The Empire Must be Broken
April 1, 2019 at 12:28 PM - Views: 132 #48195
There was a time… before I learned much about the reality of the world, or it’s history, that I believed America was indeed the leader of the free world. That our Country stood for civil rights, peace, freedom, decency – that we were, to put it foolishly, the “good guys”. At 18, I wanted to join the Marines and fight for my Country, as my Grandfather had done in world war 2. They turned me away for having a GED rather than a high school diploma, so I went to the Army. The recruiter was so lacking in any kind of conscience, any kind of moral compass, that he seemed alien to me. “So you wanna jump outta planes and shoot people? Oh, your meds? Don’t worry about it. We’ll take you off of them during basic. We’ll lie about this and that, get you in so you can…” For want of a better word – scum.
Ultimately I did not join the army. I could say I had issues with mental illness even then, was on medication and so on – but the real reason was that I just couldn’t imagine myself actually killing someone. I don’t know if I could if I have to. I suppose we never know until the situation demands it. There have been times when I wondered if that was a failure of mine – not serving in my Country’s armed forces, back when I was a stronger, more capable young man. Slowly, over the years, I believe I have come to understand something of the truth.
That young fools like I was are lied to, every minute of every day. By the media, by our politicians, by their parents who are well meaning – but don’t know any better, not really. There is a force behind these “wars for freedom and democracy” and it is not about freedom or democracy. If humanitarian concerns were truly at the forefront, for many years, America and other Countries could have rather simply combined resources to end world hunger. Each time we have gone to war (with the possible exception of World War II – I don’t know) there have been other, better options.
So what takes place today, in the land of the free? In this Country which some call leader of the free world? Our forces, our resources, are used to devastate small Nations. Our political and economic strength is used to deny them food, medicine, clean water and supplies. Our agencies, our agents, our schemers and liars – they go into Countries like Venezuela, Honduras, the Ukraine – they manufacture a crisis, they lie their asses off. The media takes the lies to the people, a lot of us believe them. Then there is war. Economic war, cold war, or an all out shooting war… the result of each is that people die – and some rich, malicious people lacking even the least bit of conscience… become richer.
Hundreds of billions of dollars, trillions. I suppose that, if you genuinely believe in trickle down theory (my apologies – but if you do, you’re way too damn gullible), it’s all for the good. The empire of destruction, financial and otherwise – trickling down it’s great wealth to the little people… except…
Poverty is on the rise. 20 million Americans live in extreme poverty. It is not about Nationalism – preserving, strengthening, helping or even providing for our own. Consider our education system and it’s lack of funding, it’s crumbling schools. Our roads, our bridges. Think of Flint – which, to my knowledge, still does not have clean water. Think of Detroit. Of the Dakota Access Pipeline – and how the combined efforts of thousands of people – and the overall support of the Nation… was not enough to stop fossil fuel. Think of the difference that might have been made – had old treaties been honored, or had even the water supply for many thousands been treated with anything resembling concern.
We live within this… bizarre matrix. It is built upon lies, fabrications, bending, twisting and breaking the truth until it loses all meaning. Yet we sing patriotic songs, hold our flags high. So many, would be angry to read this – perhaps some here are. Good. We need to get angry. We have permitted far too much cruelty, far too much hate and suffering for far too long. Only we, the people of this broken empire, can repair it. The system, such as it is, is corrupt and broken to the core. Somehow, we must act.
A lot of people believe that who is President doesn’t make much difference. It does. Through the President, through those we elect, our will, our thoughts, our passions are reflected. What does it say for us, that our candidates were both ultra wealthy sociopaths and war mongers? What of what is happening at the border? In Venezuela or Yemen? In Israel? Syria?
We can stop it, we can break this empire and build something new – but first, I think, we need to acknowledge how utterly broken it is. Sooner or later, it will collapse financially – because it cannot maintain it’s own weight. Unlimited growth and the continued current use of resources will quite simply destroy it – and us with it. But we can change that. We can stop it. We can vote for Bernie Sanders and those like him – which will help – but what will help more, I believe, is to realize that we’ve all been had. It’s not about political party, justice, or humanity… it hasn’t been for a very long time, if ever it was.
It’s about money and power. Money is power, in this land – and absolute power corrupts absolutely. That is the power we must put in check. Somehow. We must rise up against the empire in political revolution all over the world, we must turn our backs on capitalism, on endless greed and selfishness. We must love one another, just a little bit more – and value life… much more.
So much in the news today is so hateful, I can hardly stand to read it anymore. It is my hope… that when enough of us awaken… we will act. I only hope we can do so, before it is too late. Every cruel action, every decision of great consequence (war, economic policy,etc.) has intended and unintended consequences. Both sorts are killing us. Such decisions are being made – not by people of wisdom and compassion, but by people of greed and gold. Break the oligarchy – break the empire.
It will cost us, we will suffer for it – but it must be done.
April 1, 2019 at 12:58 PM #48218
- Total Posts: 1,152
Glad to see your awakening continue apace. A little history informs us that General Smedley Butler spilled the beans on the real purpose of American Empire way back in 1935 when he wrote these words. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smedley_Butler
“I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer; a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902–1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.”
His trenchant polemic on War does much the same: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_Is_a_Racket
For those paying attention, like yourself, nothing has changed in the intervening 84 years. Americans allow themselves to be willing dupes of empire and allow their children to be willing accomplices in enabling the machinations of Wall Street and the millionaires and billionaires. Overcoming propaganda corrupting the minds of otherwise intelligent people should be job one. That is a tall order since the media is owned by six very large corporations. And effectively, each of these media institutions are extensions and enablers of empire as recent history teaches about the Iraq and Afghanistan military conflicts.
The good news is that technology makes it possible to fight back and quite economically. However, it does take organization, discipline and long-term commitment to do so. And sadly, it won’t happen at forums like JPR or elsewhere. The fight needs a different approach than just chatting with one another online. The fight requires turning outrage into concrete action with the recognition that success will require decades considering the foe include: established media conglomerates, the US Government and an apathetic and docile public idling their time away in front of digital media.
Should the fight be waged? Absolutely! – Can the fight be waged? Most definitely! – Will the fight be waged? Possibly, possibly not …
"They must find it difficult ... Those who have taken authority as the truth,
Rather than truth as the authority."
- Gerald Massey
"It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society."
- Jiddu Krishnamurti
“Wisdom tells me I am nothing. Love tells me I am everything. And between the two my life flows."
- Nisargadatta Maharaj
April 1, 2019 at 2:44 PM #48270
- Total Posts: 6,335
If you’re not familiar with him, I recommend Richard J. Barnet’s works. He was a Kennedy Administration guy who later helped found the Institute for Policy Studies. His book Intervention and Revolution(Oxford U. Press, 1968) really opened my eyes once upon a time and it is far from his only book.
It’s basically a continuation of what Smedley Butler started.
We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob.--Franklin Delano Roosevelt
With Bernie Sanders, we have the receipts. --Nina Turner
April 1, 2019 at 1:19 PM #48225
A Simple GameMember@asimplegame
- Total Posts: 377
Excellent read, thanks. I doubt that I will live long enough to see it but I do believe the tide is turning and the world will be a better place for my grandchildren. Capitalism is at a turning point, if it isn’t fixed, modified, or eliminated soon it will inevitably collapse.
Your mention of patriotic songs makes me wonder, as I sometimes do because I was a teen in the late 1960’s, where are the protest songs? One more side effect I suppose of only a few companies owning all of the media?
I could go on and on, you have provided so much fodder for thought, but I lack for time this morning, but thanks again for such an excellent and thoughtful essay.
April 1, 2019 at 2:54 PM #48273
- Total Posts: 2,793
Protest songs: When Bush was invading Iraq, I drove to San Francisco on several occasions to join the protest marches. Thousands of us (undercounted by the media) marched down market street and ended up at the plaza in front of city hall where the speeches began and the “music” played. In the early days of protest the protesters consisted mostly of veteran Vietnam era marchers. As we waited for the speeches the “music” started. About two minutes (or maybe two seconds) into it, people started looking around at each other and asking what happened to Baez, Dillon, Collins, Mitchell; to songs that had a tune; with which you could sing along? Hip hop and rap had invaded the protest venue. So the protest “songs” are there. The are just nothing we old fogies want to hear any more.
“As we act, let us not become the evil that we deplore.” Barbara Lee
“Politicians and pro athletes: The only people who still get paid when they lose.” William Rivers Pitt
April 1, 2019 at 1:29 PM #48230
Mr. Mickeys MomModerator@mrmickeysmom
- Total Posts: 1,301
Righteous good rant, but more than that, DtheG… It calls for us all to take another reality check and to weigh in on history itself (TAT’s Smedly Butler piece is a great reminder of what we have been given by those who would know about the MIC)…
We will NOT, in my not-so-humble view, step into the streets until there are large swaths of those dying IN the streets. I have that conversation with my SO almost on a daily basis. I finally agreed with him… That’s what it’s going to take.
Meanwhile, I will advance my being able to “bird dog” officials to listen to me, especially more so when I retire later this year. I’ll finally have that time to drive round trip to Washington, D.C. (with others, no doubt, as we did when trying to stop the idiot Bush from invading Iraq). Non-violent civil disobedience and the willingness to be arrested, I imagine, will be along that path. I don’t want to be arrested, but they don’t want millions of us to decide that it will not matter anymore.
To the future…
Hell, no... I'm not giving up...
April 1, 2019 at 1:34 PM #48234
I am ordering that – and Confessions of an economic hitman. I’ve skimmed chapters and read passages of both – but never the entire books. Just got my monthly allowance from the government, so..
I think a big question, @thouartthat is HOW to wage that fight. I’ve heard lots of ideas, theories… but, I think we need a concrete plan of sorts. You are right, we will probably not accomplish victory in this war here at JPR – but I believe we can win a few important battles. Most of the people here, I believe, have minds that can think outside of the typical boxes. We are, most of us, people who are sick and tired of being lied to, betrayed, who want to do something about it. Perhaps, if each of us organizes a bit locally… I don’t know. We spoke of a progressive memo not too long ago – but putting it together and making it go viral could prove tough, especially with the current attitude regarding censorship in this Country.
April 1, 2019 at 1:48 PM #48243
Protest songs? Well… I know some aren’t fond of this type of music – but they are there, often, within rap, modern hip-hop. It’s what I listened to when I was younger, driving around in my old buick… or sneaking off into the woods with a pipe for smoking. Tobacco, of course! (Not really)
Honestly, if we look for them, they are there. In every song of rage about how corrupt the system has become – but they are often the kind of songs that people do not like to listen to – and cannot or will not listen to in public. Too blunt. Too angry. Too damn… hmm, graphic, in lots of cases. Not everyone likes their brand of music – but I would recommend Disturbed. Lots of songs with… considerable meaning, if you look for it. Part of the reason they are not officially recognized as “protest songs”, is because these big bad boys and girls don’t want to be labelled hippies – even though, seriously, most of them are (the other side to that is idiots like “Kid Rock (for brains)”.
I don’t want to die for it – I don’t want to be a martyr. Still, if I thought it would make a difference, I would be willing to. If it comes to that. Future generations… their lives, their world, will depend on what we do now. For all of us, decision time is here. We must choose, each of us, what sort of world we wish to live in. Then, somehow, we’ve got to make it.
If that means marching, if it means protesting, civil disobedience, boycotts and so on, then I can do that. If it means marching against live ammunition… then I will do that too. I do not know how many would join me, though – and when/if it comes to that point… our government will have pulled off the mask at last. Perhaps that in itself would be a victory.
Physical confrontation – armed struggle… I do not think that is any kind of solution that will work, not in this era. I would not wish to take part in it, it is the last thing I would wish to happen in my Country. For all the tough talk about civil war and whatnot… I think I would rather go down with a sign in my hands, than with a gun. Oh, I’ll be a human shield if I must, or maybe wrestle with some riot police who will inevitably kick my ass… but I’m not willing to kill. I don’t think that is the way – I don’t think it can be. The revolution should be about respect for life, based on notions such as holding it sacred, in deep regard. Doing what we can to nurture and grow.. not to destroy.
I wonder what such a land, such a people would be like. There will never be a perfect utopia, but there is great beauty within this world, within it’s people, within each of us, if we look hard enough. We can change. But… we have to recognize that we should – and then we have to want to.
April 1, 2019 at 2:11 PM #48256
- Total Posts: 227
Very well said!
April 1, 2019 at 2:41 PM #48267
- Total Posts: 6,335
Excellent essay, and I’m happy to strongly recommend it for the Daily Radical, @deadpool
As I see it, it is not a question of if the American Empire will fall, but when and how. The American people do have a say in when and how. Do we wait until the rentiers suck so much wealth and legal rights away from us and spend so much on worthless(to us) foreign wars that we explode like the French did on 1789? Do we wait until so many of our soldiers get sick of seeing their comrades die in vain that they turn their weapons on their so-called superiors like the Russians did in 1917?
Or do we exert so much public pressure against Empire and for better living standards at home that we simply walk away from most foreign wars and occupations like the French and British did in the 1950s and 60s?
Personally, I like the last option the best, and that is why I am active in politics now. Of course, the French and British ruling classes had been weakened by depression and war, and there were a couple of other rising powers at the time. Now…it’s somewhat different for us, but there is at least one other rising power–China. Hmmm…I’ll have to think on that. Now look what you’ve done! You’re making me think! Bad, bad Gnome!
We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob.--Franklin Delano Roosevelt
With Bernie Sanders, we have the receipts. --Nina Turner
April 1, 2019 at 7:10 PM #48413
- Total Posts: 65
I agree, but I wish that we would focus more of our argument against interventionism(as well as a bloated military) on the fact that we can’t afford it, that there are too many problems or pressing needs at home that need to be addressed instead, and that it not only doesn’t work, it just keeps making things worse. I do get that a lot of our foreign policy is ultimately motivated by resources, geopolitics, and the defense industry, but I would argue that is probably true of all countries, that it is still true that our recent wars have involved going up against an opposing side that was not good, and that it would have been hard to build up enough support for war without the humanitarian issues(or perceived threats to national security), even if there were other reasons that motivated those in charge to act and it has usually only made things worse. Also, when most people hear the word “empire”, although I do get what you and others are saying, I think most people think of a country that has colonies, rules over foreign lands against the will of the people living in those lands, and goes to war to acquire new territories/maintain rule over its current territories.
April 1, 2019 at 9:34 PM #48470
- Total Posts: 2,145
April 2, 2019 at 10:50 AM #48654
- Total Posts: 2,597
Like you I was under the mistaken notion that my nation stood for civil rights, peace, freedom and decency. How could I have been so totally wrong? I think we are to be forgiven because the ongoing effort at deception is a huge and costly enterprise in and of itself.
I know many people that would never question the motives behind things like the anti Venezuela propaganda operation. The government says it, I believe it, kind of deal. Greatest country in the world!
I would like to remind you that U.S. health insurance companies do not contribute anything to health care. They are only a PARASITIC middle man receiving an undeserved cut of "FREE MONEY".
April 2, 2019 at 11:30 AM #48662
I have always thought of my Father as wise – certainly, at the least, far wiser than I am. In terms of overall wisdom and life experience – I still believe that… but in terms of political understanding and such… not anymore. He cannot see that the “democratic party” has become so much of what it has always claimed to despise. How it has abandoned the people in return for the cash and power of the wealthy donor class. How the corruption goes all the way to the core. I do not think he can connect the dots – or, if he can, he does not wish to. He has a life, much better put together than my own, a good job – the respect and admiration of much of the community. He is a genuinely decent man – but he does have big blind spots.
We have gotten into arguments about Maddow, Schiff and others – and if I let myself get upset, then they spiral completely out of control, to the point where we both have to shut our mouths or say things that can’t be unsaid.
He is nearing 70, so it is hard to blame him for clinging to the past, to the things he has long believed that have served him well. He does well for himself, for his family, he spent decades working for that and earning it. If MSNBC and such comforts him, gives him some peace of mind that Trump and the right are the villains and the left is all good and pure, well… I can’t say I want to take that from him. It was damnably hard for me. I have always been more of a pessimist, more on the cynical side. My dad… hopeless optimist.
I wonder, if we go by generation, how many are still fooled, I mean, truly, really fooled. How many watch Maddow and agree with all she says? How many think Adam Schiff is a truly great man? Perhaps once even I would have. Not anymore. Oh, the villains on the right are as bad as ever – it is just that now I recognize those on the left for what they are, as well. I think.
April 3, 2019 at 8:00 PM #49285
- Total Posts: 595
Dont be surprised if your father amazes you at some point.
Mine was a WWII Vet and hard core Republican. Then something happened in his mid-late 70’s. He voted Obama. Hmmmm. Then he also got on my mother’s case to start voting D at every chance. What really surprised me was when he confided in me, in his 80’s, the deep sadness he had for what we had become. Cannot imagine the depth of that feeling given he had PTSD as well and a terminal illness that grew in him acquired most likely at duty.
Animals know more than we do.
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