NASA funded study warns of societal collapse-or, godspeed you bleak civilization!

NASA study

A trending article in The Guardian, along with a recent study funded by NASA written by Safa Motesharrei, Jorge Rivas and Eugina Kalnay, warns of the imminent collapse of global civilization. In their paper they maintain that two major themes reoccur throughout history that contribute to the collapse of societies: “(1) Ecological Strain and (2) Economic Stratification.” They also say that technology will only solve so many issues before it becomes obsolete at preventing the collapse. It sounds alarmist, but in 2014 the precariousness of planet Earth and the fragile fabric holding it all together becomes more strained every day.

They point out that societal “collapse” often appears as trivial but is indeed backed up by historical data. “The rise-and-collapse” process has occurred many times over the centuries and for largely the same reasons. From ancient Babylon, Mesopotamia, Sumeria and Maya, civilizations rose to great heights only to precipitate eventual collapse and downfall. They observe that the rise-and-collapse of civilization is the norm rather than the exception to large agrarian based civilizations.

One would not be mistaken for feeling compelled to believe that modern society is prone to the same fate. In fact, not only does their study, along with the thousands of years of the historical record say so, but so does any observation of the current state of the global capitalist economy. Capitalism, from its very inception, is a system based on compound, exponential growth. This, of course, is a great problem on a planet with finite resources. The ecological strain that the planet is currently undergoing due to this phenomenon is one of hitherto unprecedented heights. From global warming to resource extraction and unimaginable pollution the Earth is under extreme duress at the same time the expanding middle class in China is being told that with market discipline they will be able to behave like consumers in the U.S. This obviously is not sustainable but the system is not built to effectively and critically think about this. With every country under the the spell of global capitalism the rapacious onslaught on the world’s natural resources will continue unabated for the foreseeable future in the name of GDP, “progress” and “modernity.” Something has to give, the question is when.

The second major theme, economic stratification, is also rampant throughout the world and growing more acute in the U.S. each day. The Wall Street Journal reported that the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at its highest point ever on March 5th, 2013. There are indicators all over that illustrate how the richest of the rich are doing better than ever while the poor and working class are suffering at near immeasurable levels. In 2012, the top 10 percent of  earners took home more than half of the country’s income– the highest recorded level ever.  Porsche reported its best year ever in 2012 and anyone living in NYC can simply walk down the street in Manhattan and see just how many high rise luxury rentals are being built, in fact, 2013 was the largest luxury real estate boom in NYC history. This explosion of wealth for the 1% is contrasted by the continued immiseration of the proletariat. Poverty has risen in the U.S. since the Great Recession despite the ostensible “recovery.” And perhaps the most condemning  report from Oxfam recently found that “Almost half of the world’s wealth is now owned by just one percent of the population, and seven out of ten people live in countries where economic inequality has increased in the last 30 years.” This stratification is extremely dangerous to political systems, particularly in the democratic tradition, as the disparities pose serious threats to political inclusion, government stability and the general welfare of people.

The specters of the past are not haunting us, they are already here, waiting to usher in the end of civilization as we know it and from the way things are going we welcome it.

At least we will have a soundtrack for it. . .

Obama, Putin on the “wrong side of history”– A short list on the irony of intervention.

obama

NEW YORK-The headlines are rife with irony laid bare before the world. On March 3rd, Obama said that the U.S. is doing all it can to work towards isolating Russia over its incursion into Crimea. Russia, according to Obama, has violated Ukraine’s sovereignty, its territorial borders and shown disdain for international law. He stated that Russia’s actions in Crimea are illustrating that Putin is on the “wrong side of history.”

Secretary of State John Kerry was on “Face the Nation” on Monday where his statements could be seen as nothing more than ludicrous to anyone that has knowledge of U.S. foreign policy and aggression. He stated,”You just don’t in the 21st century behave in 19th century fashion by invading another country on completely trumped up pre-text.” Kerry said that Russia’s actions are “an incredible act of aggression.”

The Russians must find these allegations amusing and many in the world are surely confused: How can the largest purveyor of violence in the world today say such things without looking uninformed, belligerent and downright ridiculous?

The United States has a habit of condemning other nations when they intervene in the affairs of others yet reserves the right to insert itself anywhere in the world at any given time for any reason, often times intervening on “humanitarian” grounds. Many people wonder how the U.S. can lambaste Russia while it is raining down bombs from drones in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and has over 700 military bases abroad . There are more than 50 examples of the U.S. intervening militarily or clandestinely since WWII alone. This short list only serves to provide serves to provide some context on the ironies of U.S. imperialism abroad with a few of the lesser known recent interventions.

2003, Iraq – The Bush Administration fabricates intelligence that Saddam Hussein developed weapons of mass destruction and supported Al Qaeda terrorists. Who remembers Colin Powell’s fabricated presentation at the UN to make his case for war?

2001, Afghanistan – After the September 11th terrorist attacks the U.S. gets even with the Taliban for aiding and abetting known Al-Qaeda terrorists. Consequently, the U.S. involves itself in one of the longest and most costly wars ever. The toll on the Afghan people is immeasurable, with nearly 20,000 civilians killed, and many arguing that the U.S. is not safer and that the Taliban is no weaker than before.

1994, Haiti – The U.S. first occupied Haiti in 1915 with 330 Marines to safeguard the interests of U.S. business interests. One of the most famous Marines and two time Medal of Honor recipient, Gen. Smedley Butler, wrote a book entitle “War is a Racket” describing how he was a “gangster for capitalism” and U.S. corporate interests. In 1994, the U.S. carried out Operation Uphold Democracy, which overthrew the elected president, John-Bertrand Aristide.

1989, Panama – One of the main reasons for the invasion of Panama, among several others, given by President George H.W. Bush on the morning 20 December, 1989, was to protect the 35,000 U.S. civilians living there. The relationship between President Manuel Noriega, who was a paid up to $200,000 a year for his contractual services for the CIA and DEA, had fallen out of grace with U.S. officials after his double dealing shenanigans were revealed by Seymor Hersh. He refused to surrender himself and shortly after the de facto leader of Panama was ousted in Operation Just Cause to international condemnation.

1960, Republic of the Congo – Patrice Lumumba, the first democratically elected leader of the Congo, was ousted in a coup supported by the Belgian and U.S. authorities. President Dwight Eisenhower along with Allen Dulles, director of the CIA, advised “eliminating” President Lumumba. The U.S. was not directly involved in his murder but there are documents that now prove the CIA conspired to kill him.

1971-1973, Chile – Salvador Allende, the democratically elected president of Chile, was ousted in a coup led by General Agusto Pinochet, with the active support of the CIA. Documents from the National Security Archive show the extent to which President Nixon and his cohorts assisted in destabilizing and overthrowing Allende’s regime.

For a more complete list from Wounded Knee to Libya click here.