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Peter Joseph The Zeitgeist Movement
'Defining Peace' lecture February 12th, 2012
'ZFest' Tel Aviv, Israel
Shalom!
At times like this, I really wish I spoke Hebrew.
I have no idea what he just said, but I'm going to make a quick introduction
before I begin the formal speech
in great gratitude to The Zeitgeist Movement Israel
that have made this possible.
[Applause]
My name is Peter Joseph.
I work with an organization called The Zeitgeist Movement.
While most of my talks are about inherent economic inefficiencies
which are fueling the majority of the civil unrest, ecological abuse
and general deprivation that we see in the world today
coupled with highlighting existing, yet unapplied scientific realizations
that could solve such problems in general
not to mention creating a new societal design
originating out of another form of thought
that would virtually guarantee environmental
and social sustainability if implemented
the central focus of this talk is a little bit more temporal.
It's different than any other talk I've given.
The title of this presentation is 'Defining Peace: Economics
the State and War'.
It's divided into 4 sections.
The first is entitled 'The History of Human Conflict
and the Human Nature Debate'.
As the evidence will show, the stubborn concept that we
humans are inherently and inalterably aggressive
and territorial will be addressed.
Finding that early societies did not engage
in mass warfare and that most conflicts
especially the large scale mobilization we see in the modern world
are actually the result of conditions
real or contrived that lure
the human being into a position of aggression.
This will then lead us into the consideration of our environmental condition
and the structural and psychological modes that encompass it
leading to the understanding that when it comes to war
the condition as we know it is set by the state
generally speaking.
Part 2: 'The State Character and Coercion'.
We'll consider the origin of the modern state and its characteristics.
It's been found that there's an average set of qualities
that pertain to these concentrations of power.
Moreover and more profoundly, the influence of the state
on the values of the culture will be addressed
especially regarding loyalty, patriotism
and how easy it has been
for a very small number of political and commercial interests
to entice the public that their wars are moral, right and beneficial.
Then in Part 3: 'The Culture of War
Business, Ownership and Competition'
a deeper look at the underlining condition motivation
which appears to have created the state and its power
and the war propensity itself will be considered.
Focusing on the roots of our social system
and how not only is war natural
to the current economic methods we use
it is inevitable.
It will be expressed that the structural basis and resulting psychology
that exists in the monetary market system of economics
that governs the world today is the core driver
of human conflict in the world overall.
In the final section, Part 4: 'Defining Peace
a New Social Contract'
we will consider the causal logic of what we have described prior
and in a basic reductionist method, deduce what societal characteristics
support peace, and what do not
and how we as a world society can reset
our societal condition to allow for this newfound human balance
before it's too late.
Before we begin, I need to address a broader issue
that I feel is understated in the world.
It seems to sit at the core of society as historically lackluster inability
to change (which I think we all might notice)
not only in the context of global warfare
which we see as almost natural in the world today, unfortunately
but also with respect to common sense social changes for the better
which are systematically rejected, without legitimate logical defenses.
Very simply, it appears that traditional sentiment
is constantly in conflict with emergent knowledge.
For example, once an ideological institution is established
usually with the basic consensus of the population at large
a time-armorial distinction emerges
which implies that this practice or belief is now empirical to the human condition
and will last forever.
We see this characteristic in religious, political and economic thought
most pervasively, but no intellectual discipline
or social advent seems to be immune.
Even those who call themselves scientists
claiming to hold dear the vigorous ethic demanded by the scientific method
often fall victim to traditional biases
and erroneous loyalties, skewing their findings.
Those loyalties are almost always born
out of a traditional, customary culture and its dominant institutions
with which those personalities are groomed.
I think Dr. Gabor Maté put this issue very well
"It is simply a matter of historical fact
that the dominant intellectual culture of any particular society
reflects the interests of the dominant group in that society.
In a slave-owning society, the beliefs about human beings and human rights
will reflect the needs of the slave owners.
In a society which is based on the power of certain people
to control and profit from the lives and work of millions of others
the dominant intellectual culture will reflect the needs of the dominant group.
If you look across the board, the ideas that pervade psychology, sociology
history, political economy and political science
fundamentally reflect certain elite interests.
The academics who question that too much
tend to get shunted to the side or to be seen as sort of 'radicals'."
A cursory glance at ideas which were once considered absurd
impossible, subversive or even dangerous
which later evolved to serving human progress
shows a clear pattern of how wrong we can be in our loyalties.
It is axiomatic to say that many ideas which will enable progress
and benefit society in the future will be hideously opposed
and fought in the present-day.
It seems the more broadly beneficial the new idea, in hindsight
the worse the initial reaction is, by contemporary culture.
A classic case and point is the gruelingly slow recognition
of the mechanistic nature of scientific causality in the world
an understanding and method which has facilitated
every single attribute of human progress in history
from the solutions of disease resolution
to the advent of abundance-producing technology
to our understanding of the human condition itself
and how the planet works.
The scientific method, which is really
the materialization of logic and application
was not only met with the most heretical condemnation
by those institutions of political and religious power historically
it is, I'm sad to say, still rejected today
in many areas of thought and application.
Anti-science perspectives
tend to reside with issues of supposed morality
argued in a vast wasteland of subjective perspectives.
A classic example is the highlighting of technological advances
that have been used for detrimental purposes, such as weaponry
which clearly has nothing to do with technology
but with the distortion of motivation by the culture who's using it.
A more sophisticated claim is that the scientific method is simply not objective.
You will find this view held by early Western philosophers
like Thomas Hobbes or Robert Boyle.
Here I can actually find some sympathy
but only with respect to a certain irony
given the ongoing interference of cultural victimization on the outcome
of ostensibly scientific conclusions, as noted before.
So-called scientists are not to be confused with the method of science.
Very often the cultural influence and deposits of value
are simply too strong of a bias to allow for the objectivity required.
The more controversial the new scientific finding
the more dissonance usually occurs, and that's what the historical record shows.
In a classic text by authors Cohen and Nagel entitled
'An Introduction to Logic and the Scientific Method' (a book I recommend)
this point was very well stated with respect to the process
of empirical logical evaluation and its independence from human psychology.
It states "The logical distinction between valid and invalid inference
does not refer to the way we think (the process going on in someone's mind).
The weight of evidence is not itself a temporal event
but a relation of implication between certain classes or types of propositions.
Of course, thought is necessary to apprehend such implications
however, that does not make physics a branch of psychology.
The realization that logic can not be restricted to psychological phenomenon
will help us to discriminate between our science and our rhetoric
conceiving the latter as the art of persuasion or of arguing
so as to reduce the feeling of certainty.
Our emotional dispositions make it very difficult for us to accept
certain propositions, no matter how strong the evidence in their favor.
Since all proof depends on the acceptance of certain propositions as truth
no proposition can be proved true
to one who is sufficiently determined not to believe it."
What is it that comprises that force that stops
what we would call objective thought? Cultural conditioning and its values.
Seems very obvious, but unfortunately we're all victim to this.
We humans have no spontaneous thoughts or actions.
We are causal organisms perpetuating a chain of ideas and reactions
always existing in an 'intermediate tenure'.
Coming back to the central context, it is critical to point out
that there is nothing more ingrained in a culture sense of identity
than the broad social institutions we are born into
and the values they perpetuated. The older the tradition is
the stronger the fight to preserve it.
The world, in many respects, is now an accelerating clash
between stubborn traditional conceits
upheld by institutions which continue to gain from their exploitation
and the emergent, scientific reality and logical assessment
that is proven to illuminate the closest approximation
to truth we have as a species.
As I begin this assessment of the nature of war and peace
a controversial subject indeed, I'd like everyone to listen to themselves
monitor their own personal reactions to the statements I make.
When you encounter something you don't agree with, honestly ask yourself
where is that dissonance originating from?
Is it coming from a technical analysis
where the variables are being taken into account on their own merit
absent the messenger? Or is that disagreement coming from perspectives
which just might be based on cultural value comforts, which
for better or worse, have defined what you think is empirical normality
regardless if it's true or not.
That noted, let's get a few things out of way regarding myself
given the sensitive territory I'm about to embark.
I'm not here to speak with condemnation of any country, political party
religious claim or institution at all.
I'm not here to argue in favor of war or against US imperialism.
I'm not here to even inflame bias in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
nor am I here to pose judgment on any party or power explicitly
despite the endless notable atrocities illuminated by history.
Why? Because when it comes to change, and I mean real change
all currently received angles of common debate
and their postulated, inner-systems solutions 'in the box'
are invalid when the broad context is understood regarding war.
We need to think on a different level now.
Given that frame of reference, I cannot logically be loyal to any country.
I have no loyalty to any person, guru or leader
or any respect to submission. I hold no loyalty to any race, religion
political party or established ideological creed
and most importantly, I hold no empirical faith of permanence
in any assumption of supposed fact
historical, current or future, beyond the understanding
that all known human conceptions will evolve
change, refine, from here until the end of our existence.
The only constant is change.
[Applause]
The only constant is obviously change.
While that seems like a self-canceling paradox
the purpose of the historical record itself is really for us to gain inference
from everything we see in history whatever the discipline may be
and when we apply the scientific method of evaluation to its patterns
we can draw relevant conclusions.
That is basically what we do with our minds.
Science is our tool for creating a better world for all human beings
while preserving the habitat and very simply
(as this work will describe) it is only when we change the structure
of the predominant global social system
namely its economic premise, which precedes all others in causality
that what could be called 'world peace' is possible.
Part One: The History of Human Conflict and the Human Nature Debate.
It appears that much of the world's cultures still possess
largely superstitious views of human conduct
territoriality and supposed inevitabilities of war
both from the standpoint of offensive provocation and defense.
It has been argued historically that humans have an innate tendency for violence
implying at the extreme cases that regardless of the nature of the circumstance
violent, domineering behavior will erupt
almost randomly like a pressure valve releasing steam.
Therefore, as the logic goes, the posture of war and protection
is deemed a natural, inevitable consequence for everyone.
This idea has taken on various metaphysical forms in history
with likely the most notable being the religious notion of evil and good:
evil existing as a spiritual force that simply cannot be stopped
only protected against.
As will be discussed more later, this use of the good and evil duality
along with many other truly superstitious assumptions
is still very much a part of the motivating political rhetoric
that works to entice public support for the states' wars.
A powerful tool of propaganda indeed, especially given the fact
that the majority of humans on this planet still assume
such religious forms of causality, hence the inherent credulity.
However, if you were to ask most moderately-educated individuals
what they mean by the term 'evil'
the definition would probably be relegated ostensibly
to the scientific notion of human instinct.
Given the near contextual equivalent of these notions in context
I think Dr. James Gilligan of Harvard University Center for Study of Violence
in America had the most direct response. He states
"One reason the instinctual argument for violent behavior
is to support the status quo.
If violence is innate and instinctual, then clearly there is no point
in trying to change our social and economic system."
What does history and modern science really show with respect
to the human sociological condition regarding patterns of violence
with respect to the human nature debate?
Have they found the 'war gene' that enables this instinct
for us to come in mass and kill other people?
Is there anything in the physical sciences that they can express
an empirical causality residing in the evolutionary biology
or even the evolutionary psychology
of the human organism to express violence inevitably?
The answer as modern sociobiological research has shown is clearly 'no'.
It is found that the entire basis of assumption
that has drawn the conclusion that humans are innately violent
comes from a narrow comparison of events
with high levels of omission, with respect to what circumstances
or conditions brought about those events.
There is only one universal factor that can be measured
with respect to development and execution of violence
whether civilian or military, and that is the environment.
The only known trackable, universal variable
is the nature of the environment, physical and sociological
which the human being has been raised into or exists in.
At the very core of our human definition
is really the environment itself, something I find quite interesting.
As a species, our physical and mental facilities were selected
and left remaining by biological evolution
with respect to what best enables our fitness and survival.
We are literally manifest of the physical environment
and natural physical laws that govern that environment.
This is what evolution is: a shaping process of the universe
to slowly conform new emerging entities to existing conditions
so they work. This is why we exist on Earth and have the components we do
breathing air versus existing on Venus.
If we evolved there, we'd have very different components
to be able to survive there, if we could survive at all.
Even our gene expression, which is assumed to be at the core
of our supposedly fixed human nature psychology
is actually controlled by environmental stimulus
(something people don't talk about enough).
For example, if you take a child at birth and place him or her in a dark room
for a certain period, the genetic propensity to see will simply not develop.
If you take an infant at birth and feed it and house it
yet never touch or give affection to that young infant
not only would that child not grow, it will likely die
because affection is intrinsic to the infancy stage of development:
environmental influence.
In the end, what is found is that the single greatest determining factor
influencing the human organism in the long and short term
is the environment around us, with our genes reacting to that stimulus
within a certain range of possibility.
The more we learn about his relationship
the larger the range of possibility seems to reveal itself, on many levels.
The largest range of possibilities enabled by environmental causality
is on the level of culture.
When we realize the magnitude of cultural influence on human psychology
and sociology, we are left with the glaring realization
that the most profound imperative we have
when it comes to changing human behavior
is to change the circumstance we exist in
both with regard to primal core survival, such as access to the necessities of life
and safety, to the subtle educational and cultural influences
that shape the way we view the world and each other.
That isn't to say humans do not have an evolutionarily derived nature.
Our general instinct to live, to procreate
to even defend ourselves if threatened
most certainly we have these tendencies; we are not blank slates.
The consideration of our common auto responses or so-called instincts
are indeed still factors to consider in general in the equation
but the equation is so greatly skewed
what has been found is that we have a predictable range of behavior
based almost entirely upon the conditions present
and the difference between one human being picking up a weapon
and killing another in cold blood as the institution of war formally demands
and one who chooses not to, is purely a cultural contrivance.
What separates a serial killer
who profiles a group of people for systematic murder
and a soldier who does the same thing?
Where does the moral line draw?
To me, as controversial as it may seem, it doesn't draw
for there really is no moral line at all
when the circumstances of the person are considered.
For each person is and can only be a consequence of their environment
whether biologically induced or culturally programmed
and the latter holds far more weight than the former
when it comes to human behavior and choice.
Sorry to drill it in.
For those who might think such a notion is dangerous
and cold, no morality
perhaps with the assumption that we humans require some type of moral guidance
for civility, such as the traditional religious commandment:
"Thou shalt not kill."
I ask you from a more pragmatic standpoint:
Have these age-old ideals done anything
to stop the seemingly endless global violence
human abuse towards each other and the anti-human exploitations
that exist on a daily basis? The answer is obviously 'no'.
Imposed philosophic morality will not save the world.
Only a calculated tangible plan
to alter our circumstances so that such actions pose no merit
will stop what we consider to be immoral behavior.
With that out of the way, let's take a brief examination of history
with its relationship to conflict.
I'm going to start in a place you might not expect: our primate ancestors.
Older anthropological studies that have attempted to justify human violence
would often compare humans to our earlier stages of evolution
for their pattern recognition. It seems logical on the surface
since we share about 95 - 99% of the DNA of chimpanzees
and other primates in that spectrum. Sounds impressive.
It might also sound impressive that fruit flies
share about 60% of human genes
but that connection to behavior is dubious at best, I think we'd all admit.
That's because the sharing of genes in this context
has almost no relevance whatsoever
as counterintuitive as that approach is.
Regardless, there are indeed common behaviors relating to violence
we do see between human society and non-human primate society
such as social stratification, even pure murder
elements of organized violence, revenge reactions
trust and antitrust responses
and a number of other reactions that we certainly recognize in our own species.
Like human culture, they also show unique variations and exceptions
to this behavior based on experiences and conditions
which make such notions of trait universality
difficult to diagnose empirically.
For example, an anthropologist and neuroscientist at Stanford University
who spent decades studying a baboon troop in Africa was amazed
to witness a social transformation in this troop after the Alpha males
of the group became poisoned by accident and died
leaving only the lower, less aggressive classes in the troop.
This removal of the Alphas and their troop dominance
apparently transformed this group into one with much lower levels of violence
and aggression than he had ever seen before
not only for that existing generation, even a decade later
due to this environmental cultural shift in the troop
they still maintain low levels of aggression
even when they acquire new males that migrate from other troops
who have those normal aggressive tendencies.
They are actually able to condition those new members
into equally lower patterns of aggression on average
hence the cultural conditioning.
It's a very unique finding. Does that mean that baboons can be conditioned
to wear business suits and drive cars to peace rallies
and sing John Lennon's song 'Imagine'? Of course not.
We're dealing with a range of behavior. Therefore the pertinent question becomes:
What is the range of the human being?
It appears that the more simple the organism is in biology
(especially its cognitive development if there is any) the less flexibility it has.
The classic example would be ants, who show steadfast predictable behaviors
almost to the extent that they are mere chemical machines
unfolding in an automatic way
but the more complex the organism, generally speaking, the more versatile.
If you examine what we understand now about human brain evolution
from its reptilian status to early mammalians
to the late mammal changes, reasonable evidence suggests
that the current state of our cerebral cortex, especially the neo-cortex
is what enables a very unique, adaptive understanding and flexibility
we take for granted in human society, or even don't recognize.
This is also clearly evident in the vast, varied cultural expressions
we see and have seen in the world historically.
It's a unique thing, where on one side of the planet
you can have pacifist communities with little to no violence
while the other side: systematic daily slaughter.
Given no evidence to support true psychological differences
in races, only the regional conditions and culture
can explain these vast differences.
This leads me to a general history of human society and warfare.
Likely the best place to start is the vast period of human existence
as hunter-gatherers before the Neolithic Revolution
and the advent of agriculture and common tools
which was roughly 12,000 years ago.
We often forget that 99% of what we define as Homo-Sapien (us)
existed in largely non-stratified, egalitarian social structures
with low levels of violence, and the pattern of mass-mobilization for warfare
as we know it, virtually nonexistent.
The few hunter-gatherer groups that still exist today
in isolated pockets still show support for this general, peaceful manner.
It appears that after the Neolithic Revolution
with the advent of us being able to control our environment
hence production and stockpiling of food
the creation of tools, the ordering of labor rules, etc.
the seeds of our current socioeconomic system were planted.
It is easy to see how the basic concept of value
as derived from one's labor manifested a protectionist and reciprocal system
of exchange of labor, even though such value and market notions
were not formally realized until the 17th or 18th centuries.
As this progression continued from the Neolithic Revolution
the passive often nomadic lifestyles of the hunter-gatherer
slowly became replaced with the settled, protectionist tribes
and then eventually localized city-type societies.
It is here where we begin to see warfare as we know it
including the technology that enables this weaponry
which is a conversation in and of itself.
In the words of Richard A. Gabriel in a text called 'A Short History of War'
"The invention and spread of agriculture
coupled with the domestication of animals in the 5th century BC
are acknowledged as the developments that set the stage for the emergence
of the first large-scale, complex urban cities.
These societies which appear almost simultaneously around 4000 BC
in Egypt and Mesopotamia used stone tools
but within 500 years stone tools and weapons gave way to bronze.
With bronze manufacture came a revolution in warfare."
It is also the period that the concept of the state
and the permanence of the armed force emerged.
"These early civilizations produced the first example of state- governing institutions
initially as centralized chiefdoms and later as monarchies.
At the same time, centralization demanded the creation of an administrative structure
capable of directing social... [Technical problem with microphone]
The development of central state institutions and a supporting administrative apparatus
inevitably gave form and stability to military structures.
The result was the expansion and stabilization
of the formerly loose and unstable warrior castes.
By 2700 BC in Sumer
there was a fully articulated military structure
and standing army organized along modern lines.
The standing army emerged as a permanent part of the social structure
and was endowed with strong claims to social legitimacy
and has been with us ever since."
Since that time of those early forms of modern civilization
there have been thousands of wars
most of which have to do with the acquisition of resources or territory
where one group is either working to expand its power and material wealth
or working to protect itself from others trying to conquer and absorb it.
This is essentially still the same state of affairs today.
The question to be asked is: Why the persistence of the tendency?
Where's the root origin? What motivates an army to kill
in a controlled cold manner for the sake of the state's benefit?
As will be expanded upon as we continue this talk
the tendency for war is not a universal human trait that demands expression
but a very sensitive vulnerability
to one's sense of social identity, sense of acceptance
fear and general personal concern which if properly organized
can be manipulated into the service of one group over another.
The human nature debate regarding violence which shows no universals
does reveal a highly probable response tendency
when certain environmental stimulus is presented to the human
to generate fear or offense.
What has been set in motion since the early period of modern warfare
is not some anomaly of human society
nor does it appear to be an unstoppable human tendency.
Rather, it appears to be a natural characteristic of:
1) The function of the state institution and its inherent need for control
along with the core of its origin
the foundational economic assumptions of resource scarcity
superstition and the psychology it perpetuates.
Part Two: The State, Character and Coercion
Since the very nature of modern warfare is almost universally representative
of a larger social entity and governmental apparatus known as the state
let's consider its basic characteristics in general.
The first to note is its basis in self-protection.
Since the state was born out of tribal sovereignty
where independent authority is claimed over a geographical area
(a region which had been stolen from some other group
who will likely claim the same thing at some point)
the issue of protection is inherent and consequential
Not only protection from external forces
but from what can be rightfully called in feudalistic terms 'its subjects'.
These subjects are also historically held to hold a duty
or responsibility to the state's institutional preservation.
This medieval remnant is not only with respect to "serving your country"
such as joining the armed forces, but also found in the notions of treason
sedition and other legal protections
that work directly against the citizenry
if they were to get out of line, too far.
It is also worth pointing out that these elements of internal protection
have been updated by more modern means
such as with the fairly new concept of 'the terrorist'
and its inherently open, ambiguous distinction
which can be applied to both foreign and domestic citizens
enabling an even more flexible form of internal protection
due to its ambiguity.
As far as the broad characteristics and nature of interaction of states
state entities (excuse me) across the world
it is generally safe to break them up into categories of superpowers
powers, sub-powers and in feudalistic terms, vassal states.
After the Cold War, the US is noted to have emerged as the world's first superpower
as defined by its military and economic might.
The powers, many of which are gaining traction today
and could now be called parallel superpowers
are the other large economies such as China, Britain, Russia, etc.
each always with enormous military power as well.
The sub-powers could be considered the more passive
yet independent states, which is the majority
while the vassal states are the ones that operate in subservience
to the power states, often providing economic advantage
through subjugation, on one level or another.
With respect to subjugation, this is a core characteristic
of the predatory nature of the state institution.
It is worth pointing out that the tactics of subjugation
which is what in many ways facilitates the states' power status
have changed over time in effect becoming more covert in its warfare.
Some of these methods are not physically violent at all
at least not on the surface.
These include economic warfare approaches which serve
as complete acts of aggression in and of themselves
or a part of a procedural prelude
to traditional military action, which comes in the form of trade tariffs
sanctions, debt by coercion
and many other lesser known, covert methods
which typically have to do with a sense of debt
with dealings of the World Bank or the IMF
or the United Nations in the sense of sanctions.
These globally sanctioned, financial institutions
have heavy vested business and state interests behind them
and have the power to impose debt to bail out suffering countries
at the expense of the quality of life of its citizenry
often taking charge of natural resources or industries
through select privatization or other manners that could weaken
a country's ability to the effect that it becomes reliant on others
and their industries.
This is simply a more covert form of subjugation
than we saw with the British Empire during its imperial expansion
and the East India Company, the commercial force
that took advantage of the newly conquered regional resources
and labor in Asia in the 19th century.
Some analysts will compare the British Empire to the United States
and examine how the fact that the US gained its status
through not just military pressure
but through the presence of this very covert complex economic strategy
which repositions other countries into subjugation
to US economic and geo-economic interests.
Why?
Because as will be addressed in more detail in Part Three
despite the superstitious rhetoric to the contrary
the state is nothing more than a manifestation
and extension of the economic paradigm.
It is an economic entity in its purest form
and this is something many today seem not to fully understand.
The conduct of the state is based on methods of resecuring itself
by whatever means necessary. Those who condemn the United States
as a corporate, commercial state empire
as though such a disposition is an anomaly of state power behavior
are not taking into account the very economic premise
upon which it is based, as we will discuss as we go along.
Those basic issues aside
let's now hone more into the coercive tendency of the state
with respect to its war posture.
Since behind the state (as with any institution) are human beings
and their values, the issue of mass-conditioning
to support the state's integrity is paramount to its survival
As history has shown, when it comes to war
the public at large rarely, if ever
initiates the original interest in conflict
only the politicians and their benefactors do.
Then, they work to entice their subjects for support.
Patriotism, honor, the moral crusade:
The first thing to notice about all state wars in preparation
is that they never express themselves as being offensive
only defensive, the common defense as it's called.
In the US, the Department of Defense is the name of our war ministry, really.
It sounds noble, while also immediately implying
the assumption of fear from the external.
While the general public sees this fear in a traditional, invasive sense
the more relevant fear is on the state level.
It is discrete, and the fear has to do with the state power's fear of loss:
the loss of power.
Perhaps the best expression of this was exemplified in the work
by former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski
'The Grand Chessboard' was the name of his work and this book details
a series of extremely accurate observations and predictions
with respect to what it will take for America to remain
as the world's major power, specifically its necessity to control Eurasia
and the Middle East.
In this posture, the fear is generated out of an unargued assumption
that American global leadership is the only way.
The chess game to preserve should
always should be in our own favor, or else, perhaps
the world at large will suffer as a result.
It's a classic imperialist apologist view
that we the Americans and our allies must take over everything
because we know better.
Coupled with this fear-based assumption is that if the US
isn't the empire power, then another one will come along
and hurt US interests
which on the of social maturity at this stage happens to be true
(and this is what Brzezinski argues) but at no point
is there a viable reflection on social balance.
It's simply not considered
which is absolutely characteristic of the state entity
and its foundation, so we shouldn't blame Brzezinski for his view.
He is simply expressing what is sadly normality
even though, as we'll describe, is wholly inhumane
and extremely unsustainable.
He states "America is now the only global superpower
and Eurasia is the globe's central arena.
Hence what happens to the distribution of power on the Eurasian continent
will be of decisive importance to America's global primacy
and to America's historical legacy.
To put it into terminology that harkens back
to the more brutal age of ancient empires
the 3 grand imperatives of imperial geo-strategy
are to prevent collusion and maintain security dependence among the vassals
to keep tributaries pliant and protected
and to keep the barbarians from coming together.
Henceforth, the United States may have determined
how to cope with regional coalitions that seek to push America out of Eurasia
thereby threatening America's status as a global power."
If you read this work, which was written about 15 years ago
you will notice even right now immediately
that the American imperialist state and its allies have been acting
upon this specific interest explicitly.
However, you will not see the political establishment or mainstream media
expressing this view at all to the public in its day-to-day affairs
even though Brzezinski will argue it as though it's common sense.
The media, corporations and the state
go back to age-old tactics of psychological coercion
which is based entirely upon a metaphysical fantasy kind of rhetoric
which utilizes ideas such as faith and moral good
patriotism and the idea of honor, fear in common defense
and other largely empty concepts
which serve only to mobilize the population
to support the interests of the waring party.
Thorstein Veblen, a sociologist and economist, who will be quoted quite a bit
in this presentation, I think put this best in 1917
"Any patriotism will serve as a ways and means to warlike enterprise
and the competent management, even if the people
are not habitually prone to a bellicose temper.
Rightly managed, ordinary patriotic sentiment
may readily be mobilized for warlike adventure
by any reasonably adroit and single-minded body of statesmen
of which there is abundant illustration."
Abundant illustration indeed
for at the core of all social motivation for war
rests a subset of such intangible values
which are in all reality exceedingly xenophobic
neurotic and irrational.
Veblen continues "It is also quite a safe generalization
that when hostilities have once been got fairly under way
by the interested statesman, the patriotic sentiment of the nation
may confidently be counted on to back the enterprise
irrespective of the merits of the quarrel."
I think this is best exemplified today with the common American phrase
which probably carries over to other countries "I'm against the war
but support the troops!"
This is what could be called 'classic Orwellian doublethink'
and has been very effective in reducing public outcry
which then plays into the concept of honor
and the very sacrificial nature of the soldier entities themselves.
Here is where the ceremony and elaborate costumes
medals, authority appearances find their place.
Honor is formalized through ceremonials, medals and postures of respect
events and other adornments which impress the public
as to the value of the actions of the soldiers
and hence the value of the war that they represent.
This also creates a cultural taboo
where to insult any element of the war apparatus
can be seen as showing disrespect to the sacrifice
of the Armed Forces and their honor, hence reinforcing the broad illusion
that the initiation of wars are noble acts with noble participants.
Paired with the notion of honor and the effect of what it represents
resides the ultimate tool to crusade: morality.
Veble continues "Any warlike enterprise that is hopeful to be entered on
must have the moral sanction of the community or of an effective majority
in the community. It consequently becomes the first concern
of the warlike statesman to put his moral force in train
for the adventure on which he is bent.
There are two main lines of motivation:
1) The preservation or furtherance
of the community's material interest, real or fancied
2) Vindication of the national honor.
To these should perhaps be added a third:
the advancement and perpetuation of the nature's culture.
This last point on the perpetuation of the nature's culture
is best exemplified by the Western imperial catchphrase
of seeking to spread 'Freedom and Democracy'
in a metaphysic/religious notion, pure and simple.
The actual meaning of this poetically fanciful yet entirely empty phrase
has more to do with the perseverance of private interests and their freedom
than some moral objection to another country's supposed inhumanity
and the interest to 'liberate them' or whatever.
It is no different than the infamous
ideological crusades during the Middle Ages
which always had an underlying material and territorial interest
for the benefit of the few behind-the-scenes
despite the religious overlay we hear in history.
I can think of nothing more powerful
than the mobilization of religious moral values
in service of the few who actually gain from the war enterprise.
The notion of freedom and democracy is equally as persuasive
as the historical notion of one religious group seeking to save another
by invasion and subjugation.
I hope that connection is made.
That acknowledged, let's consider the general unfolding of the war venture.
With the seed of patriotism and ongoing reinforcement of sentiment
in a given population whose political constituents seek to motivate for war
the first step is usually an event that creates a direct imposition of fear
that's coupled with a violation of the national honor metaphysic.
Zbigniew Brzezinski understood this well and he stated on the issue
"The attitude of the American public toward the external projection
of American power has been much more ambivalent.
The public supported America's engagement in World War II
largely because of the shock effect of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
As America becomes an increasingly multicultural society
it may find it more difficult to fashion a consensus on foreign policy issues
except in the circumstance of a truly massive
and widely perceived, direct external threat."
This can be not only a threat
in a real sense but also a metaphysical one
in the sense of intangible moral, honor or outrage.
If we go through history, say the United States' wars...
(as an American this is the history I'm most familiar with)
if we go through the US' wars, we find that the point of provocation
that leads to war is almost always of a minor nature
in proportion to what follows, exacerbated entirely by the irrational
moral outrage and honor neurosis
that leads to seeking retribution and revenge
manipulating the public to believe such things.
From the Mexican-American War for example of 1846
that began with a scuffle along the Mexican domination of Texas
the news reports proclaimed 'off the cuff' that
"Mexicans are killing our boys in Texas! " plastered all over the news.
In this little war, stealing land from Mexico
cost 30,000 deaths in total over the course of a few years.
30,000 deaths and that's a long time ago.
The Vietnam-American War which was provoked by a supposed torpedo attack
that didn't kill anybody, yet opened the public support for an involvement
that killed about 3.5 million humans!
Nearly all of these imperial wars, including the inclusion of the US
in world wars, pose proportionally nominal inflictions statistically
yet grossly amplified by the public's jingoistic reactions.
The basic sociological understanding was formalized
in a CIA created plan called 'Operation Northwoods'
when the US was seeking an excuse to invade Cuba in the 1960s.
They planned to conduct a series of terrorist attacks internally
and then blame them on Cuba for the sake of public perception and support
hence exploiting their moral outrage and fear. This is public record
and dare I add
the king of all modern religious events
one that provoked every level of moral outrage
honor and patriotic neurosis
the events of September 11th, 2001 prove beyond any doubt
that the causality of a given provocation need not have
any true bearing on the actions that follow by the State
given enough shock and jingoistic fervor.
Even if the US government's official narrative of this event
was absolutely true, 100% truth
the actions of the US government and its allies that followed the event
had nothing to do with anything that relates to the event itself.
Absolutely nothing, if you paid attention.
[Applause]
It merely opened the floodgates of patriotic retribution
and allowed for a virtually open palette of imperial mobilization.
Back to the broader point of state character beyond the US
the acts of 9/11 also open the floodgates for a broader redefinition of terms
for almost every power structure in the world
because intrinsically, the power structures of the world, the state entity
are self-contained in their very definition.
They don't really care about any other country or about their population.
It's not a moral thing. It's the way that they've been constructed.
From Turkey to Russia, to Israel, to the UK, etc.
the benefit of 9/11 was massive to the State in hindering the public
the external, engulfing and exacerbating its power.
For the record, there is no war on terrorism.
There can be...
[Applause]
There can be no such thing as a war on an abstraction.
It has no universally operational premise. It has no location
and even worse, it has no universal notion of success
not to mention all acts of so-called 'terrorism' are statistically invalid
with respect to true threats to human society
and public health, but that's for another conversation.
Trillions of dollars being spent on an affair when we have people dying
of so many other things that money could take good use with
but we all know what the real intent actually is:
The real war being waged is actually on problem resolution and human harmony.
The real war is on a balance of power and social justice.
The real war is on the institution of economic equality.
Unfortunately, social stability is not a sought characteristic
of large state enterprises for it affords no advantage.
The true tool of terrorism is not as an act of violence
by an incredibly small desperate subculture that does exist
but a tool of excuse by the State
for further power consolidation, foreign and domestic. I won't drill it in.
As I complete this section of the talk regarding societal manipulation
by state powers for the purposes of reinforcing state integrity
at the ongoing expense of other states and its subjects, I'm often asked:
What defines social cohesion now, and community trust?
Isn't patriotism and national pride a positive force on some level?
If you think about it, nearly all notions of community
have basically been overridden by the ever-dividing premise
of market competition and the privatization of everything.
There's very little left in the world that instills
structurally social capital and community trust anymore.
Even the so-called egalitarian states of the world:
Norway, Sweden, etc. are showing
large patterns of imbalanced growth and income equality
hence their loss of community. It's getting worse, in other words.
For internal purposes, it could be said that patriotism does serve a role
since it's the only thing left, but only within the interests
of the isolated community.
However, I'm sorry to say, this tribalism can easily
be turned around against other forces in the same logic.
I'm sure there was great camaraderie and interpersonal support occurring
with the 10 million strong Nazi army
but that nationalist cohesion also facilitated
one of the largest examples of social destruction
and division in the modern world.
On a different level, on a final note at this point
our economies are of scale and they're inherently international by nature.
They have to be. Patriotic nationalism has no place
in our technical, earthly reality on any level, especially in this regard.
The state as it exists is really an incredible reducer