What civilization is, is 6 billion people trying to make themselves happy by standing on each other’s shoulders and kicking each other’s teeth in. It’s not a pleasant situation.
And yet, you can stand back and look at this planet and see that we have the money, the power, the medical understanding, the scientific know-how, the love and the community to produce a kind of human paradise. But we are led by the least among us – the least intelligent, the least noble, the least visionary.We are led by the least among us and we do not fight back against the dehumanizing values that are handed down as control icons.
This is something, culture is not your friend. Culture is for other people’s convenience and the convenience of various institutions: churches, companies, tax collection schemes, what have you. It is not your friend. It insults you. It disempowers you. It uses and abuses you. None of us are well treated by culture.
Yet we glorify the creative potential of the individual, the rights of the individual. We understand the felt-presence of experience is what is most important. But the culture is a perversion. It fetishizes objects, creates consumer mania, it preaches endless forms of false happiness, endless forms of false understanding in the form of squirrelly religions and silly cults. It invites people to diminish themselves and dehumanize themselves by behaving like machines.
~ Terrence McKenna
Pretty powerful words there, and brimming with truth far too few of us are willing to face today. Our civilization is little more than a crafty ruse, designed to virtually enslave the many for the benefit of a powerful few. That’s what capitalism is and if you really think about it, deep down in the pit of your stomach you know it’s true.
Think about the trillions of dollars we waste, decade after decade, generation upon generation – not to mention the lives – waging wars that ultimately benefit only a few of us (and quite handsomely I might point out).
I was talking to a guy a few months ago, an overtly hawkish, probably Republican, fine upstanding patriotic American, about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. I pointed out that there were no WMD’s or any connection to al Qaeda in Iraq, nor any excuse for the length of time, pile of money, and thousands of lives our escapade in Afghanistan has cost. His response was total agreement, “but if we bring them all home, what are they gonna do to make a living?”
So we are justified in terrorizing entire nations, plundering their health, and destroying their infrastructure because our soldiers wouldn’t have anything to do otherwise, either as soldiers or civilians? Really? Is that the best we can do?
I think not.
The trillions we waste on imperialist wars, and the untaxed billions controlled by the wealthiest among us could be put to far greater use rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure, revitalizing our industrial base, and providing food, shelter, medicine, and education to those among us who survive today in or on the brink of poverty, in this nation and abroad, If only we’d find the collective will to face reality.
In the United States, we are brought up to believe that capitalism is the greatest economic system the world has ever seen. The alternatives – communism, socialism, etc. – are vilified as tyranny and despotism; totally incompatible with either modern human civilization or human nature, but this is a distortion of the truth at best, an outright lie at worst.
While it’s true that communism failed miserably in the Soviet Union and post-WWII China, those failures weren’t caused by innate flaws in communism, but in the flawed personalities of individuals who led these movements. Anyone who believes that the United States of America has a better track record of human rights than either of our communist ‘adversaries’ of the twentieth century has either not been paying attention or is willfully ignorant of our own imperialist history.
Our government has a long history of bloodshed in the name of commerce and industry (meaning profit and greed), going all the way back to the first European colonies in the Americas and the genocide of the original inhabitants of this continent – sometimes intentional, sometimes not – that we have yet to acknowledge as a nation.
Then there’s the African slave trade and the hundreds of thousands, if not millions, who were tortured, raped, and murdered to supply the cheap labor that literally built this nation in it’s first century of existence and beyond; the racial hatred and fear we all still suffer from to this day.
The United States of America is a nation steeped in the blood of the powerless, but the criminal behavior doesn’t stop at our borders. As Colby Hess pointed out in an article posted previously on this site:
The United States government (largely through the CIA and its predecessors) is directly responsible for the overthrow of at least half a dozen democratically elected governments around the world over the past hundred plus years. Among these are many of our neighbors in Latin America such as Guatemala in 1954, Brazil in 1964, and Chile in 1973. Further afield we have Iran in 1953, which is particularly ironic considering the dire straits of our present day relationship. This list doesn’t include the toppling of non-elected governments (almost all of them replaced by brutal dictators) such as Syria in 1949 and Ghana in 1966. It also doesn’t include direct invasion by U.S. troops such as the Philippines in 1898, Panama (first in 1895 and again at least eight more times since), Grenada in 1983, and most recently, Iraq in 2003.
The blood of the world is on our hands, yet we are told that they hate us for our freedom?
The mythology that tells us we live in the freest nation in the history of the world is just that, a myth! If this were a truly free country hundreds of thousands of our fellow citizens would not be languishing in prisons, providing cheap labor to state and local governments as well as many private industries, simply because they chose to consume substances that at one time were less popular than alcohol, and are known to be far less dangerous. And let’s not forget that many of our prisons are now operated by private, for-profit corporations, which build or buy these facilities with contractual guarantees of at least 90% occupancy before they ever sign their dirty deals.
Slavery never ended in the United States, the pool of possible captives was merely expanded and the rules of their captivity only slightly altered. Don’t even get me started on the wage-slavery scheme that is our higher education / student loan system. What better way to ensure a compliant population than to offer them two options; sell yourself into nearly insurmountable debt in exchange for a so-called education and the hope of a slightly higher income, or languish at the bottom in industries that barely pay subsistence wages?
The ugly truth of the matter is that we live in one of the most despotic nations the world has ever known, and our government is justifiably hated across many regions of the planet. The ideals we hold so dear: freedom of speech and religion, freedom of the press, habeas corpus, protection from unreasonable search and seizure, privacy. That’s all going away just as quickly as our apathetic population can be frightened into accepting it.