Welcome to Whitehead’s Cannibal War Machine: 21st Century Hell

At the same time the progressive evacuation in the 20th century of the nation-state as a means of class domination and the advent of a nomadic pirate class of financial capital, means that the practice of endemic global war has become  indifferent to national territory and so functionally infinite in its horizons for future conflict The cannibal war-machine thus consumes persons and ecologies through forms of commodity production and price speculation that profit from the systematic creation of social chaos and its re-ordering through the violence and destruction of high-tech military performance and the enforced disciplines of emergency or pandemic management and homeland security…And this mystique is consciously promoted by military and police world-wide, entering a global cultural imaginary that ceaselessly replays the violent performances of both military and insurgent, police and criminal, Such virtual experiences circulate incessantly through electronic media whose consumption mesmerizes, stupefies and enchains individual subjectivities to The Cannibal War Machine.

 Neil Whitehead, Divine Hunger

Sad that Neil Whitehead is not around to provide insights into the machinations underway from Ukraine to Syria. He’d likely point out that the world can’t focus solely on the Holy Wars underway in Eurasia and that the Divine Cannibal War Machine is on the move—in some fashion—on every continent. Indeed it is.

It is increasingly difficult to stomach the propaganda and demonization of a bunch of nihilists wearing the mask of Islam by a bunch of destructive capitalists wearing the mask of Christianity (or should we say the mask of Judaism since the destructive capitalists have stood by as Christians in the Middle East are purged and displaced). The nihilists and the destructive capitalists are flip-sides of Janus-faced Saudi Arabia and its vile Wahhabi, capitalist-influenced doctrine.  All three groupings are distinguished by their psychopathic and sociopathic leadership that views the bulk of humanity as non-recyclable material.

For those Americans mesmerized into supporting another US military invasion of Iraq—to include Syria—to bring peace and love to the region, take a look at the US homeland where citizens in Detroit are deemed to have “no fundamental right to water”. There are millions of Americans (including US military Veterans) who are homeless and impoverished. The economy is not recovering unless one thinks that thousands of newly created part-time service industry work, with no benefits, is the sign of an economy on the rise. The actor Jeff Daniels in HBO’s The Newsroom sums up the dire situation in the USA better than any “reality” American news reader, academic, politician, flag officer or pundit. What does it say when the actor playing a part is more believable than the “real” experts and leaders?

Cannibals Leave a Legacy

The world has been inundated with videos of the Islamic Caliphate removing the heads of Westerners foolhardy enough to think that they have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in the brutality of a war zone. They receive a hero’s funeral in the global mainstream media and are lauded for their humanitarianism on behalf of the “civilized” world.

Let’s take a look at some of the activity of the “civilized” Divine Cannibal War Machine and see if it reaches the level of horror that the Islamic Caliphate is charged with. First up, the legacy of the US military’s use of the defoliant Agent Orange in Vietnam. The UK Daily Mail has a photo essay on the matter that deals with birth defects caused by the lingering effect of the toxin. The report was published in April of 2014:

A new series of heartbreaking pictures has revealed even babies 40 years on are suffering the horrific effects of Agent Orange in Vietnam. Canterbury born Francis Wade captured the distressing images at the Thi Nghe and Thien Phuoc orphanages in Saigon, which are home to children born decades after the war. Yet despite the conflict ending in 1971, the orphanages are caring for children suffering disabilities thought to be caused by a chemical used by U.S forces, which was sprayed on crops, plants and trees.

According to the Vietnam Veterans Association:

Agent Orange was a combination of two defoliants, 2-4-5-T and 2-4-D contaminated by dioxin (TCDD), a toxic byproduct of the chemical production process. More than 19 million gallons of herbicides were sprayed in Vietnam between 1962 and 1971. More than 11.2 million gallons sprayed after 1965 were dioxin-contaminated Agent Orange. Agents Purple, Pink, and Green used before 1965 were even more highly contaminated with dioxin. “My father passed away in 1998. He had many health problems, including type II diabetes. He was only 50 years old. Agent Orange has been a part of my life from the moment I was born. I was born without my right leg, several of my fingers, and my big toe on my left foot. My mother had three miscarriages. My younger brother (age 29) has to wear bifocals and suffers from chronic joint pain.

You Don’t Need Your Life or that Pinky Finger

The Stanford Daily offers a critical view of the documentary “The Kill Team” based on the murder, by American soldiers, of three Afghan nationals unlucky enough to have encountered thugs masquerading as uniformed soldiers. The film reviewer notes wryly that in such instances, the US military uses the “few bad apples” clause to indicate that the murder and mutilation of civilians is just a hiccup and not part of the indoctrination that seeks to teach humans to kill without consciousness. It’s the same mentality that was at work during the My Lai Massacre and other mass killings undertaken by US military/contractor personnel in Vietnam.

Murder victims included a disabled man, an Islamic mullah and a 15-year old boy, Gul Mudin, who was working on his father’s farm. American soldiers stripped Mudin’s corpse, severed the boy’s pinky finger as a trophy and posed for photos with his mutilated body. Krauss makes no move to explore the effects of these killings on Afghan communities…. Following the Maywand District murders, government officials portrayed the atrocities as the product of a few bad apples rather than systemic issues within the armed forces. It is laudable that director Dan Krauss sought to interrogate, or at least contextualize, this framing of the crimes. In all likelihood, there is a documentary to be made about the institutional conditions and leadership vacuum that made the crimes possible. But “The Kill Team” is not that movie.

“You Might Say He Lost His Head” (Austin Powers)

In 1994 a soldier in the US Army cut off a fellow soldier’s head for sleeping with his wife. The infuriated married man then took his comrade’s head to the hospital where his wife was resting in expectation of giving birth to a child. The miffed red-blooded American husband placed the head on her bedroom nightstand and left. At any rate, Saudi Arabia has beheaded 54 humans thus far in 2014, according to NDTV. Two of the crimes include witchcraft and drug trafficking. There is an upside to beheading as opposed to being vaporized by an atom bomb (Hiroshima, Nagasaki) or Hellfire missile: There is evidence to suggest that when the head is cut off consciousness remains for some length of time. “…the brain can continue to produce thoughts and experience sensations for at least several seconds following decapitation — in rats, at least. Although findings in rats are commonly extrapolated onto humans, we may never fully know if a human remains similarly conscious after the head is lost. As author Alan Bellows points out, ‘Further scientific observation of human decapitation is unlikely.’”

While Americans are not fond of beheadings, they do prefer to shoot people with firearms: Periscopic has an excellent animated graphic showing the number of murders by gun in 2013 (11,419) and adjacent to that number is the total years of life lost (505,025).

So the American’s (Europe is NATO and NATO is run by the USA so there is no distinct Europe) and Saudi’s are whining about the practices in the Islamic Caliphate? It is ludicrous to believe that Saudi and American strategists are shocked by the Islamic Caliphate’s tactics. The Americans and Saudi’s were responsible for the Caliphate’s creation through misguided invasions of Iraq, ham-handed regime change efforts in Syria and Egypt (USA assisted in the overthrow of Egypt’s Morsi), and reckless favoritism of the Sunni over the Shia. The opportunist strategy and tactics used by Americans to destabilize Syria, and attempted in Iran (assassinations, sanctions, and cyberwar), were brazenly employed in the Ukraine. It’s all of a piece with the objective of creating enough chaos on/in the borders of Russia and China so that the spillover floods and destabilizes the governments of those nation-states.

Perhaps it is not worth caring about the self-destruction of the human species. Maybe it’s the nihilists, destructive capitalists, and Wahhabi’s who’ve got it right. They always have the upper hand it seems justifying the wanton destruction of life by couching it in mystical religion backed by monetary power (or maybe it should be the other way around). The Cannibal War Machine is flourishing, chewing up humanity and all life on Earth. No, you say? Consider Whitehead’s description of the present historical moment:

The tortured animal subjects of neuro-scientific experiments, the suffering of the unemployed, the displaced, the impoverished are all an acceptable price for progress towards modernity, they are unavoidable casualties in our wars for freedom, democracy and prosperity, the spiritual mimesis of which is of course the tortured Christ. Moreover our assumption that there is a linear progress in this death-march towards the modern also closes off alternative histories, so that our recollection of the past becomes merely a curiosity that allows us to marvel at our progress from those savage origins. The savages then become exemplars of not just ignorance but also illegitimate violence, violence which does not stem from Reason and a desire for Progress, but violence that is atavistic, primitive and animalistic.  More widely, the project of modernity was also enabled by the possibility that war itself could become fabulously profitable and in so doing also made State-sponsored warfare a means for the Sacred Empowerment of the colonial and eventually global social order…Violence also links to the sacred as a systematic and historically evolved means for the accumulation of power and wealth through war and violence, for which the sacrifice of bodies and lives is necessary…The idea of the “war machine” references relentless and un-merciless force, constructed by civil society but always escaping its control – driven by the search for profit from even the most brutal kinds of economic and financial production.

John can be reached at jeff@jstanton.org. He published a book in 2019 titled Cancer for Jokers, an irreverent, black humor based look at his first cancer diagnosis. Read other articles by John.