The destruction of society

The root of society is a woman giving birth to a child. No one looking at that root could fail to see the ability of one life to affect another or the changes wrought in one individual by interaction with another. A mother’s autonomy, free will and physiology are thoroughly disrupted by the experience. Hormonal changes in the mother can create an overwhelming urge to nurture and protect a strange and separate human or an overwhelming urge to kill the helpless infant. With lactation, mood altering hormones can stay with the mother for years and the act of giving birth leaves lifelong effects. There is evidence that cells from the fetus cross over and remain in the mother’s body, possibly influencing her physiology for years and transferring cells to younger siblings.[cite] There are also indications that the fetus may receive DNA from not just their father but also previous men their mother received sperm from[cite]. The physical reality of an autonomous individual created by parasiting off another person and receiving input from many more, not just before birth but for years after, is a microcosm of society. Life is not an individual achievement but a continuum passed from one generation to the next through a vast number of life forms. Society is a network of dependencies.

Once communities are destroyed, families are the only society preventing children from growing up completely dissociated or as sociopaths. In stratified societies, particularly those heavily dependent on trade economy, women had their roles more restricted and were treated less as community members and more as possessions. Trade inherently favours those not performing the lifegiving and caregiving roles in society so power concentrated in men everywhere trade flourished. As women and their labour became more and more a possession that men could buy, women’s lives were more restricted and they were more guarded as the possessions of one man. With that isolation came a loss of community in almost every case unless a man could afford more than one wife. The treatment of women varied greatly under the trade economy, but because Europe spread the third age of supranational empires around the world, the pattern for industrial destruction of families still followed everywhere today follows the one set in Europe.

Where all had previously worked together in a society, waged labour created class warfare and a new master-servant relationship between men and women. Men had autonomy through land replaced by autonomy through wages and women were now unpaid slaves. With the destruction of peasant society, women lost their communal support network. A woman had to either manage a job in the trade economy while also being solely responsible for societal support or accept work as a slave to her own husband and family, with even her wages from the trade economy often being paid to her husband. Frequently, there was no choice of independence from marriage for women. Men were reduced to working all day away from their family to purchase their admittance into it. Family relationships which had, once established, been purely social were now monetized and deeply humiliating and divisive to all.

The division of men and women was the most important class division, the one which enabled the commodification of all the most basic dependencies and destroyed the possibility of horizontal society.

European history is usually written as a history of the inexorable progress of the trade economy, depicted as civilization. The peasant rebellions and resistance between the fall of the Western Roman Empire and the resurgence of trade following the raids on Constantinople is largely depicted as a blank spot called Europe’s Dark Ages. Endless battles and insurrections and powerful networks of horizontal collaboration are buried in a history which reads as Thomas Carlyle’s “Biography of Great Men”.[cite]

The communalist movement that existed in the eleventh and twelfth centuries … was the complete negation of the unitarian, centralizing Roman outlook with which history is explained in our university curricula. Nor is it linked to any historic personality, or to any central institution. – Kropotkiniv[cite]

The decline of the Western Roman Empire brought increasing resistance from peasants to those who sought to enclose and control their land use and acquire their labour. Slavery had evolved into serfdom in most places in Europe and many people had far greater autonomy, their own land plus the commons, solidarity and community. The Magna Carta[cite] was first signed in 1215 and the Charter of the Forest[cite] in 1217. Centralized power under the Catholic church was being challenged by Martin Luther and the Protestants preaching spiritual freedom. The peasants had diversity and society and were fighting to maintain autonomy. Silvia Federici calls the heretic movements of the 11-13th centuries the first “proletarian international” and she describes the heretics “liberation theology” which “denounced social hierarchies, private property and the accumulation of wealth” and disseminated “a new revolutionary conception of society that … redefined every aspect of daily life (work, property, sexual reproduction and the position of women) posing the question of emancipation in truly universal terms.”[cite] The Cathars saw the spirit as being sexless and gendered roles as illogical.viii

The Beguines of the 12th century also created a society of horizontal collaboration among womenix, devoted to prayer and good works but free of subjection by the church or any other hierarchy, as did the smaller male Beghard communities. The Mirror of Simple Souls[cite], by Beguine Marguerite Porete in the early 14th-century, was written in French and intended to make religious teachings accessible, unlike the church’s Latin. During a time when the Catholic church acted as the sole NGO, collecting money for the poor and keeping it for themselves, these women were threatening the church coffers. Women were also, according to Federici, a major force behind the later peasant revolts during food shortages and other troubles as they seldom had the option of leaving and were responsible for the caretaking of children and others. Women who were part of the families and communities they were healers in were also less likely to act in the interests of the powerful over the health of their families. Isabel Pérez Molina writes[cite] “… witches-healers … advised people to control their consumption of sugar, since they had detected illnesses related to such consumption. However, for the Church, which had interests in the sugar industry, it was in its interest for consumption to increase, not the other way round.”

In the mid 13th century, the old silk road reopened under the Pax Mongolica. European traders demanded increased production and more control over both the workers and the production of workers, but at the same time, the Black Death killed a third of Europe’s population. There were two outcomes of the increased desire for labour. First, women were blamed for their failure to produce a work force. Second, Europe became a major player in the slave trade. In response to the first, the church and capitalists sought to establish corporate control over childbirth and respond to the rising egalitarian threat by dividing the previously united peasants.

The power of life and death was largely the domain of women in medieval Europe as they were the keepers of medicinal knowledge and the medical practitioners. They were also the midwives and the people who performed abortions and taught contraception so they controlled the production of the labour force. With industry demanding more workers, women’s bodies, no less than foreign continents, became the site of a capitalist war for resources. By 1484, when Pope Innocent VIII issued a papal bull approving the Inquisition, women were clearly defined as capitalism’s first terrorist threat, accused of having “slain infants yet in the mother’s womb … hinder men from performing the sexual act and women from conceiving”.[cite] A heretic who recanted was made to embroider a bundle of sticks (a faggot) to their sleeve in reminder of the fire they had escaped and may yet suffer. The term once used against argumentative women is now used as a pejorative against homosexuals, the other targeted practitioners of non-reproductive sex. The women healers had used sedatives and other drugs to assist in childbirth, but the church also decided that was against God’s will that women give birth in pain and die frequently in childbirth.[cite] As of 2012, almost 800 women die in pregnancy or childbirth every day.[cite] The Catholic church today still spends far more time objecting to abortion than to murder.

Between the twelfth and the seventeenth centuries, the witch hunt which raged over Europe and the Americas killed untold numbers of women and indigenous healers who practiced medicine or had medical knowledge at the same time that the institution of all male professional medicine was being established. The medical knowledge taught in the universities established in the twelfth century was primarily a study of the works of Galen and Hippocratesxv and included little to no practical experience. The professional practice consisted of little more than blood letting and incantations by the church with confession required before treatment. The universities commodified care for society members into a product to make the Catholic church more wealthy, much as the medical industry has continued to put corporate wealth over medical care today. The execution of all female and indigenous practitioners and forbidding of all old knowledge was to establish a monopoly over the most important societal knowledge, the power over life and death. What is billed as The Birth of Modern Medicine was really the death of all women’s knowledge and most importantly, the death of women’s control over their own reproductive destinies.

As medical education in Europe became regulated and restricted to men, the women previously known as wise women who traveled and taught others were condemned as gossips. The word gossip, which once meant friend, was turned into a vice and churches warned of women’s idle tongues. In the words of the Malleus Malleficarum , “they have slippery tongues, and are unable to conceal from the fellow-women those things which by evil arts they know”.[cite] Entire networks of learning were dismantled as these women were named witches and tortured to reveal their networks of trade and knowledge sharing in an apparent attempt to genetically cull daring or intelligent women. Daughters were made to watch their mothers burn and sometimes received lashes in front of their mother’s fires in warning.[cite] The women’s networks had also been used to spread information between villages. In centralizing control over medicine and education and isolating women, the church also controlled horizontal communication. Traveling healers were replaced by traveling priests and professional doctors. Peasant rebellions would find neither a sympathetic conduit for information.

In an interesting parallel to today’s terrorism laws, witchcraft was also deemed a crimen exceptum[cite] with far less rights for prisoners, interrogation under torture, death sentences for suspicion of offence and inquisitions which sought new names to prosecute. Then as now, the new medical professionals played a significant part as ‘expert witnesses’ for the prosecution. The demonization of women was also greatly helped by the teachings of their professional rivals who brought back such Hippocratic favourites as female hysteria (still a very popular diagnosis for any woman who speaks in public) and the wandering womb, described by Aretaeus: “In the middle of the flanks of women lies the womb, a female viscus, closely resembling an animal; for it is moved of itself hither and thither in the flanks, also upwards in a direct line to below the cartilage of the thorax, and also obliquely to the right or to the left, either to the liver or the spleen, and it likewise is subject to prolapsus downwards, and in a word, it is altogether erratic. It delights also in fragrant smells, and advances towards them; and it has an aversion to fetid smells, and flees from them; and, on the whole, the womb is like an animal within an animal.”[cite] It is hard not to be reminded of politicians in the United States today who claim that women’s bodies are full of hundreds of tiny dead babies.[cite]

Current history describes the Inquisition as primarily religious persecution despite the fact that the overwhelming majority of victims were women of all faiths. The popularly known victims who were persecuted for their beliefs, the ones taught in schools today, are scientists such as Galileo and Copernicus who both lived to very old age and continued to work. The hundreds of thousands or millions of women and indigenous and enslaved South Americans killed are unmentioned. All of the texts at the time of the Inquisition made clear, the primary target was women (and in South America, indigenous and slave cultures) and their professional knowledge. The Inquisition was not, as it is depicted today, an attack against men of science, it was an attack for and by men of science.

It is still not acceptable to today’s corporations to mention the gynocide that put them in control or the dissociated structure that exists more than ever today as medical knowledge is not just centrally controlled but also copyrighted and patented. A search for the history of western medicine will jump straight from Hippocrates to the twelfth century with all of the intervening knowledge photoshopped out, dismissed as old wives’ tales with no recognition of the fact that it provided health care for all of Europe for centuries.

At the same time that women saw their own bodies turned into workhouses to enslave them and lost autonomy over their own bodies, the trade economy made all work not traded to the powerful for a wage unrecognized. The World Bank today still speaks of women entering the workforce and contributing labour when they enter the trade economy. Worker’s movements centre around waged workers and men’s rights activists insist more men die on the job because the occupational hazards of childbirth and marriage aren’t considered jobs. Laws protecting against forced labour and slavery do not include motherhood. According to the World Health Organization, 287 000 women die in childbirth every year.[cite] All United States combat casualties in all wars ever come to 848,163.[cite]

The erasure of value from women’s work was necessary for the enslavement of women. The enslavement of women was necessary for outside ownership of their bodies, the factories producing the labour force.

 

Excerpted from Autonomy, Diversity, Society. Citations will be transferred when I get a minute.

World War III: A state of mind

A continuation of thoughts from World War III: Pillage and plunder. Earlier: World War III: A status update (2014), World War III: A picture (2012), and A Stateless War (2010)

“WHENEVER those states which have been acquired as stated have been accustomed to live under their own laws and in freedom, there are three courses for those who wish to hold them: the first is to ruin them, the next is to reside there in person, the third is to permit them to live under their own laws, drawing a tribute, and establishing within it an oligarchy which will keep it friendly to you;

but when cities or countries are accustomed to live under a prince, and his family is exterminated, they, being on the one hand accustomed to obey and on the other hand not having the old prince, cannot agree in making one from amongst themselves, and they do not know how to govern themselves. For this reason they are very slow to take up arms, and a prince can gain them to himself and secure them much more easily.” – The Prince, Niccolò Machiavelli (1532)

The new global empire is possible because recent history and overwhelming media coercion have rendered the majority of the world incapable of self-governance. The populations described in the first paragraph have almost all transitioned through the three recommended coercive structures and they are now the second type which Machiavelli identified as easily controlled from a remote centre. Outside of a very few, very isolated nations, there is no longer anything close to freedom or self-governance anywhere on earth and memories and belief in its possibility have all but been erased.

In the power, wealth and celebrity ponzi schemes that dictate our relations today, conflict is always between the top and the bottom. The only points of conflict between power centres occur when one is absorbing another and these events are not particularly important. The majority of those at the top usually remain there and those at the bottom almost always do. Nationalist rhetoric notwithstanding, it matters not at all whether the headquarters is in Beijing, London, Rome or Cusco if there is no self-governance. The ponzi scheme of power which once upheld the Great Men of Machiavellian city states is now scaled to uphold the first truly global empire, but the principles and players remain the same. The Great Men of oligarchies have always been upheld by a cohesive block of commoners with common goals and fears which can be easily manipulated by those in power.

Thought reform

The crack in the monopoly on education and media has created a surge of independent thought which may finally dissolve the club of cohesive democratic power which has kept Great Men in power for centuries. With no middle class there will be no oligarchy. – Me, Commoners and how they are coerced

In the west, laws supporting freedom of thought, expression and debate once contrasted with the communist constitutions which put ideology ahead of individual thought. Western media and Hollywood were all powerful, allowing the five eyes to use censorship by noise instead of Chinese style censorship by blocking. Freedom of the western corporate press also aided the empire in controlling the governance of foreign states by seductive coercion. Insisting on ‘press freedom’ throughout their empire ensured their influence was impossible to counter. China’s recent investment in media in Africa acknowledges that this is still the case in parts of the world.

Social media has in a few years drastically changed the amount of ideas and the sources which people can be exposed to. All of the anti-US governments in South America were early and heavy users of social media and the US is just catching up with getting their propaganda on social media as dominant as it was in the South American corporate press. Governments around the world are finding that neither their propaganda efforts nor censorship are enough to counter real grass roots movements or to stop ideas which may spread virally on their own. In addition to legislation countering free speech when it appears on social media under the guise of countering ‘trolling’, new forms of blocking which go beyond technology and reach the individual sources of thought are being implemented.

The concept of ‘terrorism’ has been used to justify thought reform globally. While ‘terrorism’ still nebulously relates to an act, the designation of ‘terrorist’ does not and rights can be stripped with no trial or notice based on such a designation. The designation of terrorist can be based simply on group affiliation and terrorism acts now include expression of forbidden thought.

In Canada, terrorism is defined as an act or omission committed “in whole or in part for a political, religious or ideological purpose, objective or cause” with the intention of intimidating the public “…with regard to its security, including its economic security, or compelling a person, a government or a domestic or an international organization to do or to refrain from doing any act.”

In the UK, terrorism refers to the use and threat of action “designed to influence the government or to intimidate the public or a section of the public” and “made for the purpose of advancing a political, religious or ideological cause.”

In Australia terrorism is “an act or threat, intended to advance a political, ideological or religious cause by coercing or intimidating an Australian or foreign government or the public.”

Unlike the definitions in the US and EU, which include such qualifiers as ‘seriously intimidating’, ‘unduly compelling’ or ‘violation of the criminal laws’, both Canada and the UK have designated any attempt to influence the government, the public, or any section of the public for a political, religious or ideological purpose as terrorism. While you may not go to prison for attempting to persuade your neighbour to boycott Israeli products you can certainly be designated a terrorist, put on a watch list, lose your citizenship rights and possibly be arrested in any state which shares (or steals) intelligence from these governments. Neither do you have to be expressing ideas deemed dangerous to the corporate states, simply listening to them is enough. Criminalizing ideas allows states to declare war against segments of their own population and strip them of citizenship and rights of due process.

Since there is no terrorist act not also committed regularly by the governments of the world, the only thing separating the terrorists from the corporate states is the phrase “for a political, religious or ideological purpose”. State actors commit all the same acts in pursuit of power, celebrity and wealth. Actions taken for personal gain or as a result of following orders are not criminalized, the same acts motivated by social participation and expression of independent thought are.

Laws once focused on actions and a wealthy adult who stole a loaf of bread was to be judged in the exact same manner as a starving child. Recently, the focus has turned to judging the individual and their motivations for an act, allowing extenuating circumstances such as youth, insanity and other personal factors to influence judgements. Now we have progressed to judging motivations without any associated actions. We have attained a state where thoughts alone can be criminal.

Laws have been passed calling all citizens defending themselves or their environment terrorists. The Canadian Minister of Public Safety targets “domestic extremism based on grievances – real or perceived – revolving around the promotion of various causes such as animal rights … environmentalism and anti-capitalism.” Self defence is terrorism. Citizen armies have been replaced by corporate security worldwide and international trade agreements ensure there is no longer any regional authority over regional resources. Refugees whose homes have been destroyed are jailed for migration from places where they are dying. The mass refugee movement caused by corporate plunder is advertised as ‘asylum seeking’ or ‘illegal immigration’. The people corporate terrorism is driving to desperation are those who will help militias designated as terrorists expand, fed by the drugs, weapons and human traffickers.

Terrorists against corporations act for a political, religious or ideological cause. Terrorists against the people act for power, celebrity and wealth. Self-governance includes stewardship and use of the environment and its products by the user group. Any control or ownership outside the user group is enemy occupation, not self-governance.

The motivations designated by corporate states as terrorist are all those leading to resistance from corporate plunder. Wherever we see the corporate hold on seductive coercion weakening and being diluted by other players we also see them increasingly reverting to old methods of hard coercion. The designation of terrorism has been used to allow methods so extreme they were very recently only found in the deep shadows, now openly brought forward to combat those whose thoughts have slipped out from under corporate control. Not only the torture and abuse of individuals but the mass extermination of entire populations through disease, starvation, environmental destruction and war have renewed acceptance among the most powerful.

From the passive aggression of ignoring perfectly foreseeable crises like the Ebola epidemic and starvation in the Sahel to militia wars where corporate powers supply all sides, environmental destruction which crushes all resistance and ongoing genocides such as Myanmar’s persecution of the Rohingya and Kachin or corporate attacks on the indigenous of Brazil all illustrate what is waiting when seductive coercion fails.

Things are never so bad they can’t get worse.

“Men ought either to be well treated or crushed, because they can avenge themselves of lighter injuries, of more serious ones they cannot; therefore the injury that is to be done to a man ought to be of such a kind that one does not stand in fear of revenge.” – The Prince, Niccolò Machiavelli (1532)

A war on self-governance

This is a war where the populace is kept sickly, ignorant, desperate and above all fearful to keep them from rising up against the military industrial complex. The tools used are drugs (legal and illegal), poor nutrition, environmental hazards, misinformation, blocked access to good information, poverty, stress, crime and, above all, war. The weapons against them will be information, solidarity, good health, great optimism, and mass participation in every aspect of government. – Me, A Stateless War, 2010

Self-governance requires debate and free expression for epistemic communities and others without the risk of being labeled a terrorist and having a bomb dropped on your head. For the first time, we have the communication infrastructure to enable societal auto-coercion and self-governance which can scale globally. The battle for hearts and minds is the only battle that matters and the only war that matters is the one between the oligarchs globally and the people oppressed by them. The most important weapon is global communication and the most important freedom is freedom of thought.

Self-governance is not only possible, it is in all of our societal history. While new structures and methods must certainly be developed to allow society to scale globally when necessary, the basic structure and memory is still there in our history and will still work. The thought reform efforts of the last many years were attempts to erase that memory, to reduce even the basic societal unit of families to trade relationships, to make a trade economy and rule by mafia seem not only logical but inevitable. While corporate control has fought to narrow and hold the public’s Overton window, others of us have fought to move and widen it. The new definitions of terrorism as attempts to influence the government or the public is a war against freedom of thought and auto-coercion by a population, a war against self-governance.

The solid block of common thought necessary to uphold Great Men in seats of power has a natural tendency to disperse and regroup like a true swarm. Coercive power has become more desperate to force this block back into formation as the swarm becomes louder and the points of influence multiply daily. The intelligence agencies of the world are not working for your governance, they are your governance. Corporate power has expended huge energy on identifying those butterflies that may become hurricanes and discrediting and silencing them before they can build. In the end, they will fail and a new structure will emerge. Whether this new structure is built in favour of corporations or people depends on who wins the war of coercion and thought reform.

Related:

Glossary

Binding Chaos
Autonomy, Diversity, Society
Releasing Chaos

World War III: Pillage and plunder

A continuation of thoughts from World War III: A status update (2014), World War III: A picture (2012), and A Stateless War (2010)

Another revolution of the same wheel

The word crisis is derived from a word meaning ‘turning point’. For all the crises we think the world has been through, there is very rarely a turn. Indeed, history can appear more like an inexorably straight path with predictable periodic bumps. The tools to effect a real change are available now, but real change would require a real direction and goals. Without these, this revolution will end as all the others eventually have, with new tyrants. – Me, World War III: A picture, 2012

It hasn’t been comparatively long since World War III: A status update, but we are already in need of another update. Not only is it now irrefutably clear that what has been billed for the last few years as a new multi-polar empire will be unabashedly a Chinese feudal empire instead, it looks almost as though it is a fait accompli and the death throes of the US empire-that-never-was may be far less than I anticipated.

China’s new puppet states suddenly include not just NAM and BRICS members but also any US allies that may have been expected to oppose their expansion, including all members of the five eyes themselves. Shell and BP trade LNG to China in exchange for nuclear plants where the UK takes the risk and China receives the energy and rail lines where safety is left to the extremely unsafe Chinese firms. China’s President demands an audience with the UK queen and she is brought forth like an aged Cleopatra, her unwillingness a trophy for the ability of the new empire to bend the old to its will. Even the US, which currently stands alone in denying the new order, has signed away far more sovereignty over their resources than most of their media will admit and their heavily IP dependent economy is very vulnerable to any changes China should choose to make to IP laws and trade agreements. The US military has changed its tone from aggression to a wish for joint exercises, a tolerance of China’s spy ships and a ‘review’ of their defence agreement with Japan.

When corporations rule the world there is no need for invasions, conquest is a simple matter of mergers, acquisitions and trade agreements. There is also no need for resistance as those who own the corporations benefit either way and will sign the deal most attractive to themselves. Those world leaders supposedly in conflict are always open to negotiate and change allegiances with each other and use their media tools to redirect the people’s hatred and fear. They meet and shake hands with each other while they are too afraid to meet or shake the hands of those we call ‘their people’.

The collapse of the former global resource mafia cartel has led to the global resource mafia gang war I outlined in 2012 and it does involve the entire world as predicted. The collapse of the former power and wealth ponzi schemes in some states have led to a decentralized governance by trade mafia which looks exactly like horizontal, egalitarian, libertarian / p2p trade economy is designed to look: survival of the strongest, most tyrannical and most violent, subjection of all who build society and care for the weak. The violence, destruction and senselessness of this gang war will ensure that what will now become a global feudal structure is welcomed as a respite. It will take little reminding of the horrors of the Islamic State, Boko Haram and all the other militias to convince people for a long time into the future that self-governance is impossible.

As the revolution(s) which brought us to a global resource cartel resulted in a far more insidious, all powerful and far reaching tyranny than the military empires it replaced, this latest revolution will convert us into a state of cattle-like product with far less free will than even the current power structure. Trade rivalries are giving way to a crushing global feudal structure which controls all resources with no rivals and tolerates no dissent.

A Dutchman, an American and an Englishman met in a castle

In 1928, the founders of Royal Dutch Shell, Standard Oil (now Exxon) and the future British Petroleum met and formed a secret oil cartel. By the end of the 1960s, they had been joined by four other US based companies and were known as the Seven Sisters. This powerful cartel not only controlled 85 percent of the world’s oil reserves but they dictated governance, controlled the economy and destroyed the economic and environmental life of much of the world. Along with the international banking cartel and other resource corporations they perpetuated the old trade empire and economic slavery of most of the world.

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After various mergers, the old seven sisters are now British Petroleum, Chevron, ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell and today they control just 10 percent. According to the Financial Times, the new Seven Sisters are Saudi Arabia’s Saudi Aramco, Russia’s Gazprom, the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), the National Iranian Oil Company, Venezuela’s PDVSA, Brazil’s Petrobras, and Malaysia’s Petronas. The move by many oil-producing states to nationalization of resources was an attempt to combat the pillage by imperial multinationals. Unfortunately, the trade economy was left intact and decentralized resource mafia remained mafia.

Those states attempting nationalization were embargoed like Iran, corrupted like Nigeria and forced to create polar security states opposing the force of the multi-nationals. The residents of these states were left with the choice of living with corruption, militarization and bad governance within their own government or protesting their governance and leaving themselves open to occupation by the multinationals. A state under siege can justify and be allowed far greater atrocities than would ever be tolerated in a free state. If the people refused either dictatorship, they found themselves in a civil war like Sudan or with the militia and human rights horrors found in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo’s eastern provinces, under de facto rule by drugged boys with guns feeding off forced labour of children. The more localized the control over resources, the less expertise is available and hand dug mines in Burkina Faso and Indonesia collapse on children working with no protection or medical or environmental expertise.

The price of security is enslavement. Resources are stolen in the name of free trade, ideas are locked in imperial vaults and ‘theft’ from your own commons is criminalized. Nigeria and Brazil swap food self sufficiency for oil and biofuel money, Paraguay and Mali sell their water to corporations from states with more than plenty, Niger poisons its land to power France, and pollution, climate change, drugs and guns devastate entire populations. The multinationals run a protection racket which, when removed, leaves the people open to a shadow trade economy mafia supplied and fed by the global governments. International laws and trade agreements are used to assert legal power over people who never consented to the laws or treaties, and representative governance is used to pretend the consent of the governing is the same as the consent of the governed. Peace in a trade economy is a crushing mafia cartel.

The resource war currently raging all over the world will only get worse as the populations of Africa and India continue to soar and the already huge populations of China and India attain middle class and demand more water, meat, fuel and other luxuries. Global water use has quadrupled in the last century and seven countries, the United States, United Arab Emirates, India, United Kingdom, Egypt, China and Israel, own 60 percent of the water acquired by corporations globally. What is far worse is the precious water resources that exist, from the Guarani aquifer in South America to the Great Lakes of North America, from the Lake Chad Basin in Africa to the Aral Sea region in Central Asia, are being pillaged and polluted by corporations of other industries such as fracking, agriculture and manufacturing. Agriculture accounts for 70% of total water usage world-wide and food production is also being moved to countries which can be locked out when a water shortage appears. The borders which prevent migration by those who need food and water do not prevent pollution and resource theft by the borderless multinationals.

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Water and the environment are multi-state shared resources being destroyed by a coercive structure that does not recognize commons property and uses fixed borders to lock out the repercussions of fluid pollution and pillage. The pressure caused by this destruction will and is becoming too great for those physical borders and military violence to contain. Instead of collaborating on solutions to all of the quite solvable crisis before us, the mafia in power have made the decision to let millions, if not billions, die and have invested in military and border security instead.

A current study on population growth projections finds an 80% probability that world population, now 7.2 billion, will increase to between 9.6 and 12.3 billion by 2100. Growth will occur primarily from nations which have suffered from trade pillaging, including aboriginal populations in the Americas. In the wealthy states, as well as the rapidly growing economies such as China, Brazil and India, an ‘epidemic of aging’ is projected instead.

The biggest industries of the shadow trade mafia are all genocidal. The weapons for populations to destroy each other with greater ease and the drugs to increase the violence and incapacitate effective resistance have been supplemented with the rapid growth of the human trafficking industry. People are bought and sold as products for militias, prostitution, marriage, slavery, organ trafficking and even ritual killings. People are tortured for ransom and charged for their passage as refugees. The shadow human trafficking industry is now vying with the arms industry as the top criminal industry in the world, and with the Australian government’s recent sale of refugees to Cambodia it has become openly a government activity as it always has been secretly.

There is also a global gender imbalance which has been caused by the femicidal actions of populations in China and India, the current and projected largest populations in the world, as well as other places. Since China and India are also two of the wealthiest economies, they can afford to spread their severe imbalance to other nations. More than ever in history, women are a global commodity.

The injustice and desperation experienced by those watching their families die, their homes destroyed and their resources stolen result in a natural resistance which is harnessed by rival gangs in the resource war. Any rebel movement of any skill begins to spread influence not by threats with guns but by hoarding and distribution of essential resources, creating need by hoarding then building loyalty and dependence with distribution. As long as there is a trade economy there will be rule by mafia, whether the mafia is local, national or global. There are alternatives to the trade economy and more could be developed if anyone were inclined to do so.

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United States: The empire that never really was

As the world knows, the United States was once part of the British empire. As control of trade and currency replaced and supplemented military occupation, the five eyes and their associates continued to act as one, sharing policy and goals. While the United States acted as the imperial military, Canada quietly acted as the imperial resource corporation and the UK and others helped continue one cohesive empire with the illusion of sovereign national states. The transfer of the seat of control from the UK to the US made no real difference to the co-operative alliances.

The primary result of transferring control of empire from the UK to the US was it enabled a very different method of empirical control. The US constitution promoted what was billed as an extreme lack of governance in the name of ‘freedom’. This was not a real lack of governance as both the institutionalized violence and the new ownership laws enabled the mafia to take control and crush all who would build or maintain the previously existing societies. Freedom and legal protection for all who were strong enough to steal from the commons and the insistence that all were equally able to care for themselves very predictably resulted in governance by mafia. Privatization of state functions extended even to intelligence and military and soon formalized into a corporate structure free to do exactly as they wished worldwide as a free roaming mafia with no effective state ties. As Blackwater founder and current mercenary to Chinese corporations Erik Prince points out, the US was founded by militias.

Canada was formerly a resource corporation known as the Hudson’s Bay Company. There is very little difference between that former corporation and a state in which every Prime Minister for many decades was financially dependent on or actually related to the principals of Power Corporation. Canada’s laws have aided the more than 75% of the world’s resource corporations registered there to avoid legal responsibility for their human rights and environmental disasters worldwide. The governments of the five eyes have never had any claim to being nations despite their violent national rhetoric. All were set up as a resource mafia cartel to control the rival gangs.

The corporate freedoms which stripped society, governance and the commons from the people and dissociated people from their interdependent nations have also neatly packaged all control of these regions into saleable entities. These countries now have very little legal recourse against their corporate free agents being collected tidily in China’s basket, and their legal protection is less every day.

The so-called US empire may historically be seen as part of the collapse of the British empire or the transition between the British and Chinese empires, between a militarized trade empire and a global corporate feudal empire.

It is hard to imagine anything worse than the US empire with its mass assassinations by robot and cultural decay, but a worse alternative would probably include mass citizen trials and thousands of pigs floating in the drinking water. Unlike the US, China does not pretend to value individual rights or freedom above the state and is open about methods of thought reform. Neither does the Chinese ruling party dissemble about their status as the new empire or their lack of admiration for the intelligence and competence of other nations.
 Unlike the US, China has concentrated on building infrastructure globally instead of military bases, but the quality of that infrastructure has too often shown corruption and a lack of concern for human life.

The binary thinking and Good Guys vs Bad Guys narrative that has been the defining theme of corporate propaganda has many thinking that any state opposing the US empire must be a saviour. China does not oppose the US. The light rivalries between the governments of the world never put them on opposite sides. The enemy of your enemy is very much the same as them and they are both working against you. The new feudal structure also has many continuing the fantasy of a multi-polar empire, but a glance at trade agreements and foreign investment is enough to show clearly that the multi-polar feudal lords have all pledged allegiance to China. It does not matter at all where the headquarters of the empire is in any case, those holding power are all allies and none of them are going to save their natural enemies, all of those below them.

The trade economy ponzi scheme has reached its natural conclusion in the new global empire. The people most likely to overthrow Chinese or global corporate rule are not the US military or any other rival state, but the Chinese people and the people of the world. In order for this to occur, the people of the world would have to accept that no messiah will save them and see the root principles of the ponzi schemes of power and wealth that enabled the empire. Most of all, for any revolution to result in actual change, there must be a new path built with new principles.

To be continued ….

Related:

Binding Chaos
Autonomy, Diversity, Society
Releasing Chaos

World War III: A status update

A continuation of thoughts from World War III: A picture and earlier A Stateless War

Since the above articles in September 2012 and 2010, it has become abundantly clear that none of the world’s governments have any motivation or ability to stand up to the corporate multinational empires headquartered in the countries of the five eyes and their associates. The UN vote in support of Palestine in November of 2012 was a symbolic rebellion, but in the end only proved how ineffective that rebellion would be as Israel instantly paraded their complete contempt for the world’s opinion. As Israel and the US promised, the vote changed nothing on the ground. A relentless stream of new treaties and laws is entrenching the corporate umbrella that now has legal control over the world’s governments. Sovereignty is dead. Corporations are people and people are products.

People no longer accept, or even have any knowledge of, their governance or the laws controlling them. States no longer pretend that laws apply to them. Society worldwide is ruled purely by military coercion. The uprisings which began in 2010 were thoroughly co-opted in early 2011 and used to create unending massacres and division that terrify anyone interested in suggesting change. Government turnover is meaningless in any case as the resource corporations and their security militias and media retain power regardless of political change. We need focus.

Empire on parade

The NSA revelations, like the US state cables before them, proved that things are much worse than we even thought and resistance is more futile. This message has been drummed incessantly in the past years. Since the curtain fell and both sovereignty and governance by the people were proven to be an illusion, there is no longer any pretense of maintaining the illusion. The current propaganda seems instead bent on proving the futility of resistance.

I’ve been writing for the last several years on the empire’s military coming-out in the media and what it says about their progress. We are long past the point where any transparency about military might is intended to result in change, much less reduction or disarmament. Since Obama’s earliest speeches he has been bragging about the “finest fighting force the world has ever seen” and the expansion of its empire. These are not secrets. Like in the Republic of North Korea and every previous empire, the media parade of invincible military might is meant to impress and suppress pretenders to the throne. Julian’s long ago essay on conspiracy has been turned on the people as the NSA and others make activists terrified of voicing dissent much less acting upon it. The message is also for any pretenders from BRICS or elsewhere as the US regime forces the landing of a plane containing a head of state, strip searches a diplomat and spies brazenly on allies.

Complicit military propaganda is presented as brave and daring journalism, somehow achieved with full co-operation from the empire itself. Junta kingpin Erik Prince is not shy of journalists and not at all reticent in proclaiming his allegiance only to himself. These places are not where secrets lie. This pretense of exposing secrets covers for the lack of exposing real secrets: the unheard voices of victims of Shell Oil in the Niger Delta, Areva uranium mining in Khazakstan, Niger, Gabon and elsewhere, the myriad corporate predators of the Amazon, the Kachin and Rohingya people of Myanmar, the silence invariably present wherever the corporate mafia abuses are the most extreme. Noisy debates on government transparency cover the complete lack of debate on corporate transparency. Congratulations on the democratic permeability of circles of government power deflect from the impenetrable circle of corporate power.

When the most silent voices cannot be ignored they are represented by controlled channels through NGOs and media, claiming to speak for those they are really speaking over. With a few truly heroic exceptions, the NGOs selectively report abuses and channel funding to further the aims of their government and corporate funders and enablers. The US funded NGOs in the Amazon seek to disrupt government trade with China and other competitors and rebellious governments co-opt the message for their own NGO partners and shut down the competing voices. Meanwhile, the people affected are unheard and the corporations in one form or another continue their destruction.

As people circumvent their governments to reach past the nationalist othering and connect globally, global Thought Leaders are propped up and paraded around to direct traffic for The Revolution™. They roam the world issuing platitudes of despair and futility straight out of 1984. “They control everything. Resistance is futile. Don’t use Facebook.” ‘They‘ cannot be named as they are bankrolling both the Thought Leaders and their solutions. Ideas become ideology and ideologies are branded and polluted. Opportunists are promoted, realists are co-opted, idealists are frightened and radicals are shot, just as Stratfor taught they should be. When a billionaire as invested in the status quo as Pierre Omidyar says celebrity Thought Leaders are replacing organizations it is as much a command as a statement. Read the playbook. Don’t play.

The world needs real journalism. We are decades, even centuries, behind what we need to know about the people really in power, the corporate shareholders. They must become our new celebrities, the targets of so much gossip we will soon understand their relationships and weaknesses better than we understand those of reality TV stars. These are the people we are fighting, not the figureheads and militias they pay to stand between us.

War is Peace: The year of the aggressive peacekeepers

The 2013 War is Peace initiative saw the creation of the first ‘aggressive peacekeeping’ mandates, one in the Democratic Republic of Congo and one in Mali. It isn’t risking much to predict the same will happen in the Central African Republic and South Sudan. This carries group affiliation to the natural conclusion we saw in the 2006 creation of ‘murder by an unprivileged belligerent in violation of laws of war’ dubbed a war crime by the Guantanamo Military Commissions Act. In 2006, the US decreed that the US military could kill children, but it was a war crime for children to kill US Special Forces commandos. In 2013 the United Nations allowed UN peacekeepers to retain the protection of it being a war crime to kill them while simultaneously allowing them to initiate attacks on those they deem to be a potential (not immediate) threat. Not only has the UN put the right of all legitimate peacekeepers to protection at risk, they have established precedent by which a foreign army can invade and conquer a sovereign state and have citizens tried as war criminals if they resist. The international media has been happy to accept this with no question and obediently report the killing of ‘peacekeepers’ in both Mali and the DRC with no explanation that the definition of that word has been changed to mean its opposite.1.png

 

UNSC permanent members: United States, Britain, Russia, France, China.

A look at the UN Security Council provides a clue to the escalating violence despite UN attempts to ‘establish peace’. Peace will never be produced by those invested in war. China is the fastest growing arms exporter of the past decade. Canada’s current government was incensed at being refused a seat on the UNSC just as their arms sales soared. Arms dealers are the obvious winners in the current economy. While an international peacekeeping force used at the discretion of the assembly of United Nations may once have seemed a good idea for humanity, the UNSC as run by the global war masters is just good corporate marketing strategy, enabling endless discussions about men with guns killing other men with guns and arguments over which side needs more guns.2.png

 

Professional militias, weapons dealers and would-be kingpins have hijacked every attempt at governance reform. Particularly, the gates of Libya and Syria were opened and militias and weapons are pouring at an even greater rate into Africa as they have for years into South America. Any thought of protest against most governments is a thought of horrific civil war as drugs, guns, militias, poverty, child soldiers and extremist propaganda are joined in an explosive mix of threatened instability just below every veneer. The gun culture in the United States is greater than anywhere on earth but the military and prison systems of the most industrialized states all retained the ability to obliterate any dissidents too close to home.3.png

 

The international media and entertainment industries provide non-stop advertising for the arms industry. Every conflict, real or Hollywood, is reported as ‘good guys’ killing ‘bad guys’, an endless parade of men with guns and flashy military equipment with no time for the stories of those working for peace. Men with guns is one of the most boring topics to keep covering as they are always doing the same thing, killing people, but the entire narrative is always men with guns and politicians with an occasional stat about the number of women raped. ‘There are no good guys’ say men reporting on men with guns, apparently unable to see the people illustrating their own report. The propaganda that men with guns can only be defeated by support for other men with guns has eliminated everyone else from negotiations as generals sit down to discuss peace and refuse a seat to anyone not making war. “In Congo, war has been largely fought on women’s bodies,” but power over peace is given to the men who fought. Efforts to build society are ignored or blocked, efforts to destroy it are rewarded with power.

“Guns don’t kill people!” shrieks the industry building autonomous drones. “Drugs kill”, however. Really, it’s all about who is importing and who is exporting. The idea of disarmament for peace now seems quaint and old-fashioned in most of the world, while in the country most dependent on the weapons industry it produces hysterical rage. Militias for peace have been formed all over the world, killing people to save lives. If there was the slightest chance of these weapons disturbing real power they would be abolished immediately but these freedoms are to enable the mass slaughter of those without power. Peace once meant disarmament. Now disarmament is only mentioned as an excuse for war.

As competing corporation/governments move increasingly aggressively into all continents, all sides of corporate money and media create so-called ‘ethnic’ or ‘religious’ unrest to destabilize dissidents and competitors. Any land dispute between corporations and residents is rewritten as an ethnic dispute to distract from the real aggressors and pitch people against each other instead. Extremist ideologies inciting genocide are promoted by corporate interests. Western media reports wars in foreign countries in graphic sensationalist detail and always framed as ethnic or religious, inciting civil war instead of economic reform. Media no longer obsessively cover teen suicides or anorexia because of concern over copycats, but coverage of men with guns is exempt from the responsibility to protect. “Freedom of the press!” chant those so completely coerced by cradle to grave propaganda they have lost even the perception to know when it controls them. As we have seen, freedom of speech is only accepted when only a few are allowed to speak, it loses favour quickly when all voices are allowed. If money and media removed the focus from men with guns, the world would cease to be run by them.

For any student of history, this is the preferred formula for dealing with every uprising, the reason regimes can be flipped over and over again with no change at all in the society. The United States Constitution’s first and second amendments have been inflicted on the entire world because both have been extremely useful for keeping corporate interests in power. There is now a slight possibility to push freedom of speech to the point where it can be used by everyone if we work very hard to pull up all voices that need to be heard and give them the amplification to drown out corporate propaganda. Freedom of speech for the powerless is far more important than freedom of speech for corporate media.

The solutions to peace will be found among the people trying to raise children, grow food and build society, not men with guns. ‘Foreign aid’ has been used for decades to tip the balance of power from one group of men with guns to another. It doesn’t bring peace. If all that financial control was given directly to those in the refugee camps, there would be change. This revolution is not about men with guns vs other men with guns. It is between creators and destroyers, peaceful people and the corporate mafia controlled militias, worldwide. If someone bothered counting bodies globally instead of chanting about regional unrest, this would be more evident.

The mafia won

In 2010 I wrote “There are only two possible explanations for a sovereign nation to bankrupt its own citizens and its government in order to set up a huge international surveillance and military system, “the finest fighting force the world has ever seen” that they do not actually own or control. One, everyone is completely insane, or two, it has not been a sovereign nation for a long time.”

In 2012 I wrote “The US does not actually control their own military or intelligence and the private corporations that do, do not operate from patriotic loyalty and are available to the highest bidder.”

It is time to stop pretending most governments of the world have anything to say about anything. Corporate mercenaries are in control worldwide. The only governments with control are the ones where the state is the corporations. Not only do people like Erik Prince and assorted other mafia bosses control the military and intelligence services of the world, he is (with China this time, sorry US nationalists) in sub-Saharan Africa with Frontier Resource Group (did you know you were a frontier, Africa?) investing in “energy, mining, agriculture and logistic opportunities”. He once more has his own private army. Prince will be facing off against other mafia militias in Africa, most notably his own creation Academi, formerly Blackwater. There are small and large militias doing the same in most of the world, still with a veneer of legal structure in the northern hemisphere but only because the mafia was allowed to write the laws.

While you are petitioning the US government to restrain the NSA, Erik Prince and friends are battling with other people’s lives for control of the world’s coltan (your phones). The corporations that already control your military and your intelligence have decided it is more expedient to just expand their security militias rather than deal with your governments. They are also continuing to rewrite the laws worldwide to exempt themselves from any accountability and turn people into commodities with no societal rights. As long as people refuse to accept that capitalism has failed, trade economy is tyranny, and the right to bear arms is the right to rule by mafia, they will continue to expand.

The people united will never be defeated

We have no idea whether that slogan we rediscovered in 2011 is true as we have never put in any effort to even reach all the people much less unite them. The first right of all people must be the right to communicate, directly. Without direct communication for all there is no way to see past the corporate propaganda and hear the voices with workable solutions. Revolutionary movements that could care less about all the people not at the table will not be building a new paradigm, they are simply seeking to replace the leaders at the top with themselves. Those that would rather amplify celebrities than people at risk are increasing power for the powerful and refusing to empower those who need it. If the people are ever going to be united, we must put far more energy into reaching down for those at the bottom instead of attempting to climb up to those on the top.

The propaganda which teaches that ‘good guys’ and ‘bad guys’ can perform the same actions and still be on separate sides has been highly useful in misdirecting anger. This fight is between those who commit atrocities and those who do not. Our actions define us, not our company. All war coverage that is pitched as ‘ethnic’ or ‘religious’ is a lie. The conflict is between the idea of peace and society and the idea of war and dictatorship. We do not need leaders or affiliations, if we follow the ideas we agree with we will have the company we need. If we show solidarity by ideas, not the borders that divide us into economic markets, we can still win. If no one in China cares who is paying Erik Prince’s gang of thugs and buying his pillaged resources, if no one in Canada cares that their courts are shielding 75% of the world’s resource corporations from human rights prosecutions and no one in Australia cares that refugees from their own corporate plunder are being drowned at sea and imprisoned if they make it to Australia, then we lost long ago.

Empire is simply a concept. Laws, governing principles, property and wealth are all concepts. We are being enslaved by our acceptance of these concepts. If we remove everything between the sociopaths in power and the people they are tormenting – remove the militias, the media, the money, the governments, the corporations, the laws that protect corporations, the NGOs, thought leaders, celebrities, distractions and group affiliations – there is nothing left but a very few, very ordinary people.

We need to start the trials.

The biggest stories of 2014

Yes, of course we can decide that now. Barring near complete planetary destruction, we can decide what we want the biggest stories to be in advance and just get them on the front pages. Those in power have been doing that forever, focusing exclusively on celebrities, celebrated for their ability to distract, sell propaganda and model rampant consumerism, politicians, those not-too-bright replaceable figureheads standing in for the real powerful who never change and are never in the news, and men with guns, presented as both our greatest fear and our greatest hope to keep the general population in a mood of infantile dependence and insecurity. If citizen journalism is worth anything it should be able to create focus of its own. These are my suggestions for 2014.

The corporations

Truly an endless source of material. Practically every story on the front pages right now can lead straight back to a corporation, although they almost never do. Every conflict presented as ‘ethnic’ or ‘religious’ has also an economic and resource based aspect. Every island in dispute has a seabed of corporate interest. Militias are hired, trained and armed by corporations. Trade deals revolve around corporations. International laws are created for corporations. The NSA and other intelligence agencies spy for corporations. International banking is completely intertwined with other corporations. Infrastructure is contingent on resource corporation development. Laws against so-called eco-terrorism and even other terrorism are created and advertised by governments in support of resource corporations. Every environmental story has a resource corporation or several behind it.

The real celebrities

The people behind the corporations are equally fascinating since they are also the people that run the governments, the financial world bodies, the international courts and the trade deals or they are connected to them. The web of what they own, what boards they sit on, who they are related to and who they are allies or enemies with is endlessly intriguing and dictates the course of our lives. In our personality driven world it is not enough to have a logo as the subject of a story and nor should it be. The CEO’s and presidents currently hired to front stories with their faces need to be replaced with the faces of the owners, those actually controlling and benefitting the most from the corporations’ activities.

Why do school children learn the names of dead Presidents and Prime Ministers instead of the names of the billionaires who control their media and their lives? Why is there about 444,000 Google search results for “Mother Theresa controversy” and only 80,700 results for “Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation controversy” (the biggest private foundation in the world)? Why are there no Wikipedia pages (or mainstream news coverage required to create them) for most of the world’s most powerful?

We need a database of all of the holdings of these people, what boards they sit on and who they are related to as friends, families and business associates. Celebrity gossip is crucial information but we have misdirected it. These celebrities are far more interesting than the ones we are being trained to focus on.

The money trail

We need longer trails to put stories in context. Instead of just pointing at laws, we need to show who is behind proposing the laws and who is benefiting from them. What corporations (and owners) are benefiting from TPP and other trade treaties? What foundations and celebrities are making their funding in African countries contingent on the spread of homophobia and homophobic laws? Instead of just a non-stop advertisement for war products featuring the latest in fighter jets and killer drones, we need to see all of the people who benefit from the sale of each piece of equipment purchased for a war zone and where that equipment and the trained militias end up. Illegal sale of weapons, drugs and resources go to fund legitimate governments, armies and corporations. Illegal militias are hired as security for resource corporations and others. Hostages tortured for ransom in the Sinai, refugees sold as slaves, the booming human trafficking industry, all have financial trails that do not fit into 500 word articles but are essential to follow.

The other people

We need to overcome the overwhelming nationalism and other group affiliations that still makes some voices far more equal than others. As we have seen repeatedly, people are valued more as they are seen more. Getting media to show atrocities being committed is less necessary (or reliable) for verification than it is for generating an emotional response and a direct human bond from other people. Everyone needs direct amplification when needed, not as props for western saviours or products to promote NGOs but to tell their own stories and establish their own direct support networks. We need to continue the fight against communication blackouts, not just by Internet shutdowns but also by refusal of Internet access to prisoners and others and by our own nationalism and other group affiliations refusing to amplify all voices equally. It is absurd to feel that someone you don’t know dying is vastly more important than someone else you don’t know dying. The focus on some lives as more important than others greatly benefits corporations and governments who do not want any coverage of their activities outside their home base.

News, analysis, action

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In the past, media was protected in most democracies because in order to govern themselves, people need access to accurate and timely information on all topics relevant to their governance. The news needs to be the match that starts analysis and action which doesn’t stop till we have change. Otherwise it is silly to pretend that news has anything at all to do with governance. If news requires no action, it is probably not the news we require in order to govern ourselves. If activism requires no analysis, it is probably not informed or effective.

News

The first right of all people must be the right to communicate. Without communication there is no way to safeguard our other rights or participate in society. Everyone needs a voice and the ability to call for help in emergencies.

Corporate media was long ago co-opted as a propaganda vehicle for corporations and governments, but people still supported it for three reasons: it provided a paying job for reporters, it provided access to an audience and it loaned official credence to the news.

The laughably small amount news media pays for most stories now (if they pay at all) is no longer tempting. Having to write material to fill a slot instead of writing because a story needs to be told, writing only on topics and only to audiences dictated and then having work butchered by editors who have less knowledge of the topic than the author is not the path to job satisfaction or quality information. Editors decide their audience must be fed the exact same story in the exact same way every day. Every story that brings different information or perspective is considered ‘biased’ and modified to reiterate the standard line. News must have an established audience before it is told, which defeats the purpose of news. Articles are produced as quickly as possible, are not interactive like micro-blogging and are seldom thoughtful and crafted like the best blogs. Corporate media reads like advertising copy, inoffensive, unsurprising, unoriginal.

Once this journalism at least brought community respect. Now it is more likely to bring open contempt and public criticism. Many bloggers have received far more recognition and respect by creating their own work and publishing it their own way on their own blogs. They sometimes manage to earn an equivalent or better living as well through a combination of donations, grants, paid appearances, website ads, etc.

The audience provided by official platforms online is now largely driven by online sharing and authors are expected to push their stories on social media when they are published. This could easily be (and sometimes is) replaced by promoting personal blog posts directly to social media instead. For those who are not interested in domain values and page hits, it is far easier to create viral media without restrictive copyright and pay walls. The unrealistic delays in publishing on official platforms make them obsolete as breaking news platforms.

The official status once brought by publication in corporate media is starting to bring the opposite result. Unless the official status is needed to update an archaic resource such as Wikipedia, there is little benefit.

There are many reasons to argue that journalism as it is practiced ought not to be a profession. While a good writer or investigator is always valuable, stories should be published when there is something important to say, not to fill a slot on demand. The people news is happening to seldom need others to translate their experience. First hand interviews and affidavits should replace journalist viewpoints. Our voices, not our votes are what gives us the ability to participate in our world and the people who tell our stories instead of just amplifying them are acting as our representatives with no mandate from us. The best articles are written by people actually affected by the news. They are the ones best able to answer questions and explain to us why their news is important. They should not have to beg some western man to find their story newsworthy and tell it through a western man filter.

Whistleblowers are journalists. The sight of whistleblowers and witnesses explaining what they found and why it is important to journalists who then turn and repeat what they have heard to an audience is a strange leftover from a long gone era. Expert opinions can also come directly from the experts, they do not need an intermediary.

In an interactive, decentralized world, the voiceless do not need someone to be their voice. They need a megaphone.

Analysis

The idea that news must be constantly new makes it an impossible option for deep ongoing analysis. Once an atrocity has been reported there is not much new to say. With no analysis or action as standard responses to news, the atrocities continue in silence and the audience attention wanders. The occasional bits of isolated investigative brilliance that make it past editors and accountants are left floating on isolated, seldom read url’s where only those that know they exist will find them.

Action

Journalism is a tool to an end, not an end. Investigators and writers who are not journalists may do their work for any or no reason; journalists are meant to bring information that the public needs to know in order to govern themselves into the public domain. The claim that journalists ought not to be activists is completely counter to the purpose of journalism. The only reason an item is newsworthy is if it requires action.

Reporters who are not activists are voyeurs. Their reporting is not journalism to aid self-governance, it is a distraction from self-governance.

There is a reason it is citizen journalism that terrifies governance. Only activists will do journalism for free and it is action that creates change, not passive reporting. Activists are not simply replacing corporate media, they are also replacing corporate NGO’s, those leeches that lie between those that need help and those that provide it and turn those in need into products to be owned and marketed.

NGO’s bring the bureaucracy and the official channels into giving. They stifle the voices of those in need except as pre-packaged marketing gimmicks and they block access to direct aid. They siphon large amounts of the aid for their own empires and spend the rest frequently without consultation with or in the interest of those it is intended for. They are also easily corruptible by political power which gives them their mandate, their access and their funding.

The huge amount of people working in NGO’s because of a desire to help those in need would be far more effective acting directly, responding to voices of those on the ground instead of power points by those who have commodified their need. Direct relationships between activists around the world have built trust and reputations. People in a position to help receive instant feedback on whether their help was effective.

Direct action and investigation can also provide real shadow cabinets to monitor and lobby government ministries and user group regulatory bodies to monitor corporations.

The future of journalism

The future of journalism is not in official platforms, page views and registered domains. The future of journalism is not in Exclusive! and Scoop! The future of journalism is not in celebrities with no knowledge of the topic who are begged to help activists aid citizen journalism. The future is not in Invisible Children or Falling Whistles style plastic-bracelets-to-stop-genocide-in-Africa commercialized snake oil dressed up as activism. Or in the centralized nodes of unofficial-official channels created out of formerly horizontal movements. Or in celebrity journalists. Or in lists of Who to Follow and Thought Leaders.

The future of journalism is in a stigmergic mesh network of amplifiers, investigators and activists who can filter and fact check news in real time, combine it with investigative global knowledge resources and create appropriate local and / or global action. The future is in collaborative investigators sharing knowledge to map everything we need to know to govern ourselves. The future is in activism and aid requested directly by the people who require it and responded to directly by the people who can provide it. The future is in the right and ability of every single person to broadcast their own voice and call for amplification when needed.

The future of journalism is in all of us.

Omar Khadr: War criminal, child soldier… or neither?

 

Previously published on VICE


Frames from Omar Khadr’s interrogation. via Flickr.

Omar Khadr made his first appearance in a Canadian court on Monday. After an 11-year journey from Bagram to Guantánamo to Canada’s Millhaven Institution, the Toronto-born man is now in Edmonton’s federal prison. He was 15 when he was captured and tortured at Bagram. He turned 27 last Thursday.  

If you’re not familiar with the case it goes loosely as follows: When the Americans first arrested Omar in Afghanistan, he was accused of throwing a grenade that killed an American solider. For eight years he maintained his innocence, until he signed a plea deal in 2010 that got him out of Guantanamo. Omar was then convicted of five counts of war crimes for his actions, which were not recognized as such anywhere else in the world including Canada.  

Omar’s case is wildly complex. While the American solider he is accused of killing was certainly killed by a grenade, there is no evidence showing that Omar ever had or threw one. While Omar certainly did confess to these crimes, it was after eight years of torture and given his option to either insist he’s innocent and stay in Gitmo, or confess to the crimes and see a judge in Canada, it certainly sounds like the terms of his confession were problematic at best.

All of this is important to note, especially in light of the recent Hamdan appeal in the US—which refers to the case of Osama Bin Laden’s former driver whose terrorism charges were thrown out—that pointed out war crimes tried by the Commission must be internationally recognized. This verdict may end up being leveraged effectively in the Omar Khadr case.

The Canadian Supreme Court has even ruled that our government violated Omar’s rights, but left the remedy up to the Harper government who of course declined to provide any solution.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been making strong statements on the preferred outcome on the day of the trial, in an apparent attempt to influence the court proceedings. Harper has vowed to fight the case “vigorously,” and used almost the same phrasing as that of Steven Blaney, Canada’s Minister of Public Safety.

Omar’s counsel, Dennis Edney, was in court to argue that he should be transferred to a provincialinstitution from a federal institution due to his age when the alleged crimes took place. In a confusing instance of legal doublespeak, the Crown’s prosecutors are arguing that Omar has not really been sentenced to eight years, but rather to five eight-year sentences served at the same time. Associate Chief Justice J.D. Rook has reserved judgment to a currently undetermined future date.

Heather Marsh, a journalist, was at Omar’s trial on Monday and wrote about it for us.


The media swarming Khadr’s lawyer outside of Monday’s hearing.
 Photo by the author.

On Monday, the court was filled with what seemed to be exclusively supporters of Omar Khadr. Many were wearing orange or orange ribbons and I spoke to several of them. There was a high school student who said she was done for the day, students from several different universities skipping class even though they had exams next week, and people of all ages and ethnic groups. After the media were moved to the jury box and people were encouraged to squeeze up, 120 people were in the court room and a live feed was set up for more in an overflow room.

A security guard told Omar’s counsel that Omar would be available to talk to them in a private interview room outside—but Edney insisted it was an open court and Omar could appear. After a brief altercation he was allowed to be present.

Contrary to earlier media reports depicting him as a “giant,” Omar is an average sized man with a soccer player build and a neatly trimmed beard. When he came home last year he wrote to Seger M., an 11-year old supporter, “I play soccer too, but I don’t think I’m as good as you. I usually play defense or goal keeper.” He looks it, although since he came home he has been almost entirely in solitary confinement instead.


The author discussing the insanity of the crown’s arguments with Omar’s former chief prosecutor from Guantanamo.

Omar wrote to me when he was finally transferred back to Canada last fall, “At least we have a proper legal system,” and he told another correspondent this week that this would be his first appearance in “a real court.” He seemed composed and happy throughout the proceedings, smiling frequently at people. Most of the discussion I overheard during the breaks was regarding his appearance and demeanor, not the legal arguments. Omar and the gallery of supporters seemed equally amazed that they were finally meeting after 11 ½ years of hearing about each other.

During the afternoon, a man interrupted proceedings to rip off his shirt and say “Enough! He was 15,” and object to the endless paper shuffling and statute citing. He was escorted out with no acknowledgement from Omar or the rest of the court room. At the end of the day, after the judge had left and as Omar was being led away there was a spontaneous outburst from the room with people waving and calling “Good job, Omar!” and “Stay strong!”

After the hearing Edney met with media outside and told them Omar’s chances of parole would be much greater in a provincial institution as he would have access to the programs and the society he needs to rehabilitate himself. “If he remains in a federal penitentiary, where he doesn’t get any programs, where he spends most of his life locked away, where his life was threatened, he’ll never get out.”


An Omar Khadr protester in 2009. via WikiCommons.

As long as Omar is in federal prison he will probably be in solitary as necessary protection. As he wrote a friend last February about Millhaven, “My new place is different definitely. People are generally nice, but with a lot of bad habits. Life here compels you to live like an animal because it is like a jungle. I have to change a little to defend myself, but not lose my humanity and who I am.”

In order to be eligible for parole, Omar must prove he can thrive among those our society has deemed most unacceptable. During his trial the point was repeatedly made that he could not be released as he had been supposedly “marinated in jihad” as an inmate of Guantanamo and Bagram during his formative years. The catch-22 continues.

Canada famously violated Omar Khadr’s rights by interrogating him for the US when they knew he had been subjected to three weeks of severe sleep deprivation torture and other ‘softening up techniques’ prior to questioning. They also refused for eight years to provide even a pair of glasses to preserve the vision remaining in his one good eye or to provide any education for him to rehabilitate himself. After receiving no formal education past elementary school, he recently passed Ontario’s Grade 10 high school equivalency exams with more than 90 percent in all subjects, English, math, history, geography and science.

Solitary confinement is widely recognized as torture, and many years of studies have shown the permanent damage that can result. After over 11 years of almost entirely solitary, Omar appears to be one of the exceptions. He can even find benefit in the deprivation of experience, education and companionship. In April he wrote to Aaf Post in the Netherlands, “Usually we don’t appreciate the small things. We take them for granted. Once you lose these things like opening your window in the morning and taking a breath of fresh air or seeing a bird chirping, you really appreciate these things. Even though I’m in prison there are still a lot of small beautiful things around us. Seeing the sun rise or set or to see the snow fall.”

“Being back in Canada is, as you said, a wonderful thing. As big or difficult as change may be, it’s worth it. There are too many good things in this life (as hard as it might be) to worry or even care about the bad things. Things are what we make out of them. Prison can be a deprivation of freedom, or a time to enlighten ourselves. For me it is the latter.”

 

The author would like to thank the Free Omar Khadr group for research assistance. 

Follow Heather on Twitter: @GeorgieBC