Like a recking bull in a China shop, President Trump careens from foreign policy disasters to “deconstruction” of the American state, as demanded by former advisor and alt-right media mogul, Steve Bannon, who is backed by powerful financiers determined to maintain the supremacy of the 16% of Caucasians living in a world that assumes the myriad tones of honey.
Seen against the backdrop of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the US-instigated war in Syria and threats against Iran are part of this two-pronged — albeit hopeless — effort. Reduced to its crudest expression, it combines efforts to send white women back to the kitchen feeding babies, with multi-billion dollar campaigns to eradicate as many non-whites as possible across the globe. (Totalitarian San Salvador actually sends women convicted of aborting to prison for thirty years, its female parliamentarians, like our own religious right, claiming that abortion causes cancer.)
Beyond our back yard, for most US policy planners it’s not religion (mainly Islam), which is targeted, but skin color. (You can’t ‘see’ religion, but it’s a handy excuse when our depravity provokes retaliation by those who have replaced the ritual greeting ‘“As-Salaam-Alaikum, may peace be upon you”, with explosive devices strapped to their bodies.) When former President George Bush claims that ‘They hate us for our freedoms’, Americans hear: “We’re free to choose where we live and how we earn a living’, while the South hears: “If you refuse to contribute to our well-being, you will experience decimation such as you’ve never seen before.”
From farmland to diamonds to precious minerals, including oil, the earth’s bounty is fairly well distributed, but as Jared Diamond wrote in the late nineties in Guns, German and Steel, a myriad of factors, including ancient climate and geography, resulted in the North finding itself in a better position to build modern ‘civilization’ than the South a century ago. Paraphrasing what I pointed out in my book The Case for Sacredness: A Taoist Politics:
Diamond describes the specific bio-geological conditions that prevailed on Earth from as far back as 11,000 B.C.E., and which, through a fascinating series of interactions, contributed to the development of major inequalities between the globe’s regions. Differing species of indigenous wild plant and animal foods as well as population densities explain why transitions to modernity took place at different times around the globe. The present gap between North and South illustrates the fact that at certain times, a civilization could conquer neighbors, while at others it declined.
Beyond geographic factors, and for too long hidden by spin, the basic structure of society has always been based on six basic factors, according to Diamond “….kleptocracy, a monopoly of information and decision-making, an official police, the use of money, the existence of cities, and the presence of rich and poor.” Unless a cultural transformation allows us to modify this structure, we shall be unable to improve the North/South relationship and the violence it fosters.
Diamond tells us that humans went from bands of five to eighty nomads, each consisting of several extended families, spreading from Africa into Eurasia about a million years ago. Territory was held in common and leadership was based on personality, physical strength, intelligence and fighting skills. Everyone, including children, hunted or foraged for food. By around 11,000 B.C.E., the Fertile Crescent was home to tribes of several hundred, who lived in fixed settlements made possible by a concentration of food resources, especially wild cereals. Significantly, kinship groups or clans all held equal rank, each owned part of the land, and information and decision-making were shared. No tribe could become richer than another because they had reciprocal debts and obligations in what had long remained an exchange economy. And since everyone knew everyone else, and relatives or friends intervened to prevent bloodshed between parties in a dispute.
Around 5,000 B.C.E., as tribes reached several thousand, the parties to a dispute might no longer have common friends or relatives, so a specific police force was necessary. By that time, food storage enabled the group to feed more people than were required for production, promoting the rise of artisans, police, or hereditary chiefs and shamans. With a monopoly on information, they could employ large numbers of bureaucrats and keep everyone in line through force. While retaining much of the tributes — or taxes — chiefs stayed on top as long as they distributed what remained wisely. Together with shamans, they claimed to serve the people through what Diamond calls “a hotline to the Gods” while arming the elite and using their monopoly of force to curb violence.
According to Diamond, the fundamental problem of civilized society has always been how much of the tribute extracted from producers can be safely retained by the elite, which is largely determined by the extent to which producers approve the use made of the rest.L According to Diamond, the difference between a wise statesman and a kleptocrat is merely one of degree. Then as now, the defeat of kleptocracy requires the re-appropriation by individuals of what I call internal authority.
Since early times, humanity has indulged in a lot of idle chatter, whether over the Internet or by tam-tam. With the earth suffering from our carelessness, the question now is whether leaders will realize that if inequality between nations developed over thousands of years, with environmental factors having been decisive, improving the global imbalance between rich and poor will require employment and consumption policies that rebalance those factors, taking into account the habits and needs of both the developed and developing world. This can only happen if individuals pool their ‘internal authority’ to ensure the creation of some sort of international governing body.
Kleptocratic government may have been necessary to get humanity from ‘there’ to ‘here’, but having seen ‘here’s’ dead end, the growing movement for change across the world requires that we replace kleptocratic government with collective decision-making, based on information processed by individuals cognizant of their own internal authority.
This is where what Marx called ‘the superstructure’, and which we refer to as ‘society’ or, ‘the culture’, comes in. For millennia, tribes seeking to improve their situation vis-a-vis nature experienced a direct linke to the Whole. Over time cognition, a key component of ‘culture’, enabled society to evolve. But as it ‘progressed’, it gradually become disconnected from the Whole, breeding alienation.The twentieth century wars that pitted capitalism against socialism have largely been replaced by clashing commitments to individualism, family and religion versus globalization.
Starting with the eighteenth century’s Enlightenment, the North became increasingly convinced that by rejecting the authority of the church, humans could develop their rational capabilities. Two centuries later, a civilization that sees information as the supreme good has separated humans from their environment and from each other. Ejecting the meaning of life from the circular orbit of the Whole like a satellite lost in space, its focus is on Having rather than on Being.
‘Anything goes’ has replaced sacredness in the United States and its (diminishing) coterie of allies, while the Russia-China duo that emphasizes traditional values gathers followers. Beijing’s “socialism with Chinese characteristics” has responded to the climate crisis by limiting the growth of its population, while encouraging the wisdom of Taoism and Confucianism. President Vladimir Putin encourages Orthodox Christianity and large families as well as immigration in order to fully exploit Russia’s resources, which include vast areas of farmland in a largely hungry world.
The Russia-China alliance that has opened itself to India, Brazil and South Africa (forming the BRICS), signals a different approach to race relations than that of the far-right parties across the North, whose allegiance to traditional families and values is about trying to maintain white supremacy. The BRICS’ support for right-wing parties in Europe and the US goal is tactical, part of their aim to create a ‘multi-polar’ world in which races are literally ‘separate but equal’. Contrary to American propaganda, this is not about a ‘revisionist’ worldview that seeks a return to ‘balance of power’ international relations, but one is which regional leaders cooperate in order to maintain the whole, as prefigured by the BRICS.
As I have written several times before, the Islamization of ‘Godless’ Europe is virtually guaranteed, with Muslim fertility, as well as cultural and religious fidelity, far above that of Christians. A recent RT article describes proposals by Islamic politicians in the tiny country of Belgium to segregate women on public transportation, ‘for their protection’. Meanwhile Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary refuse to obey Brussels’ requirement that every country take in a certain number of third world immigrants, putting up border fences that put at risk their membership in the European Union.
Physical barriers are unlikely to be more effective in maintaining racial and religious ‘purity’ than the Berlin Wall was in maintaining an unpopular political system. Significantly, Italy has just voted for a coalition government between a right and a left-wing party, both of which oppose Muslim immigration, and lean toward better relations with Russia, as do the EU’s leaders, France and Germany.
Meanwhile, as it continues its white supremacist assault on the honey-colored world at large, a white and largely dissolute US may become more traditional as notwithstanding President Trump’s wall, the number of family-oriented Latinos increases.
Deena Stryker is an international expert, author and journalist that has been at the forefront of international politics for over thirty years, exlusively for the online journal “New Eastern Outlook”.