Empire 2

“What do you think of the election? Did the Democrats win surprise you?” The question came from a good friend, Frank Basset. We had been talking about the mid-term election and he had posed the question that I knew was coming.

I was leaning on my shovel in the garden. I just finished just one row of spading, turning over the soil before winter.

“No, not at all”, I said. “I think that the people have had their fill of the neo-con agenda and the ridiculous rhetoric that we’ve seen coming from them long enough. I think the election reveals that.”

I paused for a moment while Frank waited for more. Long experience and years of discussion had shown Frank that I wasn’t done talking and making my point.

“However, I also think that the election doesn’t mean what a lot of people hope it means. Change. People want change, but it’s highly doubtful in my mind that we’ll see it. It’ll be business as usual, as it always is.” I stopped, because I wasn’t really sure if this was the time to say much more.

Frank looked pensively at me and said, “Why do you say that? Isn’t this the chance we’ve all been waiting for? For change? To turn this country around and undue some of the damage that’s been done?”

I understood what Frank was driving at, but I didn’t agree. But I liked talking to Frank, because he at least kept an open mind about such things.

“No, I don’t think so. Consider that the incumbent Democrats have already voted for a lot of what’s wrong with this country. For example, they voted in favor of the Iraqi war. They supported the President and his arrogant agenda. A handful of new faces in Congress isn’t going to change that. Nor will it change the existing momentum already in place. That momentum will continue to promote Empire. Democrats aren’t really any different then Republicans. They don’t think different, they don’t act different. They’re both all about the Empire – at any cost.”

Frank digested my comments and kept silence. We’d spoken about Empire before. It was a favorite subject of mine and Frank knew it.

I began again. “Look, you and I know that there is a lot wrong with this country, we’ve both been witnesses to the decline of just about everything. It’s everywhere. Who, exactly, do you think is responsible for this?” When dealing with Frank, sometimes you had to hedge him in. It usually worked, but not because Frank was gullible, it was because he really did want to understand things better.

“Well, government in general. Politicians. Bureaucrats, the boneheads we hire to govern us.” Frank took another stab at it, “And we are. We’re responsbile too.”

Frank was right, but he had jumped ahead just a little too far. We were responsible, but it wasn’t as cut and dried as that. The problem was, we were being forced to operate within fewer and fewer parameters. That gave us fewer and fewer responsible choices. Nowdays, there simply weren’t any responsible choices left, whatever we did, it was all going to be wrong.

“Yes, your right. We are responsible. But so is a dog cooped up in a chicken house with nothing to eat. He’s got damned few choices on what he’s got to do to stay alive. But who put us there? Who put us in the chicken house? That’s what I’m trying to get at.”

Now Frank understood, I could see it in his eyes and he spoke up with his answer. “Big business. They control the politicians and they control the government. They took away the independents, and the choices people had by swallowing them all up. And now it’s big business everywhere. Walmart, Kmart, Costco, Best Buy, Safeway, Albertson, Archer-Daniels, the food conglomerate.”

Frank had it now. Businesses swallowed up other businesses, forming gigantic corporations spanning the entire globe, getting very rich and very powerful. Entire nations were beholden to their demands and the politicans were no exception. They too were easily bought and sold just like commodities everywhere. And every man or woman had their price, we’d seen that in the last five years under the Bush Administration. The corporate war machine meant huge profits for Halliburton, Boeing, KBR and others. Big oil. They put their lobbyist to work greasing the skids with green stuff and making war in Iraq a daily reality.

And the politicians simply bent over, offering almost no objections at all and giving them everything they wanted. But the people were already caged into the chicken house and had no options at all. There was nothing they could do to stop the war and nothing they could do to fix their democracy. At least I didn’t live in Iraq, but that wasn’t good enough.

“That’s correct. Big business. Mega-corporations and even little corporations. All over the place. All over the world. Spending billions and billions of dollars to gain control over anything and everything, including government. Your pocket. Your choices. Even your options. They buy and sell everything, packaging it all up into pretty little boxes all nice and tidy, while some poor village in the jungle or some nomad gets blown to smithereens because they happened to be caught in the crossfire. Just so you can have that pretty little box. And the hypocrisy of it all, is that you and I pay them for this privilege, because we have little choice.”

Frank was silent again as he chewed on this last bit. I kept going, “If we were truly responsible, we would have a clear choice to opt out of such a system, but we don’t. It’s illegal, you’re not allowed to simply opt out. Try it and you go to jail, eventually. Everybody’s got to participate. They’ve made it illegal to not be a part of it. Our individual options for staying out of it, for not funding these corporations, for not supporting this god-forsaken government, for not being connected at all to the evil they do is very limited.”

“Putting this all in context of the elections and you can begin to see what I mean. Politicans are paid very well to perpetuate the status quo, which is run by big business. They’re paid to make sure that we have few choices on how we are to live our entire lives. They think they’re helping us, or they claim to think that way, but in reality, they’re almost constantly hurting us and working towards our disadvantage. They’re paid to pass endless legislation to make sure of that very fact. They’re even paid in cash and perks and sex and favors to make sure that people like me stop agitating against it.”

Frank spoke up, “Is that what you’re doing? Agitating against it?”. It was an innocent question, and one without recrimination.

“Yes, I suppose I am”, I replied. “I’m trying to get people to think. Understand what is going on. Understand how they’ve been literally cheated out of their inheritance. Manipulated. Conned. Used. Even destroyed. How their sons and daughters and even themselves have been sold into slavery and perpetual servitude for this great big monstrosity I call Empire. How they’ve little choice in the matter because Empire controls almost everything. What little is left is being fought over with resource wars and political posturing and jerrymandering and rigged elections and on and on and on. And we are the losers in all of this. How the politicans are being manipulated to fight against the people themselves, because big business has got big wallets and politicians come cheap.”

I stopped, becasue I was mad now, but not at Frank and not at myself. I was mad at the system of it all, that giant octopus of manipulation and control, run by faceless and nearly nameless men who were pulling the strings and making the entire world dance to their will. Not our will, I thought. I dug in my spade and turned over a few shovelful loads of dirt. Working with your hands is clean, honest work.

I continued, “How the whole evil, insidious plan is to gain control over absolutely everything and to be sold to you for a price. The water you drink. The air you breathe. The food you eat. The cars you can and cannot drive. The right to travel. Where you can travel, and even how you can travel. Or worse, even who is permitted to travel! The right to simply carry a bottle of water on an airplane! The right to even live, or exist – all of it is now for a price set by someone else. Comply with us or die. That’s reality. That’s what life has become. That’s what you are forced to do if you hope to survive.”

Frank could see the anger in my eyes. They were smoldering, but I glance away, back down to the dirt at my feet. It was simpler down there, microbes and bacteria, working together in symbionic harmony to compost the soil into a healthy nourishment for the plants I hoped to grow next spring.

“I understand. But let me play the devils advocate, okay?” Frank waited while I cooled down, and I nodded my assent. Frank would often do this because it helped him and even me sometimes understand things a little better.

“You’re saying that we, meaning you and I and everybody else, has little choice anymore, in anything, including the political process, right?” I nodded again, indeed we didn’t. No choice at all.

“And you’re also saying, that our choices are being defined for us, almost entirely, by the politicians and by the corporations, right?”. I answered in the affirmative, “Yes, that’s exacty right.”

“Well, what then do you make of the clear choice we have to choose? To go to college? To take this or that job? To live where we want? To ride a bike or drive a car? If what you say is true, then how can we have even these choices?”

I looked up, but tried to keep my eyes from boring holes through Franks. It was a fair question. “We don’t Frank, because these things we do are not choices. None of them are. They are simply options, within a predefined set of living requirements imposed upon us all”. I stopped for a moment and then pushed ahead.

“Consider this, if you will. If you choose not to do any of those things, not to go to college, not to hire yourself out for a job, not to live in a house or not to drive a car, what would happen?”

“Well”, Frank replied, “You’d probably starve to death, I suppose. Or you’d wind up on welfare or in a soup kitchen or something. You’d be homeless, penniless and damned well destitute.”

“That’s correct. You would. You would be all of those things. Now consider, why this would happen. Why couldn’t you just live and be let alone to live? Why should you have to pay someone for the privilege of just being alive?”

This threw him for a moment and he pondered my words. I went ahead and rephrased the question. “Why couldn’t you just be completely left alone to meet your own needs? Food, clothing, water, shelter?” I stopped again, waiting for his answer.

“Well, you could, couldn’t you?” Frank wasn’t entirely sure. He glanced away into the trees and continued. “You could just go off and live in the woods if you wanted and make your living there, I suppose. Although it wouldn’t be easy.” His voice faded at his last words as he considered their meaning. It wouldn’t be easy alright, it would be hard and damned near impossible today.

“No, you couldn’t. It’s illegal to go off into the woods and make your living Frank. You are no longer allowed to choose that lifestyle. In fact, you’re not allowed to be homeless anymore, or without identity. It actually goes much deeper then this. You’re no longer allowed to opt out of a whole lot of things. To be a part of society, you forced to participate, even against your will in a whole host of things.”

I had his attention. Frank knew I was just getting warmed up and I didn’t mind the break from the physical labor.

“All of modern society is setup to make sure you are tied in at multiple levels. You either buy your food at a grocery store, or someone does it for you, even if your homeless. You exchange your time and your labor in exchange for money so that you can exchange that for something else, most often for stuff you don’t even really need. It’s pretty rare to simply exchange your time and labor directly for what you do need. Electricity for example. When is the last time you could exchange your time and labor directly for some electricity?”

“Never”, Frank replied. “I’ve never done that and I’d never need to do that either. Besides, I don’t really need electricity. I could learn to live without it.”

“That’s true, you don’t need it. But if you wanted it, you’d be forced to do something other then work directly for it. You’d have to participate in the financial system we have in place today. You’d exchange your time and your labor for money. And by doing so, you’d also be subjected to a whole bunch of other things too. Taxes. Banking. Inflation. Depreciation. All so you could have some electricity, which you don’t really need.”

Frank nodded. “Yes, that’s true.”

I continued, “And if you wanted some food, something that you do need, what would you have to do?” I didn’t wait for an answer, since Frank already knew where I was going.

“You’d have to do the same thing, unless you grew it yourself. You’d have to work someplace, doing something that somebody else told you to do. And in exchange for that, you’d be paid with some money. But before you could even be paid, you’d be subjected to taxes, withholding, identity documents and paperwork. All that, just so you could eat. And each one of those so-called ‘requirements’ is a system unto itself, interwoven and dependent upon all the other system. They’re all tightly integrated now with each other. Each one is a monstrosity of demands, place upon you without your consent, without your agreement and without any tangible benefits to you. Guess who owns and governs each one of these monstrosities?”

Frank waited, and I spoke again, “Business. Big business and small businesses”.

Frank agreed. “I see your point, but what of it?”

“They’re all interlocked together in this thing we call ‘civilization’, which really isn’t civilization, but control. Control so you can eat, so you can stay alive and so somebody else can make huge profits out of your right to exist. And you are forced into this ‘agreement’ without your consent.”

“Well, how can you say it’s without my consent?” Frank asked. “I’m willing to work for what I want. Most people are willing to work for what they want too. I’ve given my consent by my participation”. Emphasizing this, Frank thought he had me there, but he didn’t.

“Yes, you have, but your consent was given because of what? What circumstances compelled you to give your consent? Was it really your participation, or was it something else? Because you want to work, or because of something else?”

“I like to work. But if I had my choice, I’d probably choose something else. To be honest, I can think of several things I’d really like to do with my life besides what I’m doing now”. Frank was a software engineer and a good one. He’d been doing this for a long time, as long as I had known him. However, what Frank really wanted was to build sailboats, but he couldn’t afford to make such a drastic change in his life.

“Yes, I know. You’ve told me before about some of your dreams. And I hope someday you can do that. But what I’m driving at, is why can’t you live your life the way you want? Why can’t you do the things that you want? Is it because you have no choice? Or is it because you are compelled to live as a software engineer?”

“I’m compelled to write software because I can’t afford to build sailboats!” I could sense Frank’s exasperation in his voice. “I’d probably starve for years before I got my business going.”

“Then you mean to say, that you couldn’t even afford to eat if you built sailboats? That you couldn’t afford to pay your bills if you started a new business?” I tried pressing my point.

“Yes, that’s probably true. I’d have a hard time until I got such a business going too. And I might fail entirely. I could go bankrupt and lose everything. I wouldn’t be able to pay my bills, meet my mortgage, finance my car or even feed my family. I’d have a pretty hard time of it right now if I just ventured off and tried something like this.”

“But why Frank? Look, I’m trying to get you to realize something. You’re having to pay for everything in your life, right now. And it’s costing you everything too. You have to pay for housing. For food. For transportation. For insurance. For clothing. For water. For the so-called ‘privilege’ to drive. These are all the systems I was talking about earlier. You are being forced to exchange your time and your effort for money, which is depreciating all of the time, in exchange for all the things you need to simply survive. You’re also exchanging your time and your money for a lot of other things. Luxuries. Nice cars. Resteraunts. Golf clubs, stuff you don’t really need to have in order to survive.”

“Yeah, so?” Frank was being a little obtuse, but I ignored it. I knew he was understanding what I was driving at.

“Why can’t you just build sailboats? Why can’t you stop paying for the things that you need to survive? I’ll tell you why – because you have no choice. You’re forced to buy these things. Your forced to buy food, water, clothing, housing, electricity to heat your home and cook your food. You’re force to do these things at whatever price these corporations dictate. The reality is, you are paying with your life, and all of your time, energy and effort, just so you can survive at whatever prices are being set by these corporations.”

“No I’m not. I could grow my own food if I wanted too” Frank replied. He looked down to my garden and the row of dirt I had turned over. A little more dubiously, he said, “I could do that if I wanted to, grow my own food.”

“Could you? Could you really? Where Frank? Where would you grow your own food? Here? Right here? What about the zoning requirements where you live Frank? Can you convert your property back to agricultural zoning? And who would you pay to do that? Or would someone stop you? The city? The county? Your neighbors when they see their property values fall because you’ve got a cornfield in your front yard?”

“Well, maybe not right here. Maybe I could learn to do it somewhere else.” Frank looked doubtful now.
“Yes, maybe you could, but in reality, you and I both know you won’t. You don’t know how and neither do I. I’m just piddling around here with my garden, but it won’t really feed me. I don’t know how to really do that. Nobody taught us how either. Nobody taught us how to take care of our basic survival needs. We probably couldn’t even find water in the woods if we didn’t fall down into a creek. But the point is, the choice to grow your own food is no longer yours. Most people don’t even have this choice. Their so-called ‘choice’ is to go to a supermarket and take it off the shelf, walk to the register and pay for it with money in their pockets. Money which they had to obtain by exchanging their time and energy and life force doing something somebody else wanted done at a wage that somebody else decided. Doing something that they’d probably rather not do, but they do it anyway because they want to eat. They need to eat. They want to stay alive. They want to pay their bills. They want to ‘get ahead’. But they’re not getting ahead Frank. They’re getting further and further behind and they never realize it. They’re all distancing themselves from learning how to take care of themselves and are becoming more and more dependent upon all of these systems to simply keep them alive.”

“And this is the dangerous part of it all Frank. These system have taken away our simple choices in the matter. They’ve taken living out of the equation entirely. To stay alive, you are required to particpate in what they’ve defined. And by participating, your wind up perpetuating the very systems that forced your dependence in the first place! This is insane Frank! We’re helping to create the very systems that are keeping us all chained.”

Frank said nothing and I continued on. “Try getting a job without a bank account. It can be done, but it’s not easy. Or try cashing a check from your job without a bank account. Or try getting to work without a car. Without a ‘license’. Without insurance. Or simpler yet, try raising your own food in your own backyard. If your neighbors don’t object, the city will. Or the mortgage company when your house is taken away from you for failure to pay your mortgage because you stopped going to work to raise vegetables in your garden.”

“The point is, you are being forced to participate in this thing we call ‘civilization’ and ‘society’ whether you like it or not. If you stop participating, you’d starve, go bankrupt and wind up desperate and homeless.”
“Is that so bad?, participating in civilization?” Frank said. “I rather like a lot of civilization and society. And why not? I’m comfortable. I’ve got what I need. And I’ve already told you I’m willing to exchange my time and energy for it.”

“Do you Frank? Do you really have what you need? Or do you have what you’re being given at whatever price somebody else established? And even worse, is your dependence upon this system helpful or harmful to you or to anyone else?”

“What do you mean, helpful or harmful? To who?” Frank was dubious again.
“To me, to your neighbors, to the planet. Does your lifestyle of dependency cause more harm then good? Does being a software engineer or a sailboat builder, who can really only do this one thing to be a functioning part of this civilization cause more harm then good to everything else?”

“How so? How can it be that harmful? We all have to do something!” Frank exclaimed.
“Do we? Or do we simply have no choice anymore? I contend that we don’t have any choice anymore. And yes, our lifestyles of dependence upon these systems I’m referring to do cause a great deal of harm in a myriad of ways. We pollute the environment with our excessive waste and pollution while we participate in this style of ‘forced existence’. We fill our landfills with useless garbage and cast off junk which we mined and manufactured from someplace else. We build our expensive houses and drive our fancy cars with no thought to the forest we have to cut down to build them and the minerals we have to strip-mine to manufacture them, leaving behind nothing but stumps and slag heaps.”

Frank interuppted at this point. “Well, yeah, I suppose that’s true. But some of these things are renewable resources. They grow back.”

“Do they? Look around. While we were waiting for them to grow back, what happened? The population doubled, tripled, quadripled in size. Sure, we’ve got second and third and even fourth generation forest around today, but how much usable forest do we really have left? Have you seen what’s happening in our national forests? In the Amazon? In the ocean fisheries for example? Frank, we’ve lost 90% of our ocean fisheries already! They might be renewable, but at our rate of consumption, it won’t matter.”

“Well, I know that we’ve got a lot of environmental issues, but how is this related to these systems you were talking about and modern living? I understand the impacts humans have, or at least I think I do, but you’re losing me here.”

“I don’t think you do understand entirely, which is what I’m hoping to make clear. Our modern lifestyles we live today, are forced upon us all, because we have no choice on how to live differently. We simply don’t know how, nor have we ever been taught any other way. We’ve also destroyed so much of our environment that to try and live directly from the environment today is no longer even possible. Mega-corporations and conglomerates have literally bought up the entire planet, all the resources, all the water, all the oil, all the minerals, literally everything and they are chopping it all up into bite sized pieces and fancy packaging and labeling to put on supermarket shelves and into gas tanks. They’ve bought and paid for all of our politicians, whether Democrats or Republicans and they’re all still believing in the lie that this fantasy world of abundance and plenty can last forever and ever and ever. Even worse, almost everyone else also believe this lie too. They also believe that they are receiving a fair exchange for their time and labor, receving depreciating fiat money in exchange, with which they can go out and buy up these tiny bites of resources ripped out of the planet from someplace else.”

“There’s also the other civilizations out there that we’ve not yet mentioned and not yet talked about. The ones that are having their forest cleared, their villages burned and their cities choked with smog from all the manufacturing and processing plants and slag heaps they have. So that we can have more clever and shiny toys over here in America, imported with foreign oil and brought from thousands of miles away. So that we can continue to have stocked shelves and new products and even more useless junk for which we can exchange for money. And when we get tired of these toys, we toss them into a ever-filling land fill that we’ll eventually build housing tracts on. The uselessness and stupidity of this cycle of waste and dependency is staggering.”

“And every one of these things is supported by a system of dependency of required participation. You have no choice. If you want a job, simply so you can eat, then you are required to get an identity card, and a social security number and withholdings taken from your paycheck. Your boss then tells you when to show up for work and what to do. You wind up working for the very systems that are setup to exploit you and the planet itself. And at the end of the week when you get paid, you can then exchange this payment for the products these corporations make available to us on the store shelves and showroom floors, stolen from some place else in the form of raw resources and built by foreign workers who are being exploited even worse then we are.”

“Most people think this is fair and this is ‘life’. But in reality, this is self-annihilation. It’s destruction on a planetary scale. It’s global devastation. And it’s catching up to us. It’s everywhere now, just out of sight to the average man or woman who is not really paying attention. They’re all to busy just trying to survive.”

“You can’t see it unless you look for it. But it’s there and it’s getting bigger all the time. Drought. Pollution. Desertification. Flooding. Forest fires. Overfishing. Species extinction. Acid rain. All consequences of our lifestyles. All consequences of our Empire. All results of our modern living and the ‘choices’ we’ve all been forced to be a part of. And behind it all, is the faceless, senseless and ruthless corporations who are causing it all to happen. Because they bought up all the resources and outlawed self-sufficiency. They paid their lobbyist to convince the politicians that their special ‘interest’ needed special protection and so it was given to them. And in return, we all got shorted, badly. They took away our right to live simple. To have real money with real value. To live without forced coercion and participation in the ‘group demands’ of ‘civilization’. They made us into what we are. And they did it with our consent for the most part. We did this because we were willing to exchange our inheritance for a few glass beads.”

“Wow! I never saw it like this before”. Frank was rapt with attention. The pieces were starting to fall into place.

“I didn’t either, but it took me a while to work it all out. The corporations became the new plantation owners, with the overseers the politicians and the government agencies. We’re all forced to work on the plantation too, whether we like it or not, perpetuating the status quo and the planetary destruction. They took away all of our choices and exchanged them all for what’s available on the supermarket shelf. Including our politicians, they’re all blue-light specials available for a price. The names change, but their policies don’t. And that’s because they can’t. They don’t work for us like we’ve been told. They work for the moneyed men and woman that control everything else. And when we are exploited and when we are wronged and when we have a grievance, they’re job is to simply keep us in line and to keep perpetuatung the status quo. Keep things going. Don’t rock the boat too much or you’ll be tossed overboard. They’ll even send you to prison if you speak out or rebel against their system.  Over two million Americans are rotting in prison. They’re not all innocent, but this is yet another system meant to keep the renegades and the rebels in check. Keep everyone in line. Don’t think outside the box. Don’t you dare act outside of the box. Don’t wake up and realize you’ve been sold a bill of goods. Don’t finally realized that your a slave, destined to work everyday of your life in exchange for what was once free for the taking.”

“Free? Frank puzzled, “Are you saying we shouldn’t be charged for what we need?”

“I’m saying we have no choice anymore. They’ve destroyed the environment with their rapacious greed and killed everything that got in the way, including each other. To the victor went the spoils. The Indians were wiped out because they stood in the way, but they had one of the best sustainable civilizations this planet had ever seen for human beings. But they had to wipe them out to make sure that their ‘civilization’ could commence in the New World. And that’s exactly what they did, wiping out millions and millions of them and tossing the few survivors onto wasted lands.”

“And then they turned around and began the resource wars from coast to coast in America and other parts of the world. Europe was largely already cut up and divided, but they kept at it there too, slicing it up again and again into smaller pieces, redividing and redistributing it over and over again. That’s where our wars come from. They’re started by these corporations and bureaucrats, and not by the people. They’re fighting over resources, demanding even more control over something they think they need when they really don’t. And for the most part, the people are persuaded to go along with it, by a lying media in exchange for a few more glass beads. It’s rather disgusting and sickening really, when you finally come to realize what it’s all about.”

“But what about our choices today? Frank asked. “Can’t we just reject this ‘civilization’ and return back to a more sustainable way of living?”

“Can we? Can we really? On whose say so? Yours? Mine? We don’t own anything. Or better said, we don’t control anything. They do. The banks do. The government does. The corporations do. And they’re all in this together, because they still believe that dividing everything up again and again and again is the best way to live life. And giving you the ‘privilege’ to ‘pay for it’. They control it all, they own it all and they have power over it all.”

“What do we have? An objection? A protest? Dissent? Where does that get you, exactly? I’ll tell you, look around. We’ve now got ‘free speech zones’ where with a permit you probably had to pay for, you are ‘allowed’ to voice your dissent out of sight from the media and everyone else. What’s the point in that?”

“Not much”, Frank admitted. “Nobody but other protesters around to see it. Kind of like preaching to the choir”.

“Exactly, and just as useless. It’s not the choir that needs preaching too.”  I paused while I reflected on what to say next.
“And I’ll tell you something else. No nation has ever voted itself ‘back’ to freedom. Back to liberty. Back to a place where there is no longer any plantation owners. Back to where people are no longer indentured servants, destined to work for the corporations who govern every nuance of their lives, ever. It’s never happened, and it never will.”

“Why? Why can’t it happen? Just because it’s never happened, how can that mean it never will? There’s always a first time for everything, otherwise there’d never be a first time!”

“No, it will never happen, and here’s why”. I paused, collecting my thoughts. “Simply put, because we don’t want it to happen. We’ve forgotten too much and have become too dependent to accept the responsibility. First of all, we don’t even know how to take care of ourselves. Asking or expecting ignorant people to suddenly take full responsibility for their lives enmasse will never happen. They would rather die first. And many of them will.”

“Secondly, voting isn’t democratic. Not like people think. When 50.1% of the people can tell the other 49.9% of the people what to do and how to live, this is neither democratic or fair. It’s a fatally flawed system, but we’re supposed to pretend that this is the best we can do.”

“So what is going to happen? Will this just continue on, no matter what we do?”

“No, I don’t think so. I think it will all collapse on it’s own accord. There are already multiple signs of this collapse underway right now. And I also think that collapse will be a good thing, because collapse will help destroy these institutions that caused these problems in the first place. We probably couldn’t destroy them ourselves without collapse helping it along.”

“Won’t a lot of people get hurt?”

“Yeah, a great many people. Millions. Hundreds of millions. Even billions. The sustainable level of the planet for humans is less then 20% of what we have today. We’re in serious, serious overshoot. Factor in all the environmental destruction now underway and accelerating everyday and you come up with a rough number of how many might be sustainable on this planet. It’s not very many people. And to make matter worse, climate change will have it’s day too. Or better put, a few centuries, at least, to wreck total havoc on the planet and any humans trying to survive. There is no guarantee at all that humans will make it. We might even be wiped out within the next generation. There is scientific speculation that humans have less then 100 years left to live before total extinction.”

“You’re kidding, right? Tell me your kidding”. Serious stuff. Frank wasn’t sure if I was overexaggerating or not.

“No, I’m not kidding. I wish I was. Humans have screwed things up really good. The planet had a lot of tolerance to our excesses and abuse over the preeceeding centuries, but many scientist think we have already passed the tipping point of irreversible climate change. That, all by itself, can cause absolute devastation to human life, to say nothing of other life forms. And the environmental damage we’ve caused all over the globe has yet to be fully understood for it’s lasting and damaging effects. The depleted uranium in Iraq for example, will have rendered these areas uninhabitable for 10,000 years. We probably won’t be around this long to find out.”

“Good grief! I didn’t realize it was so bad.”

“Most people don’t. Most people simply don’t care. They’re too damned busy working at dead-end jobs to pay the corporations for the privilege of staying alive. And the politicians are even worse. They definitely don’t care, having accepted bribes from these same corporations to keep their mouths shut and to keep the evidence away from the people. To even get into office you have to be a part of the plantation! Only the overseers are allowed to even run for office. We’re not supposed to notice, but some of us do. Some people have had the courage to speak up, but not many. Basically, we’ve screwed the pooch. It’s all over but the crying and dying.”

“I can’t accept that. There has to be something we can do”. Frank refused to go down without a fight. Good. So did I.

“Well, there is. And I can’t accept it either, to be honest. We have to try. We can’t just give up. To give up it to admit our total failure as a species. And even though I admit there is a lot of truth in that, we did manage to live on this planet for two million years without screwing things up this badly. I believe we can do it again.”

“But how? What can we do?”

“We can start by revoking our compliance to these corporations and the politicians who have stolen our inheritance from us. We can refuse to participate in their schemes and frauds to keep us enslaved to their systems of dependency and destruction. We can start dismantling them from within, if we have to. But I don’t know if we can do it fast enough, we don’t have much time.”

“How much time do we have left?” Frank was all ears now.

“Honestly? I don’t know. Best estimates are a single generation. 40 years, give or take.”

“40 years!” Frank exclaimed. “How can that be possible? How can it be so short of time?”

“Because there are awful lot of things coinciding at the same time. They’re all coming to head right now. Peak oil and the energy crisis. The thermohaline. Climate change. Rising sea levels. Greenhouse gas emmissions, including the Siberian permafrost. All escalating wildly out of control. The destruction of the Amazon continues, causing massive levels of deforestation and destruction of the ‘lungs of the world’. There’s even reports of falling levels of oxygen, we might all die of asphxiation before we die in our own garbage”.

“Unbelievable. But I’m not saying I don’t believe it”. Frank paused. “I’m in shock, actually. I’ve read about all of these things you’ve mentioned, but I never put all the pieces together. Holy crap! I don’t know what to say.”

“Don’t say anything. You don’t have to. But what you can do, is start doing what I suggested above. Withdraw your consent to keep destroying the planet. Stop your participation in all of these highly destructive systems that are designed to enslave you and to keep you stupid, dependent and helpless.”

“Are you saying I should learn to grow my own food?” Frank looked at my small garden, it didn’t look very promising.

“Yes, that and more. Join up with others into sustainable communities and learn to live in cooperation with the land itself. Learn to take only what you need. Learn to recycle whatever you can. Learn to live simply, lightly and without harm to each other and to the world you live in. Learn to be responsible for your life and what it really takes to meet your own needs. Teach this to your children and make it a part of their lives. And teach it to others, as fast as you can, because we really don’t have a lot of time.”

“Anything else? Is there anything else I should do?”

“Oh, there is one or two more things. Get out of debt, by any means possible, as fast as you can. This will help stop funding the Empire.”

“And hand me that shovel, I need to finish this garden.”

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3 thoughts on “Empire 2

  • November 10, 2006 at 8:07 am
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    very ‘nice’ read, kemosabi
    got an attribution (a source) for this?

    40 years before ‘collapse’ kicks us in the butthole?
    BS !!!!!!!!

    PS – it’s not the fall that will kll you (us), it’s the sudden change in monentum.

    And hand me that shovel, I need to finish this grave – ahhh – I meant bunker.

  • November 11, 2006 at 9:46 am
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    Yeah, ‘me’. Thought I’d try a new format.

    Regarding 40 years till collapse – yeah, I think so. It won’t / can’t happen overnight. Or even in 20 years. At the 40 year ‘mark’, the survivors at that time will definitely ‘know it’. But between now and then, it will be a long decline, fast and then slow, then fast again, starting and stopping in jerks. IMO

    Collapse is already underway, but how do you ‘define’ it’s finality? Or even it’s beginning? To me, it is the irreverible loss of any given thing – and if that defines the start of collapse, we’re way the hell on our way. But this would also mean that collapse’s ‘finality’ won’t happen for some time yet, because there is yet still much more to be lost. In 40 years, give or take 20 or so, it’ll all be gone.

  • November 11, 2006 at 6:31 pm
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    Peak Oil happened in 2005.
    SEE http://www.energybulletin.net/22213.html

    In January, 2000, the December 2006 contract for crude oil was $18.34. Presently, it is $59.59 after a big pre-(s)election decline. That’s a compound growth rate of about 18% per year (pre-peak).

    Should the present rate continue until 2015, we’d see $215 oil – equating to gasoline at $7 per gallon.

    But, this doesn’t take into account disruptions in distribution which could develop through any of several dozen types of calamity (assuredly manmade). This also doesn’t take into account depreciation of the US dollar on World currency markets, or inflation or hyper inflation.

    Further, the proportion of crude extracted which is heavy and/or sour crude will continually increase virtually doubling refining costs per gallon over time.

    Therefore, in current dollars, by 2015, oil could easily be $300 to $400 per barrel and gasoline could easily be in the $15+ per gallon range.

    Well before such a price, the entirety of Western Civ will implode. That defines crash to me. Won’t take anywhere near 40 years to get there. IMO.

    JustinFrankl at PO.com wrote:
    “I would say, the whole system is a freaking crystal meth whore, looking for one more John, and then looking to filter the byproducts out of her own piss to scrape together a few more pulls on the pipe. This is where we are.

    And when the crystal dries out, then she goes ape-shit. This is where we are going.”

    JONSING for a petrol fix is going to be FAR uglier than what meth does.

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