A Stricken Empire – The Shadow of Our Hegemony

Like a ghostly soldier of fortune, the shadow of our hegemony has been casting its pall over the earth for more than two centuries now; but it is growing thin, its pulse weakening, its days numbered.  The American empire – this great experiment in freedom and prosperity – is apparently approaching its end; but the would-be corpse is still breathing, battling like a mythic hero desperate to stay alive.

Early indications of this eventuality were foreshadowed in global projections of peak oil along with the empire’s continued environmental abuse and degradation.  More recently, the hard-fall of its financial markets and idling of its economic engines betrayed undeniable signs that collapse was on course: the road of infinite progress and universal affluence picking up speed in a stunning reversal, now the road to perdition.

Barack Obama’s selection signaled the rising of the curtain on possibly the final act, as another charismatic emperor struts onstage promising a new dawn with more growth, orchestrated around an ever-expanding imperial vision, with America again “ready to lead the world.” (I’m sure I was not the only one who choked when those words left his lips).  Even the least perceptive among the rag-tag proletariat out in the hinterlands could read the tea-leaves; America’s weariness exposed, a looming archetypal battle brewing among forces of hegemonic expansion, contraction, and those instigating for something whispered only softly in kitchens and back alleys, its disintegration.  Many began already back then to look for a safe exit.

Additional signs of collapse were the palpable, almost visceral reaction of individual States, recoiling from the growing burden of a constantly expanding Federal mandate.  Perhaps the governors finally had enough, recognizing the insidiousness of this creeping imperial disease – relentlessly clawing its way forward – as clearly as others around the globe have seen our national character for more than a century. No less than two dozen States have challenged health care overhaul and just this week urged a U.S. Appeals Court to strike down the legislation, arguing that it far exceeds the federal government’s constitutional powers.

Additional evidence of national disintegration has been unmistakable over the past two years: a renewed defense of the 10th amendment – States seeking to safeguard their rights, vociferously refusing federal stimulus funds, with some backdoor chatter of secession in various quarters.  And all this was coupled with an almost magically self-induced splintering strife haunting both factions (Democrat and Republican) of the controlling political hegemony.

It appears that much of this early maneuvering by the States arose in direct response to the Obama administration’s move to curtail the second amendment’s right to bear arms, nationalize certain commercial enterprises, make ‘hand-cuff’ loans to the States, and continue to support its multinational corporate sponsors’ investments through expanded military campaigns globally. Well, you get the picture!  More big government!  More imperial control!  More power!

President Obama tipped his hand early in his tenure during a visit to the Kremlin (of all places) not long after ascending to the high seat. Speaking to graduates of the New Economic School in Moscow in 2009, he stated, “The pursuit of power is no longer a zero-sum game… Progress must be shared.” To clarify, the issue raised by such a bold admission is not whether this “pursuit” is a zero or positive sum game; but simply, that power is the name of the game plain and simple – a game played by hegemons for ensuring their global influence and driving their imperialist designs. The real import of his remark was not merely acknowledging that continual expansion is a cornerstone of nation building, but that the real game is the pursuit of power globally (we can worry later about win, lose or draw).

And, as we have seen, our imperialist elites will stop at nothing to gain the upper hand.  They will sleep with, take orders from, or eliminate anybody in order to expand their reach and enrich themselves, no matter what the cost to the earth, our citizenry, or other cultures: conspiring with the likes of BP, Goldman Sachs, Gaddafi, Mubarak, Saddam Hussein, and bin Laden, to name just a few.  Anyone can become a pawn to be used, supported, and then despised or eliminated, depending upon the needs of imperial expansion and global hegemony.

The latest instantiation of trouble in our increasingly troubling imperialistic drive was betrayed by recent events and commentary surrounding the apparent assassination of Osama bin Laden, America’s latest version of the incarnate face of Evil!  And the talking points have been reiterated non-stop by media idiots and other paid counter-conspiracy theory pundits.

The fact is that we were beside-ourselves with joy to support the master terrorist when he was fighting the Evil Empire, as those Soviet Commies were attempting to “liberate” Afghanistan from the unwashed Islamic hordes.  With prodding from our CIA, we supplied Osama and his “freedom fighters” with the know-how and weaponry to stave off the unholy aggressors and defend their homeland.  We used him as a puppet in our Cold War battle against the great Soviet Bear.  He was our fair-haired Muslim boy, our bearded savior from the holy land.  But then, when our own creeping assault upon the sacred soil became more clearly manifest, defiling and despoiling the sacred spaces as we moved – from Kuwait and Iraq to Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and now Libya – bin Laden quickly recognized that Uncle Sam and our hegemonic designs were the real threat to his holy land, to their religious and cultural traditions, as we sought to gain control of their liquid gold, the OIL that maintains our unsustainable and deluded, infidel lifestyle.

But the USA also needed a reason to increase its incursions into MENA, so perhaps the CIA was tapped again to call upon its old friend Osama to wreak some havoc on our own soils (9/11), and get the American populace behind a larger war of occupation and control in the Middle East and the Arabian Peninsula. Given the history of our covert operations, deceptions and machinations (as Wikileaks has clearly demonstrated), it is not entirely out of the question. Perhaps this is why conspiracy theories still run rampant; and why this Administration (in the person of Dr. ‘Sunny’ Sunstein) wants to squelch them pronto. And perhaps that is why we finally had to pop Osama –  “Geronimo” – quickly and quietly, without trial or public discussion, because the wholly/holy Evil One knew too much.

With our relentless assaults in that region and the rest of the globe, we continue to increase our military budgets exponentially for imperial expansion and the goodies it promises to deliver – oil, markets, and slave-wage labor.  All the while taking our own social programs to the killing floor of the abattoir, seeking to disembowel senior citizens and the poor, and perhaps then, the middle class. (Katie, bar the doors!!)

So what is happening here?  Well, disenfranchised socialists, libertarians and communists all smell blood in the water.  Yet the larger body politic – the proletariat or petite bourgeoisie (depending upon your perspective) – is not so quick to jump on any of these tired bandwagons.  In fact, many among the masses are exploring alternative solutions concerning the trajectory and velocity of change necessary to avert the direst of outcomes.  And among them are voices loosely crying for a retreat or even the termination of the executioner… death to the State and its alien authority.

These calls come from the would-be anarchists of today… not because they want chaos to reign; rather, because they feel the archaic pull of a more primal autonomy, some feral memory trace that was lost with the establishment of kingdoms, nations, empires, legislators, and other anonymous, impersonal hierarchies.

Yes, a revolution seems imminent. But it does not promise to be soft or unifying; rather, it looks to be one of disintegration.  And while the secessionist movements may have gained serious momentum among certain left-leaning elements during the second coming of the Burning Bush era, this revolution may not be led by liberals or progressives, but rather by conservatives and independents, perhaps by the slap-happy-gun-tottin’-Tea-partiers themselves; those who prefer limited federal authority and minimal government in general.  And now, the GOP (a.k.a. Sister Sarah) is looking to create further divisions within the USA over the “Osama Kill.”

But when the divisiveness escalates, and fists (err… bullets) start to fly, with a few States perhaps attempting secession from the Union, these new anarchists may begin to make their own moves, taking advantage of the vulnerability of both the Union and the States.

As heir-apparent of Western progress with constantly expanding hierarchies of social, political, and economic complexity, the self-described beacon of hope to the rest of humanity, this American landscape is now a fitting body-politic for a complete reversal of course; the rejection of hierarchy, of legislative control, and the complexity of the civilized state.  It appears increasingly to be the unlikely harbinger of the recovery of a more primal, instinctual freedom.  (What did Freud call it,  “the return of the repressed?”)

America is a land ripe for cultural, economic and political disintegration in the interests of recovering some lost simplicity. All hinges upon the nature, dynamics and momentum of the revolutionary spirit, and to what extent it can overcome the inertia of standing cultural and political hegemonic forces. But the fairytales we tell ourselves, and the myths we have come to believe in, simply to maintain this ignorance and our loyalty to this dream-turned-nightmare, carry too great a price for even people like Sarah-know-nothing or Joe-nobody to put up with and stay their hand much longer.

Will the coming end of the American empire have us running in retreat from a world populated by the likes of Mad Max, a war of all against all?  Or will it be the highly anticipated coming of the Kingdom of God on earth? Neither I think!  If revolutionary forces succeed in mobilizing this passion for disintegration, and if such passion can fuel the anarchist’s vision for community without authority, without a head of state, then perhaps this hegemony can be dismantled and “we, the people,” can rediscover a renewed form of community — real communities built upon simple respect for the other (including the earth), an appreciation of self-sufficiency born of cooperation, and an expansive sense of kinship – both consanguineal and affine relations. But let’s not hope for it; there’s already been too much of that “hopey” thing lately.

87 Responses to A Stricken Empire – The Shadow of Our Hegemony

  1. murph says:

    It is fairly easy for people that make the effort to learn and understand and come to the conclusion that this empire will collapse at some time. History also says this will happen and why. The big question is when and what it will look like and that of course is the tremendous amount of speculation we can read every day. The empire might even collapse from the effects of forces that are outside our control. That has also happened. You know, rapid and extreme climate changes, worldwide earth quakes, bombardment from space, etc. The individual will not be able to prepare for really catastrophic events but can prepare to some extent for the gradual degeneration.

    It sure appears to me that we probably are not going to have a sudden collapse. It is going to be drug out and be painful as hell. Also, collapse may only be in the form of a complete change in how things are run, sort of a 1984 kind of change, or maybe more of a “World Made By Hand” scenario, or more of a Dark Ages kind of change. I would anticipate none of those scenarios will be much fun to live through. We are now experiencing more of a 1984 kind of living arrangement with the corporate world dominating politics, public policy, monitory manipulation and even thought processes and making some of these illegal, even labeling it terrorism. Obama just issued nationally the thought suppression declaring that anyone that does not go along with the Osama killing has got to be nuts.

    Sure hope you got a stock pile of pop corn. The show has already started and the full length film is about to start

  2. John Bollig says:


    Let’s get real here. The future lies in a much smaller world of regionalism. The tenth amendment is useless since the federal Commerce clause runs everything. If a local BBQ shack can be called interstate commerce, then any thing can be considered within the striking power of the federal authority. I think we are misreading history here. From where I sit, the second amendment is considered to be sacred and the federal supremacy clause is valid. However, budget cuts at the state and local level will be much more dangerous than the decline in the power and scope of federal powers. Frankly, Sandy we are looking at the end of social welfare programs in the United States at the state and local level. Kansas has a 500 million dollar budget shortfall and the projections by the legistlative audit are for a series of 400 – 600 million dollar budget shortfalls for the forseeable future. Since the so called stimulis failed and was diverted to the pockets of wall street, States are being wiped off the map. I wonder how much of AIG and GM do we really own ? Now, for a crystal ball, or my take on this mess.

    States are going to be forced to make massive social service cutbacks. Education will be gutted, Medicare will cease to exist, Medicaid will cease to exist. You will of course have the unfortunate deaths and crime waves as a result of mental health services being wiped out, disabled and seniors dropping like flies when granny can’t get her meds. The states can’t keep up with the dead bodies stacked up like firewood and the losses of billions of dollars. So, they start to look at declaring martial law and seizure of resources and land in order to protect their elite interests. The middle class, realizing that they are screwed, revolt and ” burn down the school “. This will lead to much bloodshed as the states will use whatever means at their disposal to protect the elites. Many of the powers that be will be hunted down like dogs and you will have citizens courts hanging the pwer brokers by the neck until they are dead dead dead. At which time the federal authorities will come in and the local elites will be so scared they will sign everything over to the federal or state power. Can we say serfdom again ? We just may go back to the 14th century before the 21st century is halfway over. WE will face massive death in this nation the likes of which will boggle the mind.
    Realistically speaking, Social service collapse will start the ball rolling down to serfdom.

    • kulturcritic says:

      So, John, I don’t see where we have much disagreement! With the exception that I do not think there will be a federal takeover, as you seem to suggest. Oh, I see. You are disappointed in my ‘happy ending’ scenario. I don’t know why I did that; but it does seem to me something positive might emerge in some quarters. But, that is just my assumption.

    • Disaffected says:

      I think the main question will be, at what point will the all volunteer military lay down their arms and refuse orders? Of course there’s still a much higher paid mercenary force out there too, whose ranks will probably expand as corporate interests decide to go it alone with their own private forces. I think one thing’s for sure, when the dollar finally collapses and we no longer have a national currency, then the jig will finally be up. There will simply be no reason whatsoever thereafter to continue on with the charade of a common “national interest.” And that could happen very soon indeed.

      When people start worrying about where their next meal will come from, where they will sleep that night, they will quickly align with whatever local group can provide answers to those questions. Hierarchy will die hard for a people so used to being taken care of, especially for those living in places (Pheonix, Las Vegas, LA) where hierarchy is the only thing allowing them to survive in the first place.

      • kulturcritic says:

        Speaking of the financial collapse, Citibank announced a 10 to 1 reverse stock split. Typically that is not an encouraging decision by a publicly traded entity, if I am not mistaken.

    • capt rick says:

      you would make a good sci fi writer.

  3. Henry David Thorough says:

    good stuff

  4. Gary Hoover says:

    “It sure appears to me that we probably are not going to have a sudden collapse. It is going to be drug out and be painful as hell.”

    It has seemed clear to me, for some time, that US workers can’t expect to make 10 times more than workers in other parts of the world while doing the same work. The problem is, workers and politicians aren’t facing that fact and we aren’t easing ourselves into the inevitable world in which American wages are more in balance with the rest of the world. Instead, we are clinging to our high wages when those wages make us un-competitive on a world stage.

    The answer is to accept the fact that we will have to work more for less . . . but very few people seem willing to accept that. If we can’t, then the transition will seem very painful.

    • kulturcritic says:

      Gary – thanks for stopping by. You are definitely correct about wages; but that is really not the central problem. The capitalist problem is greed, particularly at the ownership level (so they would agree with you about wages, as they stuff their pockets with the wealth created by others’ work); but more broadly, the problem is the lifestyle it has engendered, and the wholesale destruction of the biosphere that has resulted from that unsustainable life.

    • Disaffected says:


      The real problem is not that wages are sliding toward third world standards (they are, whether quick enough or not), but that CEOs and corporate management salaries the world over are skyrocketing at exponential rates. Truth be told, we don’t havenational problems in the world today, we have an out of control class problem, in that the rich have convinced themselves (and apparently, quite a few of the poor as well) that they are entitled to all of the wealth in the world today. Not just some, they want it all (cue Freddy Mercury)! Until that is resolved, all else will be merely smoke and mirrors.

      By the way, “globalism” is a bullshit economic theory that is already in the process of imploding due to energy issues. It was always only about the rich robbing from the poor, albeit on a global, rather than national scale. It won’t last the decade. I got in big trouble for telling my college profs that, but I think I’m going to look them up one of these days and see what they think now.

      • Straycat says:

        Wage differentials have been created by the multi-national (more accurately, supranational) corporations. While the cost of production has gone down and transportation costs still leave substantially lower total costs to market, the prices charged by the corpses are at such a high level that the newly and continually unemployed worker ends up without the means of purchasing even necessities. The housing bubble created by those same predators forced the American worker to borrow to survive, and to pretend that increasing value would bail them out. Goldman et als. depended on that and marketed it for all they are now worth.
        Wage slavery in China, Indonesia and India will be followed by wage slavery in the western world, and very soon. The banks and other predator corporations will own a large portion of the houses, apartment buildings and industrial capacity of this country as well as Mexico, Canada and South America. Survival will mean renting from the company store, and working as long as they want you to for the wages and working conditions that they dictate. Protest will be met, first by the county sheriffs, and then by Xe/Blackwater/Dyncorp, if the sheriffs quail at shooting their neighbors.
        I further see people living in smaller and smaller geographical areas as auto transportation becomes too expensive, at first, and forbidden later in this development. The internet will consist of Facebook, heavily censored, and old movies extolling the old west and WWII values. Interactive games will fill the time of the gammas and their immediate bosses, while legalized drugs and prostitution will keep everybody dulled to the emptiness of life.
        Sadly, the political and social rift between the liberal and conservative victims of these developments will paralyze any effective revolt. Already, no one trusts anyone else, and any statement of purpose is examined first as to the source, and then, sometimes, to the merits of the statement. By that time, the thrust of the proposal is diminished and the sophists have diluted the conversation with suspicion and distraction.
        Maybe I’m just too dark this week, as the Florida legislature has just ended its annual session with the most crazy and vicious legislative product since the Civil War. However, I see even well educated people of good faith acting like everything is fine, and if we just work harder in the political system, all will be fine.

    • Disaffected says:

      And right on cue:
      Global capitalism and 21st century fascism

      From today’s Al Jazeera (William I. Robinson):

      The crisis of global capitalism is unprecedented, given its magnitude, its global reach, the extent of ecological degradation and social deterioration, and the scale of the means of violence. We truly face a crisis of humanity. The stakes have never been higher; our very survival is at risk. We have entered into a period of great upheavals and uncertainties, of momentous changes, fraught with dangers – if also opportunities.

      Global inequalities and the impoverishment of broad majorities mean that transnational capitals cannot find productive outlets to unload the enormous amounts of surplus it has accumulated. By the 21st century, the TCC turned to several mechanisms to sustain global accumulation, or profit making, in the face of this crisis.

      One is militarised accumulation; waging wars and interventions that unleash cycles of destruction and reconstruction and generate enormous profits for an ever-expanding military-prison-industrial-security-financial complex. We are now living in a global war economy that goes well beyond such “hot wars” in Iraq or Afghanistan.

      A second mechanism is the raiding and sacking of public budgets. Transnational capital uses its financial power to take control of state finances and to impose further austerity on the working majority, resulting in ever greater social inequality and hardship. The TCC has used its structural power to accelerate the dismantling of what remains of the social wage and welfare states

      A neo-fascist insurgency is quite apparent in the United States. This insurgency can be traced back several decades, to the far-right mobilisation that began in the wake of the crisis of hegemony brought about by the mass struggles of the 1960s and the 1970s, especially the Black and Chicano liberation struggles and other militant movements by third world people, counter-cultural currents, and militant working class struggles.

      Neo-fascist forces re-organised during the years of the George W Bush government. But my story here starts with Obama’s election.

      The Obama project from the start was an effort by dominant groups to re-establish hegemony in the wake of its deterioration during the Bush years (which also involved the rise of a mass immigrant rights movement). Obama’s election was a challenge to the system at the cultural and ideological level, and has shaken up the racial/ethnic foundations upon which the US republic has always rested. However, the Obama project was never intended to challenge the socio-economic order; to the contrary; it sought to preserve and strengthen that order by reconstituting hegemony, conducting a passive revolution against mass discontent and spreading popular resistance that began to percolate in the final years of the Bush presidency.

      Obama’s campaign tapped into and helped expand mass mobilisation and popular aspirations for change not seen in many years in the United States. The Obama project co-opted that brewing storm from below, channelled it into the electoral campaign, and then betrayed those aspirations, as the Democratic Party effectively demobilised the insurgency from below with more passive revolution.

      In this sense, the Obama project weakened the popular and left response from below to the crisis, which opened space for the right-wing response to the crisis – for a project of 21st century fascism – to become insurgent. Obama’s administration appears in this way as a Weimar republic. Although the social democrats were in power during the Weimar republic of Germany in the 1920s and early 1930s, they did not pursue a leftist response to the crisis, but rather side-lined the militant trade unions, communists and socialists, and progressively pandered to capital and the right before turning over power to the Nazis in 1933.

      Displacement and exclusion has accelerated since 2008. The system has abandoned broad sectors of humanity, who are caught in a deadly circuit of accumulation-exploitation-exclusion. The system does not even attempt to incorporate this surplus population, but rather tries to isolate and neutralise its real or potential rebellion, criminalising the poor and the dispossessed, with tendencies towards genocide in some cases.

      As the state abandons efforts to secure legitimacy among broad swathes of the population that have been relegated to surplus – or super-exploited – labour, it resorts to a host of mechanisms of coercive exclusion: mass incarceration and prison-industrial complexes, pervasive policing, manipulation of space in new ways, highly repressive anti-immigrant legislation, and ideological campaigns aimed at seduction and passivity through petty consumption and fantasy.

      The counterweight to 21st century fascism must be a coordinated fight-back by the global working class. The only real solution to the crisis of global capitalism is a massive redistribution of wealth and power – downward towards the poor majority of humanity. And the only way such redistribution can come about is through mass transnational struggle from below.

      • Straycat says:

        I read this article, and want to thank you for pointing it out. This is an excellent analysis of where we are and are going. Remember when we could rely on the NYT and the WAPO to produce work like this? Not going to, ever again.

        • Disaffected says:

          I thought the article summed things up nicely as well. The only thing I took issue with was this at the end:

          The United States cannot be characterised at this time as fascist. Nonetheless, all of the conditions and the processes are present and percolating, and the social and political forces behind such a project are mobilising rapidly.

          I suppose that might have been a nod to MSM “sensibilities,” but I’m of the opinion we’re all the way there already. Are we fascist like Mussolini’s Italy or Hitler’s Germany? Of course not. Fascists have gotten their act together after all the bad press of WWII. You hardly even notice the iron fist when it crushes your jaw these days, what with such a fine velvet glove concealing it. Not to worry though, the glove will come off in earnest all too soon enough.

          • Straycat says:

            I agree with your last comment.
            Our right wing legislators here declare that voting is a privilege. They further claim that government must get out of the regulation business, except, of course, when it comes to individual civil liberties and privacy. The problem with discussing these developments is that the word “Fascism” provokes so great a fear that few will see the boldfaced print on the wall, yet another word for the process would give the fascists a pass. I guess repetition in the service of truth may be necessary here.

  5. Disaffected says:

    And without even a trace of irony, they announced the codename for bin Laden as “Geronimo.” You remember, an “Injun.” One of the last” terrorist” groups that dared to defy American imperialism. You’d think they’d have exercised a little more sensitivity. Or was that the point in the first place?

  6. Jill in Berkeley says:

    @Gary Hoover,
    I overheard a comment in the laundrymat yesterday. “How can a working man pay $12oo rent.” That’s the rent for a studio here in Berkeley. It’s the landlords who need to ask for less, not the workers.

  7. Robert says:

    “The past is prologue”. I grew up on a farm in the early 1940’s that was profoundly hand labor. Harvesting corn with a sickle, Loose hay on a wagon, pitched into the barn hay loft with a fork, milking cows by hand. Shucking and winnowing white beans on the dining room table by kerosene lamplight, no hot water, an outhouse out back, and only a pot-bellied stove for heat in a farmhouse as drafty as a tree.

    It might be thought that all this could not possibly be fond memories. But we had Freedom! We had peace. We had sociable neighbors on farms nearby. We cooperated with the larger tasks. I was a water-boy for a team working with a steam-tractor-driven monstrously huge threshing machine. We had granaries mounded with wheat, oats, and corn. No TV, but books, and records played on an antique Victrola. And it all was sustainable. Do not fear such as this for the future.

    • kulturcritic says:

      Thanks for the memories Robert. We currently do much of the same here in Siberia in the summer still, out at the dacha. It might in fact be part of America’s once and future dream!

  8. Hasdrubal Barca says:

    Yes, good stuff indeed. Thank you, Sandy, for putting a finger on the pulse of hope. I think it is important for people articulate a hope…an alternative… a solution. It seems the general consensus here is that things will get much worse before they get better (if ever). I don’t disagree. I agree that we are in an Orwellian state and many of us are too blind to see it. The big clamp down is coming. Just think, some people have lived in opressive systems for hundreds of years. Yet, there’s still a spark of hope.

    Up until a few months ago, I thought anarchy was chaos. Since then, a bit of research has taught me that I was completely wrong. A little bit of thinking has led me to believe that an anarchistic system is a natural, logical evolution from where we are now. Try to mention anarchy any of my friends and they’ll tell you it is an impossible utopian ideal–that it’ll never work here. Maybe. But the constraints are in our brains, our thinking! We have been programmed to think and feel and accept business as usual for 10,000 years. We need to change the program. Now where’s my remote?

    • kulturcritic says:

      Very true, HB! In fact, it is appropriate to describe the egalitarian relations obtaining between members of many pre-civilized tribes or bands as anarchistic. Most of the literature in anthropology, ethnography, ethnology, and political anthropology supports the contention that by and large there was no leader or head of state (so to speak) and no hierarchy that informed preliterate tribes. There were elders, of course, whose advice was sought due to their knowledge and experience, and there were customs, of course, but no one charged with controlling the group’s behavior. Check some of the writings on anarcho-primitivism out today, most notably, John Zerzan. But, I would also look at Paul Shepard, Coming Home To The Pleistocene. keep me posted, and stay tuned. sandy

  9. The empire will collapse when the money will be finished and soldiers will be unavailable.
    When people will realize it is NOT the US empire, but the big corporantions multinationals empire, built with the tax payers money.
    People pay for wars and corporations enjoy oil, raw materials and low wages for production.
    Somewhere, somehow the chain breaks, because on one side there is a lot to sell and on the other hand there is no money to buy and no available credit.
    Nobody will want to be paid with valuless paper.
    That will be the end.
    “But let’s not hope for it; there’s already been too much of that “hopey” thing lately.”
    I am afraid there is not much to hope for.
    Somewhere, somehow, people will understand that they are borrowing money to buy things they do not need, and the future to look forward will be the past, when you worked to buy the things you needed, when food was good and cheap, when a fridge lasted some years and a coat was dismissed not because out of fashion, but because out of order.
    And then, only then, we will be able again to afford the good quality goods made locally and NOT in China.

    • kulturcritic says:

      Patrizia – you are right about the multinationals running the table. Globalized capitalism has created the Frankenstein of modern industrial civilization.

      • StrayCat says:

        These multi nationals might more accurately termed extranationals. They are not of any nation, as they are not born, not human. They are alien creatures of our own making.

  10. Murph says:


    The Obama comment was made in an interview on TV Sunday night. I haven’t seen it show up on the net yet, but I haven’t put a lot of effort into looking either. I was sort of half listening to the interview and about ready to turn it off when he made that comment, and into my brain sprang the thought “oh oh, here comes more BOHICA.

    Hasdrubal Barca what your are seeing is the mass media propaganda to change the meaning of words, “anarchy”is just one of many, a subtle form of thought control.

    The Archdruid has a new post (May 4, http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.com/) up that is excellent. One of his best in my opinion. Or, at least reflects much of my own concerns and conclusions.

    I’ll repeat again, we are in lock step into another dark age of human society. I have no idea how it can be stopped.

  11. Tom says:

    i’m with the environmental/population bottleneck theorists. The economy may implode sooner, but the climate calamities will continue for a very long time no matter what we do. Yeah, the oil will become more and more expensive each passing year (week, month, day…you pick) and corporations will go the way of the dinosaur eventually, but in the mean time earthquakes, volcanic action, tsunamis, droughts, floods, hell we’ll probably have locusts, killer bees, the whole 9 yards of pent up environmental problems hit us continuosly (until we’re as extinct as all the other species we drove out).

    i think the survivors, if any will wish they weren’t.

    • Disaffected says:

      Agreed. I think the current paradigm among closet GW believers is that we’ll just go ahead and pollute for just a little while longer, and then we’ll clean up our act just in the nick of time to avert disaster. Ain’t gonna happen. The GW seeds we’re sewing today won’t bear fruit fully for another 100 years or so. We’ve already locked in certain a climatic disaster that might well spell the end for all of us. Our last real chance for real reform was Kyoto back in ’97, and we all know how that turned out. It’s been all downhill since. Prediction: we’ll continue to accelerate all the way over the cliff, as incentives to reform are gradually flipped when people realize certain disaster is unavoidable regardless.

    • kulturcritic says:

      Tom – it does seem to be ‘a perfect storm.’ But not one that just happened; rather one that we engineered, at first out of ignorance, and then out of greed. I even look at the BP disaster in the Gulf and see the hand of Mother Nature saying “So, you want oil? Well, I’ll give you some fucking oil.” Every move we make to control, manipulate, extract, and abuse the earth has repercussions environmentally, infra-structurally, socially, and psychologically on the species.

      Financial, economic, social, environmental, political collapse are all interconnected, and related to the processes and systems we have developed specifically to control nature and human behavior.

  12. Jack Waddington says:

    It’s all very simple if we were able to make one simple conceptual leap.

    Abolish money, which in turn does away with Law, which in turn negates the need for government. Then the billionaires are reduced to our level. It’s a simple idea, but needs a conceptual stretch.


    • Disaffected says:

      Then the billionaires are reduced to our level.

      That’s why it will never happen. They’ll crash the current currency and leave us all holding worthless scrip, but the crash itself will be precipitated by Wall St, as the rich will convert their holdings in unison and on cue to whatever’s next, possibly just plain old commodities. That’s why bubble economies are so treacherous. The run up is spurred on by reckless speculation by the big money, drawing the rubes and the wannabes into the market near the end. Then, on cue, the power brokers sell off en masse leaving the little guys, yet again, holding the bag. The big one will make the housing bubble look like child’s play.

    • kulturcritic says:

      Jack – money is a problem; capitalism is now the driver. When one fails, so goes the other. Then things get interesting.

  13. John Bollig says:

    Murph, tom pat and others,

    My plan is to hopefully go back to robert’s time and find ways to survive. My fear is that the future is going to be truly dark ages and middle ages in practice. I don’t think that any of our current generation will survive this man made holocaust with out losing a lot of our families. Sandy, the question is: How does a family unit survive the period of total social destruction that is surely coming to ravage humanity? How can we at least pass a portion of our memories to others so that when we go on the final trip to death, that our lives actually are remembered ? What I see in our current culture is that we are not prepared for the death wave that will come when the social services are not available.

    • Disaffected says:

      See the comment by Anarchrist below. Sounds like as good advice as I’ve seen yet.

    • kulturcritic says:

      John – why is being remembered important? How long does historical memory last. unless through multiple offspring, and generations? And to what end? How does a family unit survive? I think you are right at revisiting Robert’s suggestions. The key, if collapse truly is upon us, will be to find the right piece of land with a self sufficient supply of fresh water, a garden, preferably a fishin hole near by and a good forest with berries, mushrooms and timber. Your questions are haunting to the soul that lives in history… that is to say, to us all!!

      • John Bollig says:

        Being remembered is important to those who study history and oral and prehistory traditions. I got something the other day that really shook me to the core. I found a framed 1887 teaching certificate from California in the garbage two weeks ago. It is authentic because the surrounding backboard and covering the backboard is an 1893 newspaper article. The certificate was found in the trash…. I just can’t understand why people throw such historical documents away. The certificate is huge. It is about the same size as my Juris Docturate. I think people don’t understand what they have in their possession. Historical memories can last centuries if an oral tradition is kept alive. The written word is not going to be used by the masses for years to come because The collapse of education and the need to grow food is going to take over for the need for education. Perhaps religious orders will take over the education of children and adults alike. My dad remembers his mother talking about how the priests were the only educated people within miles around. The idea that I propose is for the religious community and other organizations who have the cash, start buying schools in rural areas. In Kansas, as consolidation of public education becomes a fact of life due to rural population declines, private individuals and religious groups are buying these schools and turning them into religious institutes and bible schools. The way for family units to survive is by grouping as a family. My idea is for the purchase of land and then building sod houses or timber or adobe housing for the family units. My only suggestion for this is to buy a large older structure or to create a village for your family and extended kin. Group defense and tribal ties will keep families from being wiped out. One of the most important factors is finding someone who has the agricultural background to lead the family group or tribe in efforts to grow crops, plan for the future etc. Notwithstanding the mess in the south this month, being near water is going to be the key. Water is life on the great plains and anyone that thinks that arizona, vegas or San Diego is going to be a growth center in a world made by hand, I have some magic beans for sale for you. The unwashed urban masses are going to be sorry that they ever left the rural areas. JHK is right and so are you sandy.

  14. Anarchrist says:

    Hello Kulturcritic, been reading your stuff here for a few weeks since I noticed your posts on JHK’s blog. I’m not much of a one for leaving comments, but I feel strangely compelled, perhaps because you seem to have an open and receptive outlook, it’s refreshing. I reckon see in your essays a sort of honest optimism, not regarding the general world situation of course (which is as wonderfully bizarre and grotesque as a Bosch painting), but in the unbridled autonomy the aftermath may offer, after some unknown period.

    I don’t think of myself as an optimist, more of a realist who aims high, and as such I think we’ll see a dose of all the terrible delights that are supposed on these fringes of the interweb: Draw-down of capital and funding – contracting central government – failing services – resource shortages – Power and water outages – social breakdown – martial law – land and asset seizures – also good deal of in-fighting within factions (national, regional and local) as allegiances are made and broken, and hungry frightened people do whatever they think necessary to survive (and so on…) Borrow whatever elements you like from any of the great doomsday prophesies, we are likely to see it all in the months and years to come, and as such they are probably all somewhat correct. I’ve always said that human beings can get used to almost anything, I believe that’s our adaptable rodent ancestry at work (and I’m sure that’s why we generally accept the contrived rat’s maze we currently inhabit), but it sure can take us to some dark sub-human (indeed sub-mammal) places where we do some thoroughly unacceptable shit to our fellow humans.

    What I hope for though is an opportunity to rediscover our true nature, and better yet to redefine that nature, to shape it into something that truly benefits those around us, even to the betterment of the species as a whole. In short: to evolve. What is called for is higher standards of humanity – to become a better species, and to outmanoeuvre the evolutionary dead end we now face. Just to clarify, I’m not talking about eugenics here, what’s needed is an evolution of behaviour and of thought processes. We require a consensus shift towards truly magnanimous, courageous, and mutually beneficial living. If we can’t understand all that primal stuff which truly drives us (eat, fuck, look good…) and permeates every facet of our sick and dying society, then we’ll never be free of this mess, it will simply turn everything we touch to shit. Human weakness (petty vanity, greed and complacency) has distorted our core values and is about to leave us in the gutter, again! Just like many other civilisations before ours. However, no one could could dispute the stakes are higher now – in fact I believe we are all out of chances this time – it’s could really be sink or swim for us all.

    Of course, great hopes and dreams aside, the real difficulty lies in the interim. JHK calls it “The Long Emergency”. I suppose I’ve always thought of it as a “period of adjustment” whereby reality comes calling like an angry parent and, kicking and screaming, we are dragged like the defiant child into our new reality. Clearly I’m of the opinion that change is inevitable and should therefore be not only accepted, but embraced and milked for all the possibilities it could offer, but I’m pretty sure that puts me in a minority. The ‘sheeple’ as I often see them characterized are simply spooked by a new paradigm, and given their enormous numbers, and the scary fact that the real (non-augmented) ecosystem is simply unable to support their collective weight, it doesn’t take much imagination to predict some tough times ahead. I won’t subscribe to the ‘Dark Age’ school of thought however – there is a lot of power in dreams and nightmares people, and this is an exquisitely dark fantasy to have rattling around in your head. There is much to be learned from the past both ancient and recent (Robert’s point is well made) but humanity mustn’t go backwards into the darkness either.

    So what’s my point? Something like this: regardless of our precise trajectory it is clear that these times are going to get a lot more ‘interesting’ very soon. Given that fact, what sort of choices will you make? What sort of person will you choose to be in an uncertain, changing world? A leap of self-honesty is required here, as delusion simply won’t cut it in this mother-of-all-reality-checks, and nor will fearful suppositions. We’re all on a personal journey here, but life is short and clinging on won’t help in times like those facing us. Survival is certainly possible in small local communities, perhaps in time we can work our way back up from there, but if we want things to be different this time there need to be some new rules, may I suggest as a starting point:

    – Form a moral code based on your highest principles, be prepared to change and grow but never cave in – your words, actions and skills will define you and may inspire others; this may be your only legacy so choose your path wisely.

    – Forge a relationship with the real world in whatever way suits your personality best: grow veg, get your hands dirty, fix stuff, learn practical skills, get and stay fit. Most important of all conquer your fear.

    – Don’t capitulate with tyranny or back down in the face of abuse (though there is some sense in choosing your moment and angle of attack…). Who wants an easy life? What price your soul? What good is living when your life has lost all value?

    – What trials you do to survive will stay with you, but can you live with your actions? Bear this in mind and act with integrity, if you’ve never had to make a difficult/regrettable choice, talk to a veteran, it may open your eyes.

    – Everyone dies sometime. Accept this. Embrace the ephemeral. If you must die, endeavour to die for something, and die well, with courage! Life is pain, death is a merely a moment. Don’t fear the reaper, and if/when you see him, tell the old prick I said Hi.

    • kulturcritic says:

      Anarchrist –

      Love your monologue, and your frame of mind. Glad I inspired you to speak out here. I think there are several discussions people need to have:

      What do we mean by ‘human nature’? And how do we ‘redefine’ it?
      What is the inevitability of ‘change’ as you talk about it?
      What are the sources of the ‘moral codes’ you propose?
      How does one discover his/her ‘self” to find this self-honesty?

      I am not questioning your direction, only trying to understand how, from our current (diseased) vantage point, we reach conclusions and consensus on these important issues. Are we not already too much “redefined” in terms of current cultural imperatives, such that understanding our roots has become increasingly problematic? Is not the very idea of human nature, with attributions of good v evil and greed v charity a cultural construction used to manipulate behavior and opinion?

      These are just some thoughts, I would like us to reflect on together. Again, I value your input, and look forward to a continuing dialogue.

      • Anarchrist says:

        Well I can certainly find common ground with everything I’m reading here. I have to agree with Jethro that the people who get to make the decisions that can make or break your living model (often on a whim) have no clue whatsoever about the world they live in, they just play the game and collect the cheques. It’s always been my policy to slip beneath the radar wherever possible, especially because there are some grey areas where my personal code of ethics is not entirely compatible with the laws of the land. In times like these I think a healthy attitude towards law breaking should be lauded, given that the law seeming doesn’t apply to so many higher-ups I think it’s only fair to set your own standards.

        Still, my position is simply that none of this will carry on, so my hope is that it will become easier to self-determine without outside interference. When I say ‘none of this’ I’m afraid I do mean the whole shooting match – Government, military/industrial build-up, bloated bureaucracy, and along with that goes public services, power, running water, healthcare, education – so once again ‘freedom isn’t free’ as the price will be complete self-reliance. At this point I’m positive that people in positions of power are aware of this, there is simply no way people this connected can be unaware of what approaches. They may underestimate the seriousness of the predicament, but this too is a stretch. My guess is that may key players are simply thinking ‘fuck it, I’ll be alright’ and have planned contingencies accordingly. They will probably simply leave us to die.

        I am 32 years old (a mere child, I know). The world as we know it was well on its way to the event horizon when I was born right at the end of 1978, and I have spent much of my life trying to make sense of the strange ambivalence the general public shows in response to this. (The lab rats again – pawing at the tiny lever, waiting for the food to pop out of the little chute). Most people simply have no perspective, no awareness of what drives them, even of what makes them people. The systemic collapse has been gathering momentum as long as I’ve been alive and now as we all stand on the brink and gaze, wide eyed, into the precipice, people are suddenly saying ‘how did this happen?’ as if it’s some sort of a secret. As an idealistic younger man I tried on occasion to show people the consequences of the choices we are collectively making, every day. They simply did not want to know (many/most still don’t), so faced with that kind of inertia it is clear that the true point of no return (regardless of its nature) is firmly in the rear-view. That would be the ‘inevitable change’.

        This is where I usually like to enter the conversation Kulturcritic, being as you asked me (with great tact and civility I might add) to elaborate on my viewpoint. It’s really just a question of ‘what happens next’, isn’t it? Your points are well made; how can a populace so stunted and addled make profoundly tricky decisions about the future of the race? The fact is, they probably can’t. I say ‘they’ pointedly here, as I consider myself separately. There are many others like me too, the inquisitive sorts who seem to grace your blog are certainly capable of original thought. There must be millions of people out there who are prepared to make leaps of reasoning and judgement based on something other than fear and other animal drives. We are a blessed minority, but if we are to shape the future we must first survive it! Therein lies the bind. Who can say what each of us will face and what we will choose? There are many ways to die, and many ways to forfeit ones soul. That’s why I propose that folks start first by preparing not only their gardens and shotguns, but their minds, their spirits.

        I don’t care how a man finds his epiphany – meditation, travel, parenthood, mushrooms, it’s all good – what counts is that each of us finds something BETTER to believe in and aspire to, and then we follow that light inside, regardless of personal cost. There are so many manuals and religious texts offering a better life through simple rules, and they generally make very respectable suggestions, but meaningful morality comes from within and simply ‘abiding’ for fear of retribution is no substitute. Finding a deeper inner voice is a personal journey and it’s very different for everyone, there is no guide or code to follow, it takes an earnest spirit and no small amount of courage to look deep into yourself without judgement and say “this is who I am”, but if you have the wherewithal to get right in there and see yourself as you truly are, the logical next step is to dare to say “this is who I must become” and actually MEAN IT.

        Now I realise this could be getting a little far out for some tastes, but the point I wanted to stress in my previous post is that this is what is necessary for the survival and betterment of the species. It’s simple Darwinism, taken to a new level. We must move forward, and this is how. I’m not going to pretend any of what lies ahead will be easy or pretty, it just is what it is: a period of adjustment. I will not accept a new ‘Dark Age’ and nor should any of you, on pain of death. As Cjjasp said ‘different bullies’ are likely to make all kinds of plays in the power vacuum, but still I will brook no compromise here, when faced with tyranny we must unite, fight, and hand our oppressors their heads. Then, if we are lucky, we can get back to the garden and the chickens…

        • kulturcritic says:

          Anarchrist –

          It is incredible that you have come to such conclusions at such a young age. It does not bode well for our country. And I very much appreciate your additional insights in response to my earlier query.

          And you are right, it does seem like the law is made to apply to certain of us and not to others (i.e., DC). BTW – the children of bin Laden are now requesting an international tribunal on the assassination of their father, to see whether our oh-so-intelligent President should be found culpable for his murder. Of course, we would never hear of such thing in the good ole USA. But, God forbid if the shoe were on the other foot; we would be calling for someone’s head. Look, as well at the treatment of Private Bradley Manning, not yet charged with any crime (suspected of releasing documents to Wikileaks).

          You are right, to some extent, we do need to find an internal compass for basic behavioral codes; at the same time guarding against a general ethical relativism.

          Perhaps there is a core that we can locate viscerally somewhere to help us. But, maybe it must wait upon a renewal of selfhood as you point out. Maybe we are too tainted by this culture to see that core right now. I think the question concerning “human nature” is still at issue; and it is my feeling that what we commonly refer to as human nature is a way of cataloguing and pre-judging behavior that we find objectionable. For example, when we discuss greed today and someone says, “Oh, that is just human nature.” I believe that is bullshit… that kind of action and reaction is culturally constructed, IMHO. That is not to say there is no feral core, no instinctual ground to Homo sapiens. I believe there is; but we have lost most of our sense of that feral core in the intervening 6,000 years of the history of civilization.

          Again, thank you for your continued discussion, Anarchrist!!

          • Anarchrist says:

            Ok Kulturcritic, I feel I should offer some further explanation here because in essence I think we are in agreement, but I suppose finding the right words (and the time to use them) is a tricky business these busy days.

            My standpoint is that people are really just sophisticated machines. The hardware in this system is supported by chemical processes like respiration at the cellular level, and these run independently of our ‘core’. Specialist hardware needs core programming to function (heartbeat, aspiration etc.) but this is so fundamental as to be essentially involuntary. Further levels of programming involve survival imperatives (eat, procreate, don’t die), and basic though they are, we are dimly aware of them acting upon us, so they’d be in the subconscious or semi-conscious depending on the individual in question. As you are clearly aware, culture is also a subconscious program; involuntarily we copy, pretend and delude ourselves in order to remain compatible with it. My greatest criticism of humanity is that most humans are simply not aware of what is driving them and making their decisions, it often isn’t the rational mind. That’s been the norm for millennia, but it just won’t stand in up to the challenges of the future. The world has changed, people have not, therefore I say it’s time to step up and take responsibility.

            Now, I know that sounds simplistic, but bear with me while I run briefly through my thought process…

            So, in pre-history, many small collections of people are living ok, some not so good, they’ve no idea about many of the concepts we take for granted, it’s no garden of Eden there’s plenty of hurt and starvation to go around too. Then in steps agriculture and ‘civilisation’, rapidly developing hierarchy and forces of domination: “do as you are told, pay your tithe or I’ll cut your hands off and butcher your children”, that sort of thing. Blink your eyes and we are in the 20th century, great hegemonies are rising and to new heights and falling again with ever greater speed, science and doctrine are advancing in parallel and war is being unleashed on a truly unprecedented scale with the advent of industrialisation. Great empires and ideologies are born, and proven flawed in the face of that ever present fact: people have not changed! They are emotionally damaged, running faulty software, and simply cannot be trusted to wield power.

            Enter capitalism’s glory days, the mighty rise of the USA. Freud states the obvious: people are not aware of why they do things, their animal urges (unpalatable in the new settings) are still in charge of their actions, they are in denial. So what do we do? Talk about it. Rationalise it. Create another construct. Pretend to be ‘normal’. Meanwhile Freud has lit a fire in the minds of control freaks everywhere: people are weak minded fools! Wounded animals! We will offer them products and they will dance like little monkeys! Dance monkey DANCE!

            And here we are. Seriously, I’m fed up with it. Everything is product because everything is ‘produced’, fake is the new genuine (see Obama) and we are lost. Children are growing up insane because it all feels so wrong, and all American culture can offer is “shut up and eat your pills, or we’ll send you back to the behaviour unit for ‘rehabilitation’”. Still, power players being such single minded rodents means they can’t plan long-term for shit; queue a malfeasant financial cartel on the road to complete supernova, a major energy bottleneck, and an ecosystem that seems to have had about enough of our shit – Show’s over, four horsemen, chaos and death…

            Ok, lost the thread there a little, I’m sure I was trying to make some kind of point… Oh yes! The feral core. I was drawn out here because you used this very specific language, and it resonates with me somehow. Probably because I am very comfortable with my animal self. Animals are free, because the past and future mean nothing to them. That which is our true nature – the human animal – does not need to be re-constructed or made ‘compatible’, simply accepted and understood. Now, I am a very emotional being, I feel pain, fear, grief, joy, love, hope and so on. I must admit I also feel everything so strongly, it damn near swallows me up. The way I see it, my only key to improved function as a ‘good man’ is in learning to feel it, accept it, then let it go and move on with a clear head. This is what an animal does – it lives moment to moment, and it is a liberating existence.

            The biggest difference between us and the animals is that they have very little imagination. They simply lack the hardware to dwell on the past, or to project far into the future. We have the technology (so to speak) but lack an understanding of how best to implement it. Planning is a great asset, but it requires a responsible operator to yield positive results. We are all time travellers, and we whoosh back and forth at will, but we must learn to better deal with the emotional aspect because it can twist our actions in the now.

            It seems to me that people are constantly reliving past pain and thus creating a future distorted by this unaccepted emotional baggage. Hitler lived through a time when Germany was suffering badly (reparations, hyperinflation), he was bitterly disillusioned as a failed painter, also bullied as a child for being a ‘Bastard’, and in time he inflicted an untold amount of pain on the world. That trauma compounded on top of all the past ‘wrongs’ in the lineage of the people of earth. An extreme example of the processes that brand everyone, starting at birth, and can end up becoming tragic experiments in inhumanity. Everything we see as deeply wrong: an insane financial system (that truly runs on latent emotion); excessive debt and consumption; environmental destruction (a war on nature like never before); perpetual conflict, military build-up, mutually assured destruction – all tragic products of a damaged psyche. A collective nightmare. A consensus reality full of cyclical hurt, delusion and wrongdoing.

            Now, in light of my viewpoint, all this makes perfect sense to me. It’s a clear, logical progression, from one ‘state’ to the next. And, pragmatic as I am, I have no doubt that this has been a necessary function – somebody said “the only cure for excess is indulgence” – so I figure it’s been a painful growth spurt that CAN lead us on to pastures new. No question that it’s also a status quo that deserves to burn like the toxic mess it has mutated into, and indeed this could (should?) be the next step in the lineage.

            And so, I come again back to my original point: what’s required of us now is not simply survival – we need real evolution of the way we think. What’s more, whole species don’t evolve in unison, the process occurs in individuals, often simultaneously (in response to changing conditions), but on many (often divergent) vectors. Some radical arrangement may branch off, while old (previously successful) patterns meet a dead end. I maintain that it’s time for each of us to adapt or die out. We also must avoid soaking up so much ‘hurt’ that it poisons us. Therefore it is up to YOU as individuals to take responsibility for the software your mind is running, study it closely, question it, and compensate for any glitches that may encourage you to behave irrationally and unjustly. I read somewhere:

            “Individual power through awareness – Individual freedom through responsibility”.

            It’s as good of a motto as I’ve ever encountered, and if enough of us can find the strength to take this responsibility to heart, then there may be a future for us yet.

            • kulturcritic says:

              Better to have genuine emotion, than too much consciousness (as Dostoevsky said in Notes From Underground). You should read that book sometime. As well, I have a new menu on the blog, “Bookshelf.” It will be a running list of books I think are important to read. My own personal writings will not be listed there, but under “Publications.” Check the Bookshelf out, Anarchrist.

            • kulturcritic says:

              Anarchrist – If my notion of a feral core resonates so well with you, then perhaps I could convince you to give up your quest for “real evolution” in the way we think. Maybe its not evolution that is needed so much as RECOLLECTION: recalling that ancient memory trace lost through millennia of indoctrination, repression, sublimation, and, yes, forgetfulness. Martin Heidegger once reminded us that the idea of Truth, as he reckons it, comes from the ancient Greek term Aletheia, itself coming out of the preSocratic Greek word Letheia – the mythological River of Forgetfulness. Aletheia, then, is un-forgetfulness or disclosedness, bringing that which was previously forgotten back into awareness. So, I say again, maybe we need to remember WHO we are, and from whence we came… maybe that event of return will provide us a good footpath for finding our way out of this chaos. But, in any event, you are correct. It is not just some kind of political, economic or social change we need; it is a change of consciousness.

  15. cjjasp says:

    Historically all that ever happens in the sort of cultural revolution that seems to be in the dystopian future described here is that different bullies take over and the underclass remains the underclass.

    • kulturcritic says:

      Connie – thanks for joining the discussion. However, I would not call my ruminations dystopian.

      I also wish to clarify that the revolution of disintegration I think is brewing is not a cultural revolution in the historical sense. It is more visceral, I think. There is a dissatisfaction brewing in the First World that has primitive roots; it is a dissatisfaction, I believe, born of increasing levels of alienation, anonymity, and abuse inherent in the systems of control we have so rigorously developed over the entire history of civilization. The alienation is both from the natural world we were intended to inhabit, as well as a profound sense of self-estrangement, from our bodies and our instincts.

      But, your point about getting new bullies for the old bullies is right on the mark. And that is the problem inherent in any political or cultural revolution. It is a sickness born of hierarchy, and the manipulation which it breeds. My current thinking is that the only hope for ‘salvation’ of any sort is a complete collapse of the political, economic and social structures of the First World, compelling us once again to embrace who we are, as a species, and find our way back into a normalized relation with our environment. And, it seems to me that things are moving that way, without any further effort on our part.

      • StrayCat says:

        Anarchist has said “Children are growing up insane because it all feels so wrong, and all American culture can offer is “shut up and eat your pills, or we’ll send you back to the behaviour unit for ‘rehabilitation’” and “Animals are free, because the past and future mean nothing to them. That which is our true nature – the human animal – does not need to be re-constructed or made ‘compatible’, simply accepted and understood. ” These notions seem to reflect the common ground between Sandy and Anarchist. If children in the beginnings of socialization “feel” that it is so wrong, does that suggest that there is a feral core we are born with that is either submerged or altered by socialization? Put another way, is there a core of human nature that preexists society, and which can be reached by examination and stripping away the constructs of “goodness” and “reliability” that are layered onto the child as they age? And if so, is the core in the DNA and expressed in a fully formed but plastic neural arrangement in the brain? It has lately been shown that infants and toddlers understand the spoken language in the same way adults do. This suggests some manner of human nature that preexists the curriculum of the hierarchy. Is a strong sense of being one with the family that is part of that feral core the means by which socialization by positive reinforcement is accomplished?
        As to animal living only in the present, which recalls Nietsche’s work on history, and Sandy’s insight into the civilization imposed preoccupation with the future and the situation of pre-city-state human societies, one question that might be raised is whether the future for pre city state humans was a wholly different construct from what we experience today. The future of a month, a season or even a generation is far different than the millenia of history or the infinity of the Christian heaven. As Sandy has said, the linearity of empire time is of different character, ands even of kind than the cyclical sense of time in nature. Anyway, just some thoughts. Anarchist, I enjoyed reading your comments and have affinity for where you are and where you want to go.

        • kulturcritic says:

          SC – I would simply warn against any conception of human nature that is intended to attribute “evil” in the hearts of men. Much (if not all) of the evil we see is a direct result of our culture and its curriculum, not a function of human nature. I know you are not suggesting an inherent evil; but others do, when they brandish the nature v culture distinction.

  16. John Patrick says:

    It seemed to me when the U.S. Healthcare proposal was rolled out during the economic collapse (circa 2008) that it had little to do with healthcare and more to do with stitching the states together under Fed control.

    • kulturcritic says:

      John Patrick – That is an astute observation. And it is probably right, in part. Perhaps the administration’s intentions dovetailed nicely with the insurance industry’s intentions (to build their subscriber bases by 40MM covered persons, and gouge the middle to make up the difference in premiums and cover higher risk-loss. In any event, the entire game plan seemed to be run, if not written, by the lobbyists themselves.

      • John Patrick says:

        The timing of the Health Care reform seemed too odd to be true. At a time when Fed deficit is soaring, what better way to keep the States under control to pay for the Fed deficit, present and future…

    • Disaffected says:

      I was amazed at the short sightedness of the many democrats I argued with at the time (I was nominally a democrat at the time) regarding HCR. First and foremost it was a sellout to the FIRE sector and an indication of things to come from Obama, and then it was just bad law in every way a law can be bad. I still think it was a hip fake, meant only to be enacted to take the steam out of calls for HCR so that it could later be repealed with the rest of the welfare state. At this point, I’m torn between whether or not Obama was a stooge all along; or, is he merely eager to please and conceding issues for votes as he goes. Conventional analysis says the latter. Being anything but conventional, I still contend the former.

      • StrayCat says:

        Unfortunately, Obama settled for a truly unworkable system as he retreated from his initial goal of single payer medicare type of plan. It gets worse as now the Obama people may be standing in the way of Vermont doing medical insurance right. he may not have been a stooge all along, but he certainly has become one in pursuit of a record to run on in ’12. Of course, we have to take into account that the FIRE sector has deep equity stakes in Congress and in the bureaucracy.

  17. Johanna says:

    It’s about the oil, stupid, to misquote the slogan of an earlier presidency.

    What I wonder is how alternative energy technology will change the political landscape. I serve on the board of a corporation that researches and develops new and environmentally friendly energy production sources. It’s a fascinating and exponentially growing industry with, what seems to me, the potential to have ramifications for our economy and future political stability.

    • kulturcritic says:

      Johanna – Thanks for visiting. You are right, in part; it is about the oil!!. But it is also about slave labor and new markets. It is about bulldozing over the entire globe with artificial turf, McDonald’s and Walmarts, as far as the eye can see. It is about creating an environment whereby we are made to feel less than human, and alienated from our own sensorium and how it intertwines with the natural world of which we are a part. It is about domination, and enslavement to a system that by its nature is abusive and demeaning. In short, Johanna, we must guard against naivete. Developing environmentally friendly energy sources is a technologist/magician’s dream; and it is grounded in the desire to save the system that will continue to alienate, abuse and enslave. Politics is all about control, and always has been. No matter if the energy source is slave labor hauling blocks to build a pyramid, or wind turbines to supply the electricity for prisons and executioners.

      • StrayCat says:

        All true Sandy, but a glimmer of light exists here. A fully distributed energy system is possible that would wrest control of the power system from the predators, and over the internet. indeed, our State Department is now spending millions to create and distribute an alternate internet system for rebels in the Islamic world. That stuff will be on the market here within months. So, while there are no technological quick fixes for our global environmental problems, there are useful tools coming available to us to use in the great unravlling, to steal from Paul Krugman. Depending on time lines, the control of vast amounts of oil could become of greatly lesser importance to we the people as the empire crumbles.

  18. pixelwhiplash says:

    I believe the “dark” eras ahead of us are infinitely more frightening when one considers the intellectual and mental lethargy that will greet it, on behalf of the underclasses. Humans have demonstrated that they can be infinitely mutable and resilient to, and even thrive, in the harshest of environments. It’s the “inner” environment that will be our undoing if we cannot rise to the task of how to assuage the wholesale suffering that will be inflicted upon us as this current empire deconstructs. Alienation and abusiveness can be thwarted easily by humans endeavouring to connect to other humans at all costs. Otherwise, factory farms will be the model for societal living and the spectre of good people standing by ( Nazi seizure of control ) while atrocities are committed to yourself and your neighbours looms large in our collective futures. Thank you for another great analysis Sandy.

    • kulturcritic says:


      Absolutely. Particularly in America, the masses have been dumbed-down to the most elementary level. Like lambs to the slaughter, we are led by our masters though manipulation, lies, marketing, and endless distractions (toys of consumption and entertainment). At least the Europeans seem, by and large, to have a bit more of a conscience and a consciousness of suffering; we have none. And if we do find one, there is always an external enemy identified that is the culprit – bin Laden, Iran, Iraq, Libya, N Korea, China…. Don’t you know it; now its those damn Muslims!! This seems to be our constant refrain. Our lifestyle, choices, ‘dreams’, aggressions, etc., are never in question.

      Perhaps we will be housed, just like the animals we domesticate (cows, pigs, chickens, etc) for food; idly watching ‘as the world turns’.

      • pixelwhiplash says:


        It is indeed sad when “victimization” becomes the hallmark of a culture. Everything is someone else’s fault. Northa Americans used to be viewed from a European perspective as being always so optimistic, that things would just always turn out for the common good. That optimism has been replaced with a cultural myopia that finds solace in finding the perpetrators of any shadow across the face of the “good life” instead of looking for the causes. The “Joneses” always were, and ever will be, us.

  19. Jethro Bodine says:

    Found you through JHK, who I find well written if not venomous in his weekly diatribes against the remnants of my people, the soon to be minority whites who founded the Late great USA.

    My wife and I and our children run a half a dozen sows in the maple orchard, five times as many lambs in the pasture, chickens in the dooryard and we grow 75% of everything we consume, if not more. We are the archetype of sustenance farming on hardscrabble boney soil in rural New England and yet we frequently find ourselves face to face with FDA investigators, State Food Safety Authorities and various and sundry foot soldiers of the Empire who stop by for their vig or simply to remind us that freedom ain’t free. Owning your own property free and clear, being off-grid, having served honorably in defense of the homeland, raising your own food and taking care of your family and yourself sans assistance in any form is not a guarantee of liberty- far from it. It is an invitation from the ones who dwell in public citadels to investigate exactly what we’re up to and to remind us that they are watching.

    I don’t need an MSM report to tell me that more people work for the government than in the free market, I’ve met them on my own land often enough in their tasseled loafers and they are as a plague of locusts, devouring the substance of the people in their unquenchable hunger for more; more revenue, more freedoms, more control.

    I am often amazed at the frankness that comes from them, how they admit openly to me that what I do is beyond their grasp, alien, unfathomable and unthinkable even as they collect fees from me so that they can “regulate” and “enforce” rules and codes that they don’t themselves begin to understand. One woman who was a higher up in food safety had the temerity to say to me with a straight face that in the 21st century we no longer needed farms for food, that people ought to buy what they needed at “the supermarket”.


    I’m off to do chores- my eldest son has left the farm this week to visit Washington DC with his class, more specifically the Holocaust Museum (JHK would be proud) and learn where the real power in this formerly great nation lay, not in the fields and barns of hard-working yeomanry, but at the shibboleth of POWER. I reminded him in the pre-dawn glow as he was about to depart to pay close attention to those who peopled the corridors of power and to imagine them for a moment without the support of people like ourselves- men and women whose hands were weathered and necks sunburned from actual labor, people who produced goods and services rather than codexes and RSA’s. I told him to look at that city as a citizen of the greatest Empire that has ever existed and to see with his own eyes the glaring inconsistency of how those in the seat of power live as opposed to the hoi polloi dwelling in the fringes along the bus route southward…

    Perhaps there is, somewhere in the universe, a scale where everything is measured and perhaps it is, as I type these words, tipping gently back in another direction…

    • kulturcritic says:

      “Owning your own property free and clear, being off-grid, having served honorably in defense of the homeland, raising your own food and taking care of your family and yourself sans assistance in any form is not a guarantee of liberty- far from it. It is an invitation from the ones who dwell in public citadels to investigate exactly what we’re up to and to remind us that they are watching.”

      Wow – this says it all Jethro!! Gotta love your story Jethro!! And I like the way your state it. Please stick with me. I want to hear more from you; what a sobering voice!! sandy

  20. murph says:


    I also love your story. My wife and I are old farts and have a little 1 acre doomstead where we grow/raise a large percentage of our food. We labeled our place “free Acre”. The advise to your son to observe carefully what he finds around him is good advise. You are also dead on about liberty/freedom not being guaranteed no matter what your life style. Although an argument may be made that with enough power and money to back it up, freedom might be purchased. In which case that freedom is going to take the position of exceptionalism, favoritism and privilege that only a very small minority get to experience.

  21. freeacre says:

    Kulturcritic, et al,

    I am impressed with the thoughtfulness and depth of the conversation at this site.

    I, too, am appalled and disgusted by the apparent takeover by the corporate and central bank globalists, their ruthless exploitation of the people and resources of the earth, the deterioration of liberty, and the coming ruthlessness, ignorance and chaos. I don’t know if it is by design or simply because Big Pharma and Big Ag is so short-sighted and controlling – but, I think they have outdone themselves this time.

    Even after the big crisis die off happens – when the medicine for chronic conditions is no longer available because the trucks aren’t running or the state has run out of money, or the insurance companies won’t pay for it, or whatever, and many of the old people die off, the lingering effects of the poisons they have unleashed into the world will continue. The older ones who survive will get Alzheimers. The middle-aged citizenry will be getting cancer at an alarming rate, due to the increased radiation and toxic additives to our water, air, and food. And the younger ones will continue to suffer from autism. Hardly any healthy ones will be left to care for the sick and impaired. And, the predatory Frankenseeds will continue to waft over the fields, kill the bees and the bats, and render the countryside sterile. It’s going to be a real dog fight to keep this doom scenario from coming to pass.

    What to do in the meantime? I used to be more political. I was a very “left” Liberal. My husband, murph, was very conservative. Coming from opposite sides, we both ended up anarchists. And, for us right now, the Grange seems to be one of the few organizations that provides support for localizing food production and day-to-day empowerment for the working man and woman. Grange used to be a powerful organization when the majority of people were farmers. But, it has languished since the takeover of corporate farming and urbanization. The national, state and regional infra-structure still survives, though. So, potentially, people of various political leanings, united in their struggle to live sane and healthy lives, could join the Grange and take it to a new level that would be very helpful in these dire times. We grow our food, raise rabbits and chickens, own our place outright, and have no credit card debt to speak of. The Grange is organizing a Chicken Coop, Garden, and Greenhouse Tour for this summer that should raise the consciousness of those who have eyes to see.

    I would encourage you thoughtful people to look into it. Maybe we were born for this.

  22. John Bollig says:

    We do not understand what is going to come around the corner , but we should prepare as if our lives depend on it. The simple fact is that we are facing TEOTWAWKI. Our economy is shot, our culture is debased and our political system is about to be taken over by the corporate neonazis. Intellect is truly gone when the elites are not prepared to offer effective solutions to the issue of peak oil and declining living standards.
    What is worse, the media and the popular culture is clue less. I went to the public library and no popular magazine was even talking about what is being talked openly here.

    • kulturcritic says:

      John – they all just want to keep us stupid and consuming… look at DA’s link to George Carlin, below.

    • John Patrick says:

      It’s as if the engine of a vehicle has been turned off. The driver immediately knows it and is trying to prepare for the outcome. But to a bystander, the vehicle is still coasting along. So what is the problem, it’s still moving? But–when it comes to a halt, it’ll require massive effort to get it moving again. If it moves at all…

      This is where I think we are. Some of us know the engine has stopped. But inertia (cultural bias, greed, wishful thinking, etc..) provides the appearance that all is well.

      Because of system complexity, and the synergy gain at each upward level, our way of living is not downward scaleable, i.e., you can’t remove one spark plug from the engine and expect it to run on 20% less fuel. Reality is, it will barely run at all.

      That said, it will be a time of individual innovation and creativity. We will have to share. And take care of others. And be kinder. Things that are far more important than technology for its own sake.

  23. Disaffected says:

    Thanks to commenter DownSouth over at Naked Capitalism for this link to a video I had seen before, but had forgotten how concisely and eloquently it sums up the whole state of affairs. No one’s ever said it better in 3:15.

    George Carlin ~ The American Dream

    • kulturcritic says:

      DA – That is one of Carlin’s best… RIP!!

      • Disaffected says:

        RIP my ass! I’m a major non-subscriber to that BS. I’m sure GC’s doing just fine wherever he might be; including right back here on planet hell-hole leading the next revolution, if that’s where he chooses to be.

        One thing I’m sure he’s NOT DOING is “resting in peace!”

        I’ll kick his ass MYSELF when I get there if he is!

    • John Bollig says:

      I agree entirely, Carlin is a classic story teller. It is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

      BTW, the system kills and it is going to be killed by the long emergency.

  24. Disaffected says:

    FINALLY, we have the real story, courtesy of The Galactic Empire Times .

    Obi-Wan Kenobi Is Dead, Vader Says

    My heart goes out to the wookiee killed in the skirmish, and of course to the two missing droids. This kind of thing is simply unconscionable.

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