Reality Check

Sentiments and opinions vary from person to person, city to city and country to country, so one cannot attempt to frame the issue of collective responsibility or awareness towards current affairs, without acknowledging first, that any assumptions or conclusions made cannot in anyway capture the sentiment of every individual in the vast world in which we cohabit. Therefore without assuming that I know what you think, I can however share with you what I am seeing, with the personal hope that we will all wake up to the folly which through our collective collaboration, we are allowing our governments, banks, corporations and the military to perpetrate.

Sooner rather than later, we must all take a deep look into ourselves, evaluate those values which were indoctrinated into us from very early age, through our faiths, religions, education and social interaction. Then, we must confront our social reality and evaluate individually if our beliefs are parallel to our reality. One cannot in any way pretend to be an old fashion moralist, for that would be counter productive to collective objectives. The only thing one can do is to write as a human being concerned about our present and our future, in an attempt to find those out there who share similar concerns and are willing to do something about it.

I am perplexed at the direction which we have unanimously accepted as the only way forward. As we debate in our streets the need for peace, and a healthy environment, we see daily our governments and corporations pushing forth a rhetoric of “justified” aggression, and we watch with arms crossed, our corporations dilapidating the remains of our environmental heritage without a strong enough collective of concerned citizens saying stop. Are we too cowardly? Are our arms tied? Are we so adamant in our belief of capitalism as a safe model of coexistence, that we do not feel we have a right to claim the preservation of our environment and everyone’s human rights?

These are just a few questions which one can raise when simply observing human interaction, the list could fill a whole book. However, what matters here is not so much the issues which are streamed into our lives through the effective communicative work of the mass media in all forms and with varied of objectives, what truly matters is the stance which we take individually and hopefully united, against the adversity which an accumulation of destructive policies and actions are brewing in our environment. Of course, that is a hard position to take when as a collective of people we have lost all interest in the major issues creating destruction in our planet. Political systems with corrupt foundations, outrageous disparity between the wealthy and the poor, and a military establishment which everyday gains more power to destroy and kill.

Looking at the events unravelling around us; world economies coming to a standstill with millions expected to lose their homes across continents, the clear misery of millions of people finding themselves involved in current “theatre wars”, the cries of millions of people going hungry as speculators recover the losses of the last financial bubble by speculating on food, and the increased monitoring and surveillance which we are enduring in order to feel safe. It seems like a good time to sit, reflect and question the direction humanity is taking, and more importantly ask ourselves whose interests it all serves.

If we ask ourselves that question, and we opt to unite with our neighbours to do something about this, then our world can look very different. Let us stand together, let us reject political systems in which only those with corporate and media support are able to become presidents, let us force our militaries to disarm and make their bases into museums of the folly which humanity until the early stages of the 21st century was unable to eliminate. Let us work together to make sure that we do not lose our homes, and our neighbours don’t lose their homes. Let us not accept the idea that saving banks is the way to save our standards of living, let us use tax payer dollars to save individuals with names and histories, not corporations whose only history is one of accumulation of wealth while others were and are starving.

We can accept capitalism and political corruption as the established way forward, and through it try and solve the issues confronting society, in hope that the next elect president will put aside his respect towards his corporate backers and will work for the benefit of the whole of humanity. Or we can outright denounce the very structure of the political system. We can continue supporting the militarization of the whole world, with the obvious increase in conflicts which this path entails, or we can collectively demand disarmament. Something Einstein was conscious enough to suggest four days before his death.

At the end of the day, everyone is free to reject what I am saying or to classify it in their brain as something utopian or naïve, but one must be honest with oneself and at least acknowledge that as a collective we do not seem to be on the path to world peace, a healthy environment, and democratic freedom. In fact, for those who felt democracy was the norm, dictatorships and police states can be observed in the horizon, our environment is more critical everyday, and wars are increasing in number and in destruction capacity. Granted Bush should be tried for crimes against humanity, but please let us stop dwelling on his responsibility, and let us begin to at least question whether we might also individually be morally guilty of crimes against humanity; for our silence, our indifference and our acceptance of the current state of the world.

Pablo Ouziel is an activist and a freelance writer based in Spain. His work has appeared in many progressive media including ZNet, Palestine Chronicle, Thomas Paine’s Corner, and Atlantic Free Press. Read other articles by Pablo.

7 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Edwin Pell said on May 29th, 2008 at 8:58am #

    As soon as you come up with a plan let me know.

    This weekend is graduation at West Point (U.S. Army undergraduate war college). Let’s see each year of college cost something like $60,000 times four years times 1000 grads is $240,000,000. Outside the event a group of pro-peace people will stand and wave cardboard signs. An action that will change nobody’s mind.

    Here is the U.S. the great satan has nuclear weapons, B2 bombers, F22 fighters, napalm, etc, etc, etc…. what do you see the folks with cardboard signs doing against this????

    It is not indifference: we are aware, we are angry, and we are powerless.

  2. bozhidar balkas said on May 29th, 2008 at 12:42pm #

    all US prez’ did and do now all the talking and all of the walking. most other amers do solely the talking. of course, that suits clinton, bush, obama, roosevelt, truman, kennedy, nixon just fine.
    i do lotsof talking but also some walking. in early ’03 i stood on street corners passing leaflets containing info ab how wrong it would be if US invaded iraq. we still protest US invasion/occupation of iraq.
    if amers want get back their beloved america (which they never had) they have do lotsof walking.
    in canada, sit’n isn’t all that different. if we want our canada back (which we never had; we just thought we did) we also must do more, much more walking.
    in short, educate people. schools won’t educate kids but miseducate them; ie, make them prolific users/abusers and semantically blind.
    we can get to the paretns first and they can correct any misteachings by schools, media, hollywood, clergy, politicos.
    and leaflets cost very little. standing on the corner, giving/getting smiles might make someone’s day. thank u.

  3. AaronG said on May 29th, 2008 at 5:41pm #

    Great article, Pablo. Muy bien!

    Edwin, great last line of your comment. You’re totally correct. We ARE powerless. “People power” is a worn out slogan for the powerless. At the best, walkin the streets causes the effect of 20 steps ‘forward’ for the elite and 1 step back (due to the protesters). But a few weeks/months/years later it’s business as usual and another 20 steps ‘forward’. Our protests are just a minute and annoying blip in their plans.

    Rev 11:18 puts it quite simply when it says that God will “….bring to ruin those ruining the earth”.

    In summary, WE are powerless. However, the people we call ‘elite’ and ‘rulers’ and their systems of rulership are not the most powerful beings in the universe. They have relative power (temporarily), not absolute power. The Bible calls them a “film of dust that can be wiped away”. A sobering thought when you mistakenly think that Bush/Cheney/Clinton/Obama Inc. rule the world. Not for long……………..

  4. Brian Koontz said on May 29th, 2008 at 10:53pm #

    America has pathetically weak leftist organizations. One reason for this is a lack of poverty, which is quickly being “fixed” by the criminal class. Another reason is that the population knows that the wealth of the criminal class, extracted largely from non-Americans, will trickle down to them, noting that 3 Billion people in the world “live” on $2 a day or less while the federal minimum wage in the US is $5.85, *per hour*. So the types of populist mass movements that many other countries have are utterly absent in the amoral commercial monocultural corrupt monstrosity otherwise known as American society.

    It’s going to take a while for Americans to become impoverished enough to become organized enough to institute substantive political change. At least a decade, maybe much longer. What was previously called “social progress”, like the civil rights movement, was mostly meaningless, since it largely affected Americans, leaving the criminal class free (intentionally and with utter complicity) to ravage the rest of the world, passing the loot extracted from corpses and terrorized societies to “oppressed Americans”. Apparently corpses aren’t oppressed. This was the reason behind the timing of the King and Malcolm X murders – once they started gaining a global consciousness, thus raising the specter of *global* socialism, those “civil rights advocates”, those who want the blood money extracted from non-Americans to be passed from the criminal class to themselves, recognized the threat and dealt with it. The criminal class didn’t even have to get their hands dirty.

    What might be called the “complicit class”, those not only of the bourgeois but of all Americans who want to keep the American criminal class’s exploited wealth within America (just more “equitably” distributed) makes up 98% or more of America. There is no “proletarian culture” because there is no proletariat in America. Blacks, who logically should make up the backbone of the American proletariat, have been led astray by garbage leaders whose sole purpose is to plead and beg the criminal class to spread out the criminal gains. This has robbed blacks of moral, intellectual, and political strength, and has led the American proletariat in general into an abyss.

    Regardless of any of that, sufficient poverty will create a proletariat, just like it does in every other country. This is the primary reason for the huge number of poor imprisoned Americans. The ruling class wants to ensure that if an American proletariat develops it will do so behind bars and thus be utterly controlled. It may not stop there – there is nothing (certainly not “protesters”) to stop mass torture of US prisoners, and depending on the degree of fear of the ruling class we may well see that in the next decade.

  5. Edwin Pell said on May 30th, 2008 at 10:35am #

    Brain the parallels with Rome continue to surprise me. As long as the government supply bread and circuses there will be no change.

    But the government has destroyed the tax base. Sending manufacturing off-shore. U.S. oil production peaked long ago. The company I work for prefers to hire Egyptian engineers in Egypt because they cost 8 times less than American engineers. The cost of a year of college in Egypt is $22 in the U.S. $25,000 to $50,000. With $100,000 to $200,000 of debt America engineers can not work for the same $15,000 yearly salary that Egyptians can. Unless the U.S. government comes up with a way to tax the rest of the world directly it is going to run out of money.

    You might think the U.S. government can tax the corporations even if they do there development, manufacturing, and most sales else where. But the corporations are smart for example IBM domiciles its patents in the Cayman Islands so it pays no tax on the patent royalties it receives from around the world.

  6. Brian Koontz said on May 30th, 2008 at 6:31pm #

    America is in the dream-making business. Images are everything to American commerce, headed up by Madison Avenue and Hollywood and supported by massive advertising, marketing, branding, and public relations industries. When the dream ends American economic dominance ends with it, and it will end soon. The Disney Mouse will die.

    We often hear that corporations are “out of control”, but it’s rather that they are IN control. Corporations are running the country. If they don’t want high taxes they won’t implement them. Or, rather, “our” politicians will say “higher corporate taxes are not politically feasible”.

    The US government has been out of money for a long time. But the American economy is such an integral part of the world economy that other developed states don’t want to ruin it by calling in the debts. What will likely happen instead is a continual weakening of the American economy until it reverts to a second-world existence. Militarization of the society will keep the rich rich, and the rest of us will economically fade, joining most of the rest of the world in poverty.

    Most developed countries subsidize their peoples’ education. In the United States the people subsidize the intellectual bourgeoisie class. This class’s purpose is to articulate and control intellectual and technological output, part of the full spectrum domination by the ruling class. This seems pretty typical for a modern media and tech-frenetic empire.

    It’s not that they’ve destroyed the tax base, it’s that they’ve exploited the tax base. That’s largely what the Iraq war was about – a transfer of wealth from American taxpayers to American multinationals. If the well runs dry, and it will, these companies just move to the next victim. There are many victims in many parts of the world, whether they be Chinese taxpayers or Haitian workers or otherwise.

    Take a look at India. India is becoming Americanized as we speak – Bollywood is just one clear symptom. India’s culture is becoming more amoral, commercial, and bourgeois. What do American multinationals care about the American tax base? The imperial creed is spreading – India, maybe China. Imperialism everywhere needs to be destroyed, not just that of America.

    Capitalist domination will continue until global socialism is achieved. Capitalist domination is *global* in scope, and unless a global socialist force just as strong can be mustered, we’ll see a constant string of tragedies prior to the collapse of humanity.

  7. XavierOnassis(SaveYourOwn...) said on June 1st, 2008 at 10:20am #

    there is, in this utterly unique modern age of highspeed transportation and communication, a short-fuse bomb under every bed, chair, and movie seat on this sacred blue-green garden harbor planet, wired to blow at a keyturn, at whim of a “decider” who has completely forgotten to remind himself he can indeed be getting it wrong, or by the statistically certain nuclear accident , and we need a big bunch of better big-picture thinking if we’re going to save our own posteriors, so let’s examine a couple of points that have been brought up

    firstly, what if protesting sends exactly the wrong message to people we are trying to influence?

    what if protesting sends the message that it is good to beg wealthpower giants for our rights, that it is necessary to beg wealthpower giants for our rights, that we must never cease begging wealthpower giants for our rights?

    wrong message. the right message is to tell why we must rid ourselves once and for all of the absolutely indefensible idea of allowing unlimited personal fortunes…which ensure the fraction few unlimited power to deny us our birthrights.

    (every lioncub to this day is born with its birthright to a place to put its feet intact, but society has stripped that birthright off everyone now born and yet to be born – and without a dime’s compensation – now that land is all owned) (google BEarthright spiritual economics, be sure to read ‘our crowded planet NOT’)

    we don’t need and can no longer tolerate the extreme injustice of allowing wealthpower giants to exist, so stop begging them for your rights and spend your limited time and energies digging out all the problems by the one root at one stroke instead of merely pulling at the leaves on the tree of unnecessary human suffering.

    look. only work creates wealth. take a dollar bill out of your wallet and tell it to fix you a sandwich if you don’t yet realize that that is true.

    the total pool of wealth in the world is all the goods and services created and provided by work.

    work is one of only two possibilities: it is either work done for us by mother nature who gave us everything we do anything with, or it is the sacrifice of personal time and effort made by a human being.

    it is obvious that the contribution any one person can make to the pool of wealth by his or her own sacrifice to work is FINITE because we must eat and sleep or die.

    so, when individual personal contribution is limited by nature but we allow some to withdraw unlimited personal fortunes from the pool of wealth, then we easily see where those overfortunes have to come from: they have nowhere to come from but from denying many other people the wealth they have sacrificed to create, and this theft of people’s rightful self-earnings causes violence pollution in everyone’s world – because people never stop fighting to get justice.

    legally or illegally stealing people’s money/earnings/wealth is the greatest theft, the most injurious injustice – and injury is retaliated by humans who have stomachs to feed

    we are not powerless…unless you believe that 99 people cannot make one person behave.

    99% of people are underpaid. go google the Lcurve dot org and from there watch the couple minutes youtube version of it. sustainable global happiness and safety and peace will come when the general consciousness is in agreement to take a big payrise.

    there is hard socialism and then there is soft socialism, but generally, socialism and communism puts the money in the hands of the state and just like unlimited-fortunes capitalism, not back into the wallets of those who created the wealth – where dispassionate thinking reveals it belongs.

    we don’t want or need socialism, communism, nor unlimited-fortunes capitalism. what we need is LIMITED-FORTUNES CAPITALISM.

    capitalism is a good workhorse being worked very badly. capitalism will be our best friend once we simply marry it to justice…once we add a couple of simple corrective mechanisms to counter the automatic concentration of wealthpower that happens due to the nature of transaction itself – which automatic transfer of wealth from earners to non-earners i will explain if anyone is interested and asks me to

    i’m sick of hearing there is no answer. that’s not true at all.

    we live in a time when bad economics kills more efficiently than armaments do, but we can easily, without shocks to the economies, reverse this extremely unjust inequality with two simple steps that do not undo all the legal thefts piecemeal but do correct for them indirectly:

    1) A 1% increase per month in the global money supply, going equally, directly, freely, electronically to every living human being, children included, one account per person. The inflation effect will reduce overpays, the money effect will reduce underpays, and it does so without the cost of assessing fortunes. This method is not perfectly efficient in reducing overpay, but it is very easy and quick to reduce underpay. A 1% per month inflation will make a 1% imbalance, which will adjust, as the underpaid spend more, generating more supply. It is gentle enough to avoid any economic social shocks, and works because the inflation effect reduces overfortunes MORE than the equal share increases them, while it reduces underfortunes LESS than the equal share increases them. The weakness in this is that the overpaid can inflation-proof their fortunes to some extent, especially if the idea is implemented nationally not globally. This approach is easy and quick to set up, it immediately relieves underpay stress and pressures and violence at the bottom. It is the lowest possible, most indirect interference with the overpaid. A regular inflation is very much less inconvenient than an irregular one. The fact is, governments and banks are ALREADY increasing the money supply – only at present they are giving the money increase to the banks to suck more money off people through loans. Inflation devalues everyone’s money. It is a sneaky tax, forcing people to borrow, and in effect making them pay interest to buy back their own money.

    2. Making inheritance public instead of private. This will make the overpay shower gently down on humanity over three generations. It takes no self-earnings from living persons, and it reverses the perpetual concentration of wealth and political power in fewer and fewer hands. It counters effectively the natural tendency of money to concentrate unjustly, violently. Yes, making inheritance public instead of private means (almost) a 100% inheritance tax. We are preventing inequality of fortunes from growing to infinity by shovelling overfortunes into underfortunes. We know money automatically, unjustly concentrates endlessly, so any sensible species will introduce a counter to that. The simplest way is having every human being have one account (which governments will be happy to open since it means money coming into the country) into which the estates of deceased persons over US$1 million are distributed equally, electronically, directly, immediately, automatically. Private heirs can share the first US$1 million, (if we choose not to completely eradicate free gratis money). Parents would have trusteeship of children’s accounts till some suitable age, say 10. (This will give parents good reason to teach economic sense before the date children take over responsibility for their own funds!) This method is low-impact, yet totally effective. It doesn’t take away overfortunes from living persons, yet it will move humanity from extreme injustice and violence to near perfect pay justice and non-violence in just three generations – the time it takes for all the overfortunes to die.