Who’s Afraid of a Naked Emperor?


Fear is a strange thing.  As the war on terror began, the US started dropping bombs on Middle Eastern countries.  They killed tons of people. They literally destroyed countries.  And we got this thing called Islamophobia.  They say that people are scared of Muslims.

In 1990, Public Enemy released an album called Fear of a Black Planet.  It was a great album.  I listened to it so many times.  The title track was about people being scared of black people.  I think the meaning is clearer today thanks to the Black Lives Matter movement responding to the police killings, gentrification, mass incarceration, institutionalized racism and so on.  But the tendency has been always with us.  People are scared of black people while black people have been subjected to horrendous mistreatments of police brutality, racism, lynching and slavery.  But it has been the non blacks who are scared.

Today, we have Russophobia.  Smart, respectable people make fun of Russian people as if it’s a duty, a slight bow to the establishment just to make sure that they belong and are being obedient.  The President of the United States says upfront that Russia is weak, small and no one wants anything from them except for oil, gas and arms, and so on.

Capitalism forces the people to play an intricate game of musical chairs in which people fight each other for artificial scarcity.  Any disruptions of their given privileges in the artificial hierarchy enforced by money and violence would freak people out, making them defensive, suspicious and divisive.  I think that is the source of many of our political disputes.  And since they are firmly within the framework of the corporate party domination and devoid of the intention to solve the problem of the wasting hierarchy, they won’t amount to any constructive solution.  For example, people are encouraged to argue about different kinds of health insurance they can have instead of a fully state funded healthcare service for all.  As a result, those who are below in the hierarchy are kicked in the heads and those who are above are kissed in the asses.  The siphoning system ensures the flow of the capital to the 1% at the top.  And from the top comes down the instructions as to who to worship and who to trash.

I believe that it comes down to the fact we have homelessness, racism, sexism, poverty, drug addictions, wars, mass incarceration, gentrification, police killings and other issues of our time in an extraordinary proportion because of capitalism functioning to form the hierarchy and keep accumulating wealth at the top.  The Western nations have been embracing capitalism as a guiding principle of the empire.  I want the world to be peaceful and filled with kindness, sharing and caring among all of us.  I think that sort of stuff should be the guiding principle instead.  I like what Richard Wolff, one of the most prominent economists and thinkers, says about how to change our society from a capitalist one to a truly a democratic one.  He talks about dismantling hierarchical economic structures and bringing them down to the communities and real needs of the people by implementing cooperative ownership of business enterprises.  That way, people become responsible for the economic decisions that are tied to their communities, environment and their real needs.  I think we should all hear what he has to say.  Here is his web site.

Anyway, our prospect for the future, if we keep the same trajectory, is not good.  For one thing, more of us will become unnecessary as workers as the new technologies replace us.  The question we must ask is:  should anybody exclusively own ideas or technologies that stem from generations of accomplishments belonging to the whole fields of science, biology, agriculture, architecture, politics, physics, psychology, medicine and so on?  If the powerful few monopolized those, isn’t that a form of a colonization?  I think those ideas should be our collective assets that we can all benefit from, just as the resources from the planet should belong to all of us and human rights should be for all of us.  Well, obviously, considering the path of our “civilization” it will have to be quite a change.  But are we ready to give up everything?

You see, the “owners” of the nations don’t seem to really need people that much already.  Think about what they’ve done to countries like Iraq, Afghanistan or Libya. They call them failed states.  They steal resources from them and build military bases out of them but they don’t really seem to show an urgent need to turn them into viable economies with labor forces, markets and so on.  They do sell them weapons so that violence stays the solutions, which of course ensures superiority of the US as the world’s only super power.  According to a document published by the United States Army War College, implementation of such a denigrating scheme against major cities across the globe as “inescapable” at some point in the future.

In short, our lives today are getting cheaper and cheaper.  This, along with the need to squeeze people harder to produce profits according to the demand of the stock holders, is reflected in the general decline of the economic well being of the people.  The tendency can be observed in the general willingness of the ruling class to deprive human rights on many levels.  Perhaps, they feel that they can afford to deprive education, healthcare, housing and so on from the people, since less people are needed for their factories.

Is it just for the rich and powerful to monopolize enormous profits generated by robots, artificial intelligence and biotechnologies which are the culminations of our achievements as a species?

The answer should be obvious.  The changing dynamics in the economic structure must accompany necessary changes to ensure human rights and integrity of the environment for all life forms.  Those who have the grip on the collective assets knew what has been going on all along.  That’s why the western nations have been obsessed with destroying so many nations which called themselves socialists or communists.

I believe it has been the time for a while to stop seeing such a topic as an ideological issue.  We must see it as a fact with numerous evidences with countless instances to prove that what we embrace as the system is a direct descendant of a feudalism.  And it is killing our species as well as others while accelerating the catastrophe of the climate change.  It is imperative that we the human species come to a collective realization to bring about a structural change to do away with a system with capitalism as a driving force.

But please allow me to get back to the topic of fear; we have a Russophobia cultivated by the western nations today.  Hundreds of the Western military bases that surround Russia keep reinforcing their military powers while economic and political sanctions are enforced against Russia.  It is obvious that the country is targeted for western exploitation and subjugation.  The demonization of its leader comes as a package.

As President Obama stated, Russia might not be as strong as the Western coalition with only 1/13 of the military budget of the NATO forces, however, Russia is a fully nuclear armed nation.

Regarding nuclear weapons, I know something as someone who grew up in Japan.  Unfortunately, regrettably, the history seems to indicate that the nuclear weapons which were dropped in Hiroshima and Nagasaki were very effective in incorporating imperial Japan into the Western empire.  After enduring sacrifices forced upon its people with enormous death toll, dropping of nuclear bombs and fire bombings on the major cities, Japan had become a vital part of the Western imperial projects against Korea, Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines and nations across the globe including the ones Imperial Japan had violated and subjugated.  Those people in the US establishment certainly remember the result as a promising one.  The $1 trillion project to renew the nuclear arsenal in the US clearly substantiates its willingness to keep such an option on the table.

But of course, no degree of a capitalist imperative or a deranged desire to rule over the planet would convince anyone with a common sense in picking a fight with a nuclear armed country which has been subjected to numerous invasions only to prove itself to be a formidable contender.  But of course, we are talking about those who joke about drone killings, laugh at the brutal death of the Libyan leader or managed to declare that it was worth it to kill half million Iraqi children before the country become a killing field for the Islamic State.

I don’t really know how the current momentum against Russia will eventually materialize.  It might just turn out to be a way to contain options for the upcoming Republican president Donald Trump who has been expressing a reluctance to demonize Russia.  Or, the momentum will be shifted against China–another nuclear armed nation.  After all, It was the Obama administration with Hillary Clinton’s initiative to shift its strategic emphasis to the pacific to put pressure against China militarily and economically.

But in any case, frankly speaking, I just think it is just outrageous and unbearable that we live under the hegemony of the warring empire.  Everything seems to be built with lies.  And they are forcefully backed by 17 spy agencies and 1000 military bases.  It makes me feel dirty and violated just to talk about the allegation of Russians intervening in US politics. I mean, the US overthrows governments.  OVERTHROWS them!  It’s been lying to destroy so many governments that there is even a term for it–regime change.  And the allegation of the Russian intervention comes from the lying central–CIA, FBI and so on, which has assisted the US interventions of 81 elections in foreign countries.  So this baseless allegation against Russia is the excuse for the intervention against Russia and the allegation is coming from the people who intervene in foreign governments by deadly force.  So, this is basically a thief pointing a gun to your head telling you that the victim is the thief.

We can’t do this any more.  Yes, it is scary. But we must face the fact that the real fear is not coming from Russia, Trump, Muslims, Blacks or anyone who gets in the way of the empire but it is coming from the empire itself.  It is OK to imagine a different tomorrow.  In fact we must.

Hiroyuki Hamada is an artist. He has exhibited throughout the United States and in Europe and is represented by Lori Bookstein Fine Art. He has been awarded various residencies including those at the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, the Edward F. Albee Foundation/William Flanagan Memorial Creative Person’s Center, the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, and the MacDowell Colony. In 1998 Hamada was the recipient of a Pollock Krasner Foundation grant, and in 2009 he was awarded a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship. He lives and works in New York.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine



zen economics

February 20, 2017
Bruce E. Levine
Humiliation Porn: Trump’s Gift to His Faithful…and Now the Blowback
Melvin Goodman
“Wag the Dog,” Revisited
Robert Hunziker
Fukushima: a Lurking Global Catastrophe?
David Smith-Ferri
Resistance and Resolve in Russia: Memorial HRC
Kenneth Surin
Global India?
Norman Pollack
Fascistization Crashing Down: Driving the Cleaver into Social Welfare
Patrick Cockburn
Trump v. the Media: a Fight to the Death
Susan Babbitt
Shooting Arrows at Heaven: Why is There Debate About Battle Imagery in Health?
Matt Peppe
New York Times Openly Promotes Formal Apartheid Regime By Israel
David Swanson
Understanding Robert E. Lee Supporters
Michael Brenner
The Narcissism of Donald Trump
Martin Billheimer
Capital of Pain
Thomas Knapp
Florida’s Shenanigans Make a Great Case for (Re-)Separation of Ballot and State
Jordan Flaherty
Best Films of 2016: Black Excellence Versus White Mediocrity
Weekend Edition
February 17, 2017
Friday - Sunday
David Price
Rogue Elephant Rising: The CIA as Kingslayer
Matthew Stevenson
Is Trump the Worst President Ever?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Flynn?
John Wight
Brexit and Trump: Why Right is Not the New Left
Diana Johnstone
France: Another Ghastly Presidential Election Campaign; the Deep State Rises to the Surface
Neve Gordon
Trump’s One-State Option
Roger Harris
Emperor Trump Has No Clothes: Time to Organize!
Joan Roelofs
What Else is Wrong with Globalization
Andrew Levine
Why Trump’s Muslim Travel Ban?
Mike Whitney
Blood in the Water: the Trump Revolution Ends in a Whimper
Vijay Prashad
Trump, Turmoil and Resistance
Ron Jacobs
U.S. Imperial War Personified
David Swanson
Can the Climate Survive Adherence to War and Partisanship?
Andre Vltchek
Governor of Jakarta: Get Re-elected or Die!
Patrick Cockburn
The Coming Destruction of Mosul
Norman Pollack
Self-Devouring Reaction: Governmental Impasse
Steve Horn
What Do a Louisiana Pipeline Explosion and Dakota Access Pipeline Have in Common? Phillips 66
Brian Saady
Why Corporations are Too Big to Jail in the Drug War
Graham Peebles
Ethiopia: Peaceful Protest to Armed Uprising
Luke Meyer
The Case of Tony: Inside a Lifer Hearing
Binoy Kampmark
Adolf, The Donald and History
Robert Koehler
The Great American Awakening
Murray Dobbin
Canadians at Odds With Their Government on Israel
Fariborz Saremi
A Whole New World?
Joyce Nelson
Japan’s Abe, Trump & Illegal Leaks
Christopher Brauchli
Trump 1, Tillerson 0
Yves Engler
Is This Hate Speech?
Dan Bacher
Trump Administration Exempts Three CA Oil Fields From Water Protection Rule at Jerry Brown’s Request
Richard Klin
Solid Gold
Melissa Garriga
Anti-Abortion and Anti-Fascist Movements: More in Common Than Meets the Eye
Thomas Knapp
The Absurd Consequences of a “Right to Privacy”