May 19, 2010

(III) Life in the Shadow of Death, and the Power of "No"

Part I: What the Monster Said

Part II: A Story for the Children: Making Friends with Evil

I. Instructions in the Early Morning

I suppose a typical conversation might go something like this. The two gentlemen in question are on the phone.
"Good morning, sir. How can I help you today?"

"I have a new list for you. It requires action quickly, by the end of the week."

"Yes, sir. We're always ready to see that your requirements are met expeditiously."

"Good, good. I appreciate that. Here are the names. Elizabeth Worth, Ben Lowell, Alan Wilmington, Stewart Roth, Mary Comstock, Anne Foley. And there was one more ... oh, yes, here it is. A completely insignificant person, but what the hell. Arthur Silber."

"And you'll be sending the usual identifying information, just to be certain we don't mistakenly go after the wrong person who happens to have the same name?"

"Of course. Good Lord, we wouldn't want anything to happen to the wrong person."

The two men laugh quietly. They always enjoy a good joke.

"And I assume the instructions are the same as before?"

"Yes. Kill them."
I suppose it could be as simple as that. Instead of my name, imagine that it's your name on the list. In principle, it could be. This is the power the president and his fellow criminals now claim: the power to murder any person, anywhere in the world, for any reason at all -- or for no reason whatsoever.

Most Americans -- and probably even many of you reading this -- don't want to think about this for too long, or about what it means. I know that because this claim of ultimate power is rarely even discussed. In one sense, I understand that. When I think about it myself, I often want to scream for minutes on end. I recognize that this wouldn't be terribly helpful, and that it could lead to a personal fate I would prefer to avoid. So I sometimes write little stories, or I use four-letter words. I do that so I don't scream. (Just yesterday, I was reminded that I've been writing my little stories for some time. Here's one from over three years ago: "Imagine." That's very good. I do say so myself. Be sure to follow the link at the very end -- but you should read the story I offer before doing so.)

The president and his designated agents can order any one of you murdered. Just because they feel like it. Just because they're bored. Just because ... they don't need any "because." They order you murdered -- and you're dead.

Just like that.

If you focus on this fact for several minutes, if you let the nature of the Death State in which you live become fully real, you'll want to scream, too.

II. The Power of "No"

It is crucial to appreciate the significance of our ignorance (often self-willed), denial and apathy to the monsters who rule us. If a substantial number of Americans acknowledged the great evil their government now embodies, they would protest in some manner. I desperately hope they would do so non-violently; the Death State possesses the most fearsome weapons ever known to mankind, and it has no hesitation about using them. Don't give them the excuse -- although I must note that even peaceful protest might well be construed by these monsters as a "reason" to unleash those weapons against those who object. It must be acknowledged once again that they require no reason at all.

In many respects, the United States has operated in this manner for over a century. Until recently, the Death State confined its worst devastation to countries abroad. But perhaps you now have a better understanding of what many Filipinos felt a hundred years ago, what other victims of the evil of the United States have felt in past decades, or what Iraqis have experienced during the U.S.-instigated genocide, and the terror that those who live in Afghanistan and Pakistan experience today.

As long as the basic goals of the ruling class remained unchanged, it was inevitable that these methods of operation would be brought home at some point. A few months ago, I heard Catherine Austin Fitts, who is sometimes a very perceptive and unusually honest observer of the insanity that swallows us up, describe the manner in which the U.S. ruling class has "harvested" the rest of the world. She pointed out that our ruling class today harvests its own citizens more aggressively and openly than it has before. Austin Fitts hopes that the horror of the harvesting now performed on the domestic front will cause the ruling class to reevaluate its aims and methods. The evidence to date strongly compels the conclusion that her hope is badly misplaced. The ruling class won't stop until there is nothing left to harvest. We have a long way to go before that point is reached.

I wrote about the inclusion of the domestic front in the ruling class's war on humanity in the fall of 2008. After discussing the brutal, murderous reality of U.S. actions abroad, I observed:
It is now critical to note a further implication of this murderous method of dealing with others. Just as it is not possible for an individual to restrict what constitutes a fundamental psychological methodology to only one area of his life, so a ruling class will not employ one approach in foreign policy while dealing with matters of domestic politics in a radically different manner. In any case, the U.S. ruling class never had such a desire: in one way or another, other nations would be made to submit to the demands of the U.S. government -- and the same is true for U.S. citizens. The citizens of America will do exactly as the ruling class demands -- or else. As far as the ruling class is concerned, you have as little reason to complain as the murdered Iraqis do: the ruling class only wishes to improve your life. The ruling class acts only on your behalf, and "for your own good."

You now witness these tactics of intimidation and of the most transparently, viciously manipulative fear-mongering deployed by almost every member of the ruling class in connection with the bailout bill. I will not rehearse another time all the reasons this bill will do nothing but hasten the economic destruction of the United States, or why it is supposedly designed to solve a problem that cannot be solved: begin with my most recent essay on this subject, and follow the links (or scroll through the last few weeks of posts) for much more. (In the following, I do not even mention the cruder and more obvious methods of intimidation now so beloved by our government. See an earlier essay -- "Obey or Die" --for just one kind of example of what the cruder methods entail.)

The words speak for themselves, but the purpose of these pronouncements should be emphasized: our rulers do not want to scare you to death, although your death would hardly approach a matter of any serious concern for them. While your death is not (necessarily) required, your obedience is. You will obey them -- or else.
Consult "Terrorist State, Abroad and at Home" for more on these issues.

Now we witness the logically necessary endpoint of these terrorist tactics. Or else ultimately can have only one meaning: you will obey -- or you will be murdered.

Your life -- or your death -- means nothing to the monsters who rule us. For the moment, you're worth slightly more to them alive. The labor and rapidly diminishing wealth you represent still have some value in their calculations. That can change. At some point, it probably will.

And what are you going to do? With very rare exceptions, not a damned thing. You will not choose the route of non-cooperation. You will not choose to say "No." If you chose in that manner, you might be on the next list. I don't criticize this course of action in every case (although I certainly do in some categories of cases, and not infrequently I strongly condemn it). I simply show you the operations of the nightmare.

ADDENDUM: While I was looking for a different essay, I happened upon an article I wrote in March 2008: "The Inbred Mendacity and Stupidity of the Ruling Class." I'd forgotten most of the details of that piece. I plan to say much more in the future about the great importance of non-cooperation and how powerful it can be. In that connection, I was interested to see one particular passage in the earlier essay.

I mentioned a post by James Benjamin, in which he discussed one of my fables, "The Tale that Might Be Told" and its implications. I went on to write:
One of Benjamin's observations is especially significant: "One might also take away from Silber's essay the idea that the elites need us much, much more than we 'need' them." Exactly. In fact, the full truth is far worse than that: it is only the slavish obedience to authority, the reluctance and refusal to break the goddamned rules and "cause trouble," that makes the elites and their hold on power possible. Take away that obedience, take away the refusal to deny the legitimacy of the ruling elites and their demands that all the rest of us support them in their rule, and they have nothing. The elites know that; most Americans don't.

It's long past time all Americans learned these facts. You can help them in that task: don't vote for any national elective office. (I don't think voting for a Kucinich or a Ron Paul is necessarily wrong; both men have offered many views with which I am in complete agreement. But voting for them is entirely futile, as events of the last year have demonstrated beyond all question. Moreover, voting for national politicians like them implicitly gives credence to the idea that fundamental opposition is possible within the system -- when it is not. In that sense, I think voting for them is a grave mistake.) If there are some local and state issues or politicians you can support in good conscience -- which is to say, issues and politicians that challenge the status quo rather than supporting it -- okay. But nothing else.

The ruling class is corrupt, immoral, deadly, and entirely illegitimate. Their greatest fear is that you will realize it. Let them know in every way you can, and certainly in November, that you've figured out their con.

Call them on their shit. Then make them lie down in it. And then, ignore them.
My statement that the ruling class has "nothing" if and when a critical number of people refuse to obey (i.e., when they choose non-cooperation) doesn't contradict my observations concerning the weapons our rulers could use against those who don't obey. The "nothing" refers to the ultimate foundation of the elites' power; the weapons they possess represent only one aspect of the day-to-day operations of that power, as terrible as that particular aspect is.

And it cannot be overemphasized that peaceful non-cooperation can be enormously effective against even the most vicious of totalitarian regimes: see here and here for some astonishing and inspiring examples of that effectiveness from fairly recent history. From the first of those links, carefully note this: "[I]n the end almost all Danish Jews escaped unharmed."

The power of "No" is far, far greater than most people ever permit themselves to understand.