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The Revolt of the Imagination, Part Three: Co-Creating the Future

The Revolt of the Imagination, Part Three: Co-Creating the Future

As I write these words, the Russo-Ukrainian war has raged for a week.  To a great many people, crises like these make the theme of my recent posts here—the potential of the human imagination—seem wholly irrelevant.  That’s a common mistake, but it’s still a mistake. To begin with, let’s please remember that wars and the political and economic crises that drive them are normal parts of human experience.  Granted, for the last three quarters of a century there’s been very little open warfare in the industrial world, but in the nonindustrial world—which is after all where most human beings live—insurgencies, civil wars, and wars between nations have been very nearly as common as ever.

The industrial nations have been relatively peaceful because they’ve been subject to the global hegemony of the United States.  That hegemony is cracking around us, and the Ukraine war puts the decline in American power into high relief. As something like 225,000 Russian troops drive deep into Ukraine, supported on the ground by tanks and artillery and from the air by waves of fighter-bombers and cruise missiles, and Ukranian military units and civilian irregulars confront them on battlefields scattered across Europe’s second largest country, the US response consists of moving a few token forces to countries well out of the line of fire, and imposing yet another round of financial sanctions aimed at Russian politicians—you know, the sort of meaningless gestures that have reliably failed to accomplish anything when used against other hostile nations for decades now.  It’s a good question why this response remains so rigidly glued in place, despite its abject failures…

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The American Empire Self-Destructs, But Nobody Thought That It Would Happen This Fast

The American Empire Self-Destructs, But Nobody Thought That It Would Happen This Fast

Photograph Source: Phil Dolby – CC BY 2.0

Empires often follow the course of a Greek tragedy, bringing about precisely the fate that they sought to avoid. That certainly is the case with the American Empire as it dismantles itself in not-so-slow motion.

The basic assumption of economic and diplomatic forecasting is that every country will act in its own self-interest. Such reasoning is of no help in today’s world. Observers across the political spectrum are using phrases like “shooting themselves in their own foot” to describe U.S. diplomatic confrontation with Russia and allies alike. But nobody thought that The American Empire would self-destruct this fast.

For more than a generation the most prominent U.S. diplomats have warned about what they thought would represent the ultimate external threat: an alliance of Russia and China dominating Eurasia. America’s economic sanctions and military confrontation have driven these two countries  together, and are driving other countries into their emerging Eurasian orbit.

American economic and financial power was expected to avert this fate. During the half-century since the United States went off gold in 1971, the world’s central banks have operated on the Dollar Standard, holding their international monetary reserves in the form of U.S. Treasury securities, U.S. bank deposits and U.S. stocks and bonds. The resulting Treasury-bill Standard has enabled America to finance its foreign military spending and investment takeover of other countries simply by creating dollar IOUs. U.S. balance-of-payments deficits end up in the central banks of payments-surplus countries as their reserves, while Global South debtors need dollars to pay their bondholders and conduct their foreign trade.

This monetary privilege – dollar seignorage – has enabled U.S. diplomacy to impose neoliberal policies on the rest of the world, without having to use much military force of its own except to grab Near Eastern oil.

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Ukraine Is A Sacrificial Pawn On The Imperial Chessboard

Ukraine Is A Sacrificial Pawn On The Imperial Chessboard

Listen to a reading of this article:

The war is not going well for Kyiv, and it would be unreasonable to expect that to change. As a vastly superior military force overwhelms the US client state, reality is in the process of crashing down hard in the face of western liberals who bought into the war propaganda that the brave, sexy comedian was leading an upset victory to kick Putin’s ass out of Ukraine.

Zelensky is now raging at NATO powers for refusing to intervene militarily against Russia, apparently having previously been given the impression that the US-centralized empire might risk its very existence defending its dear friends the Ukrainians from an invasion.

“Unfortunately, today there is a complete impression that it is time to give a funeral repast for something else: security guarantees and promises, determination of alliances, values that seem to be dead for someone,” Zelensky said Friday.

“All the people who will die starting from this day will also die because of you,” Ukraine’s president added. “Because of your weakness, because of your disunity.”

It must be hard, the process of learning that you were never actually a valued partner in western civilization’s fight for freedom and democracy. That you were always just one more sacrificial pawn on the imperial chessboard.

In a new article titled “U.S. and allies quietly prepare for a Ukrainian government-in-exile and a long insurgency“, The Washington Post reports that US officials anticipate Russia will reverse its early losses and successfully drive the Zelensky regime out of the country, after which “a long, bloody insurgency” is planned against the invaders backed by billions of dollars in US funding. 

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Perhaps The US Should Shut The Fuck Up About Respecting Other Countries’ Sovereignty

Perhaps The US Should Shut The Fuck Up About Respecting Other Countries’ Sovereignty

Listen to a reading of this article:

So Putin has finally made a move, issuing a decree formally recognizing the sovereignty of the separatist-held Donbas territories in eastern Ukraine known as the DPR and LPR. Russian troops are being deployed to the region in what Putin describes as a “peacekeeping” mission amid a dramatic spike in ceasefire violations.

“The recognition of the DPR and LPR means Russia’s withdrawal from the Minsk agreements, which were signed in 2014 and 2015 to establish the ceasefire in eastern Ukraine,” writes Antiwar’s Dave Decamp. “Under the Minsk agreements, Ukraine agreed to cede some autonomy to the DPR and LPR. Russia has grown increasingly frustrated over the fact that Kyiv hasn’t fulfilled its end of the agreement.”

 

Needless to say, the US empire has not been happy about this move. President Biden has already imposed strict sanctions on the DPR and LPR, saying Moscow’s recognition of their independence “threatens the peace, stability, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of Ukraine, and thereby constitutes an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.”

“Tomorrow we will be announcing new sanctions on Russia in response to their breach of international law and attack on Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” White House spokesperson Jen Psaki added.

“This decision represents a complete rejection of Russia’s commitments under the Minsk agreements, directly contradicts Russia’s claimed commitment to diplomacy, and is a clear attack on Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” adds Secretary of State Tony Blinken.

Other member states of the empire were equally upset about this unforgivable violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty.

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Stockman: “We’re Not Useful Idiots!”

Stockman: “We’re Not Useful Idiots!”

Honest injun. We’re not useful idiots here at Contra Corner!

Actually, we thought it up all by our lonesome! Well, we’ll grant we did have a fair amount of help from Google, which insofar as we know works for the CIA, not the Russian SVR (foreign intelligence service).

In any event, at the very center of the crisis is the Washington claim that the rule of law and the sanctity of sovereign borders are on the line in Ukraine and that, therefore, Russia must not be allowed to encroach a single inch into sacrosanct Ukrainian territory.

That is to say, it is not a matter of America’s national security interest in the precise Ukrainian geography, which happens to lie cheek-by-jowl on Russia’s border, but the very governance of the entire planet: Conform to the “rule of law” as articulated by Washington or get sanctioned, outlawed, pariah-ed, and even invaded, if worst comes to worst.

We hear this refrain repeatedly from Secy Blinkey and national security advisor Snake Sullivan. But we find ourselves doubled over with laughter each time, knowing practically by heart the list of coups, regime change plots, invasions and occupations Washington has foisted upon other sovereign nations over the last 70 years.

For want of doubt, however, we recently Googled in pursuit of the exact list and came up with a systematic study by a young scholar named Lindsey A. O’Rourke. Here’s her summary conclusion:

Between 1947 and 1989, the United States tried to change other nations’ governments 72 times; That’s a remarkable number. It includes 66 covert operations and six overt ones.

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Choose One, But Only One: Defend the Billionaire’s Bubble or the U.S. Dollar and Empire

Choose One, But Only One: Defend the Billionaire’s Bubble or the U.S. Dollar and Empire

The Empire is striking back, protecting what really counts, and the Billionaire Bubble sideshow is folding its tents.

One of the most enduring conceits of the modern era is that the Federal Reserve acts to goose growth and therefore employment while keeping inflation moderate (whatever that means–the definition is adjustable). This conceit is extremely handy as PR cover: the Fed really, really cares about little old us and expanding our ballooning wealth.

Nice, except it doesn’t. The Fed’s one real job is defending the U.S. dollar, which is the foundation of America’s global hegemony a.k.a. The Empire.

One thing and one thing alone enables global dominance: being able to create “money” out of thin air and use that “money” to buy real stuff in the real world. The nations that can create “money” out of thin air and trade it for magnesium, oil, semiconductors, etc. have an unbeatable advantage over nations that must actually mine gold or make something of equal value to trade for essentials.

The trick is to maintain global confidence in one’s currency. There is no one way to manage this, as confidence in a herd animal such as human beings is always contingent. Once the herd gets skittish, all bets are off.

The herd is exquisitely sensitive to movements on the edge of the herd, where threats arise. There are various tricks one can deploy to maintain confidence: pay a higher rate of interest on bonds denominated in one’s currency, so global capital flows into your currency; treat this capital well with a transparent set of tax laws and judiciary / regulatory oversight, maintain a deep pool of liquidity so capital can enter and exit without stampeding the herd, and having at least a semi-productive, diverse economy that generates goods, services and income streams to support the currency.

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Undermining US Global Hegemony Is Good, Actually: Notes From The Edge Of The Narrative Matrix

Undermining US Global Hegemony Is Good, Actually: Notes From The Edge Of The Narrative Matrix

Listen to a reading of this article:

China and Russia are right to try to undermine US unipolar hegemony. The planet is not America’s property and efforts to stop it being treated as such are good.

It’s not okay to be a grown adult in 2022 and still believe the US is a force for peace and justice in this world.

The belief that China is trying to become the next unipolar global hegemon is premised on the idea that Beijing has been watching the floundering US empire burn itself out and get crushed under its own weight after just a few decades and thinking “Oh that looks awesome! Let’s definitely do that!”

“No no you don’t understand, the US needs to keep bombing and starving civilians and engaging in nuclear brinkmanship and arming extremist militias and supporting dictators and destroying any nation who disobeys it. Otherwise the world might be taken over by a tyrannical regime!”

You could very easily fill a list with one thousand things Americans should care about more than the one year anniversary of a few wingnuts wandering around the Capitol Building for a bit and then leaving.

Americans have always had a special love for fake fighting. Civil War reenactments. Pro wrestling. Jerry Springer. Democrats vs Republicans.

Biden is a better Trump than Trump was; he’s advancing all Trump’s policies more effectively than Trump and actually doing things that Trump only talked about. If Trumpers had any actual ideological consistency instead of vapid partisan hackery they’d all be Biden supporters.

Please consider the possibility that it’s not a coincidence that Democrats have done literally exactly what those who oppose “vote blue no matter who” said they would do when they took power.

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Everything Going Great

Everything Going Great

Bad Faith, Worse News, and Julian Assange

Gospel, a word from Old English, is a compound that means “good news.” And it’s gospel that’s been in short-supply as we head into the Christmas season. Whenever this fact gets me down, I remember that finding evil, malfeasance, and even suffering in the headlines is just a sign that the press is doing its job. I don’t think any of us wants to wake up in the morning and read “Everything Going Great!” over our egg-nog-spiked chai — though even if we do, we know a headline like that is just an indication of all that’s unreported.

Coming into this Christmas season, I find myself beset by odd religious yearnings—I say odd, because I’m not much of a believer, not in God, not in governments, not in institutions generally. I try to save my faith for people and principles, but that can lead to some lean years in the slaking of spiritual thirst. I can find a way to attribute my stirrings to the ritualism of Covid — the ablutions of sanitizing and masking, the penitent isolation, the what-does-it-all-mean? that comes from confronting powerlessness and the caprice of illness — but a more convincing source might be the novelty of parenthood: religion being a stand-in for tradition in general, I ask myself, what am I going to leave my child? What intellectual and emotional inheritance?

At least he’ll know how to keep his privacy.

Along with “good news,” I’ve been thinking of “bad faith,” a phrase that always reminds me of the Thomas Pynchon joke, wherein everything bad becomes a German spa: Bad Kissingen, Bad Kreuznach, Baden-Baden… Bad Karma.

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They’re Killing Him: Assange’s Stroke Reveals The Western Version Of The Saudi Bone Saw

They’re Killing Him: Assange’s Stroke Reveals The Western Version Of The Saudi Bone Saw

Listen to a reading of this article:

Julian Assange suffered a mini-stroke in October during the hearing for the US appeal of a UK court’s ruling on his extradition case.

“The WikiLeaks publisher, 50, who is being held on remand in the maximum-security jail while fighting extradition to America, was left with a drooping right eyelid, memory problems and signs of neurological damage,” The Daily Mail reports. “He believes the mini-stroke was triggered by the stress of the ongoing US court action against him, and an overall decline in his health as he faces his third Christmas behind bars.”

“Assange was examined by a doctor, who found a delayed pupil response when a light was shone into one eye – a sign of potential nerve damage,” the article reads.

“Julian is struggling and I fear this mini-stroke could be the precursor to a more major attack. It compounds our fears about his ability to survive the longer this long legal battle goes on,” Assange’s fiance Stella Moris told the Daily Mail.

“Assange’s stroke is no surprise,” tweeted UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer in response to the news. “As we warned after examining him, unless relieved of the constant pressure of isolation, arbitrariness and persecution, his health would enter a downward spiral endangering his life.”

Melzer examined Assange with medical experts in 2019 and published a report with the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights saying that “Mr. Assange showed all symptoms typical for prolonged exposure to psychological torture, including extreme stress, chronic anxiety and intense psychological trauma.”

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John Pilger: A Judicial Kidnapping

John Pilger: A Judicial Kidnapping

Julian Assange’s High Court judges offered no mitigation, no suggestion that they had agonised over legalities or even basic morality, writes John Pilger.

Let us look at ourselves, if we have the courage, to see what is happening to us” –-  Jean-Paul Sartre.

Sartre’s words should echo in all our minds following the grotesque decision of Britain’s High Court to extradite Julian Assange to the United States where he faces “a living death”. This is his punishment for the crime of authentic, accurate, courageous, vital journalism.

Miscarriage of justice is an inadequate term in these circumstances. It took the bewigged courtiers of Britain’s ancien regime just nine minutes on Friday to uphold an American appeal against a District Court judge’s acceptance in January of a cataract of evidence that hell on earth awaited Assange across the Atlantic: a hell in which, it was expertly predicted, he would find a way to take his own life.

Volumes of witness by people of distinction, who examined and studied Julian and diagnosed his autism and his Asperger’s Syndrome and revealed that he had already come within an ace of killing himself at Belmarsh prison, Britain’s very own hell, were ignored.

The recent confession of a crucial F.B.I. informant and prosecution stooge, a fraudster and serial liar, that he had fabricated his evidence against Julian was ignored. The revelation that the Spanish-run security firm at the Ecuadorean embassy in London, where Julian had been granted political refuge, was a C.I.A. front that spied on Julian’s lawyers and doctors and confidants (myself included) – that, too, was ignored.

Collage of UC Global surveillance photos made for C.I.A. inside Ecuador embassy.  (Cathy Vogan)

The recent journalistic disclosure, repeated graphically by defence counsel before the High Court in October, that the C.I.A. had planned to murder Julian in London – even that was ignored.

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British Court Rules Julian Assange Can Be Extradited To US

British Court Rules Julian Assange Can Be Extradited To US

More than 2.5 years have passed since Wikileaks’ founder Julian Assange was dragged from the Ecuadorian embassy in London after 7 years in hiding from British authorities, during which time Assange has struggled through a lengthy court battle, all while remaining imprisoned. And yet it seems Assange’s real nightmare is only just beginning as Britain’s high court ruled Friday that he could be extradited to the US to face charges that could see him imprisoned for the rest of his life.

Judges at the Royal Courts of Justice in London overruled a lower court judge who had decided nearly a year ago that Assange shouldn’t be extradited to the US due to the threat of him facing unjust physical harm (not to mention the very real possibility that Assange might kill himself, as the judge acknowledged). They ruled that Assange can face extradition to the US, practically guaranteeing that he will stand trial in an American courtroom.

Assange can appeal the ruling, but it’s clear at this point that the chips are stacked against him. The US government has been quietly pursuing charges against the Wikileaks founder under the Espionage Act for years. According to what’s been publicly revealed, Assange is facing an 18 count indictment in the US with most of the charges focused on violating the Espionage Act. Should he be found guilty, Assange could be imprisoned for up to 175 years.

In response to the ruling, Wikileaks slammed the US for trying to avoid accountability by covering up the “collateral murder” incident where two Reuters journalists were killed in Iraq, along with innocent civilians, by the US military. The infamous footage from that incident, which was first published by Assange after being leaked by Chelsea Manning (back when she was an army intelligence analyst named Bradley Manning).

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The US Manufactures Weapons And Consent: Notes From The Edge Of The Narrative Matrix

The US Manufactures Weapons And Consent: Notes From The Edge Of The Narrative Matrix

Listen to a reading of this article:

The only manufacturing jobs left in the US are military weapons and consent.

Gotta keep dropping bombs because they gotta keep making bombs. Gotta keep making bombs because they made the entire economy dependent on bomb-making. This is the only type of system that could possibly work.

The goal of internet censorship is to suppress and marginalize unauthorized ideas so much that the internet actually becomes a net negative for ordinary people, because the only ones who will be able to rapidly share ideas of consequence will be the propagandists and their acolytes.

Because people who object to US-led imperialist aggressions against their governments are routinely purged from social media, those of us who do not live in nations that are being targeted by those aggressions have a special duty to forcefully speak out against US imperialism.

“Come to our Summit for Democracy,” said the nation whose elections are completely fake and whose intelligence agencies have interfered in scores of foreign elections and which openly works to topple democratically elected governments around the world all the time.

I mean, come on:

Capitalism is such a garbage system that news media will shriek all day about “crime” like it’s this mysterious alien phenomenon being inflicted upon society from the outside instead of a very obvious symptom of economic injustices with very obvious and widely known solutions.

I was fully expecting Biden to be absolute shit but I will still admit to being disappointed that he just flat-out lied about ending the war in Yemen. Yes I know it serves me right for getting my hopes up. But it is still horrific that this atrocity continues.

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Nobody Who Says “You Can Criticize Washington AND Beijing” Actually Does

Nobody Who Says “You Can Criticize Washington AND Beijing” Actually Does

Listen to a reading of this article:

Whenever I criticize the US empire’s manipulations and aggressions on a nation which disobeys its dictates I always get comments from people saying “You know, Caitlin, two things can be bad at once. You can criticize both.”

They say it like it’s some kind of profound esoteric insight being passed down from on high instead of a generic response I hear from westerners every single day. Like, oh, you mean I can criticize two things instead of just one thing? You just blew my mind. Thanks for baptizing me with your magic wisdom sauce, Gandalf.

Of course it’s possible to criticize both the US and its targets. That’s obvious to anyone with functioning gray matter between their ears. The issue is that westerners, especially westerners who hasten to urge you to be more critical of governments targeted by western imperialism, do not do this.

Lately this happens most often with China, since that’s where the propaganda brainwashing has been most concentrated lately. I’ll say something about how the US empire is the clear and obvious aggressor in the escalating tensions between the two nations or how Australians are being brainwashed into supporting a war over Taiwan with astonishing forcefulness, and some internet genius will wheelbarrow his gigantic brain into my notifications with the comment “Caitlin it’s possible to criticize both the US and China.”

And if there were enough time in the day for me to respond to all of these galaxy-brained intellectual giants I would tell them something like, “Okay. But you don’t. Or if you do it’s not in proportion to how deserving of criticism they both are.”

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Call It The Department Of Aggression, Not ‘Defense’: Notes From The Edge Of The Narrative Matrix

Call It The Department Of Aggression, Not ‘Defense’: Notes From The Edge Of The Narrative Matrix

Most of what consumes human attention is narrative; stories about what’s happening, which can be easily manipulated by the powerful. Things that are not narrative include weapons, troops, and resources. You can punch through the narrative distortion by just watching where the weapons, troops and resources go.

If you believe the mainstream narrative about any US-targeted nation you will wind up on the wrong side of debates about that nation. This is because the US empire is the single most corrupt and murderous institution on earth and its power is held in place by lies and propaganda.

It’s so obnoxious how the empire destroys entire countries and sows chaos, destruction and poverty around the world and the only mainstream pushback we ever see against any part of this is opposition to the arrival of immigrants who are fleeing that devastation.

Hey remember when it was confirmed that the CIA still plots assassinations of journalists, with a known plan drawn out in 2017 against Julian Assange, and then nothing whatsoever was done about this horrifying fact?

I still routinely run into people online who think Assange’s extradition case is about the 2016 WikiLeaks publications. It’s probably believed by a majority of politically active liberals, even though the news media never actually told them this. Gaslight people enough about reality and eventually they’ll start gaslighting themselves.

It’s silly to call the US war machine the Department of Defense. The US military doesn’t do “defense”, it does nonstop unprovoked aggression around the world. Defense is what the nations who resist US acts of aggression against them are doing.

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The Next European War

The Next European War

The notion that history has nothing to teach us is one of the most pervasive beliefs in modern industrial society.  It’s also one of the most misguided. Sure, we’ve got all these shiny new technological trinkets, and we love to insist to ourselves that this means we’re constantly breaking new ground and going where no previous society has ever gone before. Clinging to that fond delusion, we keep on making mistakes that were already old when bronze swords were high tech, and flailing helplessly when the usual consequences yet again land on top of us.

The shambolic end of the US occupation of Afghanistan earlier this autumn is a case in point. The self-satisfied gooberocracy that runs the United States these days talked itself into believing that the hard-earned lessons of the Vietnam war didn’t matter any more, and sent American soldiers blundering into a country that earned the name “the graveyard of empires” long before the United States was a twinkle in Ben Franklin’s eye.  It wasn’t just Vietnam that the slackjawed warlords of Washington ignored, of course.  The Russians had their own messy experiences in Aghanistan, so did the British, so did half a dozen great Asian empires, and so did Alexander the Great. None of that made any difference, because the political class in the US had convinced itself that the past didn’t matter.

Back when the invasion first happened, wags suggested that “Kabul” is how you pronounce “Saigon” in Pashto, and of course they were quite right.  Having refused to learn from their history, four US administrations duly repeated it, right down to the humiliating final scenes of helicopters on rooftops and victorious insurgents parading with captured US military hardware…

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Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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