Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The End of the American Empire

Listening to DemocracyNow! this morning, I caught an interview with Chalmers Johnson about his new book, Nemesis. The last book in his trilogy that includes Blowback and Sorrows of Empire. I've never read any of them, but I've listened to a few interviews with CJ. I have a pretty good idea of what his work is about, and I really like what he has to say. I hope to read the trilogy some day.

The answers to the last two questions that Amy Goodman asked him have really stuck with me. The reason why they have is because basically he is saying there really is no salvaging the American empire and way of life. Here they are:

AMY GOODMAN: Finally, Chalmers Johnson, you have just completed your trilogy. Your first book, Blowback, then Sorrows of Empire, and now finally Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic. What is your prediction?

CHALMERS JOHNSON: Well, I don't see any way out of it. I think it's gone too far. I think we are domestically too dependent on the military-industrial complex, that every time -- I mean, it's perfectly logical for any Secretary of Defense to try and close military bases that are redundant, that are useless, that are worn out, that go back to the Civil War. Any time he tries to do it, you produce an uproar in the surrounding community from newspapers, television, priests, local politicians: save our base.

The two mother hens of the Defense Facilities Subcommittee of the Senate Armed Services Committee, the people committed to taking care of our bases are easily Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas and Dianne Feinstein of California, the two states with the largest number of military bases, and those two senators would do anything in their power to keep them open. This is the insidious way in which the military-industrial complex has penetrated into our democracy and gravely weakened it, produced vested interests in what I call military Keynesianism, the use and manipulation of what is now three-quarters of a trillion dollars of the Defense budget, once you include all the other things that aren't included in just the single appropriation for the Department of Defense.

This is a -- it's out of control. We depend upon it, we like it, we live off of it. I cannot imagine any President of any party putting together the coalition of forces that could begin to break into these vested interests, any more than a Gorbachev was able to do it in his attempted reforms of the Soviet Union in the late 1980s.

AMY GOODMAN: Is there anything, Chalmers, that gives you hope?

CHALMERS JOHNSON: Well, that's exactly what we're doing this morning. That is, the only way -- you've got to reconstitute the constitutional system in America, or it is over. That is that empires --once you go in the direction of empire, you ultimately lead to overstretch, bankruptcy, coalitions of nations hostile to your imperialism. We're well on that route.

The way that it might be stopped is by a mobilization of inattentive citizens. I don't know that that's going to happen. I’m extremely dubious, given the nature of conglomerate control of, say, the television networks in America for the sake of advertising revenue. We see Rupert Murdoch talking about buying a third of the Los Angeles Times. But, nonetheless, there is the internet, there is Amy Goodman, there are -- there's a lot more information than there was.

One of the things I have experienced in these three books is a much more receptive audience of alarmed Americans to Nemesis than to the previous two books, where there was considerable skepticism, so that one -- if we do see a renaissance of citizenship in America, then I believe we could recapture our government. If we continue politics as in the past, then I think there is no alternative but to say Nemesis is in the country, she's on the premises, and she is waiting to carry out her divine mission.

Monday, February 26, 2007

WildeRix: Another Changed Mind

I just ran across this new Quinn inspired blog.

From WildeRix: Several years ago, while waiting tables in New York City, a friend turned me on to the writings of Daniel Quinn. If you have ever read any of his works, I’m sure you’ll understand when I say that it completely changed my life. That is no hyperbole. From that point on, I had to rethink everything. I began to realize that everything in the world comes from the earth and that all life comes from the sun. It reshaped not only my view on civilization, but it made me rethink my faith as well.

Ever since reading Ishmael I have always found hope in reading stories like these. It's just one more person who sees the culture for what it is, a prison. I just wonder how many people are out there with changed minds that we don't read about.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Response to a Letter to the Editor of Mine

Here is a response to a letter I wrote to my local newspaper about a month ago.

It's really interesting how peoples reactions differ. A few weeks ago someone actually dug up my phone number and called to say that he felt the letter was really amazing. He mentioned as a retired social studies teacher he would've talked about things like this in his class. I forgot to mention that it was inspired by Ishmael. I think I'll call him this morning and let him know.

Sorry for you

I recently read the Jan. 4, Reader Opinion in the Spooner Advocate on “Myth Making.”

I am saddened by the hopelessness that must reside in the home of the writer. The bleak outlook of our past, present and future has got me wondering, “Why would anyone want to get up in the morning?” and “Where is the hope and purpose in the life you describe?”

But, before we flush all of our hope, maybe we should take a little closer look at some of the writer’s ideas. We have to remember that ideas have consequences, and bad ideas have bad consequences.

Let us look at Darwin’s rather flawed theory of evolution. In the letter, that theory seems to play out a rather pivotal role.

First off, evolution as it is stated is a theory, not fact as the letter’s author would have us believe.

Secondly, I have yet to see complete fossil support for Darwin’s Tree of Life.

Thirdly, chronology or the aging of time periods has not been proven as an effective way of tracing back man’s advancement through the ages.

And fourthly, it is my understanding that the earth’s age itself is another problem to those who swear allegiance to evolution. There are many different dates floating around. Henry Whipple had pointed out that on the average, the “age” of the Earth has been doubling every 15 years for the past three centuries. (Harold Slusher, Critique of Radiometric Dating). Apparently evolutionists need more time to make their theory work.

We could go on and on with the disproving of Darwin’s theory of evolution, but I find some other rather terrifying statements in the letter. Let me quote the author, “We really think that we can grow our population without limits.” What would the author do to control the population? What people or group of people (age, handicap, ethnicity, or religion, etc.) would the writer start with to control population, and how would he exact that control on the whole world? A similar issue like this was addressed in Europe in the 1940s, was it not? Be careful, for those who do not know history are destined to repeat it.

How about these statements of his: “And we really think that we can get away with hunting down our biological competitors, destroying their food or denying access to their food. We act like rebels.”

Remember bad ideas have bad consequences. So let’s follow his idea through. If I am at the top of the food chain because I evolved there, then does not survival of the fittest take precedence?

Earlier in the letter the writer referred to Hell as a mythical place, but how can I be a rebel if I am not accountable nor can I be punished because I am the highest evolved form? My desire reigns supreme.I would hope (no pun intended) that the writer would reconsider the mythical evolution and honestly weigh the facts from the fiction. It is important to hand down the truth and not a myth to the next generation.

May the author find the hope he seeks.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Support our Troops?

Where I live you see a lot of people with the yellow ribbons on the back of there cars that read, Support our Troops. I've always understood this statement as Support our War. And most of the time, whenever I see a car sporting the yellow ribbon, I can't help but think about how horrible war really is. I always wonder if the person that stuck the ribbon on their car is thinking about this too. Things like: torture, bombings, rapes, Post Traumatice Stress Syndrome, death, murder, prison camps, and so on. It's just crazy.

Back to the yellow ribbons. Yesterday I ran across a really good explanation of why statements like Support our Troops are so deceptive. They're meaningless.

"The point of public relations slogans like 'Support our troops' is that they don't mean anything. That's the whole point of good propaganda. You want to create a slogan that nobody's going to be against, and everybody's going to be for. Nobody knows what it means, because it doesn't mean anything. Its crucial value is that it diverts your attention from a question that does mean something: Do you support our policy? That's the one you're not allowed to talk about." - Noam Chomsky -

Friday, February 23, 2007

The Role of Government

In responding to a post over at IshThink.org, I dug up these quotes by Adam Smith, John Locke and James Madison about the role of government in our lives. They've always stuck with me since I first read them.

When they were laying out the Federal Constitution James Madison emphatically argued that the goal of the American political system was "to protect the minority of the opulent against the majority." The Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution, 1:449-450

Or to quote John Locke out of the Two Treatises of Government, "Government has no other end but the preservation of property."Second Treatise, Sections 138-140

And lastly to quote the godfather of modern economics, Adam Smith, "Civil government...is in reality instituted for the defense of the rich against the poor, of those who have some property against those who have none at all." An Inquiry into the Nature and the Wealth of Nations, 413

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


I really hate the effects schooling has on most people. And if I had the chance to put together a small booklet or pamphlet explaining why school is what it is I 'd include this advice Ran Prieur gave to a 19 year old college freshman on Feb. 20th.

I really like this part: If you're not going into debt, college isn't so bad. The main thing you're learning is not the content of the classes, but how to think and act like an "educated" person. For that reason, college is much more valuable for lower class people than for higher class people who already know how to act like that.

Thursday, February 15, 2007


In A Language Older than Words, Derrick Jensen said something like hell is when one forgets that all life is interdependent. Welcome to our culture. Anyway, Ran Prieur had what I thought was a really good definition of what evil is on his blog yesterday.

My definition of evil is a compulsive withdrawal or reversal of empathy. Empathy is simply the extension of the sense of "self." The root of evil is in the original splitting of the One Mind into many perspectives, which, I'm guessing, was done to create free will and surprise. So, when you have the option to move back toward the One, to expand your sense of "self" from, say, your material wealth to your body, or from your body to the bodies and feelings of the people around you, and you refuse, and that refusal becomes compulsive, that's what we call evil.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


Lately I've been thinking about death. I think it is safe to say that I've feared death for most of my life. And I also think it is safe to say that the reason this culture has a death urge is because of its overall fear of death.

This morning I dug up a quote by Ed Abbey talking about the fear of death. I'm going to type it out here so that I have it for future reference and because its good.

From Pg. 41 out of Walking It Off, by Doug Peacock:

"If your life has been wasted, then naturally you're going to cling like a drowning man to whatever kind of semi-life medical technolgy can offer you, and you're going to end up in a hospital with a dozen tubes sticking in your body, machines keeping your organs going. Which is the worst possible way to die. One's death should mean something. Those who fear death most are those who enjoy life least. Death is every man's final critic. To die well you must live bravely." Ed Abbey

Sunday, February 11, 2007

What a Way to Go: Life at the End of Empire

This film looks like it is going to be one of the best I've watched in a long time. You can watch the trailers HERE.

VisionQuest Pictures presents a Storkboy Film WHAT A WAY TO GO LIFE AT THE END OF EMPIREA middle class white guy comes to grips with Peak Oil, Climate Change, Mass Extinction, Population Overshoot and the demise of the American Lifestyle.

What is it doing to us as thoughtful human beings as we face the overwhelming challenges of:

• Dwindling fossil fuel reserves?
• Critically degraded ecosystems?
• A changing climate?
• An exploding global population?
• Teetering global economies?
• An unstable political climate?
• And what is it doing to the rest of the life on this planet?

Featuring interviews with Daniel Quinn, Derrick Jensen, Jerry Mander, Chellis Glendinning, Richard Heinberg, Thomas Berry, William Catton, Ran Prieur and Richard Manning, What a Way to Go will look at the current global situation and ask the most important questions of all:

• How did we get here?
• Why do we keep destroying the planet? and
• What do we truly want?
• Can we find a vision that will empower us to do what is necessary to survive, and even thrive, in the coming decades?

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Letter to the Editor About Schooling

Last week my letter that I wrote to the editor was posted in my local newspaper. It's really tough to get in what you want to say in 300 words. I felt really constricted and frustrated writing it. I wish I had about a 3000 word limit to work with.

Death means Renewal

This letter is in response to the article about the Spooner School Citizen Action Group. What I got from the article is that we need to spend more money on a dieing school system. The students need bigger and better buildings, more teachers, smaller classroom sizes and better curriculums. But like always these prescriptions fail to do what they set out to do, and that is to “awaken” young minds. That’s what education is supposed to do. But the system has the opposite affect; it deadens the instinctual wonder and curiosity of children.

Very little of the information (except basic reading, writing and arithmetic) that students are forced to learn in their 12 to 16 years of schooling is ever retained and used throughout their lifetimes. Students know this. The most famous question when I was in school was: When am I ever going to use this information? It’s simply a waste of their time.

What our current educational model accomplishes with almost 100% efficiency is that first, it keeps children out the job market for the most part until they are 18 yrs. old, and if you go to college it can be 25 yrs old. If children were able to enter the job market at the age of 14 you would have a lot of jobless people running around instead of a consumer class spending their parent’s money. The jobs just aren’t there for this age group like they were in our highly agrarian society that existed 100 to 150 years ago. It should be noted the more urbanized and industrialized this society has become the more years of schooling has been required.

Second, graduates have little survival value outside the confines of our economy. They are forced to either get a job or starve.

Our current educational model meets the needs of our economy but doesn’t meet, and never was meant to, meet the needs of human beings; therefore it can’t and never will work. (I always have to laugh when administrators say it’s all about the students but yet they never ask the students what they want to learn.) No amount of taxpayer money spent on new buildings, educators and curriculums will ever fix this. Let the system die. With all death comes renewal!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Kunstler Mentions Quinn

Here is James Howard Kunstler's latest article in Orion Magazine.

He actually mentions Daniel Quinn: "We have to do better. We have to start right away making those other arrangements. We have to begin the transition to some mode of living that will allow us to carry on the project of civilization—and I would argue against the notion advanced by Daniel Quinn and others that civilization itself is our enemy and should not be continued. The agenda for facing our problems squarely can, in fact, be described with some precision. We have to make other arrangements for the basic activities of everyday life."

I really don't think JHK truly understands what Daniel Quinn is saying in his work. Heres page 90 out of Beyond Civilization that clearly shows that Quinn doesn't hate civilization:
"People who dislike what I'm saying will often try to reassure themselves with the thought that I'm just someone who hates civilization and would rather live "close to nature." This will bring a smile to the face of anyone who knows me, for I'm a great lover of civilization and live happily in the heart of the fourth largest U.S. city, in easy walking distance to drugstores, supermarkets, video rental shops, art galleries, restaurants, bookstores, museums, pool halls, universities, and tattoo parlors. (And I live "close to nature" every second of every day, 365 days a year, since "nature" is something no one can escape living close to, no matter where you happen to live.)

"Or they challenge me to say how I'd like living without air conditioning, central heating, indoor plumbing, refrigerators, telephones, computers, and so on. They think I'm an apostle of poverty, though they can't point to a single word in any of my writings to support such a notion.

"I'm not a Luddite or a Unabomber. I don't regard civilization as a curse but as a blessing that people (including me) should be free to walk away from--for something better. And something better is what I'm after; and nothing less. Those who are looking for something worse definately need to consult a different book." Pg. 90