As promised, the full piece written for OpEd last week. Now with my own formatting restored.
The piece below started as a comment at Op Ed News on the article "Pitiful Oz" by Richard Neville. An acquaintance of mine from his days in Britain, I thought Richard's tone less optimistic than usual, but what was intended as a short reply to both the article and Rob Kall's comment suddenly started me off on a whole chain of thought. This is the result.
As America accelerates toward its midterm elections, there are signs that the balance of power may shift away from the Republican Party, even if it amounts to a little more than a re-colouring of the administrative process. The fate of her Emperor himself is still some years away and in the sense that we can see the damage done, some have asked whether change in the American regime will have any profound effect on the behavior of her allies. I don't see any "Yes or "No" answer to this - there will be changes of government elsewhere both before and after the fall of Bush and all will undoubtedly react to the situation as it exists when that time comes. Moreover, I suspect that the future is now dependent on a more massive change to protect "Spaceship Earth" and restore some semblance of harmony to international relations. The long years of the "Cold War" had, in retrospect, a huge moderating influence on global tensions - albeit with moments of tension itself. In its aftermath, opportunists in America, but also elsewhere, have grasped the absence of any mediator to hijack the progress in planetary equilibrium to pursue their own and corporate agendas. Corruption in the institutionalized nature of governments themselves is something that arguably needs to be addressed - worldwide, but especially in nations who increasingly lay false claim to being "democracies".
A radical change in America might well bring a shift in the attitude of her so-called allies, even a few of her supposed "enemies", but cultural and economic dependency as it stands needs to be re-examined from scratch. Re-painting the edifice may have some cosmetic appeal, but it borders on folly if the landscape remains shrouded in darkness. Enlightenment is what we need! Indeed, like America, Britain and Australia in particular need a sea-change in government mindset that will see self-interest in the long-term served better by global harmony and equality rather than the present obsession with short-term opportunism. We elect leaders to be responsible managers of our heritage, well-being and legacy. They are caretakers of society who should be pursuing the local, national and global good. They should not be adopting this role as a profession in itself and they should certainly not be prostituting themselves and those they serve to corporate or military agendas.
History may remember Bush favourably for one thing - in his idiotic and intellectually-challenged approach to world affairs he has made transparent both the imperial design and dictatorial intent that America has been practising since at least the end of WW2. Sure, the mass consumers of energy, consumer trinkets and propaganda may still remain blindly unaware of this reality, but free-thinkers can increasingly see that something has gone seriously wrong with planetary organisation. Even the United Nations has succumbed to maintaining the status quo rather than seeking fairness and justice. Charity has replaced obligation and even that runs in narrow focus if not concealed self-interest. The lessons of history and the science of survival are removed from the lifestyle curriculum, whilst dissent is romanticized and then marketed as a stylistic abstraction.
In a world of automation and information overload, freedom of expression is almost encouraged simply to compound the confusion of an increasingly shallow-headed audience. Behind the scenes, the corporate networks grow and electronic filters monitor every aspect of our lives. The propaganda of fear is employed as a viral addiction, with fundamentalism promoted as the sole cure. Governments, elected or otherwise, are increasingly subservient to the same machinery themselves - although it is remarkable how often they fail to understand the nature of the technologies they are dealing with and its limitations. When even military forces are trained in cyberspace with combat simulations, is it any wonder they come unstuck dealing the the real world? Silicon is not carbon, not yet organic - it is blind to the real-world blood and guts it callously ejaculates from its command structure. The Pentagon has become a hive of robotics, supervised by human retards! Misguided objectives are bad enough, but there is seemingly no memory with which to adequately implement a real life strategy. The very arrogance of the directive is a statement of its inevitable failure.
The depressive state of play is as much at work here in the UK. Whilst we still hold on to the vanity of "the Commonwealth", our own imperial strategies were finally ended with the advent of the Second World War. It took a while, but in the final lead-up to WW2 we refused to appease the forces of fascism. In the sixties, we had more sense than to subscribe to America's pressure on us to engage in the Vietman adventure. Yet now we have a shallow-headed, egotistical preacher at the helm who has been more than happy to lead us into a dark and complex mess woven by commercial forces for whom democracy is the real enemy. One of those forces is of course the almighty Murdock - a rampaging beast of Australian origin who literally controls the greater part of the propaganda machine that the likes of Howard, Bush and Blair hide behind. That we are increasingly tempted to view our plight in nationalistic terms is an illusion - the real problems lie with international movers whose mindset is one of material greed and the denial of humanity's future.
Climate damage and resource shortages are the real threat "terrorising" the globe. No leader or power-broker in the rich part of the world will address this in real terms. Instead they spin the long-term "pussy-footing" to look like concerned commitment and secretly put off the inevitable by continuing campaigns to rape and pillage the third world for whatever is left to be grabbed. "Statesmen" have become an almost obselete breed - they were of a fading tradition that would have employed some degree of moral and ehtical code in their decision making, usually without undue religious bias. "Policicians" thus rule the roost, subserviant to corporate cartels who seem wholly intent on destroying the foundations of natural trade on which they were originally built. Those who attack "western values" have a point - we have become complacent and self-obssesed. That an "opposing fundamentalism" has emerged as a method of the inevitable response is one of the great tragedies of our times. Actions and responses have created a huge polarization where regressive tendencies are the norm on both sides of the proverbial coin. The absolute nature of these doctrines are themselves an impediment to progress - they must all be overcome in order to protect the planet's future.
In the 21st Century, capitalism has outgrown its capacity to recycle itself. It has become a nightmarish machine plunging headlong into its own endgame. The market forces it claims to uphold as its foundation have become devoid of substance and the illusion of a thriving fiscal economy is only sustained by non-recoverable levels of debt and the artificial propping up of the bankrupt dollar. The irony is that so much of this decadent system has itself become dependent on the likes of China and Saudi Arabia who have virtually embraced the model as a weapon of world domination themselves. As the likes of India and other "slave" nations realise the power of our dependency on them, the culture of exploitation may be in for a rude shock. A market-driven ecosystem can possibly survive the end of capitalism, but "profits" and greed need to be replaced by recycling, redistribution and equitable reinvestment. Quality of life needs to replace the motivation for "possession" and entire lifestyles need to change within a single generation.
The tragic games being played by Australia, America and Britain (not to mention many others) will probably, if continued, be lost! It is not a case of whether, but when! It may be a future we ourselves are not around to see, but we owe it to future generations to ease the passage to a very different future. This is the real dilemma with our governments. Some have seized power. Others have been elected, but under a system where every choice on the political menu is what I refer to as "the same pudding with a different sauce". Yet they all have one thing in common - blind belief in in the pre-existing social and economic infrastructure. Sadly, if they cannot see beyond what is now an antiquated reality, they are not fit for purpose.
Tellingly, when Blair addressed his party conference for the final time, he told the faithful they need to keep changing. He also told them not to change in any way that might upset America - because "They don't take lightly to partial commitments - you're either with them or not!" One imagines the same sentiments must be shared by the leaders of puppet states elsewhere. In all likelihood it seems Bush will soon fall under the weight of his own facade and maybe these are the dark hours just before dawn. His downfall cannot come soon enough for some of us - hopefully taking PNAC and the other neocon forces with him. Whether that changes things dramatically for Britain, Australia and others functioning in the shadow of the world's big bully-boy will depend on his successor's willingness to confront the corruption inherant in the status quo. A "different sauce" on the pudding is not enough!
In America, the very electoral process has problems of its own. Electronic voting systems, which could if implemented properly could provide a fast, ever-evolving mechanism for true democracy, have been introduced with major software failings and a built-in bias toward the incumbent administration. Even if this obstacle is overcome, the Democrats are the only party on the menu as an alternative - the question is whether its leadership will be "Neocon Lite" or one prepared to tackle corruption and help carve the brave new world we need. In Britain, there is at least a third party which could make inroads that will affect the balance of power in parliament, if not immediately compete with the two party menu for government itself. Blair's going, but not yet gone and it will be a couple of years here too before we find out whether his party perpetuates its ethical decay to the point of total un-electability. A change would be to the right - even though its doing its best to look like the left. I don't know enough about Australia, but suspect it can be diagnosed with similar symptoms. In all these countries, progressives need to seize the media - not just for the propaganda of counterpoint, but as an educational tool that can warn of the dangers in a way that articulates them for the consumerist masses. Above all, we need to stifle the resurgence in organized religion by whatever creed it goes. Faith is a matter of personal choice and has no place in affairs of state. Nor does spirituality have anything to do with subscription to belief systems engineered by others for their own, usually sinister, reasons.
In the Islamic world and elsewhere there are very different problems and solutions. Yet there are also many similarities. Modernity needs to be encouraged, but presented in such a way as to not imply adherence to "western values". Other parts of the world have their own cultures too and the variety is the spice of humanity. But here again, religion needs to be expelled from affairs of state. Look at Japan - it can live without state religion. Look at China - it can function and thrive without Democracy. It's far from our notion of the ideal, but the corrupted version of "democracy" we are exporting is itself a lie - we don't recognize elected governments unless we like the result! So long as nations work to overcome oppression and slavery, forge fair and equitable societies, it is probably not our place to decree what model it uses to run its affairs. We will trade and we will communicate, but we will not aggressively interfere in another's business or forcibly impose our will upon them. Foreign policy should be about dealing fairly for what we want based on what we can give in return. The "profit" motive cannot be allowed to endure on such a massive global scale - the disparity between winners and losers is, with the possible exception of religion, the very thing that brings us to a state of war.
Even as we hunker down to enjoy the creature comforts we have come to expect in "The West", the evidence of ills that plague the planetary stage are in view in microcosm on our doorsteps. They are symptomatic of the same infection. Greed and the "profit" motive have extended polarization even within the societies of our precious "rich" nations. America has no sense of social equality in it's constitution - "fighting" to survive and better oneself is almost the over-riding absolute in its social infrastructure. It is an aggressive attitude that breeds disregard, if not contempt, of others. It is a deplorable character trait that has also become the predominant cultural export of the last half-century. Britons, Europeans, Australians and plenty more of us have taken to worshipping this false ideal and our own societies have evolved to reflect it. Hence the polarization we see around the planet can also be seen in the poverty of inner cities, failing healthcare for those can't afford it and the violence of those disenfranchised by their inability to "compete" in the cut-throat environment we promote. In times of war, "terrorism" is a norm - it is a method of warfare. Injustice is the cause of the "terror" on our streets in the guise of muggers, joy-riders, knife-wielders and gun-slingers. On the larger stage, injustice is the cause of the "terror" using evermore horrifying methods of attacking the global infrastructure that has created it. The only difference is in the scale. Inequality and injustice has always been with us, but where it emerges it never survives the test of time. How long it endures is another matter - hiding truths and manipulating information can, with cunning management, conceal the reality from view. Even so, an upheaval will come eventually.
We may be fortunate in that the upheavals we see today have been brought to light by very less-than-cunning management. Our saviour comes in the form of someone whose entire live has indeed been a catalogue of failed enterprise. The masquerade is over and the propaganda machine is relying on re-runs. The only audience are those still asleep. Time for the alarm clock I think - but hoping desperately that doesn't come in the form of another "false flag" operation designed to perpetrate the existing mess.
There is a place for America in the world and it would not be fitting that it return to its isolationist past. On the other hand, as a hollow shell of its former promise, there is no place on this planet for either its current administration or a future one that employs mere variations on the same policies. Were America to enter a renaissance period, where true freedom (and the social obligations that brings) to become its hallmark, then I suspect questions about the rest of the world could be answered rhetorically by saying that nations often follow others historically, especially when they set a good example. The recent emergence of new philanthropists is a sign that some are willing to move in the right direction, provided there is no hidden agenda. Or preaching! The alternative is that its so-called allies will indeed change direction of their own accord, actually enforcing a new isolationism on America. It would then have no choice but to opt for self-sustainability - something a continent its size should surely be able to handle.
Bush has sown "the seeds of disruption". The hard work is now in realising it and engaging in a race to find a remedy for the consequences of both his actions and the corruption of purpose his behavior has revealed. If we can bring about a revolution in our perception, build a "fair" global trading system and forsake our demand for wasting resources - well, these menacing times may just prove to be the catalyst needed for a decent future.
I'll end with a quote I've always liked. It's a quote within a quote from one of Frank Herbert's "Dune" sequence novels ...
"Empires do not suffer emptiness of purpose at the time of their creation. It is when they have become established that aims are lost and replaced by vague ritual."