“Human” – The Human Documentary


“To succeed in your professional life isn’t that hard, but to succeed in your personal life is a lot harder. To really be a human is a lot harder. We forget about that.” – Yann Arthus-Bertrand, director of the film Human


What is it that makes us human? Is it that we love, that we fight ? That we laugh ? Cry ? Our curiosity ? The quest for discovery ?

Driven by these questions, filmmaker and artist Yann Arthus-Bertrand spent three years collecting real-life stories from 2,000 women and men in 60 countries.

Working with a dedicated team of translators, journalists and cameramen, Yann captures deeply personal and emotional accounts of topics that unite us all; struggles with poverty, war, homophobia, and the future of our planet mixed with moments of love and happiness.

Sainath-Human_web

Vol.2  | Vol.3

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How Government Literally Makes People Go Insane


TheDailyBell

By Joe Jarvis – May 07, 2017

The most effective way to change the world if you have kids is to treat them right. Everything could change in one generation if there were a radical shift in parenting.

Unfortunately, some indicators suggest things are getting worse. For instance, there has been an increase in kids hospitalized for attempted suicide or suicidal indicators.

Now we can just hope that parents are becoming more alert to the warning signs and are therefore properly identifying them early in order to prevent suicide.

But the most concerning thing is that these incidents tend to be concentrated at certain times of the year. One of the most likely times for a kid to need a hospital visit because of suicidal tendencies or attempts is in the fall when school starts back up.

There are two probable reasons for this. One, being ridiculed and bullied by their peers makes kids feel like social outcasts, and transitioning to a new school year could increase that. Evolution has programmed the human mind to want acceptance of the group for survival reasons, so being ostracized can make you literally feel like you are going to die because if this was 10,000 years ago, you probably would.

And then there are the drugs. You know, the legalized forms of cocaine and heroine that we give to kids to make them alert, focused, or calm, and manageable. There are all sorts of side effects to the drugs, and based on the spiking and dropping levels of dopamine and other chemicals in the brain, this can cause erratic behavior.

But either way, the school system seems to be the root of the problem, whether it is exposing kids to negative people they don’t need in their lives, drugs to help them function “normally” in an abnormal school environment, or just the unnatural environment itself where one is trapped, caged, and coerced in order to prepare them for an equally coercive society afterwards.

Coercion is Ruining Society

It turns out coercion is a serious problem that can lead to mental health issues. Coercion might even cause most of the ills we see in society today. The same thing that makes a teenager lash out and act erratically in opposition to strict rules is what makes people do crazy things in a society dominated by arbitrary and oppressive government edicts.

According to Bruce Levin, PhD, in his article, Societies With Little Coercion Have Little Mental Illness:

Coercion—the use of physical, legal, chemical, psychological, financial, and other forces to gain compliance—is intrinsic to our society’s employment, schooling, and parenting. However, coercion results in fear and resentment, which are fuels for miserable marriages, unhappy families, and what we today call mental illness.

It Starts With Your Kids

Most parents have their kids’ best interests at heart when parenting, yes some still treat their child like a wild animal that must be broken. So many people in our society would have no idea what to do with freedom because all they have ever known is oppression. It starts in childhood, and evidence suggests that a more free child leads to a happier adult.

Levin points out that some cultures see very little mental illness, and he suggests it is because of the way the children are reared.

For many indigenous peoples, even the majority rule that most Americans call democracy is problematically coercive, as it results in the minority feeling resentful. Roland Chrisjohn, member of the Oneida Nation of the Confederacy of the Haudenausaunee (Iroquois) and author of The Circle Game, points out that for his people, it is deemed valuable to spend whatever time necessary to achieve consensus so as to prevent such resentment. By the standards of Western civilization, this is highly inefficient. “Achieving consensus could take forever!” exclaimed an attendee of a talk that I heard given by Chrisjohn, who responded, “What else is there more important to do?”

Among indigenous societies, there are many accounts of a lack of mental illness, a minimum of coercion, and wisdom that coercion creates resentment which fractures relationships.

How could we expect coercion to yield results as positive as agreement? All interaction should be voluntary; you cannot have positive ends if you do not use positive means to achieve those ends. I am not a parent, and I don’t expect perfection from anyone, but parents should at least try to solve issues with their kids without being so forceful and coercive.

Let kids be who they want to be, with the steady hand of your guidance, not an iron fist. Clearly, a child cannot always get what they want, and I am not advocating giving in to any random whim. Just realize how important freedom is for children in order to grow and learn.

This is why the public school system is horribly damaging to a large percentage of children. That is not the only nor best way to learn, and in fact really just teaches obedience to authority. Public schooling sets children up to be mindless drones in the work world, where they will be used to the coercion, but not happy about it.

[Jared] Diamond, in The World Until Yesterday (2012), reports how laissez-faire parenting is “not unusual by the standards of the world’s hunter-gatherer societies, many of which consider young children to be autonomous individuals whose desires should not be thwarted.” Diamond concludes that by our society’s attempt to control children for what we believe is their own good, we discourage those traits we admire:

“Other Westerners and I are struck by the emotional security, self-­confidence, curiosity, and autonomy of members of small-scale societies, not only as adults but already as children. We see that people in small-scale societies spend far more time talking to each other than we do, and they spend no time at all on passive entertainment supplied by outsiders, such as television, videogames, and books. We are struck by the precocious development of social skills in their children. These are qualities that most of us admire, and would like to see in our own children, but we discourage development of those qualities by ranking and grading our children and constantly ­telling them what to do.”

Bravo to home-schoolers and free range parenting. They are ahead of the curve by going back to the basics.

Then It’s Your Job…

I don’t believe the reason so many hate going to work is not the work itself, but the fact that we cannot act like ourselves when at work. We feel coerced in one way or another into not being who we want to be. This is a mild form of coercion, one that often doesn’t go beyond venting over a beer after work, or every once in a while both middle fingers and: “I quit!” screamed at the boss.

But is the quiet desperation of a 9-5 you hate–saving for retirement, but probably drinking yourself to death before you get to enjoy it–really the way to live? What if we couldn’t afford cable, couldn’t afford a new car, or a perfect house–but were happy?

Critics of schooling—from Henry David Thoreau, to Paul Goodman, to John Holt, to John Taylor Gatto—have understood that coercive and unengaging schooling is necessary to ensure that young people more readily accept coercive and unengaging employment. And as I also reported in that same article, a June 2013 Gallup poll revealed that 70% of Americans hate their jobs or have checked out of them.

Unengaging employment and schooling require all kinds of coercions for participation, and human beings pay a psychological price for this. In nearly three decades of clinical practice, I have found that coercion is often the source of suffering…

In all societies, there are coercions to behave in culturally agreed-upon ways. For example, in many indigenous cultures, there is peer pressure to be courageous and honest. However, in modernity, we have institutional coercions that compel us to behave in ways that we do not respect or value. Parents, afraid their children will lack credentials necessary for employment, routinely coerce their children to comply with coercive schooling that was unpleasant for these parents as children. And though 70% of us hate or are disengaged from our jobs, we are coerced by the fear of poverty and homelessness to seek and maintain employment.

In our society, we are taught that accepting institutional coercion is required for survival. We discover a variety of ways—including drugs and alcohol—to deny resentment.

And the government is perfectly happy with the arrangement because it is easier to control–and tax–“normal” people who just go to work every day.

Government Enforces and Exacerbates the Problem

We cannot even live on a piece of land without being coerced by government to earn some money in order to pay the property taxes. But we have to earn more than the amount owed in property taxes because we are taxed on our earnings as well. We are taxed on the vehicle and gas that gets us to work, which require more work to pay off–earnings, again, that must go above and beyond what we need because it will be taxed.

Could this be the overlooked factor that makes America more violent than some other developed nations? Has the American government piled so many laws, regulations, and statutes on top of each other that American citizens can’t just go through life without being told perfectly normal, non-violent behavior is wrong?

I think this highlights the problem with mass shootings that many have been pointing out. Whoever the shooters feel they are being oppressed by, they are correctly identifying that they are being coerced. Of course, their response is insane, and probably related to the drugs they take (some of which we also give kids), but there would never be a need for drugs if a coercive society had not reared them.

The hopelessness felt when being forced to spend money, behave a certain way, or notdo something you want to do, is one of those gut wrenching deep feelings of despair that grow inside some people until they burst.

But now imagine that the government has taken everything from you. Imagine if they took your car as a civil asset forfeiture? What if your tax burden is 50%? What if you give up on that business you want to start because of the pile of paperwork and extra costs required by the government?

What if they take your kids because they are home schooled, or shoot your dog for no reason whatsoever? All these things happen, unfortunately relatively regularly, in America.

Many of us are baffled by why someone would become a terrorist, especially a suicide bomber. Again, this is the coercion the Middle East is smothered in by the USA. Imagine losing your childhood because you could not go outside because of the American drones. Imagine family members having been murdered by laughing soldiers. Imagine all your hopes and dreams bombed away in the blink of an eye. Again, this is the unfortunate reality for many people today.

In the 1970s, prior to the domination of the biopsychiatry-Big Pharma partnership, many mental health professionals took seriously the impact of coercion and resentful relationships on mental health. And in a cultural climate more favorable than our current one for critical reflection of society, authors such as Erich Fromm, who addressed the relationship between society and mental health, were taken seriously even within popular culture. But then psychiatry went to bed with Big Pharma and its Big Money, and their partnership has helped bury the commonsense reality that an extremely coercive society creates enormous fear and resentment, which results in miserable marriages, unhappy families, and severe emotional and behavioral problems.

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Pentagon Completes Takeover Of US Government, Begins Next Stage Of “Deep State” War


WhatDoesItMean

By: Sorcha Faal, and as reported to her Western Subscribers

A very interesting, though somewhat chilling, new Security Council (SC) report circulating in the Kremlin today states that the US Department of Defense (DoD/Pentagon) has secured its takeover of the American government and is now in “full battle mode” for its next assault against its “Deep State” enemies currently waging war against President Donald Trump—but that Federation experts warn could lead to nuclear war. [Note: Some words and/or phrases appearing in quotes in this report are English language approximations of Russian words/phrases having no exact counterpart.]

According to this report, the American “Deep State” is a confederation of Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) operatives who have permeated every branch of the US government since the early 1950’s, and who, in 2016, were exposed by Udo Ulfkotte (the assistant editor for the German mainstream media newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung) as being in control of the entire Western mainstream media—and for his exposing them, was assassinated just prior to his meeting with then President-elect Trump.

With this “Deep Statetranscending all US laws and having sold-out the Pentagon’s counter-terror efforts in order to keep itself in business, this report continues, then candidate Trump aligned himself with the American military establishment to gain the presidency—and who after taking power, has appointed to his Cabinet more generals than any other US leader since World War II.

The most important “observable” military leaders appointed by President Trump to fight the “Deep State”, this report details, are General James Mattis, who now heads the Pentagon, General John Kelly, who now heads the Department of Homeland Security, former US Navy SEAL Ryan Zinke, who now leads the Department of Interior, and former US Army officer Mike Pompeo, who now heads the CIA.

Likewise, this report notes, the most important “non-observable” military leaders appointed by President Trump are Jeff Sessions, who now heads the Department of Justice, Rex Tillerson, who heads the Department of State, and Rick Perry, who heads to the Department of Energy—which is the ministry in charge of America’s nuclear arsenal currently under civilian, not military, control.

Critical to note about Trump’s “non-observable” military leaders Jeff Sessions, Rex Tillerson and Rick Perry, this report says, is that all of them are Vietnam War-era Eagle Scouts who were deferred from fighting in this conflict by the Pentagon in order for them to become established political and business leaders put into positions of power to further the goals and aims of the US military against their “Deep State” CIA adversaries.

An Eagle Scout, this report explains, is the highest rank that can be achieved in the American paramilitary youth organization called the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) that by US law [10 U.S. Code § 2554 and 32 CFR 621.4] is supported by the Pentagon—and whose members fill the US military officer ranks (especially in intelligence operations), have been trained since 2009 in fighting terrorism, all US military personal are able to receive a medal for their support of, and whose current leader is the former Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

Completing the US military takeover of the American government, this report continues, was President Trump, yesterday, appointing former US Marine General Randolph Alles to head the Secret Service (SS) that protects his, and his families, lives—and that was critical to achieve as the last president to fight against the CIA’s “Deep State (President John F. Kennedy) was allowed to be assassinated when his Secret Service protectors abandoned him in Dallas, Texas, when they were called off from their positions at the back of his limousine thus allowing assassins to blow his head off minutes later

With some American experts questioning if President Trump has lost control over the Pentagon, this report says, Security Council analysts, instead, state that the new powers he’s given to these generals is but another crucial step the US military has taken against the CIA’s “Deep State”—but whose unintended consequences could very well lead to nuclear war.

To understand the Federations nuclear war fears, this report explains, is due to the US militaries current doctrine of “Deterrence=Capability x National Interest x Signaling”—which is an aggressive formula at odds from the deterrence-chaos theory that guided both the US and USSR through the Cold War and kept World War III from destroying the entire world.

Most worrisome about this doctrine, this report states, is the “Signaling” component of this equation that calls for “Maximum Pressure”—that is now being seen as the Americans and their NATO allies continue their “forceful advance” against Russia, and even more dangerously, installing their feared THAAD missile defense system in South Korea.

With Security Council spokesman Nikolai Patrushev stating just hours ago that “we should not underestimate the North Korean issue as external provocations have put parties to the conflict on the brink of war”, this report concludes, most feared by the Federation is that President Trump and his Pentagon backers will fail to stop a CIA “Deep State” escalation of this conflict—called a “false flag event”—to which a response would most likely be a nuclear missile launch, i.e. World War III.

April 26, 2017 © EU and US all rights reserved. Permission to use this report in its entirety is granted under the condition it is linked back to its original source at WhatDoesItMean.Com. Freebase content licensed under CC-BY and GFDL.

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Positive Thinking: Philosophy for Phonies


OshoNews

“The philosophy of positive thinking means being untruthful; it means being dishonest. It means seeing a certain thing and yet denying what you have seen; it means deceiving yourself and others.”

This compilation of Osho’s words was put together by Anando to accompany her article: Why the Law of Attraction Doesn’t Work

Once Gautam Buddha was asked, ”Why don’t you teach your people to pray?” It was an obvious question – a religion without prayer is simply inconceivable to many people. And the answer Buddha gave is as fresh today as it was twenty-five centuries before, as new and as revolutionary. He said, “I don’t teach my people to pray because their prayers will harm them. Right now they are not conscious enough to ask for anything, and whatsoever they ask will be wrong. First, let them become conscious enough. I teach them how to become more conscious and then it is up to them.

“When they are fully conscious, if they want to pray, they are free. They are not my slaves. But I can say one thing: that anybody who is fully conscious has nothing to ask for. He has got everything that one can ever ask for.”

Mildred had been nagging her family for years, and everyone had become accustomed to her whining and her sour face. One day she attended a ‘positive thinking’ lecture, where the speaker talked for an hour on the winning qualities of the face with a smile. Mildred went home, very impressed, and decided to reform.

Next morning she got up early, put on her favorite dress, and prepared a good breakfast. When the family came in to the dining room she greeted them with a beaming smile. Her husband George took a good look at her face and collapsed in a chair. “Along with everything else,” he moaned, “she has gone and developed lockjaw.”

He could not believe that her smile could be true. It must be lockjaw!

People try to pray, people try to smile, people try to look happy, people try to be truthful, honest – whatever qualities are praised. But their unconsciousness stands there behind every act of theirs, and their unconsciousness distorts their honesty, distorts their smiles, distorts their truth.

But no morality in the world teaches people to first be conscious and only then to find, by your own consciousness, what qualities you would like to blossom in your being…. Honesty, sincerity, truth, love, compassion?

Except for a very few rebels like Gautam Buddha, nobody has thought about your unconscious, that first it has to be dropped, changed, your inner being has to be full of light, and then whatever you do is going to be right. Out of a totally conscious mind nothing can go wrong. But who listens?

Osho, The Rebel, Ch 26

Osho

The philosophy of positive thinking means being untruthful; it means being dishonest. It means seeing a certain thing and yet denying what you have seen; it means deceiving yourself and others.

Positive thinking is the only bullshit philosophy that America has contributed to human thought – nothing else. Dale Carnegie, Napoleon Hill, and the Christian priest, Vincent Peale – all these people have filled the whole American mind with this absolutely absurd idea of a positive philosophy.

And it appeals particularly to mediocre minds.

Dale Carnegie’s book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, has been sold in numbers just next to the Christian Bible. No other book has been able to reach that popularity.

The Christian Bible should not be a competitor in fact, because it is more or less given free, forced on people. But Dale Carnegie’s book people have been purchasing; it has not been given to you free. And it has created a certain kind of ideology which has given birth to many books of a similar kind. But to me it is nauseating.

… Dale Carnegie started this whole school of positive philosophy, positive thinking: Don’t see the negative part, don’t see the darker side. But by your not seeing it, do you think it disappears? You are just befooling yourself. You cannot change reality. The night will still be there; you can think that it is daytime for twenty-four hours, but by your thinking it, it is not going to be light twenty-four hours a day.

The negative is as much part of life as the positive. They balance each other.

After Dale Carnegie, the great name in the tradition of this positive thinking is Napoleon Hill. Think and Grow Rich is his greatest contribution to the world – a beautifully written book, but all crap.

Think and grow rich… you don’t have to do anything, you only have to think in absolutely positive terms and riches will start flowing towards you. If they don’t come, that simply means that you have not been thinking absolutely positively.

So these are beautiful games in which you cannot defeat the man who is proposing the game. He has the key in his hands. If you succeed by chance, then he succeeds because his philosophy – think and grow rich – has succeeded. You have been thinking and thinking and thinking and positively thinking that dollars are showering on you – these are not snowflakes but dollars showering on you – and suddenly your uncle dies and leaves you a big inheritance. Naturally, positive thinking works!

But if you don’t succeed… and ninety-nine percent of the time you are not going to succeed – you know perfectly well that your positive thinking is not absolutely positive; you know that there is doubt.

Once is a while you open your eyes to see whether they are dollars or just snowflakes. You see they are just snowflakes, and you again close your eyes and start thinking that dollars are showering.

But the doubt is there, that these really are snowflakes. Whom are you trying to befool? All these thoughts are going on: “This is just nonsense, I shouldn’t waste my time, I could be earning some dollars; this way I am losing rather than gaining.”

But Napoleon Hill writes beautifully and gives examples of how people have succeeded by positive thinking. And you can find people – this world is big enough. For everything you can find an example.

Why one? – you can find hundreds of examples if you just look around and try to find them. And all these people have been doing just that: they find examples, and they place the examples in beautiful poetic prose. And of course you want to be rich, so they exploit your ambition, your desire. They give you such a simple method – and they don’t ask anything of you in return.

About Napoleon Hill I remember… he himself was a poor man. That would have been enough proof to disprove his whole philosophy. He became rich by selling the book, Think  and Grow Rich.

But it was not positive thinking that was making him rich – it was fools around the world who were purchasing the book, it was his work, his labor, his effort. But in the very beginning days, when his book came out, he used to stand in bookstores to persuade people to purchase the book.

And it happened that Henry Ford came in his latest model car and went into the bookshop to find something light to read. And Napoleon Hill did not want to miss this chance. He went forwards with his book and he said, “A great book has just been published – you will be happy with it. And it is not only a book, it is a sure method of success.”

Henry Ford looked at the man and said, “Are you the writer of the book?”

Napoleon Hill said proudly, “Yes, I am the writer of the book.” And he can be proud: that book he has written is a piece of art. And to create a piece of art out of crap is real mastery.

Henry Ford, without touching the book, just asked one question, “Have you come in your own car or on the bus?”

Napoleon Hill could not understand what he meant. He said, “Of course, I came on the bus.”

Henry Ford said, ”Look outside. That is my private car, and I am Henry Ford. You are befooling others; you don’t have even a private car and you write a book called Think and Grow Rich! And I have grown rich without thinking, so I don’t want to bother with it. You think and grow rich! – and when you grow rich then you come to me. That will be the proof. The book is not the proof.”

And it is said that Napoleon Hill never could gather up the courage to meet this old man, Henry Ford, again, even though he became a little richer. But compared to Henry Ford he was always a poor man and was bound to remain a poor man, always. But Henry Ford’s logic was clear.

No. I do not believe in any philosophy of positive thinking; nor do I believe in the opposite, in the philosophy of negative thinking – because both are there. The positive and the negative make one whole. My philosophy is holistic – neither positivist, nor negativist, but holistic, realistic. You see the whole in its totality, whatever it is. Good and bad, day and night, life and death, they both are there.

My approach is to see exactly what is the case.

There is no need to project any philosophy on it.

… You ask me: Am I against positive philosophy? Yes, because I am also against negative philosophy.

I have to be against both because both choose only half the fact, and both try to ignore the other half.

And remember: a half-truth is far more dangerous than a whole lie, because the whole lie will be discovered by you sooner or later. How long can it remain undiscovered by you? A lie, of course, is a lie; it is just a palace made of playing cards – a little breeze and the whole palace disappears.

But the half-truth is dangerous. You may never discover it, you may continue to think it is the whole truth. So the real problem is not the whole lie, the real problem is the half-truth pretending to be the whole truth; and that is what these people are doing.

The philosophy of positive thinking says: “Take everything positively. The negative should not have any space in your approach, there should be no negative part.” This is making a part, the positive part, almost the whole.

The same is true about negative people, although there are none who preach the philosophy of negative thinking, because who is going to listen to them? They will say, “If somebody is smiling, look out – there must be something he is hiding behind the smile. In fact, he must want to cry or weep. Look out – don’t be deceived by his smiling; find out the negative. If he is looking very happy, that means certainly there is something that he is trying to hide behind his happiness.”

People are so miserable, who is going to listen to such a philosopher? They will say, “We are already so miserable, and you are teaching us to search for more misery! Even if a false smile is there, at least it is there. Please forgive us, we can’t go on digging and finding the tears. We have enough tears already. And just a smile – although it may be just a mannerism, a formality, just a civilized way of meeting somebody….”

When you meet somebody and ask, “How are you?” – he says, “I am perfectly well.” Now, if you are a negative philosopher you have to find out what this man is hiding: “How can he be perfectly well? Have you ever heard of anybody in the world being perfectly well? He is lying!” But nobody will listen to a negative philosopher. You also say, “I am perfectly well. You are perfectly well? – good.”

And you depart in good spirits. What is the point of showing one’s wounds to each other and making each other more miserable than before?

So there is no school of negative philosophers. But there are more people who believe in negative philosophy without knowing it than there are people who believe in positive philosophy.

In fact, all these believers in positive philosophy are basically negative. To hide that negativity they believe firmly in the positive philosophy.

I am not in support of either side. I am in favor of taking the whole truth, and that’s what I would like you to do too: take the whole truth, because the negative is as essential as the positive.

You cannot create electricity with only the positive pole; you will need the negative pole too. Only with both the negative and the positive pole can you create electricity. Is the negative absolutely negative? It is complementary, so it is not against the positive.

Osho, From Ignorance to Innocence, Ch 29

Osho

The technique of positive thinking is not a technique that transforms you. It is simply repressing the negative aspects of your personality. It is a method of choice. It cannot help awareness; it goes against awareness. Awareness is always choiceless.

Positive thinking simply means forcing the negative into the unconscious and conditioning the conscious mind with positive thoughts. But the trouble is that the unconscious is far more powerful, nine times more powerful, than the conscious mind. So once a thing becomes unconscious, it becomes nine times more powerful than it was before. It may not show in the old fashion, but it will find new ways of expression.

So positive thinking is a very poor method, without any deep understanding, and it goes on giving you wrong ideas about yourself.

… Positive thinking came out of Christian Science. It talks now more philosophically, but the base remains the same – that if you think negatively, that is going to happen to you; if you think positively, that is going to happen to you. And in America that kind of literature is widely read. Nowhere else in the world has positive thinking made any impact – because it is childish.

“Think and grow rich” – everybody knows this is simply foolish. And it is harmful, and dangerous too.

The negative ideas of your mind have to be released, not repressed by positive ideas. You have to create a consciousness which is neither positive nor negative. That will be the pure consciousness.

In that pure consciousness you will live the most natural and blissful life.

If you repress some negative idea because it is hurting you…. For example: if you are angry, and you repress it and try to make an effort to change the energy into something positive – to feel loving towards the person you were feeling angry with, to feel compassionate – you know you are deceiving yourself.

Deep down it is still anger; it is just that you are whitewashing it. On the surface you may smile, but your smile will be limited only to your lips. It will be an exercise of the lips; it won’t be connected with you, with your heart, with your being. Between your smile and your heart, you yourself have put a great block – the negative feeling that you have repressed.

And it is not one feeling; in life you have thousands of negative feelings. You don’t like a person, you don’t like many things; you don’t like yourself, you don’t like the situation you are in. All this garbage goes on collecting in the unconscious, and on the surface a hypocrite is born, who says, “I love everybody, love is the key to blissfulness.” But you don’t see any bliss in that person’s life. He is holding the whole of hell within himself.

He can deceive others, and if he goes on deceiving long enough, he can deceive himself too. But it won’t be a change. It is simply wasting life – which is immensely valuable because you cannot get it back.

Positive thinking is simply the philosophy of hypocrisy – to give it the right name. When you are feeling like crying, it teaches you to sing. You can manage if you try, but those repressed tears will come out at some point, in some situation. There is a limitation to repression. And the song that you were singing was absolutely meaningless; you were not feeling it, it was not born out of your heart.

It was just because the philosophy says to always choose the positive.

I am absolutely against positive thinking. You will be surprised that if you don’t choose, if you remain in a choiceless awareness, your life will start expressing something which is beyond both positive and negative, which is higher than both. So you are not going to be a loser. It is not going to be negative, it is not going to be positive, it is going to be existential.

Osho, The Transmission of the Lamp, Ch 36

 

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President #Trump: Replace The Dollar With Gold As The Global Currency To Make America Great Again


Forbes

Inside President Trump’s otherwise “standard Trump stump speech” at CPAC was nestled what might be a most intriguing observation:

Global cooperation, dealing with other countries, getting along with other countries is good, it’s very important. But there is no such thing as a global anthem, a global currency or a global flag. This is the United States of America that I’m representing.

There’s a keen insight in there that could, just maybe, transform our lives, America, and the world. No “global currency?”  Was this, with the poetic observation that “there is no such thing as a global anthem…or a global flag,” just a trope? Or could it contain a political portent with potential high impact on world financial markets?  Let’s drill down.

As it happens, there is a global currency.

It’s called the “U.S. dollar.”

Most international trade is priced in dollars. The Bretton Woods international monetary system invested the dollar, which then was defined as and (internationally) was legally convertible to gold at $35/oz, with global currency status.  France’s then-finance minister, later its president, Valéry  Giscard d’Estaing, called the “reserve currency” status of the dollar — its status, along with gold, as global currency — an “exorbitant privilege.”

By this d’Estaing was alluding to the fact, as summarized at Wikipedia, that “As American economist Barry Eichengreen summarized: ‘It costs only a few cents for the Bureau of Engraving and Printing to produce a $100 bill, but other countries had to pony up $100 of actual goods in order to obtain one.'” That privilege, which made great sense during the period immediately after World War II, became a curse.

In 1971 President Nixon, under the influence of his Svengali-like Treasury Secretary John Connally, “suspend[ed] temporarily the convertibility of the dollar into gold.” That closure proved durable instead of temporary. The dollar became, and remains, the world’s global currency.

What had been an “exorbitant privilege” devolved into an exorbitant liability. As my former professional colleague John D. Mueller, of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, formerly Rep. Jack Kemp’s chief economist, writing in the Wall Street Journal in Trump’s Real Trade Problem Is Money recently and astutely observed:

a monetary system based on a reserve currency is unsustainable, since foreign official dollar reserves (for example) are acquired and must be repaid in goods. In other words, the increase in official dollar reserves equals the net exports of the rest of the world, which means it must also equal U.S. international payments deficits—an unsustainable situation.

In other words, if President Trump wishes to address America’s merchandise trade deficit (balanced to perfection, of course, by a capital accounts surplus) he will find that allowing the dollar to be used as the global currency is the real snake in the economic woodpile.  The dollar’s burden as the international reserve currency, not currency manipulation by our trading partners or bad treaties, is the true villain in the ongoing melodrama of crummy job creation.

Mueller’s Wall Street Journal column enumerates the three options open to President Trump:

First, muddle along under the current “dollar standard,” a position supported by resigned foreigners and some nostalgic Americans—among them Bryan Riley and William Wilson at the Heritage Foundation, and James Pethokoukis at the American Enterprise Institute.

Second, turn the International Monetary Fund into a world central bank issuing paper (e.g., special drawing rights) reserves—as proposed in 1943 by Keynes, since the 1960s by Robert A. Mundell, and in 2009 by Zhou Xiaochuan, governor of the People’s Bank of China. Drawbacks: This kind of standard is highly political and the allocation of special drawing rights essentially arbitrary, since the IMF produces no goods.

Third, adopt a modernized international gold standard, as proposed in the 1960s by Rueff and in 1984 by his protégé Lewis E. Lehrman …and then-Rep. Jack Kemp.

To “muddle along” would, of course, be entirely antithetical to Trump’s promise to Make America Great Again. It would destroy his crucial commitment to get the economy growing at 3%+ — vastly faster than it has for the past 17 years  — which also happens to be the recipe for robust job creation and upward income mobility for workers. It also is the essential ingredient for balancing the federal budget while rebuilding our infrastructure and military.

To turn the IMF into a world central bank would, of course, be anathema to Trump’s economic nationalism. To subordinate the dollar to the IMF’s SDR would be equivalent to lowering Old Glory and replacing the American flag with the flag of the United Nations on every flagpole in America. Unthinkable under a Trump administration.

That leaves the third option, to “adopt a modernized international gold standard, as proposed in the 1960s by Rueff and in 1984 by his protégé Lewis E. Lehrman … and then-Rep. Jack Kemp” (whose eponymous foundation I advise). To this one should add, as Forbes.com contributor Nathan Lewis has shrewdly observed, the removal of tax and regulatory barriers to the use of gold as currency.

As I have repeatedly observed Donald Trump shows a strong affinity for gold. He has also shown a keen intuitive grasp of  how the gold standard was crucial to having made America great:

Donald Trump: “We used to have a very, very solid country because it was based on a gold standard,” he told WMUR television in New Hampshire in March last year. But he said it would be tough to bring it back because “we don’t have the gold. Other places have the gold.”

Trump’s comment to GQ: “Bringing back the gold standard would be very hard to do, but boy, would it be wonderful. We’d have a standard on which to base our money.”

Trump has been misled to believe that “we don’t have the gold. Other places have the gold.” In fact, the United States, Germany, and the IMF together have about as much gold as the rest of the world combined and America has well more than Germany and the IMF combined. [Note: This column has been updated to clarify that the United States has well more gold than Germany and the IMF combined but not, as originally stated, more than twice as much.]

We have the gold. Bringing back the gold standard would not be very hard to do.

..

Breaking: Infowars and Natural News under attack


WHATEVER DIFFERENCES YOU MAY HAVE HAD, FROM TIME TO TIME, WITH ONE ANOTHER, THIS IS BIGGER THAN THAT. MUCH BIGGER. THIS IS ABOUT CENSORSHIP OF FREE SPEECH. THIS IS ABOUT A WAR AGAINST THE FREEDOMS WE HOLD DEAR, THE FREEDOMS THAT MEAN THE MOST WHEN THEY ARE UNDER ATTACK. DEFEND EACH OTHER.

Jon Rappoport's Blog

Breaking: Infowars and Natural News under attack

by Jon Rappoport

February 22, 2017

Alex Jones’ infowars.com and Mike Adams’ naturalnews.com are both under attack.

Infowars has been dropped by its ad platform provider — adroll.com, which spreads ads for Infowars products to many, many media outlets. Last year, that ad operation accounted for more than $3 million in sales for Infowars.

Natural News has been “delisted” by Google. Google appears to have wiped out 140,000 pages of listings for Mike’s website. I just typed in “natural news” at Google and what came up was something different, natural.news — another tiny site owned by Mike, not naturalnews.com, as the top listing.

The Empire is striking back. This isn’t debate or discussion or even baseless accusation. This is war by attrition. And censorship.

This is part of the elite mantra: if we don’t like it, wipe it out.

If you’ve…

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Essay: Anatomy of the Deep State


Themilliniumreport

by Mike Lofgren

Rome lived upon its principal till ruin stared it in the face. Industry is the only true source of wealth, and there was no industry in Rome. By day the Ostia road was crowded with carts and muleteers, carrying to the great city the silks and spices of the East, the marble of Asia Minor, the timber of the Atlas, the grain of Africa and Egypt; and the carts brought out nothing but loads of dung. That was their return cargo.

The Martyrdom of Man by Winwood Reade (1871)


There is the visible government situated around the Mall in Washington, and then there is another, more shadowy, more indefinable government that is not explained in Civics 101 or observable to tourists at the White House or the Capitol. The former is traditional Washington partisan politics: the tip of the iceberg that a public watching C-SPAN sees daily and which is theoretically controllable via elections. The subsurface part of the iceberg I shall call the Deep State, which operates according to its own compass heading regardless of who is formally in power. [1]

During the last five years, the news media have been flooded with pundits decrying the broken politics of Washington. The conventional wisdom has it that partisan gridlock and dysfunction have become the new normal. That is certainly the case, and I have been among the harshest critics of this development. But it is also imperative to acknowledge the limits of this critique as it applies to the American governmental system. On one level, the critique is self-evident: In the domain that the public can see, Congress is hopelessly deadlocked in the worst manner since the 1850s, the violently rancorous decade preceding the Civil War.


Yes, there is another government concealed behind the one that is visible at either end of
Pennsylvania Avenue, a hybrid entity of public and private institutions ruling the country…


As I wrote in The Party is Over, the present objective of congressional Republicans is to render the executive branch powerless, at least until a Republican president is elected (a goal that voter suppression laws in GOP-controlled states are clearly intended to accomplish). President Obama cannot enact his domestic policies and budgets: Because of incessant GOP filibustering, not only could he not fill the large number of vacancies in the federal judiciary, he could not even get his most innocuous presidential appointees into office. Democrats controlling the Senate have responded by weakening the filibuster of nominations, but Republicans are sure to react with other parliamentary delaying tactics. This strategy amounts to congressional nullification of executive branch powers by a party that controls a majority in only one house of Congress.

Despite this apparent impotence, President Obama can liquidate American citizens without due processes, detain prisoners indefinitely without charge, conduct dragnet surveillance on the American people without judicial warrant and engage in unprecedented — at least since the McCarthy era — witch hunts against federal employees (the so-called “Insider Threat Program”). Within the United States, this power is characterized by massive displays of intimidating force by militarized federal, state and local law enforcement. Abroad, President Obama can start wars at will and engage in virtually any other activity whatsoever without so much as a by-your-leave from Congress, such as arranging the forced landing of a plane carrying a sovereign head of state over foreign territory. Despite the habitual cant of congressional Republicans about executive overreach by Obama, the would-be dictator, we have until recently heard very little from them about these actions — with the minor exception of comments from gadfly Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky. Democrats, save a few mavericks such as Ron Wyden of Oregon, are not unduly troubled, either — even to the extent of permitting seemingly perjured congressional testimony under oath by executive branch officials on the subject of illegal surveillance.

These are not isolated instances of a contradiction; they have been so pervasive that they tend to be disregarded as background noise. During the time in 2011 when political warfare over the debt ceiling was beginning to paralyze the business of governance in Washington, the United States government somehow summoned the resources to overthrow Muammar Ghaddafi’s regime in Libya, and, when the instability created by that coup spilled over into Mali, provide overt and covert assistance to French intervention there. At a time when there was heated debate about continuing meat inspections and civilian air traffic control because of the budget crisis, our government was somehow able to commit $115 million to keeping a civil war going in Syria and to pay at least £100m to the United Kingdom’s Government Communications Headquarters to buy influence over and access to that country’s intelligence. Since 2007, two bridges carrying interstate highways have collapsed due to inadequate maintenance of infrastructure, one killing 13 people. During that same period of time, the government spent $1.7 billion constructing a building in Utah that is the size of 17 football fields. This mammoth structure is intended to allow the National Security Agency to store a yottabyte of information, the largest numerical designator computer scientists have coined. A yottabyte is equal to 500 quintillion pages of text. They need that much storage to archive every single trace of your electronic life.

Yes, there is another government concealed behind the one that is visible at either end of Pennsylvania Avenue, a hybrid entity of public and private institutions ruling the country according to consistent patterns in season and out, connected to, but only intermittently controlled by, the visible state whose leaders we choose. My analysis of this phenomenon is not an exposé of a secret, conspiratorial cabal; the state within a state is hiding mostly in plain sight, and its operators mainly act in the light of day. Nor can this other government be accurately termed an “establishment.” All complex societies have an establishment, a social network committed to its own enrichment and perpetuation. In terms of its scope, financial resources and sheer global reach, the American hybrid state, the Deep State, is in a class by itself. That said, it is neither omniscient nor invincible. The institution is not so much sinister (although it has highly sinister aspects) as it is relentlessly well entrenched. Far from being invincible, its failures, such as those in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, are routine enough that it is only the Deep State’s protectiveness towards its higher-ranking personnel that allows them to escape the consequences of their frequent ineptitude. [2]

How did I come to write an analysis of the Deep State, and why am I equipped to write it? As a congressional staff member for 28 years specializing in national security and possessing a top secret security clearance, I was at least on the fringes of the world I am describing, if neither totally in it by virtue of full membership nor of it by psychological disposition. But, like virtually every employed person, I became, to some extent, assimilated into the culture of the institution I worked for, and only by slow degrees, starting before the invasion of Iraq, did I begin fundamentally to question the reasons of state that motivate the people who are, to quote George W. Bush, “the deciders.”

Photo: Dale Robbins

Cultural assimilation is partly a matter of what psychologist Irving L. Janis called “groupthink,” the chameleon-like ability of people to adopt the views of their superiors and peers. This syndrome is endemic to Washington: The town is characterized by sudden fads, be it negotiating biennial budgeting, making grand bargains or invading countries. Then, after a while, all the town’s cool kids drop those ideas as if they were radioactive. As in the military, everybody has to get on board with the mission, and questioning it is not a career-enhancing move. The universe of people who will critically examine the goings-on at the institutions they work for is always going to be a small one. As Upton Sinclair said, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”

A more elusive aspect of cultural assimilation is the sheer dead weight of the ordinariness of it all once you have planted yourself in your office chair for the 10,000th time. Government life is typically not some vignette from an Allen Drury novel about intrigue under the Capitol dome. Sitting and staring at the clock on the off-white office wall when it’s 11:00 in the evening and you are vowing never, ever to eat another piece of takeout pizza in your life is not an experience that summons the higher literary instincts of a would-be memoirist. After a while, a functionary of the state begins to hear things that, in another context, would be quite remarkable, or at least noteworthy, and yet that simply bounce off one’s consciousness like pebbles off steel plate: “You mean the number of terrorist groups we are fighting is classified?” No wonder so few people are whistle-blowers, quite apart from the vicious retaliation whistle-blowing often provokes: Unless one is blessed with imagination and a fine sense of irony, growing immune to the curiousness of one’s surroundings is easy. To paraphrase the inimitable Donald Rumsfeld, I didn’t know all that I knew, at least until I had had a couple of years away from the government to reflect upon it.

The Deep State does not consist of the entire government. It is a hybrid of national security and law enforcement agencies: the Department of Defense, the Department of State, the Department of Homeland Security, the Central Intelligence Agency and the Justice Department. I also include the Department of the Treasury because of its jurisdiction over financial flows, its enforcement of international sanctions and its organic symbiosis with Wall Street. All these agencies are coordinated by the Executive Office of the President via the National Security Council. Certain key areas of the judiciary belong to the Deep State, such as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, whose actions are mysterious even to most members of Congress. Also included are a handful of vital federal trial courts, such as the Eastern District of Virginia and the Southern District of Manhattan, where sensitive proceedings in national security cases are conducted. The final government component (and possibly last in precedence among the formal branches of government established by the Constitution) is a kind of rump Congress consisting of the congressional leadership and some (but not all) of the members of the defense and intelligence committees. The rest of Congress, normally so fractious and partisan, is mostly only intermittently aware of the Deep State and when required usually submits to a few well-chosen words from the State’s emissaries.

I saw this submissiveness on many occasions. One memorable incident was passage of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Amendments Act of 2008. This legislation retroactively legalized the Bush administration’s illegal and unconstitutional surveillance first revealed by The New York Times in 2005 and indemnified the telecommunications companies for their cooperation in these acts. The bill passed easily: All that was required was the invocation of the word “terrorism” and most members of Congress responded like iron filings obeying a magnet. One who responded in that fashion was Senator Barack Obama, soon to be coronated as the presidential nominee at the Democratic National Convention in Denver. He had already won the most delegates by campaigning to the left of his main opponent, Hillary Clinton, on the excesses of the global war on terror and the erosion of constitutional liberties.

As the indemnification vote showed, the Deep State does not consist only of government agencies. What is euphemistically called “private enterprise” is an integral part of its operations. In a special series in The Washington Post called “Top Secret America,” Dana Priest and William K. Arkin described the scope of the privatized Deep State and the degree to which it has metastasized after the September 11 attacks. There are now 854,000 contract personnel with top-secret clearances — a number greater than that of top-secret-cleared civilian employees of the government. While they work throughout the country and the world, their heavy concentration in and around the Washington suburbs is unmistakable: Since 9/11, 33 facilities for top-secret intelligence have been built or are under construction. Combined, they occupy the floor space of almost three Pentagons — about 17 million square feet. Seventy percent of the intelligence community’s budget goes to paying contracts. And the membrane between government and industry is highly permeable: The Director of National Intelligence, James R. Clapper, is a former executive of Booz Allen Hamilton, one of the government’s largest intelligence contractors. His predecessor as director, Admiral Mike McConnell, is the current vice chairman of the same company; Booz Allen is 99 percent dependent on government business. These contractors now set the political and social tone of Washington, just as they are increasingly setting the direction of the country, but they are doing it quietly, their doings unrecorded in the Congressional Record or the Federal Register, and are rarely subject to congressional hearings.

Photo: Dale Robbins

Washington is the most important node of the Deep State that has taken over America, but it is not the only one. Invisible threads of money and ambition connect the town to other nodes. One is Wall Street, which supplies the cash that keeps the political machine quiescent and operating as a diversionary marionette theater. Should the politicians forget their lines and threaten the status quo, Wall Street floods the town with cash and lawyers to help the hired hands remember their own best interests. The executives of the financial giants even have de facto criminal immunity. On March 6, 2013, testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Attorney General Eric Holder stated the following: “I am concerned that the size of some of these institutions becomes so large that it does become difficult for us to prosecute them when we are hit with indications that if you do prosecute, if you do bring a criminal charge, it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy.” This, from the chief law enforcement officer of a justice system that has practically abolished the constitutional right to trial for poorer defendants charged with certain crimes. It is not too much to say that Wall Street may be the ultimate owner of the Deep State and its strategies, if for no other reason than that it has the money to reward government operatives with a second career that is lucrative beyond the dreams of avarice — certainly beyond the dreams of a salaried government employee. [3]

The corridor between Manhattan and Washington is a well trodden highway for the personalities we have all gotten to know in the period since the massive deregulation of Wall Street: Robert Rubin, Lawrence Summers, Henry Paulson, Timothy Geithner and many others. Not all the traffic involves persons connected with the purely financial operations of the government: In 2013, General David Petraeus joined KKR (formerly Kohlberg Kravis Roberts) of 9 West 57th Street, New York, a private equity firm with $62.3 billion in assets. KKR specializes in management buyouts and leveraged finance. General Petraeus’ expertise in these areas is unclear. His ability to peddle influence, however, is a known and valued commodity. Unlike Cincinnatus, the military commanders of the Deep State do not take up the plow once they lay down the sword. Petraeus also obtained a sinecure as a non-resident senior fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard. The Ivy League is, of course, the preferred bleaching tub and charm school of the American oligarchy. [4]

Petraeus and most of the avatars of the Deep State — the White House advisers who urged Obama not to impose compensation limits on Wall Street CEOs, the contractor-connected think tank experts who besought us to “stay the course” in Iraq, the economic gurus who perpetually demonstrate that globalization and deregulation are a blessing that makes us all better off in the long run — are careful to pretend that they have no ideology. Their preferred pose is that of the politically neutral technocrat offering well considered advice based on profound expertise. That is nonsense. They are deeply dyed in the hue of the official ideology of the governing class, an ideology that is neither specifically Democrat nor Republican. Domestically, whatever they might privately believe about essentially diversionary social issues such as abortion or gay marriage, they almost invariably believe in the “Washington Consensus”: financialization, outsourcing, privatization, deregulation and the commodifying of labor. Internationally, they espouse 21st-century “American Exceptionalism”: the right and duty of the United States to meddle in every region of the world with coercive diplomacy and boots on the ground and to ignore painfully won international norms of civilized behavior. To paraphrase what Sir John Harrington said more than 400 years ago about treason, now that the ideology of the Deep State has prospered, none dare call it ideology. [5] That is why describing torture with the word “torture” on broadcast television is treated less as political heresy than as an inexcusable lapse of Washington etiquette: Like smoking a cigarette on camera, these days it is simply “not done.”

Photo: Dale Robbins

After Edward Snowden’s revelations about the extent and depth of surveillance by the National Security Agency, it has become publicly evident that Silicon Valley is a vital node of the Deep State as well. Unlike military and intelligence contractors, Silicon Valley overwhelmingly sells to the private market, but its business is so important to the government that a strange relationship has emerged. While the government could simply dragoon the high technology companies to do the NSA’s bidding, it would prefer cooperation with so important an engine of the nation’s economy, perhaps with an implied quid pro quo. Perhaps this explains the extraordinary indulgence the government shows the Valley in intellectual property matters. If an American “jailbreaks” his smartphone (i.e., modifies it so that it can use a service provider other than the one dictated by the manufacturer), he could receive a fine of up to $500,000 and several years in prison; so much for a citizen’s vaunted property rights to what he purchases. The libertarian pose of the Silicon Valley moguls, so carefully cultivated in their public relations, has always been a sham. Silicon Valley has long been tracking for commercial purposes the activities of every person who uses an electronic device, so it is hardly surprising that the Deep State should emulate the Valley and do the same for its own purposes. Nor is it surprising that it should conscript the Valley’s assistance.

Still, despite the essential roles of lower Manhattan and Silicon Valley, the center of gravity of the Deep State is firmly situated in and around the Beltway. The Deep State’s physical expansion and consolidation around the Beltway would seem to make a mockery of the frequent pronouncement that governance in Washington is dysfunctional and broken. That the secret and unaccountable Deep State floats freely above the gridlock between both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue is the paradox of American government in the 21st century: drone strikes, data mining, secret prisons and Panopticon-like control on the one hand; and on the other, the ordinary, visible parliamentary institutions of self-government declining to the status of a banana republic amid the gradual collapse of public infrastructure.

The results of this contradiction are not abstract, as a tour of the rotting, decaying, bankrupt cities of the American Midwest will attest. It is not even confined to those parts of the country left behind by a Washington Consensus that decreed the financialization and deindustrialization of the economy in the interests of efficiency and shareholder value. This paradox is evident even within the Beltway itself, the richest metropolitan area in the nation. Although demographers and urban researchers invariably count Washington as a “world city,” that is not always evident to those who live there. Virtually every time there is a severe summer thunderstorm, tens — or even hundreds — of thousands of residents lose power, often for many days. There are occasional water restrictions over wide areas because water mains, poorly constructed and inadequately maintained, have burst. [6] The Washington metropolitan area considers it a Herculean task just to build a rail link to its international airport — with luck it may be completed by 2018.

It is as if Hadrian’s Wall was still fully manned and the fortifications along the border with Germania were never stronger, even as the city of Rome disintegrates from within and the life-sustaining aqueducts leading down from the hills begin to crumble. The governing classes of the Deep State may continue to deceive themselves with their dreams of Zeus-like omnipotence, but others do not. A 2013 Pew Poll that interviewed 38,000 people around the world found that in 23 of 39 countries surveyed, a plurality of respondents said they believed China already had or would in the future replace the United States as the world’s top economic power.

The Deep State is the big story of our time. It is the red thread that runs through the war on terrorism, the financialization and deindustrialization of the American economy, the rise of a plutocratic social structure and political dysfunction. Washington is the headquarters of the Deep State, and its time in the sun as a rival to Rome, Constantinople or London may be term-limited by its overweening sense of self-importance and its habit, as Winwood Reade said of Rome, to “live upon its principal till ruin stared it in the face.” “Living upon its principal,” in this case, means that the Deep State has been extracting value from the American people in vampire-like fashion.

We are faced with two disagreeable implications. First, that the Deep State is so heavily entrenched, so well protected by surveillance, firepower, money and its ability to co-opt resistance that it is almost impervious to change. Second, that just as in so many previous empires, the Deep State is populated with those whose instinctive reaction to the failure of their policies is to double down on those very policies in the future. Iraq was a failure briefly camouflaged by the wholly propagandistic success of the so-called surge; this legerdemain allowed for the surge in Afghanistan, which equally came to naught. Undeterred by that failure, the functionaries of the Deep State plunged into Libya; the smoking rubble of the Benghazi consulate, rather than discouraging further misadventure, seemed merely to incite the itch to bomb Syria. Will the Deep State ride on the back of the American people from failure to failure until the country itself, despite its huge reserves of human and material capital, is slowly exhausted? The dusty road of empire is strewn with the bones of former great powers that exhausted themselves in like manner.

Photo: Dale Robbins

But, there are signs of resistance to the Deep State and its demands. In the aftermath of the Snowden revelations, the House narrowly failed to pass an amendment that would have defunded the NSA’s warrantless collection of data from US persons. Shortly thereafter, the president, advocating yet another military intervention in the Middle East, this time in Syria, met with such overwhelming congressional skepticism that he changed the subject by grasping at a diplomatic lifeline thrown to him by Vladimir Putin. [7]

Has the visible, constitutional state, the one envisaged by Madison and the other Founders, finally begun to reassert itself against the claims and usurpations of the Deep State? To some extent, perhaps. The unfolding revelations of the scope of the NSA’s warrantless surveillance have become so egregious that even institutional apologists such as Senator Dianne Feinstein have begun to backpedal — if only rhetorically — from their knee-jerk defense of the agency. As more people begin to waken from the fearful and suggestible state that 9/11 created in their minds, it is possible that the Deep State’s decade-old tactic of crying “terrorism!” every time it faces resistance is no longer eliciting the same Pavlovian response of meek obedience. And the American people, possibly even their legislators, are growing tired of endless quagmires in the Middle East.

But there is another more structural reason the Deep State may have peaked in the extent of its dominance. While it seems to float above the constitutional state, its essentially parasitic, extractive nature means that it is still tethered to the formal proceedings of governance. The Deep State thrives when there is tolerable functionality in the day-to-day operations of the federal government. As long as appropriations bills get passed on time, promotion lists get confirmed, black (i.e., secret) budgets get rubber-stamped, special tax subsidies for certain corporations are approved without controversy, as long as too many awkward questions are not asked, the gears of the hybrid state will mesh noiselessly. But when one house of Congress is taken over by tea party Wahhabites, life for the ruling class becomes more trying.

If there is anything the Deep State requires it is silent, uninterrupted cash flow and the confidence that things will go on as they have in the past. It is even willing to tolerate a degree of gridlock: Partisan mud wrestling over cultural issues may be a useful distraction from its agenda. But recent congressional antics involving sequestration, the government shutdown and the threat of default over the debt ceiling extension have been disrupting that equilibrium. And an extreme gridlock dynamic has developed between the two parties such that continuing some level of sequestration is politically the least bad option for both parties, albeit for different reasons. As much as many Republicans might want to give budget relief to the organs of national security, they cannot fully reverse sequestration without the Democrats demanding revenue increases. And Democrats wanting to spend more on domestic discretionary programs cannot void sequestration on either domestic or defense programs without Republicans insisting on entitlement cuts.

So, for the foreseeable future, the Deep State must restrain its appetite for taxpayer dollars. Limited deals may soften sequestration, but agency requests will not likely be fully funded anytime soon. Even Wall Street’s rentier operations have been affected: After helping finance the tea party to advance its own plutocratic ambitions, America’s Big Money is now regretting the Frankenstein’s monster it has created. Like children playing with dynamite, the tea party and its compulsion to drive the nation into credit default has alarmed the grown-ups commanding the heights of capital; the latter are now telling the politicians they thought they had hired to knock it off.

The House vote to defund the NSA’s illegal surveillance programs was equally illustrative of the disruptive nature of the tea party insurgency. Civil liberties Democrats alone would never have come so close to victory; tea party stalwart Justin Amash (R-MI), who has also upset the business community for his debt-limit fundamentalism, was the lead Republican sponsor of the NSA amendment, and most of the Republicans who voted with him were aligned with the tea party.

Reactions: Tim Wu on Silicon Valley

The final factor is Silicon Valley. Owing to secrecy and obfuscation, it is hard to know how much of the NSA’s relationship with the Valley is based on voluntary cooperation, how much is legal compulsion through FISA warrants and how much is a matter of the NSA surreptitiously breaking into technology companies’ systems. Given the Valley’s public relations requirement to mollify its customers who have privacy concerns, it is difficult to take the tech firms’ libertarian protestations about government compromise of their systems at face value, especially since they engage in similar activity against their own customers for commercial purposes. That said, evidence is accumulating that Silicon Valley is losing billions in overseas business from companies, individuals and governments that want to maintain privacy. For high tech entrepreneurs, the cash nexus is ultimately more compelling than the Deep State’s demand for patriotic cooperation. Even legal compulsion can be combatted: Unlike the individual citizen, tech firms have deep pockets and batteries of lawyers with which to fight government diktat.

This pushback has gone so far that on January 17, President Obama announced revisions to the NSA’s data collection programs, including withdrawing the agency’s custody of a domestic telephone record database, expanding requirements for judicial warrants and ceasing to spy on (undefined) “friendly foreign leaders.” Critics have denounced the changes as a cosmetic public relations move, but they are still significant in that the clamor has gotten so loud that the president feels the political need to address it.

When the contradictions within a ruling ideology are pushed too far, factionalism appears and that ideology begins slowly to crumble. Corporate oligarchs such as the Koch brothers are no longer entirely happy with the faux-populist political front group they helped fund and groom. Silicon Valley, for all the Ayn Rand-like tendencies of its major players, its offshoring strategies and its further exacerbation of income inequality, is now lobbying Congress to restrain the NSA, a core component of the Deep State. Some tech firms are moving to encrypt their data. High tech corporations and governments alike seek dominance over people though collection of personal data, but the corporations are jumping ship now that adverse public reaction to the NSA scandals threatens their profits.

The outcome of all these developments is uncertain. The Deep State, based on the twin pillars of national security imperative and corporate hegemony, has until recently seemed unshakable and the latest events may only be a temporary perturbation in its trajectory. But history has a way of toppling the altars of the mighty. While the two great materialist and determinist ideologies of the twentieth century, Marxism and the Washington Consensus, successively decreed that the dictatorship of the proletariat and the dictatorship of the market were inevitable, the future is actually indeterminate. It may be that deep economic and social currents create the framework of history, but those currents can be channeled, eddied, or even reversed by circumstance, chance and human agency. We have only to reflect upon defunct glacial despotisms such as the USSR or East Germany to realize that nothing is forever.

Reactions: Juan Cole on the Vulnerability of the Network

Throughout history, state systems with outsized pretensions to power have reacted to their environments in two ways. The first strategy, reflecting the ossification of its ruling elites, consists of repeating that nothing is wrong, that the status quo reflects the nation’s unique good fortune in being favored by God and that those calling for change are merely subversive troublemakers. As the French ancien régime, the Romanov dynasty and the Habsburg emperors discovered, the strategy works splendidly for a while, particularly if one has a talent for dismissing unpleasant facts. The final results, however, are likely to be thoroughly disappointing.

The second strategy is one embraced to varying degrees and with differing goals, by figures of such contrasting personalities as Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Charles de Gaulle and Deng Xiaoping. They were certainly not revolutionaries by temperament; if anything, their natures were conservative. But they understood that the political cultures in which they lived were fossilized and incapable of adapting to the times. In their drive to reform and modernize the political systems they inherited, their first obstacles to overcome were the outworn myths that encrusted the thinking of the elites of their time.

As the United States confronts its future after experiencing two failed wars, a precarious economy and $17 trillion in accumulated debt, the national punditry has split into two camps. The first, the declinists, sees a broken, dysfunctional political system incapable of reform and an economy soon to be overtaken by China. The second, the reformers, offers a profusion of nostrums to turn the nation around: public financing of elections to sever the artery of money between the corporate components of the Deep State and financially dependent elected officials, government “insourcing” to reverse the tide of outsourcing of government functions and the conflicts of interest that it creates, a tax policy that values human labor over financial manipulation and a trade policy that favors exporting manufactured goods over exporting investment capital.

Mike Lofgren on the Deep State Hiding in Plain Sight

All of that is necessary, but not sufficient. The Snowden revelations (the impact of which have been surprisingly strong), the derailed drive for military intervention in Syria and a fractious Congress, whose dysfunction has begun to be a serious inconvenience to the Deep State, show that there is now a deep but as yet inchoate hunger for change. What America lacks is a figure with the serene self-confidence to tell us that the twin idols of national security and corporate power are outworn dogmas that have nothing more to offer us. Thus disenthralled, the people themselves will unravel the Deep State with surprising speed.



[1] The term “Deep State” was coined in Turkey and is said to be a system composed of high-level elements within the intelligence services, military, security, judiciary and organized crime. In British author John le Carré’s latest novel, A Delicate Truth, a character describes the Deep State as “… the ever-expanding circle of non-governmental insiders from banking, industry and commerce who were cleared for highly classified information denied to large swathes of Whitehall and Westminster.”  I use the term to mean a hybrid association of elements of government and parts of top-level finance and industry that is effectively able to govern the United States without reference to the consent of the governed as expressed through the formal political process.

[2] Twenty-five years ago, the sociologist Robert Nisbet described this phenomenon as “the attribute of No Fault…. Presidents, secretaries and generals and admirals in America seemingly subscribe to the doctrine that no fault ever attaches to policy and operations. This No Fault conviction prevents them from taking too seriously such notorious foul-ups as Desert One, Grenada, Lebanon and now the Persian Gulf.” To his list we might add 9/11, Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.

[3] The attitude of many members of Congress towards Wall Street was memorably expressed by Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-AL), the incoming chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, in 2010: “In Washington, the view is that the banks are to be regulated, and my view is that Washington and the regulators are there to serve the banks.”

[4] Beginning in 1988, every US president has been a graduate of Harvard or Yale. Beginning in 2000, every losing presidential candidate has been a Harvard or Yale graduate, with the exception of John McCain in 2008.

[5] In recent months, the American public has seen a vivid example of a Deep State operative marketing his ideology under the banner of pragmatism. Former Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates — a one-time career CIA officer and deeply political Bush family retainer — has camouflaged his retrospective defense of military escalations that have brought us nothing but casualties and fiscal grief as the straight-from-the-shoulder memoir from a plain-spoken son of Kansas who disdains Washington and its politicians.

[6] Meanwhile, the US government took the lead in restoring Baghdad’s sewer system at a cost of $7 billion.

[7] Obama’s abrupt about-face suggests he may have been skeptical of military intervention in Syria all along, but only dropped that policy once Congress and Putin gave him the running room to do so. In 2009, he went ahead with the Afghanistan “surge” partly because General Petraeus’ public relations campaign and back-channel lobbying on the Hill for implementation of his pet military strategy pre-empted other options. These incidents raise the disturbing question of how much the democratically elected president — or any president — sets the policy of the national security state and how much the policy is set for him by the professional operatives of that state who engineer faits accomplis that force his hand.

Mike Lofgren is a former congressional staff member who served on both the House and Senate budget committees. His book about Congress, The Party is Over: How Republicans Went Crazy, Democrats Became Useless, and the Middle Class Got Shafted, appeared in paperback on August 27, 2013.

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