I suppose it would be fair to say I try to offer two things: an idea or vision of things we might do that could actually create non-destructive pleasure and fulfillment in our daily lives; and a skepticism of nearly everything that fits into our marketable world-view. I would like to think that the first tempers what many of us may certainly feel is a justified cynicism about any “changes” to the world. I do think there is another way; I do believe there are good things to do. This is why I am skeptical of changing things within the existing corrupted frameworks of politics, government, religion and so on.
With this in mind I have lately been somewhat aggressive regarding a “charity” as marketable, promotional, lobbying industry. I abhor this.
With this in mind I will not stop condemning the fabulists of market double-think who insist that words like “choice” and “freedom” require you be slave to their holy ideas of market judgements. Remember, the Father in his Heaven also condemns to Hell–as does our Father the Market. This is why the priests of markets are liars and manipulators so that they may proffer paradise as they deem, every billionaire a St. Peter.
With this in mind I do not think “Buyer Beware” is a strong enough statement. Even “Don’t Buy It!” isn’t strong enough (and it’s companion, “Don’t Sell It!”). Don’t even think about it as a thing to buy or sell. If all things become commodities, even ideas, even qualities, even virtues and vices and so on, then we must STOP that process of mind first. Anyone that presents a change within that framework is doing the work of the market whether they are aware of it or not.
One thing I’ve come to believe quite strongly is that the lie of market beneficence works because it operates in that god-realm of “passing understanding” and that priests of this caste are more than aware of this. Their goal is to make you believe that this is how life IS and we just muddle along within it; that finally “history” will vindicate these processes. The same was on offer with GWB and the architects of continual war–these murderous invasions will prove wholesome in the fullness of time. That is always the lie on offer. It is the lie of the “ultimate goodness” of market operations, of capitalism. We won’t realize how good these things really are because their truth will only be revealed in the “fullness of time.” The world of horrifying destruction must be put up with in order to see this truth through. Capitalism is nothing more than an economic Apocalyptic. It is the fantasy of the dispossessed that “their time will come” put to ruthless use by the priests of mammon and worldly power.
The only way to fight this is to inculcate in our children a mistrust and skepticism of those in power. This is not cynicism which, though it may be knowing, is an abdication of responsibility. Skepticism, in its way, is hopeful.
There are very few stalwarts of skepticism out there–Chomsky, of course, and William Blum may be our only pillars of this practice. All we need to do, they insist, is look at the historical record of the governmental and corporate agents who are in charge. The newspapers actually tell us the truth every day–they just do it on the back pages or they do it in business journals that most of us never read. And they report these things as if they were good and right and wholesome; even when clear abuses of all ideas of humanity and right action.
And with this in mind I offer a small bit of William Blum’s Anti-Empire Report for 12/2/11: “Some thoughts that OCCUPY my mind.” Blum simply writes down the history and shows the lie.
The sin, if there is such a thing (don’t buy it!, don’t sell it!), we commit is not recognizing the lie as it walks out onto center stage and turns pirouettes in front of our hooded eyes.
Here is a bit of a record of those performances.
Overloaded with a sense of America’s moral superiority, each year the State Department judges the world, issuing reports evaluating the behavior of all other nations, often accompanied by sanctions of one kind or another. There are different reports rating how each lesser nation has performed in the previous year in the areas of religious freedom, human rights, the war on drugs, trafficking in persons, and counterterrorism, as well as maintaining a list of international “terrorist” groups. The criteria used in these reports are mainly political, wherever applicable; Cuba, for example, is always listed as a supporter of terrorism whereas anti-Castro exile groups in Florida, which have committed literally hundreds of terrorist acts, are not listed as terrorist groups.
- “The causes of the malady are not entirely clear but its recurrence is one of the uniformities of history: power tends to confuse itself with virtue and a great nation is peculiarly susceptible to the idea that its power is a sign of God’s favor, conferring upon it a special responsibility for other nations — to make them richer and happier and wiser, to remake them, that is, in its own shining image.” — Former US Senator William Fulbright, The Arrogance of Power (1966)
- “We Americans are the peculiar, chosen people –– the Israel of our time; we bear the ark of the liberties of the world. … God has predestined, mankind expects, great things from our race; and great things we feel in our souls.” — Herman Melville, White-Jacket (1850)
- “God appointed America to save the world in any way that suits America. God appointed Israel to be the nexus of America’s Middle Eastern policy and anyone who wants to mess with that idea is a) anti-Semitic, b) anti-American, c) with the enemy, and d) a terrorist.” — John le Carré, London Times, January 15, 2003
- “Neoconservatism … traded upon the historic American myths of innocence, exceptionalism, triumphalism and Manifest Destiny. It offered a vision of what the United States should do with its unrivaled global power. In its most rhetorically-seductive messianic versions, it conflated the expansion of American power with the dream of universal democracy. In all of this, it proclaimed that the maximal use of American power was good for both America and the world.” — Columbia University Professor Gary Dorrien, The Christian Century magazine, January 22, 2007
- “To most of its citizens, America is exceptional, and it’s only natural that it should take exception to certain international standards.” — Michael Ignatieff, Washington Post columnist, Legal Affairs, May-June, 2002
- Lieutenant Colonel Ralph Peters, US Army War College, 1997: “Our country is a force for good without precedent”.Thomas Barnett, US Naval War College: “The US military is a force for global good that … has no equal.” — The Guardian (London), December 27, 2005
- John Bolton, future US ambassador to the United Nations, writing in 2000: Because of its unique status, the United States could not be “legally bound” or constrained in any way by its international treaty obligations. The U.S. needed to “be unashamed, unapologetic, uncompromising American constitutional hegemonists,” so that their “senior decision makers” could be free to use force unilaterally.Condoleezza Rice, future US Secretary of State, writing in 2000, was equally contemptuous of international law. She claimed that in the pursuit of its national security the United States no longer needed to be guided by “notions of international law and norms” or “institutions like the United Nations” because it was “on the right side of history.” — Z Magazine, July/August 2004
- “The president [George W. Bush] said he didn’t want other countries dictating terms or conditions for the war on terrorism. ‘At some point, we may be the only ones left. That’s okay with me. We are America’.” — Washington Post, January 31, 2002
- “Reinhold Niebuhr got it right a half-century ago: What persists — and promises no end of grief — is our conviction that Providence has summoned America to tutor all of humankind on its pilgrimage to perfection.” — Andrew Bacevich, professor of international relations, Boston University
- In commenting on Woodrow Wilson’s moral lecturing of his European colleagues at the Versailles peace table following the First World War, Winston Churchill remarked that he found it hard to believe that the European emigrants, who brought to America the virtues of the lands from which they sprang, had left behind all their vices. — The World Crisis, Vol. V, The Aftermath, 1929
- “Behold a republic, gradually but surely becoming the supreme moral factor to the world’s progress and the accepted arbiter of the world’s disputes.” — William Jennings Bryan, US Secretary of State under Woodrow Wilson, In His Image (1922)
- Newsweek editor Michael Hirsch: “U.S. allies must accept that some U.S. unilateralism is inevitable, even desirable. This mainly involves accepting the reality of America’s supreme might — and truthfully, appreciating how historically lucky they are to be protected by such a relatively benign power.” — Foreign Affairs, November, 2002
- Colin Powell speaking before the Republican National Convention, August 13, 1996: The United States is “a country that exists by the grace of a divine providence.”
- “The US media always has an underlying acceptance of the mythology of American exceptionalism, that the US, in everything it does, is the last best hope of humanity.” — Rahul Mahajan, author of: The New Crusade: America’s War on Terrorism, and Full Spectrum Dominance
- “The fundamental problem is that the Americans do not respect anybody except themselves,” said Col. Mir Jan, a spokesman for the Afghan Defense Ministry. “They say, ‘We are the God of the world,’ and they don’t consult us.” —Washington Post, August 3, 2002
- “If we have to use force, it is because we are America! We are the indispensable nation. We stand tall. We see further into the future.” — Madeleine Albright, U.S. Secretary of State, 1998
And I’ll leave you with this from earlier in Blum’s report–a description of our practical deceptions; the practice which actually allows us to do evil while believing we do good:
The leaders of imperial powers have traditionally told themselves and their citizens that their country was exceptional and that their subjugation of a particular foreign land should be seen as a “civilizing mission”, a “liberation”, “God’s will”, and of course bringing “freedom and democracy” to the benighted and downtrodden. It is difficult to kill large numbers of people without a claim to virtue. I wonder if this sense of exceptionalism has been embedded anywhere more deeply than in the United States, where it is drilled into every cell and ganglion of American consciousness from kindergarten on…
Merry Decline and Fall to you. Markets Bless Us, Everyone!