Saving the world requires sanctioning the United States and its corporate allies.
The Culture War is destroying us
Democracy has made it very easy for me to abandon any sense of personal accountability for the mistakes funded by my tax dollars. As a Canadian I need to actively think things like “My tax dollars are currently funding efforts to prevent justice for residential school victims.” instead of “Well I didn’t vote for them and this started before I was even around.” If I lived in the US it would probably be something like “My tax dollars are currently funding drone attacks against populations in other countries which often kill innocent civilians.”
This, or something like it, seems to be fairly common among a variety of populations. We don’t like to think about this so we don’t really build systems incentivized to enable these types of thoughts. This includes building social media platforms which are in fact designed to distract us (which is obvious) but it also means failing to upgrade democratic systems and infrastructure in response to the rapid shift of information required to be an active participant in modern society. There are many reasons why this has happened but it would seem that the net result, at this time in the development of our civilization, is that the best tools we’ve developed to enable informed collaboration at scale are no longer serving us appropriately. Every vote matters but no single vote matters a whole lot. This is a feature, not a bug, but it can be exploited by other entities engaging in our shared democratic systems. Additionally, some of the things that happen to us originate in democracies where we aren’t active participants. We can’t vote on the actions of other countries even when they have a negative impact on us. In the United States the “vote” of a corporation is more important than the vote of any single individual. My “vote” as a Canadian is even less important, for understandable reasons, although there are countless situations where the corporation in question is harming me through its behaviour.
A multinational corporation represented by powerful lobbyists in the halls of US power is essentially unassailable to me as a citizen of another country. This is by design but it harms me at the benefit of corporations I may not even support.
We take for granted that the rules based order of the modern geopolitical system is built on rules designed to sustain and support nationalist efforts by nationalist entities. You may not identify as a nationalist but the systems that sustain you and the people that operate within those systems are all part of a nationalist effort funded by your tax dollars. Nationalist efforts don’t need to be self-serving and, in fact, many successful nationalist efforts combine with broader internationalist efforts in order to achieve greater success. Some nationalist efforts by allied nations have harmful international impacts that we can’t control or prevent. Even though I’ve only ever lived in Canada I feel that the dominant nationalist effort throughout my entire lifetime has been that of the United States. That effort manifested as drastic changes or forces of influence in the culture and science that surround me, and the economic and political systems that power everything. It’s less pronounced than in the US but it’s still, to my eyes, spectacularly obvious. Over the course of my lifetime the United States has worked harder to tell me about itself than my own country has.
Part of their efforts involved convincing me that they were The Good Guy. They did this in standard and obvious ways: by highlighting the times they did good stuff, downplaying or ignoring the times they fucked up, and promoting the most positive messaging they could muster. Sometimes this involved partnerships with corporate media entities. They used a wide variety of marketing tools for this effort and played a key role in the innovation and development of new ones. Still, they’re a nationalist entity and this marketing effort can be described as propaganda. Some of it was achieved directly through their foreign policy efforts. Some of this was achieved through the corporate news and entertainment media ecosystems that broadcast so prominently from within US borders. Rambo was propaganda. It was also a kickass war movie full of awesome stuff. It also influenced the perspective of a significant number of Americans regarding the Middle East and Afghanistan in ways that had unknowable consequences. Rambo was a culture bomb. There are many accurate and imperfect ways to describe this and one of them is: cultural colonization.
This is a challenging concept to accept. It’s much less forceful and aggressive than past efforts at colonization, but it appears to be an evolution of the concept into modern culture and technology. We live in the future, and change happens during our lifetimes, so we need to review our past in order to build better models to fit this changed world. There are often circumstances where the moving goalposts required by long-term progressivism run afoul of the often grudging acceptance for a need to move forward required by conservatism. Now, as before, it can’t be just one or the other. Society is a dance and culture is an increasingly complex ecosystem.
My country has rules around what content can be aired in our media in order to preserve our culture. The province of Quebec has additional rules relating to efforts to preserve their French culture. These are systemic defense mechanisms against cultural colonization derived from the perspective that a variety of distinct groups do not want to be subjected to cultural colonization. This has only ever been a contentious issue.
All of these things are way harder to navigate now than they used to be. This has happened for a wide variety of often unrelated reasons although a big part of why things are so bad is because of social and media technology originating in the United States. The digital tools that we use to connect with one another are designed to inspire a specific type of connection in order to achieve the goals of the corporations that have created the tools. The nature of that connection is more beneficial to the corporations that have created these tools than they are to us. I see overt propaganda on these platforms from my government and others but there’s also a large sinister underbelly of hidden propaganda intended to manipulate people even further. Governments all over the world are now using this infrastructure to influence me through their propaganda efforts. This almost certainly applies to you as well. The corporations where this is happening do not make public their understanding of these attacks against people like us.
There are arguments to be made for propaganda. Nationalist entities must advertise. It’s likely that the United States would have struggled further to achieve success in World War 2 if not for their propaganda efforts. Sometimes propaganda is probably required so that nationalist entities can achieve nationalist goals, but the nature of propaganda has shifted radically and we’re not talking about this in an informed way around the dinner table and the water cooler. This places us at increased risk of harmful manipulation. Without a meta-awareness of manipulative efforts we are at increased risk of spreading manipulation to others.
This propaganda is delivered to us through the most complex information distribution system the world has ever seen. The corporate entities that developed this system became some of the most powerful and influential entities the world has ever known… in no small part due to their lobbying efforts — their corporate propaganda. The key to good lobbying by these corporations is to employ people that operate in the closest possible orbit to the United States government. This corporate dynamic exists so that they can best align the nationalist efforts of the United States, which are the primary efforts of the United States, with their corporate mandate to increase revenue growth as rapidly as possible. Corporations use lobbying to co-opt democratic efforts when possible because this can increase profitability, and that’s their primary incentive. This is incentivized through the US economic system, not the US political system, but the political system is incapable of fending off this ideological attack. One has innovated and evolved more rapidly than the other.
Some people like to share the trope from The Matrix that humanity is a virus. I disagree with this because I believe there are plenty of examples of humans existing in balance with nature. Desire for power is the virus. You have watched corporate desire for power infect and co-opt the government of the United States for as long as you’ve been paying attention.
Companies have lobbyists in the government for the same reason the most successful trading systems have the shortest connections to the hardware of stock exchanges. There is no longer any real debate about this: Media companies, including social media companies, are harming our civilization in clear ways. You could perhaps argue that they don’t intend to cause this harm or at least harm isn’t the intention of most employees. They don’t really understand the harm because it doesn’t happen in metrics that they care about. Facebook cares about revenue and a specific series of platform analytics they use to make decisions with the goal of increasing their revenue. Many of those analytics come from vanity metrics which, when displayed and used in the user experience of the platform, increases social conflict and competition among users. Likes, shares, and clicks can convert directly into envy, resentment, and dissatisfaction.
The benefit is economic and the harm is social/cultural/spiritual.
These platforms are not designed to directly support the average person. They are designed to offer limited support to the average person within the scope of what the company thinks will maximize shareholder revenue. These are the biggest systems in the world and the average person can’t do anything to influence them. Some people are getting increasingly angry at this.
It probably only took a few thousand people to make the world this way.
The world owes its present condition to a number of often disconnected decisions by a relatively small handful of world leaders, corporate and religious elites, oligarchs, key political figures, and maybe a little bit of democracy. I spend a lot of time investigating conspiracies these days with a particular focus on conspirituality. It seems obvious to me that a whole lot of what is widely accepted as conspiracy feels very implausible if you have a detailed enough understanding of the practical machinations of systems of power, and an understanding of general quality and nature of the individual people required to achieve the goals of the conspiracy. I’ve been heavily exposed to many of the places where vast conspiracies would need to be carried out and I just don’t see how people wouldn’t fuck it all up most of the time. That’s basically what has happened with every conspiracy we’ve learned about.
I reject the conspiracy of a New World Order as anything but a handful of often disconnected individual elites doing their best at being self-serving who fail to maintain real continuity of things at a macro level. To those who believe otherwise I offer as a counterpoint the utter disaster that is the state of our clearly out of control civilization with regards to focus and direction at a macro level. I don’t understand how someone could think that any single entity is in charge of any of this, it’s often a total mess. Combine the state of our world with your understanding of how often plans fall apart for stupid reasons because some people are greedy idiots. Now think about the types of mistakes that can blow a conspiracy wide open and how hard it would be to avoid making those across a wide variety of individuals and time periods. There are real conspiracies in the world and we need to be as informed and skeptical in our acceptance of these as possible in order to stay safe. We need to accept, understand, or be very open to the possibility that conspiracy must end somewhere plausible and realistic. The absence of evidence is not proof of a grander conspiracy.
Through this perspective I’ve come up with my own take on certain popular conspiracies at this moment. I’m highlighting all of these because they are exacerbated by the behaviour, or neglect, of the United States and corporations within its national borders. These things harm all of us and the only way to solve them is through better communication and empathy. Nothing else will work.
I’m not an expert and I could be wrong and I think the most important thing to do is have honest and consistent conversations about all of these things at the global level. Anyone can offer an opinion about this stuff and we must build a world where everyone can.
The Conspiracy of Masks
The conspiracy of masks and social distancing is that public health officials shit the bed on being honest about the fact that a lot of this stuff wasn’t as certain as they claimed (and wished). Rather than being open and authentic about their uncertainty they used stronger language than was required in order to try and boost engagement and support. Public health officials, often through how their messaging was relayed through media (which is beyond their control), overpromised and underdelivered. When that didn’t work they overpromised and underdelivered on the next bit. This is a common error in project management and was no doubt made more likely due to the volatile and frightening nature of the global pandemic. It’s also required for political reasons unrelated to keeping us safe. For some people it’s understandable how this happened, and for most people it’s super duper discouraging. This was accepted as a shitty path forward by people with systemic trust but this inconsistency, combined with the associated reduction of personal freedoms for public health reasons, was often viewed as an attack and attempt at manipulation by people with systemic distrust. The great travesty of this behaviour is that it made sense within the confines of the communications systems required to deliver messages to the world at scale: corporate media platforms designed to maximize engagement in order to increase ad revenue. Everything became partisan and tribal. Tribal conflict can be started by one tribe but it must be sustained by other tribes and we experience our tribal conflict in an environment that incentivizes it.
Masks and social distancing wouldn’t have been so contentious if every government in the world wasn’t delivering conflicting messaging with the same amount of certainty. How could this current approach have ever fostered real public trust?
The Conspiracy of Vaccines
Vaccines are imperfect and the organizations that make money selling them want to make as much money as possible, so they NEVER EVER want to be held accountable for their mistakes… but they definitely still make mistakes and vaccines are definitely not perfect (although vaccine harm is statistically uncommon and vaccines can be accurately defined as safe by many available metrics). In order to reconcile the imperfect nature of their products with their corporate responsibility for profitability the corporations colloquially known as Big Pharma lie and mislead us if they think they can get away with it. There’s a bunch of evidence for this in the form of a bunch of lawsuits and news articles. This is the result of shitty decisions by leaders who employ a bunch of people who are as well-intended and competent as you’ll find anywhere else. That’s not really a conspiracy, or if it is it’s boring and unsatisfying, so it makes it easier to accept less plausible conspiracies. Like the one that every vaccine contains some invisible nanotechnology which can be used to control the minds of people. Mind control by an elite is an easier idea to grasp than the complex manifestation of the struggle, evolution, or collapse of the healthcare and economic systems when considered through the individual products and marketing efforts of Big Pharma.
The mind control thing is at the extreme end of the vaccine conspiracy spectrum. A more common one is that vaccines are less safe than we’re told… but this is often true! The data shows that these vaccines are safer than the virus they intend to prevent, but the data doesn’t show the vaccines are perfectly safe. Nontechnical participants in this conversation tell other nontechnical participants that vaccines are perfectly safe and this can be rejected as false. Reality is more nuanced than that. Miscommunication of this fact increases systemic distrust. Conflict over this divide increases systemic distrust. Those fucking tiny print bullshit legal pamphlets don’t help either. Understanding systemic distrust is the key to understanding vaccine hesitancy and the conspiracies relating to it.
Proximity to properly operating systems, which is often associated with privilege, increases systemic trust. I reject the type of conspiracy relating to mind control by vaccines for a number of reasons relating to my background in technology, systems design, and also my proximity to the healthcare system in my country at various points in my life. This background affords me an evident privilege of insight into the systems at the center of vaccine conspiracies, as well as the people who operate within those systems, and this insight helps convince me that the conspiracy is implausible. I don’t worry that my vaccines contain nanotechnology capable of controlling me but I certainly understand how that concept could be absolutely terrifying if I considered it plausible. My insight and experiences convince me that vaccines, while imperfect, are safer than getting the illnesses for which they are prescribed. What seems obviously false to me with my understanding of science and the systems of science may not be so obvious to others and, most importantly, that difference doesn’t mean they’re wrong, especially if their decision is based in a different value system or perspective. They think they’re as right as I am. It feels real and terrifying.
Vaccine hesitancy results from concerns about vaccines which are improperly addressed by the system designed to provide vaccines. Efforts to address this current social conflict which do not come from a perspective of empathy and understanding risk increasing systemic distrust and this increases the power of the conspiracy. Worst of all: some of the efforts of individuals who should be leading us through these hardships often seem to increase systemic distrust. Science communication during the pandemic has often been poor, muddled, erratic, confusing, or absent. It certainly isn’t a conspiracy that our civilization shit the bed on talking openly and honestly about something that was happening to all of us. Just to put it all out there my perspective is the following: vaccine distribution at scale is less dangerous than the diseases they prevent, a vaccinated population during a pandemic is safer and healthier, systemic distrust is the root cause of most vaccine hesitancy (as well as many other issues), no one likes being forced to do something they don’t want to do, vaccine mandates increase vaccination rates and increase systemic distrust, increased systemic distrust makes other collaboration more difficult.
The solution to the conspiracy of vaccines is better science communication and associated infrastructure. The solution will not be found by attacking the people who oppose you on this issue. Thinking less of someone who doesn’t share our perspective on this issue can’t change their mind and is a waste of our energy. Worse, in some cases it makes people less likely to change their minds. There needs to be an evolution of science communication in order to fill the gaps between what is learned by science, how confident science is about something, and what people need to know to live their daily lives.
It’s worth noting that I believe in the existence of esoteric technologies that are not explainable through our current understanding of science (like Unidentified Aerial Phenomena), so I could be wrong when I declare that the technology required to achieve the goals of the mind control conspiracy don’t exist. It would have to be some fantastical nanotechnology that’s indistinguishable from normal human blood and tissue and I don’t see how it could go unnoticed. Many, many people have the ability to analyze the contents of all of these vaccines and the blood of the vaccinated. Somewhat paradoxically I’m very confident that the UAPs currently being investigated by the US Congress represent real objects that defy our understanding of the laws of physics, but I’m also very confident that incredibly advanced technology is not being leveraged against us through vaccines. I accept that people can disagree with both of these positions and recognize that my views on each could be different under certain circumstances.
The conspiracy of Unidentified Aerial Phenomena
I cover this subject in greater detail in other articles here.
The conspiracy of the Elites
You should watch The Family on Netflix. It’s a great exploration of how people with elite power are able to align their efforts with others in ways that are ambiguous enough to be accurately described as ethical by one group and unethical by another. This ambiguity is the key to their success. It is an imperfect manifestation of influence and power. In a nutshell this is the true nature of secretive elite power structures although the scope and intent of them varies widely. Some of them do better than others. Some are known and some are unknown. Some of them may plan to be the backbone of something like what’s described in the New World Order conspiracies but they will all inevitably fail because humans are a mess. This is part of the reason conspiracies of the elite have always been possible and attempted.
They are always smaller systems operating within larger systems hoping to escape notice while manipulating or controlling efforts. There is undeniably conspiracy and corruption in our world. Our ideas about how this manifests, unless we’ve spent time around elite power structures (governments, universities, corporate leadership, etc), will draw from dramatized content intended to promote and maintain fear. The conspiracies we imagine are inspired by movies and are amplified through certain social environments or communication platforms. Some of these conspiracies are designed to make themselves seem more threatening than they are. The best way to defeat an enemy is to convince them they can’t win before you put any energy into trying to beat them.
Some conspiracy theories are about real things. Some get figured out and there’s some interesting history there to be discovered through careful analysis of appropriate sources. Skepticism of what we’re told by elites is important because if you accept a falsehood as truth you are being manipulated. I don’t imagine anyone has ever directly said “I’m going to choose to be manipulated”.
Some real conspiracies are deliberate attempts at manipulation designed to convince you to support conspiracies that are not real. Conspiracy is a real thing covered in bullshit designed to make it seem more real, less real, or both. Some conspiracies are just people who would describe themselves as well intended and are trying to hide their mistakes.
The conspiracy of Tech
I bet you 20 bucks that all of the people who designed and built the big social media platforms would tell you under oath that they don’t believe these platforms are suitable for the task of facilitating government communication about complex issues to the general public. I’ve worked jobs like theirs and I can see how they followed a very clear playbook designed to achieve very specific and very self-serving goals in a system that incentivizes and rewards efforts like that. Many of them won’t feel a sense of accountability for the evident misuse of these systems during the pandemic because they weren’t incentivized or instructed to design the system for that purpose. It’s Not Their Job, or it’s Not Their Fault. They’ll probably say the technology provided (for free, no less!) was better than nothing and they did more than they were asked. It’s possible to see how some may think they went above and beyond but of course this is self deceptive. By not preventing the misuse of their tool during a critically important period of time they knowingly provided the wrong tool for a job that was important to all of us. Traditional morality in this space disagrees with this assessment and that seems to point to an evident blind spot in corporate or technocratic morality. The use of their product caused active harm throughout various social ecosystems and across the whole planet. Some people will no doubt think that this manifestation of capitalism is appropriate and the fault lies with the government for not preventing them from competing in such a harmful way. This is also true. The systemic failure is broad and pervasive.
A lot of this cultural harm was amplified by ideological or technological systems in the United States. The control of these global systems is not democratic, even from the limited perspective that they should at least be democratically controlled by the population of the United States. This is obvious and also so horribly complex as to feel unsolvable. Democracy in the United States is heavily compromised and it can no longer be relied on as a viable ally to global efforts. Tribal conflict is pervasive and ubiquitous. The main thing the tribes seem to have in common is that they find it easier to look towards other tribes with a critical eye than their own tribe. This type of thing can destroy us and most people on the planet do not have the ability to work towards staving off many of the harmful actions originating in the United States. There are cultural and technological forces emanating from the United states that exacerbate an existing inability to collaborate and show empathy at the individual, corporate, or national level. This may increase our odds of failing to meet global threats and solve shared challenges.
Nobody wants this to be the way things are but this is the way things are.
This is a conspiracy of a few thousand people because the people who are the most in control are a handful of elite individuals at the head of a handful of large corporations, or in key positions of a couple political parties. They share no unifying connection other than the fact that they hold excessive power and influence in what should be a much more democratic and free country. I don’t believe that these people, en-masse, can be described as intending to destroy the world, so the current nature of the world would seem to indicate that there is no single controlling force directing the operation of our civilization. Things are spiraling and nobody really wants things to be spiraling. At the end of the day even the most solid billion-dollar bunker in New Zealand will not be safe from an abused global population seeking vengeance. No one is happy with this current state of affairs.
Part of the reason everything is falling apart is because these individuals are not incentivized to consider the well-being of individuals and groups beyond their interests. Large US corporations barely care about their employees or customers when compared to how they value shareholder returns. This is pretty normal stuff. None of it is really new. It’s just a new version of something that’s always been present. We need a world where individuals aren’t able to amass power akin to those of feudal lords. Part of this is through regulating the power of elite individuals and part of this is by building a world where people are less incentivised to amass tremendous power. I’m not writing this because I know how to achieve the long term goal of a society where fewer people see the appeal in being a rich asshole… I’m writing about the stick we must use until we find an appropriate carrot (if one can even exist).
It’s time for the global community to sanction the United States
Proponents of the use of sanctions by the United States will tell us that sanctions are often the best tool we have available during incredibly challenging conflicts against national entities with nationalist interests. The United States isn’t going to stop until they are made to stop. Waiting for the democratic systems in the country to destabilize following years of evident systemic abuse risks increasing or exacerbating the harm caused by corporate entities within the United States. The people who have a practical ability to change the course of events in the United States are tiny in number and they exist in positions of incredible power. In order to change their behaviour we need to direct a massive amount of global attention to the issue. There are already a number of sanctions against the United States. this approach has been suggested before.
Sanctions are part of the way we can do this. The United States sanctioned individuals associated with Vladimir Putin in their efforts to prevent the harm being caused in Crimea, so there’s no reason to think various international efforts couldn’t arise to sanction key players in the US economic and political systems. There is a special opportunity here available to the people who live in the US right now that may prove to be one of the greatest stories of morality and courage in the history of our species: would you support sanctions against your own country, at the expense of your own economic self-interest during a time of economic hardship, in order to show the world that the United States is capable of actually leading us the way your culture has told us you always could?
The Avengers aren’t coming. There’s no big bad threat. It’s just billions of people waking up to the existence of one another in a system that isn’t designed to facilitate this and a handful of individuals and groups who are doing what individuals and groups like them have always done: amassing power and resources as is incentivized by the ideological systems that connect our civilization.
So what’s the plan?
For this and all related issues it’s important to understand that the people who earn power, money, and influence by telling you there isn’t a plan often don’t have a plan. This doesn’t mean they’re not well intended or qualified to be speaking about the absence of leadership or solutions. Deconstructing systems is easier than proposing new ones. Deconstructing systems is incentivized by current systems but current systems don’t incentivize their replacement. I’m going to write an article expanding on this next and I’ll document my time spent over the past few years exploring the communities of influencers who speak about issues like broad systemic change.
Here’s a great video by Russell Brand highlighting a bunch of important stuff that we need to change. He doesn’t tell you how we can do it in his videos though, he often ends his videos with a call to action along the lines of “What do you think?”. This is important but at a certain point it becomes necessary to say “And here’s what we’re gonna do about it!”. The absence of this pivot risks dispiriting his community. This risks happening in many similar communities.
My main point here is that if we only consume content intended to highlight how problematic things are and don’t finish on a call to action intended to inspire thoughts towards a resolution to the problems being highlighted: we are actively harming our mental health and we may not realize it’s happening.
There needs to be a grassroots movement, preferably led by activists within the United States, intended to apply pressure for sanctions by the international community against the government of the United States, as well as key elite individuals who have caused or sustained harmful actions towards the global community by the United States. This needs to happen despite the fact that there are other countries also doing other terrible things. This needs to happen despite the fact that these activists will be advocating for conditions which will likely increase their own economic hardship at a time of increased economic hardship. This needs to happen because all of the current paths forward seem to present as solutions we’ve already tried and they’ve clearly proved insufficient. We need to try something new. The United States must be held to account if the world is to avoid autocracy of one form or another. This includes the corporations that have given us many of the amazing things that improve our lives, but also the weapons manufacturers and the media entities that harm people all over the world on a daily basis.
This effort can originate in the United States and spread outward because that’s what happened with many of the problems it seeks to address. The problems it seeks to address exist in countries all over the world, including my country, so it’s probable that this could be scaffolded onto some other internationalist effort. There are lots of established organizations that could come together in a new way and collaborate in this effort. Most importantly this can’t be achieved by attacking the people whose support is needed in order to achieve these goals. Fighting on the internet can’t save the world (and accomplishes nothing of value) but it happens in systems that trick us into thinking we get value from it. The platforms we use to shit on each other incentivize a tsunami of bullshit. That’s part of the problem that must be solved right now and we need to solve it or this will all happen again… unless a collapse happens which is so catastrophic that it can’t happen again. Do you understand yet, deep down in your heart, that that’s a possibility? We need to act like it is.
The world seems to go through cycles. Critical moments happen in history where days pass like years and years pass like decades. I didn’t understand this until a few years ago. It seems like it will change soon and some new stability will arise. Lots of folks are expecting collapse and this makes collapse more likely. This seems to be on track to be a cycle of collapse unless enough people think it can be an opportunity for change. Anything that can be built after a collapse can be built beforehand and probably more easily due to the presence of additional resources and energy. The missing piece is a shift in mental states which is a not a materialist effort and is not easily incentivised through materialist systems.
We need to empathize with what our lives will be like after a collapse of some or all aspects of the global geopolitical order. Doing this allows us to preemptively figure out what we should have learned but didn’t. The elites may always be there waiting to try to take power they see as claimable but most people would prefer a different world. What is the lesson in that?
Check out my next article which was inspired in part by this one: How many of the people who earn money and influence telling you things are out of control have a plan?