John Chuckman



“The Schizophrenic Deep State is a Symptom, Not the Disease”


I think there is truth here, but it misses the fundamentals.

First, empires are never sound institutions. They always eventually collapse because they contain from the beginning the seeds of their own destruction, and, truly, they do a whole lot of damaging things along the way.

Men as brilliant as David Hume and Adam Smith said long ago that empires were unsound projects.

They waste great resources in having to maintain huge security and military establishments, which are in and of themselves not economic and not productive. Nothing on earth is less economically productive than the military. The more of it you have, the more economic damage it does.

Wherever military and security culture begin to dominate, liberal values – liberal in the best classical sense of the word – suffer. Military and security organizations are inherently anti-liberal, anti-democratic, anti-human rights – they are authoritarian in nature, and their heavy influence anywhere is rather poisonous.

Empires tend to violate the principles of free trade which are the real source of wealth.

They tend to induce a mercantilist system of trade, and that is a beggar-thy-neighbor system which does not work in the long term. They are much associated with plantation systems, even today, and the maintenance of those systems against reform.

Empires tend to corrupt the leaders running them because they begin to think and act as though they have unique qualities and privileges. We see this very strongly in the United States today with a pervasive sense of entitlement and special privilege. It is always so with empires, and it was quite unpleasantly dominant during the late 18th century and much of the 19th century in the British Empire.

Empires violate many ethical principals, as those around “might makes right” and “acting the bully” and abusing people and killing people and stealing.

In the end, a nation such as the United States can have either an empire or a decent country, but it cannot have both.

And it very much does not.

Its own people suffer in many cases complete government neglect because the political power establishment is intensely busy with the affairs of empire which can be very rewarding to them personally. And there are no resources left after vast imperial costs to help your own people.

This only enhances the sense of distance between a people and their government, something which has been a notable feature of the United States for a very long time.

A kind of closed political system develops with powerful and influential people and parties working towards empire and its rewards in terms of personal power, wealth, and advancement. It stimulates, too, some of humanity’s ugliest characteristics in terms of selfishness and authoritarianism.

There really isn’t a whole lot of good to say for empire, but it always is something which tempts powerful states and the people who run them. And, as with so many human institutions, people lose all sight of what has been done in the past or think that they can somehow do it better, avoiding the pitfalls.

In late 1770s America, the Redcoats and Britain’s hired German mercenaries, the Hessians, came to be truly hated symbols. How ironic that today, America’s professional (mercenary) army is regarded in the same way in many, many places in the world, and rightly so.

An interesting anecdote around this was the New York Times’ adopting, back during the totally illegal and heavily destructive Iraq invasion, the practice of calling America’s invading army, “GIs,” a ridiculous usage attempting to claim the good feelings of citizen soldiers doing their duty back in the 1940s.

Lord Acton, whom I’ve quoted many times owing to the profound truth of his words on the subject, told us that power tends to corrupt and that absolute power corrupts absolutely. Those are words you can count on. They state a universal human experience, yet that truth is ignored over and over.

America’s Founders were concerned with just such matters which is why they were so concerned with concepts like “checks and balances.” And yet they got a very good deal wrong in the structure of the Constitution that bedevils American society to this day, as, for example, the Electoral College, and it is a very difficult document to change, even if you are minded to do so.

But, over and above what they got wrong, there is the simple fact that if the powers-that-be choose to ignore things, they will be ignored. A consensus of powerful people often and easily ignores the most worthy-sounding paper declarations. And who is in a position to call them on it?

Look at America’s behavior at Guantanamo and in the hideous CIA’s International Gulag of Black Sites. These ignored or deliberately suppressed every principle of the Constitution and Bill of Rights. As though, somehow, if you build dungeons and torture chambers and conduct kidnappings offshore, it’s just fine because the Constitution does not apply there. You can find no better example of completely corrupt imperial thinking in a people supposedly guided by constitutional principles.

And, of course, the entire “War on Terror” is just a reflection of American imperial efforts in the first place. So-called international terror has two main components. One includes the horrible mercenaries the United States itself often hires or subsidizes to do its dirty work abroad (terrorists like al-Nusra in Syria) and, as well, there are the oppressive state forces it supports in many places, as in Israel or Saudi Arabia or Egypt.

The other component is what security people refer to as “blowback.” These are people reacting to what has been done to them or their families or countries with either bombing or Marines or hired mercenary forces. In another context, they would just be called “partisans” or even “freedom fighters,” striking back at oppressors.

In either case, they wouldn’t exist if the United States weren’t up to its armpits in the dirty work of empire.

Imperial activity over time can even change definitions and norms. A few decades back, in the 1970s, Argentina’s military junta carried on with the practice of “disappearing” people. Thousands of them. Pictures of mothers and relatives piteously looking for information about lost loved ones were in our television news regularly, and most people deeply sympathized with them.

It was only much later that we learned that the military junta had a secret program of kidnapping people it did not approve of, drugging them, and flying them out over the ocean where they were thrown out of the plane to drown. They did this to a great many people.

But, of course, while our press either didn’t know or pretended not to know what was going on, the American security forces and State Department very much did know, and they did nothing about it. I’m sure they were secretly pleased that, mainly, the right kind of people were being eliminated.

Today, America has just such a program itself, and it is carried on in public and with little opposition. It was created, to operate on an industrial scale, by the same President Obama, so widely (and mistakenly) regarded as a liberal and a man of good will.

People working in secure CIA control centers sit at monitors to guide drones into position for firing Hellfire missiles at people they don’t even know. The targets have no rights. They are legally guilty of nothing. But they are burned alive by America.

Often others, completely innocent bystanders (“collateral damage” as the Pentagon calls them) are also killed, but even the targets are people guilty of nothing, only accused and accused in a secretive organization by a secretive process. And it has been done thousands of times.

If you see nothing wrong or threatening in all that, I just don’t know how to respond. But you cannot build or maintain any kind of decent society with activity which suppresses every principle of enlightened government we have developed slowly and painfully since the Middle Ages.

Because of the vague and unproved accusation, “terrorist,” actually not all that different than calling someone “witch,” this practice now goes on as though it were perfectly normal. “Say, Johnny, would you pick up a loaf of bread at the store? And, say, Johnny, nice going on that ‘kill’ the other day.”

Well, I’m sure the colonels in Argentina considered their thousands of victims as some equivalent term to terrorist or witch, but it did not make their state terror right. It can never be right, just as with many corrupt practices of empire.

The United States is well into the absolutely-corrupt stage of things in Lord Acton’s dictum. But in addition, its power establishment is keenly aware, though they do not speak of it openly, that the country has been in relative economic decline vis-à-vis the rest of the world.

There are many new and ambitious competitors in the world, and, of course, the traditional competitors who were all flattened for a while after WWII, giving the United States its unique and temporary historical opportunity to enjoy an illusory “American Dream,” now are all booming.

Meanwhile, American workers can’t compete. American management is often not competitive. America cannot even run its own finances on anything approaching a sound basis. And America is saddled with a monstrously unproductive military-security establishment. The best of a trillion dollars a year spent on guys who have little to do but pick their noses and read copies Playboy bought at the PX when they are not bombing and shooting people. Fleets of costly machines that, unlike bulldozers or cranes, accomplish nothing.

America’s elites have decided on the desperate strategy of using the country’s remaining brute force to secure as many future advantages for itself as possible in the world. Of course, many such advantages will be completely uneconomic.

Just take one contemporary example. America is shoving American Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) on Europe to displace Russian gas in conventional pipeline systems. But this is totally uneconomic. LNG costs much more than conventional pipeline gas – as you would expect from the elaborate refrigeration plants needed to prepare it and the special ships needed to haul it and the special ports needed to unload it.

So, Europeans will become that much poorer for buying it. American producers will be encouraged by something that is essentially an artificial subsidy (the Mafia tactics of their government pushing the liquified gas where it is not wanted) into producing more of a product with inadequate free markets. Russia, which has the needed gas at lowest possible cost, has markets stripped from it by bullying. Everyone simply gets poorer in the long run than they otherwise might have been.

This set of acts is just one of the reasons, too, for Washington’s promoting Russophobia, itself a dangerous and unproductive behavior.

This way of doing things sadly represents the future towards which American elites are now hurling themselves enthusiastically across a range of activities. They are driven by pride and arrogance to try keeping on top without genuinely competing.

And because they, so many of them, are corrupt and spoiled, they have no difficulty adopting such a national strategy. It also very much satisfies that base human instinct about dominating others. It is all both dangerous – since it involves threats and the military – and not the kind of activity which increases the wealth of nations.

We face dark times indeed.



Posted July 31, 2018 by JOHN CHUCKMAN in Uncategorized

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