As of mid summer 2011, the cost of US wars waged over this past decade was close to four trillion dollars ($4,000,000,000,000). And, none of this figures in the little deal we just did in Libya, getting Gaddafi out of the way so we could steal more Libyan oil. And wouldn’t you know it; just this week the US sent one hundred special forces troops into Uganda to assist that government in fighting against the decades-old Lord’s Resistance Army. And this, just after Uganda announced striking some rather large oil resources in the northern part of the country. But, I am getting ahead of myself. Let us review. We have seen four “bad guys,” Hussein, Mubarak, Osama and Gaddafi all taken out, physically, so far. Pretty good record for the Prince of Peace, wouldn’t you say? OK, we can’t credit him with Hussein, that was done on his mentor’s watch. Yet, it does seem as though the current hegemon is setting the stage for a nice showdown with Iran. Under the Peace Maker’s watch, it does appear we have engaged in more killing, maiming, and global looting then at any other time since Vietnam. And now that a growing contingent of the American populace has taken up residence in the streets of New York, Washington, Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles – hell, they are even protesting in Missoula Montana – it looks like the Peace Keeper and his lieutenants are resetting their sights on those nefarious domestic terrorists.
The foot soldiers of this regime, the local police — whether undercover, in uniform, or in riot gear — have been, well… taking it to the streets as well. Their imperially-sanctioned belligerence — taunting, antagonistic — and brutality can be sensed as well as seen; the manhandling, the arrests, even an occasional beating or assault of protesters has been on display in our fair land this past month. Many worry if they will wind up with a cracked skull like the Iraq War veteran (Scott), now in a medically induced coma after facing riot gear-clad officers with tear gas in Oakland, Calif., on Tuesday; or perhaps handcuffed and dragged-off in the middle of the night like demonstrators in Atlanta.
Those among us who had been previously seduced by the endless array of promises from a “government of, by, and for the people,” and its perverse sense of justice, may now be starting to recognize the State’s previously obscured but quickly emergent fascist mannerisms. Several generations of Americans are now collectively experiencing the full weight of this Grand Old “democracy” of the corporate state — what Chris Hedges has elsewhere called the heavy hand of our inverted totalitarianism.
The question haunting us is this. Why do they, the power brokers, stifle dissent in this country? In a nation whose jawboning about “freedom” drowns out every other contravening voice, whose every public pronouncement provides ample lip service to the concept of “openness” and acceptance, perhaps it is not surprising that it shuts out the very voices it claims to protect and nurture. It now appears that any questioning of the State’s authority or its intentions is met with a cold shoulder, a head fake, more rhetoric, vacuous promises, and then a hard fist to the face; more recently, the very act of questioning is labelled “terrorism.” Like most others, ours is a leadership that does not like to be contradicted, and does not take criticism (from anybody) easily.
And while the masses still occupying streets in MENA and Europe were initial responders to the stresses and strains of global neoliberalism, austerity, and the American corporate State supporting sundry dictators around the world — demonstrating well before we did here in the land of plenty; it is now clearly the case that at least some Americans have begun to see through the veil. They have suddenly unmasked the charade that this culture of commodification and consumerism has carefully crafted over the past two hundred years to keep them sleeping or distracted. And those sitting for so long on the blood-soaked fringes of this now collapsing Empire, as well as those more recently disenfranchised, are joining together in the chorus. The project of the corporate State, grounded firmly in the capitalist agenda of global expansion, has finally hit its wall. And it did not even require $5 a gallon gasoline to recognize that it is unsustainable. It has slammed up against the limits of growth; it now has to reckon with not just ecological, but societal overshoot, as well. It is not just the extinction of other species and rampant destruction of biodiversity, but the decimation of human community and the potential extinction of Homo sapiens, that has now raised the consciousness of the people to the impending global calamity called industrial civilization. This human project, dating back six millennia, is now under a death watch.
Those in power positions, of course, do not want such scrutiny; nor do they want any questioning of their authority. They want to silence it, to distract attention from it, to marginalize it. And so the corporate elite do what they do best, they re-brand the demonstrators and occupiers as bums, as malcontents, and yes, as terrorists. Well, perhaps they haven’t yet seen the Italian version.
Nevertheless, until now at least, the American people (consumers) have dutifully gone along with the program, and our homegrown protestors have been fairly well behaved. But, perhaps we “will not be fooled again.” Perhaps now the machinations and pure hypocrisy of the State are more clearly on display. Perhaps now the people will not stand for blaming some abstract or foreign Other, finding an easy scapegoat, or going after the purported bad guys. Perhaps now we will accept our long-suffering complicity in this ugly state of affairs. Perhaps now we will recognize that as long as we negotiate with power brokers within the system, we ultimately lose. After all, negotiation gives credence to the system, its institutions, and its policies. Perhaps we will finally understand that it is the entrenched institutions of hierarchy and control that are at the root of our problem, and that as long as we allow those hierarchies their power, nothing changes, except the puppets in the slots and the specific taste of their rhetoric.
Our State, the USA, stands at the forefront of the modern civilized project. We have forcefully taken over the mantle, and set the agenda for progress. We have taken the Renaissance challenge of Francis Bacon (1561-1626) — in law, in statecraft, and in the natural sciences — and pushed it to the extreme. We have sought to exert dominion not only over the earth, its “resources,” and other creatures here, but over our fellow man as well. It is this project, enforced by our laws, by our police, by our judiciary, and our military, crafted by our scientists and our specialists, and implemented by our technologists, that is now open to question. Could the New American Century see a wholesale rejection of the powers wielded by the industrial-corporate-political hierarchy, a reversal of the trajectory of domination, of ecocide, genocide, and species extinction practiced by the institutions of modern civilization? Could this be a rejection of the propaganda and sundry tactics of autocracy, plutocracy, or oligarchy wherever, and in whatever form, they present themselves? Could this spell the rejection of the politics and economics of global destruction; a rejection of the fascism of the State?
Granted there are many diverse and disparate elements embracing this current OWS happening and fleshing-out its worldwide presence. Hell, even members of the god squad (Christian, Jewish and Moslem) are trying to co-opt this movement for their own political ends, as if they weren’t part of the problem from the very beginning of recorded history. And while demonstrators and sympathizers globally march against the tyranny of the one-percent, against corrupt banking systems, against war, against austerity, and against foreclosures, loosely demanding economic and social justice, it is nevertheless true that the General Assembly of the OWS movement in New York has still refused to articulate any specific or concrete demands. And they should resist any temptation to do so. As long as such demands are not spelled out, then negotiation cannot occur. And the passive refusal to negotiate could ultimately break the back of the system. So there remains the ever-so-slight possibility that the movement itself recognizes that the system IS the disease, and that the hierarchical models that support and nourish it (religious, political, legal), are at the root of our problems. The Empire says there should never be negotiations with terrorists; the protestors must realize that there can be NO negotiating with the Empire and the terrorist hierarchy of corporate-funded political fascism it represents.
So, what would it take to flip this Occupation from an apparently intra-systemic socio-economic-political debate to a global referendum on the trajectory of Western civilization and the Curriculum of the West, the underpinning of our unfolding, multi-tiered global crisis? What would it take not simply to remove hierarchical modalities from the OWS process of debate, but to dismantle the institutionalized hierarchies by means of which human beings have enslaved themselves and the planet since the beginnings of recorded history in ancient Sumer, in the Persian Gulf? While I am not quite sure of the answer, we may all find out soon enough. But, should that occur, what will the Prince of Peace do then?