A Soulless, Digitally Concussed Western World
The USA and European Union (EU) continue on their downward trajectory in the 14th year of 21st Century. The perpetual state of war against terror, drugs, immigrants, the press and whistle-blowers moves on uninhibited. Another war, this time named Austerity, is being waged by USA and EU leaders against the middle and lower classes. Youth are particularly hard hit with the average unemployment rate in the EU at 23 percent. In the USA the figure is 17 percent according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But never mind that.
Cutting benefits, or, rather, throwing people away, will reduce the unemployment rate and that’s good for the economy. Such is the mindset of the financier class as reflected in the comments of Joe LaVorgna, chief economist at Deutsch Bank. He noted that in the USA, 23 percent of the 1.5 million who are losing their unemployment benefits will simply exit the work force, and another 850,000, at the state level, would give up on trying to find employment. LaVorgna stated that the unemployment will drop to 6.7 percent. Yippie!
Isn’t Economic Security Supposed to be Part of National Security?
So the middle and lower classes are being wiped out by politicians and finance/business interests that, in the main, control what remains of representative democracy in the USA and the EU. Those powerful interests want nothing less than the purchase of the nation state and all the souls within it. Worse still the elite/upper classes are casting out men, women and children by sanctioning the cutting of the Achilles Tendon of social programs meant to ameliorate unemployment and hunger, and limit the effects of life’s unanticipated disasters.
Evens as Austerity works its dark magic, the businesses and their politicians that promise a “new day” can’t produce enough jobs to to match civil society’s needs.
Where did all the cash go to fund domestic programs? In the USA no mention is made of the trillions of dollars borrowed from social security funds by the US government, or the many trillions of dollars expended on wars and weapons programs, or tax cuts that rob from the poor and give to the rich, or the cash hoarding and outsourcing of jobs by US corporations. But reading the economic news on Reuters as 2014 starts, one would think that an economic recovery—even boom—is on schedule for 2014. But the coverage at Reuters, which is based on US government reports, does not match life on the ground in the USA.
Every day the semi-official organs of the USA (New York Times, Washington Post,, Wall Street Journal and mainstream news outlets like Fox, CBS, ABC) run stories of the economic carnage taking place in the USA and EU. Accompanying those reports are false messages of hope in sidebars which state “employment is up, housing sales are up, manufacturing is up and the future is bright.” Likewise the exploits (covert and overt) of the American and European national security machinery gets big play, as it should. The blood thirsty civil wars ongoing in Libya, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, the Sudan’s, and Egypt all owe their current states of chaos to the USA’s and EU’s 21st Century colonial strategies and tactics. For example: Invading Iraq where now Sunni and Shia slaughter each other (Christians have abandoned or are under assault); forcing the creation of South Sudan simply for oil and military basing purposes to counter China’s presence; approving a military coup in Egypt; and supporting psychopathic anti-Assad factions in Syria who relish in all forms of execution. It is interesting to note that in Iran, Jews and Christians (each allowed a seat in Iran’s parliament under its constitution) are safer than in most of the countries in Iran’s neighborhood.
The pounding of complex national security matters—which has merged with national economic security–into the heads of Americans and Europeans is unprecedented in scope. For example, each month dozens of electronic media outlets bring news of remotely piloted aerial vehicles (RPV’s) offing some ten cent rebel in Yemen. Unfortunately, in order to get the bad guy, national security officials say, “we had to kill the entire wedding party.” Consider the cyber version of that: in order to get the bad guy, national security officials say, “we had to sweep up all meta-data and our link analysis identified your computer working within the link net. “You may be innocent but we still have to raid your home and take you to jail.” It is a nightmare scenario in which American civilians would be subjected to the jurisprudence of Guantanamo Bay. The precedents are in place.
American security and intelligence failures have forever linked the Boston Marathon and Sandy Hook School with “horror and moral terror,” as the line goes in the movie Apocalypse Now. With the USA still officially a nation at war and operating under a state of emergency since September, 2001, it is no wonder that Americans have made friends with “horror and moral terror”.
Nowhere is that more evident than in the “Breaking Bad” capitalism that both the USA and EU are openly pushing on their populations;they seek the same in the Ukraine, even Russia. The presence of US officials at the site of demonstrations in the Ukraine show the extent to which the US is actively engaged in destabilizing governments friendly to Russia. According to the Christian Science Monitor, “Victoria Nuland, US Assistant Secretary of State, offered cookies and bread to pro-EU activists as she and US Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt walked through Independence Square in Kiev [Ukraine]…”
Cold War warriors (neoconservatives and neoliberals) were clearly not satisfied with the USSR’s collapse. They wanted, and still long for, Russia proper: its land/resources, infrastructure, and human capital. By ringing Russia with missile defense systems, which can be converted to offensive uses for targeting, the USA/EU continue their warring ways. Without President Putin, who knows what Russia would like like. As it is, he has managed to keep his nation state intact in spite of psychopathic fundamentalists, hiding behind Islam, who recently engaged in the killing of civilians in Volgograd. It must irk Putin to no end to know that the USA/EU instigated for the creation of Islamic fundamentalists during the Cold War to fight the Godless USSR. It appears that is continuing today with the help of Saudi Arabia.
The USA’s Pivot to Asia is more of the same. The USA is prepping for war in Asia, the site of 60 percent of the world’s population. It is a dangerous US national security strategy only profitable for arms manufacturers.
Austerity means squeezing the life and profit out of many millions in the middle and lower income classes in the USA and EU. Workers in both assemblages and classes were once silently content to labor 40 hours in a week—maybe a few more– with health insurance benefits and some paid holidays. Now they are anxiously looking over their shoulders. It is not enough any longer to work hard, pay the bills on time, and have two days off during each work week. The vaunted middle class so prized by every national economy on the planet is fading. There is no longer Economic Security; in fact, there is no security at all.
Making Matters Worse: Digitally Concussed
The USA and EU adoption of a sort of Meth-based Capitalism has far greater consequences thanks to the Internet/WWW and the mobile communications revolution. If one carries a mobile device or uses a laptop, one can be found, fixed and targeted, even scooped up as collateral damage. God—in the form of a security-military-capitalist dynamic, is watching.
It is a return to the Medieval Consciousness (from Obama of the Digital Inquisition by John Stanton):
“Christ stated that “God works in mysterious ways. Who else do you think controls the electromagnetic spectrum, gravity, thermodynamics, synapses, neurons. You can call God the NSA, CIA, PRISM, Big Data, Tempora or whatever silly name you want, but that’s just evidence of God’s good work. You all have made the human mind more susceptible to His will than at anytime in humanity’s existence. God thinks; no, He knows that the vast majority of citizens in the Holy American Judeo-Christian Empire will set aside their individuality and this ‘nonsense called free will’ and henceforth, in a blessed moment of uncertainty, ask Is God-NSA listening in? Can God see me when I am sleeping? Can God see my anti-God dreams (punishable, of course)? Oh what joyful compliance will ensue when war and austerity are the norm!”
There are no boundaries or balance between public and private space. The notion of solitude, of an impenetrable private space for contemplation, or even talking with one’s God, has been overwritten by the need to feel part of a digital collective. Such membership eliminates the work effort required to go out in the community and participate in collective action where all manner of human motions, emotions and senses are encountered. Of course, all participants in the digital collective can be surveilled, tracked with ease. In a sense, their unseen digital masters/influencers are the Gods and Angels of the cyber world ensuring that one’s life is filled with product placement advertisements, advice on this and that emotional problem, and thoughtless information and mind-numbing, violent video games. Digital denizens have put their faith not so much in the machines as in the humans who control the machinery of the Internet and program the content that appears on the World Wide Web.
The digital collective is a sterile thing. Individuals lose their consciousness and memory of life on the other side while in cyber space. The news of the day, the workplace, the children, the bills are all one big blur. But the Internet machines provide access to the World Wide Web and there is where one finds peace away from the gritty, mundane life outside of cyber space, and where the world is crystal clear, quiet and there is no face-to-face human contact.. It is as if the digital denizens have suffered some sort of concussion—a sort of digital concussion that jolts portions of the brain, removing empathy; thought and memory of the handshake; the challenge of face-to-face interpersonal relations; the necessity of vigilance in watching the overlords of society; getting out into slums to help the poor; and, more to the point, taking the chance to find the soul, and a contemplative space not in the I-Phone (a machine), but in the lively and colorful world. In short, the fear of solitude and privacy, or being alone in thought, is in the ascendency. One is never alone when connected to the Internet/WWW.
Soldiers: Pope Francis and Malcolm X
The Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelli Guadium of the Holy Father Francis, lays out the darkness of USA/EU culture, governance and its brand of Capitalism. In a time gone by Malcolm X said much the same. In his closing statement at the Oxford Union in 1964 he maintained that
“when one is moderate in the pursuit of justice for human beings, I say he is a sinner….And in my opinion the young generation of whites, blacks, browns, and whatever else there is, your are living in a time when there has to be a change…a better world needs to be built…And I will join in with anyone, I don’t what color he is, as long as he wants to change the miserable condition that exists on this earth.”
The former big-city bouncer, and the first Jesuit Pope, channels some of Malcolm X. In doing Pope Francis is being true to the missionary history of his order in taking to task the soulless, brain damaged human capital in the USA and EU. These damaged human beings—those who lead and the blind who follow–are the products of 13 years of global conflict, class war, propaganda, greed and exploitation of every conceivable kind. The Pope’s message was desperately needed and is a universal one that transcends the garb of religion–Catholic, Muslim or Buddhist. As Malcolm X said, “it is simply a matter of justice for [fellow] human beings.”
As a Jesuit Soldier of Jesus, Pope Francis is well aware that the quest for a better world will be a long and difficult struggle. His training prepared him for the campaign. Loyola, the founder of the Jesuit order, was a former military commander. It is no surprise that the Jesuits are sometimes referred to as the US Marine Corps of the Catholic Church, or that Pope Francis used a military metaphor in his Exhortation “…fervor is replaced by the empty pleasure of complacency and self-indulgence. This way of thinking also feeds the vainglory of those who are content to have a modicum of power and would rather be the general of a defeated army than a mere private in a unit which continues to fight.”
Pope Francis would seem to have enough to do in cleaning up the many well publicized troubles in his organization. He also has to convince some 1 billion-plus followers to stick with the Catholic Church. Even with all that on his plate, this Jesuit, this soldier, is compelled by his order to build a better world, not just a better religion. That’s a transcendent goal really. It requires souls filled with passion for the world and life. Is a God really needed for that to be achieved? Many believe so.
As Malcolm X said “it is simply a matter of justice for [fellow] human beings.” That’s a religion isn’t it?
Excerpts from Pope Francis’ Exhortation:
“Our world is being torn apart by wars and violence, and wounded by a widespread individualism which divides human beings, setting them against one another as they pursue their own well-being. In various countries, conflicts and old divisions from the past are re-emerging…The current financial crisis can make us overlook the fact that it originated in a profound human crisis: the denial of the primacy of the human person! We have created new idols. The worship of the ancient golden calf has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose. The worldwide crisis affecting finance and the economy lays bare their imbalances and, above all, their lack of real concern for human beings; man is reduced to one of his needs alone: consumption.
The need to resolve the structural causes of poverty cannot be delayed, not only for the pragmatic reason of its urgency for the good order of society, but because society needs to be cured of a sickness which is weakening and frustrating it, and which can only lead to new crises. Welfare projects, which meet certain urgent needs, should be considered merely temporary responses. As long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of inequality,no solution will be found for the world’s problems or, for that matter, to any problems. Inequality is the root of social ills.
The dignity of each human person and the pursuit of the common good are concerns which ought to shape all economic policies. At times, however, they seem to be a mere addendum imported from without in order to fill out a political discourse lacking in perspectives or plans for true and integral development. How many words prove irksome to this system! It is irksome when the question of ethics is raised, when global solidarity is invoked, when the distribution of goods is mentioned, when reference in made to protecting labor and defending the dignity of the powerless…Casual indifference in the face of such questions empties our lives and our words of all meaning…”
John Stanton is a writer from Virginia. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org