No Gods Higher Than Truth
Journal of a Futurist - 29 December 2002
Maybe Dr Evil Isn't Who You Think
I drove down from the Mountains to our inner city rented house and carted the luggage into the hall, then darted to the kitchen and put on the kettle. It was a sunny day, around noon. I returned to the hall and discovered a bag had disappeared, the one adorned with the red sock. The door had been open a minute. The long feared disaster had come to pass. The buggers had got my laptop.
Later a local resident phoned to say that a pile of mail, mostly bills, had been dumped in her back yard, along with a red sock. All this is by way of an apology for the disruption to these journals . The theft knocked the wind out of my sails. Compared to the plight of 90% of humanity, it is a piffling blow, though ill-timed. Already gloomily aware that my ranting & moralising makes not the slightest difference to anything, I took a looooong lunch.
Dont talk to me about backup. If your life is that dull you shouldnt be reading this. Besides, being in the grip of Microsoft Entourage means youre forced to play a tortured game of hide & seek to find where your emails are buried. One outcome of todays Totalitarian Creep, is that imminent instrument of oppression, Total Information Awareness. An upside is that the Pentagon is likely to launch a lucrative sideline, Total Global Back-Up. Now that were citizens-without-rights in a looming American Empire and privacy is considered unpatriotic, we might at least get Total Data Protection.
No Gods Higher Than Truth
Apart from the contents of my purloined laptop, two stolen books are also enlivening the days of the house invaders. One is a steamy, scintillating first novel, The Showgirl & the Brumby, by Lucy Lehmann, another is a rich collection of verse, A Glass Half Full, by my old friend and former cellmate, Felix Dennis. I found the poems invigorating, as I trust will the burglars, even illuminating. They flow against the tide. Theres rhyme in their reasoning. They project the feral ruminations of a non domesticated multi millionaire. The book is full of insights & wry observations, even the footnotes, from which I sometimes recoil. The sins of the USA, Felix argues, compared to those of previous empires, are of a more moderate if more pervasive kind. To put it bluntly. If Americans are so fat, stupid & ignorant, how come they rule the world?
Leaving aside the issue of moderation (Hiroshima? Korea? Vietnam? Cambodia? Panama in 1989
with 3000 civilian deaths hidden from history, etc), what s so praiseworthy about any one country ruling the world or even wanting to? Its tyranny. Why should non US citizens be bullied by an uptight government in which they have no say? A regime which aspires to rule the world is one to bemoan, not congratulate.
There is this crazy idea that any democracy it is ipso facto virtuous. Ancient Greece and all that. Even in its purest form, when Athenians could roll up and participate in policy without the need of a shady intermediary, (a poltician), plenty of injustices took place. Dont get me wrong. Im misty eyed about Athens. Democracy is a brilliant invention, as is the theatre, Euclidian geometry and Western philosophy. Dear old Socrates started his career by questioning the unscrupulous behaviour of the gods. He ended it on death row because of the unscrupulous behaviour of democrats.
Socrates seems so
now. He pursued truth as a collaborative adventure. Instead of writing books, he held public conversations. As there was no media elite, no consummate CNN style censorship, his truth seeking rebounded from the rooftops.
Facing the Future with Rage & a Blindfold
In Greece, intellectual innovation was not matched on the ground, where it was pretty much a lets do it the same way its always been done. If someone had come up with the idea of transferring the technology of the sailboat to the windmill, Athens could have been the bread basket of Europe. Instead, the drudgery of grinding the corn was left to the slaves and not even philosophers cared about them. Slaves were non people. It was the same in the Roman empire, the British Empire and now the American Empire. The ones who do the drudgery get a pittance. The ones who manage the drudgery get a chance to send their kids to an expensive school. The one who manage the managers get stretch limos & wealth beyond sanity.
The innovations of the Greeks centred on intellectual liberation. The innovations of the West centre on weapons, toys and consumer products . We in the West face the future with dud ideas, a belligerent spirit and huge blindspots. Never mind compassion. Fortress Australia is a state of mind, and the walls grow thicker.
Just as Socrates failed to notice the slaves, we fail to the notice the ideas that enslave us. Just as our Christian forbears sang hymns as millions of families were hauled from African villages, branded, manacled & sent to the sugar plantations, we too pull down the blinds and turn on the game shows. What enthrals us most is sport, money, sex, hideous music and more money. Where is the thrust of ideas that can free up the future, as opposed to re-imposing the past? What issues would Socrates raise today? State assassinations, the annulment of habeas corpus, the media as flag wavers, the arbitrary creation of no-fly zones in foreign lands with a license to bomb civilians, the elevation of sneak attacks to a political doctrine, the promotion of globalisation as a market & sweatshop while sidestepping the moral obligations of sharing a single earth.
Todays Socrates would ask:
- By what law, either moral or legal, is it okay for some nations to possess and sell weapons of mass destruction, while others cannot?
- Fictional depictions of people being brutalised and murdered are a staple of cinema and TV. Real life images of innocent people being murdered many by democratic states - are excluded from the evening news. Why?
- It is no longer possible to turn a blind eye to global warming, the major impact of which will fall on the developing world. Australia and the US refuse to co-operate with the 100 plus signatories of Kyoto by what right?
- If the sea level rises in Bangladesh and millions of refugees head towards Oz, who will decide their fate? Those who caused it?
- What is the difference between a bomber pilot and a suicide bomber, other than one is airborne, the other is braver & neither go to jail?
- If a Prime Minister who professes to be ethical is found to found to engage in serious deception and nepotism, as well as the condoning of his ministers conflicts of interest, in what esteem should he be held?
- Over 3000 suspected al Qaeda members and their supporters, whatever that means, have been detained in secret locations outside the US since 9/11, without due process or legal representation. Torture is routinely inflicted, despite US Government crocodile condemnations. The Washington Post discovered a brass knuckled quest for information often in concert with foreign agencies renowned for brutality, in which traditional lines between right and wrong, legal and inhumane are evolving and blurred. Hey, there is nothing evolutionary about mass torture. If a regime uses evil practices to combat evil, then it can no longer claim to be good.
- Our ally against evil is Vladimir Putin, who sends special forces (ie thugs) to Chechen refugee camps on cleansing operations, in which children are beaten, dragged away and disappeared, without the slightest regard for legal rights. If the victims are ever heard from again, it is when their mothers are told to collect their bodies. Why is this condoned in the West? Why are we shocked that Chechens resort to terror?
- Under what legal grounds are US special forces now covertly operating in Iraq? In the likely event of Iraqi civilians being murdered, who will hold such forces to account?
- When the Australian Minister of Immigration knowingly deports refugees to a land where death awaits them, why is he not charged with their murder?
Few of these questions are of concern to todays politicians, who would view the pot bellied, bow legged, bald headed Socrates as a hopeless loser, penniless to boot. Their man of the moment is Machiavelli, who championed the need for strong leaders to be immoral, cruel & treacherous.
Its official! World Domination Many Years in the Plotting
My oft disputed claim that Americas plans to dominate the world at any cost is largely based on observation and inference. (See Amerika Psycho, Ocean Books). A brilliant essay in Harpers Magazine (October 02) by David Armstrong, who has trawled through acres of US Defence strategy documents, reveals the extent of this objective and its rapid implementation. US power must be absolute. All rivals crushed. He quotes Colin Powell - a hawk in doves plumage - telling the Armed Services Committee in 1992, that the US required enough power to deter anyone from EVER dreaming of challenging us on the world stage. Not only the world, actually.
The dumping of the Anti Ballistic Missile treaty, the opposition to a nuclear test ban and the doctrine of pre-emptive strike are clues to a darker vision, crudely summed up by Powell: I want to be the bully on the block. (Its true check Harpers). Few Whitehouse brown-nosers from Australia realise that the Donal Rumsfeld version of the pre-emptive strike involves nuclear weapons for attacking hardened & deeply buried targets, On top of this, the US military has been directed to develop cyber, laser and electronic warfare capabilities to ensure US dominon of the heavens. Despite this madness, Canberra rolls over with its paws in the air, hoping the bully will chuck us a bone.
Pre-emptive Lifestyle Protection
And it gets worse. On Boxing Day, a time when much of mainstream media is left in the hands of juniors and the stray oddball, so quirky stuff slips through, this headline appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald : Defence Redefined Means Securing Cheap Energy. Its origin unsourced, the byline unfamiliar, (Ritt Goldstein), the import was hallucinatory. Senior US military thinkers have redefined the goal of defence to mean protecting the American lifestyle, including, of course, the plentiful supply of cheap oil. Goldstein cites the August edition of the Journal of Homeland Security, where a top security guru, Lieutenant-Colonel P H Liotta, announced that America will practise pre-emption against those who seek to harm our vital interest and OUR WAY OF LIFE.
Lets ponder the implications of this policy, one of Pre-emptive Lifestyle Protection. If Australia invents a cheap, patented, ubiquitous source of clean energy which drives new kinds of engines and threatens Detroit, will Sydney be bombed? If a Global Messiah emerges to popularise the practice of voluntary simplicity and the rejection of Hollywood, will he be liquidated by a robo-assassin? If famished Africans refuse to consume GM modified mood, will they be left to starve?
An article by Jeffrey Record in the spring 2001 issue of the influential US War College journal, Parameters, puts the case for shooting in the Persian Gulf on behalf of lower gas prices. The same kind of argument can justify a shooting in Columbia on behalf of lower coffee prices. Or special forces in Paris on behalf of low cost silk lingerie. In the case of Iraq, the War College journal suggests painting over the USs actual reasons for warfare with a nobly high minded veneer
. Say it again George to save the world from evil.
Machiavelli must be a matinee idol at US Military school. In his 1513 classic, The Prince, the cool eyed realist wrote: men must either be caressed or else annihilated; they will revenge themselves for small injuries, but cannot do so for great ones; the injury therefore that we do a man must be such that we need not fear his vengeance. Right on! Unleash the Predators. Send in the Special Forces. Lie to the world. Torture all suspects. Hurrah for Pre-emptive Lifestyle Protection. Tra la la la la..
Dont Cry Over Spilt Whiteout
PS Thanks to David H for his email on this Orewellian encounter: When (Australian) security supremo Dennis Richardson spoke in defence of the recent ASIO raids on muslim families, he said that anyone who felt that their rights had been abused could take their concerns to the Ombudsman.
However, I have this today from the Ombudsman's office:
"The Commonwealth Ombudsman is not authorised to investigate the actions of ASIO or other government security agencies." Tra la la la
PPS Remember how the original 12000 page Iraqi weapons report was delivered to the UN, then whisked off to Washington to be photo copied? Unfortunately, a bucket of Whiteout was spilt on the names of the corporations that have supplied Iraq with the ingredients it needed to develop biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons. Luckily, the original document has been restored by malcontents. The names of US offenders include Honeywel, Hewlett-Packard, Dupont, Eastman Kodak and twenty others. More info at the memoryhole.org. Tra la la la.