Seeing: American Exceptionalism

( – promoted by buhdydharma )

[R]eality, or the world we all know, is only a description that has been pounded into you from the moment you were born.

The reality of our day-to-day life, then, consists of an endless flow of perceptual interpretations which we have learned to make in common.

I am teaching you how to see as opposed to merely looking, and stopping the world is the first step to seeing.

The sorcerer’s description of the world is perceivable. But our insistence on holding on to our standard version of reality renders us almost deaf and blind to it.

When you begin this teaching, there is another reality, that is to say, there is a sorcery description of the world, which you do not know. As a sorcerer and a teacher, I am teaching you that description. What I am doing with you consists, therefore, in setting up that unknown reality by unfolding its description, adding increasingly more complex parts as you go along.

In order to arrive at seeing one first has to stop the world. Stopping the world is indeed an appropriate rendition of certain states of awareness in which the reality of everyday life is altered because the flow of interpretation, which ordinarily runs uninterruptedly, has been stopped by a set of circumstances alien to that flow. In this case the set of circumstances alien to our normal flow of interpretations is the sorcery description of the world.

The precondition for stopping the world is that one has to be convinced; in other words, one has to learn the new description in a total sense, for the purpose of pitting it against the old one, and in that way break the dogmatic certainty, which we all share, that the validity of our perceptions, or our reality of the world, is not to be questioned.

After stopping the world the next step is seeing. By that I mean what could be categorized as responding to the perceptual solicitations of a world outside the description we have learned to call reality.

The Teachings of Don Juan

by Carlos Castaneda

The ongoing and rapid collapse of the US and Global economy, far from being an abstract series of events, is being brought home forcefully and concretely to millions of people on a personal level with the loss of their jobs and consequent drastic reduction in their ability to not only purchase things they want for themselves and their families but even to purchase the basic necessities of life and obtain things they need.

A cycle pushing us into a self reinforcing deflationary spiral in which less and less people are able to support the dwindling economy with their purchases which causes even more job loss and less economic activity, and so on, as we saw highlighted in very sharp focus in How Bad? This Bad with the graph from Swampland compiled using Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers that:

…compares the job loss so far in this recession to job losses in the 1990-1991 recession and the 2001 recession — showing how dramatic and unprecedented the job loss over the last 13 months has been.  Over the last 13 months, our economy has lost a total of 3.6 million jobs – and continuing job losses in the next few months are predicted.

By comparison, we lost a total of 1.6 million jobs in the 1990-1991 recession, before the economy began turning around and jobs began increasing; and we lost a total of 2.7 million jobs in the 2001 recession, before the economy began turning around and jobs began increasing.

The response from the government so far, from the Bush administration and the Congress, and continuing through into the new Obama administration, has been attempts at bailouts of the very wealthy in the financial sector, through shoveling money at manufacturers such as the auto industry so they can continue producing products in the face of crippling reductions in sales revenues, effectively “stealing” money from their prospective customers who were already more and more unable to buy their products, to finally with the current administration to an ostensible “stimulus” bill supposedly aimed at “creating” jobs.

All of which has been and is being done by saddling taxpayers, the very people these attempts have been ostensibly aimed at “helping” with long-debunked “trickle down” economics, with enormous and growing crushing future debt and thus crippling their future as well as present ability to purchase products and services, and crippling future prospects for an economic recovery.

For it is taxpayers that will eventually pay the bills one way or another, as any such job creation stimulus spending can only, in the last analysis, come out out the pockets of the people for whom jobs might be created with a “stimulus” that is effectively loaning their own future income to people who will be unable to pay the debt created by the “loan”, as the housing bubble and subprime mortgage debacle effectively did.

In October 2007 here at Docudharma Magnifico wrote in America’s Optimism Is Gone that…

…most of us in American aren’t willing to begin a national self-examination or introspection into why the United States is in such a predicament. “For the central problem is not that they were lied to – though that of course is a problem – but that they have constantly found some of these lies more palatable than the truth,” he writes. That is what America has become in a nutshell. Most Americans would rather live and believe in the lie, than face reality.

…the 2008 presidential candidates are not discussing America’s malaise and not publicly doing any sort of root cause analysis. Instead, our politicians keep telling us how wonderful and great America really is.

Americans won’t be able to fix the problems the country has until Americans are willing to admit there is a problem here. It may be cliché, but that, I think, is the State of the Union.

I don’t have much to add other than I feel trapped here in the U.S. I expect things in America are going to get a lot worse before they can start to get better. If Americans want to believe lies rather than face truth, then America will slide into an authoritarian or fascist state in the very near future.

So while a “stimulus” of some type is undeniably needed, what is the longer term effect of one that only is aimed at continuing the same problems that got us here in the first place? If all it will do is recycle money from future to present it will not help the future prospects for the economy and for people.

One question that is rarely if ever asked is: What is it, exactly, that needs to be “stimulated”?

It’s been said many times in many ways that the very definition of insanity is doing the same things repeatedly with the delusion that a different result will at some point obtain.

New money, new wealth, as always, will have to be injected from outside the loop, if the economy is to be “grown” to handle the added debt created with the kind of stimulus thinking the government seems to be trapped in.

And where can such “new wealth” come from? Are we moving inexorably now towards more of the same insanity that got us where we are?

Confidence, like truth, is often one of the casualties of war.  The problem arises because everything that has been “doing” has brought us to where we are… and we have a hard time internalizing the concept of “not doing” as being an effective course of action that produces results, sometimes faster than anything else.

Most reading this may by now be wondering what the hell I’m talking about here. It’s not so much that we have to do something as it is that we have to stop, collectively in our consensual reality that creates our world, doing something that we are already doing.

American Exceptionalism, A Disease of Conceit,

by Ron Jacobs at CounterPunch, July 21, 2004

Any person who is honestly opposed to the US presence in Iraq and Afghanistan has got to wonder why the movement that developed against the US war on Iraq before the March 2003 invasion has faltered so badly and now seems to be caught up in the movement to electorally defeat George Bush, even though that means supporting John Kerry-a politician who not only supported the invasion and occupation, but talks openly about widening the war to include the NATO countries and tens of thousands more US troops. One could place the blame on the failure of the movement’s politics, always more liberal than anti-imperialist. Or, one could place the blame on the leadership. In both cases, one would find some basis for their argument.

When it comes to the bottom line, though, the underlying cause for the US antiwar movement’s current stasis is that most of its adherents believe in one of this country’s basic tenets-a tenet that is ultimately religious in nature. For lack of a more descriptive phrase, we’ll call this phenomenon American exceptionalism.

America is not a better country than any other. Its citizens and residents are as venal and as great as any others in any other part of the world. The only thing that sets us apart is our wealth. The only reason we have that wealth is because we stole it. God didn’t give it to us, nor did any greater American intelligence or know-how. Robbery is what our foreign policy is based on, just like our racial policies. It’s not the policies that need to change, but the foundation upon which those policies flourish. Until US activists accept this and give up their conscious and unconscious acceptance of the myth of American exceptionalism, any movement against war, racism, and other ills of our world is bound to fail. Not because it doesn’t have the right motivation, but because it doesn’t have a radical enough conception of itself and the world it exists in.

Jacobs was right, but he didn’t go quite far enough. We not only stole it. We create misery and murder countless people around the world for it.

And why should it be surprising?

It’s been said many times that North American society requires 25 or more percent of the energy production (fossil fuels) of the world to support a civilization of a little more than 300 million people out of the 7 billion or so people on the planet.

How else could we do that without stealing and killing for it?

Operation Gladio was:

…a far-right secret army, operated by the CIA and MI6 through NATO, which killed hundreds of innocent Europeans and attempted to blame the deaths on Baader Meinhof, Red Brigades and other left wing groups. Known as ‘stay-behinds’ these armies were given access to military equipment which was supposed to be used for sabotage after a Soviet invasion. Instead it was used in massacres across mainland Europe as part of a CIA Strategy of Tension. Gladio killing sprees in Belgium and Italy were carried out for the purpose of frightening the national political classes into adopting U.S. policies.”

Jeffrey Kaye in a Seminal post Sunday March 28, 2010 notes that “When the invasion never occurred, the networks were not dismantled, but took on a different mission: to keep the left from gaining power in any of these states, from Sweden and Belgium to France, Switzerland, Italy, Greece, Turkey and elsewhere.”

Jeff goes on in his post to note that “The sensationalistic charges have fed a number of conspiracy theories, particularly those around the existence of “false flag” government operations. Some have indicated they see the 9/11 attacks in this light, though I can’t say I have the kind of evidence to make such an assertion. But one can understand how any individual might come to seriously mistrust the U.S. government after learning of the Gladio history, which is extensive and well-documented.”

“Among other canards the Gladio story can put to rest is the silly belief that no large scale conspiracies can exist, at least in a so-called open, democratic society such as ours. And yet, Gladio proves that is not true. In fact, since the revelations of the early 1990s, there has been practically no discussion of this crucial aspect of contemporary history by U.S. historians or policy makers.”

The people who do things like Operation Gladio,  would I think have no compunctions about planning and executing something like 9/11 and killing 3000 Americans to create public support for the resource wars in the Middle East in a last ditch attempt to ensure access to the energy without which North American civilization would collapse.

Why Are We in Afghanistan?

by Ron Jacobs at CounterPunch, October 6, 2009

In 1967 Norman Mailer released a novel titled Why Are We In Vietnam? This exercise by Mailer is the story of a couple 18 year-old Texans off on a hunting trip with their wealthy fathers. The quartet are consumed with an overload of braggadocio and testosterone. The story of the trip, which is full of whiskey and tales of past sexual conquests, racial slurs and assumptions of American exceptionalism, is told through the eyes of one of the younger men. It is obviously meant as a psychological metaphor for why the US fought in Vietnam. Like the film The Deer Hunter and a number of other films having to do with killing America’s enemies, the nature of US machismo and its curious confusion with racism and homophobia, Why Are We In Vietnam? puts forth the proposition that not only is the rugged individualism of the white-skinned pioneer essential to the myth of the US conquest of the North America continent, it is also essential to the expansion of US capitalism as well.

If one explores this idea in the context of recent history both on Wall Street and in Washington’s current overseas adventures, it become clearer why very few folks in Imperial Washington – though not in the rest of the country — want to get out of Iraq or Afghanistan.


If changing the situation in Pakistan is a dominant reason for the current debate over mission and troop numbers in Afghanistan and the battle in Afghanistan is considered just part of that equation, then there is little doubt that US troops will remain in that country for the foreseeable future. Furthermore, the likelihood of their numbers increasing becomes even greater. On Monday Obama said withdrawal from Afghanistan wasn’t an option.

The anti-war movement faltered out of it’s own self-interest, when too many people decided that it was more important to spend their energy helping their chosen party gain power. In the belief that they couldn’t be effective without first acquiring power they stopped expending their efforts opposing war.

War? What war? How do we get from economic collapse to war? Haven’t we had enough of war the past eight years? What possible good would more war do? Didn’t war go a long ways toward getting us where we are now?

Let’s hear an economist here. A political economist warning that we are well on our way towards trying one more time to buy our way out of economic collapse with military might, more imperialism, and outright theft, only this time bigger and better than ever before.

F. William Engdahl is an economist and author and the writer of the best selling book “A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order.” Mr Engdhahl has written on issues of energy, politics and economics for more than 30 years, beginning with the first oil shock in the early 1970s. Mr. Engdahl contributes regularly to a number of publications including Asia Times Online, Asia, Inc, Japan’s Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Foresight magazine; Freitag and ZeitFragen newspapers in Germany and Switzerland respectively. He is based in Germany.

Engdahl did
series of four interviews in February 2009 with Paul Jay of The Real News.

In the third of the series, below, Engdahl concludes with:

As the U.S. financial dominance in the world comes to an end… “certain powerful actors will turn to the U.S. military power projection around the world,” and that, “this is the real danger of a World War III.”

Real News Network – February 8, 2009

Two years recession, or ten years of hell? Pt.3

Engdahl: The danger is the US may turn to military might as their financial power weakens


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    • Edger on April 3, 2010 at 16:30

  1. ……and our causes always just”.—President Jimmy Carter july 15, 1979

    His much derided “malaise speech” was actually an opportunity for Americans to perhaps to start to lift the veils from their eyes.  

    Carter’s analysis is certainly current for our times.

  2. because all ascendant empires have felt exceptional and justified their acts with this same myth…….

  3. we have ipads and can tweet. What war?

    Manifest destiny which has run into a wall that the rabid capitalists built and now make a killing on betting for global misery. When time stands still you see a picture of Obama telling us it’s time to drill baby drill because the horrific looking war machine behind him needs some fuel. Frozen there in time a picture of the insanity hat we support. Another time stopper a picture of ipad hits the street. We are a gadget, we can tweet and fill the time so that the stillness where you can see reality is never visible over the babble and images Steve Jobs has placed in all our hands so we never have to look up, never notice the big ugly war machines.      

    • banger on April 4, 2010 at 00:07

    I believe that “sorcery” of some kind is the only way out of our dilemma. I believe that the American public has been hypnotized and convinced that fantasy is reality. We are, collectively, under a massive spell created by the most gifted intellects the world has ever known.

    The way out is to realize this spell within us. This starts with our own weaknesses that are very hard to confront and accept. To the extent we clear up we can act in the world effectively. Doesn’t mean we go to a cave and meditate–we each have our path that involves inner and outer work and only we and whoever we regard as a teacher (if nay) can determine.

    Conventional politics won’t work. And most of us who write on this blog know that–that is clear. We may have slight movements here and there but there is no evidence that any of the major issues of war and peace and the environment will be dealt with honestly by our leadership. In fact, I maintain that change is impossible right now since the powerful have locked-up the system. Only a major disaster can change that and, even then, I doubt much can be done.

    Arise, the only thing we have to lose is our chains — our inner chains to a dysfunctional and noxious culture that we all know very well we cannot live with. But the change must be internal within each one of us. Then we will be sorcerers–I’m sure of it because nature is offering us no choice — they’ve cut off all the escape routes. Something magical has to be called…

  4. a long shot. It has always been about individual states and conflicting interest groups and what role the National Govt plays in this drama. IMHO, the only major unifying theme (other than race, language and religion) of a political nature that always works is war. The United States is not outside history for goodness sakes.

    The foundations upon which this “country” was built were not political. They were natural and geographic. The consitution was a plain old 18th Century, compromise document cobbled together by a lot of bright guys who weren’t quite sure what they actually wanted.

    Would America be America if it hadn’t developed out of conquest of peoples who couldn’t fight back and lands bountiful in resources? Was this supposed to be an egalitarian conquest? We never had a caste system here?

    We don’t now? As far as I can see, it was a scramble from nearly the beginning to right now for the best lands, the best houses and the greatest wealth etc.

    And its just as easy now as it was 1000 years ago to enlist weapons makers for the the King by just dangling a few pieces of gold. I mean the people have always looked to the king for protection from invading armies. Why else have a “government” that is granted so much power?

    Why any “govern” “ment”? I sure don’t see anything exceptional here, other than exceptional delusion. And that’s even fairly common.

    • Edger on April 4, 2010 at 02:03
    • Edger on April 4, 2010 at 20:40

    Apparently someone does not think anyone else should know about the amounts of depleted uranium used in Iraq and Afghanistan

    Please uprate it if you can:


  5. What is the latin root “sci” in the middle of the word?

    It refers to knowledge. But can we have the complete word with its meaning if we don’t have the prefix “con”?

    NO, we can’t have knowedge only if known by the isolated knower. It is useless. So, we need two or more agents working together-con. IMHO, “we” create what “we” know and believe; as language and knowedge derive and evolve from all of “us” who speak “our” language. It is not a static experience. It is con fusing.

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