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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Don't make me go all Nostradamus on your ass

I don't have a crystal ball.  I don't throw chicken bones, read tea leaves, nor do I use tarot cards.  I read.  A lot.  As my friend Edwin once said, "I read all kinds of shit".  I do.  I read things I agree with, and I read things I disagree with completely.  One of my former Army unit's motto was "Hostem Cogere".  It's Latin for 'Know the enemy'.  I've had that as my personal motto ever since.  I also read things to try to UNDERSTAND opposing points of view, not merely to know what those differing opinions are.  I CAN be influenced by opposing views, at times.  So, like my friend Edwin, I read all kinds of shit.  
I'm a Progressive.  For those who're unfamiliar with the term, it's not synonymous with 'liberal', as the GOP/Tea Party/Faux News would have you believe.  There have been four periods of Progressivism in American history, the first being in the early 20th century, and the fourth underway today.  A few notable Progressives were/are President Theodore Roosevelt, explorer John Wesley Powell, activist Susan B Anthony, writer Upton Sinclair, President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, Vice President Joe Biden, author/activist Noam Chomsky, journalist/author Thom Hartman, Senator Al Franken, and former Vice President Al Gore.  
But the point of this article is prognostication - what I believe lies in our future, some good, some bad.  What seems a long time ago to me, my late teens and early twenties, I began noticing how the course of American events mirrored the events we were taught about the downfall of major civilizations and empires.  I would ask questions about the thoughts of the instructors, but most were Christians and I saw a pattern in their answers, which was that they all believed, some more some less, that within their lifetimes they would experience the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.  My early religious training had expired, due I guess to a short shelf-life or something, but I think because I began to see inequities between what I saw Christians saying and what I saw them doing.  And because no one could explain to me why the Bible was so full of contradictions.  The answers always referred to faith and belief, not reason and logic, and really weren't answers at all.  Pressing for answers only lead to suspecting glances and frowns, and deflection of my inquiries by making small talk about the weather and birds.  But, I'm hardheaded and like to get to the truth of any question, even if I don't or won't like the answer.  So I set about studying how civilizations break down.  
A few of the most prominent characteristics of a civilization or empire in decline; a breakdown in civility, political hubris, polarization of secular and religious factions, a decline of the civilization's standing amongst its fellow states, and economic breakdown.  Today, we see all of these things happening.  While virtually the entire world economy is going through a period of stagnation, some elements, like the BRIC nations - Brazil, Russia, India, China - are showing merely a dip in an otherwise upward trend.  The same isn't so certain at home.  In fact, national-wealth-building industries such as heavy iron and steel works, ship construction, heavy equipment , automobile and aircraft manufacturing, businesses that take decades to establish, have gone overseas to cheaper labor markets in Asia.  High technology which was once the forte of the US has now followed the same cheap labor escape routes.  For decades, some of us have been telling anyone who cared to listen that allowing our economy to become service-industry based was a huge mistake, and now we've seen the rise of China, Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia and Korea to displace us as the new masters of industry.  Today, there are half a dozen car companies in the US; China has 47, and they're coming here.  
So it's all gloom and doom, right?  Well, those are just a few of the harbingers of the future.  The real gloom and doom will come as a social shift.  In the past century, we've seen what radical shifts in national policy and social thought in either direction can do.  Germany, Japan and Italy shifted radically right while the Soviet Union and China shifted left.  The end results of both shifts was close to the same - the new regimes sought to eliminate their opposition by whatever means they felt necessary.  The Nazis at first used a banner of radical Christianity to send Jehovah's Witnesses, Jews, homosexuals, Gypsies, and others, to their deaths, or to concentration camps, at best.  The Soviets sent intellectuals, political opponents, members of certain religious groups like Jews, and others, to the firing squads, gallows or gulags.  The one certainty of revolutions with a zealous religious element is that someone's going to die.  In the 20th and 21st centuries, we saw peaceful revolutions like Czechoslovakia's  Velvet Revolution, resulting in the Czech and Slovak Republics, but this was a movement AWAY from authoritarian, totalitarian rule...not toward it like what's facing us.  
Here it is:  
1) A fight for oil will create wars around the world, resulting in the first TRUE world war.  The wealthiest nations will come out on top, not the nations with the best armies.  At the same time, rising seas from global warming will have begun inundating low-lying coastal areas around the world creating climate refugees even in places like the US and Europe.  
2) China will become the most powerful economic force in the world, but will lag behind the US militarily, initially, but might in arms will follow economic power.  
3) The BRIC nations will become 2nd world countries, much like Britain and France following WWII, with good standards of living, decent human rights policies, and relative security since no one is out to knock second best out of its niche. 
4) The US will no longer be a superpower economically, and its military power will diminish as a result of the loss of economic power.  Perhaps as a result of the loss of its economic supremacy, but certainly after the loss of military primacy, the US will fall into a period of revolt and will simultaneously face foreign aggression and even invasion.  The best organized entities will come out on top; the wealthy and organized religions will create zones ruled by themselves, some as theonomies and theocracies, some as oligarchies, some as virtual monarchies, but all will claim that absolute rule by them alone is necessary for their survival.  
5) A long period of persecution of homosexuals will begin, the flames of which will be fanned by the radio and television hate mongers, most currently found on Faux Noise, and more yet to be trained.  The Tea Party, the new American-bred Taliban, will find a banner behind which to rally the troops having already sown the seeds of that particular discrimination.  Eventually, an interfaith synod comprised of leaders of authoritarian religions such as Christian reconstructionists, radical Muslims, ultra-orthodox Jews, and possibly even others like tribal African religions, will meet and declare homosexuality a capital crime and sin, following the same beliefs about homosexuality that they hold today.  Immediately, homosexuals will be rounded up and, once again forced into labor camps for use until extermination.  
As we gain more and more scientific knowledge and venture farther into space, we also retrench in areas of social progress to the same point we were when we left the cave and went hunting and gathering.  Down through the ages, it seems that whenever people need someone to use as a common perceived enemy, it's homosexuals.  Yes, Jews have had their share of tribulations too, but today the most fanatical of them have joined the ranks of the gay haters.  And that's where we are, right now, one step away from the next homoholocaust.                                                              Originally posted 21 March 2010