Thursday, July 2, 2009

Sympathy for the Devils

OK, so let's say you're one of the people who is really In Charge – call it what you will, I won't bother to name any individuals or organizations – just call it “The Usual Suspects”, or the Powers That Be, or The Regime, whatever. This assumes that there are such people and that there are such organizations – and this, in my opinion, has progressed well beyond the “conspiracy theory” stage now that it has been revealed – by way of the “world economic crisis” -- that, in every way that counts, the economies and governments of at least the English-speaking world and most of Europe (at least the non-former-Warsaw Pact) are inextricably linked, along with the government of Israel and, possibly – if peripherally – the governments and economies of the Near East, Middle East, and much of Africa. I don't have any theories as yet about Latin America or the rest of Asia; perhaps the New World Order includes them as well (in which case it is truly a new “world” order), or perhaps they have managed to hold out so far. I see Russia and the former Warsaw Pact countries as being borderline cases, although the renewed vigor with which NATO is “reaching out” to many of these would seem to indicate that Eastern Europe is at least a “mission field” for the New World Order – right up to Georgia, if Sarah Palin has anything to say about it.

So at this point in history, I think it's fair to – at the risk of oversimplification, of course! -- talk about a First World, i.e. that portion that is securely a part of The Regime... a Second World, which includes most of non-Arab Asia... and the same old Third World, which means the former African colonies and various “developing” (i.e. intractably impoverished) nations in Asia and the West Indies, as well as most of Latin America. On the “to be determined” or “gray area” list would be Russia and so-called “European” South America, i.e. Chile and Argentina. But in any case, the U.S. is most assuredly a key element in the First World, although its status as “first among equals” (or non-equals) seems to be threatened more and more each day.

A sidebar, perhaps, but historically informative issue is where did the First World, AKA “The West”, come from and when? Clearly, the foundation was laid with the Roman Empire, which gradually morphed into Christendom and remained relatively stable for many centuries, but which was eventually fragmented by the Protestant Reformation (so called), which, in turn, was a roll-up of all of the heresies that had been threatening the One Catholic and Apostolic Church from the beginning – and the philosophical “mother of heresies”, also from the beginning, can be called many things, among them humanism, secularism, materialism, and so on, from which roots the French Revolution blossomed, as well as all subsequent secular/humanist/Marxist revolutions right up to the present day. So nations and cultures became arrayed along a continuum, if you will, between Faith (of the Catholic, i.e. original Christian kind) and “Reason”, i.e. the placing of Man on high as the be-all and end-all of earthly life, and the measure by which all systems of economy and governance were to be measured. Another way of looking at it is that there has been a civil war of sorts in the West, particularly since the Reformation, with one side having dominance at certain times and in certain places, and the other side likewise. The war is ever spiritual and philosophical, but has also had its social, political, economic, and military aspects and consequences. The tendency overall has been for humanism/secularism/materialism to occupy more and more of the territory – more of the “hearts and minds” of the humanity inhabiting this portion of the world... but there have also, of course, been what the secularists would call “setbacks” as well, e.g. the return of France to a monarchy (albeit not “absolute” after Napoleon) and the cleansing of places like Spain and Poland of “foreign influences”... not to mention the rising of faith in Eastern Europe since the breakup of the Soviet Union... the Irish Rebellion, the Spanish Civil War, and so on. Jesus said that “the gates of Hell” would not prevail against the Church, and this has been true overall, although the Church has had much to suffer, again with the French Revolution, the English Reformation, the Spanish Republic, revolutions in Mexico and Portugal, the communist takeover of Eastern Europe and Vietnam, and so on. And yet it survives, against all (apparent) odds. And the interesting thing is how many times – again up to the present day – the Church has managed to coexist, on some level, with the forces of secularism, even including communism. The Church has, in other words, proved singularly difficult to eradicate, much to the frustration of revolutionaries over the centuries who have expected it to be a “cakewalk”. Paradoxically, the Church seems to be better at “coexistence” than the revolutionaries are. But the Church has always been under siege, and never more than in the present era when secularism has come to dominate not so much by force of arms as by sheer political and economic force. Even in Soviet Russia – as hard-core a communist state as has ever existed – most churches were at least allowed to stand – physically, at least -- and many of them are now being re-converted back from their secular uses into houses of worship. The cultural and spiritual genocide committed by China upon the Tibetans has, likewise, passed out of its most virulent stage – not that Christianity had anything to do with it, but the even larger battle between secularism and faith is not confined to traditional Christendom, and many expressions of solidarity have been made between the Church and Buddhism, as well as, on some occasions, the Church and Islam. (Expressions of solidarity between Christianity and Judaism are generally asymmetrical, since the latter is, for all intents and purposes, entirely secular at this point, so they really can't “relate” on a spiritual level.)

The largest-scale picture, in other words, is between those who believe that man's lot on earth is confined to just that and nothing more (think: “nasty, brutal, and short”), and those who believe that there is a higher spiritual significance to life, however that might be expressed. The believer in any creed has more in common with other believers of other creeds than any of them has with secular materialists, in other words, and the various ecumenical and outreach movements have typically been pursued with that idea in mind.

But to return to our half of the world, and to the Church specifically. It has stood as a bulwark against “all other” ideas for two millennia now... as a rock, an anchor, a polestar. The manifestation of “all other” has, on the other hand, continued to morph, evolve, and grow in all directions like a virus, and under a thousand different names, but at core, the divisions and boundaries remain the same as always. (It has been truly said that there are many more ways to do something wrong than to do it right.) For a long time, as I said, the main opposition was the rise of various heresies... then it became a rebellion against the Church overall... and then a purely secular front raised against the Faith. So what we have now is a most curious situation where the faithful live and work side by side (in most countries) with those who have no faith – or, at best, have cultural habits that hark back to a time of faith but which are spiritually empty. And of course it almost seems like human nature – fallen nature, if you will – that anything as big, and universal, and (formerly) powerful as the Church would have enemies, and that those enemies would, at various times and in various places, combine forces, then split up again, then recombine in new ways... and I fully expect this phenomenon to persist literally until the end of time. We will never be rid of the rebellious among us – but, more importantly, they will never be rid of the Church or of the faith which it represents. The difference is that we know this, and they don't – which is why they will always be restless, hostile, impatient, and dissatisfied. In other words, the “culture wars” will always be biased in favor of the secularists until the end of time, at which point the bias (to put it mildly) will turn in favor of the Church.

So what has the Church stood in opposition to for all these years? Heresy and apostasy for starters, and more recently secularism, materialism, and totalitarianism. More specific examples could be cited as well – revolution (which is almost invariably secular and materialistic in nature), “humanism” (an outgrowth of the Reformation which transitioned quite readily into a purely secular form), various forms of political, economic, and social exploitation (the abuses of the Industrial Revolution and colonization, for example), and – bringing us up to the present day – various forms of “Frankenscience” such as abortion, contraception, in-vitro fertilization, cloning, stem-cell research, etc. And let's not forget other abuses of “science” like eugenics and master race theories. Socialism in all of its forms is, likewise, an abuse of mankind – of the true nature of man as a created being that is at once body and spirit. But, lest we forget, many Popes, especially over the past few generations, have taught that capitalism can be every bit as abusive. Whenever people are treated as “things”, and the many are exploited and enslaved (even the “soft slavery” of the servile state) for the benefit of others, or for “ideas”, something profound has been violated. So the Church has always represented a “third way” -- and, predictably, it is always accused, by its enemies on both sides of the conventional dichotomy, of being on the side of the other – because they don't recognize the existence, or even the possibility, of a third way, any more than the mythical inhabitants of a one-dimensional world recognize the existence of a second dimension.

So among the many and varied forces which have, at various times, united, conspired, or at least reached an “understanding” in opposition to the Church may be numbered slavery, colonialization, exploitation of workers, economic oppression, “cultural genocide”, “ethnic cleansing”, mechanization of human existence, medical models that ignore the spiritual nature of man, and unjust concentrations of political and military power and wealth. And in this, the West has been, more often than not, the victimizer and the Third World the victims. And this is not to say that the Third World – past or present – is an island of naïve, pure innocence in the Rousseauean sense – far from it! I doubt if very many Mexicans, for example, would really want to return to the days of the Aztecs and human sacrifice, any more than women in China would want to go back to foot-binding. The West has had much to offer the rest of the world over the years, and much of it has been good, and edifying, and inspiring... but there has also been the contamination from scourges like Puritanism, the “Protestant ethic”, the “prosperity gospel”, and, yes, “liberation theology”, for which rogue elements of the Catholic Church are largely to blame. We are also still captive to the “technological imperative”, which says that “whatever can be done, will be done” -- and this has led to things as diverse as desertification, pollution (of land, sea, and air), contamination (nuclear, chemical, biological, etc.), and the pressing of millions into a soulless, robotic life of sweatshop work and labor on massive agricultural enterprises in the name of “efficiency” and “competitiveness”.

In sum, the Third World, operationally, consists of the “done to”... and returns are not yet in as to, overall, whether it has worked for their net benefit or net loss – but one suspects the latter. So when we see rebellion in any form, on any level, among the disenfranchised of this world – and this includes “terrorism” -- we have to ask ourselves whether we shouldn't accept a good share of the blame. I can't believe, for example, that sub-Saharan Africa was a hotbed of rebellion and strife before the colonialists came... and similarly for Latin America. When did those places turn from relatively peaceful, stable, agrarian societies into ongoing catastrophes of war, revolution, famine, and disease? And has the net effect – the benefits vs. the losses – really been worth it, i.e. for the West, not to mention for the people themselves, who have clearly lost, in many cases, nearly everything? (Are there not, e.g., more officially-designated “refugees” at this point than at any previous time in history?) And what was it, for that matter, that compelled the West to adopt an exploitative – or, at best, paternalistic and superior – attitude toward the rest of the world? Was it – heaven forbid – the Church, or Christianity? Certainly many leftist historians will say yes. But I'm not convinced that this package dealing is all that obvious an answer. We know, for example, that missionaries accompanied the conquistadores to the New World, hoping to convert the natives... the savages... the heathen. But they often had to protest, in short order, the mistreatment of the natives by the secular arm – those who were only looking for gold, or slaves, or new crops, etc. If only it had been just missionaries, without guns! And in some cases it was – but in other cases, all too often, it was not. And as to Africa, it was about – once again, natural resources, trade routes, and slaves, with the missionaries doing what they could to ease the pain. Even China – a highly-advanced civilization – had to be “opened” by military force, as did Japan and so many other Asian countries. So this is a web that is very difficult to untangle.

But lets return to the First World, with all of its zeal for power and dominance. Who was running the show? It's clear that, from the earliest trade routes on, it had to do with business – with merchants and traders first, then with manufacturers, then industrialists, paralleled by, in the most generic sense, plantation owners (the forerunners of today's “agribusinesses”). We don't have to look to darkest Africa for this – it happened in Ireland under the English, and in Eastern Europe and the Near East under the Ottomans. So the cycle of exploitation, accumulation of wealth, further exploitation, etc., had begun – backed up, reliably, by the military might, and later the political influence, of the colonial powers, who were acting less on the urgings of faith than on the urgings of gold, silver, gems, and the false prosperity of Europe that was based on pirating resources from elsewhere. America, which began as an array of colonies (English, French, Dutch, Spanish, Russian, etc.), eventually became a colonial power in its own right, albeit a relatively “soft” one (but maybe not so “soft” if you were on the receiving end, like the Philippines and Panama). We adopted many of the bad habits of the old colonial powers, perhaps the worst being an invincible sense of superiority and manifest destiny (known later on as “Wilsonism” or “spreading democracy”) -- which had warped spiritual underpinnings -- not to mention a complete lack of understanding or sympathy with the cultures and habits of whatever “natives” we happened to encounter. (We forget that “diversity” was not an American value until just recently – especially when it came to dealing with “underdeveloped” (by us, naturally) parts of the world.) So we disguised our mercantile zeal with terms like “white man's burden”, and proceeded to, as it were, put clothes on the natives while we stole their land and resources. All very legitimate and, in fact, commendable, if you adopted the baseline Puritanism that seemed to inform so much of our foreign dealing, and continues to do so right up to the present day. It has always amazed me that the creed – or maybe obsessive neurosis – of a small group of fanatics who settled on the Massachusetts Bay in the early 1600s continues to cast such long shadows over both our domestic policy and foreign policy... and yet there it is. But in truth, it's just the other side of the rebellion coin, reflecting the bipolar nature of heresy. You either succumb to sensuality, AKA Eros... or you do just the opposite, and wind up hating the Creation and therefore mankind as well. The third way – which is, basically, just leaving other people the hell alone – never enters anyone's head. No, we must remake the world in our own image... and after that is accomplished, we'll get around to remaking ourselves... maybe. (We see this today in our obsession with trying to force other countries to adopt “democratic” systems that may even be superior to our own, at least in application.)

Now then – when you combine the pre-existing sense of rebellion against the Church, the faith, and Christian ethics and morals with the needs of trade, colonialization, finance, and so on, it only makes sense that you come up with an organization – or a network of organizations – that has a two-fold mission – to aid and abet materialistic pursuits on the one hand, and to do battle with the Church, in order to diminish its influence, on the other. In particular, the Church must be silenced if the materialistic program is to proceed with maximum efficiency, since it is the Church's traditional business to prick the conscience of those who only see what is in front of their nose, and want more of that, and nothing more. And sure enough, we see a direct correlation between the dominance of technology, and the “world economy”, and the decline of the Church as a source of moral authority – not that the Church actually has any less moral authority, but it is increasingly drowned out and ignored. How many international capitalists, bankers, industrialists, etc. ever ask themselves, “What would Jesus do?” I would be amazed to find even one. And yet they and their operations exist side by side by people who do ask that question (even if they do come up with the wrong answers on a regular basis). The “white man's burden” is no longer associated with missionaries but with outfits like the World Health Organization – masters of the “unintended consequence”. But this does not mean that the worldly wise have nothing to say when it comes to “ideas”; they are all for things like “social justice”, “economic justice”, and (for the truly nostalgic) “the brotherhood of man”. But these are, by and large, cover stories, and the occasional “useful idiot” who really believes them is, I'm sure, the butt of endless jokes in the halls of the powerful. When you look at what really goes on – and the results – all you see is a profound cynicism, a bottom-line mentality that does not even admit of even the most rudimentary of traditional humanistic values. If “secular humanism” was a conceptual and metaphysical mistake, we have moved beyond it to pure money and power, which I suppose is at least more honest, in a twisted kind of way. It is nothing noble, or idealistic – some will say it is realistic, but that is, again, based on the premise of materialism and nothing more. And yet – again, based on cultural habit – it continues to be “gussied up” in idealistic language, if only to soothe the doubts of those who have a remnant of conscience left. The barbarians of old, at least, didn't feel they needed any excuse – the brigands of today persist in clothing their misdeeds in the language of enlightenment.

OK, so let's say that an organization – or a network of organizations – has grown up, over the centuries, to oppose the Church and promote the humanistic, materialistic agenda. And, not coincidentally, this organization also controls most of the major financial choke points in the First World... and it has acquired influence over many nations' fiscal and monetary policy, currency, banking, securities and other markets, and what not – all in the name of pursuing the larger agenda as well as for the obvious immediate rewards. But we're already talking about an imaginary world here, since it does not include politics, which is the very essence of influence, deception, and unearned, unmerited power. Does anyone suppose that the present-day world economy developed along autonomous, capitalistic lines while politics developed along parallel lines, with only the vaguest connections between the two? Dream on. Politics has ever been one head of the two-headed beast that exists to serve the Regime... and politicians answer first to those with real power – money and tangible resources – and only later on, if ever, to the citizenry. In fact, it can be argued that the citizenry are sufficiently programmed so they only make demands that the politicians are already prepared to respond to; how often does one hear a “tough question” being asked at a presidential news conference, for example? So politicians have evolved an elaborate set of rituals and behaviors that seem to reflect some sort of “service” to the public... but when you look at what they actually do, and what the results are, it's clear that the public – and public opinion, even! -- are the least of their worries (mainly because “public opinion” is thoroughly determined by the Regime as well).

Now, while one might think, well, none of this is surprising on a limited, local level... or, in rare cases, in Congress... but surely the presidency is subject to the approval of, and responsive to the desires of, the people. Right? No, wrong – for the reasons already given. Take, for example, the process by which a person becomes president in the first place. There is a “vote”, which is heavily influenced by the media, i.e. by the mouthpieces of the Regime. And before that there is a nominating process, and before that a primary process, also heavily influenced, and designed to completely shut out, in a conclusive manner, any sort of serious dissent (as witness the reaction to the Ron Paul candidacy). The bottom line is that no one – or very few – even get to run in the primaries unless they have passed muster by the Regime... i.e. unless they give evidence that they can be, let's say, “persuaded”. (And I'm not talking about anything as crude as bribery here, by and large – it's more like dangling the promise of power and glory in front of them as the “carrot”, and dangling the other promise of defeat, humiliation, and even death in front of them if they don't cooperate – i.e. the “stick”.)

Political power, on the other hand, enables the continuity and increase of economic power – not of the masses, except as a “trickle-down” effect, but for the power elite, many of whom make entire careers out of just tossing surplus capital from one financial center to another, around the world. And each time money (of whatever form) changes hands, there is, of course, a “cut”, and the accumulated cuts go toward building even higher edifices of economic power. Which is to say that “lively” markets, and fast and frequent exchanges of money, securities, and property are an essential part of the wealth-accumulation cycle. This, of course, contradicts the traditional image of a stagnant society like imperial China with the ruler sitting on a pile of gems, vs. a “market economy” where even “the man on the street” can have an “interest” in national or global financial dealings. What it is is more like a continuous skimming process – with taxes and fees being the main instruments. (Think again of the Masai cattle who are kept alive for their milk and blood. They probably don't know there is any other way to live.)

So, which came first? Economic power, and the accumulation of wealth, or political power, by which I mean real political power, not the kind dependent wholly on the whims of the “voters”? I say that the relationship has been symbiotic and mutually corrupting from the start. It's hard for me to imagine any significant accumulation of wealth that did not involve at least the tacit indulgence of the political and military powers at the time and in that place. By the same token, can anyone imagine a political movement of any sort that is detached from wealth? Ah, but! -- you'll say – there are scores of examples of that, starting at least as far back as the French Revolution, with virtually all other revolutions since then being examples as well. Any time “the people” rise up against “the oppressor”, or tyranny, or the power elite, we see an example of politics opposing wealth, not working with it or even in a state of peaceful coexistence. But – I say – not so fast. The French Revolution, for starters, did very little to alter the vast discrepancies of wealth between the nobility and the lower classes; what it mostly did was to reshuffle the power elite in such a way that there might have been different wealthy people after vs. before... but the distribution of wealth remained roughly the same. (The same can be said of the Protestant Reformation in England, and the English Civil War.) It's amazing how often the great fortunes come through times of revolution, war, and strife relatively intact (can you say “Krupp”, for example?). That's because the smart rich (and there are very few stupid rich left) know when to get out of the way, and where to put their money for safekeeping.

But hold on! -- you'll say. Surely this was not the case in Russia, at the time of the Bolshevik Revolution. Well, some of those fortunes were already being quietly moved out of Russia at the time of the revolution... but it's true, much was left behind, and at least some of it wound up in the state treasury (although a great portion wound up in the pockets of the “men of the people”). But this would be missing the larger picture, which was that there had been immense political pressures exerted against Russia for years prior to the revolution, and much of that had been – guess what – financed by very wealthy people elsewhere in Europe, and even in the U.S. So it can be argued that the “people's revolution” would not have been possible without the influence of the very wealthy – albeit, they weren't all that concerned with the fates of their peers within Russia. But again, it's ultimately not about people at all, but about power... and any entity devoted to power as either a means or an end winds up consuming its own eventually.

OK then, how about the New Deal? Lest we forget, the New Deal was designed to “save capitalism” and avert a socialist, if not outright communist, revolution. So it was ultimately much more on the side of wealth than of “equality”... and if you look at any socialistic or “liberal” program that has come along since then, it's going to be the same story. The populists of this world have to be the most frustrated people around, since every person, program, or governmental structure they support is soon turned back against “the people”. Every time “the people” triumph – or appear to – it's but for a day, and then follows another long night of oppression. The New Deal didn't represent a return to prosperity – just a change in attitude that made us feel better about being poor. And that was followed by a catastrophic war, in which millions of “the people” were killed, wounded, traumatized, or turned into refugees. So much for populism! The easiest thing for the Regime to do is to convince people that “happy days are here again” -- even if they aren't, and never will be. The propaganda runs deep... it starts in nursery school and continues, without a letup, for life; it is what keeps us slaves, but it is, for some unfathomable reason, the one thing people will more willingly die for than anything else.

But let's say that you're above all that. You are one of those who is truly in charge, who truly has power – not because you “vote”; you've never voted in your life! Because you know that it's all a sham. And it's not because you condescend to dirty yourself in the political arena; much better to have the politicians do all the dirty work, because they are, after all, working for you, whether they know it or not. But therein lies the dilemma. Are “democracies” any easier to work with than monarchies, or dictatorships? One might think the latter were preferable since you only have to deal with one man (or woman) – but we know that's not true. Even the most autocratic tyrant is surrounded by clouds of assistants, ministers, advisers, counselors, and so on – he will (if he has a brain in his head) seek advice at least as often as the leader of a “democracy” -- maybe more often, in fact. So if it's influence you want, the halls and chambers of a Stalin or a Hitler are every bit as Byzantine as those of an American president. So form of government is not, after all, a primary consideration – we will work with whatever is the case. What counts much more than form is substance – and the essence of political substance is how to keep the citizenry working (“producing”) while at the same time skimming off as much of their labor, or the fruits thereof, as possible without causing anomie, depression, a general strike, or rebellion. And this will, in turn, vary widely depending on the culture and traditions of the people in question, as well as their experience and expectations in the economic and political arena. A Japanese citizen, for example, might be perfectly satisfied with an apartment with 5% of the floor space that an American thinks is his due – and the Japanese will sit contentedly on the 50th floor of a high-rise in Tokyo while the American insists on a house and yard (and 2-car garage) in Fairfax County. “Contented milk from contented cows” -- and the cows come in all shapes, sizes, colors, moods, and dispositions – so we see that the Regime, far from insisting on universal standardization, is, beyond a certain point, at least tolerant of the – dare we call it diversity? -- presented by the human race as a whole. It doesn't expect the New England farmer to think, or act, or speak, or dress, like the Arizona software developer... as long as they share the one all-important trait, which is to never question the foundational myths of the system (including the myth of “democracy”). Wandering outside the metaphysical reservation is an occasion for severe sanctions; otherwise, we can all get along.

At this point, I hope we have set the stage for an easy acceptance of what I believe to be an incontrovertible fact, namely that the Regime – or whatever you want to call it – is in charge, at least in the First World and periphery, and that nothing significant happens in that world – militarily, economically, politically, socially, financially... even scientifically – without their prior planning, approval, and facilitation. There is just way too much evidence, on all levels, that this is the case. So the question then becomes, why are we surprised – at all, ever – when “unseen forces” seem to be behind things like the economic crisis, wars, presidential elections... even famines and epidemics (think: population control)? But at the same time, most of the world at present is not oppressed by overt, obvious, crude tyranny, gulag-style – it is more the “soft tyranny” of manipulated expectations, “managed” economies, politically-fraught social issues and well-contained “movements” -- and so on. It is, in a word, programmed and calibrated to achieve the optimum result for a given resource expenditure – or, more precisely, the optimum gathering-in of resources given the pre-programmed expectations of a given portion of the citizenry. And when I say “control”, I'm only saying control of what counts; plenty of things are left up to political whims, fancies, crazes, and manias – but these are all well-contained the way the battles among the denizens of an aquarium are kept in check by the aquarium walls (and the supply of air, food, etc.). Our overly-hyped political struggles, for example, are allowed to run their course because, ultimately, it doesn't matter to the Regime who “wins”, or which party is in power, or which social programs are initiated or (rarely!) terminated, because the outcome – or at least the direction or thrust of the outcome – is predetermined. Economic “crises” are an effect, rather than a cause, of much larger movements and decisions made on high. And our politicians and “leaders” are – whether they realize it or not – simply tools, figureheads, “suits”, go-betweens. As high as they may appear to climb in the power hierarchy, I believe that, with very rare exceptions, none of them has any real, lasting power; how could they, since they can, at least in theory, be thrown out of office at the next election... or even sooner, by means of impeachment or “scandal” -- always a favorite tool of the Regime, and we see how dramatically different the media's treatment is of one scandal vs. another – e.g. one is a “career ender” and the other is ho-hum. The “career enders” happen to the people who the Regime has no further use for – at least not in the positions they occupy. The “ho-hums” happen to the people who are still useful and who are considered worth keeping in place. There are no other differences worth mentioning! I defy you to name me one other criterion for political success or failure that is consistently applied. And even in retirement, the useful ones remain in the spotlight, receiving prominent commissions and honors (and money), and the others fade into instant obscurity – one has only to contrast Bill Clinton, for example, with George W. Bush. They are all equally tools and servants, but some are “good and faithful” whereas others are disposable.

Why, for example, do race-based efforts like civil rights movements, affirmative action, quotas, tokenism of various kinds, “black power” and other forms of militancy... even those with a religious angle like the Black Muslims – why do these ebb and flow so drastically when the underlying situation that they are supposedly an “answer” to hardly changes? Why is “women's rights” big for a season, and old news the next, only to come back in a different form later on? Why do our cities continue to stew in a broth of poverty, violence, and dysfunction despite all the decades of “attention” provided them? Taxes rise and (occasionally) fall... regulations come and go... laws are draconian one minute and lenient the next... and it all looks like so much unsystematic chaos until we observe that, in the long run, no matter what else happens, power and wealth become more and more concentrated in the hands of the few? In the long run, our real options – our real liberties – are gradually whittled away, but usually not fast enough to get anyone very upset. And yet, we turn around from time to time and ask, “What happened?” -- and of course there is no answer, because there is no “audit trail”... there are no dots to connect. The surface appearance of events is so fragmented and so idiosyncratic that the natural tendency is to believe that that really is the way things are... until we realize that that isn't the way things are at all. But where is the proof? Why are there thousands of web sites devoted to finding out “what really happened” on Nov. 22, 1963... or on Sep. 11, 2001... or to the economy... etc.? Is it because what happened is just what the media tell us happened, and nothing more? How likely is that? And yet, even the “best laid plans” develop holes and leaks from time to time, and the machinations of the Regime are no exception. The “official explanations” for the events just cited are so full of holes there is hardly anything left of them. But rather than suppress all dissent and doubt, a different tack is taken – those who disagree are “paranoid”, they've been misled by “charismatic demagogues” (as though most world leaders aren't!), and the truth is not in them – therefore, all good and patriotic citizens ought to ignore their rantings and go on about their daily lives with an attitude of complete trust in their betters. Isn't this precisely the message we have gotten from every administration since at least Reagan's time? At least back then the president himself showed a bit of skepticism from time to time... but everyone since has been a purveyor of the party line. So it seems to me that the Regime has chosen to, more than ever, close ranks at this point, and I offer that the economic “crisis” is the primary sign of this, although certainly the stonewalling about 9-11 and other, more “minor” incidents like Oklahoma City are signs as well. Oh sure, we can question all we want, but anyone who questions is immediately labeled a “nut” and suffers a blackout by the media – which is almost as good as censorship... or maybe better. And one can always tell where the most vital “control points” are because those are areas where even the most independent, courageous skeptics hardly dare utter a word – e.g. with regard to Israel... or drug legalization... or vaccination... or hard currency... or “identity politics”... or the Federal Reserve. Whenever the Regime says – through its media mouthpieces – that this is just the way things are, and they will never change... those are the control points; that's where the most leverage is being applied most of the time, and where dissent will be most severely punished. And our politicians – ever the servants, but not of us – invariably fall into line on these issues, with the rare exceptions of, once again, true heroes like Ron Paul.

But really, how could it be any other way? If you have a power base that was carefully built up over the centuries, in Europe and America – and elsewhere as needed – are you really going to let some naïve, foolish, dim-witted politician with delusions of grandeur mess it up? Are you going to put your power, and plans, and schemes, at the mercy of a bunch of hysterical “voters”? Of course not. What you're going to do is see to it that no one who is the least bit skeptical – no one who is the least bit concerned with liberty, i.e. with real human rights – gets anywhere near high office. You're going to “handle” these people from the cradle on, sorting out the ones who won't adapt, who don't fit... and leave a field of already-brainwashed “candidates” to the mercy of the voters, because at that point it doesn't really matter any longer. Whoever survives up to that point is whisked off to an “undisclosed location” for a “briefing” before they're even allowed to begin their campaign – and these “briefings” continue, with increasing intensity, until the fateful day on which one is chosen and the rest are left in the dust – but, again, it doesn't matter because they're all Manchurian Candidates now; they're all perfectly programmed to do your will... or if not perfectly programmed then sufficiently intimidated so they will never pull a “Valachi” and leave the organization, and start blabbing. How do we know this? Because, guess what, no one ever does. Ever! And there must be a reason. So the winner gets his (or her) parades, parties, inaugural balls, plush residences, unlimited perks... but they are less free than a true revolutionary chained in a dungeon. Their minds are not free, and their souls are withered... and it's remarkable how many of our “leaders” reflect this if you know where to look. It's in their faces, their voices, their walks... they are no longer their own man (assuming they ever were). They are playing a role – and, granted, they are good at it, but not perfect. And a rare few will try for redemption of some sort, as witness the widely-despised Jimmy Carter. But by then it's way too late to regain any real credibility, so they are reduced to, basically, fruitless whining and griping, a la Dick Cheney. They are spent men – used up and spat out by the Regime, and – perhaps barely conscious of what has happened to them – live out their days in an attitude of bewilderment (as, I think, we can expect “W” to do).

And yet I say, if you're who you are, how can you do otherwise? Why allow fools and incompetents to mess up the world you have created? There is no reason at all, especially when you know, with absolute certainty, that you can get away with it.

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