complex

Over the last year or so, I've been discussing the narcissism of First World culture, and especially of Anglo-American culture.  I've noted how that narcissism drives many members of this dominant culture to cast themselves as the saviors of the world, and to cast the rest of the world as either unredeemable villains or unteachable idiots.  (It also hinders that culture from accepting the reality of a world of limits.)  But this week I realized that I had touched on these themes nearly seven years ago, in a series of posts I wrote on the topic of "appropriate technology."  Here is a link to one of those posts, titled, "The Distasteful Truth."  Some of the links in that post no longer work, so here, here, and here are links to the story of Mr. Mohammed Bah-Abba and his original invention of the zeer, or pot-in-pot refrigerator.  And here is a link to the story of a British "savior of the world" who "invented" Mr. Bah Abba's invention ten years after he invented it.  Aren't we so blessed that Emily Cummins arose as a savior of Africa?

Saturday, December 19, 2015

The Night Terror Of A Multipolar World

I was recently listening to a podcast from a blogger who has a strong knowledge of foreign affairs.  A subscriber had asked him what he saw as the future of the United States over the next 20 or 30 years.  The response of this blogger was that there was no question that the power and grandeur of the United States will diminish during that time frame, like it or not.  He also said that, "...the United States is still big, is still powerful, and if it is a mentally challenged giant, it's still a big one. So the entire issue for...the planet is, how do you defuse that ? How do you get that power to transform itself ? Because the real task in historical terms is to make the United States a country. A normal country. This is the process that others had [to go through] before.  You know you go from Empire to normal country."  He gave examples of countries that had gone from proud centers of expansive empire to a smaller, humbler "normal," stripped of toxic imperial ambitions. 

As he named these countries, I noticed that almost all of them were European nations.  Some of the names surprised me, particularly Great Britain.  I had to ask myself whether Britain had ever been "normal."  It is true that over the last 100 years or so, Britain went from a globe-spanning empire to a political entity ostensibly and nominally centered on one island nation.  But there is plenty of evidence that the aristocrats and politicians of Britain bitterly resented every step of the journey from "empire" to "normal," and that they fought against it at every turn (and are still fighting).  It also seems obvious to me that Britain is living vicariously through the exploits of the United States, and that its status as one of the "Five Eyes" is the vehicle of its vicarious life, and that if Britain could once again make itself the center of an empire, it most certainly would.  I also thought of the resurgence of an almost fascist nationalism in many European countries, fueled and financed by American and British government agencies and NGO's (some of them religious) with deep pockets.  The result of that resurgence is the emergence of several nations who desperately want to believe that they are All That And A Bag Of Chips, and the creation of a climate in which, sooner or later, they'll get around to trying to smash each other's chips as they have throughout most of their history.  Indeed, some have already been hard at work at it.  (Talk about the outworkings of damnation!)

I thought of what a "normal" nation would look like, and the first word that came to mind was "humble."  I thought of the ingredients that seem to be required in most cases to bring a nation to humility.  One hugely necessary (but, unfortunately, not sufficient) ingredient seems to be suffering.  That made me think of Germany in the decades immediately after World War Two, and the periphery nations (Spain, Portugal, Greece, and, to an extent, Italy) who are being squeezed by the power center of the EU right now.   I also thought of the many nations on earth whose history is not grandiose, people who have accomplished very little more than "being quiet, and working with their own hands, and minding their own business."  (Maybe they knew something the more grandiose nations missed?)

And that led me back again to considering the Big Kahuna, the United States of America, as I asked myself, "Can the United States actually make the journey from empire to 'normal' without cracking up like a drug-crazed perp flailing around on the ground and needing to be physically restrained?"  I thought of another podcast I heard this past week in which Professor Ama Mazama, a Black homeschooler who is also a university dean described the harmful effects which an Anglo-centric school curriculum has, not only on minority students and students of color, but also on the students of the majority culture.  For such a curriculum wrongly inflates such students' views of themselves and their culture, and prevents such students from understanding the true place of themselves and their nation in the world, as it hinders them from preparing for the inevitable emergence of a multipolar world in which bullying and throwing one's weight around simply will not work.

That is the curriculum by which generations of Americans have been brainwashed, and, together with American mainstream media, it has created a kind of American "citizen" who is peculiarly unable to comprehend present realities.  This "citizen" therefore is still conditioned to look at the world in the same way that a cowboy of the late 1800's would have looked at an unconquered wilderness.  And this is the reason why the dominant culture in the United States can't seem to get along with anyone else in the world.  Nor can it adjust to the obvious signs that it is losing its empire.  One of those signs is that because of the current crash in commodity prices, it is no longer economically viable to station U.S. troops in resource-rich regions of the world.  An empire whose armies cost more to station in faraway places than the empire can "earn" from those faraway places will, sooner instead of later, lose its claim on those faraway places.  There are many other signs, but I don't have time this week to go into them.

Returning to the blogger whom I quoted at the beginning of this post, I was struck by a question he asked: "When is the last time the United States showed leadership in anything?  I don't mean bullied somebody to applaud or agree with the United States. I don't mean this. I mean actual LEADERSHIP.  Where you don't force people, you actually inspire them and you make it possible for them to do  something. To get something done."  If we're going to ask about leadership, let's ask where the world ought to be led.  The world that is emerging is a world in which the natural resources and raw materials needed for the kind of global industrial economy we have enjoyed are in short supply.  Rather than wrapping ourselves in ever more consumerist junk as a display of "status," the task will be to learn to live well on less.  That will be the material part of a higher task, namely, to learn what we were brought into the world for.  The outcome of that kind of wisdom is that we learn how to properly relate to one another as fellow human beings, and not as one group of people trying to turn other groups of people into property or into toilet bowls into which the first group of people can vomit their unresolved hostility.

The thing is, the United States has had repeated opportunities to demonstrate that kind of actual leadership, and has blown them all.  One recent chance for genuine leadership came with the publishing in 2009 of a "National Strategic Narrative," a policy document which advocated a shift of U.S. international policy along the following lines (sourced from Wikipedia):
  • From control in a closed system to credible influence in an open system
  • From containment to sustainment
  • From deterrence and defense to civilian engagement and competition
  • From zero sum to positive sum global politics/economics
  • From national security to national prosperity and security
Now, I must confess that I have not read the entire document, but from what I do know, it seems to advocate a shift from "leadership" by coercion and the threat of force toward leadership by example and positive engagement with the rest of the world that results in mutual benefit for all.  Leadership by example, in turn, depends on setting an example that is worth imitating, and this depends on wisdom, a willingness to learn, and hard work.  And the amazing thing is that this document was prepared by a team of Navy and Marine Corps officers!  You who are astute students of the history of the last 6 years, tell me whether our government or the wealthiest members of our society actually followed this advice.  But other nations have followed advice very much along these lines, and they are emerging as the new world leaders, whose leadership is very much by example. 

In the United States, however, instead of wisdom, we have a society containing many members who are in mortal terror of the world that is now emerging.  They are reacting to the terror by choosing for their leaders a cadre of extraordinarily creepy characters, with Gollum's half brother being a chief among them.  Thus they have become a terror to the rest of us.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Drama of A Special People

Here is a link to a post I wrote a year ago, in which I described the religious and psychological roots of the grossly oversized American grandiose self.  By reading it, you can gain a bit of insight into the desperate crash that may come when that grandiose self is taken apart, and you can understand the desperation of the leaders and many of the common people of American society as they try to keep that grandiose self intact.  (That grandiose self is being taken apart both domestically and internationally, as I and others have been reporting for a while.)

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Deep Fiction and Hip Boots

It's been interesting to read much of what has been written within the last three months about Syria and the Western "fight against terror," both from the mainstream media and from those American bloggers whom Walter M. Miller would have described as a "fine patriotic opinionated rabble."  The mainstream media line began with an insistence in September and October that Russian intervention in Syria was killing "moderate Syrian rebels opposed to Assad".  Later, after several bloggers cited mainstream media sources and Wikileaks documents showing that the "moderate rebels" funded by the U.S. were one and the same as ISIS, the line shifted to statements that, "well, we made some mistakes.  But while ISIS may have arisen from groups originally funded by the West, it has taken on an identity of its own.  We have lost control of it.  It is self-funded and self-supporting, and is therefore really the bogeyman we have made it out to be!  Support our fight against ISIS!!!"

So many mainstream outlets are spouting that line nowadays that it's becoming increasingly hard to go back to the primary sources which show that all that noise is in fact a pack of lies.  But if one is determined and has the time for it, one can still dig out the truth.  This weekend, I have a rare bit of spare time, and that is exactly what I've been doing with my time.  Today's post is designed to equip you, the reader with a sturdy, leak-proof pair of hip boots so that you may be able to wade through piles of "deep fiction" without being sullied and without losing your footing on the firm ground of truth.  Let's go for a walk, shall we?

First, then, let's discuss the origins of the movement now known as ISIS.  Those origins go back to the late 1970's, when a pro-Marxist government came to power in Afghanistan, and Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter's national security advisor,  proposed a program of fomenting armed rebellion against the new regime.  In an interview later, Brzezinski admitted that one of his goals was to draw the Soviet Union into a bloody armed conflict in Afghanistan.  Unfortunately, the Soviets fell for the gambit, and sent in troops in December 1979.  The Soviets found themselves facing an armed opposition which was largely drawn from radicalized Muslims who were foreign to Afghanistan, who had been recruited by the United States or its proxy countries.  These warriors were at first deemed by the CIA to be more reliable for American interests than the native Afghans.  However, a program was begun to radicalize the Afghan population, and this program reached even into Afghan schools with the supply of very violent propagandistic textbooks to Afghan children.  (See this also.)  The documents to which I have linked also show that U.S. funding of jihadist groups continued even after the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, and into the 1990's.

From 1992 until circa 2005, the trail of money and arms becomes somewhat harder to trace.  I am sure that it could be traced, but it would take me quite a bit longer than a weekend to do so.  (Here's a homework assignment for some adventurous soul, if you want it.  And here is a good starting place.)  However, the trail becomes easy to pick up again if we look at the last decade and a half.  The trail is crystal-clear in Syria.

For instance, we now know without a doubt that a major goal of U.S. policy from 2005 onward has been the overthrow of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.  The chosen pretext for this overthrow has been concern that President Assad stood in opposition to "human rights" and "democracy" in Syria.  (Bloody hypocrites!  If you're so concerned about "human rights," why are so many of you silent in the face of the abuses perpetrated by the prison-industrial complex, the police and the schools against people of color and dark-skinned immigrants right here in the U.S.?  Serpents!  Brood of vipers!)  So starting from 2005 onward, various foreign actors (including Israeli and Turkish special operatives) staged "incidents" which "proved" that Assad was "abusing his people" and had to be removed.  (There's also this, this and this.  Note that the Turkish journalists who reported the role of Turkey in Syria are now in Turkish jails.)

So it was that the U.S. found it desirable to create, fund and grow an "opposition" movement in Syria, a movement which quickly became an armed rebellion with arms supplied by the U.S.  As it was in Afghanistan, so in Syria also this movement is largely composed of fighters who are foreigners to Syria, fighters who are loyal to al-Qaeda, who was the bogeyman du jour prior to the emergence of ISIS (and whom the U.S. blamed for the 9/11 attacks, thus starting the American "War on Terror").  Here is a list of sources who trace the direct funding and equipping of these fighters by the United States from 2013 onward:
As to my assertion at the beginning that we know with dead certainty that many, if not all of the "moderate rebels" who were trained and equipped by the U.S. to overthrow Assad are one and the same as ISIS, see this, this and this.  The last link in that previous sentence shows that the Pentagon saw ISIS as a strategic asset to weaken Shia influence in the Mideast.

So then, what exactly has the U.S. been doing in its "fight against ISIS"?  First of all, the U.S. has been knowingly fighting a bogeyman of whom it is well known that it poses no threat to the U.S.  The fight has also been a sham fight, in which after Obama's public vow to "crush ISIS," ISIS managed to overrun more than 70 percent of Syrian territory and large swaths of Iraq while U.S. warplanes destroyed infrastructure (oil refineries and other petroleum facilities, power plants, water treatment plants, and the like) located in territory belonging to President Assad, thus helping to create the current refugee crisis.  Note also that U.S. warplanes recently bombed Syrian troops under the pretext of "fighting terror," then lied about it.  Meanwhile, the U.S. was, until very recently, very sparing in its attacks against known ISIS targets - until the Russian intervention in October, which targeted, among other things, ISIS convoys illegally smuggling oil out of Syria and into Turkey.  The fact that Russia is genuinely trying to crush these terrorists and is not playing games became a major embarrassment to the U.S., which responded by delivering an airstrike of its own against an ISIS oil convoy - but not without dropping leaflets warning ISIS truck drivers of the attack nearly an hour beforehand.

As for that stolen oil, it is also well known that ISIS has been benefiting the West by providing illegal sales of stolen Iraqi, Libyan and Syrian oil at less than half the fair market value, and that one of the major beneficiaries of this oil has been Turkey.  (See this also.)  This illegal oil trade has been known for at least a year, by the way.

So there you have it - ISIS as a bogeyman who is also a secret teddy bear of some well-placed, powerful interests in the West, and specifically in the United States.  You can see how ISIS the bogeyman has been used as an instrument to divide and break strong sovereign states into failed states that are easily controlled and looted by the West.  (You can also see the parallels between the uses made of ISIS and the use by the West of a bunch of foreign mercenaries and thugs of the worst type to break up the Ukraine.  Too many of our "revolutions" have relied on "lewd fellows of the baser sort.")

You also have a bit of history to put the ISIS bogeyman into proper perspective.  Out of that history I have fashioned a sturdy pair of hip boots.  Yet I know that there are those, both great and small, in America who would rather wade through fields of deep fiction without any protection for their feet, because, while the truth will set a person free, it will also smash any patriotic narcissistic "grandiose self" he or she may have erected.  There are those as well who want you to wind up with stinky feet, as the mainstream media engages in a frenzied effort to distort and bury the history of the last several years.  (This is why, for instance, after the beginning of Russian military action, there were ludicrous assertions in mainstream outlets that U.S. efforts to train and arm "moderate Syrian rebels" were really for the purpose of training these "rebels" to fight ISIS.  What a bunch of - er, um, ahem, "deep fiction"!)

The trouble is, lying to oneself and distorting one's personal history are the marks of a personality-disordered person.  And some suggest that the longer a disordered person engages in such a game with himself, the more likely he is to wind up in a permanently demented condition.  (See this and this also.)  I am thinking of President Reagan, who testified during the Congressional hearings into the Iran-Contra affair that there were some things he simply couldn't remember.  A few years later, he began to suffer from an actual inability to remember anything.  Maybe he is a warning.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

BMNT/EENT As A Dangerous Time

Once again, I find myself writing about a gruesome subject, in the aftermath of the mass shooting in San Bernardino.  I certainly do not wish to make light of the loss of life or of the pain being endured by the survivors and the relatives of the deceased.  Yet I believe that the best way to honor the victims is to look at this incident dispassionately and analytically, in order to discern those factors which may reduce the likelihood of similar incidents in the future.

So I thought it good to discuss ISIS again, since this incident is being treated by authorities and the mainstream media as an ISIS attack.  As I have pointed out in a previous post, inciting fear in Western populations by raising up a bogeyman like ISIS is very convenient for those now in charge of Western governments, particularly the United States government and various State governments now controlled by Republicans.  It also bears mentioning that the "moderate rebels" and "freedom fighters" whom the United States has been supplying with money and arms in the Mideast have turned out to be one and the same as the supposed ISIS whom the United States is supposed to be fighting.  (See this and this also.)

Also, there are the similarities between the San Bernardino massacre, the Charlie Hebdo massacre and the Paris massacre, such as:
  • The deaths of all immediate witnesses to the attack;
  • The use of a getaway vehicle by the attackers;
  • A very public attempt to link the attackers to ISIS, the Mideast, and Islam (or to any other party whom the United States deems to be a convenient enemy);
  • The fact that all the attackers are eventually killed by police, and thus are never brought to a public trial;
  • And the fact that the attacks make no tactical or strategic sense, but only serve to provoke and justify increasingly fascist and destructive responses from the very nations who are supposedly being attacked.
Lastly, it bears mention that there is an increasing backlash of an unexpected kind against such "terror" attacks: namely, the rise of an increasing number of people who refuse to believe the official government/mainstream media narrative of the incidents, and who choose instead to believe that these are false flag operations.  Such people increasingly believe that those who run Western governments, Western media and Western economies are manufacturing external enemies who are actually bogeymen created to keep Western populations in line and to justify Western resource wars.

The point of view which therefore doubts the official mainstream narrative ought therefore to be publicly examined and logically discussed.  Until recently, this has not been done.  Instead, the dominant voices in American and Western society have sought to silence the doubters by ad hominem attacks, asserting that to doubt the official narrative was somehow a distasteful, improper and uncouth act in and of itself, regardless of the evidence.  It's sort of like the people in the story of the Emperor's new clothes who were cowed into believing that it would be ill-mannered and utterly uncouth to accept or point out the visual evidence that the Emperor was actually naked.

Therefore, I think it would be good to have a very open and public discussion of the belief that the "War on Terror" has been marked by a number of false flag incidents perpetrated by the very governments who are supposed to be "fighting terror."  We should openly discuss the evidence for and against this belief, and should discuss the criteria by which people would be able to accurately judge the evidence.  This is particularly important now, because the United States is losing its reason du jour for meddling in the Mideast, as Russia is systematically destroying ISIS in Syria, and has been invited by the Iraqi government to do the same thing in Iraq.  Thus we are now living in a dangerous twilight time.  By this I mean that if the U.S. were really corrupt enough to stoop to the level of false flag attacks to get its way, we'd be faced with three possible outcomes.  First, if the U.S. was at the moment enjoying having everything its way, false flag terror attacks would be unnecessary, and thus the likelihood of such attacks would be greatly diminished.  (Only idiots do things which are totally unnecessary.)  Similarly, if an overwhelming majority of American citizens responded with jaded cynicism to supposed terror attacks, there would be no point in perpetrating false flag terror, and again, the likelihood of further attacks would be greatly diminished.  (Only the insane do things that clearly don't work.)

But it is the territory between these two extremes which is so dangerous, as an increasing number of people begin to very publicly question the official narrative, and as a result, those who would benefit from false flag operations are motivated to push those operations into overdrive in order to "prove" to the skeptics that the bogeymen whom we have been taught to fear are for real (and are distinct from us).  Thus it would not surprise me if there was an escalation of terror attacks in the U.S. and elsewhere in the West in coming days.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The Mirror Image Of A Certain Hairstyle

My intuition was piqued after a Turkish Air Force F-16 shot down a Russian fighter-bomber within Syrian airspace.  As I read about the Turkish response to the downing of the Russian jet, and to Moscow's protest of the incident, a pattern began to emerge.  For Turkey refused to apologize for the incident, insisting instead that the Russian jet had violated Turkish airspace for 17 seconds without identifying itself.  But along with that excuse came a few Freudian slips as Turkish President Recep Erdogan revealed some of the true reasons for his anti-Russian animosity (and his probable true motives for downing the jet), namely, that he is upset that Russia is helping Syria oust foreign fighters who are being financed by the West to overthrow the government of Syrian President Assad.  It appears that when Washington enlisted Turkish help to cannibalize Syria, Erdogan was promised a rib or a thigh from the cannibal feast, and now he is seeing his chances of chowing down evaporating before his eyes.

Erdogan's response - his dishonesty and the impunity of his actions - reminded me of none other than Donald Trump, the front-runner for the Republican nomination to represent the Republicans in the next presidential election.  Both men are narcissistic, reckless and impulsive, men of very strong ambition who boldly assert their right to do whatever they please and who show utter disregard for any possible consequences of their actions.  In this they are like the heads of many nations which have been Murdochified, NATO-ized, or neoliberalized by the West.  Men like Stephen Harper and Tony Abbott also come to mind.  But when I heard of what Erdogan had done, I immediately thought of Trump.  It seems that I am not the only one who sees similarities between the two.  Certainly, I am not the first.

So if anyone is wondering what life in the U.S. might be like under a Trump presidency, he or she would do well to study what's been happening in Turkey over the last several years.  Note especially the ways in which President Erdogan has tried to amass unilaterally overwhelming state power to himself, as well as his extreme intolerance to criticism.  Note also how in letting his grandiose self run amok, he has brought on himself consequences which he refused to foresee.  One of those consequences may be that Turkey faces a very cold winter without access to Russian gas.  Another consequence may be that the southern part of Turkey becomes a no-fly zone - as in, any unidentified Turkish aircraft that gets too close to the Syrian border may be standing into danger, even if it's still inside of Turkey.  Alternatively, consider that, with people inside of Turkey comparing Erdogan to Gollum, a wise and skillful agent outside of Turkey (such as another nation) could easily win the hearts and minds of Turks who are finding Erdogan to be rather burdensome just now.