Monday, August 14, 2006

Dissecting the Power of Empire

I am a hopeless history buff because I firmly believe as Santayana said, 'that if we fail to learn from it we are doomed to repeat it', and repeat it we are. The following quote is taken from a PBS series circa 1983 called Vietnam: A Television History.

"In Vietnam, for generations the real power and the economy and the education, through which you get power, was in the hands of a few people. Maybe 3-5% of the population controlled the government, controlled the economic life of the country."
"If you were a peasant or lowly born it was almost impossible to break out of the chain of your father and grandfather. The Viet Cong quite often can turn the peasants mind into the idea that 'if you revolt, if you join us we can change the system'.
Everett Bumgartner
US civilian contractor

Can we really grasp the reality of this statement made over 25 years ago about a country that we were supposedly 'bringing freedom and democracy' to? What can be said of our own country, our own society when the exact same conditions exist that are stated above? The economy controlled by the 'Federal Reserve' which is the agent of foreign interests and government controlled by not only corporate interests but by an aristocracy. Political appointments are made in relation to whether they are in agreement with the foreign policy and ultimate goal of a ruthless and aggressive state which continually attacks the host. These are the 'talking points' of an administration clawing for a positive spin on the 'legalized' oppression of a foreign government. When those 'talking points' begin to echo our own condition, our own country, then we are indeed in a dire situation.

Let us take this time to examine the conclusions and determinations of our peers and contemporaries.

In "Sorrows of Empire" Charles Johnson makes the statement:

"Four sorrows are certain to be visited on the United States. Their cumulative effect guarantees that the U.S. will cease to resemble the country outlined in the Constitution of 1787.
First, There will be a state of perpetual war, leading to more terrorism against Americans wherever they may be and a spreading of reliance on nuclear weapons among smaller nations as they try to fend off the imperial juggernaut.
Secondly is a loss of democracy and constitutional rights as the presidency eclipses Congress and is itself transformed from a co-equal 'executive branch' of government to a military junta.
Third is the replacement of the truth by propaganda, disinformation, and the glorification of war, power, and the military legions.
Lastly there is bankruptcy, as the United States pours its economic resources into evermore grandiose military projects and short changes education, health, and safety of its citizens."

This is as clear a picture of the current conditions as one could hope for that we, as Americans, now find ourselves. As the president continually shifts the majority of the budget towards the military occupation of smaller sovereign nations we and our children suffer from the redirection of our tax dollars from those beneficial to the development of our society. As America continues its plummet in its educational system, and the global ranking of its children, it would seem that we are becoming nothing more than a nation of proles. After all education is the vehicle that gives us the ability to overcome our adverse surroundings.

Professor G. William Domhoff of the Sociology Department of the University of California at Santa Cruz has this to say in his analysis:

"Power structures are based on organizations."
"Power is based in individuals or groups who come together to form associations and intrest groups, then make their wishes known to the 'government' through; 1)public opinion 2)lobbying and 3) their 'votes' in elections."(emphasis mine)
"They create wage dependance
They centralize profits
They shape their environments
These lead to the concentration or wealth and power"

Through the manipulations of the powerful and elite they create class stratification and economic apartheid that adversely affects every man, woman, and child their policy comes in contact with. As this concentration or wealth and power grows, history shows time and again, that the gravitation of the investment into military development is unavoidable. As the people begin to stagger under the weight of oppression they begin to rise up to oppose the 'forces' that hold them in indentured servitude as the elite use the power to further the misery of its subjects. It was Josef Stalin that said," It's not the vote that counts, but he who counts the vote."As history has shown in empires that have had a measure of 'success' it is a progressive step toward the constraining of 'lower classes' when the 'government' convinces its constituency to fashion the chains that will one day hold them.

Look at the elaborate network of methods now being employed to root out, expose, and detain 'terrorists' or 'percieved threats'. In the twinkling of an eye, in a split second the determination and definition of those designations are open for radical reinterpretation. When those that hold power set the parameters and definition of 'enemy of the state' where will you and I fall? Where will the people fall that are tired of being subjected to conditions of the modern slave? Are you more concerned with 'entertainment' than current events? Are you more apt to accept mounting debt so that you maintain your social status? Do you define your 'political affiliation' as one of the predetermined norms and platforms provided for you? If we do we are a slave. A willing, compliant slave. To disregard these warning signs will have grave ramifications in th enear future. To ignore the repetition of history will be to fall victim to it.

The reality of all of these quotes is their manifest existence in our everyday lives. The truth of this power being wielded over us is that we are complicit in their domination unless we separate ourselves and extricate ourselves from their deeds. As we see the faces of the people and images of the wars that are being carried out by our munitions, by our soldiers, in our names, it is the 'stamp of approval' of every America that does not raise their voice in opposition. When all of these statements are evidence of the society and culture that we have allowed to grow up around us, what does that say about us as a mere 'youngster' in the arena that is historical civilizations?

Was it not Lord Acton who said, 'Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.'

As they near 'absolute power' more people will die, more people classified as 'threats', more people 'disappeared' and tortured. The chains that we have helped fashion for the last 30 years will greet us with anticipation and glee as the realization of the familiar manacles of subservience dawn on us once again.

Although it has gone through various additions and transformations the basic ideals of the statement by Pastor Martin Niemoller ring ever true:

"First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out - because I was not a communist;
Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out - because I was not a socialist;
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out - because I was not a trade unionist;
Then they came for the(anti-zionist) Jews, and I did not speak out - because I was not a(anti-Zionist) Jew;
Then they came for me - and there was no one left to speak out for me."

I must wonder is there any 'changing the system' as Bumgartner alludes to? Or are we doomed to repeat the darkest periods of historical significance? Will man awaken of his own devices or will he be shocked into the state of wakefulness just prior to his demise? Who indeed will 'save' us from ourselves, if in fact we are salvageable?

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