I’m overwhelmed by the horror of it all By William Bowles

4 June 2008

I’ll be honest, the reason I haven’t been at all productive of late is because I felt so utterly depressed about the state of the world that I simply felt inadequate and overwhelmed by the task of writing. The fact that the world is controlled by a gang of psychopaths so utterly addicted to power that they’ll destroy everything in order to hold on to their ill-gotten gains is so overwhelming that it’s left me virtually speechless (no mean feat I can tell you).

I suppose also, I feel more than a little guilty about being struck dumb so-to-speak by the ferocity of the capitalist class and especially by its principal servant, the media. I simply can’t find the words that adequately encompass events and their causes no matter how many times I try to commit pen to paper.

Okay, they’ve been at it for centuries, so what’s so new about the current circumstances?

Having ‘won’ the Cold War, the sheer, unfettered ferocity of an economic system that regards the world, its people and resources as its personal property has been unleashed on the world without it seems much in the way of opposition from those best placed to do something about it — us.

Now, all kinds of excuses are made about why we refuse to do something about our genocidal ruling class: we don’t get the facts, we’re misled and so forth but let’s face it, we are the citizens of empire and the great majority of us benefit from a system which for centuries has ripped off the planet.

Even the ‘crowning achievement of the working class’, the post-war Labour government which introduced the Welfare state and nationalized key industries, did it on the backs of our colonial subjects. In other words we were bought off and for as long it suited them, the ruling elite were content to allow a modicum of the loot to trickle down to us.

This is not something the ‘left’ here care to acknowledge, rather, they would point an accusing finger anywhere but at ourselves. But then again, several generations of ‘lefties’ have thrown in their lot with a bunch of reformists and even as New Labour creates a very good imitation of Mussolini’s Fascism, they still care more about their careers than they do about justice or, as the situation gets ever more desperate, the future of the human species.

A particular individual who shall be nameless (anyway, I can‘t remember his name), when I accused New Labour of creating a Fascist state in the UK, said to me very recently, ‘well they’re not rounding us up’. ‘No,’ I said, ‘you’re white, they’re rounding up Asians and Muslims, but how long before they come for you?’ This is how deluded the ‘left’ is about the real nature of our society.

For let’s face it, the great majority of us live very comfortable lives (albeit spent entirely in debt), insulated from events and our role in them, by a media whose primary objective is to rationalize the irrational and hide the obscenity of a system which deliberately starves millions of people and where they resist, blows them to pieces and all of it done in our name.

Thus the UN Food Summit for example had the BBC totally ignoring the content of the Summit and instead gave us not only a diatribe about that man from the past, Robert Mugabe but had the nerve to tell us that he dominated the proceedings when the reality was that it was the BBC that deliberately chose to focus on Mugabe to the exclusion of everything else! Had you wanted to know what the Summit was really about, the last place to find out would be the BBC.

The hypocrisy is mind-boggling, and it never ends, every issue of importance is reduced to emotive sound bites that tug at our heart strings but do nothing to reveal our role in the process.

And on and on it goes, as crisis builds on crisis we see yet again the major media doing a hatchet job on reality, now it’s the oil crisis and yet more avoidance of the obvious.

The London Independent (31/5/08) had the following headline, “Shocked – how the oil crisis has hit the world” but not a word on why.

THE OIL RESERVE FALLACY
Proven reserves are not a measure of future supply

“We are looking at more than four and a half trillion barrels of potentially recoverable oil. That number translates into 140 years of oil at current rates of consumption, or to put it an[o]ther way, the world has only consumed about 18 percent of its conventional oil potential.

“That fact alone should discredit the argument that peak oil is imminent and put our minds at ease concerning future petrol supplies.” — ‘The Impact of Upstream Technological Advances on Future Oil Supply’ – Mr. Abdallah S. Jum’ah, President & Chief Executive Officer, Saudi Aramco, address to OPEC, Vienna, Austria, Sept. 13, 2006.

Yet the facts are simple: oil costs an average of $20 a barrel to extract and process (from a low of around $5 and a peak of about $50 depending on the difficulty of extraction), so with oil hitting $135 a barrel, guess who gets the other $115 (aside from the state via taxation)?

Worse still, the price of $135 (or whatever it is today) is not the current price but the future price! In other words, commodity prices are being determined by speculation in futures trading. Up or down it doesn’t fucking matter, it’s what you bet it will be that counts.

The same goes for rice and virtually every other basic commodity, and of course rice is traded in US dollars by a cartel of commodities traders based in Chicago or some other centre of financial speculation.

Compounding the misery is so-called globalisation dominated by a literal handful of giant financial institutions who by virtue of their sheer size determine the fate of billions. Moving billions of dollars around the global circuit of capital, these institutions have a devastating impact on the poor economies of the world and all in the pursuit of profit for a tiny handful of miserable examples of the human species.

The major culprits? The World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organization who have forced poor countries to grow food for export and who have to import the (subsidized) food they once produced and of course pay for it with dollars that have lost around 50% of their value over the past ten years.

Elsewhere such practices are called criminal extortion, pay up or else we’ll blow you away. After all isn’t this exactly what happened to Iraq and Afghanistan and to any other country that doesn’t obey the imperial dictats.

Self-delusion is the name of the game, even people who should know better persist in clutching at straws, particularly the straw called Barack Obama or in the UK, the ridiculous idea of returning the Labour Party to its roots, a sure sign of a desperation even worse than my own. For surely it must be obvious that parliamentary ‘democracy’ is a hollow sham. We are ruled by a professional political class who will do anything to hold onto power, even to imitating their political opponents.

So, is all lost? Are we in for yet another century of the ‘Iron Heel’? Perhaps not but unfortunately not because of anything we might do to alter circumstances; the way things are headed, Nature will do the job for us and perhaps it’s for the best. Maybe the next expression of self-conscious life will do a better job than we have.

This is not say that there aren’t millions of decent, caring people in this and other rich countries, but they are a minority and because we, the Left that is, have failed them, they have rejected politics wholesale and turned instead to individual actions, whether concerning the environment or world hunger. But individual actions won’t cut it, we need collective action and not even necessarily to build socialism (or whatever you want to call it if the word socialism frightens you too much), but to put a halt to the actions of a tiny handful people who wield such immense power. And it can be done, it has been done in the past so there’s no reason to assume that it can’t be done again—if we have time that is.

There, I started out feeling miserable and powerless and have ended up feeling less miserable but no less powerless, surely a step forward?

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