Archive for August, 2021

The Afghanistan Rout and American Glasnost’


[In Bulgarian]

[In Russian]

Recent events have forced me to interrupt regular programming to bring you a report on the developments in Afghanistan and what I believe they portend for the US. The US and NATO have finally left Afghanistan after a 20-year occupation. At this point, they are still retaining a toehold at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, from which they are attempting to repatriate their nationals along with those Afghanis who served the occupation. These collaborators now fear for their lives from the Taliban, who have swiftly taken over almost the entire country in what was probably the most bloodless regime change operation thmat part of the world has ever experienced.

The US occupation of Afghanistan was rationalized based on an entire edifice of lies. At its foundation lay the lie of Nineleven. Above it towered the lie of fighting terrorism (while training and equipping the terrorists). Somewhere along the way the lie of aiding Afghanistan’s development into a vibrant, modern democracy with gender equality and other bells and whistles was added to this already stupendous structure (while the only actual development was that of the heroin trade). And, of course, overlaying all of the above was a truly staggering amount of corruption and theft.

If you believe the official narrative, Osama bin Laden was a sort of latter-day Jesus who repeated the miracle of loaves and fishes except with skyscrapers, knocking down three of them (WTC 1, 2 and 7) using just two airplanes. Another of his miracles was to make an entire passenger jet, piloted by an amateur, pull some truly stunning aerobatics that no passenger jet has pulled before or since, then ascend unto heaven through a wall of the Pentagon, engines, seats, luggage, bodies and all, leaving behind a small charred opening plus a part of a cruise missile that apparently had been hidden on board and that was subsequently carried away wrapped in a tarp on the shoulders of some very nervous and displeased-looking gentlemen in office attire. Another plane full of passengers left a smallish charred pit in the ground and recordings of rather scripted-sounding cell phone conversations held while the supposed plane was in an area lacking cell phone coverage. Bin Laden orchestrated all this mayhem by satellite phone, or by telepathy, without ever leaving the comfort of his cave in Afghanistan. I encourage you to believe this narrative because believing the alternative may cause you to lose your mind. Many people already have.

And if you wish to be stubborn and refuse to believe the official narrative, then it becomes quite plausible to think that Nineleven was a lavish American hoax: that the three skyscrapers were mined by some Americans, that the Pentagon was hit by an American cruise missile fired by some more Americans and that Osama bin Laden was a CIA agent who made grainy videos and scratchy audiotapes to inspire America’s pet terrorists (branded Al Qaeda, later rebranded ISIS/ISIL/Daesh/Islamic Caliphate). Osama was looking forward to a comfortable retirement somewhere in friendly Pakistan—a retirement that was cut short by an attack by a group of navy seals some time after his death from kidney failure.

Why would the Americans do this to themselves? Why, to rule the world, of course! They had bought into Mackinder’s cockamamie “heartland” theory, according to which whichever world power controls the heartland of Eurasia will control the world. If you think that controlling a pile of rocks inhabited by ornery, warlike natives whose minds are stuck in the middle ages is not conducive to ruling the entire world, then you are definitely smarter than the average turnip, but still not good enough to be one of America’s brilliant geopolitical strategists.

The developments of Nineleven provided the rationale for the 20-year US/NATO military occupation of Afghanistan, which cost over $2 trillion and caused half a million or so wrongful deaths. This was by no means a bargain—putting a hit on someone doesn’t cost anywhere near $4 million a pop, especially not in Afghanistan, which is very poor and awash with weapons. A conservative assumption is that much of this money was simply stolen. Indeed, seeing reports of erstwhile Afghani president Ashraf Ghani fleeing the country in a helicopter so overstuffed with cash that a lot of it had to be abandoned on the tarmac is a clear indication of how funds were being allocated in the course of the US occupation.

It is officially known that a little over half the money went to fill the coffers of five defense contractors—Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, General Dynamics, Boeing and Northrop Grumman. Their products were freely used over the entire expanse of Afghanistan, resulting in fabulous amounts of collateral damage. Some also went to arm the Afghani military, which surrendered to the Taliban without a fight, weapons and all, except for 22 military jets and 24 military helicopters which fled to Uzbekistan along with 585 soldiers. This hardware, including top of the line Black Hawk helicopters with all the recent gadgets installed, will now be picked over, and probably laughed at, by Russian experts. (The purpose of US weapons procurement is not to produce effective weapons but to make profits for Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, General Dynamics, Boeing and Northrop Grumman.)

But, you may ask, What about the fruits of controlling the heartland? What about controlling the whole world once ensconced there? Once there, the Americans discovered that Afghanistan didn’t offer much of anything except ornery natives and poppy fields. And while the former were of no use at all as far as securing world domination, the latter, turned into heroin, could be used strategically to weaken the whole of Eurasia by turning its population into a bunch of junkies. To this end, Afghanistan was turned into the world’s heroin factory, producing 85% of the estimated global heroin and morphine supply, a near monopoly. Prior to the US/NATO invasion of Afghanistan, poppy cultivation had been banned by the Taliban, so this was entirely a Western achievement.

The plan was to have Afghani heroin ooze out all over the surrounding Eurasia by camel caravans traversing huge uninhabitable deserts, and some of this indeed happened, but it quickly turned out that there was more money to be made by airlifting it out using US military transport planes flying to Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo, which became the major heroin transshipment point. And so a lot of the heroin ended up in the US and in the EU, to a point where there are over 10 million opiate addicts in the US and deaths from opiate overdoses in the US alone amount to half a million a year and growing fast, with drug-related deaths the leading cause of death among the non-geriatrics. But it seems that these are just the opioid addicts who stand up to be counted, whereas opiate abuse is far more widespread and, judging from rapidly dropping overall life expectancy, quite severe.

A good question to ask is: What will happen to the heroin addicts after the Taliban once again clamp down on poppy cultivation. It will be easy for them to do now that there are no US/NATO troops guarding the poppy fields. They will make up the revenue shortfall by selling trophy US weapons on the black market. The probable answer is that the junkies will switch (and already are switching) to the synthetic opiate fentanyl, which the Chinese are happy to provide in arbitrarily large quantities. Any suggestion that the Chinese might want to stop doing so may lead to a polite mention of the Opium Wars and a suggestion that what goes around comes around. At one point a quarter of the Chinese were addicted to opium; let’s see if Americans can beat that record. To be sure, Afghani heroin is not alone to blame for the epidemic of opiate abuse in the US. The Sackler family did a great deal to construct a veritable conveyor belt that first hooked people on prescription pain killers, then abandoned them to street drugs once the prescriptions ran out. But Afghani heroin qualifies as a major US policy boomerang, alongside many others.

Another good question to ask is: Whence the urge to dominate the world by seizing control of the heartland and inundating it with heroin (and Afghani refugees)? There is certainly the need to keep the military-industrial complex humming and funneling money to congressional election coffers, and then there is the general megalomaniacal ambition of various Washingtonians of both parties, but that’s far from all. The overarching need to disrupt, degrade and generally wreak havoc is a key element of America’s overall business plan, which is to continue to live beyond its means simply by printing money.

The only way to make this business plan work is for the US to present itself as an island of stability in a chaotic world and a financial safe haven where the world’s thieving oligarchs can safely launder their ill-gotten gains. Once this plan fails, the US will fall through third-world-dom and straight into an endless Civil War reenactment with live ammo. Hence all the current Sturm und Drang over the US/NATO hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Because who cares about Afghanistan? Sure, it has heroin, but fentanyl is even more potent and doesn’t involve all the messiness with growing poppies and harvesting and processing poppy juice. And excuse me if I don’t believe that dead US servicemen or US nationals left behind qualify as some sort of national tragedy; it’s what typically happens in a hasty retreat. And when have Americans not abandoned their local allies? The Kurds of Northern Syria, which retreating Americans abandoned to the ever-so-friendly Turks, are the last example that springs to mind; but how many Americans still remember even that far back. It’s simply what Americans do—always.

This hasty retreat signals, somewhere in the deep subconscious (because the realization is too painful) the end of the something-for-nothing economy on which the US has increasingly come to depend since Nixon took the US dollar off the gold standard 50 years ago. This disease may have been slow to develop, but it is chronic, incurable and invariably fatal. The 2021 US federal budget is $6.8 trillion and the budget deficit is $3 trillion, meaning that out of every dollar spent 44 cents are printed into existence. This is a hospice care-level dosage of financial morphine.

At this point no amount of financial morphine will allow the American patient to arise from his bed, yank the IV from his arm and go and wreak even more havoc in the world, sowing fear and chaos. The fear and chaos are now right within the US itself. The $753.5 billion the US is spending on defense in 2021 is more than the next nine highest-spending countries spend combined, but it’s not enough to cause sufficient mayhem to scare the entire world into continuing to honor the US dollar in international trade or to invest in dollar-denominated assets; all that’s left is financial inertia and a bit of excitement around the world’s largest market bubble which the US federal reserve is desperately blowing.

The mental anguish produced by this situation results in dire media images from the Kabul airport. Ignored is the fact that the rest of Afghanistan has suddenly become rather placid, with bright-eyed, bushy-bearded Taliban lads armed with the latest and greatest US weapons patrolling markets and street corners. ISIS-K, America’s pet terrorists in Afghanistan, of the Bin Laden/Al Qaeda pedigree, have gone quiet. They used to regularly organize bomb blasts in Kabul, routinely killing hundreds of locals, but now the only place where they still blow people up is at the airport, which is also the only area still under American control.

The Americans were nice enough to share their clever battle plan with their NATO allies, which is why Lord Pederast of England and Madame Petite-Pute of France (I can’t be bothered to look up their actual names) went public with news of this terrorist attack well before it transpired. Thirteen US servicemen died; many more locals died because surviving US servicemen opened fire on the victims. Nobody got court-martialed and nobody resigned; this is business as usual. Why the boys of ISIS-K were charged with this mission is obvious. The Americans need a reason to cut short the evacuation of their nationals and their local Afghani servants, as demanded by the Taliban, and now they have an excuse: the safety of their servicemen is paramount.

The American retreat from Afghanistan was inevitable, but what has amazed and appalled the entire world is the simply unimaginable boneheadedness ham-handedness of the operation at every level. Compared to the Soviet withdrawal, it is a profound national humiliation. The Soviets withdrew in battle order, flags flying, and left behind a functional government that stayed in power for another three years, successfully resisting Western efforts at overthrowing it, and only fell when Soviet support stopped because the USSR had collapsed—essentially because of Gorbachev’s treason. But the Afghanis remember and still like the Russians, still call them “Shuravi” (Soviets) and are grateful to Russia for everything that it had built there. The Russian embassy in Kabul is fully staffed and functioning normally, maintaining well-established channels of communication with the Taliban. In contrast, over their 20-year occupation the Americans have built nothing, destroyed much, and are by now almost universally hated and despised.

I believe that the extreme and apparent incompetence of the Americans in Afghanistan is the result of the corrosive effect of lies. A foundation of lies is inevitably a shaky one and can only be kept from crumbling under carefully controlled circumstances. For instance, a certain shady oligarch may promote a certain vaccine as effective against a certain virus whereas his real intention is to stop population growth by making women sterile. This works because corporate structures can be organized around a management strategy known as mushroom theory (keep them in the dark and feed them shit). But it doesn’t work for an entire sprawling military empire, where the truth inevitably leaks out, contradictions mount and morale plummets. One lie always deserves another, and then the making of mistakes, the efforts to fix mistakes and the efforts to hide mistakes all become largely interchangeable. At one point the CIA’s terrorists were battling the Pentagon’s terrorists in Syria. That was really awkward and hard to hide. Luckily, the Russians fixed that problem by bombing them all into oblivion.

The Afghanistan occupation started with the horrendous lies of Nineleven, continued with the ridiculous, contrived excuses for the invasion and then went on for 20 long years, each much like the previous, with each year’s lies piling on top of the previous years’ lies. America had to stay because of the terrorism caused by the terrorists whom they first organized to fight the Soviets, then kept as pets. And now speaking the truth in America is akin to shouting fire in a crowded theater. Poor old Joe Biden, his brain ticking ever more loudly, struggling to form a coherent sentence, laboring under the crushing load of these lies, can do no better than assume the fetal position right in the middle of a press conference. Can you imagine what Bedlam would break out if he were to suddenly stop lying? I shudder to think! Stocking up on thorazine beforehand would seem prudent. But such a bout of American glasnost’ seems all but inevitable. Sooner or later the truth will spill over this giant dam brimming with lies. The ensuing flood is sure to sweep away everything in its path.

Noosphere, Part II: Atheistic Mythologies


In  spite of their great diversity, the myths that serve as the foundational elements of the noosphere can all be sorted into categories identified by a member of the following set: {NULL, 0, 1, 2, 3}. These identifiers indicate atheistic, polytheistic, monistic, dualistic and trinitarian mythologies. These numbers do not obey the laws of arithmetic but behave in the following counterintuitive and non-obvious  ways:

Atheistic: NULL is NULL
Polytheistic: 0 = ∞
Monistic: 1≠1
Dualistic: 1+1=1
Trinitarian: 1+1+1=1

As promised, we shall now look at each one of these. This week’s installment will address atheistic mythologies.

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The Technosphere and the Noosphere of the Earth


In my 2016 book Shrinking the Technosphere I described the technosphere as a nonhuman global emergent intelligence driven by an abstract teleology of total control, a networked machine with some human moving parts (fewer and fewer every day), utterly devoid of any moral or ethical sense (but skilled in using morality and ethics for manipulative purposes). The technosphere can keep you alive and comfortable if it finds you useful but can just as easily kill you, its killing technologies being some of the most advanced. I made the case that we ought to work diligently on shrinking the technosphere; not eliminating technology altogether, mind you, since that would spell the death of billions, but reigning it in and becoming the master of it rather than it being the master of us.

My book did define half the problem but, concentrating as it did on technology alone, it ignored the other half by placing an important question—What drives the totality of the human endeavor?—out of scope. Yes, the technosphere doesn’t particularly care whether we live or die. If we must shrink the technosphere, then to what purpose? The technosphere is powerful, and to wage battle against it requires some measure of heroism and wild abandon. But what is to motivate us to become heroes—fear of death? Well, fear has never produced a hero. Why try to be a hero if mere cowardice can produce similar results?

What can control and shrink the technosphere is not you or me and our puny and pathetic efforts but cultural and civilizational forces beyond our control. In order to understand them, we first have to admit that nothing is out of scope. We need to start by examining the variety of religious mythologies that serve as the basis for most human motivations. Some of them constrain the technosphere in purposeful ways while others allow it to run rampant. These mythologies, along with everything that is built up on top of them, comprise the noosphere of the Earth, which I will attempt to describe.

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KunstlerCast 348 Revisiting “Reinventing Collapse” with Dmitry Orlov