Monthly Archives: April 2014

Welcome to the Wilderness

Years ago, I started blogging with a site called There were some incredibly interesting voices there, and all the writers did their homework. They found connections between some of the most horrific evils perpetrated in the world and some of the most globally esteemed world leaders and organizations. When I started to write there, I worked at making the connections… and I found myself in the wilderness.

The USA’s invasion of Iraq was just underway, and I was one of the few that was saying it was a terrible idea and that it would not end well. I said what I had to say and endured being ignored. Other voices joined with me as the years wore on, but that didn’t draw me into the mainstream. They joined me in the wilderness. They, too, got ignored.

The Panic of 2008 hit and I was there to find connections. I was used to being in the wilderness, so I was used to being ignored. At that time, though, I noticed there were many more people with me that were being actively ignored by those that walked in the halls of power. They were surprised to find that, as a majority of voices in a land that claimed to be based upon democratic principles, their voices counted for very little.

I read, with a complete lack of surprise, a recent scholarly article that concluded, based upon the high correlation between the passage of unpopular legislation and support for that legislation among elites, that the USA was no longer a republic of the people, but an oligarchy. There is the occasional concession to the notions of democracy here and there, but only to sustain a hopeful illusion that popular voices in the USA still have a meaning.

The good news is that life still goes on under an unrepresentative oligarchy. Yes, your government ignores you and you grate under a system that treats those outside of power with unrelenting cruelty and allows those in power to commit all manner of heinous crimes and then pay a few pennies’ worth of fines, if not walk free altogether. Yes, it’s a dread to realize that your government fears you to the point of keeping the general population under surveillance, and that it will forcefully move to smash any movement that threatens to upend the existing power structure, even if the movement is simply an appeal to human dignity.

Life goes on, indeed. Such was the world of Jesus. Such was the world of Gandhi. Such was the world of Martin Luther King, Jr. Such is the world of the USA. I choose those names because they embodied lives of truth, honesty, and love – and a refusal to compromise on their values. Yes, they were all killed for those uncompromising lives of truth, honesty, and love, but at the end of the day, their lives had those values, and therefore, their lives had value.

To me, the message of Jesus is most important. He that truly had all the power, but the proper use of his power was not to dominate, but to find the people in the wilderness and to bring them in, to bring them together. He used his power to teach and to give true hope to those that were completely outside the worldly power structure. His message was simple: love will be your reason to live.

So, as I live my life in a nation that promises me freedom, but would kill me without a trial in an instant if I was so much as just near someone that it considered to be a threat, I do not plot how to take power. I do not plan how to join the power structure. I do not desire any of that. I look to Jesus’ example of life in the wilderness. The most important message to deliver is his message of love, for that is what sustains us. Not freedom, not justice – which can be stolen by those in power – but love.

The May 15th Incident

In much of the public mind, there are only two organized political threats to freedom: Nazis and Communists. In the public mind, both those movements are over, save for a few Nazis that serve to validate Godwin’s Law on demand in Internet debates. In reality, the threat to freedom came from a variety of vectors. Just because America is not currently going down the road that Germany took in 1933 or Russia in 1917 does not mean that it’s not on a side street that runs parallel to what happened in Japan in 1932.

On 15 May 1932, 11 Japanese naval officers assassinated the Prime Minister and then took taxis to the police station, where they turned themselves in. Even though they had murdered the head of government, public sentiment was such that they received very light sentences. Four years later, on 26 February, army officers attempted the same thing. Although the 26 February 1936 plotters were dealt with harshly, their action resulted in a more complete takeover of the nation’s politics by the military. The time of “government by assassination” was over, but the assassins were now themselves the ones in charge.

As I read that in my World History class on Coursera, I reflected on how the USA has a similar situation, but with bankers. In the aftermath of the 2008 financial wipeout, none of the parties that caused it faced any sort of punishment, unless appearing before a Congressional committee is some sort of substitution for prison. No, instead of punishment, the bankers were rewarded with even deeper hooks into the government and the financial flows of the nation. Fear became a tool for the bankers and their supporters in Congress and the bureaucracy to extend their hold on government.

Now, there are rumblings about high-frequency trading. These aren’t just people crying about it in the wilderness: these are actual, official, rumblings. These HFT guys have gone too far, so say the rumblings, and they’re going to get punished. If 2008 was our banker’s own May 15 Incident, the HFT traders are going to be made to take the fall when the market crashes again – our own February 26 Incident. They’re expendable and their fall will make for more fear and chaos that the bankers will easily exploit. The criminals will end the exploits of the HFT gang, but the cost will be that they will have near-complete control of the government. Not just the current high degree of control, but they will be primary among the elites that vie for influence in government.

Whether or not the bankers stay in charge depends on whether or not Mao was right. Power does emerge from the barrel of the gun, but does it originate with the gun itself, or does the money control the gun? We shall find out, I believe.