Coming soon to a world you live on: Pax Sinica

The United States has been in charge of the world since 1945.  Could anyone have done a worse job?  Despite huge increases in productivity, the middle class is stagnating.  Despite no challenge to US military might for the last 30 years, our country continues to be the world’s biggest bully.  We have abrogated treaties, undermined legitimately elected leaders in dozens of democracies (in service to our largest corporations).  We have bombed innocents and supported dictators and made a lot of enemies.

Some people are afraid of what might happen if when China’s growth carries her well beyond the US, and China becomes the reigning superpower.  I look forward to this time as probably a reprieve from violence and a restraint on international policing.

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In American eyes, the contest between America’s and China’s political systems is one between a democracy, where the people freely choose their government and enjoy freedom of speech and of religion, and an autocracy, where the people have no such freedoms. To neutral observers, however, it could just as easily be seen as a choice between a plutocracy in the United States, where major public policy decisions end up favoring the rich over the masses, and a meritocracy in China, where major public policy decisions made by officials chosen by Party elites on the basis of ability and performance have resulted in such a striking alleviation of poverty. One fact cannot be denied. In the past thirty years, the median income of the American worker has not improved: between 1979 and 2013, median hourly wages rose cent—less than 0.2 percent per year.  In the same period, China has lifted 800 million people out of poverty and created the largest middle class in the world.

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Many in the West have been alarmed by the enormous power Xi has accumulated, taking it as a harbinger of armed conflict. Xi’s accumulation of power, however, has not fundamentally changed China’s long-­term geopolitical strategy. The Chinese have, for instance, avoided unnecessary wars. Unlike the United States, which is blessed with two nonthreatening neighbors in Canada and Mexico, China has difficult relations with a number of strong, nationalistic neighbors, including India, Japan, South Korea, and Vietnam. Quite remarkably, of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council (China, France, Russia, the United States, and the United Kingdom), China is the only one among them that has not fired a single military shot across its border in thirty years, since a brief naval battle between China and Vietnam in 1988. By contrast, even during the relatively peaceful Obama Administration, the American military dropped 26,000 bombs on seven countries in a single year. Evidently, the Chinese understand well the art of strategic restraint.

— Read more from Kishore Mahbubani at Harper’s Mag

John Keay looks at 2,500 years of Chinese history, and concludes that as the Chinese conquer foreign territories, they are usually content to leave in place local customs, cultures, and governments.

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Marianne Williamson for President

If you’re not familiar with Marianne Williamson, she got her start popularizing A Course in Miracles.  I find the course to be a mixed bag, too much Christian theology, but with a core of wise practices for growth and fulfillment.   Williamson amplified what’s best in the Course, personalizing it with her own insights and experience.  (It’s not widely publicized, but Williamson is Jewish by birth.  Perhaps this matters little, since she has done so much to define her own spirituality.)

In the last several years, Williamson has become politically engaged.  Unlike almost every other politician, she grounds her political action in a foundation of self-awareness and a commitment to integrity as an individual.  Love is the core of Williamson’s teaching, and though this can be a cliché, I think Williamson manages to root her teaching in experience, and to offer a practical path to fulfillment and realization.

Williamson’s political platform starts with empathy and human concerns.  She advocates for a radical change in course, from world domination by violence to a commitment to children, environmental stewardship, an end to poverty, and a prosperous, inclusive community.  She addresses the big questions of America’s place in the world that even Sanders has ducked.  If she gets a hearing at all in the Democratic party, it can only be transformative.

Williamson has a series of bestselling books and a following of millions.  She is an engaging, inspired speaker.  She has no base among the party bosses.  Here’s her platform.

Rosa Luxemburg

One hundred years ago today, Rosa Luxemburg was arrested and summarily executed by the German police.  She was the most outspoken socialist south of Soviet Russia.  Her intellect was too strong and her rhetoric too convincing for the German oligarchy.

All of Europe is remembering her today.  Socialism has been stomped on with propaganda, with violence, with control of the historical narrative and censorship of the news, with war and with political “contributions” from the rich and powerful.  But the ideas remain robust.  Social democracies offer the best quality of life of all the countries in the world.

Guardian article

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Die Friedensfreunde aus bürgerlichen Kreisen glauben, das sich Weltfriede und Abrüstung im Rahmen der heutigen Gesellschaftsordnung verwirklichen lassen, wir aber, die wir auf dem Boden der materialistischen Geschichtsauffassung und des wissenschaftlichen Sozialismus stehen, sind der Überzeugung, das der Militarismus erst mit dem kapitalistischen Klassenstaate zusammen aus der Welt geschafft werden kann.

The friends of peace in bourgeois circles believe that world peace and disarmament can be realised within the frame-work of the present social order, whereas we, who base ourselves on the materialistic conception of history and on scientific socialism, are convinced that militarism can only be abolished from the world with the destruction of the capitalist class state.

— from Peace Utopias, by Rosa Luxemburg

 

The Chemistry of Blame

Do you choose being right or being happy?
— Gary Hendricks

In this article, a couples counselor recounts his recurrent encounters with people who blame one another for their difficulties getting along.  His first job is to get them to unite in blaming him, the counselor.  It’s a tense moment, he says, but usually a ripe, new beginning.

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In a workshop with Charles Eisenstein last month, I heard him challenge us: There is ritual child abuse in high places; there is war, which is just another name for mass murder; there are people who make their living selling children into slavery and people who psychologically program others from an early age to be zombie-killers.  Suppose that we could put an end to all this, but without the satisfaction of “justice”.  There would be no admission of guilt, no punishment, the perpetrators would walk free.  Do we choose justice, or do we choose amnesty?  Just supposing that we could end violence and cruelty by ending blame.  Just supposing that were the choice…

Just supposing…

Mass Media Propaganda Is The Only Thing Keeping Us From Rising Like Lions

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“Rise, like lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number!
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you:
Ye are many—they are few!”

 

This excerpt from Percy Bysshe Shelley’s “The Masque of Anarchy” was read by Jeremy Corbyn at the 2017 Glastonbury festival before an audience of thousands in what was in my opinion one of the most thrilling political events of last year.

Corbyn’s message was about as subtle as a kick in the teeth: The people are many. Their oppressors are few. The masses can rise like lions and force their government to begin acting in the service of the people instead of the wealthy and the powerful.

 

Read more from Caitlin Johnstone
 

What does Peace ask of us?

One hundred years ago today, an armistice was signed to end the War to End All Wars.  Unaware, the troops went right on killing, raping, and plundering.  But the Great War led to an up-wising, as people the world over figured out that they had been snookered into a murderous, devastating, tragic and pointless world war.  Numerous bills limiting war profits were introduced and narrowly defeated, and in 1934, Congress passed the Vinson-Trammell Act, which capped some war profits at 10%.  In 1928, the US led the world in outlawing all future war, with the Kellogg-Briand Pact.  This treaty remains in force today, and all acts of war are criminal, by US law and by international law.

After decades of lending money and supplying technology to Hitler, FDR taunted the Japanese into attacking Pearl Harbor, and had his excuse for drawing the US once again into a World War. Temptation to profit from Nazism had finally created a situation in which war could be put forward as the only option.

The myth of a global communist plot was used to drag the American public into pointless, horrific wars in Korea and Vietnam.  After Vietnam, the American public was once again energized and passionately dedicated to peace, but a decade later Reagan was once again slick-talking the American people into sanctioned murder and plunder, this time invoking the Existential Threat to our Republic that came from the political choices made by people on the 15-mile-long Caribbean isle of Grenada.

The people have never demanded war of their government.  There has never been a popular war.  Every war has been justified with lies and authoritarian coercion.   Hence the rise of war in the 21st Century has been heralded by a suppression of democratic rule.  Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and Thomas Paine all warned us that the Constitution was no lasting guarantee that We the People would control our government.  It is demanded of every generation that we rein in our own government.  Electoral politics today offers us no candidates for peace—even Sanders would not call out the American military machines for the criminal enterprise it has become.  (Jill Stein did that, but she was denied a seat at the table and a place in the debates.)

Hence it is our job to cultivate peace within our own hearts, to meditate on peace and visualize a peaceful future, to practice non-violence in our every interaction with humans and with nature, to engage in acts of protest and non-violence as necessary to end the perennial holocaust.

— Josh Mitteldorf

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International Day of Peace

Human tribes have been warring for at least the last several thousand years. We are descended from the tribes that were able to field the largest and most cohesive armies. That is to say, we all have war in our genes.

But as humans filled the globe and as the technologies of destruction made war ever more deadly, the human race has been gradually coming to its senses. General Sherman taught us that “war is hell”. General Smedley Butler, the most decorated Marine in U.S. history, came later in life to teach that “war is a racket.” And General Eisenhower prophesied, “I think that people want peace so much that one of these days government had better get out of their way and let them have it.”

Nowadays, David Swanson teaches us that every war has been founded on lies. That is to say, if our leaders or our news media were telling us the truth, it would not be possible to brainwash enough people into the insane proposition that they ought to participate in mass murder.

So, what can we do, you and I, citizens of the greatest military power in the history of the world (fact) and the world’s biggest bully (my opinion)—what can we do to promote peace? My belief is that the spiritual truth, “peace begins within you” can be misleading.  Working on ourselves to achieve inner peace is of unquestioned value, but we cannot wait until we have individually tranquil inner lives in order to begin the collective work of organizing an end to war. The few who benefit from war are exquisitely organized, working together in what we might call a conspiracy, if the word hadn’t been discredited by our own CIA. We must be organized. We must take concerted action. We must resist the temptation to wage war in the name of peace. We must be firm in our resolve, but never coercive. We must be persistent in our vision, but not necessarily patient. I think that our cause is too urgent for patience. We should demand peace, now.

Don’t neglect the capitalist connection. The major reason for our country being the world’s greatest war monger is that war is profitable for banks, for defense contractors, for fossil fuel companies. There was a sweeping movement in America of the 1920s to take the profits out of war, culminating in a bill introduced in Congress in 1935 to take the profits out of war, and it nearly succeeded in passing.  In 2007, a War Profiteering Act passed the House, but not the Senate. You can bet your bippy that if for the largest international corporations peace were more profitable than war, we’d have peace.

Get out and organize peace demonstrations. Talk to people you know and people you don’t know. Tell them you think war is insane, even as it is pushed as “normal” by almost every politician and every news pundit. And meditate on peace, pray for peace, visualize peace. Yes, there is real evidence that collective intention has power even apart from its psychological effects on the individuals involved. Go figure.

Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

United Nations page for International Day of Peace