I had a mild epiphany the other day: it’s not President Bush who’s living in a fantasy world, it’s most of his critics who are. I’m no apologist for Bush – I neither like nor dislike him. He’s no more significant to me than a fly buzzing around outside my window. So permit me to explain my reasoning.
People look at Bush’s invasion of Iraq and see a miserable failure. But a failure to do what? Democratize Iraq? Eliminate Iraq’s WMD arsenal? Reduce global terrorism? If those were, in fact, the reasons for invading Iraq, then the invasion would have to be classified as a failure. But what if the real reason was to secure Iraq’s oil supplies, perhaps not for immediate use, and perhaps not even for use by the United States? Then the invasion of Iraq would have to be judged a success, a “mission accomplished,” so to speak.
Or take Bush’s seemingly irresponsible handling of the domestic economy. How can any sane person fail to understand that cutting revenue while increasing spending will produce deficits, and that those deficits cannot increase in perpetuity? Sooner or later that accumulated debt has got to have consequences. Bush appears to be acting as if there were no tomorrow. But what if there really were no tomorrow, financially speaking? In that case, the reckless economic policies of today would not only be irrelevant, but might actually be shrewd. I mean, if one knows that he is not going to have to pay back his debts tomorrow, then why not borrow money like crazy today? In fact, if civilization is coming to an end, then why not use all that borrowed money to stock up on guns and vital resources, such as oil?
Now, I’m just one person. And I’ve been closely studying economic, environmental, and energy issues for only a few years. And I’m no expert. Yet I’ve come to the conclusion – and I don’t want to be a “Chicken Little” here – that civilization as we have known it for the last century is doomed. Our wasteful manner of living – heck, the sheer size of our human population – is unsustainable. Everywhere you look you can see signs of strain on the Earth, from spreading pollution of the air, water, and land, to disappearance of life in the seas, to depletion of natural resources. Something’s got to give. Things simply cannot continue as they have.
If I can see this, I would guess the United States Government, what with its thousands of full time experts, probably can too. Now, if you are the government (and I don’t mean Tom “I am the federal government” DeLay), and your experts tell you that civilization as we know it is doomed, what do you do? Well, for starters, you do not tell your population of sheeple. That would precipitate panic and result in premature doom, which would consume the government along with everything else. Above all, government seeks to survive, so you would maintain the facade of normalcy for the benefit of your population while you use what time you have left to prepare, as quietly as possible, for the inescapable future.
What will matter in this future? Commodities, principally energy, food, and water. Everything else is secondary. Money is far down the list in importance.
So how would you, the government, prepare for a future world in which commodities are king? By securing today as many of those commodities as possible. Hence, the U.S. government’s binge of military base building throughout the commodity-rich regions of the world. What would you not worry about? Money. The only concern you might have for money is to prevent its premature demise. Hence, the smoke and mirrors used to paint a pretty but false portrait of the economy. Some will argue that the government needs more than just energy, food, and water to survive. True, but by controlling the bulk of the world’s key commodities, everything else can be procured, including human labor and loyalty.
In preparing for the future demise of civilization you would also seek to increase the government’s power as much and as rapidly as possible. Why? To maintain control over those increasingly precious resources, and equally important, to control people – especially your own people – by force, if necessary. Viewed in this light, the government’s aggressive pursuit of power during the last five years makes perfect sense. Ironically, President Bush got it right when he reportedly referred to the now totally eviscerated United States Constitution as a “god damned piece of paper.” That’s really all it is anymore.
So what fantasy world are Bush’s critics living in? The fantasy world in which civilization can continue as it has in the past. That we can continue to improve the standard of living of everyone in the world if we just return to a more sharing and egalitarian way of life, like that which we enjoyed between World War II and the mid 1970s. This is a fantasy. The Earth has finite limits. We are finally starting to grasp that fact with respect to oil. But oil depletion is merely the first in a series of coming crises ensuing from the finite confines of our planet. The fundamental problem – and I’m not a Malthusian – is that there are simply too many people for the Earth to sustain. This is why fish are disappearing from the oceans, why the supply of oil is unable to keep up with demand, why the globe is being deforested, why animal and plant species are going extinct, why water wars are in the offing. Perhaps if people were wiser and more willing to share, and implicitly, less greedy, we could sustain the more than six billion people on Earth, but, alas, such idealism does not describe human beings.
The one thing that has enabled the human population to grow to the immense dimensions we see today is oil, the resource facing the greatest challenge from depletion. As the oil supply diminishes, in the absence of Herculean efforts to use oil more efficiently and fairly, large numbers of human beings will die off. Before then, soaring prices for oil will probably destroy the economies of the countries most dependent on the stuff, if not the entire intricately linked world economy. This is what I mean by the end of civilization. Of course life will go on. But it won’t be anything like what we’ve been accustomed to. Life will be more like that of the Middle Ages, in which a few wealthy lords controlled all the resources and possessed all the power, and the rest of the people – the lucky ones, anyway – were veritable slaves under these lords. In many ways that state of affairs exists today, but it’s unseen by all but the most observant individuals. The future I’m talking about, though, is considerably more Spartan than what the worker bees enjoy today.
I believe that what we’re witnessing today is the inception of a titanic and protracted competition for survival: between countries, between civilizations, between governments and their people. Moreover, I believe the Bush administration is the first to recognize this competitive future, which explains its fundamentally different – seemingly feckless – behavior compared to past administrations. Bush’s favored courtiers, which include corporations, are profiting today and will become the new nobility in the coming New Middle Ages.
Truth and Distractions
The governments of the world, and the U.S. Government in particular, don’t want their people to know the truth. Governments usually end up seeing themselves as entities distinct from their people, and usually end up competing against them. That is true of almost every government on Earth today, and is especially true of the U.S. Government. Keeping the truth from people helps a government achieve its goals, for if the people knew the truth they might demand that the government start actually serving them.
One way to keep the truth from people, aside from today’s favored approach of simply suppressing it, is to feed them a steady diet of compelling distractions.
Elections are one such distraction. Elections arouse peoples’ passions and keep them entertained for weeks or months. Elections even give people the illusion of participation, when, in fact, elections mean absolutely nothing in a country like the United States, which is run by money. Of course, elections are run by, and legitimized by governments.
Sex is another good distraction, both sex scandals and sex-related social issues. Look at how much mileage the media got out of the Catholic Church sex abuse scandals. By comparison, sexual abuses by the government’s own schoolteachers outnumber those by the church, but we hear nary a word about them because they reflect negatively on the government, and the media cooperates in keeping this quiet. Sex between consenting adults, which ought to be nobody’s business except the participants’, also consumes our attention. Look at how much attention people pay to homosexuality. Why is that anybody else’s business? It’s not, obviously, but it’s a great distraction from important things, such as the government’s reverse-Robin Hood economic policies. The same with abortion. Abortion is a personal matter for the people involved. It’s none of society’s business. But government stokes the flames of debate about abortion and it consumes peoples’ attention. Sexually transmitted diseases – diseases in general – are also good distractions and have the added benefit of instilling fear in the population.
Crime is a perennial distraction. Even when the crime rate is falling, the government seems to hype the crime statistics, making it seem as if you’re putting your life at risk by merely setting foot outside your front door. Of course, “crime” breeds prisons, and prisons empower the government. Given the benefits of crime to the government, it comes as no surprise that the government creates crime by criminalizing harmless behavior such as using drugs or hiring a prostitute.
Religion is also a distraction. Domestically, the fashionable debate today revolves around the separation of church and state. There really ought not be any debate. The United States Constitution is unequivocal: the United States Government shall not recognize any particular religion. End of story. It does not say how states may address religion, but it does say that all powers not prohibited to the states belong to the states. In my opinion, then, if a state wants to recognize a religion, it may do so.
The “clash of civilizations” is perhaps the newest distraction, and a completely contrived one at that. The Muslim-Christian antipathy that exists today is both a religious and a cultural distraction. Decades ago, when we were affluent, we were taught to celebrate cultural diversity on our planet. Today that same diversity is touted as the explanation for the “clash of civilizations.” Granted, different cultures are, well, different. But that doesn’t mean that conflict must ensue, and for decades there was no conflict. Clearly, the flames of cultural conflict are being stoked. By whom? The governments of the world and the media. For example, just look at how European media companies and European governments colluded recently to provoke Muslims with those silly cartoons. Cultural conflict not only distracts the masses, but it provides governments with a credible justification to increase their power, for instance, to regulate headgear worn in schools and restrict immigration. Of course, “terrorism” is ancillary to this clash of civilizations and serves to intensify anxiety in the population. How many acts of terrorism are actually perpetrated by governments? It’s impossible to say, but it’s definitely more than zero, a lot more. So why does a government perpetrate an act of terrorism? To create a distraction, to increase its power, or both.
One thing all of these distractions have in common is collusion – intentional or incidental – between the government and the media. The government seems to be involved in all of these distractions to varying degrees, ranging from merely exaggerating the importance of some distractions to actively orchestrating others. And none of these distractions could successfully distract the public without the zealous participation of, and amplification by, the media. One might argue that the media is naturally drawn to report sensational news, as a moth is drawn to light, and most of these distractions qualify as sensational. But I don’t think it’s purely coincidental that the media relishes these stories when there is so much overlap between the agendas of the government and the corporations that comprise the “media.”
Both entities seek to dominate, exploit, and control the “little people.” And the little people, being xenophobic, uneducated, and fearful, are easily manipulated in a formulaic manner to help undermine their own welfare. Simply look at their support for Bush, a leader who has systematically attacked their standard of living, not to mention their liberties. All Bush had to do was push a few buttons labeled “religion,” “sex,” and “culture” to get them to react like Pavlovian dogs. And all this button pushing was, of course, happily assisted by the media.
Note: The opinion of the author may not coincide with the views of Pravda.Ru editors
M arch 11, 2006
To be continued
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