"We knew the world would not be the same. A few people laughed, a few people cried. Most people were silent. I remembered the line from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad Gita; Vishnu is trying to persuade the Prince that he should do his duty and, to impress him, takes on his multi-armed form and says, 'Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.' I suppose we all thought that, one way or another." Robert J. Oppenheimer upon witnessing Trinity, the first nuclear explosion. (1)
Unless revolutionary change occurs very soon, we are all probably dead.
Humanity exists within, and is entirely dependent upon, our Earth's fragile biosphere. Without it, we are dead.
Human civilization, including its economic and political components, exists within this nurturing biosphere. Yet our guiding economic philosophy, neoliberalism, is rapidly, inexorably, and inevitably, destroying it. This dismal outcome is absolutely foreseeable. Yet, rather than take action to prevent our self-inflicted doom we are, if anything, speeding up the process. Why?
Our human civilization is integrated if not politically, economically. A dense web of interactive trade unites the human world. The rules governing this trading system and the national economies nested within it constitute our planetary operating system. The name for this animating economic system is neoliberalism.
This doctrine asserts that markets are supreme. That they are self-regulating. Most critically, it asserts that governments simply impede the efficient functioning of markets. It was first implemented as governmental policy during the Reagan-Thatcher era. Since then it has been exported to, or imposed upon most of the human world. Presented as a solution to the economic stagnation of the 1970's, it has been in operation for nearly four decades. Throughout this period, the USA has been the dominant economic, military, and even cultural power on the planet.
Within the United States neoliberalism's effects have been absolutely devastating. Wealth has concentrated at the top of the income distribution to a degree last seen just before the Great Depression, and prior to that, in the Gilded Age. The wealthiest one percent of the population owns at least fifty percent of all its wealth. This does not count the many trillions of dollars hidden away in foreign accounts. All gains in wealth since the 2008 Great Recession have gone entirely to those at the top. The wealthiest 400 Americans have more wealth than do the bottom one hundred and fifty million! (2), (3)
Concentrated wealth has led, inevitably, to concentrated political power. This in turn, has led to politicians elected solely to serve the interests of the newly emergent economic elites. By a series of decisions, these creatures have dutifully nominated Supreme Court "Justices" who have eviscerated the last remaining legal constraints against money intervening directly: Citizen's United, Freespeech.org, and now, McCutcheon.
Writing in 2014 political scientists Martin Gilens and Benjaman I. Page, in a soon to be published article entitled Testing Theories of American Politics, summarized their findings from a massive multivariate regression analysis of 1,779 policy issues as follows: "The central point that emerges from our research is that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government t policy, while mass based interest groups, and average citizens have little or no independent influence."(4)
That is, the US is an oligarchy: a society ruled by, run for, and exclusively serving the interests of concentrated wealth and those who own or control it. The US is no longer is a democracy. It is no longer a society organized in the interests of its people. This dispossession of our democracy is accelerating rapidly. Citizen's rights and wealth are in freefall.
This is the domestic fruit of neoliberalism. Across the planet, wherever this insidious doctrine has been applied or imposed, the results are all the same: ever growing wealth and empowerment of the few, at the expense of the many.
During this time the mass media have become ever more concentrated into fewer and fewer corporate hands. Six corporations control ninety percent of American media. (5) All present a selective worldview that portrays corporate domination as unthreatening. Further, they present a worldview in which threats to the corporate system and to Wall Street, which finances and profits from this system, are depicted in whatever manner is most beneficial to this system.
For example, consider Ukraine. The constant demonization of Russian leader Vladimir Putin, the constant allegations that he is the "new Hitler" and so on. With all of this accusatory rhetoric, a viewer would be hard pressed to learn that actually the new pro-US Ukrainian government was installed by a coup after overthrowing a democratically elected government. Nor would they learn that most Ukrainians did not support this coup. No, look away folks, it's Putin who is "the new Hitler."
More critically is the corporate media's presentation of global warming which is the most dangerous issue the human race has ever faced. Despite a near consensus of its reality among scientists, corporate media generally portray global warming as a "controversy", is it or is it not really happening? "Film at eleven!"
Every single day, the increasing buildup of greenhouse gasses in our planetary atmosphere causes the retention of vast amounts of solar energy which, in their absence would have been radiated out to space. How much additional energy per day? Climatologist James Hansen describes it as being "The equivalent to exploding 400,000 Hiroshima bombs per day, 365 days per year." (6) In other words, ONE HUNDERD AND FORTY SIX MILLION HIROSHIMA BOMBS PER YEAR! Oppenheimer quailed before the effects of ONE Hiroshima bomb. How about ONE HUNDRED AND FORTY SIX MILLION. PER YEAR?
This volume of trapped heat is increasing non-linearly as the additional heat melts permafrost, releasing not only trapped carbon, but also methane, which is 30 times more potent a greenhouse gas than CO2! It is increasing as polar ice, which reflects 90% of the sunlight striking it back into space is replaced by open water, which retains 90% of the energy of the sunlight striking it. The result already is the progressive destabilization of the planet's atmosphere resulting in floods, droughts, firestorms, rising seas, super-storms, such as Sandy, and more.
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