Two hundred years ago, before the development of potent synthetic pain-killers or surgical anesthetics, the notion that “physical” pain could be banished from most people’s lives would have seemed no less bizarre. Most of us in the developed world now take its daily absence for granted. The prospect that what we describe as “mental” pain, too, could one day be superseded is equally counter-intuitive. The technical option of its abolition turns its deliberate retention into an issue of political policy and ethical choice.
Why does suffering exist? The metabolic pathways of pain and malaise evolved only because they served the inclusive fitness of our genes in the ancestral environment. Their ugliness can be replaced by a new motivational system based entirely on gradients of well-being. Life-long happiness of intensity now physiologically unimaginable can become the heritable norm of mental health.
Contemporary images of opiate-addled junkies, and the lever-pressing frenzies of intra-cranially self-stimulating rats, are deceptive. Such stereotypes stigmatize, and falsely discredit, the only remedy for the world’s horrors and everyday discontents that is biologically realistic. For it is misleading to contrast social and intellectual development with perpetual happiness. There need be no such trade-off. Thus states of “dopamine-overdrive” can actually enhance exploratory and goal-directed activity. Hyper-dopaminergic states can also increase the range and diversity of actions an organism finds rewarding. Our descendants may live in a civilization of serenely well-motivated “high-achievers”, animated by gradients of bliss. Their productivity may far eclipse our own.
Genetic engineering and nanotechnology allow Homo sapiens to discard the legacy-wetware of our evolutionary past. Our post-human successors will rewrite the vertebrate genome, redesign the global ecosystem, and abolish suffering throughout the living world.
Try summoning up the most delightful fantasy you can imagine. Try and imagine feeling more blissfully fulfilled in pursuing whatever you love and value than you’ve ever felt before.
Unfortunately it’s quite futile. We run such simulations on legacy wetware. Even the most virile imagination glimpses only a shadow of the biological nirvana awaiting our descendants. For decoding the human genome allows happiness beyond the bounds of contemporary human experience to be genetically pre-programmed by rational transhuman design. In a post-Darwinian era of paradise-engineering, life on earth promises to be inconceivably good.
The Hedonistic Imperative (David Pearce’s abolitionist manifesto, 1995) predicts we are poised to explore a spectrum of outrageously beautiful states of consciousness. States of consciousness far more sublime than today’s fleeting “peak experiences” can potentially imbue the texture of everyday life. In contrast to our animalistic mix of pleasure and pain, utopian biotechnology will permit our genetically enriched descendants to be animated by gradients of immense well-being. In the new reproductive era of “designer babies”, an informational economy of mind based on innate bliss can form the bedrock of invincible mental health.
Early in the 21st Century, the prospect of paradise-engineering still sounds weird, and perhaps “unnatural”. Yet the metabolic pathways underlying heavenly states of consciousness are neither more nor less “natural” than any other patterns of matter and energy instantiated elsewhere in space-time. Knowledge of these (hitherto) genetically maladaptive forms of mental life has mostly been impossible to emotional primitives like us. This is because of the pressure of natural selection. Cruelly, any genetic blueprint for naturally “angelic” minds [if evolved blindly via the mechanism of natural selection acting on random genetic variations] would entail crossing dips in the evolutionary fitness-landscape. Such jumps are forbidden for reasons of neo-Darwinian theory. So truly beautiful minds never evolved; brutish Darwinian life forms were selected instead.
Fortunately, thanks to genetic engineering, a spectrum of mental superhealth will soon become safely accessible to all. Better still, primordial-DNA-driven minds are destined to redesign themselves out of existence. An enriched neural architecture will then disclose modes of ecstatic bliss far more intense, diverse and exhilarating than a drug-naïve hunter-gatherer psyche can comprehend. Such magical kinds of happiness are only travestied, alas, by the dry textual placeholders found here. Such happiness is only travestied, too, by today’s short-acting euphoriants or wirehead rodents.
For within a few generations, lifelong bliss that exceeds any fantasised Christian afterlife can become the genetically-coded basis of our existence. If we want our kids to enjoy mental superhealth – emotional, intellectual, and ethical – then we can design their genetic makeup to ensure every moment of every day is a sublime revelation. Gradients of well-being surpassing our own lame “peak experiences” can be their everyday norm of mental health.
On this scenario, Post-Darwinian superminds will go on to rewrite the vertebrate genome, redesign our whole global ecosystem, and abolish suffering and cruelty throughout the living world. The abolitionist project has an overriding moral urgency. Yet the conquest of suffering is just the beginning. The molecular biology of paradise may be closer than we think.
Pleasure for the People! Do you consider whether there should be more opiates for the masses … or do you settle for nuts and seeds?
Heaven on Earth? – The Hedonistic Imperative (The Hedonistic Imperative outlines how genetic engineering and nanotechnology will abolish suffering in all sentient life)
“The unipolar model of the world is over,” declared Vladimir Putin last week.
As it tries to punish Russia for the latter’s dismemberment of Ukraine, the West is discovering that the balance of power isn’t what it used to be. Russia is a huge supplier of oil and gas —traded in US dollars— which gives it both leverage over near-term energy flows and, far more ominous for the US, the ability to threaten the dollar’s reign as the world’s reserve currency. And it’s taking some big, active steps towards that goal.
I’m not just referring to the $400bn deal struck between Moscow and Beijing, under which Russia will supply 38bn cubic meters (bcm) of gas to China over 30 years from 2018.
What is not being outwardly discussed is that during Putin’s two days visit in Shanghai, Russia and China took another small step to undermine U.S. monetary hegemony, when Russia’s second biggest financial institution, VTB, signed a deal with the Bank of China to bypass the dollar and pay each other in their domestic currencies.
And as if pushing Russia into the warm embrace of the world’s most populous nation was not enough, there is also the second most populated country in the world, India. Today we learn just how prescient this particular comment also is, when Reuters reported that Rosneft, the world’s top listed oil producer by output, may join forces with Indian state-run Oil and Natural Gas Corp to supply oil to India over the long term, the Russian state-controlled company said on Tuesday.
Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin, an ally of President Vladimir Putin, travelled to India on Sunday, part of a wider Asian trip to shore up ties with eastern allies at a time when Moscow is being shunned by the West over its annexation of Crimea. Rosneft said it had also agreed with ONGC they may join forces in Rosneft’s yet-to-be built liquefied natural gas plant in the far east of Russia to the benefit of Indian consumers.
While the particular banking deal may not be incredibly significant in and of itself, there is another deal that is in the works that could have a much wider impact. According to Reuters, the BRICS block (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) aim to finish preparations for a new international development bank by this July. The bank, which has been in the works for several years now, aims to provide an alternative to the IMF (The United States is currently the dominant shareholder of the IMF).
While the new bank is being presented as a means of facilitating investment within the BRICS block, If Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa are able to establish a stable financial network that bypasses Washington and the Federal Reserve, it would not only make it impossible for the U.S. to bully any one member (i.e. Russia), but it could also open the door to dollar free energy exchanges… exchanges like the one that Russia has announced it will open this June.
That’s right. On June 8th Russia is opening its own oil exchange to trade crude oil and petroleum products for rubles and gold.
To understand why trade deals between Russia, China and India are potentially huge, a little history is useful: Back in the 1970s, the US cut a deal with Saudi Arabia —at the time the world’s biggest oil producer— calling for the US to prop up the kingdom’s corrupt monarchy in return for a Saudi pledge that it would accept only dollars in return for oil. The “petrodollar” became the currency in which oil and most other goods were traded internationally, requiring every central bank and major corporation to hold a lot of dollars and cementing the greenback’s status as the world’s reserve currency. This in turn has allowed the US to build a global military empire, a cradle-to-grave entitlement system, and a credit-based consumer culture, without having to worry about where to find the funds. We just borrow from a world voracious for dollars.
But if Russia, China and India decide to start trading oil in their own currencies —or in gold— then the petrodollar becomes just one of several major currencies. Central banks and trading firms that now hold 60% of their reserves in dollar-denominated bonds would have to rebalance by converting dollars to those other currencies. Trillions of dollars would be dumped on the global market in a very short time, which would lower the dollar’s foreign exchange value in a disruptive rather than advantageous way, raise domestic US interest rates and make it vastly harder for us to bully the rest of the world economically or militarily.
For Russia, China and India this looks like a win/win. Their own currencies gain prestige, giving their governments more political and military muscle. The US, their nemesis in the Great Game, is diminished. And the gold and silver they’ve vacuumed up in recent years rise in value more than enough to offset their depreciating Treasury bonds.
The West seems not to have grasped just how vulnerable it was when it got involved in this latest backyard squabble. But it may be about to find out. In any case, don’t get your hopes up for immediate fireworks though. Rome didn’t collapse in a day.
The chess player – Dugutigui, on some excerpts from different sources.
Strangely, I almost liked the guy, president of a large book-publisher. He was in perfect shape. His shape was round. His diameter was a meter across the hips, easily. Perhaps, I was reflecting, this is why there is so little ancient art left in the world. Perhaps ancient fat people bumped into buildings and statues and made them fall. Perhaps this is the real reason Rome fell. “I had a dream I was a billionaire,” he was explaining. Being one of the biggest capitalists in the country, obviously, he was still in his coma. “But I have tried to write, and I have failed,” he continued, “I don’t care a fig about!” And right there was the cursed paradox of it. Every door to success in literature is guarded by those watch-dogs, the failures of literature. Of all creatures under the sun the most unfit would decide what shall and what shall not find its way into print. Strangely, I almost liked the guy, because despite the fat, more nauseating than cod-liver oil, despite being the most inadequate to decide on my manuscript, I could imagine his happiness when sitting on a couch next to his wife, resembling a large pear, and their children, like cucumbers, explaining magniloquent to them: “It’s funny. For a while now writers speak out on matters within the publishing world. Meanwhile, publishers function as critics, in the worst sense of the trade, and critics as writers, in the worst sense of the trade too. Everything is a little confused, outdated. But I’m the future…” The book factory tour was proving interesting, anyway.
We were accompanied by a young engineer who showed us those gigantic matte black machines, shuttling tokens of energy. I was deeply impressed by that properly automated and educated world. It was as a pornographic fantasy of the nineteenth century, rape followed by gratitude. According to the engineer, the annual output of the factory amounted to fifty million books. But what impressed me was not the number of books printed, but the almost total lack of workers. Then we entered a smaller chamber. A metal monstrosity presided room. It seemed to be a mass of hard drives all fused with each other, but too sophisticated to be merely hard drives. And above them, a funnel. “To print a book,” said the engineer, “is enough to put paper, ink and gray powder into the funnel-shaped opening of the machine. Once these materials have been placed in it, in less than five minutes, we start producing lots of books of all sizes.” I watched the books coming out as a torrent. I asked the engineer what the gray dust was. “This,” he replied indifferently, standing, with certain air of importance, in front the glistening black glowing machine, “is donkey brains. Brains are dried and turn into powder. The current price is two to three cents a ton.” Then it all made sense.
Donkey brains – Dugutigui’s version of a Ryunosuke Akutagawa’s tale
Becky was the white woman who had two Negro sons. She’s dead; they’re gone away. The pines whisper to Jesus. The Bible flaps its leaves with an aimless rustle on her mound.
Becky had one Negro son. Who gave it to her? Damn buck nigger, said the white folks’ mouths. She wouldn’t tell. Common, God-forsaken, insane white shameless wench, said the white folks’ mouths. Her eyes were sunken, her neck stringy, her breasts fallen, till then. Taking their words, they filled her, like a bubble rising – then she broke. Mouth setting in a twist that held her eyes, harsh, vacant, staring. . . Who gave it to her? Low-down nigger with no self-respect, said the black folks’ muths. White folks and black folks built her cabin, fed her and her growing baby, prayed secretly to God who’d put His cross upon her and cast her out.
When the first was born, the white folks said they’d have no more to do with her. And black folks, they too joined hands to cast her out. . . The pines whispered to Jesus. . The railroad boss said not to say he said it, but she could live, if she wanted to, on the narrow strip of land between the railroad and the road. John Stone, who owned the lumber and the bricks, would have shot the man who told he gave the stuff to Lonnie Deacon, who stole out there at the night and built the cabin. A single room held down to earth. . . O fly away to Jesus . . . by a leaning chimney. . .
Six trains each day rumbled past and shook the ground under her cabin. Fords, and horse- and mule-drawn buggies went back and forth along the road. No one ever saw her. Trainmen, and passengers who’d heard about her, threw out papers and food. Threw out little crumpled slips of papers scribbled with prayers, as they passed her eye-shaped piece of sandy ground. Ground islandized between the road and the railroad track. Pushed up where a blue-sheen God with listless eyes could look at it. Folks from the town took turns, unknown, of course, to each other, in bringing corn and meat and sweet potatoes. Even sometimes snuff. . . P thank y Jesus. . Old David Georgia, grinding cane and boiling syrup, never went her way without some sugar sap. No one ever saw her. The boy grew up and ran around. When he was five years old as folks reckoned it, Hugh Jourdon saw him carrying a baby. “Becky has another son,” was what the whole town knew. But nothing was said, for the part of man that says things to the likes of that had told itself that if there was a Becky, that Becky now was dead.
The two boys grew. Sullen and cunning. . . O pines, whisper to Jesus; tell Him to come and press sweet Jesus-lips against their lips and eyes. . . It seemed as though with those two big fellows there, there could be no room for Becky. The part that prayed wondered if perhaps she’d really died, and they has buried her. No one dared ask. They’d beat and cut a man who meant nothing at all in mentioning that they lived along the road. White or colored? No one knew, and least of all themselves. They drifted around from job to job. We, who had cast out their mother because of them, could we take them in? They answered black and white folks by shooting up two men and leaving town. “Goddam the white folks; goddam the niggers,” they’d shouted as they left town. Becky? Smoke curled up from her chimney. Nobody noticed it. A creepy feeling came over all who saw that thin wraith of smoke and felt the trembling of the ground. Folks began to take her food again. They quit it soon because they had a fear. Becky if dead might be a haint, and if alive – it took some nerve even to mention it. . . O pines, whisper to Jesus. . .
It was Sunday. Our congregation had been visiting at Pulverton, and were coming home. There was no wind. The autumn sun, the bell from Ebenezer Church, listless and heavy. Even the pines were stale, slicky, like the smell of food that makes you sick. Before we turned the bend of the road that would show us the Becky cabin, the horses stopped stock-still, pushed back their ears, and nervously whinnied. We urged, then whipped them on. Quarter of a mile away thin smoke curled up from the leaning chimney. . . O pines, whisper to Jesus. . . Goose-flesh came on my skin though there was neither chill nor wind. Eyes left their sockets for the cabin. Ears burned and throbbed. Uncanny eclipse! fear closed my mind. We were just about to pass. . . Pines shout to Jesus! . . the ground trembled as a ghost train rumbled by. The chimney fell into the cabin. Its thud was a hollow report, ages having passed since it went off. Barlo and I were pulled out of our seats, dragged to the door that had swung open. Through the dust we saw the bricks in a mound upon the floor. Becky, if she was there lay under them. I thought I heard a groan. Barlo, mumbling something, threw his Bible on the pile. (No one has ever touched it.) Somehow we got away. My buggy was still on the road. The last thing I remember was whipping old Dan like fury; I remember nothing after that – that is, until I reached town and folks crowded round to get the true word of it.
Becky was the white woman who had two Negro sons. She’s dead; they’re gone away. The pines whisper to Jesus. The Bible flaps its leaves with an aimless rustle on her mound.
One of the last times I was in a dive, in the harbor district, it was pouring. Sharp steely arrows gushed all over an agonizing lead sea, which massive chest barely encouraged. I remember it well, because out of my standardism of everyday life, that evening, in a moment of reflection, I was hoping to get killed. I got a Scotch meltdown instead.
It was dark inside, and until I took a long sip I wasn’t aware of the panorama of cloudy eyes the counter featured, no-ones with dog-gazes nursing their disappointment with life. The seedy slang and its scent, musty and damp, as if it were haunted by ghosts, had the reassuring feel of a place where everyone is just passing through, and which therefore has none of the close-knit atmosphere which could cast a humiliating light on one’s own alienation.
Behind the bar were the boss; a black woman with melons, well, like watermelons, thick lips, black eyes, and a hairstyle with many tresses as skeletons of vipers. In a corner, a drunk was imparting geography lessons to a drunken fat Caribbean, while she was lamenting having allowed her “Oreo of her soul” to flee to New York. Next to them two Bacchae mid-age Latinas were chattering softly, as crackers who fear being heard by the microphone of history. Closer to me a sexagenarian-wine-taster was humming a soulless song, with an empty gaze, and the wrinkled fingers of his hands, wrapped in a worn epidermis broken into small red dots, clenched with inert consistency in a Spanish guitar. At the other end, a drunk Cuban, black as history, sitting as a deposed monarch on a pine stool, spoke, spluttering, with the black boss, about the strengths and weaknesses of one politics or another, keeping aside his true opinion, as he hadn’t clear who could speak here about the order and disorder of the times. I -because for myself, to be thinking, I need no name-, sot as a homeless going to spend the night in the open, I was trying to bring sense to my brains, which safely intruded in conversations and muttered monologues of the night owl characters taken by the booze. Finally, behind all of us, a mahogany hair and eagled indigene, with some minor bite marks that past had given her, was sweeping the floor, quietly, like a sleepwalker, beyond this world.
Then a brown Moroccan, with a vendor’s mustache, staggered in to stand next to me, ordered a beer three times and had it served, he shouted with all his might, “Allah is great!” in his tongue. All eyes turned toward the lean Moroccan. “Alleluia!” was for me the meaning of the copious silence that followed. “Viva la revolucion!” shouted then the red-wine-old-guitar-man. “Viva la Virgen de la Macarena!” added, risqué and choir, with Sevillian accent, both Latinas, not without some irony. “Long live the head of the house!” cried the Cuban, with popping calf eyes, seeming like a statement. “Long live luv!” said, with ghetto accent, the one whose boyfriend fled to New York. I, who wasn’t able to shout a slogan, took refuge in tradition: “Holly fucking shit!” I absently muttered. It was then the big black cheese, tiding up with a slap the braids behind her, asked the eagled woman, who had stopped brooming, to cast the bolt of the door. Her next act was, turning around, to switch off some more lights in the room, leaving us in shadows. I don’t know how it happened, but we all took a good sip of our glasses. The boss got two beers from the drawer and told the mahogany hair specimen to leave the broom aside because “We expect a long night…”
The advantage of a bad memory is that one enjoys several times the same good things for the first time. So … the rest of the night I’d assign to oblivion.
Scotch meltdown – Dugutigui’s version of Carlos Sardinero’s “Una noche muy larga”
—Once upon a time there lived a lovely princess named Snow Yellow…
—Ah! Yes, Snow White. Her mother died when Snow Black was a baby …”
—No, it’s White!
—White, right. Her wicked aunty Patsy wanted to be the most beautiful lady in Texas…
—No! Her wicked stepmother! And it was in a Kingdom, not in Texas!
—OK. The wicked stepmother wanted to be the most beautiful lady in the Kingdom and she would often ask her magic tablet, “I-pad! I-pad! How much is nine by seven?” And the tablet would say, “Sixty three!”
—What? … She would often ask her magic mirror! “Mirror! Mirror on the wall! Who is the fairest of them all?” And the magic mirror would say, “You are, Your Majesty!”
—But one day, the mirror replied, “Red Snow Hood is the fairest of them all!”
—Exactly, but she was Snow White, no hood … and WHITE!
—Yes. And the stepmother sent a maid to buy spaghetti and ketchup to the supermarket, and just as she entered, a wolf met her…
—Aaugh! What a mess! She ordered her huntsman to take Snow White to the forest and kill her! “I want you to bring back her heart,” she ordered. But when the huntsman reached the forest with Snow White, he took pity on her and set her free!
—Exactly. And the huntsman told the wicked stepmother: “I can’t find the ketchup…”
—I say NO! He killed a deer and took its heart to the wicked Queen and told her that he had killed Snow White!
—Yes. And the wicked Queen gave a piece of cake and a bottle of wine to the wicked stepmother and sent her to the grandmother…
—Argh! That’s impossible! Snow White wandered in the forest all night, crying!
—OK. And then she fell fast asleep and she was in her dream and chasing a white rabbit through a small cave…
—I give up! This must be a new classic… And what happens next?
—She said: “Slow down Mr. Rabbit.” But the rabbit said: “I’m not a rabbit. I’m Prince Charming, and I’m looking for seven giraffes.” And Black Riding Hood replied: “Take the subway in Jamaica Street, line F, get down at Kew Gardens, walk to Maple Grove Cemetery. Near the entrance, you will find three steps and 10 dollars under a stone; pick them and buy a Big Mac of pure beef mingled with special sauce on a sesame seed bun and topped with melty American cheese, crisp lettuce, minced onions and tangy pickles. Then go to Grandma’s and give it to her… ”
—You don’t know how to tell stories at all, Dad! You entangled all! But no matter. Would you buy me a Big Mac?
—Well, take this sawbuck and go…
And Dad continued reading the newspaper and lived happily ever after.
. Snow what? – By Dugutigui
In my room the bed was here, the closet there and the table was in the middle.
Until this bored me. Then I put the bed there and the closet here.
For a while I felt chirpy by the novelty. But boredom eventually returned.
I came to the conclusion that the origin of my boredom was the table, or rather, its central and unchanging position.
I moved the table there and put the bed in the middle. The result was nonconformist.
The novelty cheered me again, and while it lasted I was conformable with the discomforting discomfort I had caused. As it happened I couldn’t sleep facing the wall, which had always been my favorite position.
But after a while the novelty ceased as such, and only discomfort lasted. So I put the bed here and the closet in the middle.
This time the change was radical. Since a closet in the middle of a room is more than nonconformist. It’s avant-garde.
But after some time … Ah, if it were not for this “some time.” To be brief, the closet in the middle also stopped looking as something new and extraordinary.
It was necessary to conduct a rupture, to take a forthright decision. If within certain limits any real change can’t be achieved, then you have to transgress those limits. When nonconformity is not enough, when vanguard is ineffective, you have to make a revolution.
I decided to sleep in the closet. Anyone who has tried to sleep in a closet, standing, knows that such discomfort won’t allow you to sleep at all, not to mention the swelling of the feet and the spinal pain.
Yes, that was the right decision. A success, a total victory. As this time “some time” also proved impotent. After some time, because not only I didn’t get used to the change –I mean, the change was still a change–, but, on the contrary, I became increasingly aware of that change, as the pain increased as time passed.
So everything would have gone perfectly except for my physical resilience, which turned out to have its limits. One night I couldn’t take any more. I came out and got in bed.
I slept three days and nights in one sitting. Then I put the closet against the wall and the table in the middle, because the closet in the middle bothered me.
Now the bed is here again, the closet there and the table in the middle. And when boredom consumes me, I remember the days when I was a revolutionary.
Revolution – By S. Mrozek, pertaining to the book “Hard life”
En mi habitación la cama estaba aquí, el armario allá y en medio la mesa.
Hasta que esto me aburrió. Puse entonces la cama allá y el armario aquí.
Durante un tiempo me sentí animado por la novedad. Pero el aburrimiento acabó por volver.
Llegué a la conclusión de que el origen del aburrimiento era la mesa, o mejor dicho, su situación central e inmutable.
Trasladé la mesa allá y la cama en medio. El resultado fue inconformista.
La novedad volvió a animarme, y mientras duró me conformé con la incomodidad inconformista que había causado. Pues sucedió que no podía dormir con la cara vuelta a la pared, lo que siempre había sido mi posición preferida.
Pero al cabo de cierto tiempo la novedad dejó de ser tal y no quedo más que la incomodidad. Así que puse la cama aquí y el armario en medio.
Esta vez el cambio fue radical. Ya que un armario en medio de una habitación es más que inconformista. Es vanguardista.
Pero al cabo de cierto tiempo… Ah, si no fuera por ese «cierto tiempo». Para ser breve, el armario en medio también dejó de parecerme algo nuevo y extraordinario.
Era necesario llevar a cabo una ruptura, tomar una decisión terminante. Si dentro de unos límites determinados no es posible ningún cambio verdadero, entonces hay que traspasar dichos límites. Cuando el inconformismo no es suficiente, cuando la vanguardia es ineficaz, hay que hacer una revolución.
Decidí dormir en el armario. Cualquiera que haya intentado dormir en un armario, de pie, sabrá que semejante incomodidad no permite dormir en absoluto, por no hablar de la hinchazón de pies y de los dolores de columna.
Sí, esa era la decisión correcta. Un éxito, una victoria total. Ya que esta vez «cierto tiempo» también se mostró impotente. Al cabo de cierto tiempo, pues, no sólo no llegué a acostumbrarme al cambio—es decir, el cambio seguía siendo un cambio—, sino que, al contrario, cada vez era más consciente de ese cambio, pues el dolor aumentaba a medida que pasaba el tiempo.
De modo que todo habría ido perfectamente a no ser por mi capacidad de resistencia física, que resultó tener sus límites. Una noche no aguanté más. Salí del armario y me metí en la cama.
Dormí tres días y tres noches de un tirón. Después puse el armario junto a la pared y la mesa en medio, porque el armario en medio me molestaba.
Ahora la cama está de nuevo aquí, el armario allá y la mesa en medio. Y cuando me consume el aburrimiento, recuerdo los tiempos en que fui revolucionario.
Revolución – de S. Mrozek, perteneciente a la obra “La vida difícil”.
“Nostalgia initiates with food,” said Che Guevara; perhaps recalling a juicy Argentinean asado while sharing an insipid yuca with mojo with his comrades in Sierra Madre. Maybe because this nostalgia -the lacón with turnip tops and the octopus á feira in my case- I had decided to spend a few days in my hometown, which by its landscape and peasantry may well be called Galicia. It also had certain influence the realization that I wasn’t in such a good mood long ago, so it come forward the need to move. The problem is that I live by the Mediterranean, and here the sky turns daily to red. Keeping the bones warm, I have to concede. In my native land, on the contrary, the sky is wearing a perennial gray dress. You know, sun rarely rises -glorious melancholy- in mythical countries.
I’d need boots. But going for them I retraced that had thrown them out, in a reverse attack of the same melancholy, the previous year. It may sound exaggerated, but it’s as it’s: you’re never too old to lose hope; so my personal Odyssey was set to start with a visit to the mall two blocks away from my house. It was strange to get out after so long, but everything was familiar, of course. And it was hot, as hot as to pose to me turning around and get back to my lair. However the octopus á feira seemed to fix its suckers on my brain, which didn’t produce me an erection, only salivate, but enough to continue straight to the consumption’s temple. Along the way I expected to see something green, if only a tree, but no luck.
My epos at the mall had all the nuances of an old house’s reforming: I bought a pair of boots. And then I judged necessary to show them first time with new socks, and then with a new shirt, and then with new jeans, and so on until the new briefs. Fucking capitalism! I was only a few feet away from base and I had already spent a fortune. I left there a little pissed, laden with bags, and headed off for home. As consolation I tried to animate the walk back with the reverie of the May’s greens till the sea and the bountiful rains and perpetual winds sweeping the fields of my homeland. In my supernatural world anything is possible … A motorcycle’s horn, coming from nowhere, along with a reasonable “nutter”, abruptly pulled me out of my fantasy. I blamed the octopus á feira for planting the seed of that lunacy. So while some beyond enjoy the rain, others, hither, have no time to dream it rains. I hadn’t seen anything green, but, wow! how many events for a single day! I put, as they were, the bags in the closet, locked it, and cooked a fried egg. The octopus released my brains and seemed to swim away -as octopuses often do. “Every time I get out, I feel more alone than before.” It wasn’t just a nice reflection, but I let it be like that.
I do not know why I’m telling you all this. But among Galician -we all know-, on one hand you know, and on the other, what you want for me to tell you?
“La nostalgia empieza por la comida”, dijo el Che Guevara, tal vez rememorando un jugoso asado de su tierra, al tiempo que compartía una insípida yuca con mojo con sus camaradas en Sierra Madre. Tal vez es por esa morriña -del lacón con grelos y el pulpo á feira en mi caso- que había decidido pasar unos días en mi tierra natal, que por su paisaje y paisanaje bien puede ser llamada Galicia. También debió influir el darme cuenta de que hacía mucho tiempo que no me sentía de tan buen humor, tanto que me entraron ganas de moverme. El problema es que vivo al borde del Mediterráneo y aquí el cielo se tiñe de rojo a diario. Manteniendo los huesos calientes, eso sí. En mi tierra natal, por el contrario, el cielo lleva puesto perennemente un vestido gris. Y es que en los países mitológicos -gloriosa melancolía- rara vez sale el sol.
Necesitaría unas botas, pero al ir a por ellas, me acordé de que las había tirado el año anterior en un ataque inverso de la misma melancolía. Puede que suene exagerado, pero así es: nunca se es tan viejo como para perder la esperanza; así que mi odisea debía comenzar con una vista al centro comercial a dos manzanas de mi casa. Era extraño salir después de tanto tiempo, aunque todo me resultaba familiar, claro está. Hacía calor, tanto calor como para plantearme el dar media vuelta y regresar a mi guarida. No obstante el pulpo á feira pareció fijar sus ventosas en mi cerebro, lo cual no me produjo una erección, solo ensalivar, lo que fue suficiente para seguir derecho hacia el templo del consumo. En el camino esperaba ver algo verde, aunque sólo fuera un árbol, pero no hubo suerte.
Mi epopeya en el centro comercial adquirió todos los matices de la reforma en un caserón antiguo. Compré un par de botas. Y juzgué que era necesario estrenarlas con calcetines nuevos y luego con una camisa nueva y luego con unos vaqueros nuevos y así sucesivamente hasta llegar al calzoncillo nuevo. ¡Jodido capitalismo! Solo me había alejado unos metros de la base y ya me había gastado una fortuna. Salí de allí un poco mosqueado, cargado de bolsas, y enfilé hacia casa. Como consolación traté de animar el paseo de vuelta con la ensoñación de los verdes apasionados de mayo hasta el mar y las ubérrimas lluvias y los vientos perpetuos de los campos de mi tierra. En mi mundo sobrenatural todo es posible … El pitido de una moto, que no se ni de donde salió, junto con un razonable “chalado”, me sacó abruptamente de mi fantasía. Achaqué al pulpo á feira la siembra de ese germen lunático. Así, mientras allende unos disfrutan de la lluvia, otros, aquende, no tenemos tiempo de pensar que llueve. No había visto nada verde, pero, ¡vaya!, ¡cuántos acontecimientos para un solo día! Guardé, tal y como estaban, las bolsas en el armario, lo cerré, y me hice un huevo frito. El pulpo liberó mi sesera y pareció alejarse nadando –como suelen hacer los pulpos. “Cada vez que salgo de casa, me siento más solo que antes”. No fue precisamente una reflexión agradable, pero hice como si nada.
No se porque os cuento esto. Pero entre gallegos -ya sabemos-, por un lado ya sabes, y por el otro ¿qué quieres que te diga?
The beautiful spring light was bathing the pavement among a cluster of prosaic blue slate and grey stone houses of differing heights, with scraps of garden coming in between, boxes with flowers of many colors hanging off the windows and hedgerows with clothes laid out to dry. The opening of the only paved street harbored the village shops, only selling -as all stores in fishing villages- rigs and nets and barrels of pitch. On that lane, with its rural sociability, you could see and hear the slow waggon lumbering along, the women at their doors, the barefoot fishermen, and the strong words, wrapped, like brandy chocolates in silver paper. That small fishing village was a real fishing village. In it only dwelt, with their wives, tough beard and hookah fishermen; hundreds of men that only that craft knew: sailor, seafarer. And in the distance, down the street, after an old-fashioned pewed and galleried church, there was also a beautiful beach full of breeze and bathing huts prepared for the joyous vacationers. There were also crab and roe, and cured tuna and cod, but the cod was already expensive. There was, in short, everything you would expect in those picturesque fishing villages. The only thing there wasn’t was sea. They had forgotten to put it.
When fishermen of that village became aware of this omission, they wept as dead dogs. That was the ruin, the hunger, the mausoleum. Fishermen, that knew only fishing and could not fish because they had no sea and had never even seen it, spent all day at the crumbling doors of tavern, not knowing what to do, starving and incensed. Every afternoon going to the beach to see if by chance they had already put the sea, with the same excitement and fear of children going to the chicken coop to see if the hens have laid an egg. But they had not put it. Didn’t ever put it… Yuck! Yuck! Hunger increased. Thousands of infants were dying of starvation. Women were howling of horror. Somehow it was hilarious. But, as always happens with these things, misfortunes began to happen … He chose the tune carefully. It should be sufficiently catchy and unusual. The next day, at the tavern, he spent all morning whistling it in the ear of his colleague. At night, when his wife came home humming it, his suspicions were confirmed. At the foot of the open Bible -where it was the verse marked in red that would explain everything- he lined the letters: to his wife, the judge, and the friends. After, he drank the poison and lay down on the bed. The supreme horror finally came… And so, the owner of the tavern invented one thing to avoid all that nonsense … With his invention lunacy would end. His invention was to pave the whole place where the sea should be. And they asphalted it. It was a nasty sea. But it was a pleasure to walk around in a car.
. A fishing village – Dugutigui on some work by Miguel Mihura
Time was when all men believed that the earth was flat. It would be difficult now to trace all the errors into which this assumption led the thinking of those days, or to ascertain how many practical comforts and advantages which we now enjoy would have been missed had not this conceit been exploded. The first serious challenge to this theory raised a storm of abuse which came not merely from the vulgar and superstitious but from the leaders of science and religion. It was a grave shock to human vanity to be told that the natural universe did not revolve around the planet which man occupied, that on the contrary, the earth was one of many satellites of a greater sun and that, consequently, there was no solid reason to believe that man was the king of creation.
The material sciences, in which such wonderful progress has been made, have taught us that there is nothing chaotic in the operation of natural forces at play in the universe which are far beyond man’s control, which always operate in the same way and upon whose consistent action man is entirely dependent.
The material sciences have taught yet another powerful lesson, which has led to great achievements. Men have long wanted to fly, but it was not sufficient to manufacture a pair of wings which looked more or less like a bird’s: first they had to discover the natural laws governing the flight of a body through air, having learnt these they had to build a machine which conformed to them. When they succeeded in doing this, they flew. If, however, the aircraft designer failed to conform to natural law, his plane was no better than a stone. In all the material achievements of this age, the principals of progress are the same. First comes the patient search to discover the ways of nature, then the building of machines or the planning of processes in conformity with natural law so that the powerful and consistent forces of nature could work for the gratification of men’s desires.
In face of these established facts, it is strange that people should tacitly accept the view that the relations between human beings in society are governed by chance.
The classical economists during the last two centuries proclaimed their study as a science. The best known and more respected of them reached the conclusion that the poverty and injustice in society were the inevitable result of the operation of natural forces and that nothing could be done about it. Paradoxically, they taught that pestilence and war were nature’s devices for checking the full horror of these natural forces.
Such ideas brought their inevitable reaction. Men came who said that the economists were wrong to call their study a science, it was ridiculous to believe that the operation of these natural forces was inevitable. True, if things were left alone, in accordance with the policy of laissez faire as it was called, these evil consequences would be inevitable, but the task of the economists was constantly to study the tendency of the times and to propose measures for checking its evil inclinations. So the economists set out to do what the physicists, chemists, astronomers and others had shown to be hopeless, they set out to check the operation of natural law. Immediately there sprang up like mushrooms a hundred different quarrelling sects of economists. Acknowledging no principle on which their study operated, their devices were as various as the features of their faces. The result is that today, for every proposition an economist makes, many may be found to contradict him.
It is interesting to observe that the modern schools, which rejected the classical economists because they conceived their study as a science, quietly accept the conclusion of the classical economists that social injustice is of the very nature of things. May it not be that this conclusion was reached as the result of some very grave error of observation or reasoning? May it not be that man has failed to understand the natural forces at work in society or has failed to comply with them?
Certainly the practical action in the social sphere that has resulted from this kind of thought has failed to secure any real advancement. True, many measures have been taken for the alleviation of the suffering of those reduced in poverty. Though the free schools, free medical services and social insurances have improved the health and general standard of life of the people, yet this improvement being slower than that attained in the material sciences, the general standard lags farther and farther behind that which could be achieved. More important, however, with this extension of state services, and even more with the extension of subsidies, quotas and production controls, there has come a decline in initiative, a decline in boldness and the spirit of adventure, and a decline in the level of politics that recently threatened this civilization with disaster.
Clearly, unless men generally come to understand how properly to govern their relations in society, this crisis will recur. They must understand how to use the giant powers which the material sciences have put at their disposal, unless they would continue to be, like boys in a laboratory mixing the coloured chemicals, ignorant and careless of the consequences. To attain this understanding it would seem that a new and more humble approach to the study of social relations is required. First, it is essential to find and measure the natural laws at work in society for they are above man’s control and govern his every activity. An understanding of these laws must reveal the realities of the situation and show the constant factors in social life. Once ascertained, this knowledge will make easy the further understanding of how to shape society so that natural forces may operate to the greatest good.
Man has a freedom of choice for he may choose to do right or wrong. Once having chosen, however, the consequences of his act follow inevitably. The law of gravity is of sovereign good to the whole of natural creation but if a man throws himself from the top of a cliff the operation of this same law will dash him to pieces. In order to progress men must understand the forces which dominate their life, and having understood them they must bring their institutions into conformity with them.
. Man and Nature – Excerpt by Leon Maclaren
Time was set in motion. His parents decided, when their child will come, it should be a free child. Their child came. They offered him their world.
Time passed on. And because he was raised in a Catholic culture he never considered himself to be a totally free human being. His peers sought to join a religious system in order to gain the eternal bliss and freedom of the soul. But belonging somewhere, anywhere is not freedom. Free is the wind. You need to become the wind, not wanting to know how and why, but only to experience this quality of freedom that leads to the original religion, where the soul is finally one, and aligned with anything.
Time passed on. So much precious laughing time was wasted. Once people said, “Give me liberty or give me death.” Now his peers were saying, “Make me a slave, just pay me enough.” What is it like to be so free -so trapped, staring wistfully through the window when the door isn’t locked? Something must be radically wrong with a culture and a civilization when its youth begins to desert it. They want him to be a number, trapped in his own script. He was fast in his chains, and yet a slave. “Why was I born a man, of whom to make a brute?” What kind of bird sings only when caught? When he slowly woke up, he thought he must have his own world. Who he was, what he was, had to be unwritten –it gathers dust, give it away. His freedom belonged to lightning, not to electricity. Meanwhile, he tried to bear up under the yoke, “I am not the only slave in the world. Why should I be free? I can bear as much as any of them. Besides I am but a boy, and all boys are bound to some one.”
Time passed on. They asked, “Don’t you want to be happy and good?” “I’m not sure what’s really meant by happy and good. I would like just to be free. To run off of the page altogether, to somewhere secret where words like ‘happy’ and ‘good’ will never find me.” His belief then was that it was easier to die, than to live. He’d rather make friends with Death, as a means to learn a few truths, than to allow life to lead him blindly astray within its subjective views and enraptured sciolism. You break through the veil whenever you strap on a sword or chant the ancient verses. For a second he saw, and seeing this secret, he was the secret. For a second there was meaning.
Time passed on. “Oh, that I were free! Let me be free! Why am I a brute? I will run away. I will not stand. I will get to a place where you forgive people. Get caught, or clear, I’ll try it. I had as well die with this ague. I have only one life to lose. I had as well be killed running as die standing.” He wished to be the freedom’s swift winged angels that fly around the world. “Oh, that if I could go! Oh, that if I were on one of your gallant decks, under your protecting wing! Try it? Yes!” And, loosed from his moorings, the glad ship was sailing; hiding in the dim distance. Betwixt him and you, the turbid waters started rolling. He dissolved in the sea, became white sails and flying spray, became beauty and rhythm, became moonlight and the ship and the high dim-starred sky. “Go on, go on. If I just could fly!”
Time passed on. And contradictorily, he realized, before he had come to Africa he had known about nothing but death. When forced to confront his fears they disintegrate, like illusions when viewed up close. There he had learnt to live, to decide things for himself; he had learnt what it felt like to wash in river in the sunshine until he was clean himself, and what it felt like to satisfy his hunger with primal fruits that tasted natural, and what it felt like to love without possession the gracefulness with which she moved in the battle –like liquid flesh; he had learnt the sound of laughter that was free from cruelty; he had learnt the meaning of beauty; he had learnt to escape when he wrote a tale that brought beauty into the world. As a truly free man there he was not free ‘from’ anything, nor free ‘to’ anything, he was just free. Free within himself. He was never freer than when he became most himself, most human, most just, most excellent…
So time passed on. “What would you think when you’ll die?” The liquid black girl had that tentative half smile, like she was almost embarrassed by what she was asking. “What would you think?” Her voice dropped just slightly and lost even the suggestion of a smile. She was watching him like she wasn’t sure she was allowed to ask the question, as she wasn’t even sure she wanted to know the answer. He can almost see her elders’ words and doubts drifting in her head. On every side of her were the lights and the woods he want to see forever. And if his freedom were real, it would be this place, there, with her. He didn’t say anything, because he just wanted one minute to look at her face before he gave her his last secret. And then he told her. “I’m seeing it now.”
So much time passed on. So, thanks! Because I was born a brute … of whom to make a man.
Humor keeps me alive. Humor and food. Don’t forget food –you can go a week without laughing. Food is one of the things I enjoy tremendously. After a good meal one can forgive anybody, even one’s own relations. But in this beautiful home of mine there is scarcely ever any evidence of food. It is positively appalling at times. My life, as this blog, is quite artificial. No need of trajectory, coherence or rigor to be lived. I go out for breakfast and lunch. I eat in the restaurant out of consideration for my family –it hurts to eat a big meal and have them watching me. And when I come back, picking my teeth and a little egg hanging from my goatee, I write.
That’s why (my plastic life) perhaps I’m blogging. I simply need being read –and not even that. It’s just being a writer is more difficult. That’s why so many people write blogs. Most of them claim to describe reality –whatever that could be, but in the background blogs are just the outfit in which someone dons for others to have a look. The reality is conveniently distorted. But it is reassuring to know that there are people willing to lie for entertaining, albeit in exchange for some elusive admiration.
Sometimes I’m trolling the blogosphere as you do by Siberia or Tierra del Fuego in Google Earth, knowing they are artifices. But then … then it made me sad when I caught myself pretending that everybody out there in cyberspace cared about what I thought, when really nobody gives a shit. And when I multiplied that sad feeling by all the millions of people in their lonely little rooms, flaming away like a blowtorch, writing and posting to their lonely little pages that nobody has time to read because they’re all so busy writing and posting, it kind of broke my heart. If you want to meet interesting people you would rather travel!
But, maybe, with a practice of writing comes a certain important integrity. A culture filled with bloggers may think differently about politics or public affairs, if only because more have been forced through the discipline of showing in writing why A leads to B.
But I’m digressing from the point: Lasagna.
Chloe is here today with a metaphor. She is, as a Volkswagen Bug, a tuned girl. My spoiled small daughter defines her as a female who fell out of the ugly tree at birth and hit every branch on the way down. A minger in laymen’s terms. My daughter is very beautiful, probably misses her mother, and has a point. But I console myself thinking like Sade (the Marquis), “Beauty belongs to the sphere of the simple.” Still, that’s not all. Chloe enthusiastically endorses the roll that today seems to cancel oneself behind hairstyles and accessories with more personality than most of its carriers. Incredibly, to boast being normal is nowadays an anti-system attitude … God, give us back the Rolling Stones and we handle you the Jonas Brothers!
Chloe got under my radar in a party. She was next to a sculptural black girl, full of some strange energy, from Ivory Coast. “I’m a little Bi,” she said, while I was calculating my chances with the African. Since the dawn of humanity, there is not a more effective phrase to attract the attention of a man. I read that 80 % of hetero men have fallen at least once in their life into this trap, to realize that the phrase lacks of practical sense, which does not mean we are not willing to continue trying, in case we hit the jackpot. The mechanics of the trap is the same as in the top scams, to take advantage of the bad faith of the prey to accomplish the swindle. Using this trick, they add to their beauty, at once, the one of the rest of the women in the world, who are the real target of the seduced man.
Ok, let’s be fair. Once, when drunk, she kissed the lips of a girlfriend, perhaps rubbed her tits a little, and now uses it as an excuse to blow out your imagination. Her bisexuality decreases by the day. But it is not much worse than when I commented her that “I never discussed exclusivity” –after I’ve slept with someone else.
Chloe is here today with a metaphor shaped as lasagna. A metaphor because our relationship is layered –not because I make love with her like I make lasagna: with extra meat. But her lasagna, unlike her, looked good. It was overstuffed. It had a pomposity, and an overreach. Its ambitions extended in the direction of not-missing-a-trick, it had a bursting omnipotence up its sleeve, or rather, under its dough. It was pretentious food.
While the bizarre ideas of quantum mechanics befuddled even Einstein, I seldom consider quantum theory when eating lasagna. But as a metaphor, the Many-Worlds Interpretation inspires my imagination, and with equal importance, keeps me open-minded for possibilities that my easily frightened ego may reject with knee-jerk conformity.
Digging with the fork through several layers of her lasagna sheets, alternated with sauces and various other ingredients, it came that reality is a curious lasagna. Lasagna is said to be a structurally and layered meal. Easy to read because the layered structure. However, because of unpredictable interdependencies in segments of dough, a lasagna-society may be difficult to modify without break it.
You live in a quiet layer of meat, sensing through the translucent sheets the ingredients that are hidden in the above and below floors. But if you cut the lasagna with the knife, the ingredients slide between levels, to discover that the neighboring homes are organized exactly like yours, with the same prejudices and values, and always focused on the neighboring level.
I was looking at a perfectly satisfied Chloe, as a flatulent frog, when I came to this lasagna theory: You can be normal and modern, as long as you do not leave your coat, of course. You can also be overtly normal and then be a hero and a stoic and a punk at all levels.
The devil frequently fills our thoughts with great schemes. In my case there’s a capacity for appetite… that a whole heaven and earth of lasagna can’t satisfy.
Year by year, and taking its time to perhaps admit that things can’t ever bear the same certainty again, I learnt to like those transitional days, the moments between those perfect ever-changing dry and rain seasons, that define the face of our native human African land, in which I couldn’t make up my mind, as feeling I was being fooled, led about in a circle, with my eyes fixed on something that turns out to be a moving point in an incommensurable curvature. I learnt to like those days when the intermittent nature of the vlei, then just cracked mud, dry and paler as a melted stone in the heat of the midday sun, suddenly turned wet and green and warm, and the new grass was a clash of sounds, perhaps music. When the deafening crickets, curmudgeons that scramble to find solitude and cover from the light, spread the rumor of change as they felt it was their duty to warn everybody that drought, as everything, cannot last for ever. When the crack and the rumble of the thunders, lashed by startling lightning, have been a cause both of trembling and of hope. When the noises of the streets began to change, diminish, voices became fewer, the music sparse. When blocks and blocks of children, then baked in the warmth of the sunshine, were spirited away by the falling drops, without love or pity. When elders with only the vaguest ideas of who they were becoming and what came next, retreated from the streets into the decrepit dwellings, duping themselves with the ancient songs in which darkness always ends. When noisy and cheerful adolescents moved from the sidewalk to the stoop to the hallway to the stairs, now demure and irritable, and rooftops were abandoned. When the dark came sooner, inched in closer, fell with a greater weight, despite the rarely visible high plump and pale, as a peeled apple, moon, and the dim and scarce multicolored bulbs glinting endlessly in puddles and soggy sidewalks. When the houses put on their rainy faces staring down the acerbic new landscape, seeming, not without bitterness, to have resolved to endure another year. When the sensuous memories of sunlight past moments to be stoic and solitary, sleeping alone on a wooden board with mud cloth sheets and splinters that scratch the skin, give way to mad lust, the untamed delicious and privy wild thing.
Somewhere I’d heard, or invented perhaps, that time cannot be spent. It only can be squandered. For the circle consists of nothing but such transitional points without any extent whatever. There is no duration of motion, and eternity turns out to be not ‘straight ahead’ but ‘merry-go-round.’ Yet, time can be slowed if you live deliberately. If you stop and watch the rain. If you spend time sitting on porches listening to the woods. If you give in to the reality of the seasons. They know not life, who know not this.
In my own shire today, as I am sad, I feel nostalgia in reverse, the longing for yet another strange land.
I don’t know who the Western spinmeisters think they are fooling. Since the official end of the Cold War and defense spending was scaled back, it did not take the warmongers long to create a new plan to replace the old Cold War and keep those defense contracts flowing.
In what turned out to be a cruel twist of fate, Mao’s Long March, and the old Soviet Union’s claim to world proletariat domination have been replaced by NATO’s march to Russia’s western borders, and America’s Asia Pivot to threaten China’s energy supply lines. It looks like the old Cold War protagonists have switched sides.
Where credible offensive threats were not to be found, phony ones were conjured up to pick the pockets of Western citizens for new high tech and white elephant weapons programs to feed the greedy arms industry merchants.
The same amount of expenditure put into peacetime infrastructure could have gone a long way to preventing the horrible state of the world’s financial condition. There we find the West once again at the head of the pack of looters and raiders, making war on friend and foe alike as an equal opportunity employer.
As I type, the new Ukraine government, the result of a foreign supported coup involving the US and key EU countries, are playing their role claiming they are being invaded by Russia and calling for NATO and monetary help. Ah…the money part. Broke America had already put a blank check on the table for Ukraine, meaning more Americans at home betrayed for some foreign adventure to enrich some elites.
The Western media is playing its dutiful and assigned propaganda role of hyping a false Russian threat of reverting back to its expansionist days and needing to be stopped now. We also know they are smart enough to know just the opposite is happening.
Corporate media had a front row seat for two decades to watch the undermining of the Ukraine as part of the West’s long ‘destabilization’ war program against Russia. Journalists are certainly shills when they want to be, but they are certainly not stupid. That they continue to hide the obvious truth about who the real aggressors are here, that is proof of just how corrupted they have become. But when you look at who owns them that comes as no surprise either.
The farce in all this is if the situation were reversed the West would be doing exactly what Putin and the Russian parliament are doing. They are sending a strong message that they clearly are not going to be intimidated by ‘isolation’ threats as they watch foreign aggression and subversion taking over a former Soviet state. So even though the Olympics are over, the West gets the Gold Medal for hypocrisy on this one.
The media fraud examples are almost too many to mention, but I have to cover my favorite.
When the Russians sent a few hundred Special Forces troops into the Black Sea base, provided for under their agreement with Ukraine, and notified them, this was spun out to the media as an ‘invasion.’ So one of the first major acts of the new Ukrainian coup government was to blatantly lie to the whole world, giving us a clue as to what we can expect from them in the future.
But older Western governments were not to be outdone in the lying and deception department by the new Ukraine bunch. We can see the whole Syrian aggression crowd piling on Putin to give him the ‘Assad treatment’ for messing up their helping Saudi Arabia and Qatar get their oil and gas pipelines through Northern Syria as part of their plan to take over the dominant Russian gas supply lines to Europe.
This is purely payback for the diplomatic victories the Russians earned in their level-headed dealings during the Syria crisis, navigating through the minefield of Western and Israeli provocations which included the staged war crime poison gas attack and several bombings on the Soviet Navy base warehouses…Russia’s only foreign base, and a small one at that. If the West is successful in getting a puppet government installed there, I am sure that closing that base is at the top of the list.
John Kerry entertained us with what will be a famous line. “You just don’t in the 21st Century behave in 19th Century fashion by invading another country on completely trumped-up pretext.” Now mind you the US is the country that is openly supplying weapons and ammunition transportation for hundreds of renegade militias, mostly terrorist groups who have been savaging the Syria people like Attila the Hun.
Kerry’s State Department has also never denounced the Saudi support for the head chopping, robbing and raping Takfiri brigades. And yet when Putin shifts some reinforcements into the Crimea during a situation of ultra nationalist groups running wild all over the Ukraine after ignoring negotiated settlements and overthrowing the government, the US cries that Russia must be isolated diplomatically and trade-wise. Actually it should be the reverse.
Now we see why the Ukraine was set up, to bait Putin into over reacting so the West could eliminate the diplomatic burr under their saddle who has been blocking much of their economic aggression plans. But surprise, surprise…Putin has not over reacted, and he is not going to. He’s too smart.
He will leave that to the losers in the West to do. They seem to have a never ending talent for it and neither embarrassment nor a conscience for the piles of bodies they are racking up. The biggest terrorist operations being run now are all state sponsored ones, compliments of the US and some Gulf States with Israel as the cheer leading team.
I think an historical footnote is needed here for the flag-waving non questioning patriots. It involves one of the unknown brutal sides of the Cold War, the military contingency plans the US always had on the shelf in case we need to ‘invade’ somewhere.
The typical situation ALWAYS involved doing a major terrorist act that would be then blamed on some selected group inside the country we did not like, and instead of ‘invading’ we would be going in to ‘defend the people’, except for the ones murdered in the terrorist attacks…a war crime by the way.
These plans had to be updated, as the domestic groups you wanted to blame needed to be current and usually included those where you had infiltrated and could set up a patsy. A large numbers of colonels worked on these updates over the years, so that is how the word slowly got out.
But Obama was not about to be outdone by Kerry shooting America in the foot. The president jumped in with his charges of “violating Ukraine’s sovereignty”, and “there being a cost” for any military involvement in the Ukraine.
Dear Mr. President, please explain to me what that cost would be for the Russians and the justification. They have not been supplying terrorist Jihadi groups in the Ukraine, nor have they been recruiting Slavic criminals from the hell holes of the Balkans to unleash on the Ukrainian people.
You have done that with our proxy terror allies in the Gulf and Israel and used them against Syria and now Ukraine. And yes, the cost has been paid by innocent Syrians. So between you and Putin, who has done the most killing? And if dead people could vote, guess who they would pick?
No one has accused the Russians of staging the poison gas attack in Syria, just so they could win a diplomatic victory by stopping your retribution attack. But the US and its allies above have been accused, and we have more evidence that the Lugar Labs in Georgia might have been the source for the gas.
So Sir, thank you for stopping your Syrian bombing attack and not bombing Iran for AIPAC, and pushing ahead with the Iran nuclear talks. But I can’t cut you any slack here on your continuing ground attacks on Syria and now adding the Ukraine to the cannon fodder list for some economic goal you have been sold on…like maybe the gas reserves under the Ukraine.
Oh, you didn’t think we knew that, did you? Well then, I will save the reserves that are under the Western Mediterranean for another day. But in the meantime why don’t you think about dividing up the American military into two groups. Let’s separate those who fight for money in the Neocon and bankster driven commercial wars, from those who fight to defend the country from all enemies, foreign and domestic. There is nothing in the military oath regarding eliminating commercial competitors during peace time.
And don’t forget about those ‘domestic enemies’…the banksters, crooked politicians, AIPAC, Israeli espionage…and what else…ahhh…oh yes, as Mr. Kerry put it…“those who would invade another country on a completely trumped-up pretext.”
. If dead people could vote – By Jim W. Dean (Originally titled “West baits Putin but he doesn’t bite.” Jim W. Dean comes from an old military family dating back to the American Revolution. His father was a WWII P-40 and later P-51 Mustang fighter pilot. Jim’s mother was a WWII widow at 16, her first husband killed with all 580 aboard when the SS Paul Hamilton, an ammunition ship with 7000 tons of explosives aboard, was torpedoed off the coast of Algiers. He has appeared on PBS most recently on the Looking for Lincoln documentary with Prof. Henry Lewis Gates and lectured at the Army Command and General Staff School at Fort Gordon. His current writing focus is on national security, intelligence, black and PSYOPS, military/Intel history including personal video archives, and the current wars. Jim Dean is the managing editor of Veterans Today).
The Romans claimed to have always fought “just wars.” The fact is they mostly, in the devious road of imperialism, exploited the subjects for the profit of the sovereign citizen.
The imperialism pattern, with minor historical adjustments, always follows the same scrip: to control key human and natural resources and markets.
Basic concepts hadn’t changed that much through History. The modern world has seen a first phase of this devastating enterprise as the conquest of the Americas by European mercantilist powers, and the second phase as the colonial subjugation of Asia and Africa.
However during the twenty and twenty first centuries, we are witnessing the beginnings of a third wave of devastation by imperialist expansion of North Americans and, to a lesser extent because of their own military limitations, Europeans, encouraged by the collapse of the Soviet system and populist nationalism regimes in the Third World. I’m not just referring to certain political policies of aggression, conquest, and foreign control, but more importantly to an economic system, capitalism, that depends upon such policies for its very existence. This is a profound new meaning for the term imperialism.
Globalization, the natural evolution of capitalism, is the intention to create a more integrated and interdependent world economy based on free markets. It is the main target of capitalism in the twenty first century, but it is not even a stage, nor the highest stage: from the beginning, it is inherent in capitalism’s expansion.
To fulfill this promise of global capitalism, all nations must be invited to the global picnic, something that so far is not happening, and is not on the agenda of Western governments. Rather the opposite, the way forward for the U.S. is to transform this republic into a global empire.
In an era of instant global communications, how this perverted project is developing, under your nose, while being ignored by the masses?
The subtlety of those modern empire builders clearly overshadows the Roman centurions, the Spanish conquistadors and the European colonial powers. In their eagerness to progress towards a global empire, corporations, banks and government (the corporatocracy) use their financial and political power to ensure that schools, businesses and the media (90% of U.S. media comes from the same six corporations) support both the concept and its no less fallacious corollary. We have been led to a point where our global culture has become a monstrous machinery requiring exponential fuel consumption and maintenance, to the extent that it’ll eventually devour all available resources and finally have no choice but to devour itself.
Depending on the peculiarities of the targeted country, handsomely paid executives of U.S. engineering and construction firms (with the veiled support of the intelligence community) encourage leaders to become part of the extensive network that promotes U.S. commercial interests around the world. Ultimately these leaders just finish caught in a web of debt, which guarantees their loyalty. The U.S. can use them whenever necessary to satisfy the political, economic or military needs. In exchange they consolidate their political position because they bring to their countries industrial complex, central power generation and airports. Meanwhile the owners of U.S. engineering and construction firms (Halliburton, Bechtel, Brown & Root, Stone & Webster, etc.) become immensely rich.
Those executives diddle billions to countries around the world, channeling loans from the World Bank, the Agency of International Development (USAID), Asian Development Bank, Inter-American Development Bank, etc. (under the tutelage of the international “aid/controlling” organizations as the IMF, GATT, WTO) to the coffers of huge corporations and the pockets of a handful of wealthy local families who control the natural resources of the planet. Its tools include fraudulent financial advice, rigged elections, bribery, extortion, sex and murder traps. That game is as old as empires, but takes on new and terrifying dimension in our era of globalization.
Like fellow Mafia, those executives grant favors. These take on the appearance of loans for infrastructure development: electricity plants, roads, ports, airports, or industrial complex. One of the conditions of these loans is that the design and construction must be carried out by companies from the U.S. The result is that, in reality, most of the money never leaves the United States. Essentially it is simply transferred from Washington’s banking empires to construction companies in New York, Houston or San Francisco. A good chunk is lost in the world of the tax-free offshore banking though.
Despite the fact that the money comes back almost immediately to corporations that are part of the corporatocracy creditor, the recipient country is required to fully repay the principal plus interests. If the executives have worked well, that debt will be so large that the debtor is declared insolvent within a few years and unable to pay. When this happens, like the Mafia, U.S. claims its part of the business, which comprises often one or more of the following consequences: captive votes at the United Nations, establishment of military bases, or access to precious resources as oil -or the Panama Canal. The debtor, of course, still owes U.S. the money … and another country is added to the global empire.
However (and this is an essential qualification), when corporations fail, another species much more sinister get involved. The jackals. These are themselves more direct emulators of those historical empires above mentioned. The jackals from CIA and NSA are always there, lurking in the shadows. When they act -see Ukraine recently- the heads of state fall, or perhaps die in violent “accidents” –Allende, Torrijos, Arbenz, Roídos, etc.-. And if it turns out that also the jackals fail, as they did in Afghanistan and Iraq, then the old models resurface. When the jackals fail, young Americans are sent to kill and die.
Finally when all above fails, as in Shah’s Iran or Chavez’s Venezuela, part of the money is lost. But that is not a mayor problem. U.S. prints the bills. The ability to print money gives them immense power. Means inter alia that they can continue to grant loans that will never be repaid … and they themselves can also accumulate a stratospheric debt.
If you are willing to open your eyes, today you could see the devastation resulting from this system. U.S. and European most respected companies are hiring workshops in Asia that exploit labor under inhuman slave-wages conditions. Oil companies carelessly throw their toxins to rivers in the rainforests, purposely poisoning humans, animals and plants, and perpetrating genocide against ancestral cultures. Pharmaceutical Companies deny millions of Africans infected with HIV medicines that could save them. In the United States itself, 46.5 million do not know what they will eat tomorrow. The financial business has led to Lehman Brothers, AIG, Merrill Lynch, and HBOS. The energy business has led to Enron. The audit business has led to Andersen. The very same day three thousand people were killed by terrorists -on September 11, 2001-, twenty-four thousand died from hunger and other consequences of poverty around the world. And the day before … and the day after. The decade-long American wars in Afghanistan and Iraq would end up costing as much as $6 trillion, the equivalent of $75,000 for every American household, where the United Nations estimates 45,000 millions would be enough to provide clean water, proper diet, health services and basic education to all residents in the planet.
The developing world now spends $1.3 on debt repayment for every $1 it receives in grants. Nigeria borrowed around $5 billion and has paid about $16 billion, but still owes $28 billion. That $28 billion came about due to bias in the foreign creditors’ interest rates. 7 million children die each year as a result of the debt crisis. In the 52 Jubilee 2000 countries, a total of 1 billion people shoulder a debt burden of £286 billion. It is interesting to note that this is less than the total net worth of the world’s 21 richest individuals. In 1999, $128 million was transferred from the poorest countries to the richest for debt repayments –each day. Of this, $53 million was from East Asia and the Pacific, $38 million from South Asia and $23 million from Africa. Canceling the debts of all 52 Jubilee 2000 countries would only cost one penny a day for each person in the industrialized world for 20 years.
More than half of the “globalized” world’s population lives on less than two dollars a day per head, roughly the same as received in the early 1970s. Meanwhile in the Third World 1 percent of more rich households accumulates between 70 and 90 percent of private wealth and property holdings of their countries (the percentage varies by country to consider).
This is the history of the United States, the first truly global empire. Past has taught us that, or we change course, or we are securing ourselves a tragic end. Empires never last. All have ended very badly. All have destroyed cultures in their career towards greater domination, and all have fallen in turn. No country or group of countries can prosper in the long term by exploiting others.
. Corporatocracy – By Dugutigui (on some excerpts by John Perkins)
Vladimir Putin seems to have lost touch with reality, Angela Merkel reportedly told Barack Obama after speaking with the Russian president. He is “in another world.” “I agree with what Angela Merkel said … that he is in another world,” said Madeleine Albright, “It doesn’t make any sense.”
John Kerry made his contribution to the bonkers theory by implying that Putin was channeling Napoleon: “You don’t just, in the 21st century, behave in 19th century fashion by invading another country on a completely trumped-up pretext.”
Now that Putin has taken Crimea without firing a shot, and 95 percent of a Crimean electorate voted Sunday to reunite with Russia, do his decisions still appear irrational? Was it not predictable that Russia, a great power that had just seen its neighbor yanked out of Russia’s orbit by a U.S.-backed coup in Kiev, would move to protect a strategic position on the Black Sea she has held for two centuries?
Zbigniew Brzezinski suggests that Putin is out to recreate the czarist empire. Others say Putin wants to recreate the Soviet Union and Soviet Empire.
But why would Russia, today being bled in secessionist wars by Muslim terrorists in the North Caucasus provinces of Chechnya, Dagestan and Ingushetia, want to invade and re-annex giant Kazakhstan, or any other Muslim republic of the old USSR, which would ensure jihadist intervention and endless war?
If we Americans want out of Afghanistan, why would Putin want to go back into Uzbekistan? Why would he want to annex Western Ukraine where hatred of Russia dates back to the forced famine of the Stalin era?
To invade and occupy all of Ukraine would mean endless costs in blood and money for Moscow, the enmity of Europe, and the hostility of the United States. For what end would Russia, its population shrinking by half a million every year, want to put Russian soldiers back in Warsaw?
But if Putin is not a Russian imperialist out to re-establish Russian rule over non-Russian peoples, who and what is he?
In the estimation of this writer, Vladimir Putin is a blood-and-soil, altar-and-throne ethno-nationalist who sees himself as Protector of Russia and looks on Russians abroad the way Israelis look upon Jews abroad, as people whose security is his legitimate concern.
Consider the world Putin saw, from his vantage point, when he took power after the Boris Yeltsin decade.
He saw a Mother Russia that had been looted by oligarchs abetted by Western crony capitalists, including Americans. He saw millions of ethnic Russians left behind, stranded, from the Baltic states to Kazakhstan.
He saw a United States that had deceived Russia with its pledge not to move NATO into Eastern Europe if the Red Army would move out, and then exploited Russia’s withdrawal to bring NATO onto her front porch.
Had the neocons gotten their way, not only the Warsaw Pact nations of Central and Eastern Europe, but five of 15 republics of the USSR, including Ukraine and Georgia, would have been brought into a NATO alliance created to contain and, if need be, fight Russia.
What benefits have we derived from having Estonia and Latvia as NATO allies that justify losing Russia as the friend and partner Ronald Reagan had made by the end of the Cold War?
We lost Russia, but got Romania as an ally? Who is irrational here?
Cannot we Americans, who, with our Monroe Doctrine, declared the entire Western Hemisphere off limits to the European empires — “Stay on your side of the Atlantic!” — understand how a Russian nationalist like Putin might react to U.S. F-16s and ABMs in the eastern Baltic?
In 1999, we bombed Serbia for 78 days, ignoring the protests of a Russia that had gone to war for Serbia in 1914. We exploited a Security Council resolution authorizing us to go to the aid of endangered Libyans in Benghazi to launch a war and bring down the Libyan regime.
We have given military aid to Syrian rebels and called for the ouster of a Syrian regime that has been Russia’s ally for decades.
At the end of the Cold War, writes ex-ambassador to Moscow Jack Matlock, 80 percent of Russia’s people had a favorable opinion of the USA. A decade later, 80 percent of Russians were anti-American.
That was before Putin, whose approval is now at 72 percent because he is perceived as having stood up to the Americans and answered our Kiev coup with his Crimean counter coup.
America and Russia are on a collision course today over a matter — whose flag will fly over what parts of Ukraine — no Cold War president, from Truman to Reagan, would have considered any of our business.
If the people of Eastern Ukraine wish to formalize their historic, cultural and ethnic ties to Russia, and the people of Western Ukraine wish to sever all ties to Moscow and join the European Union, why not settle this politically, diplomatically and democratically, at a ballot box?
Is Putin the irrational one? – By Patrick J. Buchanan. Pat Buchanan has been a senior adviser to three presidents, twice a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination and the presidential nominee of the Reform Party in 2000. Buchanan has written eight books, including four New York Times best-sellers. He is married to the former Shelley Ann Scarney, a member of the White House staff from 1969 to 1975.