We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Monday, October 7, 2013

Empire Under Obama, Part 1: Political Language and the 'Mafia Principles' of International Relations

Click here to access article by Andrew Gavin Marshall from The Hampton Institute.
In the first part of this essay series on 'Empire Under Obama,' I will aim to establish some fundamental premises of modern imperialism, or what is often referred to as 'international relations,' 'geopolitics', or 'foreign policy.' Specifically, I will refer to George Orwell's writing on 'political language' in order to provide a context in which the discourse of imperialism may take place out in the open with very little comprehension on the part of the public which consumes the information; and further, to draw upon Noam Chomsky's suggestion of understanding international relations as the application of 'Mafia Principles' to foreign policy. This part provides some background on these issues, and future parts to this essay series will be examining the manifestation of empire in recent years. 
There are two basic ways that humans can relate to each other and to nature: one, on the basis of equality, respect for each other and all life forms, compassion for those who suffer or are disadvantaged; or two, on the basis of dominance and submission where a few people contend for dominance over others and nature, and the others submit for fear of consequences or sometimes out of sheer ignorance due to the concealed nature of the activities of the dominant ones. 

The latter way is referred to aptly in the article as operating according to "Mafia Principles" because we are all familiar with the way such criminal organizations operate. Capitalism which is based on extreme individualism fosters this latter form of human relations (sociopathy), however any class system features this. The sad fact is, due to the long recent history of class-structured societies (although only 2% of human existence), many people now believe that this form of human relations reflects human nature.

In contemporary class-structured capitalist societies whose rulers like to refer to them as "democratic", we find a highly refined form of governance which relies heavily on the management of thought of its citizens. One of the earliest and most famous people to dissect this form of control was George Orwell whom Marshall quotes extensively. However, one must never forget that violence stands immediately behind this mask of "democracy", rule of law, etc. Whenever capitalist ruling classes are threatened, the ugly fist of fascism  is always employed as we have seen throughout the history of capitalist rule.