Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Spring Fund Drive: Keep CounterPunch Afloat
CounterPunch is a lifeboat of sanity in today’s turbulent political seas. Please make a tax-deductible donation and help us continue to fight Trump and his enablers on both sides of the aisle. Every dollar counts!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

An Encyclopedia of Wretchedness

Most US residents seem to operate under the illusion that they are free. They are also pretty certain that their economy and military are the most powerful in the world. Holding these beliefs rules their interactions with each other and the world at large. Those interactions are best described as hubris. There is perhaps no better example of this than the man running for president of the United States known as Donald Trump. Indeed, although the hubris he exhibits is beyond the pale for most of his fellow citizens, he does have a fair number who agree with his arrogance and egocentrism. However, just because the rest of the nation finds Trump to be a boorish jerk does not mean they do not operate with assumptions quite similar to his when it comes to their nation’s place in the world and its relationship to that world.

Underlying these assumptions is a history soaked in bloody violence. From the early wars against the indigenous tribes the first Englishmen found along the Atlantic Coast of the North American continent to the imperial adventures of today, the folks (mostly white men) who rule the United States have never refused to use violence to get what they wanted. This historical reality is directly related to a lust for land and a desire to maximize profits. The patterns of investment by the wealthy and their bankers are directly and indirectly related to the wars US residents end up fighting. The wars are not accidental and the methods the rulers use to get us to fight them are just as intentional as the wars themselves.pb5427

Marc Pilisuk and Jennifer Achord Rountree make this quite clear in their recently released book The Hidden Structure of Violence: Who Benefits from Violence and War. Originally published in 2007 under the title Who Benefits from Global Violence and War: Uncovering a Destructive System, this new, substantially revised title examines the networks, cultural and social psychology, and political and economic structures behind our contemporary reality. The picture the authors paint is disturbing, to say the least. Essentially an examination of modern US imperialism, the text uses the language of game theory and networks analysis to examine the world of economic inequality and military madness we cannot seem to escape from. From Henry Kissinger’s Latin American coups to Bill and Melinda Gates’ tax-saving philanthropic AIDS work that funnels most of their cash to big pharmaceutical companies, the mechanisms of neoliberal capitalism are laid out in all their complexities.

As I am writing this, the Pentagon is telling a different lie (from the one they told previously) to explain their recent bombing of a neutral hospital run by Medicin sans Frontiers doctors in Afghanistan–a land which is the site of the longest combat operation in US history. In an incredibly obvious example of the interconnectedness of the military, corporate America and the mainstream media, the NBC network explained away the entire incident on an evening news broadcast by telling its viewers: (I paraphrase here) “If the Afghans had done their job, then the US wouldn’t have been in the area and bombed the hospital.” Not only does this reasoning ignore the nature of the US intervention in Afghanistan, it is a prime example of Washington’s ongoing narrative that blames the victim for their tragedy, thereby exonerating the US forces (and citizens) of any culpability in the crimes of war.

Of course, the objective truth is if the US wasn’t there at all this would not have happened at all. Neither would have several other war crimes in that dirty little war. Like police departments explaining why their officers murder unarmed civilians, the military obfuscates the circumstances of its criminal actions without ever acknowledging its responsibility. The media does its job by repeating the lies and attacking the dead.

In a long discussion of US Christianity, capitalism and the myth of rural life in America near the book’s end, Pilisuk and Rountree examine the similarities and differences between these elements of the US psyche and the myths of the German Volk in the wake of their nation’s defeat in World War One; myths manipulated by Hitler and the Nazis in their rise to power and the creation of the Third Reich. The scenario described in these pages is frightening both because of its apparent truths and the fact that is the historical moment we are now living in.

Most of us know something is wrong in the USA. The current candidates for president are more than happy to tell us that. Of course, their understanding of it is limited by the nature of their backers and their politics. None of them, from the almost-fascist Donald Trump to the right-wing lunatics in the GOP and the social democrat Bernie Sanders, seem to be ready to get to the nitty gritty of the situation. In other words, none of them are going to tell us it is the system they all hope to be president of that is the problem behind our current reality. That task, it seems, is up to us.

More articles by:

Ron Jacobs is the author of Daydream Sunset: Sixties Counterculture in the Seventies published by CounterPunch Books. His latest offering is a pamphlet titled Capitalism: Is the Problem.  He lives in Vermont. He can be reached at: ronj1955@gmail.com.

Weekend Edition
May 25, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
A Major Win for Trump’s War Cabinet
Andrew Levine
Could Anything Cause the GOP to Dump Trump?
Pete Tucker
Is the Washington Post Soft on Amazon?
Conn Hallinan
Iran: Sanctions & War
Jeffrey St. Clair
Out of Space: John McCain, Telescopes and the Desecration of Mount Graham
John Laforge
Senate Puts CIA Back on Torture Track
David Rosen
Santa Fe High School Shooting: an Incel Killing?
Gary Leupp
Pompeo’s Iran Speech and the 21 Demands
Jonathan Power
Bang, Bang to Trump
Robert Fisk
You Can’t Commit Genocide Without the Help of Local People
Brian Cloughley
Washington’s Provocations in the South China Sea
Louis Proyect
Requiem for a Mountain Lion
Robert Fantina
The U.S. and Israel: a Match Made in Hell
Kevin Martin
The Libya Model: It’s Not Always All About Trump
Susie Day
Trump, the NYPD and the People We Call “Animals”
Pepe Escobar
How Iran Will Respond to Trump
Sarah Anderson
When CEO’s Earn 5,000 Times as Much as a Company’s Workers
Ralph Nader
Audit the Outlaw Military Budget Draining America’s Necessities
Chris Wright
The Significance of Karl Marx
David Schultz
Indict or Not: the Choice Mueller May Have to Make and Which is Worse for Trump
George Payne
The NFL Moves to Silence Voices of Dissent
Razan Azzarkani
America’s Treatment of Palestinians Has Grown Horrendously Cruel
Katalina Khoury
The Need to Evaluate the Human Constructs Enabling Palestinian Genocide
George Ochenski
Tillerson, the Truth and Ryan Zinke’s Interior Department
Jill Richardson
Our Immigration Debate Needs a Lot More Humanity
Martha Rosenberg
Once Again a Slaughterhouse Raid Turns Up Abuses
Judith Deutsch
Pension Systems and the Deadly Hand of the Market
Shamus Cooke
Oregon’s Poor People’s Campaign and DSA Partner Against State Democrats
Thomas Barker
Only a Mass Struggle From Below Can End the Bloodshed in Palestine
Binoy Kampmark
Australia’s China Syndrome
Missy Comley Beattie
Say “I Love You”
Ron Jacobs
A Photographic Revenge
Saurav Sarkar
War and Moral Injury
Clark T. Scott
The Shell Game and “The Bank Dick”
Seth Sandronsky
The State of Worker Safety in America
Thomas Knapp
Making Gridlock Great Again
Manuel E. Yepe
The US Will Have to Ask for Forgiveness
Laura Finley
Stop Blaming Women and Girls for Men’s Violence Against Them
Rob Okun
Raising Boys to Love and Care, Not to Kill
Christopher Brauchli
What Conflicts of Interest?
Winslow Myers
Real Security
George Wuerthner
Happy Talk About Weeds
Abel Cohen
Give the People What They Want: Shame
David Yearsley
King Arthur in Berlin
Douglas Valentine
Memorial Day
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail