Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Wall Street’s days are numbered. Ours need not be.

The End of Empire

Wall Street's days are numbered. Ours need not be.

by David Korten

In an earlier day, our rulers were kings and emperors. Now they are corporate CEOs and hedge fund managers. Wall Street is Empire's most recent stage. Its reign will mark the end of the tragic drama of a 5,000 year Era of Empire. The George Washington statue outside the New York Stock Exchange. (Photo by Mikael Tjemsland)

Imperial historians would have us believe that civilization, history, and human progress began with the consolidation of dominator power in the first great empires that emerged some 5,000 years ago. Much is made of their glorious accomplishments and heroic battles.

Rather less is said about the brutalization of the slaves who built the great monuments, the racism, the suppression of women, the conversion of free farmers into serfs or landless laborers, the carnage of the battles, the hopes and lives destroyed by wave after wave of invasion, the pillage and gratuitous devastation of the vanquished, and the lost creative potential.

Nor is there mention that most all the advances that make us truly human came before the Era of Empire—including the domestication of plants and animals, food storage, and the arts of dance, pottery, basket making, textile weaving, leather crafting, metallurgy, architecture, town planning, boat building, highway construction, and oral literature.

As the institutions of Empire took root, humans turned from a reverence for the generative power of life to a reverence for hierarchy and the power of the sword. The wisdom of the elder and the priestess gave way to the arbitrary rule of often ruthless kings. Social pathology became the norm and society's creative energy focused on perfecting the instruments of war and domination. Priority in the use of available resources went to military, prisons, palaces, temples, and patronage.

Great civilizations were built and then swept away in successive waves of violence and destruction. War, trade, and debt served as weapons of the few to expropriate the means of livelihood of the many and reduce them to slavery or serfdom. Whole empires were subjected to the delusional hubris and debaucheries of psychopathic rulers.

If much of this sounds familiar, it is because in the face of the democratic challenge, the dominator cultures and institutions of Empire simply morphed into new forms.

The ideals of the American Revolution heralded the possibilities of a new era of equality and popular democratic rule, but it was a more modest beginning than we have been taught to believe. Once the former colonies gained their freedom from British rule and declared themselves the United States of America, their new leaders put aside the pronouncement of the Declaration of Independence that all men are created equal and enjoy a natural right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness—and set about securing their own power. 

As powerful as Wall Street appears to be, We the People have a choice.

The king was gone, but the Constitution they drafted with a promise to "secure the Blessings of Liberty" for "We the People of the United States" effectively limited political participation to white male property owners and secured the return of escaped slaves to their designated owners. Colonial expansion followed soon after as the new nation expropriated by armed force all of the Native and Mexican lands between themselves and the distant Pacific Ocean.

Global expansion beyond U.S. territorial borders followed. The United States converted cooperative dictatorships into client states by giving their ruling classes a choice between aligning themselves with U.S. economic and political interests for a share in the booty or being eliminated by assassination, foreign-financed internal rebellion, or military invasion. Following World War II, when the classic forms of colonial rule became unacceptable, international debt became a favored instrument for forcing poorer nations to open to foreign corporate ownership and control. 

Most of the economic, social, and environmental pathologies of our time—including sexism, racism, economic injustice, violence, and environmental destruction—originate in the institutions of Empire. The resulting exploitation has reached the limits that the social fabric and Earth's natural systems will endure.

As powerful as Wall Street appears to be, its abuse of power has so eroded the economic, social, and environmental foundations of its own existence that its fate is sealed. We the People have a choice. We can allow Wall Street to maintain its grip until it brings down the whole of human civilization in irrevocable social and environmental collapse. Or we can take control of our future and replace the Wall Street economy with the values and institutions of a New Economy comprised of locally owned businesses devoted to serving their communities by investing in the use of local resources to produce real goods and services responsive to local needs.

Either way, Wall Street's days are numbered. Ours need not be.

David Korten

David Korten is co-founder and board chair of  YES! Magazine, co-chair of the New Economy Working Group, president of the People-Centered Development Forum, and a founding board member of the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE). His books include Agenda for a New Economy: From Phantom Wealth to Real Wealth, The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community, and the international best seller When Corporations Rule the World.

61 Comments so far

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Posted by Trylon

Mar 29 2011 - 10:36am

Where's the jpeg of a book?

Posted by RV

Mar 29 2011 - 10:41am

Wall Street's days are numbered?! Don't count on it. And even if they are, so what?

Financial imperial power may shift the seat of its nominal headquarters from time to time, but the underlying power itself retains possession and control. In fact, locales and other such considerations, both concrete and symbolic, are almost completely irrelevant in today's globalized financial environment. Go tilt at some other windmills.

Posted by Paranoid Pessimist

Mar 29 2011 - 11:09am

If their days are numbered, so what? If the stock market fails and the U.S. economy collapses, the entirety of global industrial civilization will be taken down with it. Financial imperial power may survive (or think they can) for awhile in a new location, but there are no more stand alone economies. Everything is interconnected. We are a global civilization whether we like it or not, especially in the "developed" world. After an economic crash, people in remote self-sufficient small villages may do alright, but car dependent Euro-Asian-Americans in cities will be in big trouble and are likely to suffer mightily and die in droves.

Posted by RV

Mar 29 2011 - 12:20pm

"If the stock market fails and the U.S. economy collapses, the entirety of global industrial civilization will be taken down with it."

You really thinks so? Given the current and rapidly diminishing US contribution to "global industrial civilization", I suspect that the rest of it might manage to sustain some minor remnants somewhere. In fact, I'm inclined to think that the "elite" manipulators and beneficiaries of that ongoing US depletion (economic and otherwise) are counting on it.

Posted by Paranoid Pessimist

Mar 29 2011 - 3:20pm

Yes I really think so but I hope I'm wrong and you're right although I'm not sure I want to be part of some "minor remnant" eeking out a subsistence existence. Not up to me, though. Depends on how it all plays out. Too many variables for a precise prediction.

Posted by donnalou

Mar 29 2011 - 6:22pm

"We are a global civilization whether we like it or not"

Global civilization does not have to equate with global fascism. The goals of the global rulers today are twisted.

Posted by Demonstorm

Mar 29 2011 - 7:00pm

You are correct - if the U.S. economy falls utterly it will have devastating consequences on the lives of millions, far beyond the borders of the U.S., but most definitely the people of the U.S. in particular.

I have one word for when that happens (not if):

Posted by Paranoid Pessimist

Mar 29 2011 - 9:36pm

It may be GOOD from a God-like moral perspective and be richly deserved, but I hope it doesn't happen until I have lived out my life and gone to a better place. I have no faith that, when it happens, I won't be among those suffering, living like a refugee with no help on the way, or dying a miserable death. I'm just not down with that.

Posted by Alcyon

Mar 29 2011 - 10:42am

Please re-read paragraphs 2,3,4,5. The imperial version of history (which should also include the revisionist versions of the communist regimes) is so pervasive and insidious, it's hard for most people to even imagine that we might be living, conceptually, in a huge Matrix created and maintained by vested interests that benefit from it. The survival of humanity and all that is essential for life demands breaking free of this conditioning. All conditioning, in fact. It's not easy, but the stakes are high. Do not take anything for granted as "natural" or as a result of "progress" while ignoring the destruction of nature and violence that lie beneath much of what we see around us.

Posted by medmedude

Mar 29 2011 - 11:12am

cryptic remark alcyon but i think a point worth considering

the biggest problem with amerikans is that they cannot see, nor accept the reality of, the matrix in which we toil as debt serfs for royalty

i also agree with posters above that wall street is nowhere near dead, infused as they are with 24 trillion of our rapidly declining dollars

the author states that royalty has, for the most part, been done away with and this is just off base

the book who owns the world http://www.whoownstheworld.com/ is nothing more than a list of who owns what in the world and it is an eye opener

of the top 10 landowners in the world 5 are royalty

from the book:

Queen Elizabeth II, head of state of the United Kingdom and of 31 other states and territories, is the legal owner of about 6,600 million acres of land, one sixth of the earth's non ocean surface.
She is the only person on earth who owns whole countries, and who owns countries that are not her own domestic territory. This land ownership is separate from her role as head of state and is different from other monarchies where no such claim is made – Norway, Belgium, Denmark etc.
The value of her land holding. £17,600,000,000,000 (approx).
This makes her the richest individual on earth. However, there is no way easily to value her real estate. There is no current market in the land of entire countries. At a rough estimate of $5,000 an acre, and based on the sale of Alaska to the USA by the Tsar, and of Louisiana to the USA by France, the Queen's land holding is worth a notional $33,000,000,000,000 (Thirty three trillion dollars or about £17,600,000,000,000). Her holding is based on the laws of the countries she owns and her land title is valid in all the countries she owns. Her main holdings are Canada, the 2nd largest country on earth, with 2,467 million acres, Australia, the 7th largest country on earth with 1,900 million acres, the Papua New Guinea with114 million acres, New Zealand with 66 million acres and the UK with 60 million acres.
She is the world's largest landowner by a significant margin. The next largest landowner is the Russian state, with an overall ownership of 4,219 million acres, and a direct ownership comparable with the Queen's land holding of 2,447 million acres. The 3rd largest landowner is the Chinese state, which claims all of Chinese land, about 2,365 million acres. The 4th largest landowner on earth is the Federal Government of the United States, which owns about one third of the land of the USA, 760 million acres. The fifth largest landowner on earth is the King of Saudi Arabia with 553 million acres

btw: who owns the most land in amerika - answer ted turner

we are indeed rats in a maze - hey where did my cheese get to?

Posted by Alcyon

Mar 29 2011 - 11:37am

Expect some apologists for empire to show up, medmedude, with various rationalizations, not understanding or questioning the meaning of "legal owner". However, the maintenance and enforcement of such legal claims will necessarily bring in other characters, families and institutions, that mostly function under the radar, into play, and these are probably more violent and ruthless, because they too have huge stakes in the system.

Posted by VeniVidiVici

Mar 29 2011 - 12:08pm

Not any more, medmedude, it's John C. Malone, a 'buddy' of Turner's. Malone just bought a Huge swath of my home State of Maine. ( BTW, thanks for the non-article on this CD.) His Acreage extends from New Hampshire (where he bought a sizable chunk of land, also) all the way East to New Brunswick - almost a million acres - one million!. And, as has been true forever in Maine, he pays a pittance per acre on it as it is in the 'unorganized townships'. Read "Maine, the Paper Plantation" by Ralph Nader for the True story of Maine. The "End of Empire" ??? My Ass!

Posted by medmedude

Mar 29 2011 - 12:23pm

hmmmm......mr hedge fund himself, thanks for the update

Posted by licketyglick

Mar 29 2011 - 2:14pm

The dollars aren't real; they are digits in machinery dependent upon oil, and oil has peaked. See: http://www.oilempire.us/

Korten is right, though some people who supposedly don't empire won't be happy with that fact.

Posted by likeitornot

Mar 29 2011 - 10:45am

It's another "That old demon America" article. If only she would die the whole world would revert to its natural state of peace and brotherhood with equal share's for all.

Wall street certainly control's Iran, the Sudan, China, etc. Yep, it's only America that stands between humanity and the freedom of true equality as exhibited in Muslim country's, equal opportunity as you'll find in China and Russia, safety and security as found in Mexico, Burma, North Korea, etc.

And people wonder why others look at the left with a cocked eyebrow. Wake up folk's, the rhetoric from the cold war, the sixties and seventies mantra's, the thirties policies and propaganda no longer serve.

Posted by thepuffin

Mar 29 2011 - 11:01am


Sorry to nitpick, but it's been going on for awhile.

"Equal share's -", "Muslim country's", and "Wake up folk's" and "seventies mantra's" are all incorrect.

You meant to write the plural: "shares, countries, folks and mantras."

"Control's" is also incorrect, although here it's a verb. It's simply "controls."

It's a sad reality that such basic errors obscure your point in writing. Had you spoken the above, no one could tell the difference.

In any event, the author's point that humanity was headed in the right direction prior to what is commonly called civilization is well taken.

People always snort at this point and say, What, do you want us all to go back to hunting and gathering and living in caves?

To which I reply, "No, it isn't what I want. But it's what the planet wants, and we'll do as she says voluntarily--or after a mass die-off as we wallow in our own waste."

Posted by Alcyon

Mar 29 2011 - 11:26am

Let me be the one to nitpick, this time, thepuffin :)

I agree with your last line, if you mean by that a way of life that respects nature's limits, which include not just finite resources, but finite rates of renewal of forestry, freshwater, finite rates of decomposition - such as for making compost, etc.

However, I have to disagree with your comment about "going back to hunting and gathering and living in caves", as if it follows automatically when we move to a sustainable way of life. Not at all, and it's too bad that so many people have this misconception that living with nature means hunting, gathering and living in caves.

Nature is an interplay between plants, animals and the environment that contains all. Even animals modify their surroundings to varying degrees - such as migrating herds making a track, beavers building dams, etc. Animals and insects too store food for the changing seasons when food is hard to come by, and birds and insects build "homes" to safeguard their offspring or to store food, etc.

David Korten mentions a list of advances "that make us truly human" and which came before the Era of Empire - such as "the domestication of plants and animals, food storage, and the arts of dance, pottery, basket making, textile weaving, leather crafting, metallurgy, architecture, town planning, boat building, highway construction, and oral literature". There is no need to give up these and other technologies if they can make our everyday life that much easier and that much more predictable, if the overall ecological footprint of a community is within sustainable limits. I should also add, "within equitable limits", so that one community's lifestyle does not make the life of other communities intolerable and miserable.

There are ways to quantify the impact of our lifestyle and technologies, and an intelligent society should consciously move towards a system with the least amount of impact, the smallest ecological footprint possible and choose technologies that do not leave non-biodegradable and toxic waste in their wakes.

Posted by thepuffin

Mar 29 2011 - 12:53pm

Ah, the dangers of heavy-handed metaphor.

There are a couple of subtleties I failed to address.

The first would be, you are of course correct. We might avoid having the planet force equilibrium on us if we behave in a manner that avoids it. This necessarily presumes that ecological collapse is avoidable, which I submit is debatable enough you can't conclude with any certainty that time remains to apply the brakes---

But damn, I hope you're right.

Next, there is ample evidence that once agriculture developed--and hence surplus and storage--the need to defend stored food necessitated division of labor, armies to defend the food, accumulation of wealth, and tremendous focus on intra-species warfare. This began to occur not just in times of want--that is, hungry people storming the granary--but in times of plenty, when the taking was mere plunder.

This is well-stated elsewhere...particularly the novel Ishmael and its sequel, the difference between "taker" and "leaver" civilizations. The recent anthropolgic theory that Neanderthals had a very sophisticated civilization thousands of years before us is an example...the conclusion was that most of their structures and tools and clothing were degradable, thus, all we found were bones and stone tools...until recently.

As I say, I hope you are correct. But I think that one way or the other, the human species appears about to pass through a crucible the likes of which it has never seen--and one of its own creation.

Thanks for the thoughtful comment.

Posted by Alcyon

Mar 29 2011 - 1:23pm

thepuffin, it's completely ok to use metaphors, except that I'm worried about the implications contained within "hunting and gathering", and hence my comment. For one thing, most people are not prepared for that kind of a life, whereas it's relatively somewhat easier to take up farming. Secondly, on a practical note, I would like to see an orderly transition of society to sustainable levels. This "transition" should also include a decrease in human population, but without coercion, wars, famines, diseases, etc. As things stand, there is simply not enough animals in the wild to support a hunting lifestyle of a large number of humans - so that has to be ruled out for now. I also feel convinced that early humans, like some other animals, were only "opportunistic meat eaters", but otherwise essentially herbivores, as per our anatomy and physiology. So, technically, "gathering" is more "natural", but again, in practice, why settle for a life of extreme uncertainty and insecurity when an alternative of relative comfort and security is possible through farming and other activities?

I know there is this anthropological argument about agriculture and the resultant food surplus giving rise to warfare and plunder. But I think this is a separate issue of the human psyche, which obviously underlies everything we do. If agriculture enables humans to fight, so will claims to hunting territory. The means of warfare may be limited in a hunter-gatherer society - but only until they develop superior weapons. As things stand, humans have developed the ultimate weapons and, in all likelihood, there are psychopaths dreaming of controlling and lording over the whole world with their weapons.

I have no easy answer as to how to change the minds of these psychopaths - but I have to remain hopeful and open to the possibility of major shifts in human consciousness, which may be happening as we speak. So it may still be possible to lead a life with a small ecological footprint and based on organic farming. Maybe we need to understand more about what it means to be happy and the hindrances to happiness. Happiness, intelligence, sustainability - these are all connected, IMO.

Posted by bystander

Mar 29 2011 - 3:48pm

Can't go hunting -
the king owns all of the forests for his private hunting preserve.

Can't farm -
the king owns all of the farmlands, and besides, they are all polluted with Monsanto seeds and nuclear fallout.

Posted by Alcyon

Mar 29 2011 - 4:14pm

Yes, bystander, that's a problem that needs to be addressed. For now, the only option for most people seems to be to buy "food" from the supermarket owned by the king, but it is not a very satisfactory experience.

Posted by Smarter

Mar 29 2011 - 10:15pm

'Alcyon' - 'thepuffin'. Very good exchange, good info & reflections, tnx.

On the issue of "ample evidence that once agriculture developed ... the need to defend stored food necessitated ... armies ... and tremendous focus on intra-species warfare." - let me direct your attention to the recently excavated, 4600 years old (fm. around 2600 BCE) civilization of Caral, Peru - the oldest urban center in the "new world":

"No trace of warfare has been found at Caral; no battlements, no weapons, no mutilated bodies. Shady's findings suggest it was a gentle society, built on commerce and pleasure. In one of the pyramids, they uncovered 32 flutes made of condor and pelican bones and 37 cornets of deer and llama bones. One find revealed the remains of a baby, wrapped and buried with a necklace made of stone beads. They also found evidence of drug use and possibly aphrodisiacs."

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caral

This commerce-based civilization existed for nearly 1000 years, with NO SIGN OF WAR.

This indicates that the notion that "there's always been war" is in fact nonsense.

I find that very hopeful. We may regain our peaceful state of truly civilized life.

And as I think we all feel deep in ourselves: it's the warring that is the aberration.

Posted by Alcyon

Mar 29 2011 - 11:04pm

Thanks for that info, Smarter. I would imagine there were also other societies that didn't fight so much, although, unfortunately, they must have lost out to more aggressive conquerors and colonizers unless they happened to live in some remote areas or islands. That is also a problem I don't have an easy answer for: how does a sustainable community protect itself from outside aggression? Maybe some sort of collective defense arrangements with similar communities or nations will have to be made. But even then, what do you do against an aggressor with nuclear weapons? Real security for all will come only when a majority of people in every country decide to adopt fairness in their everyday life, achieve true democracy and decide to live within their ecological means, consuming only their fair share of resources. Otherwise, even ordinary people in a rich country with an aggressive government and a military are complicit in some form in whatever their military and corporations do elsewhere.

Posted by Leea

Mar 29 2011 - 1:44pm

Alcyon, you seem like a thinking soul. Do you really think we were once what we need to become now? Or is it that we were never what we need to become now. This is a crucial point to decide upon. Do we become new or do we become old?

Posted by Alcyon

Mar 29 2011 - 2:11pm

Hi Leea, I wish I knew the answer. However, it is not so crucial to me, even though I am convinced of the need for radical transformation at a fundamental level. Here's why: As an ordinary human being, I take some comfort from the knowledge that there have been other human beings who have lived a different kind of life, and their teachings seem to make sense to me. So, what's possible for some human beings should be possible for another, in essence. I am also thankful that these people have explained things in ways that would make sense to us, even though some of them have cautioned against getting too attached to the words or the teachings. They can take you only so far, or only point the way. Anyway, as I was searching for something I had read regarding the question of "what is possible" (I assumed your question was related), I stumbled on to this (not the one I was looking for, but interesting still):
"The Unanswerable Question" - by Dr Richard Bolstad and Margot Hamblett
Eckhart Tolle talks about the "flowering of human consciousness" and I think he says something like what was once available to a few human beings is now available to more and more (I know I'm paraphrasing, but hopefully haven't mangled the meaning :) I hope I understood your question correctly, even though I couldn't answer it.

Posted by Leea

Mar 29 2011 - 2:47pm

Well I find it very telling that you answer with no answer. And this is the answer.


Posted by Widhalm19

Mar 29 2011 - 6:56pm

Wow ....

Yours is the perfect reply of a Progressive, Leea. You say something but it means nothing.

Posted by political_naif

Mar 29 2011 - 9:12pm

Her logic existed a thousand years ago, in a Buddhist koan; Hegel thought it good enough for his Dialectic; you both flatter her, and display your ignorance.

Posted by Widhalm19

Mar 29 2011 - 7:03pm


If you unify the contrived opposition, being is becoming. Past, present and future are illusions that emerge when using calendars and clocks to create equi-durational units of time. We exist now!

Posted by RV

Mar 29 2011 - 11:05am

Quit complaining. "That old demon America" has quite willing accepted its role as the imperial seat of power, questionable as it may be in reality.

There's no question that it does provide most of the military muscle and cannon fodder as well as the primary locale for political theatrics. Actual decision making authorities, on the other hand, are open to some considerable question.

Posted by egg2001

Mar 29 2011 - 10:52am

Obama says those guy's on Wall Street are "Savvy Businessmen."

Obama went golfing with Robert Wolf, CEO of UBS bank, just days after UBS admitted to illegally assisting wealthy Americans dodge tax obligations.


Here is a foreign (Swiss) organization actively trying to cripple America's treasury in a time of war - that would make them the enemy. But in Obama wolrd, it makes them the presidents golf partner.

Posted by Oikos

Mar 29 2011 - 11:16am

Excellent article! The Long Emergency has arrived and it is time to take care on the local level.

I would add the art of painting and drawing to the pre-imperialist achievements.

Posted by Stone

Mar 29 2011 - 11:28am

Hell's a poppin' and reason is bent and there are no exit signs. Havin' fun yet?

Posted by limeres

Mar 29 2011 - 12:13pm

This article pretty much summarizes why America is where its at today; centuries of really BAD karma are catching up to all of us. Will the reign of these "rulers" end soon? Only if enough people can see through the "hologram" to catch a glimpse of what life could be like without our "masters' yoke" around our necks. Then of course, there has to be a massive rebellion with thousands and thousands of people putting themselves at risk of losing everything they have fought tooth and nail for in this corrupt system. Nope, I don't think its gonna happen, folks!

Posted by Reverend_Boomerang

Mar 29 2011 - 12:51pm

Amerika is an empire in denial. And on drugs too, really, really powerful drugs.

Posted by oneDman

Mar 29 2011 - 1:10pm

I might agree with much that is said here, within the piece and the comments, IF the finger pointed elsewhere. The weapons of WAR is our Master. Wall St. is a shell game. Guns and swords are final in effect.

Posted by Leea

Mar 29 2011 - 1:37pm

What made us human? What key difference stands between us and other creatures that exist on this planet? We differentiate in the extreme, Ego driven to believe we, I, are seperate from it, you, they. This seperation from nature and the other is the power source of what David Korten labels 'Empire'. David recognizes something is wrong, but controlled by his ego, he can only see what is wrong as seperate from himself. When any one of us can see that they are Empire because they are human, then the end of Empire will begin, and the beginning of a new era will finally be ushered in. Why, when we see that we are empire, will empire end? Because that is what Empire is, when we see evil beyond us, we have tricked ourselves into believing that somehow we are seperate from the rest of the world, the rest of the universe. This is because we want to be good if we believe there is bad. Why? Because of old beliefs that whatever power exists will punish bad, and reward good. This another model of us seperate from something. Be it Mother, or Father or God or Leader. The most we can be is out of balance, and even this is not much because nature will balance in the end what we cannot. It all breaks down to energy and laws of nature, of our planet, of our universe. You are either in sync with these laws and functioning with them in mind, or you are out of sync because you imagine, you pretend you are seperate. Empire has easily become the new devil even as people like David rarely speak of God except through words like community. The new heaven. The sign that you are as much of what is out of balance as what you see is out of balance is that you see the imbalance. You see it but you imagine it is beyond you, seperate from you. Old human pattern of belief. Double, double trick on trick on trick. It's so easy and yet the hardest thing to do, to simply admit you are not seperate in the way you believe, that all is connected in the great web of life, and what you see is what you are. What you believe is what you create. It is time to move beyond ego boundaries, and seperations, and be not just human, that which creates the illusion of empire, but to strip the big E from Empire and put it at the end of human lower case, to make a new human'e' world. Seeing empire in self allows for the change, the metamorphis, because though we cannot chage what is seperate from us, we can change anything if it is part of us. We are by our human socialization empire, But we can become through changed socialization, humane.

I have no doubt that I will be challenged by what I have written above, but any challenge by my fellow human, is nothing to what I go through, what I have been through by challenging my human being, challenge empire within and feel the wrath, the fear, the unbinding, the loss, the burn, of becoming humane instead. And nothing can change the new feelings that I am birthing into myself, as I watch empire crumble with my acceptance of what I am while others around me still build it up with their denial.

As a footnote I must ad that the myth that creativity was found and then lost is just plain wrong. Energy cannot be created nor destroyed, it just changes form. Our creative energy was simply either redirected to our human endeavors or it was supressed by choice through our growing pangs to become human. That creative energy can be redirected with understanding and awareness now, today. If you first understand that your imaginings of loss and seperation are the doing of your own mind and the habit of early humanity.

Posted by Alcyon

Mar 29 2011 - 1:44pm

Bravo, Leea! Great post. As I was reading through the first part of your post, it occurred to me that there would be some who might object to your line of reasoning - and then I found, in your second paragraph, that you too had anticipated this. I guess you've been here long enough, eh? :)

It's convenient to think that the problem is only with this or that person or that institution. There is also this misunderstanding that admitting this "connection" you speak of somehow absolves the bigger criminals of their responsibility or that it equates our share in the mess with their's.

Having read J. Krishnamurti and his admonition "You are the world", I can see what you mean, and why it's important to understand our own role in supporting and enabling the empire, and how we depend on or have benefited from the empire in the past (or even in the present).

Derrick Jensen's take on empires is that cities too function as empires in that they suck the resources from the countryside in amounts that are disproportionate to the urban population. I agree that the empire is not just "out there", but also much closer.

Posted by Leea

Mar 29 2011 - 2:40pm

Thank you Alcyon for the compliment. You will notice that the human tendancy is to look outside of self to understand one's own experience. The unspoken and hidden ego agreement that most of us are functioning through is so engrained that few know they are in it, that it is not beyond them. Books like you mention by Krishnamurti, and as mentioned below such as Ishmael, help us begin on this journey of ego metamorphasis so we can see with new eyes in the now. David Kortens writing represents misaligned ego perception at it's best. What doctor works against their patient to save their patient? Empire is no mere infection of humanity, it is humanities social body and it is infected. When we gently see this and gently understand this, then we may introduce healthy ways to be what we are to disinfect ourselves. It's about taking responsibility for life, instead of looking for a savior or a leader to fix things for you or blaming others to fix things for you. I cannot say I have taken full responsability for my life yet, I am still working to change my ego ways, it is so achingly slow, such a shocking realization that I am controlled by the same humanity as the worst in the world, and until I can do my best, I cannot really be the judge of what I imagine is their worst. I must stay open to the fact that the picture I see may still be skewed by old ego patterns. I am awake more than anything to Empire with me, rather than Empire without me. In a way this has been ultimately a big relief, to quietly feel my own power, to do good or bad, and know I do both daily. My powers of judging others, and the curse of judging others has been muted greatly within me. I am left with the silence of doing for self, changing self. My compassion for humans, for humanity for what we are is now greater, where before I had mostly condemnation.

I am more connected where before I was mostly seperate.

Posted by karlof1

Mar 29 2011 - 3:39pm

Thanks for this contribution as it provides me with a differing approach to the hypothesis I've stated here--that the ultimate root of our shared troubles rests with our malformed culture and the dysfunctional societies it's cultivated. Korten is incorrect to place the start of our dysfunction at 5K years ago; 12-14K is closer to being correct. My only critique, Leea, lies in the possibility of humaneness within a Nature having rules that aren't humane at all. However, the very few examples of functional societies I've encountered confirm your hypothesis that to be functional the ego must be put into service of the whole society, not the individual.

Posted by readbetweenthe_lines

Mar 29 2011 - 4:16pm

I have to look at the beginning of this particular empire.

It was founded by a handful of wealthy whites who decided they didn't want to pay taxes to a distant king anymore, and that they wanted to be able to grab all the land between the Ohio River and the Pacific. (The Treaty of Paris at the end of the midlabelled French and Indian Wars included the provision that Engliand give up any and all rights to territory west of the Ohio River.) They also wanted to increase the practice of slave-holding, which was beginning to get a negative eye from England.

Sooooooooo: they got together the hoi poloi (indentured servants, lower class unemcumbered whites) and promised them that if they formed first militia and then armies that when independence from the king arrived they would make a run for the prohibited territory west of the Ohio, kill all the native oweners and stewards of that land, become wealthy landowners and slave-holders.

With the help of the French (still smarting from Montcalm's defeat at Quebec) the colonists achieved independence and their colonial genocide and land thievery--along with slave-holding--advanced on all fronts.

The motives for forming the US, and those for growing it into Empire have always been the same: To commit genocide against non-whites for their land and resources.

Capitalism, fascism, fake political parties, fake democracy--these are all just concepts and manipulations to confuse folks into thinking that the have some piece of wealth or power, when in truth they are impoverished and powerless.

Yes, empires have come and gone--but none so destructive as this one. It fueled the industrial revolution into the tyranny of technology to the point that if one of the demons let out of the technology box doesn't destroy most of the life forms on the planet, another one most certainly will.

From the menu, folks, which do you prefer: nuclear winter? radiation drought? the frying pan of global burning? endless war? mass die-off from lack of water? mass die-off from lack of food? many more that can be cooked-up in short order?

Lots of choices, people: And they all lead to The Road as the BEST-case scenario.

There is no peace without justice for everyone.

Posted by Hughnanimous

Mar 29 2011 - 6:38pm

The Ohio river runs mostly East/West.

Perhaps you meant Mississippi river ?

Posted by readbetweenthe_lines

Mar 29 2011 - 7:52pm

"England issued the Proclamation of 1763, which forbade English colonists from living west of the Appalachian Mountains. It was hoped this would prevent further conflict, as the Proclamation would ease the Native Americans' fears. Unfortunately for the English government, many of its colonists became upset because the Proclamation prohibited them from moving to the Ohio Country. The colonists desire to move onto this land claimed by both England and France was a primary reason for the French and Indian War. Englands action convinced many colonists that England did not understand life in the New World and helped lead to the American Revolution."


Posted by Hughnanimous

Mar 29 2011 - 8:11pm

So how does that work, as you so clearly write :

"grab all the land between the Ohio River and the Pacific" ?

Is it your opinion that the grabbing goes North and then somehow bends 90 degrees toward the West, or does it go South and then somehow bends 90 degrees toward the West, or is it perhaps both ?

Is this an example of what you mean by the "between" in your screen name ?

Making mistakes ( and acknowledging them ) is part of the human condition and personal growth, as is learning to respectively contribute to a cohesive and civil society -- but perhaps you see it differently ?

Posted by readbetweenthe_lines

Mar 29 2011 - 8:17pm

Illiterate heckler IGNORED.

Posted by Hughnanimous

Mar 29 2011 - 10:21pm

It's always a pleasure to demonstrate
your own level of literacy, and calm
responsive, & collaborative demeanor.

How odd, that it was you who initiated evasion and heckling ( derisive or aggressive comments ) here, after my sincere attempts to clarify your confusing posting.

Posted by karlof1

Mar 29 2011 - 6:42pm

My primary point states that the beginning began long before anyone allows--it's uncomfortably close to being a priori but isn't as humans residing in Nature bereft of technology are prey. Human culture thus developed in a manner that became incapable of controlling human behavior once superior technologies developed that allowed humans to become the top predator. But there is small comfort as that a postiori development has made Civilized human existence almost impossible. Long ago, someone said We are too smart for our own good. Indeed, having thought further, my time estimate is too early and ought to be backdated to the time Homo Erectus started making stone tools and fire--almost two million years ago. Yet some peoples were able to develop cultures that promoted functional societies and largely overcame the deleterious aspects of being top predator.

I would posit that today the battle exists between those seeking to become Civilized and those wanting to remain Barbaric, with the main problem being the Barbarians are winning. I've asked this question several times: How do those seeking to become Civilized defeat the Barbarians without becoming Barbarians themselves? And since the Barbarians won't be satisfied until they conquer/ruin all, hiding somewhere in hopes they won't find and attack you is a false hope.

Posted by readbetweenthe_lines

Mar 29 2011 - 7:48pm

What I know is this: European barbarians (where barbaric actions have a long tradition) invaded a pristine but inhabited wilderness in the part of America that calls itself the USA. And the result of their invasion was the destruction of civilizations and a land-mass sized toxic waste dump.

To the south, in Mesoamerica--where I live--they invaded a land that still had wilderness--as well as the world's largest city, Tenochtitlan, among other cities--and destroyed civilizations.

They did the same in South America.

Indigenous peoples did not destroy civilizations nor create toxic waste dumps.

Posted by ClassAct

Mar 29 2011 - 2:00pm

How exactly does this "ownership" become transferred from Wall Street to local entities? It is difficult to imagine that such a change of "ownership" of assets could occur without a war, collaterally destroying the very assets in question.

Posted by moonpie

Mar 29 2011 - 2:15pm

I like this article, but Its not just Wall Street. Its capitalism.

Ever tried opening a simple business these days, or just get decent service or a fairly and honestly promoted/advertised product? Its nearly impossible. The trail of deception falls from Wall Street down to your local businesses. It seems everyone is grasping for fewer & fewer straws. Less product is in familiar bags and boxes, but you pay the same--or more.

The whole thing, not just Wall Street, is collapsing on itself.

If you like to eat, stock your pantry. Prices are just beginning to rise.

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URL: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/03/29-2


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