FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

A Grim Vision of America’s and the World’s Future

by DAVE LINDORFF

My wife and I live on a 2.3-acre plot of forested land in a pre-Revolutionary house with a run-down old barn. When we first moved here, there was a rather large set of grassy areas, one in front of the house, another behind the kitchen, a large field in the back, behind the barn, a smaller lawn in front of the barn, and a hidden glen, as well as an island of grass in the middle of a circular gravel driveway.

It used to take me all day to mow all that grass, but over the years, because of my workload, particularly several books that were very time-consuming both to write and to promote, and the challenge of raising two kids, I allowed nature to reclaim much of it. Now I can mow what’s left in two hours. The glen is filled with brush, and the other lawns have shrunken dramatically as the forest has encroached in on them from all directions.

Now suddenly, I have to at least temporarily push back this march of nature, because my daughter’s getting married and she and her boyfriend have decided they’d like to have their secular jewish/hindu wedding at our place. This means that besides making the place look less derelect, I need to enlarge the big lawn out back to a size that could hold a large tent, in the event of rain, capable of accomodating 80-plus guests.

I have been struck as I set to work today by the astonishing amount of new growth that there has been this year already. Leaves on plants like the ubiquitous poison ivy and chokeberries are huge, and the asiatic bittersweet is growing so fast you can actually see its tendrils advancing out into the air as you watch them in the sun. Something frightening is clearly happening. Plants didn’t grow at this prodigious pace when we first moved here. That something, of course, is the increased CO₂ in the atmosphere, now approaching 400 ppm, a level not seen on earth in nearly a million years.

Now, I’m not normally a guy given to apocalyptic visions, but as I was hacking away at the jungle-like growth that has overtaken the remaining open spaces on our property, I can see clearly that the greed of our capitalist elite, the subservient inaction of our political class, and the shortsightedness and wilfull ignorance of the general population have pushed this planet of ours past its abilty to recover. We are now entering an era of runaway heating of the planet and these plants are the harbingers of what is to come. There will be rapid growth of plant life for a time, but before too long, the seas will rise high enough to make a reef of my stone house, despite its being twenty miles from Chesapeake Bay and searing heat and drought conditions will destroy most of the new greenery.

The Lindorff barn.

I’m not going to catalogue of all the catastrophes that are in store for us as the self-correcting mechanisms of Gaia turn instead into self-reinforcing trends, as when the rapid warming of the arctic, already underway, starts releasing huge quantities of the super heat-trapping methane gas long trapped in the permafrost. Suffice to say that my eyes have been opened by my yard work, and I can see it all coming.

But I see other things coming even sooner, caused by the same ruling elite’s insatiable greed and lust for power, and by the same political system’s actions in support of their goals.

First there is the accelerating march towards a police state, which began in earnest during the first year of the Bush/Cheney administration with the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the passage of the cynically named USA PATRIOT Act, and the launching of the so-called War on Terror, but which has been carried forward to a place I could never have imagined by Bush’s successor, Barack Obama. Today, police in America ride around with fully automatic M-16s in their squadcars, routinely taser people, including children, the elderly and the disabled, for minor offenses, and when confronted with a peaceful and permitted political demonstration, respond in full military SWAT gear, complete with guns, pepper spray, clubs, tear gas, and undercover agents who deliberately try to incite violence.

Just yesterday, long-time Latino activist Carlos Montes, 64, was arrested in Los Angeles during a joint LAPD/FBI SWAT-team midnight raid on his house. The charge: possessing illegal weapons. But Montes possessed only licensed guns in his home. The catch was, the FBI, which was clearly after Montes, a retired Xerox salesman, for political reasons, conveniently told local police that he was not allowed to register firearms because of a (get this!) 1969 felony conviction for allegedly throwing a coke can at a cop (Montes says he never threw such a can). Note that the police knew all about that conviction when Montes first registered his guns. He has not been in trouble with the law since then. Clearly he could have simply been informed that his gun registrations were invalid, and the guns had to be turned in. Why Montes, who has remained politically active and a critic of the government, was really arrested in this Gestapo-like manner became clear when an FBI agent hopped in the car with him right after he was picked up, and said, “I am from the FBI and I want to talk to you about the Freedom Road Socialist Organisation.” Montes is now facing a possible 22 years in jail for possessing legally registered guns that the LAPD has known for years that he had in his home, and that nobody ever cared about before. (I had to learn about this from the British newspaper the Guardian. The corporate media in America have covered up this outrageous political bust.)

America today is crawling with secret police–local, state and federal. They’re all connected too, through 72 so-called Fusion Centers that receive federal funds, but remain insulated from any kind of public oversight. Our phones and our internet communications are monitored automatically by National Security Agency super-computers that look for key words like “airport, exercise, flu, blizzard, bridge, or fundamentalism,” any of which prompt closer attention to what we are saying or writing.

Meanwhile, the president has claimed the right to detain–in secret, without charge–any American he deems to be a threat, and to hold such people indefinitely, without any recourse to lawyer or trial. He is even claiming the right to execute such captives. So much for the Fourth Amendment, as well as the First, Second, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh and Eighth!

While I don’t think we live in a police state yet (having lived in China for two years, and visited there as a journalist over four other years, I know what a real one looks and feels like), but all the elements for one have been put in place and await only the throwing of a switch.

In the vision I clearly have, I feel strongly that someone, whether Obama or Romney, or whoever follows him, will throw that switch. When power is available to political leaders, they inevitably avail themselves of it. It’s just a question of time.

But there is another vision I have too. It has to do with America’s increasing international lawlessness and bellicosity.  As the nation turns increasingly to technology for its aggressive purposes, through the use of armed robotic drones, and through internet attacks on purported “enemies,” it not only opens the door to others to do the same to us; it virtually assures that we will be attacked ourselves in like manner to what we are doing.

It was one thing to be the world’s superpower when being a superpower meant having the biggest ICBMs and the most nuclear warheads — weapons that required an enormous military budget and a massive industrial base. Drone technology and internet “weapons” are something else altogether. As Israel has demonstrated with its Stuxnet virus, a very small nation can easily construct a weapon of tremendous destructive power.  Iran demonstrated its own capability in that area by using computer savvy to take control of a sophisticated US surveillance drone flying over its airspace, actually stealing it electronically, landing it, and now, apparently, back-engineering it. And remotely-piloted drones are not particularly complex technologically. Basic ones can be purchased off the shelf in any hobby shop.

How long will it be before foreign predator drones begin flying over US airspace, taking out targets without leaving any clue as to who was the attacker?  How long before other countries begin destroying American power systems, industrial sites or military command centers using internet-based computer viruses?

This is a game that many people can play, and I predict that it will not be long before we Americans will rue the day this country began playing it.

Meanwhile, I’m clearing out my lawns for a wedding. If the FBI or some hyper-ventillating local red-squad cops want to monitor my actions, they can fly a spy drone over my hoouse and check it out, of they can come on by with a weed whacker or some brush clippers, and offer to help.

Dave Lindorff is a founder of This Can’t Be Happening and a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, published by AK Press. Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He lives in Philadelphia. 

Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
May 27, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
Silencing America as It Prepares for War
Rob Urie
By the Numbers: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are Fringe Candidates
Paul Street
Feel the Hate
Daniel Raventós - Julie Wark
Basic Income Gathers Steam Across Europe
Andrew Levine
Hillary’s Gun Gambit
Jeffrey St. Clair
Hand Jobs: Heidegger, Hitler and Trump
S. Brian Willson
Remembering All the Deaths From All of Our Wars
Dave Lindorff
With Clinton’s Nixonian Email Scandal Deepening, Sanders Must Demand Answers
Pete Dolack
Millions for the Boss, Cuts for You!
Peter Lee
To Hell and Back: Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Gunnar Westberg
Close Calls: We Were Much Closer to Nuclear Annihilation Than We Ever Knew
Karl Grossman
Long Island as a Nuclear Park
Binoy Kampmark
Sweden’s Assange Problem: The District Court Ruling
Robert Fisk
Why the US Dropped Its Demand That Assad Must Go
Martha Rosenberg – Ronnie Cummins
Bayer and Monsanto: a Marriage Made in Hell
Brian Cloughley
Pivoting to War
Stavros Mavroudeas
Blatant Hypocrisy: the Latest Late-Night Bailout of Greece
Arun Gupta
A War of All Against All
Dan Kovalik
NPR, Yemen & the Downplaying of U.S. War Crimes
Randy Blazak
Thugs, Bullies, and Donald J. Trump: The Perils of Wounded Masculinity
Murray Dobbin
Are We Witnessing the Beginning of the End of Globalization?
Daniel Falcone
Urban Injustice: How Ghettos Happen, an Interview with David Hilfiker
Gloria Jimenez
In Honduras, USAID Was in Bed with Berta Cáceres’ Accused Killers
Kent Paterson
The Old Braceros Fight On
Lawrence Reichard
The Seemingly Endless Indignities of Air Travel: Report from the Losing Side of Class Warfare
Peter Berllios
Bernie and Utopia
Stan Cox – Paul Cox
Indonesia’s Unnatural Mud Disaster Turns Ten
Linda Pentz Gunter
Obama in Hiroshima: Time to Say “Sorry” and “Ban the Bomb”
George Souvlis
How the West Came to Rule: an Interview with Alexander Anievas
Julian Vigo
The Government and Your i-Phone: the Latest Threat to Privacy
Stratos Ramoglou
Why the Greek Economic Crisis Won’t be Ending Anytime Soon
David Price
The 2016 Tour of California: Notes on a Big Pharma Bike Race
Dmitry Mickiewicz
Barbarous Deforestation in Western Ukraine
Rev. William Alberts
The United Methodist Church Up to Its Old Trick: Kicking the Can of Real Inclusion Down the Road
Patrick Bond
Imperialism’s Junior Partners
Mark Hand
The Trouble with Fracking Fiction
Priti Gulati Cox
Broken Green: Two Years of Modi
Marc Levy
Sitrep: Hometown Unwelcomes Vietnam Vets
Lorenzo Raymond
Why Nonviolent Civil Resistance Doesn’t Work (Unless You Have Lots of Bombs)
Ed Kemmick
New Book Full of Amazing Montana Women
Michael Dickinson
Bye Bye Legal High in Backwards Britain
Missy Comley Beattie
Wanted: Daddy or Mommy in Chief
Ed Meek
The Republic of Fear
Charles R. Larson
Russian Women, Then and Now
David Yearsley
Elgar’s Hegemony: the Pomp of Empire
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail