Last night I went out to dinner with a few of my teammates. We dined at a Cuban cigar bar in downtown Palo Alto. During the evening, conversation came up about how one of my teammates, an older gentleman named Adrian, had spent five years working in China after the dot com bust shortly after the September 11th terrorist attacks.
To my surprise, he sang the praises of Chinese culture and government. He said, “In China it’s all about money. Everyone is made equal by the almighty yuan.” He went on to explain that basically, as long as you didn’t challenge the status quo, you could do whatever you wish in China, just be ready to pay a bribe for it.
Another teammate, an Indian woman named Nila, who had recently attained her citizenship and is a proud, new American spoke up. She said she hated the Chinese government because of its history of corruption, human rights abuses, censorship, and its intrusion into Indian culture. Then she proceeded to praise America and its lack of corruption, fairness, our freedoms, fair markets and so forth.
Immediately Adrian pounced on her and lay down the gut wrenching, depressing, down trodden truth about the “American Empire” Nila had just expressed her love for.
America the Great!
Witnessing this conversation that turned into an argument and proceeded to come up on and off again us for the duration of the evening seemed ironic because at the same time I just happened to be finishing reading Confessions of an Economic Hitman, by John Perkins. Nearly all of the sad but true factoids Adrian was practically hitting Nila in the mouth with fell right into place with the themes of that book, and caused me to deeply reassess my own feelings about our country.
Thinking back on what I was taught as a child in public schools and even in college, I realize now just how rose colored the glass was that I gazed through as I looked back on the history of the United States. Conveniently left out of the curriculum were many of the stories about our government’s history of extreme corruption, manipulation and injustice.
Until only a few years ago, I believed in an America where politicians and judges respected the constitution. When our presidents declared war on foreign nations, I honestly thought they were sincere in their campaigns to stomp out terrorism, corruption and human rights violations.
I used to believe that exporting our own brand of democracy was a good thing. That nation building, foreign aid and American capitalism was a panacea to stamp out hunger and poverty. And that we were in fact a force for good in the world.
Within the last five years of my life, my perceptions have been shattered. I now see the United States for what it is. A hungry, greedy corporate empire. Fascism in its truest form.
When I hear the word fascist, Nazi Germany is the first thing that comes to mind and I used to think of fascism as a totalitarian government. Fascism is not actually totalitarianism by definition. Fascism is essentially collusion between corporations and government. It is when the separation between the interests (public VS private) have been blurred and one uses the other almost seamlessly to its advantage.
Today we see fascism play out before our eyes shamelessly as we watch our executive branch appoint corporate executives to high level positions in departments of the government that directly regulate the industry that those very corporate executives previously held positions in.
We watch our presidents go to war with nations, decimating them in the process, only to turn around afterwards and award billions of dollar worth of contracts to construction companies and military contractors our elected officials have a vested interests in, to rebuild the nations afterwards.
And we watch our central bank issue government loans to private banks with money fabricated out of thin air, at near zero interest rates, so that the banks may turn around and issue loans to us at a healthy markup.
The United States and our financial institutions also enslave nations around the world with massive debt those nations will never have the ability to pay back, giving the United States and our corporations extreme leverage, allowing us to exert our will. Look no further than just south of our borders to many of the nations of Central and South America to witness this.
Fat and Happy Americans
Maybe you don’t care. I’ve met a lot of people who think our brand of imperialism is genius. To them, it is a dog eat dog world. Kill or be killed. Conquer or be conquered. We are the elite. We have God on our side. Manifest destiny justifies us in our endeavors. We are spreading capitalism and economic growth, and there is nothing wrong with making a buck, if done so under the guise of good old fashioned capitalism.
Others are apathetic and indifferent. They are more concerned with what is happening in Hollywood, the win/loss record of their favorite sports franchise, or the performance of their stock portfolio than anything else.
Sadly, I think we are next to be conquered and enslaved. Our very own United States government and the corporatocracy has essentially conquered the world. Our currency is THE currency. Our economy is THE economy. Our influence knows no bounds and even the most brazen of political scandals go unpunished and practically unnoticed by the public. They are untouchable.
Over the last few years, the oppression and enslavement has begun to turn inward as the machine runs out of places to expand. We now see pushes for stricter control and continual limitations of our freedoms of speech, to bear arms, to privacy andeven our rights to grow and produce our own food.
It has recently come to light that our government is essentially recording every digital communication we make. They have created a virtual time machine capable of limitless possibilities for blackmail and/or bribery if needed and endless opportunities for us to incriminate ourselves. Character assassination is now effortless and easy.
At the same time, debt enslavement also abounds. We teach our children that a college education is the only path to success, while simultaneously watching the price for an education inflate at an impractical pace. To make matters worse, we issue crippling student loans to our young, naïve students that can never be wiped out in bankruptcy or even death in some cases- and at interest rates most would consider colossal at a time when our central bank is creating money out of thin air and providing it to financial institutions at almost no cost.
And what can our students really hope for after spending four or more years earning a bachelor’s degree and sometimes amassing an amount of debt that essentially equates to having a second mortgage before even obtaining the first! To end up another worker ant in a corporation, toiling away, struggling to afford the basic elements of the American dream they were promised if they just followed the script of getting that degree, finding a job and putting in long hours at the office to prove their worth to the very system that they have unwittingly become debt slaves to.
Raging Against the Machine
At the end of John Perkin’s Confessions of an Economic Hitman, in the epilogue, he wrapped up his story with a few suggestions on how to combat the dire culture that has befell us. He suggested that we start from the bottom up, beginning with ourselves.
The only way to change the system is to first change ourselves. We must start consuming less, gorging ourselves less at the pig trough of American consumerism. We must essentially become minimalists.
Drive less, buy less, live in a smaller home, use less energy and resources, avoid gluttony and excess, and respect the environment.
We must also be speak out where we can. Share our ideals. Teach our children. Be productive locally, spread the word and propagate the formula. Hit people in the mouth whenever and whenever you can, as Adam Curry and John C. Dvorak say on the No Agenda Show podcast.
Don’t lose faith, don’t give in. Always be resistant and stay true to your convictions.