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Homo sum; humani nil a me alienum puto.

This has long been one of my favorite quotes, which I translate as I am human, so nothing human is alien to me.


You know, I'm amazed that the recent carnage in Montreal occurs as seldom as it does. I'm amazed someone hasn't simply opened fire with an uzi in Times Square or Disneyland or at metropolitan airports.

Everyone dismisses such acts as the result of insanity, that only someone "sick" could do such a thing, a tragic anomaly from a disturbed individual. I suppose it's easier to swallow such horrendous acts when considered this way, just as, on the other hand, it's socially acceptable for soldiers to do the same sorts of things in foreign countries so long as God and Country are invoked to the accompaniment of celebratory fanfares and yellow ribbons.

Sadly most commentators will likely dismiss this as just another impenetrable mystery, the result of a deranged mind. Killer loved guns, hated people claims the headline of an early entry by someone ill-equipped to solve the mystery, citing meaningless things like "He expresses frustration at having to wait for his contact lenses to dry" as some sort of clue to his anti-social, sick world.

Then there will be the inevitable conclusions drawn about goths, that their "anti-social" lifestyle may pose a "danger" to society, that black clothes and piercings are a warning sign. And so goths will be painted with the brush of yet another threat to peace-loving citizens seeking safety from the dangerous world, that goth's cultish and dangerous anti-social iconoclasm is some kind of psychological gateway leading to mental illness and violent criminal behavior... And media consumers will nod in their customary stupefied agreement, happy for any soporific to ease their minds.

Of course such a claim makes as much sense as saying xtianity leads to bombing abortion clinics and sniping doctors in their home kitchens. But that won't stop Time & Newsweek from emblazoning their covers with slickly designed graphics of scary pallid pierced youths dressed in black and asking "Goths — Super-Mega-Dangerous-Satanic Anti-Social Death Cult Phenomenon. Why Their Fascination With Death?"

It's all nonsense, naturally, but dangerous nonsense that will only further stigmatize a demographic sector that has already willfully adopted the identity of society's Other (though, like most hippies of their day, to present themselves as belonging to a cool demographic where they can find a comfort with a peer group that safely rejects the status quo). Their wish to present themselves as rejecting the patent vapidity and mendacity of status quo reality creation is sincere (though, typically and ironically, is done by adopting the mediated consumer trappings of anti-consumerism), which makes them easier targets on which to blame social ills. And thus a new breed of red herring scapegoat is born, distracting the boobs yokels pinks voters from addressing the real issues. The end result will be the addition of pale youths in black trench coats joining the hotlist when it comes to security and surveillance profiling. (I truly hope none of this happens.)

Amok Anonymous

Kimveer Gill makes it easy to attribute his spree shootings as the result of a raged-filled maniac who listened to death-metal rock and preferred guns to people. This will undoubtedly be the line taken by the official sources, and they would prefer to keep it that way.

But what about Charles Whitman? Lest anyone forget, the notorious Texas Tower Sniper, with a body count of 15+ dead and 31+ wounded, was as clean-cut as they come. His inspirational notes depict a solid citizen with a powerful superego who only wanted to do right by people. As seemingly opposite to Kimveer as they come.

And yet Kimveer and Whitman were as one in their chosen exit from life.

Whitman, in his squeeky clean world, lacked the personal and cultural tools to understand what was happening within him: he felt compelled by forces he couldn't articulate to commit his murders. His rage was bottled-in by a powerful super-ego that repressed an awareness of just what was brewing within him.

Kimveer, on the other hand, was provided with a demographic milieu that permitted him to give voice to his frustration. Sadly it was one that also fed it with its darkly oriented worldview. (Which is not to blame the Goth milieu in any way — reality is a rohrshach that presents itself as it is perceived: perception determines reality, which in turn confirms percpetion. The bible, for instance, can and has been used to justify and feed any ethic and philosophy.) Kimveer was all too aware of being mired in a raging and pestilential despair.

Both were depressed with the state of their world: Kimveer on a macro level with society at large; Whitman on the micro with his everyday world. Both were consumed by rage and hostility. Both expressed urges to kill lots of people.

But, just as with the unheard cries for help of successful suicides, Whitman's and Kimveer's cries were not taken seriously enough.

Though the specific causes of their distress were different, the feelings that resulted from them were all too similar. Like the various personalities of recovering alcoholics at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, there is one thing these spree killers share in common, a particular manifestation of the same illness. But in their case it's a particularly malignant symptom of a specifically modern illness.


These symptoms are well understood by a handful of insightful philosphers and artists like Albert Camus and Michael Haneke. And, surprisingly enough, it occurs quite commonly in the comic book world of Judge Dredd's MegaCity1. In fact, it's so common in the near-future world of MegaCity1 that it has its own name: futsie.

(Speaking of Judge Dredd, forget the film; the early comic books must count as one of the most sociologically (and politically) sagacious and prescient works of fiction in our time. The authors and artists exhibit a deep and intuitive understanding of our world.)Judge Dredd futsie speechbubble

Futsie is variously defined in the world of Judge Dredd:
  • The Futsie is an ordinary citizen who has grown stressed from the fast-paced life of Mega-City One - and has completely flipped out!
  • Futsie is a common phenomenon on worlds experiencing a sudden and exponential technological increase, culture shock, or future shock; futsies are people who can't deal with the future.
  • Futsie — a slang term for those suffering from "Future Shock", a madness caused by the stress of life in the giant, future city.

This "madness" caused by a specifically modern "stress of life" was explored in detail by the great psychologist Erich Fromm in his book The Sane Society, a madness peculiar to modern societies: alienation.


Because this is one of those issues that cannot be addressed in an easy-to-swallow facile one minute talking-head editorial, I will be quoting extensively from vital source material. To go right to the conclusion without first providing background would not only be a disservice to the weight of the matter, but it would, understandably, invite an automatic rejection as being patently ludicrous. So bear with this, because it matters.

We first need to revisit the ways in which personality is formed and determined by one's cultural and social milieu. As I said in a discussion of the development of zombie community (of which futsie is another face of the same die cube) "our identity and sense of reality are, ultimately, socially constructed." I then quote extensively from Peter Berger's exceptional Invitation to Sociology, of which the following is the most pertinent snippet for our discussion:
Identities are socially bestowed. They must also be socially sustained, and fairly steadily so. One cannot be human all by oneself and, apparently, one cannot hold on to any particular identity all by oneself. The self-image of the officer as an officer can be maintained only in a social context in which others are willing to recognize him in this identity. If this recognition is suddenly withdrawn, it usually does not take very long before the self-image collapses.
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Looked at sociologically, the self is no longer a solid, given entity that moves from one situation to another. It is rather a process, continuously created and re-created in each social situation that one enters, held together by the slender thread of memory.
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The individual, then, derives his world view socially in very much the same way that he derives his role and his identity. In other words, his emotions and his self-interpretation like his actions are predefined for him by society, and so is his cognitive approach to the universe that surrounds him. This fact Alfred Schuetz has caught in his phrase "world-taken-for-granted" — the system of apparently self-evident and self-validating assumptions about the world that each society engenders in the course of its history...Society predefines for us that fundamental symbolic apparatus with which we grasp the world, order our experience and interpret our own existence.

The brain, being the organic, material reality that is the repository of our personality, is literally hardwired by our society to make us who we are. Felix Guattari tells us how this incarnates in our times:
...the molecular texture of the unconscious is constantly being worked on by global society, that is to say, these days, by capitalism, which has cut individuals up into partial machines subjected to its ends, and has excluded or infused guilt into everything that opposed its own functionality. If has fabricated submissive children, "sad Indians," labor reserves, people who have become incapable of speaking, of talking things out, of dancing — in short, of living their desires. Capitalism mobilizes everything to halt the proliferation and the actualization of unconscious potentialities.

Hunh? Capitalism?! Oh, come on! It's a joke, right? What the hell is he talking about?

Wait, maybe Erich Fromm can help us out: alienation, he avers, is "the central issue of the effects of Capitalism on personality." Well, maybe there is a correlation. After all, we are defined by the world in which we are raised. If the two are related maybe we should look into it.

One of the primary aspects of alienation is the way in which it converts our experience of things, including people, into commodities via the psychological process of "abstractification":
In contemporary Western culture this polarity [perceiving objects in both their uniqueness and their generality; in their concreteness and their abstractness] has given way to an almost exclusive reference to the abstract qualities of things and people, and to a neglect of relating oneself to their concreteness and uniqueness. Instead of forming abstract concepts where it is necessary and useful, everything, including ourselves, is being abstractified; the concrete reality of people and things to which we can relate with the reality of our person, is replaced by abstractions, by ghosts that embody different quantities, but not different qualities.
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In other words, things are experienced as commodities, as embodiments of exchange value, not only while we are buying or selling, but in our attitude towards them when the economic transaction is finished...
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But the abstractifying and quantifying attitude goes far beyond the realm of things. People are also experienced as the embodiment of a quantitive exchange value...
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The process of abstractification, however, has still deeper roots and manifestations than the ones described so far, roots which go back to the very beginning of the modern era; to the dissolution of any concrete frame of reference in the process of life.

He then provides a litany of things — from the cosmologic to the economic — that reduce our sense of being in the world by the sheer enormity of the scale in which we find ourselves. The frame of reference in which to ascertain our experience of reality grows beyond our capacity of human understanding, further abstractifying our sense of concrete reality:

The dimensions with which we deal are figures and abstractions; they are far beyond the boundaries which would permit of any kind of concrete experience. There is no frame of reference left which is manageable, observable, which is adapted to human dimensions. While our eyes and ears receive impressions only in humanly manageable proportions, our concept of the world has lost just that quality; it does not any longer correspond to our human dimensions.

This is especially significant in connection with the development of modern means of destruction. In modern war, one individual can cause the destruction of hundreds of thousands of men, women and children. He could do so by pushing a button; he may not feel the emotional impact of what he is doing, since he does not know the people whom he kills; it is almost as if his act of pushing the button and their death had no real connection. The same man would probably be incapable of even slapping, not to speak of killing, a helpless person. In the latter case, the concrete situation arouses in him a conscience reaction common to all normal men; in the former, there is no such reaction, because the act and his object are alienated from the doer, his act is not his anymore, but has, so to speak, a life and responsbility of its own.

(This is important to keep in mind: the man who can, in good conscience, wipe out a village at the push of a button is disconnected from his action via psychological distance, which we shall return to anon.)

This abstractification of experience leads to alienation, which Fromm defines thusly:
By alienation is meant a mode of experience in which the person experiences himself as an alien. He has become, one might say, estranged from himself. He does not experience himself as the center of his world, as the creator of his own acts — but his acts and their consequences have become his masters, whom he obeys, or whom he may even worship. The alienated person is out of touch with himself as he is out of touch with any other person. He, like the others, is experienced as things are experienced; with the senses and with common sense, but at the same time without being related to oneself and to the world outside productively.

Fromm then beautifully articulates what it means to live in a world where we experience each other as commodities for use:

What is modern man's relationship to his fellow man? It is one between two abstractions, two living machines, who use each other... Everybody is to everybody else a commodity, always to be treated with certain friendliness, because even if he is not of use now, he may be later. There is not much love or hate to be found in human relations of our day. There is, rather, a superficial friendliness, and a more than superficial fairness, but behind that surface is distance and indifference...

The alienation between man and man results in the loss of those general and social bonds which characterize medieval as well as most other precapitalist societies. Modern society consists of "atoms", little particles estranged from each other but held together by selfish interests and by the necessity to make use of each other. Yet man is a social being with a deep need to share, to help, to feel as a member of a group. Tooker Landscape What has happened to these social strivings in man? They manifest themselves in the special sphere of the public realm, which is strictly separated from the private realm. Our private dealings with our fellow men are governed by the principle of egotism, "each for himself, God for us all," in flagrant contradiction to Christian teaching. The invidivual is motivated by egotistical interest, and not by solidarity with and love for his fellow man.

And then...

What is the relationship of man toward himself? I have described elsewhere this relationship as "marketing orientation." In this orientation, man experiences himself as a thing to be employed successfully on the market. He does not experience himself as an active agent, as the bearer of human powers. He is alienated from these powers. His aim is to sell himself successfully on the market. His sense of self does not stem from his activity as a loving and thinking individual, but from his socio-economic role... That is the way he experiences himself, not as a man, with love. fear, convictions, doubts, but as that abstraction, alienated from his real nature, which fulfills a certain function in the social system. His sense of value depends on his success: on whether he can sell himself favoriably, whether he can make more of himself than he started out with, whether he is a success. His body, his mind and his soul are his capital, and his task in life is to invest it favorably, to make a profit of himself. Human qualities like friendliness, courtesy, kindness, are transformed into commodities, into assets of the "personality package," conducive to a higher price on the personality market. If the individual fails in a profitable investment of himself, he feels that he is a failure; if he succeeds, he is a success. Clearly, his sense of his own value always depends on factors extraneous to himself, on the fickle judgement of the market, which decides about his value as it decides about the value of commodities. He, like all commodities that cannot be sold profitably on the market, is worthless as far as his exchange value is concerned, even though his use value may be considerable.

The alienated personality who is for sale must lose a good deal of the sense of dignity which is so characteristic of man even in most primitive cultures. He must lose almost all sense of self, of himself as a unique and induplicable entity. The sense of self stems from the experience of myself as the subject of my experiences, my thought, my feeling, my decision, my judgement, my action. It presupposes that my experience is my own, and not an alienated one. Things have no self and men who have become things can have no self.

I think now we're in a position to try to solve the mystery.

(But let me first say that to suggest that Capitalism causes futsie is as absurd as suggesting that being raised by alcoholic parents causes alcoholism. But it is correct to say that these things are the soil in which the seeds of these illnesses can blossom.)

Breaching Walls: Connection & Community

Michael Haneke, cinema's greatest poet of alienation, understands all this. In his modernist masterpiece 71 Fragments of a Chronology of Chance, he brilliantly illustrates the phenomenon of the futsie. The world Haneke depicts is populated by painfully alienated people who live by rote, not knowing how to connect to each other or themselves. Their world is completely mediated, one which desensitizes everybody to everybody else, beautifully illustrated by the constant presence of the television, in which all information is flattened and emptied of meaning, a world where horrible violence and injustice are just more bits of information to be passively consumed with dogfood commercials and celebrity gossip. People become innurred to existence, from each other, from themselves. Atrocities are no different than runway shows.

Haneke bravely and uncompromisingly requires the audience to connect the very difficult dots in his austere version of MegaCity1 to quietly illustrate how the stresses of modern life make someone snap into a futsie. A student, in seeking to pay for gas, gets frustrated in his desire for simple human connection: he is treated as a cog in the economic machine of commodity exchanges, trying to pay for gas but lacking change; his inability to complete the transaction is a monkey wrench in the smoothly functioning assembly line of mediated social interaction. He goes to a bank across the street to get change, but the lines are long, which means a long delay in moving his car away from the pumps for the next customers in the economic assembly line. His frustrations mount. All he wants is to be treated with courtesy, to allow the rules to bend so that he could quickly go to the front of the line to get change: to confirm that his needs, his very existence, is more important than the rote channels of social decorum. But this was denied him by the mediated cogness of impersonal social conditioning. (It's more than a coincidence that a bank is the seat of action here.) He seeks something real, a real connection, something that would acknowledge his existence as a human being, rather than as an economic unit breaking a smoothly functioning machinic assemblage; he wants the walls that separate people to momentarily open and allow him his needs.futsie When this is denied him, when he feels that his basic human being-ness is negated, his frustration becomes so unbearable he snaps and becomes futsie: the irrevocable psychological snap that compels one to breach the walls of alienation to create authentic connection, to psychotically assert one's existence as a human being in a world — a world comprised of other human beings — that denies it.

And so it's not simply frustration that pushes one to this point. The futsie reaches a terminal stage of alienation that is an existential nullity, a point of singularity, like some kind of existential big bang, that explodes to breach the walls of unbearable alienation in a gesture of liberatory catharsis, one that creates a shared, communal moment of unmediated authenticity and connection before surrendering to complete annihilation.

Unlike the man who can wipe out a village with the push of a button because "death had no real connection", the futsie finds the real connection he craves in causing death. The futsie, in killing his victims personally rather than abstractly pushing a button, repudiates this very alienation: he craves the emotional impact of being connected with others: it is a rejection of the abstractification that allows a man to push a murder button in good conscience. The futsie craves reality, to feel connected to reality. Shooting others, watching them fall, hearing their screams, unmediated by movies or TV, being the cause of this reality, is an act of feeling that reality. He is creating an experience that breaks through the filters and gauze of mediated experience; he finally feels connected to an unmediated reality that he can legitimately claim to be of my choosing, my creation, my feeling, my decision, my judgement, my action, in a definitive, irrefutable, liberatory blaze of gunfire. It is his psychotic refusal to be a commodified, abstracted thing any longer, to reclaim his authentic self by creating an undeniably unabstracted connection with others.

But there's an inherently self-defeating paradox that undermines the futsie in his project. Only a human being can willfully commit such an inhumane act — that is the point. But what was an act of liberation, of breaching the mediated walls of alienation, is, finally, an act committed by rote: the futsie did not exercise free will in his act because he was compelled to do it by psychological forces beyond his control. The trap is sprung: their alienation is now absolute, for in their act they have completely lost the humanity that makes them human, thus rendering themselves inhuman; death must follow.

Terminal Conversions

Lt. Col Dave Grossman, in his excellent book On Killing, quotes Fromm in a discussion of how psychological distance makes killing easier. This entails removing one's sense of empathy:

Erich Fromm states that "there is good clinical evidence for the assumption that destructive aggression occurs, at least to a large degree, in conjunction with a momentary or chronic emotional withdrawal."... Again, some of the mechanisms that facilitate this process include:
  • Cultural distance, such as racial and ethnic differences, which permit the killer to dehumanize the victim
  • Moral distance, which takes into consideration the kind of intense belief in moral superiority and vengeful/vigilante actions associated with many civil wars
  • Social distance, which considers the impact of a lifetime of practice in thinking of a particular class as less than human in a socially stratified environment
  • Mechanical distance, which includes the sterile Nintendo-game unreality of killing through a TV screen, a thermal sight, a sniper sight, or some other kind of mechanical buffer that permits the killer to deny the humanity of his victim

I would add to this list Existential distance, the place at which one reaches the terminal stage of alienation, a stage of absolute emotional withdrawal from oneself and his world. But in a paradoxical way, the futsie is seeking to bridge that psychological distance by turning people from things into humans in the act of killing them, thus connecting with them.

Downward Spiral: Alcoholism of the Soul

The line between love and hate is often very thin and fragile, particularly when ego identifies with and distorts the object of its desire and loses its moorings. (The opposite of love, remember, is not hate, but indifference.) (The movie Fatal Attraction, and the phenomenon of stalking a loved one, are commonly known examples of this.) When this reaches extreme levels on a family level we hear about one family's tragic murder/suicide; when this happens in relation to society as whole we read about a horrendous spree shooting.

I find the post dated September 12, 2006, 05:00:am titled Stop Bullying on Kimveer's weblog, very telling:
Stop Bullying

It's not only the bully's fault you know!!
It's the teachers and principals fault for turning a blind eye, just cuz it's not their job. You fuckers are pathetic.
It's the police's fault for not doing anything when people conplain (oops, my mistake, the cops are corrupt sons of whores, so it's not like they can do anything about it.)


It's society's fault for acting like it's normal for people to be assholes to each other. Society disgusts me.
It's everyone's fault for being so apathetic towards fucking everything that doesn't affect them personally. FUCK YOU SOCIETY.

This is the cry of someone who doesn't hate people, but of someone who hates injustice and the authority figures who permit it to happen. This is the voice of someone whose love and concern for people is being morphed by rage and hatred and despair at the way people treat each other into a universalizing hatred of all people. He rails against apathy because he desperately wants people to connect with each other in an authentic way. This is the voice of someone who wants everyone to share in a life in which people can speak, can dance, can become actualized and fulfill their potentials; but things are so fucked that such a life isn't even conceivable.

And so Kimveer barricaded himself behind by an ever-thickening wall of thorns, futsienursing his hatred and despair as he receded further into himself, daring anyone to enter and pull him out; and yet, deep down, he hungered for it with an intensity too painful to look at.

His weblog is filled with the cries of someone who wants to connect, of someone who craves authenticity, of someone who seeks empathy and connection and instead finds only injustice and inauthenticity everywhere he looks. Here's a post entitled Hell on July 13, 2006, 07:25:am
People kill each other
Rape women
Molest children
Deceive and betray
Destroy lives
Bullying and torturing each other at school

What kind of world is this? What the fuck is wrong with people. This world....this life, is worst than hell.

This is not the voice of someone who hates people. This is the voice of someone who loves people but hates injustice.

Reality, remember, is as it appears to the perceiver, thus confirming the perception of that reality. Kimveer's perception entered a closed loop where everything he saw in reality only confirmed his perception: universal injustice, phoniness, and apathy. Clearly he feels passionate rage at these things, just as countless others do. But Kimveer's rage and grief at the state of the world only increased his sense of alienation, pushing him further into himself. Solipsism is a safe but painful bubble into which to recede from a world that one wishes to connect to, but in which that connection is denied; it is the alcholism of the soul.

On January 26, 2006, 10:43:am in a post entitled My Own Prison he sums it up:
I am locked in an invisible cage within my head. There is no chance of escape.

Sadly, tragically, he was unable to apply the brakes that others apply when they enter the self-fulfilling downward spiral of alienation that leads to hellish solipsism: he became absorbed by his alienation, feeding it like a junkie, until the goth's garb of alienation that fit like a glove became indistinguishable from the skin itself: the separation between the actor and his role dissolved.

As Nietzsche famously said, "When you stare into the abyss, the abyss stares back into you." In allowing himself to drown in his alienation he became that which he most despised, leading to his decisive contribution of the Hell he was all too acutely aware of.

More than anything Kimveer longed for connection, justice, compassion, empathy. He wanted a world where people cared about each other, where justice has a chance, where society worked to nurture people to fulfill their potentials. Instead all he saw was a world that was fundamentally phony and irreperably broken, where there could be no bridge between the authenticity he craved and the reality he saw: the glass wasn't half empty, the glass was completely empty. His final act, impossible as it may seem on the surface, was his psychotic attempt to connect with others, to create community, even though it be a community in Hell, the only kind of community left to one at the terminal stage of alienation, when the failsafe filters of basic moral reason give way to the even more basic human longing to connect with others, no matter the cost.

And so futsie is a final act of release and liberation as much as one of desperation. It's a way to escape the prison of bleak solipsism, a tense and miserable island where the ego is supremely boxed in by an unfathomable sense of alienation, one that can no longer connect with a world that it longs to be part of.

Then, like a spring wound so taughtly that it blasts apart the mechanism when sprung, when something triggers the violent need to escape from that prison there is no turning back, for the psychical mechanisms have indeed "snapped". Unmediated connection must happen before annihilation: the futsie has refused to commit suicide alone, quietly, in solitude, precisely because of his need to connect with others: the futsie is creating authentic community in his suicide at the very nexus where love and hate, alienation and connection, yearning and despair, fuse into an explosive abysmal catharsis, a nihilistic rapture wherein the futsie can finally connect with others in death.


"It's Good You Didn't Bomb The Funeral! It's Real Good!"

U.S. declines Taliban funeral target

The U.S. military acknowledged Wednesday that it considered bombing a group of more than 100 Taliban insurgents in southern Afghanistan but decided not to after determining they were on the grounds of a cemetery.
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In a statement released Wednesday, the U.S. military in Afghanistan said the picture — a grainy black-and-white photo taken in July — was given to a journalist to show that Taliban insurgents were congregating in large groups. The statement said U.S. forces considered attacking.

"During the observation of the group over a significant period of time, it was determined that the group was located on the grounds of (the) cemetery and were likely conducting a funeral for Taliban insurgents killed in a coalition operation nearby earlier in the day," the statement said. "A decision was made not to strike this group of insurgents at that specific location and time."

While not giving a reason for the decision, the military concluded the statement saying that while Taliban forces have killed innocent civilians during a funeral, coalition forces "hold themselves to a higher moral and ethical standard than their enemies."
"Tonight's story on The Twilight Zone is somewhat unique and calls for a different kind of introduction. This, as you may recognize, is a map of the United States, and there's a little town there called Peaksville. On a given morning not too long ago, the rest of the world disappeared and Peaksville was left all alone. Its inhabitants were never sure whether the world was destroyed and only Peaksville left untouched or whether the village had somehow been taken away. They were, on the other hand, sure of one thing: the cause. A monster had arrived in the village. Just by using his mind, he took away the automobiles, the electricity, the machines - because they displeased him - and he moved an entire community back into the dark ages - just by using his mind. Now I'd like to introduce you to some of the people in Peaksville, Ohio. This is Mr. Fremont. It's in his farmhouse that the monster resides. This is Mrs. Fremont. And this is Aunt Amy, who probably had more control over the monster in the beginning than almost anyone. But one day she forgot; she began to sing aloud. Now, the monster doesn't like singing, so his mind snapped at her, turned her into the smiling, vacant thing you're looking at now. She sings no more. And you'll note that the people in Peaksville, Ohio, have to smile; they have to think happy thoughts and say happy things because, once displeased, the monster can wish them into a cornfield or change them into a grotesque, walking horror. This particular monster can read minds, you see. He knows every thought, he can feel every emotion. Oh yes, I did forget something, didn't I? I forgot to introduce you to the monster. This is the monster. His name is Anthony Fremont. He's six years old, with a cute little-boy face and blue, guileless eyes. But when those eyes look at you, you'd better start thinking happy thoughts, because the mind behind them is absolutely in charge. This is the Twilight Zone."

The universal satire that passes for news and politics nowadays seems to have no limits. It's almost beyond irony to seriously address the military's claim to having a "higher moral and ethical standard" for showing restraint in not blasting away mourners at a funeral.

Yes, there will undoubtedly be those who decry the lost opportunity to whack a bunch of dangerous flies with one swat; but personally I applaud their "higher moral and ethical" restraint. I just wish they practiced it in other venues, like, say, hospitals, or mosques, or against children and families, or in deploying banned weapons like napalm and phosphorous.

But you know, in the litany of atrocities committed in our name I couldn't easily find any stories about Murkan forces wiping out any funeral parties. So I guess we are supposed to congratulate a serial killer for restraining himself from killing again. "Good war criminal! It's a good thing you did, not killing indiscrimately! Good war criminal!"

I think that's why I'm reminded of Jerome Bixby's story The Good Life that was made into a really effective Twilight Zone episode, the one where the townsfolk are scared to death of a little kid with omnipotent powers: though the townsfolk live in awesome fear of the little monster, they must continually appease him and applaud him and dissemble happiness, no matter what horrendous act he commits, lest they incur his displeasure and risk something worse.

And so I say to history's most powerful military "It's good that you didn't bomb the funeral! It's real good!"


A Mosaic of Quote Fragments Chronicling Today's Future Past: an Impersonal Remembrance of 9/11

President Bush, five years after the Sept. 11 attacks, planned to say Monday the war against terror "is a struggle for civilization" and that defeat would surrender the Middle East to radical dictators with nuclear weapons.

"This is too much information. I really don't want to know who committed the atrocities of 9-11."

The system is on its last legs as manifested by its increasing tendency to express itself in terms of repression at home and militarism abroad; the ominous signs of an injured beast in its death throes.

It's not a real war but an international police/intelligence operation against disparate groups fighting Western political and economic domination.

"Your leaders are hiding from you the true extent of the disaster. And the days are pregnant and giving birth to new events, with Allah's permission and guidance."
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"Planning for September 11 did not take place behind computer monitors or radar screens, nor inside military command and control centres, but was surrounded with divine protection in an atmosphere brimming with brotherliness ... and love for sacrificing life," an unidentified narrator said.

Marx thought that a political struggle against oppression would cause religious obscurantism to recede. For the past twenty years, the trend is in the opposite direction: the more the political left loses ground; the more obscurantism asserts itself, and not only in the Muslim world. And this is largely because it has become the only possible form of protest against this "vale of tears" on earth.
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Terrorism grows in the soil of revolt which is itself nourished by injustice in the world.

So, in the end, America's dark narrative prevents it from distinguishing reform and resistance movements it can live with from groups it absolutely must destroy.

American "castles" (homes) are middle-class walls of separation from poverty and want. As goes the house, so goes the family's ability to fend off tough times and leverage past wealth for new opportunities.

Borrowing to bridge low-income periods, college and university costs, medical expenses, bail, renovations, retirement and unemployment are all common. This is the proper frame of discussion for the impending debt/depreciation storming of the castle.

Allende wanted to develop "a peaceful Chilean way towards socialism". He was elected by workers, peasants and the marginalized, urban lower classes. Educated urban youth celebrated the "socialism of red wine and empanadas" (stuffed pastry). But Washington would prevent any turn to the left by devastating the Chilean economy, deploying mass bribery, spying and blackmail.
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The CIA, apart from non-stop sabotage, financed strategic strikes - doctors, bank clerks, a very long truck drivers' strike. Conservative newspapers conducted a non-stop vicious disinformation campaign. There were coup rehearsals. And political chaos compounded economic chaos...

Anybody with half a mind knows that conventional military means will not succeed against youths who are prepared to sacrifice their lives anywhere in the world as long as their death acquires meaning by causing harm to America.

America undergoes a constant indoctrination of commercialism which conditions the behavior of its citizens. Americans rejoice to buy one, get one free. This is a language Americans accept and believe in; it seems natural to them that this is how their universe should function. (Ancient societies, surely and rightly, understood that it is illogical that one buys one and gets one free). Commercialism legitimizes a whole culture of dishonesty and commercial obscurantism. Commercialism has allowed the prostitution of art as, for example, in the fusion of popular culture and the commercial medium of television.

At his small plant in a suburb near Wenzhou, a city in the east of China famed for its entrepreneurial spirit, Chen said: "We used to get a lot of orders for Mao Zedong pins, but today there is very little demand for Mao products."

His single order for 10,000 Mao pins early in the year was a mere fraction of the 200 million he assembles annually.

"Now I do pins for the companies who are having promotional events for something like Harry Potter, Star Wars or Coca-Cola," said 50-year-old Chen, a straight-talking man who served in the Chinese army in the 1970s.

The Council of Europe said depriving suspects of liberty without trial was ineffective in fighting terrorism and undermined the foundations of a democratic society.

"I have no doubt that interrogating suspects using 'alternative procedures' in secret locations beyond the law, an official U.S. government policy as of this week, will not make Americans safer in the long run," said Rene van der Linden, chairman of the council's parliamentary assembly.

Afghans are increasingly demanding new ways to establish order. One current idea of reinstalling the religious police has broad support among the people as well as politicians. Even President Karzai supports the idea: He wants to create a "Department for the Preservation of Good Manners and the Prevention of Bad Habits."

There are a few ways to be removed from the United State's list of pariah states. Regime change, negotiations and scrapping weapons and torture chambers are options, but the easiest way to be considered honorable by the United States is to discover oil. Lots of oil. After all, everyone wants to drive.
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The US government for many years listed the regime as a junta that uses torture to maintain its grip on power. Indeed, it was only after Sept. 11, 2001 that Equatorial Guinea was suddenly transformed from a pariah state into a key element in the new American oil strategy.

By a joint resolution approved December 18, 2001 (Public Law 107-89), the Congress has designated September 11 of each year as "Patriot Day."

Al-Qaeda has evolved into more of an ideological inspiration to sharpen Muslim reaction against the West and create a backlash than a militant group. Five years of the US-led "war on terror" damaged its structure and it was forced to melt into the local resistance movements of Iraq and Afghanistan. Already, the Taliban and Iraqi resistances complement each other, sharing experience, skills and even logistics.

From this position, al-Qaeda will work to bind all local resistance movements into one coordinated unit against the US and its allies, with the ultimate aim of creating a universal Muslim backlash against the West.

The United States is safer now than it was before the Sept. 11 attacks, but must not relent in fighting terrorism in Iraq and elsewhere, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Sunday.
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"If you think that 9/11 was just about al-Qaida and the hijackers, then there's no connection to Iraq. But if you believe, as the president does and as I believe, that the problem is this ideology of hatred that has taken root, extremist ideology that has taken root in the Middle East, and that you have to go to the source and do something about the politics of that region."

Deregulation is characterized in the business-friendly media as a way of lifting the burdensome restrictions on the free flow of capital. This is nonsense. Deregulation is, in fact, the removal of the laws which traditionally protect the public from the hucksters and scam-artists who create lofty-sounding investments which are nothing more than Ponzi-schemes. (The purchase of “credit derivative futures” definitely falls within this category of dicey investments) Deregulation has gravely undermined the long-term prospects for western capitalism to succeed. By removing the safeguards to investment, the business and banking communities have created what many call “casino capitalism,” an anarchic structure with few protections that is hurling the markets toward a system-wide meltdown.

"But there is no doubt about the mandate of scripture here. We need to do what we can to care for the Earth," Hunter said by telephone. "We want to lead people into the arena where it will have an affect on how they vote."

The movement by faith communities to become more active on environmental issues has been growing over the last several years with many undertaking energy-saving and energy-education projects that they describe as "creation care."
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Many conservative political and business groups, which generally support the same politicians as white evangelicals, challenge the conclusions as faulty and alarmist, however, and say efforts to rein in CO2 emissions will hurt the economy.

A whole society is being destroyed. There are 1.5 million Palestinians imprisoned in the most heavily populated area in the world. Israel has stopped all trade. It has even forbidden fishermen to go far from the shore so they wade into the surf to try vainly to catch fish with hand-thrown nets.

Many people are being killed by Israeli incursions that occur every day by land and air. A total of 262 people have been killed and 1,200 wounded, of whom 60 had arms or legs amputated, since 25 June, says Dr Juma al-Saqa, the director of the al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City which is fast running out of medicine. Of these, 64 were children and 26 women. This bloody conflict in Gaza has so far received only a fraction of the attention given by the international media to the war in Lebanon.

A group of psychopaths, aware of their difference, aware of the life or death battle they are waging for their own survival (even if the rest of us have no suspicion that such a battle exists), who think of the majority of humanity as nothing but cattle or cannon fodder, and who have a profoundly different experience of reality itself, one that they share but which can never be communicated to those of conscience, would be bound together in ways that normal people could never comprehend. They know it is "us against them". They live it each day of their lives, and they have none of the moral brakes that would attentuate their plans, that would curb the lengths to which they would be willing to go to achieve their ends.

Oil prices dropped sharply last week, as did gasoline prices. Gas prices are down 50 cents a gallon in the U.S. from a few weeks ago. Must be an election coming up. That would account for all the fear they are trying to drum up around the fifth anniversary of 911. So for the next two months we will get low gas prices and fear, fear, fear, culminating in an election close enough for the Republicans to steal. Happy False Flag Day!

"Whatever mistakes have been made in Iraq, the worst mistake would be to think that if we pulled out, the terrorists would leave us alone," Bush said from the Oval Office, with a photo of his twin daughters and the American flag behind him. "They will not leave us alone. They will follow us. The safety of America depends on the outcome of the battle in the streets of Baghdad."

An improved box office is expected to push total U.S. spending on entertainment -- primarily movies, music, and video games -- up 4.4 percent to $87.5 billion this year, according to the annual Communications Industry Forecast and Report by private equity and capital-fund managers Veronis Suhler Stevenson.

The Face of Freedom and Democracy
The Face of Freedom™ and Democracy™


Quote of the Day

Security is mostly superstition. It does not exist in nature. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. The fearful are caught as often as the bold.
     —Helen Keller

You know, that Helen Keller was one amazing, smart person. Clearly she understood the politics of fear.

I expect few who recognize her name nowadays would have any idea just how radical she was. Here, for example, is another thing she said:

The only moral virtue of war is that it compels the capitalist system to look itself in the face and admit it is a fraud. It compels the present society to admit that it has no morals it will not sacrifice for gain. During a war, the sanctity of a home, and even of private property is destroyed.

and this

This great republic is a mockery of freedom as long as you are doomed to dig and sweat to earn a miserable living while the masters enjoy the fruit of your toil.

Seems she also understood Wealth Bondage.

I guess that's why her name has been 99 44/100% sanitized: by removing the commie dirt she'll function as a more pure example to others of how the downtrodden can be expected to magically lift themselves up.

via Winston

And yet I just cannot resist telling my favorite Heller Keller joke:

Q: What was Helen Keller's favorite color?
A: Corduroy.


Sunshine & Rainbows

Things have been pretty intense lately, what with the world teetering over its next historical abyss.

But not everything is gloom and doom, you know. There's still sunshine and rainbows!

Sunshine and Rainbows

This public service announcement brought to you by GlurgeCo™

"If you're going to live in a bubble, make it a happy one!"