It’s the American Way or the Highway:
Your Extinction Will Quell Your Moral and Intellectual Confusion
By Jason Miller
Persistently ticking off the precious seconds in humanity’s “Countdown to Extinction”, the Doomsday Clock of the Bulletin for Atomic Scientists has advanced to seven minutes of midnight. Yet despite nuclear terror unleashed on Japan, an arms race of monumental proportions, the collapse of the Soviet Union, and widespread nuclear proliferation, somehow humanity has managed avoid nuclear apocalypse for 60 years. Perhaps the virtual certainty of “mutually assured destruction” will freeze the hands of the Doomsday Clock and continue humankind’s stay of execution.
As if the possibility of nuclear devastation was not enough of a concern, Donald Rumsfeld recently informed us that those who oppose the Iraqi Occupation and the abrogation of Constitutional law lack courage and are confused morally and intellectually. “Terrorism” is an existential threat to the “civilized world” and the Bush administration is justified in all of its “counter-terrorism” measures, according to Rumsfeld. Remember, if nuclear war does not annihilate us, the “terrorists” will.
As you ponder the threat of “terrorism”, do not forget to consider that the many invasions mounted by the United States military and the IDF have killed millions more innocent civilians than the asymmetrical warfare waged by over-matched victims of imperial oppression.
Killing civilians is a war crime, whether the murderer dons a uniform and flies a multi-billion dollar plane to make a “precision strike” or wears civilian clothes and creates crude road-side bombs to blow up passers-by. (And ordering such murders is a war crime too, Mr. Rumsfeld).
And on the subject of courage, Rumsfeld has sent over 2600 US soldiers to their deaths yet has not spent a minute engaged in combat.
Who did the Secretary of Defense say lacked courage and was morally and intellectually confused?
Soul searching often yields resolutions to dilemmas posed by “moral and intellectual confusion”. Perhaps his transaction with Mephistopheles rendered Monsieur Rumsfeld immune to such dilemmas.
Nuclear devastation rendering the world virtually uninhabitable, unfathomably cruel war crimes annihilating innocent human beings, and the impending coastal inundation, droughts, violent weather, and ecological disasters of Climate Change are harrowing potentialities and realities with which we humans cope on a daily basis.
The sad irony is that the common denominator amongst these dire threats to the perpetuation of life on Earth is that we created them.
Unfortunately, the species blessed with frontal lobes and opposable thumbs is threatening extinction of life on Earth in still another way. While less immediate, the consequences of humankind tenaciously clinging to the prevailing socioeconomic order will be as disastrous as nuclear war, the escalation of the murder of civilian populations or Climate Change. Quite simply, humanity’s present course down a blind alley will inevitably lead us to a dead end, literally.
Dream the American Dream
And while not the sole culprit, the United States bears much of the responsibility for this additional threat to the perpetuation of the human species. This nation shamelessly spawned, practices, champions, and proliferates many of the socioeconomic dynamics responsible for the incredible strain we humans are putting upon the Earth as we tax this planet far beyond its capacity.
Seemingly destined to become the “asylum for mankind” Thomas Paine foresaw, the United States freed itself from a tyrant, created a constitutional republic, absorbed waves of immigrants, abolished the heinous institution of chattel slavery, ceded rights to working people, recognized the right of women to vote, instituted numerous social service programs, and made notable progress in extending civil rights to minorities. In spite of the genocide of Turtle Island’s indigenous people, the brutal treatment of its Black population, and various other significant transgressions, the United States made remarkable moral progress over the course of its relatively brief existence.
Regrettably, as the United States was marching toward fulfilling its rich promise, the enemies of social justice and human rights were licking their wounds and plotting the restoration of power to the de facto aristocracy. Men like Goldwater, Nixon, Reagan, Clinton, and both Bush’s have presided over a perverse and tragic turn of events as powerful corporate entities and a relative handful of wealthy individuals have hijacked most of the social, economic, and political institutions of the United States. The lunatics are indeed running the asylum. And the betterment of humanity is not even on their radar screen.
Utilizing the public education system and the corporate media, CEO’s, major shareholders of massive corporations, obscenely wealthy individuals, and political heavy hitters in the United States and Israel work tirelessly to keep the “other” 99% of the population spending, consuming, and manifesting the American Way.
Subjecting the rest of the world’s citizens to its perverse mélange of predatory capitalism, militarism, self-absorption, narcissism, hubris, avarice, and acute paranoia, the corporatocracy of the United States of America uses its unprecedented military and economic power to ram the American Way down their collective throats.
Cultural genocide and the establishment of ruthless oligarchies be damned! “Free markets”, a win at all costs mentality, obsessive hedonism, perpetual war, and the relentless pursuit of profit at the expense of human beings are the United States’ gifts to the world.
Contrary to the tripe peddled by revisionist historians and the corporate media, the world’s “benevolent” superpower has not been spreading an enlightened and democratic socioeconomic system around the globe.
Reality Intrudes….How Rude!
In his essay entitled Greed, Julian Edney provides a thought-provoking analysis of the impact the American Way has had on the populace in its country of origin.
Consider this excerpt:
Modern analysts Cook and Frank show free market competition has become so stark that we are becoming a winner-takes-all society (17). In a giant economy, aggressive acquisition, greed, where so widespread and popular as to be celebrated, has resulted in colossal differences, so that, as much as we are accustomed to reproaching the Europeans for their inequalities, we are now caught in a lie. We have become more unequal. The United States is the wealthiest nation. But its 20.3 percent child poverty rate ranks worse than all European nations (18).
Historians Will and Ariel Durant (19) estimated in their survey that the gap between the wealthiest and the poorest in America has become greater than at any time since Imperial plutocratic Rome.
And sample some of Henry Giroux’s insight from his article The Politics of Disposability (which recently appeared in The Toronto Star):
The bodies that repeatedly appeared all over New Orleans days and weeks after it was struck by Hurricane Katrina also revealed the emergence of a new kind of politics, one in which entire populations are now considered disposable, an unnecessary burden on state coffers, and consigned to fend for themselves. The deeply existential and material questions regarding who is going to die and who is going to live in this society are now centrally determined by race and class. Katrina lays bare what many people in the United States do not want to see: large numbers of poor black and brown people struggling to make ends meet, benefiting very little from a social system that makes it difficult to obtain health insurance, child care, social assistance, cars, savings, and minimum-wage jobs, if lucky, and instead offers to black and brown youth bad schools, poor public services, and no future, except a possible stint in the penitentiary. As Janet Pelz in the Sept. 19, 2005 Seattle Post-Intelligencer rightly insisted, “These are the people the Republicans have been teaching us to disdain, if not hate, since President Reagan decried the moral laxness of the welfare mom.”
Despite the United States presenting the American Way as an offer the rest of the world can’t refuse, increasing numbers of nations and groups are successfully resisting. Since opposition threatens their relentlessly acquisitive agenda, the US power elite demonize leaders like Hugo Chavez and nations like Iran. In reality, those who reject the dictates of the American Empire are worthy of respect for refusing to bend over for an unlubricated fist-fuck.
Anyone up for a little game of human extinction?
Aside from the obvious moral depravity and numerous social injustices associated with our greed-driven socioeconomic paradigm, there is a particularly grave pragmatic consequence from which no human being can escape. The American Way is a path to extinction, particularly as the citizens of populous nations like China and India race to satiate themselves in the orgy conspicuous consumption. The Earth cannot sustain 6.5 billion people living the “American Way”.
How can we measure the sustainability of life on Earth? One means at our disposal is to examine ecological footprints. Each nation has an ecological footprint which (according to Wikipedia) is the amount of land and water area a person or a human population would need to provide the resources required to sustainably support itself and to absorb its wastes, given prevailing technology.
To gain perspective on how unsustainable the American Way truly is, consider that the average US citizen exerts 52 times the ecological pressure as the average Somali. At 9.57 hectares per capita, the United States has the world’s largest ecological footprint. (Bangladesh’s .5 represents the other end of the spectrum). If every nation had the same global footprint as the United States, we would need 5 Earths to support global consumption!
As we rapidly deplete non-renewable resources (like oil) and use renewable resources more quickly than nature can replenish them, we are in a state of ecological overshoot. Deforestation, diminishing supplies of groundwater, and the depletion of fish populations are but three examples of disappearing renewable resources.
Wildlife extinction is another deeply disturbing aspect of ecological overshoot. World-renowned for his expertise on humanity’s impact on the environment, University of Minnesota professor David Tillman compared the rate of the emergence of new species with the current rate of extinction:
“That’s sort of a 1 million to 4 million year process, and yet we are causing species to be lost at rates of 100 to 1000 times faster,”
Blinded by hubris, narcissism, and technology, many people perceive themselves to be separate from nature and the people existing “outside” of their insular worlds. The reality is that we are each inextricably linked with the rest of the Earth’s inhabitants (be they human, animal, or plant) in a complex web of life.
Albert Einstein challenged us to break the shackles of the illusion of separateness and embrace interdependence:
“A human being is a part of the whole, called by us Universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest-a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole nature in its beauty.”
Hopeful Signs on the Horizon
While it is likely to be some time before moral and humane movements supplant the ignoble Duopoly that is bought and paid for by corporate and Israeli interests, they do exist and are gaining momentum. (1)Populists and Proutists represent two such movements. A rising tide of democratic socialism in South America demonstrates that nations in the “developing world” are freeing themselves from the yoke of the American Empire, but Goliath will not fall quickly or easily.
As people of conscience search for ways to create viable alternatives to the brutal inhumanity of corporatism, many are finding that grassroots efforts offer an effective means of chipping away at the deeply entrenched status quo. Partners Dr. Timothy Wilkin and William Brandon Shanley are shining examples of two US Americans who work tirelessly to counteract the deleterious effects of predatory capitalism.
Tim Wilken is a physician and scientist who has devoted himself to the betterment of humankind. His stated goal is to strive for a world free of hate and violence. In the spirit of Buckminster Fuller, Wilken seeks to employ his strengths and efforts to bring about a more humane and sustainable world.
Towards that end, he has done pioneering work in the field of synergy which Dr. Wilken defines in this way:
We believe that we must learn to work together. This means we must become synergic humans. Synergy means working together—operating together as in Co-Operation— laboring together as in Co-Laboration—acting together as in Co-Action. The goal of synergic union is to accomplish a larger or more difficult task than can be accomplished by individuals working separately. We are committed to a world where I win, you win, others win and the Earth wins. Win-Win-Win-Win.
Dr. Wilken maintains a Website devoted to synergy at http://www.synearth.net/ in an effort to teach humanity:
How to work co-Operatively with each other. How to nurture the earth and the children of the earth. How to be a part of tomorrow’s solutions rather than part of the today’s problems.
Collaborating with Wilken in his quest to better the lot of humanity is William Shanley. Shanley brings a wealth of experience to the partnership. He has worked extensively in the media industry, including stints as a writer for CNN and as an independent producer of documentaries. He interviewed Presidents Reagan and Carter in preparation for his documentary called The Made for TV Elections with Martin Sheen and worked for President Carter. He also edited and contributed to Lewis Carroll’s Lost Quantum Diaries.
Together Wilken and Shanley recently launched an entity called Give-Get Nation at http://www.givegetnation.net On the Give Get Nation Website, one can connect with others virtually anywhere in the world to give, receive, or exchange goods and services at no monetary cost. Demonstrating that people can act on their values, seek fulfillment of their needs and behave altruistically without the impediment of spiritually toxic influences like money, banks, or stock exchanges, Give-Get Nation provides a refreshing alternative to the “orthodox” economic marketplace.
Registration costs nothing but a few moments of one’s time. Participating in Give-Get Nation affords people the opportunity to attempt to give or get goods or services according to their capacities, desires, or needs, at no profit or cost.
Wilken and Shanley stated that Give-Get Nation:
“organizes the world’s unlimited surplus product, labor, intelligence and spiritual capital and makes it available to everybody for free. Think of us as the National Human Values Trust.”
Give-Get Nation is in its infancy, but it is brimming with promise. Its selfless approach to exchanging goods and services offers a spiritually fulfilling alternative to the rat race that rapacious capitalism’s wage slaves perpetually run. As membership increases and transactions begin to mount, growing numbers of people will rise to Einstein’s challenge by widening their circles of compassion. And perhaps most importantly, the exchange of surplus goods will help push the Earth toward sustainability. (Give-Get Nation is indeed anathema to predacious capitalists).
Readers often email me asking what they can do in the face of the seemingly omnipotent forces of greed and malevolence which orchestrate many aspects of our lives. Opportunity is now pounding your door off its hinges. Become an active member of Give-Get Nation. It is free, legal and subversive to corporate domination. (What more could you ask for?)
Besides, Give-Get Nation represents a significant shift in values and priorities. Remember that the human species has already caused the premature extinction of many of Earth’s inhabitants. If we humans do not collectively change our values, WE HUMANS could be the next species to disappear.