NIHILISM COMES TO AMERICA American Values


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National Myth Building

Get the book 'Nihilism', by Freydis

The United States exerts an enormous influence upon world events, that much is obvious, but what is less clear are the reasons for why America does the things it does, and even more so, why Americans act, think and vote the way they do. The myths, shared beliefs, and unquestioned assumptions that collectively define the American entity are the keys to deciphering this puzzle.

For many, the decline of the United States' institutional integrity began with the Watergate scandal and the revelation of widespread criminal conduct on the part of the Nixon administration in the early 70s. Although these events were an eye-opener for the American public they were nonetheless too easy to discount as just a singular event with a singular source. In this regard the 90s were a formative decade because we could see so many other things falling apart, often for the first time.

It’s important to realize that we didn’t get where we are today by accident, sudden event or happenstance. It’s a long process of very poor collective judgment and multiple mistakes. Much of the process that has led to the large scale social, political, and economic problems featured today have to do with the collection of beliefs and myths that drive American decision-making.

Kids growing up in America are fed a steady diet of stories, fabrications, and outright lies about their national history. This myth building is not uncommon throughout the world but what makes America more unique is the fact that the vast majority actually believe the stories!

Russian and Chinese intellectuals of my acquaintance who came to America in the 1990s after living in this atmosphere of private cynicism toward public ideology often reacted with utter astonishment, and some fear, to the way in which ordinary Americans glorify their country's beliefs, institutions, laws and economic practices in private conversations, not just as a matter of defensive patriotism, but with a sincere belief in their validity for all mankind: "They actually believe all this! No-one is forcing them to say it!" [4]

This startling lack of skepticism and eagerness to believe is one of the main reasons why America is characterized by rampant jingoistic adventurism, mindless patriotism and slavish devotion to executive authority in times of national distress. As a result of these military adventures (always launched with the most noble of intentions) the United States is seen around the world as a serious threat to global safety and well-being.

Make your own subversive bumper sticker with a hi-resolution imageWhile manic conservatism and paranoia wax and wane over time what remains tragically consistent is the fact that so much of the country as a whole has demonstrated a notable inability to mature or to learn from past mistakes. Witness the obvious folly of repeating the Vietnam fiasco in Iraq just three decades later. As long as the majority of Americans continue to live in a fantasy world of flawed beliefs and phony historical myths about their country they will continue to elect disingenuous and incompetent leaders who intentionally exploit the American public’s naiveté and ignorance to advance foolish, even disastrous agendas for the USA, and the world too.

What is America?

The easiest way to explain America is to describe the basic dichotomy that divides it into two parts. One segment of America is urban, the other is rural. One is typified by the ‘blue’ states courted by the Democratic Party and the other the ‘red’ states by the Republicans. Sometimes they cooperate but more often they conflict. To put it bluntly, the rural segment is characterized by a fear of change because they perceive that everything was better in the past, while the urban segment seeks it out because they see that everything could be better in the future. This struggle between progress and regression is hardly a new development and considering the rapid social and technological change in the USA it's not surprising that the country is a cultural battleground in the 21st century.

Although this cultural conflict always seems monumental at any given moment it's quite evident from the historical record that it all eventually leads in one direction. The people willing to embrace new ideas and innovations are the ones that gain the most, while those who shun change and innovation are outpaced and superseded by the ones that do. This seems simple enough, but America’s mythology is very deeply rooted in visions of the purity and desirability of the rural mindset and philosophy. While low-population density lifestyles are desirable to many people, and with valid reason, they are increasingly anachronistic or just plain impossible given the size of America’s current population as opposed to what it was just 100 years ago. The mythology of the rural American lifestyle lives on even as it becomes increasingly impractical to implement and unrealistic in its applicability to the problems and issues of modern life.

Many politicians play upon these myths and anachronistic beliefs to aggrandize their own narrow agendas. This is what creates the irony of rural Americans voting for the Republican Party that promises them cultural conservatism but delivers real financial gains to the wealthy urban class at the very expense of the increasingly impoverished rural voters! Just m
ore evidence that religion is a disease of the mind that weakens and eventually kills the victim. Clearly, corrupt and cynical political and religious authorities have found this cultural dichotomy a very profitable conflict to exploit for personal gain. They pit one side against the other to get elected and use fear to raise funding and pass punitive legislation.

A Few Great American Myths

Myth: The 'America Dream' can make anyone rich if they just work hard enough

Republicans, in economic and political collusion with religious leaders, have conned the American voter by exploiting their beliefs and myths of America’s past to enact an economic agenda that the working class would never support otherwise because it is destructive towards their own well being. The Democrats, because they're beholden to the same wealthy influence, have aided this process by not offering any alternative economic model! Clearly there is desperation for honest representation in the United States, so much so that many American's are willing to suspend disbelief to vote out of faith. Many voters, mostly rural, white and religious, have opted to vote for the Republicans in order to preserve their conceptions of tradition and cultural conservatism. They will gain neither for multiple reasons, perhaps the most obvious being that the policies of neo-liberal capitalism they are supporting with their votes are antithetic to the very values they're trying to preserve!

In order to increase profits for the wealthy ownership class at the expense of labor the ruling rich must do many things that are both unpopular and socially destabilizing. This is because placing capital in primacy over labor means putting workers and wages last on the priorities list behind making more in financial profit for the capitalists. Economic globalization featuring ‘outsourcing’ and ‘offshoring’ of employment, engineered economic disruptions for private gain, such as the Thai Bhat collapse that triggered the 1997 Asian financial crisis, and the long-standing abuse of the US Dollar in a scheme known as ‘Dollar Hegemony’ to fulfill imperial political objectives around the world through pseudo-benevolent instruments like the World Bank and the IMF, are all prime examples.

Placing capital first also creates another serious consequence - it forces labor to follow the money, rather than the other way around, and in a globalized marketplace that means millions of people uproot and migrate to where they think the jobs are. Simultaneously, capital is constantly seeking to find the lowest priced labor to setup a factory, creating a global economy that looks like a dog chasing his tail on top of an increasingly unstable one-legged table. In the process, large scale immigration creates massive social and economic turmoil. The United States is ground-zero for this problem with millions from Mexico alone having entered the country illegally, bringing with them cheap unskilled labor but also enormous needs like special language education, medical care and a litany of other social and police service requirements. Practically all of the costs associated with meeting these needs are offloaded by business and industry onto the public, i.e. the taxpayers. The taxpayers predictably rebel at rising tax rates, government looks for the easiest place to cut spending in social services, assistance for the working class evaporates and wealth becomes increasingly unequally spread around, while the competition at the bottom just gets fiercer.

The truth is that capital only looks out for capital and without factoring in the needs of labor, or anything else, we are left with a very distorted and unstable socio-economic system that generates widespread suffering and injustice – the birthplace of revolution. Remember that.

So, having been collectively conditioned to reject the social and economic concepts and solutions that can actually help them, it’s not surprising that the American public’s views on work, wealth, and the mechanisms behind them are so completely distorted by national myths and flawed beliefs that they're easy prey for scams and the phony promises of disingenuous politicians and con-artist alike. It's especially sad to see how the myth of the 'American Dream', where anyone can get a job and become middle class through concerted labor, continues to influence American values and decisions long after the ‘Dream’ has ceased to exist.

Myth: America is the greatest country in the world and a beacon of hope, freedom and democracy to the rest

Statements like this are so full of hubris and national arrogance they can only portend a country ready to take a hard fall when they stumble over reality. Most people are proud of their country even if for no other reason than habit and enculturation, but that doesn’t give them license to force that perceived greatness upon everyone else. This is especially valid advice considering recent events. The intensity and appeal of America’s ‘beacon of hope’ has been massively diminished during the Clinton and Bush administrations, mostly through fantastic foreign policy follies. For instance: lobbing cruise missiles into an aspirin factory in Sudan and then lying to the world to convince them it was making chemical weapons (Clinton). Or lying to the world to convince them Saddam Hussein was responsible for the 9/11 attacks on the US (Bush).

The grotesque abuse that occurred in the Abu Ghraib prison and the continuing injustices on display in the Guantánamo Bay concentration camp have had a major impact on world opinion, even as influential American authorities do everything they can to convince their domestic audience of the necessity and nobility of these efforts. Perhaps the most egregious foreign policy folly (in the last six months) was on display during the recent war between Lebanon and Israel where the Bush administration literally reversed policy 180 degrees against (formerly) pro-western Lebanon so as to grant Israel free reign to demolish the country with their air and ground assault. All that just to try and set an example by punishing a minor resistance group, Hezbollah, which enjoys vast regional support. The attack on Lebanon was a foolish and completely counter-productive effort that put both Israel and the United States clearly in the loser category. Bush called it a success against terrorism.

Egregious examples of state terrorism and mass-murder through war are acceptable largely because of the allowance granted to the national leadership from the common belief in the American psyche that the United States fights noble and heroic wars against tyranny and in support of freedom, democracy, and so on. Obviously, the impact of this myth has significantly declined since the fiasco in Vietnam and amidst the ever widening gap between official policy and actual events, but it still has the power to sway many American minds largely because intentions are used to gauge the morality of actions.

The most important way in which World War II shaped the moral and technological tenor of mass destruction was the erosion in the course of war of the stigma associated with the systematic targeting of civilian populations from the air, and elimination of the constraints, which for some years had restrained certain air powers from area bombing. What was new was both the scale of killing made possible by the new technologies and the routinization of mass killing or state terrorism. ...

Every US president from Roosevelt to George W. Bush has endorsed in practice an approach to warfare that targets entire populations for annihilation, one that eliminates all vestiges of distinction between combatant and noncombatant, with deadly consequences. The awesome power of the atomic bomb has obscured the fact that this strategy came of age in the firebombing of Tokyo and became the centerpiece of US war making from that time forward. ...

American self-conceptions of benevolence and justice have remained fixed not on the reality of the killing of noncombatants but on the combination of American intentions in combat and generosity in charting postwar recovery in all wars since 1945. [7]

Now when the world hears that America promises to bring them democracy they laugh and reach for their rifles. So many successive Presidential administrations have abused the terms freedom and democracy to justify the exact opposite – economic exploitation and trans-national plunder, that the world equates a democracy crusade to mean threats and even military occupation.

The violence and civic disorder on display in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and elsewhere, are exactly what America’s ‘democracy and freedom’ mean to everyone that isn’t isolated and brainwashed by the Washington echo-chamber. The world’s reaction to this is hardly surprising. Russia, China, Venezuela, and just about everyone else in one form or another, has moved to build alternate political, cultural and economic alliances outside of the influence of the United States. So while America’s dominant leadership is busy trying to establish their 20th century empire of exclusionary benefit to take it all at everyone else’s expense, most of the rest of the world is struggling to build a multi-polar order for tentative co-existence built around international institutions. An example of this is the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), a new economic and political bond between China, Russia, several Central Asian nations, and more eager to join. Despite the geo-political significance of the SCO it’s nearly impossible to find any reference to this new alliance in America’s domestic mainstream media.

The three largest massacres of innocent people in a single-day have all been performed by the United States' war-machine:

1. The firebombing of Tokyo, March 9, 1945. As many as 120,000 civilians were burned alive or suffocated in the inferno.

2. The atomic-bombing of Hiroshima Japan on August 6, 1945 instantly incinerated 70,000, and eventually killed up to 200,000.

3. The atomic-bombing of Nagasaki Japan on August 9, 1945 instantly killed 40,000.

Myth: America is the richest country in the world with the highest standard of living

America is not the richest country in the world when national income is divided by population, that distinction belongs to Luxembourg. Although the rankings vary slightly by year, the World Bank in 2005 ranks the top as Luxembourg, Norway, Switzerland, Bermuda, Denmark, Iceland, and then the United States. This statistic is misleading because it averages everyone together and does not reveal how the wealth is distributed. America has most of the world’s billionaires and enormous capital resources but the wealth is very unevenly distributed. The United States contains the fabulous wealth of Manhattan but also the abject poverty of the Native American reservations of the Dakotas. The distribution of wealth is measured by the gini coefficient where 0 is total equality and 1 is total inequality i.e. only one person gets all the income. Using this measure the U$A is sandwiched between Senegal and Ghana with a score of 40.8! For further comparison, Mexico has 54.6 and Canada has 33.1. You can view a full listing ranked by gini < here >.

It is true that the USA has a very fluid economic system that will employ almost anyone, at least temporarily, but the benefits, and sometimes the wages too, that are paid are typically below the standards of other modern developed countries. For example, many unemployed or poorly paid Mexicans illegally cross the border and risk arrest and deportation in order to find jobs to the north. The work is there on the other side but it's dangerous, the pay is minimal and the health care benefits non-existent. When these people get injured their employer typically fires them and then all the healthcare costs of these disposable illegal workers are transferred to the state that then has to move the costs onto the taxpayers. The United States is one of the few countries where this public rip-off is legal. This also explains why America has so many millionaires and why so many of the wealthy are in love with the 'neo-liberal' trickle-up politico-economic philosophy of the Bush administration. The businessmen at the top make a fortune off of this scam, the pain is spread out amongst millions of mostly oblivious taxpayers and the disposable workers are used up and thrown away. Immigrants were once told that the streets are paved with gold in America. In reality the streets have many potholes and the economic machine chews up workers and spits them out while the social services needed by everyone that isn't rich gradually dwindle away.

The national wealth is a fascinating parable as well. The United States is a debtor country that spends far more than it earns. The USA requires over $2 billion every day in foreign investment just to maintain the current economic level. Most of the money needed to keep America solvent comes from Japan, China, and Saudi Arabia. Money buys influence, so who really owns America in the 21st century? Indeed, Americans are surprisingly oblivious to the economic developments occurring around the world. China, India and Russia are just three examples of countries that are experiencing rapid economic growth. Around the world the US is being surpassed in everything from wireless and high-speed Internet to steel production.

The irony is that many Americans think we're rich and China is poor. Exactly the opposite is true. This is because the removal of gold's backing from paper money has created a virtual explosion in credit and liquidity. The sheer amount of liquidity around the globe is incalculable.

While some people do become richer in this system, funny money actually punishes working people who save money. It devalues the value of your work and your savings, even though you may feel wealthier. [6]

Only labor can create capital. Capital cannot create labor nor can it create capital – it can only attract more capital like a magnet attracts iron filings. This is why labor rich countries, such as China and India, have a bright economic future for growth once they become organized for production, as China has done. Capital rich countries spend most of their effort shuffling around phony money to create the illusion of wealth; it’s called the ‘service' economy.

Quality of life is far better indicator of satisfaction and well-being than simply measuring wealth, but even on that somewhat subjective scale the United States still falls behind most western European 'socialist' countries.

Life expectancy is a numerical factor that can easily be compared across countries and regions. Although a few regions of the United States do make it into the top ranks, some parts of America have shockingly low life expectancy rates, equivalent to some of the lowest-rated countries in the world, such as El Salvador and Honduras. And more pathetic, the average lifespan in many parts of the United States is declining, just as the national infrastructure crumbles, health-care becomes even less affordable, the public education system is ruined to be replaced by a pay-as-you-go corporate profit-making machine, and so on. [10]

Myth: America is a noble Christian nation run by honest Christian leaders 

Christianity was the dominant religion of America’s early settlers, but they did not share the same interpretations of their Holy Book, a fact that has led to much conflict then, just as it does today. It’s also conveniently forgotten that the major founders of the United States, such as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, were Freemasons too, so does that make it a Freemason nation? Religious and political leaders that use the Christian nation ploy are just cynically manipulating public sentiment because the Constitution has always been unambiguous in the need to keep Church and State separate for the very reason that, even within Christianity, much disagreement exists. In reality America has always been a multi-religious country and has spawned multiple conflicting new sects since its political inception, such as Mormonism, Jehovah's Witnesses, and the Seventh Day Adventists.

Millionaire Mormon presidential candidate Mitt Romney's December 2007 campaign statements form  a perfect example of the warped views on religion and politics infecting contemporary American culture:

Espousing one of the main distortions of the religious right, Romney claimed that “in recent years, the notion of the separation of church and state has been taken by some well beyond its original meaning.” He castigated the defenders of the constitutional principle of separation of church and state for seeking “to remove from the public domain any acknowledgment of God.” He continued, “Religion is seen as merely a private affair with no place in public life. It is as if they are intent on establishing a new religion in America—the religion of secularism.”

For all Romney’s vilification, secularism is not a religion. The separation of church and state leaves individuals free to worship or not, as they see fit, without any government prohibition or encouragement. One of the epoch-making and entirely progressive features of the American Revolution was that it dealt a major blow against the use of state coercion to enforce the subordination of mankind to various forms of religious dogma.

Turning history on its head, Romney claimed in his speech that the US Constitution, the first in the world to mandate the separation of church and state, was somehow founded on religious principles. “The founders proscribed the establishment of a state religion,” he said, “but they did not countenance the elimination of religion from the public square. We are a nation ‘Under God,’ and in God we do indeed trust.”

In fact, the pledge of allegiance, whose daily recitation is required of most US school children, was devised only in the 1890s. It made no mention of religion, with the words “under God” added only during the early 1950s, at the height of McCarthy witch-hunt, to distinguish patriotic Americanism from “godless communism.”

The Constitution makes no mention of such religious conceptions as the basis of the political organization of the country. It explicitly bans any religious test to hold any public office: the president may adhere to any religion, or none at all.
From: US presidential campaign: Romney denounces secularism in bid for Christian fundamentalist backing, by Patrick Martin, WSWS, December 7, 2007

Toss 'em out!One of the most troubling aspects within American culture is the marriage of religious conservatism and American myth perpetuation. Religious groups, particularly the fundamentalists and evangelical Protestants, invest an extraordinary amount of money and effort into inflating and perpetuating stories and myths about America’s history and position in the world, for example that the United States is, and must be, a wholly Christian nation and that it's a model the rest of the world must embrace. The USA is, after all, the new Israel for a special people destined to lead the world out of darkness and sin with its inherently superior morality and culture, or so that's how the new evangelists for this version of America see it! The Reagan years saw the ascendancy of the American myth as a god-fearing nation of believers standing up, and eventually defeating, the ‘evil’, atheist, communist Soviet Empire. The Bush administration has continued and magnified this trend to exploit fear and paranoia, consistently using images of a world in black and white where every conflict is a battle between good and evil in order to stifle debate and deactivate critical thought on the part of the public.

This kind of religious nationalism is fueled both by religious moralism and by a paranoia fed in turn by a feeling of cultural embattlement. In the words of Richard Hofstadter: "Since what is at stake is always a conflict between good and evil, the quality needed is not a willingness to compromise but the will to fight things out to the finish. Nothing but total victory will do. Since the enemy is thought of as being totally evil and utterly unappeasable, he must be totally eliminated.... This demand for unqualified victories leads to the formulation of hopelessly demanding and unrealistic goals, and since these goals are not even remotely attainable, failure constantly heightens the paranoid's frustration. [5]

Conservative religious groups and their political allies have been intentionally mixing state and religion for decades but with increasing emphasis and resources since 'born-again' President Jimmy Carter in the late 1970s. This is an especially threatening force in a country that owes its continued existence to a strict separation between secular government and private belief.

The most tenacious error in Christian nationalism is the false idea that American system of government rests on some specific set of religiously grounded values (which today are called, with almost perfect anachronism, “Judeo-Christian principles”). This I think is the political-theory version of a common canard in moral theory: that only religious belief can make people good. In fact, the genius of America’s founders was to have discovered that our morality and our civil rights depend only on our commitment to reason, not on any specific religious opinions – to paraphrase Jefferson. Mathew Stewart, July 2014

Even recent history has repeatedly demonstrated that the official institution of the Church, regardless of the denomination, is hardly a model of moral purity and guidance. Infamous televangelists Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker were icons of the 1980s with their PTL and 700 Club TV shows, operating under the auspices of Pat Robertson’s media-empire. Millions of Americans were shocked to learn about their Cadillacs, mansions and air-conditioned dog houses, even though they sent the Bakker’s check after check to do ‘God’s work’ without asking any questions. More recently the Catholic Church was involved in a massive legal case involving multiple Priests all over the world who have been convicted of pedophilic child abuse that spanned decades. The unholy marriage of politics and religion has already burned many of those foolish enough to get involved in it, the paragon of Christian morality Ralph Reed and the Christian Coalition for instance, and his relationship with super(corrupt)-lobbyist Jack Abramoff; more on that below.

Despite the steady flow of scandals leaking out most Americans have difficulty internalizing the significance of these isolated events and connecting them into a cohesive whole, consequently they vastly underestimate the corruption that occurs in business, politics, and the religious establishment. The purity and sanctity of America and her leaders is a very tenacious belief on the public mind. People outside the American bubble don’t have this problem. Japanese business and political travelers have been known to make the statement, Jakarta or Washington D.C., what’s the difference? Indonesia (Jakarta) is notorious for its corrupt political system and in reality Washington D.C. is not far off. In many ways it is a sophisticated corruption that has to hide in order to shield itself from the public outrage that comes from exposure. But behind the scenes the scale of America’s institutional crime is staggering.

Myth: The United States is the freest country in the world.

Freedom is a value that lacks a universal definition since it is in fact more of a luxury than a necessity, thus making this statement difficult to prove. Nonetheless, history has shown that a large degree of freedom is a requirement for creating the kind of society that is most successful and desirable by the vast majority. So it's true that the US has a great allowance for public freedom as written into the Constitution; however the actual implementation of that allowance, which is what really counts, is under constant attack from special interests, politicians, and many short-sighted others. This has been the situation ever since the US Constitution was ratified, yet these Constitutional rights have held up remarkably well in practice for over 200 years. This is a testament to both a well written document and a collective desire to interpret those codified freedoms as broadly as possible.

Freedom of speech and public expression are easily the greatest things the United States still has going for it, and indeed that is why it's  placed as the first amendment in the Bill of Rights. And an especially important element of free speech is the ability of the public to criticize their leaders without fear of retribution. This is a freedom that is rarely allowed anywhere else and one of the main reasons dictatorships, in one form or another, are so widespread even in the 21st century.

To its national credit criticism is open and vigorous in America, but unfortunately it's mostly channeled at innocuous targets and subjects that are very unlikely to actually create substantive social, political, or economic change. Dissent is not dead in the United States, it just lacks diversity and impact.

As long as the American public remains vigilant against the forces that want freedom stifled and eliminated, and maintains constant pressure on their leadership class to do the same, they will continue to enjoy the benefits of one of the most free societies in the world. This desirable outcome doesn’t just happen automatically, it requires continuous civic engagement in ideas and events, be they local or global, as well as a constant effort to push the boundaries and expand the range of ideas and discussion, for otherwise those boundaries will shrink to the point that we will be reduced to a voting choice of only one candidate while accepting only one ideology and one view of things approved by authorities.

Backwards Focused Vision

It's ironic that even though America has most everything it needs to succeed and flourish in the future, widespread intolerance and a lack of legitimate, open, diverse and inclusive debate on issues of crucial national significance are leading the country into a regressive and reactionary mode that is as foolish as it is self-defeating. National ideals and myths shape the future and as it is now America is trying to create an impractical, and indeed impossible, future based on a mostly erroneous perception of its past and present national condition. People with open minds and open eyes to witness the rapid decay of institutional integrity can grasp the significance of the anomie around them. It should be no surprise that nihilism is spreading in America; what else is left?

What Happened to America?

One beneficial aspect that has emerged from the raw deceit and brutality of America's national rulers is the way it has motivated many people to speak out, produce documentaries, write books, and basically just do something to counteract everything harmful that's being forced down from the top. With major scandals breaking at a frenetic pace, just keeping track of what's going on has become an industry in itself. The scale and numerical volume of scandal and turmoil are like zebra stripes to the American public, a confusing maelstrom where individual events can’t be discerned in order to form a coherent pattern and trend, much to their collective loss.

Amidst the avalanche of information and events what does it really signify? What happened to America and its institutions, and where is the country headed? Well, let's start with the money. America has a Congress that is completely out of control, writing $100 billion dollar blank checks practically every six months for the worldwide war against all the President's enemies. The President and Congress love these emergency spending bills because Congress get to throw in every kickback and pork project they can think of while the President gets a blank check to wage war on the world, enrich his cronies, and look like a patriotic tough-guy in the process. Defense Secretary and multi- millionaire Donald Rumsfeld. Do I act like an arrogant jerk? Yes. Do I answer my own questions to pre-empt criticism. You bet.The latest cost of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, both of which are being lost at a rate that makes Vietnam look like a raging success story, is now up to $10 billion per month with no end in sight.

Now this brings us to the Pentagon, another American institution run amok under the wayward guidance of Zionist neo-conservatives and civilian war hawks like Donald Rumsfeld. The official budget for the Defense Department is running near half a trillion dollars per year, more than every other country combined! But the real budget of this military juggernaut is closer to $750 billion, as revealed by the astute Chalmers Johnson, former military man and now anti-imperialist, What happened to the US Congress?

The government isn't working right. There's no proper supervision. The founders, the authors of the constitution, regarded the supreme organ to be Congress. The mystery to me - more than the huge expansion of executive branch powers we've seen since the neo-conservatives and George Bush came to power - is: Why has Congress failed us so completely? ...

This is the beast we're trying to analyze, to understand, and it seems to me today unstoppable. Put it this way: James Madison, the author of our constitution, said the right that controls all other rights is the right to get information. If you don't have this, the others don't matter. The Bill of Rights doesn't work if you can't find out what's going on. Secrecy has been going crazy in this country for a long time, but it's become worse by orders of magnitude under the present administration. When John Ashcroft became attorney general, he issued orders that access to the Freedom of Information Act should be made as difficult as possible.

Just paying for the war on Iraq this year alone will consume almost as much as the departments of Education, Justice and Homeland Security put together! [1] So with a virtually unlimited budget and a vengeful leadership eager to seek out and persecute new enemies, the Pentagon has joined forces with spy agencies, like NSA and the new and deceptively innocuous sounding Department of Homeland Security (DHS), to monitor and interdict public dissent, be it a peace march or a private discussion group, all in contravention of the spirit of the Constitution as well as decades of legal precedent against such invasive actions. The TALON program and elaborate data mining efforts are just small pieces that managed to leak out from a much larger, concerted spy effort. [2] The Pentagon and DHS can’t distinguish between a harmless peace rally and violent saboteur because they are all the same threat to the nascent American police state. Everyone is a potential terrorist waiting to happen.

The United States was established as a Republic to be defended by a citizen militia never by a permanently staffed career army. That was the idea behind the National Guard (the only military force in the United States that has any Constitutional legitimacy), a part-time citizen militia that is under the control of the State governors and only placed under the control of the President during a national crisis. The reasoning against a full-time military should be clear by now: a standing military is an open invitation for wars of imperial aggression and conflicts for profit and it will eventually lead to a dictatorial president and corrupt Congress. And that’s exactly what the United States has today.

“A standing army is one of the greatest mischiefs that can possibly happen.” President James Madison

This all started because of World War II, specifically the fact that the soldiers were not completely demobilized at the end of the conflict as they had been after previous wars. This standing army obviously needed something to do to justify a continued existence hence the Korean War, then Vietnam, and so on. The Empire's Visionary Leader, by FreydisAt least during these conflicts most of the soldiers were drafted into service and that put a brake on how far the Executive branch of government could drag the American people along in war. Vietnam changed that. Widespread public resistance to a brutal and futile conflict forced a shattered Army with its prestige in tatters to rebuild as an all volunteer force. By only employing volunteers the U.S. military removed the last resistance factor to opportunistic warfare and today the military is just a mercenary corps that refers to the President as their Commander in Chief and will salute and shoot at whatever he tells them to kill as long as their paychecks keep coming. Anyone that doesn’t agree with this situation will leave and be replaced by someone that won’t think as much and is more willing to follow orders without asking questions.

The institutionalized torture, intimidation, and humiliation perpetrated on Iraqi captives by American soldiers that leaked out from the Abu Ghraib prison did more to damage American esteem throughout the world than anything in recent memory, even the My Lai massacre in Vietnam only comes close. But always remember that what happened there was just ‘follow the leader’ and when the punishment has to be handed out in a corrupt and hypocritical society it’s always the followers that take the blame. Once national credibility is lost, like it was at Abu Ghraib, the only tool an empire has left to get what it demands is fear and intimidation and then the world really sees what’s behind the mask of benevolence!

America's Commercial Democracy becomes a Kleptocracy

Government corruption has reached record proportions with top level politicians falling from grace like so many angels being kicked out of heaven. The escapades of ‘super-lobbyist’ Jack Abramoff have managed to tarnish or take down multiple politicians from both parties, but most notably the saintly House Majority leader Tom Delay, once described as "a very religious guy". [8] Tom Delay's booking photo, Harris County sheriff's office, October 2005.This one scandal alone is so convoluted and extensive as to be far beyond what I can relay within the limitations of one written article. Here’s a rudimentary synopsis from the BBC: Q&A: Jack Abramoff scandal. The Republican congressman from San Diego, Randy ‘Duke’ Cunningham, is serving eight years and four months in prison for taking $2.4 million in bribes from defense contractors. In April 2006 the former governor of Illinois, George Ryan, was found guilty of all charges leveled against him including fraud, racketeering, and tax evasion. [3] Incompetence and corruption within the U.S. federal government has reached astounding levels under the Bush/Cheney regime, for some examples read: Heckuva Job: The Unqualified, the Unscrupulous, and the Bush White House. And let’s not forget the Enron scandal that saw President W. Bush in league with Enron CEO Kenneth Lay to cynically deregulate and rig the energy industry to favor private corporations. Many of the stunning details of this scam are explained in the documentary Enron: the smartest guys in the room (2005) DVD*. These are just the guys getting caught, so think about what else is going on that hasn’t even been revealed yet!

Given this kind of environment, the massive banking crisis of 2007-2008, and the political response, shouldn't come as too much of a surprise. Having failed to rectify the situation, America’s national leaders have in fact succeeded in making the situation far worse by delivering billions, if not 'Too Big To Fail, Too Rich to Lose'trillions, of dollars directly to the larcenous mega-banks and swindling billionaires who caused the collapse in the first place. Yet at the same time national leaders claim they have no money to provide jobs, rebuild a crumbling country, or provide necessary social services!

As the opening act of the second financial bubble-collapse, the 'robo-signing' scandal of 2010 has revealed America’s mega-banks having systematically and illegally falsified documents in order to take the homes of millions of Americans through foreclosures. This fiasco implicates every major institutional player in criminal corruption. Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, GMAC, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, JP Morgan Chase, and PNC Financial all continue to steal and receive federal bailouts while the corporate executives take home millions of dollars in pay and bonuses.

The rampant falsification of loan documents has now raised doubts over the solvency of the entire mortgage security industry. The “robo-signers” basic task was to supply affidavits to courts in lieu of the actual documents related to ownership. [9]

The corporate mass-media misdirect the blame towards the home-owners, and the federal government, under the Obama regime, has put all their effort into shielding the mega-banks and billionaires while refusing to even put a pause on home foreclosures! Lenders falsified signatures, shredded documents, and even faked notary stamps. Agencies tasked with monitoring the mortgage industry, such as the Federal Reserve, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and the Office of Thrift Supervision, have done nothing to stop the scam. The courts and legal system have consistently favored the richest of the rich, tossing out families from their homes just so banks can seize a house they can’t even find a buyer for!

'They reap impoverishment from a promise of salvation'They may wear suits and ties, but only to hide the obvious: these aren't the actions of respectable people; these are the actions of thieves, rapists and plunderers. This is an environment that only breeds deceit and brutal exploitation. Even greedy and short-sighted cynics have to think twice before climbing on board this short ride because the rest of the sleazy gang will only take you down with them. As the saying goes, when you lie down with dogs you'll get up with fleas.

The Lobby

American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)Money is not the only disease infecting America's body politic. As if financial fraud and kickbacks weren’t trouble enough, now we have to add dual loyalty and outright treachery to the mix because of a five-ton elephant stinking up the room called the Israel lobby. This interest group has become so powerful, due to decades of shielding from public scrutiny and debate, that most people are too afraid or too crooked to even talk about it in public. It takes two tenured professors to carefully document a critical report on the subject just to get the issue into the mainstream for a brief moment; an effort that earns them the predictable slew of irrational abuse from the raving media mouthpieces.

Moreover, the Lobby’s campaign to squelch debate about Israel is unhealthy for democracy. Silencing skeptics by organizing blacklists and boycotts—or by suggesting that critics are anti-Semites—violates the principle of open debate upon which democracy depends. The inability of the U.S. Congress to conduct a genuine debate on these vital issues paralyzes the entire process of democratic deliberation. Israel’s backers should be free to make their case and to challenge those who disagree with them. But efforts to stifle debate by intimidation must be roundly condemned by those who believe in free speech and open discussion of important public issues. The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, by John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt, page 41.

The harm caused by the Israel Lobby is incalculable, as decades of special protection from criticism and scrutiny have directly generated the current political environment of fraud and rampant corruption that plagues the federal government. The Israel Lobby’s political immunity means that every other lobby and special interest group, from weapons to pharmaceuticals to prisons and everything in between, can spread and thrive while merrily manipulating government policy too. Special interest lobbying cannot be stopped because to do so would require punishing the Israel Lobby as well, or adding a very obvious special exception that would only make the scam even more blatant, so the problem just expands out of control. And for a country thoroughly dependent on imported oil, choosing sides in the Middle East and blindly supporting the Zionist state of Israel at every opportunity is nothing short of national suicide.

After all this we’ve still got people who think everything is just fine because America looks pretty much the same as it used to. But under the influence of passive entertainment, television and commercial broadcast news, the public can barely remember what happened yesterday; and of course they can't really recall what went on a few years ago. Danny Schechter, a former mass media employee and now professional media analyst, created an informative and revealing documentary titled Weapons of Mass Deception where he shows the power of mass media television news to influence and manipulate public opinion, in this case to support the war on Iraq. Schechter details multiple aspects of the modern mass media machine and how it has become little more than a propaganda outlet for the established powers.

This crumbling and wholly corrupt establishment has not self-corrected, it's still not being regulated or supervised by oversight bodies, and instead it continues to impoverish the people at an accelerating pace, robbing millions of families of homes, jobs, and indeed any stake in the system at all! Even if you want to believe that the political leadership is democratically elected, it’s apparent they’re not responding to democratic input or democratic needs.

You can run from America but you can’t hide from it

These corporate and political scandals aren’t just business as usual, if for no other reason than the unprecedented volume and scale of them in totality, but also because we are witnessing the unraveling of the very fabric of representative democracy as the process of voting and elections are distorted and corrupted beyond recognition. The end result is a public that protests without being heard and votes without anything changing and is ultimately robbed of any legal recourse for making their voices and needs heard and understood by the political leadership.

Investigative reporter and filmmaker Greg Palast made Bush family fortunes – The Best Democracy Money Can Buy (2004) DVD, an insightful and provocative documentary that shows how the Bush dynasty has used its influence in office for decades to build up their personal fortunes through special connections, such as with the Saudi monarchy and the infamous Carlyle Group, and then plowed the profits back into their own reelection campaigns. Palast explains that the contested Florida election in 2000 was lost due to intentional disenfranchisement of Black voters using a doctored roster of out of state convicted felons.

Vote rigging is a tactic that both sides, Republican and Democrat, want to see continue because it favors the incumbent and they both believe that by perpetuating it they can win at this charade. Palast goes so far as to suggest that the Supreme Court was a party to the corruption in the Florida election as well. If this is the case then America as a Republic and as a democracy is completely lost because no institution remains that is free of massive corruption. Not the Presidency, not Congress, and now not even the Supreme Court. No matter how much effort the public puts into it through agitation and protest, the system cannot fix itself anymore because all legitimate institutions have been corrupted to become part of the problem implacably opposed to the solution! The cynical saying, if voting changed anything it would be illegal, has never been more true. Read between the lines: Bush’s Family Fortunes is a call to revolution in the United States because it is increasingly apparent that nothing else can rectify the situation.

The Illusion of Reform

The United States, and much of the western world, doesn’t have anything approaching democracy. When the only way to win an election is through fraud or by out-spending your opponents on advertising, it’s not a democracy. Establishment authorities repeatedly call the political machine a democracy to deflect legitimate criticism of what the system really is – a plutocratic and kleptocratic oligarchy. This is marketing 101; if you want to sell crap you don’t tell the customer it’s crap, you tell them it’s solid gold and they’re fools to want anything else!

The present situation is especially pathetic because we actually know most of the answers and we have legitimate solutions, but in practice it’s impossible to enact any of them because the system is intentionally structured to resist progressive and socially-beneficial reform. This is why we can’t elect a leader that will save us, and even though it's fairly simple to make laws and regulations to fix the obvious problems, genuine legislative solutions remain nothing more than another mirage on the horizon. For instance, it would be a simple matter in theory to make all elections funded through a pool of taxpayer money. Public funding of elections would mean everyone gets the same amount and then the contest is based on real issues and the candidate’s merit, rather than purchased advertising. But we won’t see this happen. Even the most noble and well-meaning President can’t get anything changed of great significance. The President is kept in a bubble to prevent him hearing the cries of the people and to stop him from actually making valid popular decisions that favor the electorate. And the apparent ease of reform is part of the deception; it’s what keeps so many people voting in the false hope of changing the system.

The Fuse Burns Shorter

I cannot tell a lie: constitution can't save you now.The founding figures of the United States, who fought a bloody revolution against a tyrant and carefully crafted the Constitution, knew full well that swindlers in black hats like Abramoff would come along and link up with greedy, smiling scumbags like Delay and then proceed to merrily sell out their country and electorate. They knew that corruption was inevitable but they did the best they could to prevent it by writing down a Constitution and creating a system of checks and balances, two political parties and three separate branches of government, to watch over each other. But they also knew that it was up to the people in the end to keep things from getting completely fouled up and out of hand. Yet, if through apathy and ignorance they still drop the ball, it's the responsibility of the citizenry to initiate a revolution.

So when Thomas Jefferson wrote, The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants, he wasn’t being philosophical or metaphoric, he meant it in a literal sense because violent revolution is exactly what Jefferson and others had to do themselves. As President Kennedy’s speechwriter put it so eloquently centuries later, "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible only make violent revolution inevitable."

'Patriotic Subversion'Waiting for it all to collapse may feel nice, but unfortunately the aftermath won’t work out the way you want it to unless you’ve planned ahead and prepared before it’s too late. This edifice of hypocrisy and corruption that surrounds all of us is much more likely to descend into something more oppressive and stifling than to implode all neat and simple. No, this is a monster that will kill you if you don’t kill it first. Maybe the death won’t be a physical one, or maybe it will, but nonetheless the established machinery will continue to grind away at your economic well being, reducing you to the wage slavery of a modern day peasant. The machinery will usurp your mind, stealing your intellectual freedom and turning you into a mental slave through fear and the manipulated forces of social conformity.

Too many Americans are still part of the problem, living in denial while deluding themselves into believing they can get rich even if everything and everyone else gets the shaft.

We can’t afford to wait for the perfect solution to be concocted before we get started because if we wait it will never arrive. Problems get solved by addressing them head-on, by doing them and not by just debating them. Americans need to be able to visualize revolution if they are to ever actualize it. They need the imagery, the symbols and the words to conceptualize it and to express it because it can’t get started until the people can imagine it really happening here and with their participation. We need to make a concerted effort to attack and discredit the fear, superstition, apathy and ignorance that allows the machine of Empire to perpetuate and accelerate, to start wars in the name of peace and to spy and repress in the name of freedom.

Revolution is like an investment – you don’t spend all the money you earn every day on savings, you take a small part and build it up piece by piece, and then eventually you have enough to achieve your goal. Through a multitude of small efforts we eventually accumulate enough power to achieve our vision.

Upset Routine and Business as Usual

Think about it
Write about it
Talk about it
Protest about it
Riot about it

...and justice for all, by Freydis 2005.

Take it to church, take it to city hall, take it to the streets
Take it to the banks, the corporate headquarters, and the capitol

Every successful insurgency follows a similar pattern; we have to build up a new system that functions independently from the corrupt establishment, while at the same time actively tearing down and discrediting the existing institutions that oppress, lie, and rob us on a daily basis.

Be the Revolution

Amidst epic financial exploitation, brutal state violence, and the appalling economic and intellectual impoverishment of the vast majority, the only practical and functional response is massive widespread protest – any way and every way possible. Consider every tactic that will disorder daily events and disrupt business as usual. As the fuse burns shorter in America, millions of people around the world are taking it to the Demonstrations in Lyon France, October 2010streets in protest, toppling dictatorships and ripping the mask of pseudo-democracies where rulers refuse to respond to the people’s needs and grievances.

Push until authorities respond as democratic rulers or topple as tyrants, because conditions in the social organization have reached the point where destruction is desirable for its own sake, independent of any constructive program or possibility. This is the place to start and now is the time for Nihilism.


1. Study says final tab may double, Washington Post via Chicago Tribune, April 27, 2006.

2. Pentagon Steps Up Intelligence Efforts Inside U.S. Borders, by Robert Block and Jay Solomon, Wall Street Journal, April 2006.

3. Former Illinois governor guilty of corruption, Reuters, April 17, 2006.

* One detail in the Enron documentary that needs to be explained: Jeffrey Skilling is reputed to have used Richard Dawkin’s book The Selfish Gene as the visionary motivation for his Enron machinations, in other words as a mistaken justification for financially raping the country like the class act businessman he is. The title of Dawkin’s book actually refers to the nature of the genes being selfish in their singular desire to reproduce, not genes that makes selfish people more successful! This is obvious to anyone who has read the book and not just the cover like the dipshit scumbag Jeffrey Skilling but nonetheless it needs to be clarified lest the misunderstanding perpetuate.

4. America Right or Wrong - An Anatomy of American Nationalism, by Anatol Lieven, 2004, page 50, Oxford Univ. Press.

5. ibid, page 149.

6. The Last Days of the Dollar, by Robert Kiyosaki, October 17, 2006.

7. A Forgotten Holocaust: US Bombing Strategy, the Destruction of Japanese Cities and the American Way of War from the Pacific War to Iraq, by Mark Selden, Japan Focus, May 2, 2007.

8. Billions: The Politics of Influence in the United States, China and Israel, by Peter Dale Scott and Connie Bruck, Japan Focus, July 25, 2008.

9. Wall Street, White House blame homeowners in foreclosure crisis, by Tom Eley, WSWS, 16 October 2010.

10. Life expectancy declining in many parts of US, by Patrick Martin, WSWS, 16 June 2011.

Pick the topic you like: the Middle East, international terrorism, Central America, whatever it is — the picture of the world that's presented to the public has only the remotest relation to reality. The truth of the matter is buried under edifices after edifices of lies upon lies. - Noam Chomsky

   

Content & Design By Freydis
Updated: October, 2015
Created: 2006