By Carolyn Baker
Speaking Truth to Power
July 02, 2007
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere;
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely, some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight; somewhere in the sands of the desert
As shape with a lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches toward Bethlehem to be born?
– William Butler Yeats
As this article is being written the world is entranced with terrorist attacks in the United Kingdom, and U.S. residents are stocking up on beer and barbecue for the most sacrosanct of all American holidays. Barefoot children are running through sprinklers and reveling in backyard swimming pools. Fireflies flicker through muggy Midwest nights, and urban jungles swelter in a sultry aura of crime and poverty. But whether in the McMansions of Florida bedroom communities or locked in the suffocating despair of Chicago’s Cabrini Green, everyone knows—everyone feels it, but no one is talking about “it.” That “it”, that “something” is why depression is rampant, and why Americans are so sleep-deprived. That “something” can’t be fixed with a new mattress or more Tylenol PM, and when long nights of fitful or no sleep turn into another workday, the American way is to rise and shine into frenetic workaholism and ten thousand other distractions so that no one has to think or talk about “it”.
“It” is the sickening, gut-wrenching, capillary-constricting, heart-palpitating, suffocating, terrifying, paralyzing awareness in the deepest recesses of the body and soul that the entire house of cards for which Americans have worked, saved, sacrificed—for which they have sent their children off to war and off to college, which they have been willing to defend to their death and which has given them meaning when nothing else would—all of that, yes ALL of that is collapsing, dissolving, disintegrating, disappearing, slipping away. Perhaps only subconsciously weary of war and tormented by finances as they are, some part of them knows that their children aren’t going to college, that they won’t be able to stop foreclosure on their home, that their increasing reliance on credit cards postpones bankruptcy a little longer but makes its consequences ever-more brutal, and that when it’s all said and done, the retirement package and the 401K they were counting on for the worst-case scenario, like the rollicking good times of the pre-dot-com nineties, has simply evaporated into history.
All of this is horrifying enough by itself, but add to this the reality that these same Americans no longer live in a democratic republic and that they have lost all perspective of what that actually means. In 2004 I wrote an article entitled “Hello, You Are Now Living In A Fascist Empire” which at the time drew many emails telling me how paranoid and hopelessly locked into “conspiracy theory” I was. Now, three years later, Rodrigue Tremblay in his article “Imperialism And Fascism Are On The Rise In The USA” has updated the history of America’s descent into fascism, listing the tyrannical steps taken within the past six years to shred the Constitution and eviscerate the republic.
Sadly, I notice that some of the same progressives who labeled me paranoid in 2004, while now appalled at the litany of civil liberties destroyed by the current regime, still do not comprehend the reality of collapse. As a result, I keep hearing their illusions in the emails I receive and in the articles they write on websites and blogs. Not unlike the middle-class, sleep-deprived, thoroughly distracted and denial-crazed workaholics mentioned above, they believe that somehow the show can be kept on the road if only progressives do the right things.
William Butler Yeats, a highly intuitive poet, wrote “The Second Coming” in 1921 as Hitler was getting warmed up and learning to speak in front of large crowds. Yeats knew that somehow things were falling apart and that the center could not hold. His poem now reverberates down through the decades to our time and our “second coming.” This will not be the second coming of the LaHaye-Jenkins crowd. No Rapture nor extraterrestrial throngs will sweep away the “faithful”, followed by the destruction of the earth by Jesus and his followers. No, Jesus’ so-called followers are doing that here and now—and have been doing so in his name for the past two thousand years, calling it “having dominion over the earth.” And in my opinion, those progressives who pride themselves in their optimism, who refuse to face the collapse of civilization, blinded by their illusions, are no more enlightened than the fundamentalist Christians or New Age devotees who are waiting for the second coming of Jesus or the arrival of rescuing aliens from other worlds.
Many individuals love to debate whether collapse will be “fast or slow”. According to the “slow burners”, those who say it will be sudden are delusional, whereas those who insist on its suddenness reject the collapse as a gradual process. Even the issue of collapse is replete with the distractions of a conflict over “slow” or “sudden.” Western Civilization and Christianity in particular have left their mark on us in the polarization that we can’t seem to extricate ourselves from, even over the issue of collapse. It is, in some respects, that very duality that has created the end of civilization as we have known it, yet we cling to the polarization as if our lives depended on it.
Collapse, on a more metaphorical level, is a form of apocalypse, and apocalypse is simply a Greek word meaning, “the lifting of the veil.” When veils are lifted, reality is seen for what it is, and given that definition, apocalypse has been going on for a long time. Think of the veils that have been lifted just in the past seven years: The 2000 election, the crimes of 9/11 perpetrated by the U.S. government, Enron, Peak Oil, climate change, the incomprehensible levels of corruption in the U.S. government, the trillions of dollars of missing money, the deceptions of the Iraq War, the coverup of Pat Tillman’s death—the list could go on and on. The biggest veil to be lifted is that humans are the superior life form on planet earth and that they have a right to conquer, rape, pillage, and own its resources. Collapse, which in my opinion has been going on for at least thirty years, is lifting the veil of that illusion and will reveal incontrovertibly the lie that it is, but for some, the lie cannot be allowed in their consciousness until there is nothing—and I mean nothing, left to lie about.
Here are some other illusions:
Somehow the system works. Although there are abuses and many of our civil liberties have been irreparably eroded, things will get “fixed” in 2008 with the election of a new president.(This assumes that the current regime will allow an election in 2008 and that electronic voting can somehow produce viable elections. This also assumes that Presidents or Vice-Presidents actually rule the nation when in fact the nation and the world are ruled by centralized financial systems, the Federal Reserve and other banking interests.) There will BE an election in 2008, and it will be legitimate. The neocons can’t last forever, and the pendulum will swing back to the left. (This assumes that that since the end of the Civil War, there has been a pendulum—a choice between the ruling elite and something else. It also flies in the face of massive evidence that clean federal elections do not exist in the U.S. Moreover, Congress is about to pass a computerized voting bill that will seal election corruption permanently.)
The Iraq War is not being won nor are U.S. troops being withdrawn because of the incompetence of the Bush Administration. (This assumes that it was the intention of the regime to win the war in Iraq. It denies the reality that things are proceeding in Iraq exactly as they have been planned.)
Peak Oil is not real. Skyrocketing oil prices are due to the domination of the Executive Branch of government by oily politicians, and once a Democrat takes up residence in the White House, prices will level off. Alternative energy and innovative technology will create solutions to the energy dilemma that the Bush administration is suppressing but which will not be suppressed by a Democratic administration. (This explanation defies the massive evidence confirming the reality and consequences of Peak Oil and the reality that the Democrats have done virtually nothing to address oil depletion.)
Fact vs. reality: If as a politician you know that Peak Oil is real, you and your family have been planning for it for years, you have years of food and water stored in bunkers heated and cooled with solar energy, and if you know that telling the nation about it is bad for business and for your political future—if the Pentagon is already simulating how the public will react to food and fuel shortages, and if the economy and your personal financial well being depend on the weapons industry, then you cannot and will not disclose the reality of Peak Oil to the nation. You cannot and will not implement rationing, a massive scaling back of consumption of fossil fuels and other goods and services, and a radical transformation of the American lifestyle. You can only do one thing: You can only lie about energy depletion and expand empire to acquire the last remaining drops of oil on earth and profit not only from that oil but from the wars “required” to obtain it.
Global warming is real, and Al Gore has the first and last word on it. That’s why he must be elected president. (Al Gore did not invent global warming any more than he invented the internet. This illusion discounts other notable research on climate change by a host of other researchers. It also discounts “inconvenient truths” about Al Gore.)
The economic challenges facing the U.S. and its middle class will be resolved by a Democratic administration. A Democratic president will enact new priorities and bring the troops home from Iraq, will massively scale back the Pentagon’s budget, and allocate money that would have been used for war to solve domestic problems such as poverty, a crumbling infrastructure, inflation, the mortgage meltdown, and healthcare. Another New Deal type of economic effort is needed to restore America’s prosperity. (The first flaw in this argument is the illusion that the Democrats have done anything to end the war in Iraq. The 2006 mid-term election confirmed that politicians care little what mandates the American people may give them. The second flaw is the failure to grasp the extent to which the government of the United States is captive to the interests of corporations and financial systems, particularly the Federal Reserve, and the reality that there is transparency neither in how financial resources are acquired and spent, nor in the government’s economic statistics.)
The recent release of de-classified CIA documents revealing the agency’s sinister actions in past decades is something to be celebrated. (It may be tempting to be impressed by the so-called “family jewels”, but only if one does not understand a very old CIA strategy called the limited hangout in which certain pieces of incriminating information are thrown like crumbs to agency critics, obfuscating more damaging information which is not being disclosed. When the agency supplies every piece of information it has about the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert Kennedy and when it discloses the creation and maintenance over decades of a black budget to finance secret operations and military adventures unknown to Congress and the America people, there might be something to celebrate. Perhaps the most important message implicit in the release of the documents is the illusion that the CIA no longer behaves as badly as it did in earlier times. The “new” CIA of the twenty-first century is ostensibly more enlightened, more professional, and operates with higher standards than in previous decades. And of course, Americans who have little knowledge of the agency’s history and dirty tricks–and the philosophy of “by whatever means necessary” which lies at its core, are easily duped into believing the agency has fundamentally changed its modus operandi. In fact, CIA watcher, Wayne Madsen, documents that the agency is still committing the same abuses as it did in the seventies.The 9/11 Truth Movement is the key to our liberation. If we can just get enough people to understand that the crime was perpetrated by the U.S. government, the empire’s unclothed status will be revealed, and it will fall. (What these well-meaning individuals cannot comprehend is that in order for 9/11 truth to accomplish anything, a viable government must be in place. When the so-called government is in fact comprised of corporations, financial systems, and individuals who have profited and will continue to profit from 9/11–when there is no presidency, Congress, or Supreme Court, 9/11 truth is yet another tragic joke.)
The real truth is that over 70 million Americans question the official story of 9/11, and can we really believe that those other sleepless Americans tossing in their beds at night and frantically working during the day do not know in their guts and in the marrow of their bones that the U.S. government murdered over 3000 of their fellow citizens on 9/11?. An abusive system is an abusive system whether it’s the nuclear family or a fascist empire. Everyone in the family knows that daddy is molesting the kids, but no one wants to talk about it. If we don’t, maybe it will go away. If we really do go shopping as the president asked us to do right after 9/11 and wave flags on the Fourth of July and yammer a little more about supporting the troops, maybe we can sleep better and forget what we know really happened on that day.
And what are the 9/11 truthers doing to prepare for a world with no oil, no food, and no water? Have they not noticed that fascism is galvanizing more firmly in the United States with every passing moment? Are they really so ignorant of history that they believe the Reichstag fire scam could have been exposed in a fascist empire?)
Every day I receive emails which in some way echo these illusions—messages informing me about what Congress is doing, how electing Ron Paul will save the world, how yet another barrage of physicists and architects have proven that the World Trade towers were blown up, or celebrating the fact that the Democrats have subpoenaed members of the Executive branch. All of the messages report events which are too little, too late—you see, as Yeats says, the falcon can no longer hear the falconer. We’ve passed the point of no return—in climate change (so say the experts), in politics, in economics, in energy depletion. In this moment, the old paradigm is triumphant, and all our illusions and antiquated methods of addressing it are absurdly ineffectual.
“The Second Coming” is a poem about death and birth—in that order. Out of collapse, something is trying to be born, and will be whether we recognize it or not, whether we personally survive or not, whether the entire planet is incinerated or not. I know not what form the birth will take, nor do I know if I will live to see it. I do know that births are usually fraught with pain, and according to some mothers, it is the most excruciating pain one can experience. They also tell me that the pain and the unimaginable work giving birth takes, made them appreciate their child even more than if it had simply dropped down out of the sky into their lap.
Believing that we have a government and that somehow it can be resurrected and made to work for us is not only delusional, but makes the believer of the illusion part of the very problem she/he purports to solve. As Derrick Jensen notes, millions of people can be led to gas chambers if they can be made to believe that they are only going somewhere to take a shower. Of course, the illusion is much more pleasant, and as we know, Americans love pleasantries. God knows, we are sleepless enough already.
Collapse, sudden or gradual, is upon us. It’s Independence Day, and we have no government. The blood-dimmed tide is loose. Time to let the flow of that blood take us out of the old paradigm as it took Cindy Sheehan just a few weeks ago and into preparation on all of the levels on which we must prepare. Something slouching toward Bethlehem is trying to be born.
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