Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Ideas in Flight

I don't suppose there could be a better day all year to start off a post by talking about public transportation – even though that will turn out not to be the main thrust of the discussion. But I have to credit public transportation with at least serving as a muse in this case. There's nothing like standing in an airport security line to get one thinking... like, how did things come to this sorry pass? I thought we were living in the “land of the free”, etc. (As a sidebar, I should comment that airport security is, for most middle-class people, the first opportunity they have to experience the “America” that the lower classes experience on a daily basis – a landscape of frowns, suspicion, paranoia, random searches and friskings, obtrusive questioning, etc. And this, I submit, is what has airline passengers – the vast majority of whom are middle-class – the most upset. They feel they are being treated inappropriately for their social status, not on an absolute basis.)

I'm old enough to remember what might be termed the “golden age” of air travel – or at least its twilight years. In those times, you could walk right up to the gate even if you weren't “ticketed”, either to greet someone or see someone off. The airlines served hot meals on real china and with real silverware and linen – not some poor imitation of fast-food carry-out, with everything embalmed in plastic bubbles. And on the first jumbo jets – ah, the memories! -- there was a bar at the top of the winding staircase from which even the “coach class” passenger could look out, in a leisurely and luxurious way, upon the moving landscape.

Now, this is not to say there was not a downside – the main one being the absurd custom of having “smoking” and “non-smoking” sections on a sealed airplane. Whoever thought that up has to have his bust included in a pantheon of marketing geniuses – but he'll certainly never win any awards from the American Lung Association.

But those days are gone with the wind, and now all but the most privileged must stand in a line fit for refugees from some Eastern European conflict – gray and dismal, punctuated only by crying babies and the occasional outburst from a fed-up passenger. And of course the TSA personnel, like everyone else who experiences real power for the first time, lord it over the crowd like concentration camp guards, tripping you up with ever-changing, arbitrary, and senseless rules. Not only are no two airports alike when it comes to security provisions, but it turns out that no two security lines are alike! The randomness works itself down to the smallest and most trivial details – and it's all designed to keep people off balance, to render them helpless in the face of authority.

So really – aside from the privileged few, as I said – air travel is no longer a pleasure, but is a gigantic pain in the ass, if you'll pardon my French. Not that train travel is a whole lot better – I mean, there are no luggage restrictions and no security lines, and the seats are larger, and there is more leg room, but the food is execrable, the schedules are surreally sparse and bad, and American trains have the curious habit of running hours (or even days) late, even though weather is, to say the least, not quite the factor it is with air travel. And then there is bus travel... and I'll spare you the horrors of contemporary bus stations, all of which seem to be situated in the very worst parts of town. And... well, really, so much for public transportation! Americans, who value the freedom to travel far above all other freedoms, are more assaulted and mistreated when it comes to travel than anyone in Europe and a good proportion of people in Asia. We sit over here in this benighted desert of public transportation turning green with envy every time we contemplate the transportation systems of Europe, Japan, and (increasingly) China. They somehow managed to make it happen – but we couldn't manage it with all the money in the world; therein lies the mystery.

I suppose that, in an odd kind of way, public transportation represents, for most Americans, a kind of capitulation – a giving up of the real thing, travel-wise, which means the freedom to drive one's own car wherever and whenever one pleases. Compared to that, all other forms seem vaguely socialistic, somehow – compromises. I mean, would Jack Kerouac have written “On the Road” about bus travel? Would “Easy Rider” have been the same if it had happened on a train? “Travels With Charley” on airplanes? No – the whole thing is absurd, a violation of a big part of the American dream. What began as a simple, practical means of colonization, settlement, and the movement west gradually morphed into an American ideal and icon; the closing of the frontier did not end the American urge for movement, it only forced it to morph in a different direction. Rather than “heading west” we now head, basically, wherever we aren't at present. Americans are restless and migratory – and it's no accident that this characterizes a society built primarily on ideas rather than a sense of place. Because to think of America-in-general as a place, we have to be motivated not by a reality, but by an idea of America – by a myth, in other words. When people think of a real place, they think of a home town, a neighborhood, a farm – not an entire country, and seldom even an entire state. People who think in those latter terms are likely to be “rootless cosmopolitans” -- to resurrect an old expression – who may or may not be deracinated (i.e. deprived of racial, ethnic, and religious roots, either voluntarily or by force) but who certainly have no loyalty or consideration for the land. Even the old-time wanderers, hobos, “rolling stones” -- celebrated in song and story – were “from” somewhere. (They often had nicknames that included their point of origin, like Cincinnati Red.) What we have now is a nation of people, many of whom are from nowhere – I mean, they had to have grown up somewhere, but they have no sense of place, either past or present. And it's hardly necessary to point out that the great American suburb is the worst place, and the most aggravating factor, for this sense of rootlessness... of “nowhereness”. And sure enough, when the central planners and “urban renewal” enforcers wanted to deracinate and demoralize a given racial/ethnic/religious group, where did they send them (or force them to go)? Why, to the suburbs, of course! A different city neighborhood, or even a small town, might have enabled them to keep some of their culture and sense of identity intact, and surely we can't have that.

So in a sense, the current, residual fetish for travel that infects Americans is a symptom of this deracination and displacement – an endless and futile search for that which is lost. Who knows? It might be just around the next corner, or over the next hill. So the quest goes on – and we wind up in a state of despair that does not know it is despair, to use an expression from Kierkegaard. There are many American pathologies, and this may not even be the most severe, but it certainly has a huge impact on our sense of being and identity as individuals and as a people.

But let's return to our cozily depressing and humiliating security line for a moment. A young traveler won't notice that anything has changed; he or she will assume it has always been this way, and might vaguely wonder why, but decide not to worry about it – the way most people simply accept the fact that there are always long lines at the DMV. (Imagine the shock and disorientation of a typical Russian who woke up one morning after the breakup of the Soviet Union and found that he didn't have to stand in line 3 or 4 hours to buy a loaf of bread!)

But for people like me, who remember the “golden age”, questions arise. The TSA was supposedly formed to guard against “further terrorist attacks” -- and if you look at the numbers, you might almost think they were succeeding, except for all the newspaper articles that point out repeated failures (most of which have non-fatal consequences, at least). You can only credit something with success if you can count the number of times it has kept something bad from happening – and this is, of course, impossible with an outfit like the TSA. For all I know, they have been successful – wildly so. But there is no way of proving it, so it quickly sinks into the usual bureaucratic quicksand and starts to exist for the sake of existence, like most other government agencies. My theory, as I've explained before, is that 9/11 was “mission accomplished” for the “terrorists”, or whoever was responsible, and that it doesn't need to happen again – no repeat performance necessary, since we are being bled white by endless wars in the Middle East, our economy is in a shambles, and our national morale is on life support. What better reward could any enemy hope to gain than that? The events of 9/11 did not bring down the American Empire in a single blow... but our actions since that date have served just as well, if not better. The terrorists didn't have to lift a finger to do anything else over here; all they have to do is keep things hot in the Middle East, and they have their revenge for all real and imagined offenses by America over the years. If, by a single act, you can get your enemy to destroy itself – well, that has to rank as one of the cleverest tactics ever devised... and yet it seems to be working. (And in fact, it works no matter who was ultimately responsible for 9/11; the model is “robust”, as they say in statistics.)

So OK, if our security-line woes are the fault of TSA, and if their existence is the fault of “terrorists” (or whoever), and the trigger for all of it was the 9/11 attacks, then what caused those? The best answer, still, is the one provided by Ron Paul, which caused Rudy Giuliani to suffer an apoplectic fit right on stage: “They're over here because we're over there.” OK then, why are we over there? And this is where the arguments bifurcate. Some will say the necessary and sufficient reason is the “defense” of Israel (a euphemism for “fighting their wars for them”). Others will say it's oil. Others, a combination of the two; neither one would have been sufficient for us to make that much of an investment. To which I have to add, there is also the factor of a new Crusade – this time preached by the Protestants – a new war on Islam, which might not hinge on either Israel or oil as essential elements. This might sound unlikely, but have a look at what is coming out of the intelligence agencies and the military commands these days – a relentless propaganda campaign (for the morale of the troops, of course) that says nothing about either Israel or oil, but plenty about Islam – not just as a source of “terrorism” but as an evil in its own right. Yes, this is actually being preached to military personnel and intelligence personnel, with the help of “advisors” from the Evangelical community – to which I say, whatever happened to “the wall of separation between church and state”? I think the answer is that the warfare is asymmetrical, in that it involves a secular state (us) against a religion (Islam). So “terrorism” is the excuse, but religion is the basic motive – for us as well as for them. Notice what a hard time we have deciding how, when, and where to try “terrorists”? It's because we can't decide what their status is, and that's because we can't decide what sort of conflict we're engaged in, and that's because there is no provision in the Constitution for wars of religion – and yet that's what we're fighting.

So in a broad sense – and as Ron Paul's statement implied – 9/11 was a self-inflicted wound. Some form, or aspect, of American empire building had inexorably led to it – and once it occurred, what was our response? To rethink our foreign policy and our overseas military and economic adventures? Not a bit of it. Our response was, predictably, to double down on our “commitments” overseas, or – to put it another way – everywhere but at home. The surest sign of a dying empire is that the citizenry starve while the military prospers, even in the most remote, out-of-the-way locales. This process did not start with 9/11, but those events solidified the pattern and established the process as one which is unstoppable until it leads to utter destruction. And sure, we will have our Mideast oil for a while, and will “defend” Israel for a while, but in the long run it is all doomed. That is, if we follow the trajectory of every other empire known to history – and what makes us think we have the will or the power to be any different? But it's another trait of empires to perpetually think, “we're different” -- we can dodge fate, we can sidestep karma. Yet it's that very attitude that accelerates the process of destruction, decay, and annihilation.

And I might mention as another sidebar the latest farce to come down the pike, namely our supposed “getting tough” with China – on economic, financial, trade, and “human rights” issues. When I was over there recently, I couldn't help but notice that every map of the country included the South China Sea, with a scattering of islands. Yes, they are totally convinced that that is their territory, and to heck with any “law of the sea” treaties. So now we are about to challenge them on this, as well as some other things? We, who owe China trillions in national debt? We, who can't keep a lid on two completely-wrecked countries in the Middle East, are now about to challenge China for dominance in East Asia? A country made up of sane people would immediately move to lock up anyone who came up with an idea this crazy – but when everybody's insane, only the few sane ones get that sort of treatment.

But really, it's all just huffing and puffing – no genuine confrontation with China is contemplated, simply because none is possible, and it wouldn't work; we'd just make fools of ourselves. What counts is not the reality, but the playacting, and I suspect that China is complicit in all this. In other words, they are perfectly willing to allow us to blow off steam once in a while, just as we allow them to – as long as nothing comes of it, which it never does. I mean, when's the last time they took our advice... on anything? All they have to do is wave that huge I.O.U. in our faces, and the conversation comes to a screeching halt. And yet it's considered politically expedient to mouth words once in a while... like we insist on having a “presence” in East Asia and in the Pacific. Well, fine – we can have all the “presence” we want, as long as it doesn't alter the power structure. Can't you see that it's nothing more than a desperation move to distract people from our abject failures in the Middle East? (Not to mention from our economic woes.) Oh yes, by all means – let's expand the American empire, already in its death throes, to another entire area of the globe. It's pathetic, really.

But there's another question I want to deal with here, and it goes back to my excellent adventure in the airport security line. Given that the events of 9/11 took a good chunk out of the American dream – or maybe woke us up from it, at least temporarily – what, precisely, is it that we have lost? And I don't mean the convenience of air travel; that's much too superficial an issue. There is a widespread feeling that we have lost some of “what it means to be an American” -- not just in convenience but in self-image and self-respect, not to mention various "freedoms" and "rights". The biggest worry is that we might, someday, become “just another country”, just another place on the map, with no extraordinary charism... no mandate to go and conquer the world in the name of “democracy” or some other idea. Now, you'll notice that we're talking about ideas here, and only ideas – not anything tangible that people traditionally value... things like race, ethnicity, religion... and “place”, as I discussed above. Nothing really “died” on 9/11; our innocence was long gone (thanks to Vietnam etc.). But what suffered a stunning blow was our notion that just having the right “ideas” was enough – enough to merit our claim to world domination (politically and economically). It turned out that there was a big, wide world out there that didn't give a fig for our ideas, but preferred either its own, or (perhaps worse) no ideas at all. That was one blow. And the next was, again, self-inflicted – the fact that, in order to defend ourselves against “terrorism”, we had to start canceling the freedoms that the “terrorists” supposedly despise... the very reason they attacked us, in fact! Because they hate our freedom! (This either sounded absurd when Bush said it, but sounds reasonable when Obama says it, or vice versa, depending on your party affiliation.) So they attacked us because they hate our freedoms, with the result that we were forced to give up some of those freedoms, which means they win! Right? But, of course, that wasn't the reason they attacked us at all, and only the most shameless demagogue would claim that it is.

But aside from this massive exercise in irony, it must be admitted that we are, indeed, a different country than we were in those – now seemingly cheerful, innocent, and sepia-toned – days prior to 9/11. We have lost some obvious things, but some less obvious things as well. With each stunning blow – starting at least as far back as the Civil War – we lose another piece of our self-image and, truth be told, our self-esteem... although the latter effect can be indefinitely delayed through the use of bluster, propaganda, and military adventures. And why is this such a bad thing? After all, every nation suffers setbacks from time to time. Our problem is that we have nothing to fall back on; if our ideas fail, and if our ideals turn out to have feet of clay, we are devastated. This nation was founded with, among other things, an explicit mandate to do away with all of the old verities – things like race, ethnicity, and religion (of the confessional, vs. deistic, kind) – and replace them with ideas. So the “American character”, of which much has been made over the years, has no real solid basis; it's one part abstraction and one part accident. We fancy that we are, as a people, what we say, or think, we are – but all of those ideas are easily disproven by historical evidence as well as current events. The beauty of the old verities was that one could identify with them without their having to be perfect, or without the act of identification having to be perfect. A bad Frenchman was still a Frenchman, in other words – whereas a bad American is really not an American at all, since he has failed to live up to an abstract and impossible-to-achieve ideal. You can't go home again if there is no such place.

And national character – when founded on the old verities – had a funny way of surviving even the severest tests. Frenchmen were no less French after their revolution than they were before, even though that revolution was the most idea-laden event in history. The Russians were certainly no less Russian after their own revolution, or after their own reign of terror... and I found out, by first-hand observation, that the Chinese are still very much Chinese, despite all the best efforts of Mao and his Cultural Revolution. In other words, if there is one strong thing in human history, it is national (or regional, tribal, whatever) character, which is a composite of race, ethnicity, and religion as well as language, the arts, and countless other traditions, customs, mores, habits, and so forth. And yet, in the name of “ideas”, we have been more than willing – anxious, even – to give all of this up for the sake of becoming some kind of universal, generic exemplar of “democracy” or “freedom” (as we define it). And if the long-term goal of our revolution, and our founding, was to turn out a race of deracinated, culturally-sterile androids, we have succeeded to a great extent. This pure American type – a counterpart to the New Soviet Man – is alive and well (so to speak) in all American suburbs, and in other enclaves of the middle class. Their strength is that they have no loyalty to anything but ideas. Their weakness is... well, the same as their strength. As long as the ideas remain on the winning side, all is well – but when things start to fall apart, what is there to cushion the fall? Nothing, really – and this is the real source of the middle class's current spasm of discontent, as expressed in the “tea party” movement. The secular god we have been worshiping for all these many years has failed... the scales are falling from many eyes... and people are realizing they've been robbed. They traded the birthright of every man down through history – the right to pride of place and of belonging to a group defined by objective criteria – for a mess of ideational pottage that, as it turns out, most of the people in charge never believed in anyway. They were, in other words, fooled, duped, and misled by a bunch of cynics – and they continue to be! Nothing has changed except that the consciousness of a few has been expanded a bit. But they will soon be swamped and carried back into the vast sea of ignorance and subservience that everyone else calls home.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Down and Out in Omaha

It's notorious that every American city, even ones of relatively small size, has at its heart (if not its exact geographical center) an area known, euphemistically, as the “inner city”... less euphemistically as “the ghetto”... and, by those who live nearby, as a “bad neighborhood” -- which almost always is code for “black”, although the Hispanics are gaining ground in this race to the bottom. This is a feature unique to the American landscape, and -- lest anyone wonders how things got this way -- it was not an accident, but part of a meticulously-conceived and implemented plan. The best outline (I say that with a touch of levity, because it's 668 pages long) of this is found in E. Michael Jones' “The Slaughter of Cities: Urban Renewal as Ethnic Cleansing”. It also helps explain why there are “inner cities” in some of the most unlikely places – places where you would not think black people would settle of their own free will... places like Omaha, Nebraska, whose inner city represents a small island of blackness in a vast sea of white. In places like that, I want to stop black people on the street and ask, “How did you get here, anyway? I mean... surely your ancestors didn't live here a hundred years ago. How did this all come about?” And mainly, if they, or their forebears, moved there of their own accord, for, presumably, good economic reasons, why have they nonetheless slid into the same inner-city doldrums that characterize places like Washington, DC and Philadelphia?

What started me thinking (again) about all of this was a recent late-evening excursion through Omaha in search of food – a search which started out with “interesting food” as a criterion and ended with “_any_ food” as a criterion. I've been out in that area enough times now that I ought to be able to remember that you can't get anything to eat after 9 PM – I mean zero, zip, nada. Even the fast-food places close at 9, except for the odd drive-through window. It's definitely a plot against effete Eastern urban elites like me -- to show us that we don't belong. So I was in a state bordering on starvation when I happened to find myself in Omaha's modest but not-to-be-trifled-with “ghetto”, and sure enough, what to my wondering eyes should appear but a McDonald's, and it was open! And I also remembered that I had resolved to finally have a crack at this “McRib sandwich” that has received so much hype of late. (Its reputation is slightly overblown, to say the least, since it consists of, basically, a squashed loaf of mystery meat with a halfway-decent sauce, but on the usual balloon-bread bun. Plus "a fries" that, if allowed to cool off, dies a horrible and malodorous death right before one's very eyes. Nuff said.)

And actually, it wasn't until I walked into the place that I realized exactly what neighborhood I was in... but I soldiered on, figuring that if I can survive West Memphis, Arkansas I can survive anything. So now... the staff, all black of course, were jovial enough even if overly-loud and boisterous to my ears, so that was all OK. The customers, on the other hand, with one exception (which I'll get to soon), were all black, all hooded, all baggy-panted, and all sporting some sort of earpiece, connected, visibly or otherwise, to some sort of electronic gadget that was, I suppose, spewing out some sort of brainless, hypnotic “music”. And this is something one sees in those neighborhoods – everybody is tuned in to something else... some event that is occurring, or has occurred, at some other time and in some other place. And who can blame them? If your own life, as (apparently) dictated by your environment, is “nasty, brutish, and short”, as the saying goes, then why not try and escape it as best you can and for as many of your waking hours as possible?

And I guess the most adept of all those present at this exercise was a guy at the next table who had to, number one, have weighed in at at least 400 pounds. Not only was he hooked up to a laptop, and had something in his ear, but he kept humming loudly the whole time... and then punctuated the humming with the occasional combination cough/sneeze that would have exceeded the average shotgun in decibel level. Twenty-four hours in a room with this guy, and you'd be ready to confess to anything! But actually, the most unusual personage in the place was the one I dubbed “the ketchup dispenser ogre”. He was also the only white guy in the place – besides me, that is. So his shtick was to sit so close to the ketchup dispenser that, in order to get any ketchup, you had to violate his personal space, in return for which you got this helter-skelter glare, like “how dare you?” So that was all very pleasant, and added immeasurably to the overall atmosphere.

It is, in short, a world where sudden, explosive violence alternates with long periods of numbness and depression – not unlike a war zone, in fact. So yes, it's no wonder that the people who live in that world don't really live in it; I mean, they are there physically, but mentally or psychologically they are somewhere else (or nowhere at all). And the fact that this phenomenon can be fully manifested in a place like Omaha, Nebraska, is, in my opinion, worthy of note.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

What Drives the Regime Bonkers?

Well, nothing, really. Everything is firmly under control, and don't be fooled by the gyrations of the EU or by our own government's responses to the economic “crisis”. Remember that continuing crises are the health of the Regime, the way war is said to be the health of the state. How did Chairman Mao consolidate power, for example? Why, by coming up with the Cultural Revolution and its cutting edge, the Red Guard. The rest of the world saw what appeared to be anarchy – revolution from below – but in fact it was revolution from above, and not even revolution, but consolidation of power. The object was to eliminate, or at least intimidate, the people in the middle – use the lumpen proletariat against the settled, complacent middle class, for the ultimate benefit of the ruling class, after which the proles could be exterminated like flies... which many of them were.

And this all bears a striking resemblance to what is happening in this country today. The “usual suspects” -- the rent-a-mobs and malcontents of every sort – are being augmented in their efforts by the “Occupy” movement, in order to get the middle class – the bourgeoisie – shaking in its boots, while the people who are really in charge look on placidly. And just as with the Red Guard, the Occupiers should expect no mercy from the Regime once their work is done and their usefulness is at an end. At that point, they will become just as much enemies of the state as the tea partiers – bourgeoisie all – already are.

Chairman Mao also used the massive propaganda apparatus of the state to further his aims, the way the Regime of our time uses the mainstream media... but at least the mainstream media have some competition, in the form of a small but feisty independent press and a substantial sector of the Internet. And yet those are not enough to prevent, or even slow, the continuous concentration of power... the “trickle-up effect” to the upper reaches of power and finance.

So with that as an introduction, let me go back to what I indicated, in my previous post, would be my next topic: “If the Occupiers are not a threat to the Regime, but the tea partiers are, what else is, or would be, a threat? How can one determine where the Regime has vested interests? And the best place to start answering these questions is, once again, with the mainstream media.” In other words, if we assume (and this is not a difficult assumption) that the media are the obedient, servile voice of the Regime, then we can say that whatever seems to get their attention – and to disturb, upset, or enrage them -- is also what the Regime would like to see go away. Or to put it another way, whatever the media accept as being natural and right and not subject to change – not open to discussion – is also what the Regime wants to remain in place in perpetuity.

But right away you might ask, if things are completely under control as I said, then why should the Regime even bother sending out its media attack dogs on a regular basis? Why not just let things run their course? This, I think, is primarily a question of convenience and efficiency. It is more convenient, and less trouble, for the Regime if the vast majority of Americans remain silent and distracted... and if the few who do speak up are, whether they know it or not, supporting the Regime's agenda. A restive populace is certainly more troublesome than one that is placated and anesthetized; even quiet despair is preferable to protest. After all, a happy slave is part of the solution, productivity-wise, whereas an unhappy one is a drag on the system. Plus, as I've said before, we are an ideational culture, and blind adherence to the politically-correct ideas can serve to cover a multitude of actual ills, hardships, and inconveniences. As long as most people believe that whatever the government does is “for the good of...” something-or-other, there will be more cooperation and less resistance.

So with that in mind, let me present an at least preliminary list of things the Regime cares about enough to sic the media on anyone who thinks differently. These are things which are, by and large, status quo – since the Regime has had decades to consolidate its power, and there are very few pockets of resistance left. In that sense, we're dealing with a profoundly “conservative” entity here – but one that, paradoxically, requires a certain amount of “anarchy”, as described above, and the occasional taste of revolution, to keep in optimum operating condition. The dynamics of this are quite subtle, in fact. The Regime has at its disposal an army of entitlement junkies and malcontents, who need very little in the way of suggestion or stimulation to take to the streets (or the Internet). So when things start to get slack – when the lower classes start to become de-politicized – it's time for an intervention, in order to tighten things up a bit and put us firmly back on the class warfare track. And likewise, when the middle class starts to realize that it's eating grass – to reference a classic Gary Larson cartoon – it needs to be lulled, and intimidated, back into silence and mental oblivion.

Note also that contrary voices are very seldom subject to frontal assault or overt oppression; that's a tactic of totalitarian regimes of the past, and it has a tendency to backfire. No, this is much subtler, more subversive process which, in the case of the media, involves simply ignoring certain people or suppressing certain stories. In this way, the media, for all intents and purposes, define not only what constitutes “news” but also what constitutes reality. And the centralization of power is such that it leaves most people with only the media as a source of information; direct experience with the issues of the day is extremely difficult to come by. People who are unemployed, for example, know that they're unemployed – but they seldom know why, and no one is about to tell them. And how many Americans, even in uniform, have ever visited Iraq or Afghanistan? And how many have the vaguest idea of what the Federal Reserve is, or what it does – which is why Ron Paul's call to “audit the Fed” falls on deaf ears? Might as well send a crew of astronauts to the Moon to see if it's really made of green cheese; that's about as remote as the real issues are for most people. And don't think that this centralization of information as well as power is the least bit accidental; it's all part of the plan to alienate people from processes and events that are not right under their nose (and even those get “spun” continuously, until people start disbelieving their own eyes and ears). You see, government doesn't have to be entirely cloaked in secrecy in order to operate in what amounts to a secret, mysterious way; all that's necessary is that all the decisions that count are made by other people – preferably people unknown, unelected, and inaccessible. So with all of that in mind, here's the list:

PERPETUAL WAR. This is the ultimate in non-negotiables as far as the Regime is concerned. What it does is enable a continuous accumulation and consolidation of power. It also provides a convenient means of redistribution of wealth from the productive to the non-productive (a category which includes overt as well as covert war, and nearly everything masquerading as “defense”). And it also provides something for the ideationally-trained and conditioned populace to latch on to – relying on, among other things, the phenomenon of cognitive dissonance, as I've explained before. (“Anything that costs this much must be worth doing”, in other words.) And if we remain on a perpetual war footing, there is none of the pain and inconvenience of transitioning from a peacetime economy, and peacetime politics, to a wartime economy and wartime politics; it's all the same at this point.

THE “WAR ON DRUGS”. This is the counterpart to perpetual war on the domestic side. And again, it provides a means for the accumulation and consolidation of power, and for redistribution of wealth from the productive to the non-productive. It has an ideational savor, relying on Puritan concepts of morality and that universal tendency to profit (psychologically) from the sufferings of others. It is also, by the way, a huge generator of jobs – in law enforcement, the courts, “corrections”, and so on. And – perhaps most importantly of all – it serves to make a huge proportion of the population into criminals... not that they are all caught and rounded up, but that they lose all respect for the law, and all expectations that the government is fair, rational, or concerned with their welfare. Thus, and also very importantly, it makes a huge proportion of the populace subject to arrest at any time, certainly a resource when you're trying to suppress dissent in other areas. So this will never end, as long as the Regime has anything to say about it; it just serves too many agendas. And I might add that even though the War on Drugs represents a uniquely American obsession, or fetish, it has not for that reason found disfavor with the Regime, which has an international base. It not only serves to energize one part of the American populace in an unhealthy way, but creates a demoralized, legal underclass – both fit subjects for further predation.

PRIVATIZING SOCIAL SECURITY. Hey, if you had access to the world's biggest bank account, and could raid it any time you wanted without the people whose money you were stealing even knowing about it, would you want that system to end, or be changed even slightly? I don't think so.

AUDITING (or doing anything else about) THE FEDERAL RESERVE. Well, you control the economy, and therefore all economic activity, and therefore the populace, by controlling the currency, right? And if you want to reduce the populace to a state of perpetual penury, nothing beats tempting them into ever-greater debt while at the same time reducing the value of their money. In the old days slavery was defined around things like slave collars and leg irons; now it's simply a matter of making everyone into a debtor on paper, and thus binding them to the system that is responsible for their woes. In this sense, the government – the Regime – has become the ultimate pusher; tempt people to buy into a system that is bent on their destruction, and then keep them alive just enough to continue to work in a state of economic slavery.

ABORTION. This isn't going away because the Regime has already decided what the optimum population levels (broken down by class, race, religion, etc.) ought to be in order to foster world dominance – a kind of “Goldilocks” approach to population: Not too many, not too few, just right. Now clearly, unlimited access to free abortion “services” is more important when dealing with the “Third World” than with “industrialized Western” countries – but the U.S., for example, has its own internal “third world” -- namely the inner cities or “ghettos”. And those are prime targets for the international population controllers.

SUBSIDIES/BAILOUTS/DIRECT PAYMENTS TO “PRIVATE” INDUSTRY. I use the quotation marks around “private” since, at the upper reaches, there is no such thing any longer – either in this country or in Europe (or probably anywhere else). And this is not because private industry has become an arm of the government; it's just the opposite. Government is the means by which, once again, wealth is redistributed from the truly productive – i.e. people who are providing goods and services that people actually want, and are willing to purchase on the free market – to the non-productive... especially those whose main “business” is the massive, speed-of-light manipulation of paper, resources, “securities”, accounts, currencies, and entire economies. There is a continuous, as I've said before, “churning” in the financial/economic world by which the resources of ordinary people are continually buffeted about, taxed, subject to fees, inflated, and so on – a hidden and gradual bloodletting, not severe enough to kill the host (in most cases) but enough to keep the machinery of the Regime operating at top speed and efficiency.

STATES' RIGHTS. This is a, by-and-large, American issue, but it does have echoes in the various “breakaway”, or would-be breakaway, provinces, states, and regions in Europe. It's a complete non-starter for the Regime because, once again, centralized control is key, and “regionalism”, which means having some regard for cultural differences, is highly frowned upon. I mean – you let people develop a feeling of pride as to their home turf and native culture, and who knows what might happen next? They might develop skepticism as to the desirability of central governments, globalism, perpetual war... all the earmarks of 21st Century totalitarianism. So states' rights, and the equivalent ideas in other countries, have to be strictly suppressed.

CLASS WARFARE. This, as indicated above, has to be kept on the front burner, with the heat turned up, at all times. Nothing so distracts the proletariat as the feeling that they're marching into battle with “the man” (AKA “the establishment”, “the oligarchy”, “corporations”, etc.)... but their exertions are quickly and skillfully turned against, not the people who are really in charge, but the hapless middle class. And likewise, the bourgeoisie are mesmerized by visions of “welfare queens” and thus made blind to the real source of their troubles. The Regime keeps these groups busy fighting each other so that it may have more time to work its will on all.

THE “ENEMY” INDUSTRY. This goes hand-in-hand with perpetual warfare. Please notice how readily the “enemy” -- those whom we have to keep in our cross hairs at all times – morphed from the Warsaw Pact (and communism in general) to Islam. It only took 10 years, and in the meantime we had a smattering of minor-league conflicts to keep us amused and to keep our military from getting rusty, fat, and lazy. So let's see... we had the Cold War to keep us busy for 45 years or so, then a brief “vacation from history” in the 1990s, and now we've embarked on a war on Islam that, if history is any indication, ought to be good for at least 100 years or so... and we've only been at it for 10! Truly, there are no jobs more secure than those in the Pentagon. The bottom line of all this, media-wise, is that anyone (like Ron Paul) who questions the basic premise that Islam is the inevitable and perpetual enemy of the American way of life, and of all that is good, is dismissed as a nut case.

THE EDUCATION RACKET. All this means is that the public education system is designed to produce citizens who are all totally “down” with all that the Regime has in store – from unquestioning adherence to the dictates of the Regime to unquestioning adherence to all of the political, social, economic, and moral propaganda that goes with it, to the willingness to become addicted to whatever the Regime offers up in the way of popular culture and “entertainment”. Again, it's another variation on the Matrix principle – not that people are totally unconscious, but what they are conscious of is a totally artificial creation designed to keep them from thinking or perceiving reality.

THE HEALTH CARE RACKET. This has now switched into high gear with ObamaCare, and it's designed to accomplish a number of things: (1) Accelerate and maximize the transfer of wealth from the middle class (i.e., people who have to pay for at least part of their health care) to the arms of the regime represented by “Big Medicine” and “Big Pharma”; (2) Suppress any awareness of alternatives in medicine and nutrition, because that will only hurt business; (3) Maintain the public in a kind of state of low-grade infection, where they are dependent on government for not only their (perceived) health, but for their very lives. This will insure, among other things, a greater attitude of awe combined with submissiveness, as though we were all perpetually gazing upon the visage of the great and powerful Wizard of Oz. The last thing the Regime wants is a populace that is empowered, health-wise. Much better to severely limit individual choices (not unlike what happens with presidential elections) and sanction those who dare wander off the health care reservation.

And I'm sure many more examples could be cited. But I hope I've demonstrated that anyone who questions, or expresses skepticism, about any of the above topics is instantly subject to the disciplinary actions of the media – ignored, or when impossible to ignore then suppressed, censored, defamed, called every name in the book, and so on. We think that totalitarianism ended with the dissolution of the notorious “bad” regimes of the 20th Century – Stalin's Soviet Union, Mao's China, Hitler's Germany, and so on. No, what actually happened is that totalitarianism changed its strategy and its tactics, and underwent a geographical morphing process. Perennial enemies like France and Germany have now united against the rest of the EU – especially the hapless “PIIGS”, who were, once again, provided the most addictive drug available, namely an implied “backing” and safety net for all of their foolish policies and programs. But the pusher will have his way in the long run, and at this point the “PIIGS” belong, body and soul, to the master pushers in Paris, Berlin, and elsewhere among the more sensible and sober countries. And there is nothing the least bit accidental about any of this – it's all part of the plan. Once again, what looks like chaos and like a “crisis” is simply a stage in the full flowering of the plan. And likewise, what appears to be a “crisis” in this country is part of the same plan – or of an even bigger plan. Please note that we, mysteriously, find ourselves on the hook for the misdeeds of European banks and economies. How did that happen? Simply because there was a secret marriage among many national economies, including ours – nothing that the American voter had anything to say about, for sure. People who worry about this oil pipeline between Canada and Texas would be better advised to worry about the hemorrhage of wealth between the U.S. and Europe, which is already well underway.