In an age of global neoliberalist empire where the free market reigns, dollar-profit-bottom-line its beating heart, little wonder that much of what passes for catastrophe caused by others is far more likely to have been either created or constructed-after-the-fact in order to further the cause of empire and diminish apparent external threats. Enemies are everywhere, shape-shifting, one moment China, another Russia, or Iraq, or Syria… The biggest threat to globalist America may now be the counter-globalist BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India and China) who have have gone so far as to create their own development bank, challenging the autonomy of the World Bank and IMF. Which may account for both the West’s (the US and its cronies) dogged demonisation of Putin and the military build up against China, including the recent militarisation of Japan, the American empire having stepped behind those nations (including Philippines and Japan) in territorial disputes over tiny islands in the East and South China Seas.
Empires generally stop at nothing to retain their power. Defeat an insufferable humiliation, they will fight to the last man, they will connive and contrive every means to retain or appear to retain their power. It may be the case that the emergence of BRICs will require a sharing of global power. It may be that BRICs will surpass America and become the one dominating power. Meanwhile the rest of humanity, pawns in this elite game played mostly by and on behalf of the banks, will continue to suffer in various ways.
Setting aside all advances of theory and discovery, the key difference between the empire today and the empires of old is that technology has made it possible for so many of us to be aware and informed. We know straight away the atrocities, the displacements, all the human tragedies occurring in the name of empire. We bear witness to the rising of nationalisms the world over, as groups within nations struggle for autonomy, for identity. And we see the bloodthirsty, the basest, of all humanity given freedom to enact cruelty upon cruelty. Indeed, such types are paid for their services. Yet they are no different from their employers who unleash upon the planet wave after wave of destruction.
I often think the problem humanity faces is one of power, not awareness. That many are manipulated by propaganda, swayed by mainstream media this way and that is not the fundamental battleground. In my view humanity faces a crisis of will. The will to human and planetary betterment (with all its connotations of inclusion, empowerment, sustainability, humanitarianism and so on) versus the will-to-power itself. This latter a corruption, for the power sought is selfish, acquisitive, greedy and destructive.
We are governed by greybeards with arthritic minds. Greybeards cultivating a new wave of technophiliacs whose principal reality is virtual, empathy quotient minimal; compulsive and reckless gamblers with sharp minds for finance and a marked lack of moral fibre; and spin doctors who like nothing more than to rip the conceptual ground from beneath our feet through the hollowing out of meaningful and significant terms such as the notion of empowerment itself.
I do not believe for one moment that a BRIC empire would be any different from the American empire we now endure.
In the face of this reality, unlike those who respond to empiric globalisation through group closure (and inevitable xenophobia) and violence of nationalism (often fascist), my instinct has often been to flee to the hills, live out a life inspired by ideas expressed by Epicurus or Voltaire. Finding myself in just such a place I am thankful for my own circumstances. Yet there is no escape. I am doomed to suffer the suffering of others. And like millions of us the world over, that suffering turns my head back to face the beast.