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A brief and crucial history of the United States
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Posted February 23, 2012 - Class War Films
Let Your Life Be a Friction to Stop the Machine
Nightmare and insanity are akin: mysterious and involuntary states that skew and distort objective reality. One wakens from nightmare; from insanity there is no awakening.
Whether Americans live in the one state or the other is the paramount question of this era.
For two hundred years Americans have been indoctrinated with a mythology created, imposed and sustained by a manipulating cabal: the financial elite that built its absolute control on the muscle and blood, good will, ignorance and credulity, of its citizenry.
America began with the invasion of a populated continent and the genocide of its native people. Once solidly established, it grafted enslavement of another race onto that base.
With those two pillars of state firmly in place it declared itself an independent nation in a document that nobly proclaimed the equality of all mankind.
In that act of monumental hypocrisy America’s myth had its beginning.
* * *
A Constitution was written that came to be regarded as American Holy Writ. Its central purposes were to defend private property and suppress mass democracy. It has fulfilled both those mandates beyond the wildest dreams of its creators.
Once the existing oligarchy was secure in law and native people largely exterminated, the ruling class increased its wealth and power fantastically in the 19th century, using the government as its enabler, exploiting to the limit the device of chartered corporations.
With its phenomenal money power, the financial elite began to use the military to expand its sway beyond the continent. Regions, territories, islands, and whole countries were annexed, invaded, and possessed outright, their peoples crushed, suppressed, and ruled.
Because ordinary Americans, like any people, need to believe that whatever the ruling elite undertakes in their nation’s name must be essentially benevolent, noble in purpose and justified in fact, the myth had to be radically modified for imperial expansion.
The foundational story was that Americans had come to a howling wilderness teeming with godless savages and, through invincible strength of character and purity of purpose, had tamed the land and honorably earned the right to possess their bountiful home.
In the era of extra-territorial expansion that version was polished to justify and ennoble imperialism. The new corollary was that America could not ignore colonialist brutality but was obliged, by the Manifest Destiny that led us to civilize our own continent, to carry our mission into barbaric darkness wherever tyranny created abuse and suffering.
A national myth that absolutely binds the loyalty of a people to its government must be a subtle and powerful elixir that elevates and aggrandizes that people’s self-regard. National policy will then appear to be an extension of its superior citizenry’s inchoate will, and the basis for a justified arrogance toward the lesser world.
The simple, powerful myth of America’s altruistic and heroic benevolence, shaped and maintained by the financial/political power elite, infused Americans with a deep and outrageously hubristic sense of racial superiority that, mobilized behind various imperial enterprises, has given all such adventures the character of a quasi-religious crusade. In this way insatiable imperialism acquires the apparent moral perfection of a syllogism.
* * *
With WWII, the world was reconfigured. American Capitalism emerged supreme from the horror that had virtually wrecked its capitalist partners. The Soviet Union, though, having absorbed by far the greatest devastation from Nazi Germany, had astonishingly risen above its ruin to become the leading challenger to America as a world power.
This challenge was not competitive, it was systemic: Soviet Communism was a direct threat to American hegemony in that it categorically refuted the philosophical basis of Predatory Capitalism. Grounded in Marx and Lenin, it attacked Capitalism’s inherent evils, monstrous inequities and flagrant injustices that, exacerbated by speculation, exploitation and fraud, would destroy it. And it promoted world revolution to that end.
This face-off of giants in the Cold War necessitated further refinement of the American myth. Now, instead of simply intervening in situations where despotism or tyranny required America to forcefully implant our just and ethical democracy, America had to become the shield and bulwark of the sacred capitalist system in which “free enterprise” was magically and increasingly identified with democracy and equally to be defended.
This version prevailed through many surrogate confrontations around the globe in the era of Mutually Assured Destruction and survived even the debacle of Vietnam, lasting until the collapse of the Soviet Union, as the propaganda stream became ever more intense and pervasive. On radio and television Americans were subjected to an unrelenting barrage of hyper-patriotism in which American moral superiority was a given, and America’s self-touted courage, generosity and decency were its unchallengeable proofs.
The implosion of the Soviet Union left America, in its own terminology, the “Sole Superpower in a Unipolar World”. This, however, did not result in diminution of the myth. The practical effect of having no doomsday enemy–China couldn’t plausibly be cast in that role then–was to supercharge it by increasing its element of pure, hubristic ego. America was no longer just called upon to defend the “Free World” from monstrous heresy; it was now, by virtue of its universally acknowledged, beatific “exceptionalism”, required to oversee and police it in the interests, and for the benefit, of lesser nations.
* * *
“Power corrupts”, said Lord Mahan, “and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
When the only rival and counterweight to American power disintegrated there was a sense within the American power elite that the opportunity existed, for the first time in history, for one country to absolutely dominate and effectively control the entire world.
This consensus was expressed in a policy statement composed by a cadre of major right-wing political players representing massive corporate capitalist interests called the Project for a New American Century. This triumphalist manifesto laid out a plan for absolute American access and control of essential resources and raw materials worldwide, to be guaranteed by the military which would enforce Full Spectrum Dominance.
The American Myth, which had seemed to have lost momentum and its animating principle in the totally unexpected so-called Cold War “victory”, was now re-energized with a less defensive and reactive essence, and given the glowing radiance and patina of a true and, for the first time, self-professed and articulated, imperial mission.
The attack on the Towers, an unimaginable provocation, was the trigger mechanism for the explosive launch of the effort to impose that imperial model in practice on the world.
* * *
It has been without question the most spectacular failure in the history of American misadventure. After a decade marked by the waste of trillions of dollars and tens of thousands of American lives, the stunning bankruptcy of our internally burglarized nation, and a consequent recession more fundamentally damaging than the Great One, Imperial America has nothing to show for the botched folly of its arrogant overreach but unequivocal disasters in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, with no end of madness in sight.
An impartial observer would have to say that the hypnotic hold of the American Myth on the loyalty of the people has led only to disgrace and disaster, and set a direct course to inevitable imperial decline and ruin. That would be inarguable on any rational basis, but it entirely mistakes the motive for, and the purpose of, the myth. The American Myth was never intended to serve the interests either of our country or of our people: it was created solely to buttress, shield, and exalt the ruling financial class. It has done that with astonishing and unbroken success that staggers the imagination from our earliest days.
The massive looting of Iraq/Afghanistan/Pakistan war funding to enrich the Corporate Tyranny—for that is what it has become—is on an unique scale of its own, without anything remotely comparable to its flagrant obscenity in the whole long history of war.
Neither the Pentagon nor any branch of the U.S. government can give any accounting whatever of the many billions of tax-generated dollars that have vanished, evaporated. There is no doubt but that beyond the outrageously inflated, no-bid contracts handed to giant corporate favorites with their preposterous guaranteed profits, much of the money was simply stolen in bulk by, through, or in spite of the military, and distributed among thieves and accomplices, some of it on huge pallets… for convenience, presumably.
* * *
While this wholesale robbery was going on under the oversight of the military abroad, the Corporate Tyranny had evolved a whole set of impenetrably complex devices for the generation of money without any economically productive source or result at home.
The sole driving force and purpose of Capitalism is the realization of profit. According to that calculus, reducing production costs increases profit margin. This leads to the obvious conclusion that as production costs near zero, profit is maximized.
There is no provision for social good in Capitalist theory. Corporations, created to optimize business opportunity through efficient specialization, were originally required to operate for public benefit but that provision was quickly finessed and forgotten.
American law courts have always favored corporate concentrations of wealth since they, like the Congress, exist to serve the moneyed interests. The American Myth was created to provide cover for the financial oligarchy to exploit the country and the citizenry, and the judiciary has consistently cooperated in ruling for corporations against the people.
Indeed, without ever considering the question in law, the Supreme Court long ago endowed corporations with “personhood”, that is with all rights of human beings under our Constitution. The way this travesty occurred–the slipshod by-product of an obliquely related case–shows that the court preferred to incorporate this perversion of the plain intent of the 14th amendment as an unexamined assumption rather than risk an eventual test which would unquestionably have created violent public outrage.
Given the collusion of Congress and the courts in securing legal invulnerability for the Corporate Tyranny and the principle that the only duty of corporations is maximization of profit, it was not surprising that megabanks, huge brokerage houses, giant insurance conglomerates, gilded hedge funds and the credit agencies pretending to certify their work, all engaged in massive and systemic fraud and deception for just that purpose. The result was the crash of ’08, the recession, and the stunning and unprecedented rescue and bailout of the biggest banks, investment houses, and insurance and credit conglomerates with taxpayer dollars. So much for the hallowed Invisible Hand of the Free Market…
* * *
The last decades have seen two related megatrends in American geopolitical mechanics, both with dire effects on the power of the American Myth. First, what belief the world at large had in it has been shattered by a catastrophic series of imbecile and irretrievable military failures and disasters, which has caused erosion of its efficacy at home. Second, in response to this, the State has made increasingly crude efforts to boost the Myth’s waning power by the imposition of totalitarian methods of surveillance, intimidation and coercion on the American people to a degree unprecedented in scope and scale.
The whole clanking, medieval apparatus of Homeland Security that has sprouted like an enormous poison fungus since 9/11 with its brutal police state mindset; the odious Patriot Act with its flagrant subversions of the Bill of Rights; the endless, fantasy-based terror-peddling of the prostitute corporate media with its clowns and harpies churning irrational fear and anger in the uninformed: all this grim, repressive endeavor is a concerted attempt to distract Americans from the real causes of their injury, abuse, and oppression.
And yet, even with the American Myth now totally and irreparably blown full of holes and exposed demonstrably for the tissue of lies, deceptions and frauds that it has always been, it somehow keeps its phenomenal hold on the great mass of the American people. The tragic reality is that, for the majority, their own identities have been so deeply and thoroughly infused with the myth that to disbelieve it is to disbelieve in themselves.
* * *
So the American Myth is dead, and yet it lives on in its deadness, horribly masking our crapshot economy, our bankrupt debtors prison of a society, our Ghost Dance charade of kabuki democracy, while typhoons of impending social, economic and ecological disaster build their enormous, lightning-charged thunderheads above the dark future before us.
And what is it that the dead Myth still imperfectly obscures for Americans? What is outside and beyond the opaque wall of faltering, failing dishonesty and deception? What is the horror that the shoddy, tattered Myth has so long and so effectively concealed?
It is the world that has suffered unrelieved exploitation by the violence of our imperialist mania. It is the many wrecked and pillaged economies financially looted by our imposed predatory capitalist austerity regimes. It is the teeming hundreds of millions of starved, deprived and dying children sacrificed to Wall Street commodities gaming. It is the multitudes of humble, innocent, ignorant people, barely surviving in absolutist and dictatorial regimes propped up in their barbaric cruelty by our military while our banks siphon off the profits left after arming their brutal police and armies and bribing their ruling Kings, Sheikhs or Generals. It is the millions of dead and maimed in the raped populations of simple tribal people whom our indiscriminately murderous juggernaut has left in its bloody wake in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. It is the appalling legacy of hate and repulsion, disdain and fear, that America has earned with its appalling hegemonist villainy in every corner of the world.
And at home, what is it we Americans have been so complicit in hiding from ourselves in our devotion to the perverse legend that has come to inhabit our souls like a succubus?
It is the millions of us with no work and no hope in middle age whose jobs and homes have been devoured by the heartless fraud machine of Wall Street. It is the trashed and demolished weedlots of our major cities eroding in crumbling, fire-gutted ruin. It is the many towns and cities with industries shut down and factories deserted or dismantled and shipped overseas. It is our decaying, disintegrating public schools, our bankrupt states and counties, our overtaxed, antiquated public transportation systems, our obsolete, dissolving infrastructure, our bloated, irrational prisons complex, our punishing and inadequate health care disaster, and over it all, the repressive mechanism of our police state, armed and empowered, ready for use against the American people themselves.
* * *
This is where we are. The great question now is whether we as a nation can awaken from this long historic nightmare and face the terrifying and exhilarating prospect of living in the full light of reality without the false props and dishonest constructs of a hoodwinked, herded and dishonored people or, whether we have internalized the falsity and disease to such an extent that it has become an organic, overmastering form of insanity?
In 1846, Henry David Thoreau, offended to his soul by the injustice of the American government’s invasion of Mexico, protested it and went to jail for his convictions. Later, in his essay On Civil Disobedience, he said this:
“If injustice is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law. Let your life be a counter friction to stop the machine.”
To attempt to break the hold of the American Myth will be a titanic, daunting challenge. To even begin to openly rebel against the might of the National Security State will require the courage to face much more than official disapproval and denunciation. Imperial America will not respond to even the most peaceful and orderly protest with anything less than hard police repression and the level of punishment will rise in relation to the scope and seriousness of the action undertaken.
Small protests will have no effect and will be meaningless. Organized mass events, when they occur, will draw the whole fiercely and brutally motivated National Security State apparatus down upon themselves. Americans, excepting those of our underclass who have felt it, have no experience with violent police or military repression. Those who commit peaceful civil disobedience, a first and innocent tactic of serious protest, will swiftly find out to their cost how it works. In a National Security State that has excised and eradicated all defensive laws and regulations intended to prevent abuse of the public, whatever the State does is legal. To such a pass have we in America come as a result of our long historic indoctrination in serving our financial elite, our Ruling Class.
To achieve any redemption for Americans, to make possible any more just, humane and life-honoring society, will require complete abandonment of the system of Predatory Capitalism. If offers no prospect of reform or improvement and we have all been witness to the idiocy of the so-called “democratic process” in action for generations now.
America is nearing the greatest crisis point in its history and the terrific cataclysm, when it happens, will determine the future our country is to have. If we cannot, in dominating numbers, rise to reject the heartless, mindless, soulless machine of Imperial Predatory Capitalism, we will be condemned to a fascistic command and control horror in which human beings are mere possessions of the State, units of production or service, and then perhaps not even that, as excess population in that brave, new world nay be eliminated.
That end is not inevitable. We are not lost. We are not even defeated because to this moment we have not engaged. We have not honored our responsibility as human beings. We have not risen to defend our humanity. We have let ourselves be ruled.
All around the world the thunder of vast and immeasurable discontent can be heard and felt. In Egypt and Spain, Jordan and Greece, Iraq and Sudan, Afghanistan and Ireland, Latin America, the Far East and Africa, the legitimate anger of humanity is expressing itself against the dead and killing hand of Predatory Capitalism and its agencies of violence. And here, in America, so long trapped and encapsulated, frozen like a fly in amber in a false religion of state idolatry, the anger is deep, widespread, and growing.
It is up to those who know and care to lead. As Thomas Paine said, “These are the times that try men’s souls.” Nothing is guaranteed us. That can’t matter. We cannot be concerned with odds or outcomes. We cannot let the Machine of Injustice grind on. We must oppose it with all the moral force we own. We must act with quiet courage to confront a vicious tyrannical system that is destroying the earth, its life, and its people. We must put our lives on the line to oppose it.
The Nightmare Machine of rapacious exploitation has overthrown humanity’s decency and reason and its bloody inhuman treason flourishes over us. This must be ended.
Let your life be a friction now to stop the Machine.
See also - The Century of the Self - How politicians and business learned to create and manipulate mass-consumer society.