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humanity

Since time immemorial, individuals have banded together into groups (tribes, prides, flocks, clans, companies, towns, religious congregations, nations, etc.) to serve the mutual aims of members. For the most part, they cooperate together, although in a hierarchical system with an organized “pecking order,” so as to compete against other groups similarly formed into collective units. Apparently, such a pattern has fostered survival and, generally, has helped to ensure that the most fit live to breed in each successive generation  and started in a primal form almost since life began on this Earth.

For instance, we can look at meercats as a successful cooperative exemplifying such an interdependent setup. In addition, there is, amongst them, a condition in place concerning which only the dominant female is allowed to breed. If other ones in the troop violate this stipulation, they often are shunned by the rest. In other words, they are thrown out to live on their own, which generally ensures death, and often their unwelcome offspring perish in infancy from neglect.

At the same time, meercats will, when they come across a den of others of their kind, purposefully invade it to slaughter all of the young (potential future competitors for resources) by mercilessly biting them to death. Furthermore, the top female, if she is in estrus, will breed with “enemy” males, ones outside of her troop that she might come across. So, it seems that the tendency toward promoting a large gene pool (or, conversely put, an injunction against incest) is not only a trend amongst humans, but applies to other species, too.

In the same vein, we see multitudinous illustrations of the same sort of behaviors occurring amongst people. In disgust and horror, we can remember the many, fairly recent murders carried out between different competing factions in Rwanda, the former Yugoslavia, Ireland and several other countries. We can watch as all the ongoing fights continue in neighborhoods with street gangs and larger sets of clashing rivals, such as occurs in the Gaza Strip, Iraq, Myanmar, Pakistan and Darfur. Likewise, we can note the ways that people join together in states or provinces to vie against regional counterparts for benefits (i.e., contracts, project funds, job development, resources, services, etc.) on the federal level. We, also, see nations states (i.e., US and allies) working in unison to thwart the aims of other nation states (i.e., Russia and allies, China and allies, Venezuela and allies) co-joined almost identically to each other to serve their own aims and the aims are, in the end, quite clear. They are to gain advantage for one’s own country and associates at the expense of other outsider groups.

On account, the US leaders are quite naked in their mode of operations and intentions [1] regardless of whatever they, publicly, state regarding the desire to foster democracy across the globe. Thus, they, purposefully, thwart Hamas, the democratically ratified party for the Gaza Palestinians, and rejected Chávez, the legally elected leader of Venezuela. They also lambaste Iran, a country that has never initiated warfare for over a hundred years and that, also, has no autocratic system in governance. (Yes, there are some border disputes on its boundaries, but this is likely because no clear ones were absolutely settled one hundred percent by the tribes living in that area of the world. Doing so never was important until oil was discovered underground.)

So, why does the US governmental heads act in such a fashion — i.e., state that they support democracy and, in actuality, stymie it in some cases? It would seem to go along with a US ideal master plan. This in mind, how’s this for a big coup?…

Let’s imagine a superlative outcome (from the US standpoint), too, in the related affairs. Let’s say, for example, that Israel and the US manage to render Iran subservient, win in the assault upon Afghanistan, as well as quell the conflicts in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East. Then more puppet governments (such as Iraq soft of has) can be put in place and cooperation will ensue between the American ratified petroleum companies and those bogus governments. Thus, the ravage of the oil for US (not Russian and not Chinese) interests would surely ensue.

The same outcomes would occur if somehow that pesky Venezuelan government could be removed so that his country could again be cheaply ravaged and the same ones could, idyllically, take place in Africa, where US military troops are currently engaged. Then the US could squeeze the heck out of all industry in Asia, South America, Russia and elsewhere due to locking up much of the world’s oil reserves for its own purposes while rewarding “friends” — those nations (i.e., Australia, Canada, western European ones, etc.) that cooperated in the US’s little ugly wars — with oil for their own energy needs.

All considered, the US government bosses, their business cronies and their favorite banking moguls (i.e., IMF managers and others) could, they might presume, pretty much dictate the rules of oil supply and life could settle back down to business as usual with poor countries yielding up their treasures with low cost labor available to carry out the transfer for US corporate gains. Meanwhile, the profits, as usual, would all but go to the multimillionaires and multi-billionaires already making a staggering fiscal largess off of the first world public, whose jobs keep vanishing in industry after industry to overseas labor camps while they keep shelling out more and more for oil, food and all sorts of other commodities.

At the same time, it’s all too simple to keep this general pattern operational. For example, picture Wal-Mart [2]. How easy it is to get the Nicaraguan laborers to sew jeans for roughly $8/week salary. If they complain that they get no breaks, too little income, no health care benefits, too many hours per day of work, too little time off to take care of sick relatives, too speeded an action to crank out too many pairs of jeans per day — it is all just tough luck.

They’ll merely get replaced by other potential workers eager to take over their labor. Meanwhile, think of the fiscal gain garnered from such a setup when those very same jeans get sold for thirty dollars or more throughout Europe, America and elsewhere. Then, think about how much, much more the Wal-Mark coffers might contain if they could negotiate “special deals” to get cheap oil in bulk to import their raw materials and export their finished products. Why, it could be like a dream come true if America were just to succeed in its cut-throat program in the Middle East and elsewhere!

At the same time, anyone should think again if he imagines that the reason that the US is carrying out oil wars is to make America internally strong. The evidence that this is not so exists in the way that those in the lower economic tier in New Orleans, the 80,000 homeless (if whom approximately half are mentally impaired) in Los Angeles and many other citizens have been systematically ignored by our government.

No, the monetary disparities, unless there is a tumultuous change rising up from the grassroots level, will always exist in this country — a place of approximately 3.5 million homeless people (one percent of the population), roughly 1.1 million home foreclosures in recent history and 371 Billionaires of whom many, literally, are “making a killing” off of armaments industries, home foreclosures and other parasitic means [3].

Furthermore, US jobs will still disappear overseas. The infrastructure will still crumble. The public lands, property belonging to all of the citizens in perpetuity, will still be ravaged through deals that our government cuts with large mining and logging firms. The public education and health care systems will still provide deficient provisions for low income peoples and the middle class will still be slammed.

All considered, America is only a land of prosperity and opportunity for its most affluent residents if one of the measures for a robust, benevolent and ethically intact social structure is the way that the weakest and most at risk members (such as the elderly, the poor and other minority groups) are treated. Their deliberate exclusion to receive the most basic services, material necessities and reasonable opportunities is a daily fact of life for many of the most vulnerable members of these groups. As such, they know an America that includes squalid slums, wages for full-time work that force them to either starve or accept charity from huge food banks strung out across the nation, no choice except to send their children to pathetically substandard schools in dangerously violent neighborhoods and an inadequate health care system, whose primary aim is to obtain as much revenue as possible rather than serve the public at large.

Meanwhile, it is not as if these sorts of conditions didn’t always exist. The US always has had its “Hell’s Kitchens” and impoverished squatters periodically swept away like garbage by force from public lands. However, these kinds of circumstances have simply more in the public’s awareness of late due to the middle class losing more of its members through the cracks with the recent massive redistribution of wealth in the US towards the upper economic tier.

This whole situation in mind, don’t assume for one moment that the government or scientists at major corporations are going to, all of a sudden, start providing means for alternative energy on the scale needed, offer any oil at cut rates to small consumers or, similarly, provide for a decent standard of living on account of any possible favorable (to US government) outcomes from warring that it has initiated. This sort of largess is not the aim in a dictatorial plutocracy and never was. Based on past history, this should be absolutely clear.

At the same time, it is quite the gamble for the US government (whose military is the biggest single user of oil worldwide) to let its own economy go to ruin, put itself in gargantuan debt (an approximately twenty trillion dollar debt USD for which the taxpayers will, eventually, be responsible) and incur ill will around the world for its aggressive policies to appropriate oil and other resources in foreign countries. Aside from the fact that there’s no guarantees about winning  the oil or other resources in any of its long drawn out conflicts (i.e., in Iraq and Afghanistan), the very partners (i.e., the oil companies) are not necessarily loyal, themselves, to US interests unless profitable to their own companies.
In this vein, Exxon-Mobile, a company with huge profits [4], certainly, can never be relied upon to go along with any policies that the US dictates. After all, it rarely did except under duress. In addition, it has a nifty little pattern of always changing its name ( from S-O to Esso to Exxon to Exxon-Mobile) whenever it develops a bad reputation. This way it can keep developing for itself a new (positive) identity in the public’s eyes.

Meanwhile, its overall history is quite revealing as to its true intentions and character. For example, I was told by a history professor, who had lost family members in Nazi concentration camps, that the company leadership, point blank, told the US government that, if it tried to interfere with its oil tankers or policy to sell oil to Germany and Japan during WW II, it could be assured that oil would not be sold to US and allied forces.

Indeed, its overall history is not particularly benign: “How Created-Exxon is a direct descendant of the Standard Oil Company of Ohio, the corporation John D. Rockefeller started in 1870, 5 years after he began refining oil in Cleveland. By 1878 Standard Oil, in collusion with other Rockefeller companies, controlled about 85% of the country’s oil industry. They achieved this control by monopolizing almost every transportation facility in the oil regions of the country. In 1881 Rockefeller formed the Standard Oil Trust to own the stock of Standard Oil’s various companies, but the courts ordered the trust dissolved in 1892 as the result of a suit filed by the State of Ohio. In 1899 Rockefeller created the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey as the holding company for all the separate units which the Standard Oil Trust had been forced to yield up. By 1907 the new company controlled 67 companies in all phases of the oil industry. The Supreme Court found the new trust to be in violation of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act and ordered it broken up in 1911. Today 3 of the ‘7 sisters’ – the world’s largest oil companies – are products of that split: Exxon, Standard Oil of California (Chevron), and Mobil Oil. Another, Standard Oil of Indiana (American Oil), ranks a close eighth.
“Size-The world’s largest industrial corporation, Exxon operates in over 100 noncommunist countries throughout the world. Its principal properties in the western hemisphere are in Texas, Louisiana, and Illinois, but it also has major production facilities in the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and the Northwest Territories, and in Venezuela and Colombia. In the eastern hemisphere Exxon owns 200 million acres (much of it in deep water) in 37 countries, and in 1973 it acquired interest in another 95 million acres including property in Egypt, France, Guinea-Bissau, Indonesia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Norway, Portugal, South Vietnam, and Spain. The company and its subsidiaries have 69 refineries in 37 countries on 6 continents, and its products travel the 7 seas in over 200 company-owned tankers and more than 140 chartered tankers… Who REALLY Rules-Ownership of the company is usually thought to be concentrated in the Rockefeller family. However, since ownership figures are not public, the current Rockefeller percentage is not available. Exxon directors sit on the boards of the four largest New York banks, including [former -S.D.] David Rockefeller’s Chase Manhattan Bank. Since the banks’ trust departments own large blocks of stock, Exxon management helps decide the policy of the stockholders who determine Exxon policy. [5]”

Moreover, “to date, Exxon hasn’t turned over a penny in satisfaction of that judgment [concerning the Valdez oil spill, deemed one of the one of the most catastrophic man-made environmental disasters ever to happen and]… following the advent of WikiScanner, it came to light that someone from within Exxon Mobil had altered the [encyclopedic] descriptions of the oil spill which downplayed its severity [6].” (Reference seven [7] contains yet another revealing exposé of this trans-global conglomerate, which has only 145,000 employees and 722,549 stockholders in command of 223,867,276 shares.)

On a related note, one only needs to take a drive down any major roads in populated areas to see oodles of grocery and other kinds of stores crammed to the hilt with goods whose base products and packaging are dependent upon oil for their development. In a similar vein, one notes the transportation trucks zooming along side of one’s own vehicle, both of which are also reliant on oil. Then there might be some moment in which one wonders about the way that jobs will be created once most of the stores and goods are gone when the oil supply is nearly exhausted. One might wonder about the way that he could even get to stores without a vehicle and the items that they might carry if lots of species used by humans were all but finished off or many of the farms (including cotton ones) were to disappear due to global warming effects and other disasters.

At the same time, electricity as a method to take care of a lot of requirements, such as the execution of motorized transport, would be terrific except for the fact that there has to exist in a staggeringly ample output for all of the further energy demands, which will be created by conversion away from oil. How will that develop in sufficient supply to handle an eight billion (or larger) population? (Currently, we are at 7.5 billion, roughly.)

Similarly, what will happen when the very loss of biodiversity creates further havoc and where will people obtain food, clothes, water, medicines and other necessities? How will homes be heated and cooled? If we have to go back to farming without combines and other huge equipment, how will the billions of people in cities survive? Will they fan out in droves across the countryside until they find land to purchase and cultivate? Will they be able to get seeds, rich top soil and water?

If they are starving, will they try to steal vegetables and farm animals from others, who preceded them in a farming venture? Will people keep guns and have to guard their provisions from raiders day and night?

Will there be major food and water wars just like our current conflicts over fossil fuels and other plunder? Can old and young alike dedicate themselves to planting and culling by hand on a large scale basis?

Can canning and washing clothes take place on an individual, manual basis for billions of people? Will there be sufficient energy for ever so many people to even exist when all fossil fuels (currently handling almost seventy percent of the US energy demand) and uranium stores (needed for nuclear power plants) are, finally, spent? When will these rich energy stores become thoroughly depleted? Why aren’t governments and assorted industries more aggressively putting alternative, renewable energy sources in use now when there is adequate petroleum available to manufacture the equipment needed to get wind farms, hydroelectric stations and solar collection in place?

These, obviously, are the sorts of urgent questions that currently need answering. Yet, neither our government leaders, nor industrial managers, are addressing them.

Meanwhile, one can look around at poor and rich households alike and note that many are filled with a vast display of deadness. There are walls, floors, furniture, books and other paper products that once were trees; rugs that once were part of plants, plastic items derived from fossil fuels that once were living entities long ago; shoes, belts, sofas and other items formed from animal skins, and myriad other items made from diverse life forms. Then, too, there are all of the multitudinous items created from limited supplies such as metals and minerals.

So, with a growing population ever clambering for more possessions regardless of where they are on the economic scale, is it any wonder that we are using increasing stores of energy AND, simultaneously, running low on critical reserves of all sorts of other things? Is it a wonder that extinction rate estimates, which correspond to economic expansion, are as high as they are for this century? Does the prediction that one quarter of all mammals are slated to die in the near future at the same time that ninety percent of all large fish are already gone appall [8]? Likewise, is it a surprise that economic expansion is simply “going wild” such that two thousand of the world’s largest companies had $24 trillion dollars in sales during a recent year while China and further countries are rapidly rising in the mix [9]?

At the same time, do most people really want to cut back on their consumption and not climb into a higher economic class so as to be able to grasp even greater amounts of merchandise? Do many think that, for the sake of fairness, they should be willing to accept less of the “high life” for themselves so that others in the world can catch up instead of their being in favor of themselves and their own countries getting as much opportunities as they can at the expense and exclusion of others? Is everything, in the end, just a commodity, after all, and a way to make a quick buck in the here and now?

As the Quakers more plainly question, are individuals willing to “live simply so that others [including decimated populations of other species] can simply live?” The response largely is “no.” Instead, nearly everyone, every group and every nation are simply looking out for their own advancement rather than focused on collective global benefits, the long range outcomes for present endless wants or the fact that we are all immensely interdependent.

At the same time, global warming and airborne pollutants, like acid rain, respond as if we are interdependent, too. These perils know no national boundaries. The carbon and methane spewing into our air to proportionally replace the other gases like oxygen do not discriminately impact according to the relative shade of one’s skin, his religious preferences, the country in which he has citizenship, nor his personal level of affluence.

In the end, we, unlike the meercats, can think about the less immediate ramifications of our behaviors. Nonetheless, it’s still not clear, not by a long shot, whether humanity can give up its contentions and start to collectively act in such a way so as to create a reasonable, constructive and supportive future for our and other life forms on this planet. As Buckminster Fuller, bluntly, puts it, “We are not going to be able to operate our Spaceship Earth successfully nor for much longer unless we see it as a whole spaceship and our fate as common. It has to be everybody or nobody.” This in mind, it is time that we began a whole new relationship to each other and to the world in general. Let us begin now.

Sally Dugman is a writer in MA, USA.

[1] One of many good examples related to undeclared, although clear, motives is provided at: Energy Lobby – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia(en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_lobby).

[2] The way that Wal-Mart operates is exposed at: Wal-Mart You Don’t Know (www.fastcompany.com/magazine/77/walmart.html).

[3] Please see this composition for more details: Stephen Fleischman: Homeless in Paradise (www.counterpunch.org/fleischman12032007.html).

[4] Figures are shown at: Exxon Mobil posts record 4Q profit of $10.7 billion – Earnin… (www.msnbc.msn.com/id/11098458/).

[5] This information is from: Exxon Oil Company History and Information (www.trivia-library.com/a/exxon-oil-company).

[6] Further details are provided at: Exxon Valdez oil spill – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exxon_Valdez_oil_spill).

[7] Another description of Exxon-Mobile’s history is found at this site and its affiliated links: Exxon – History of Branding – Corporate Internet Branding Hi… (www.historyofbranding.com/exxon.html).

[8] This topic is discussed at: Mass Extinction Underway | Biodiversity Crisis | Global Spec… (www.well.com/user/davidu/extinction.html) and Habitat destruction accelerates global extinction rates – Wo…(www.guilfordian.com/news/2006/03/31/World/Habita).

[9] Related information can be found at: World’s Largest Companies 2006 (http://www.woopidoo.com/reviews/news/companies-2006.htm), Trillion-dollar PetroChina zooms past Exxon – Business – Bus… (www.theage.com.au/news/business/trilliondollar-petrochina), PetroChina soars to $1 trillion market cap in debut – Market… (www.marketwatch.com/news/story/petrochina-soars) and People’s Daily Online — China’s major firms post 49.5% grow… (english.peopledaily.com.cn/200509/25/eng20050925).

 

 

One Comment

  1. K SHESHU BABU says:

    It is the expiration of a few – individuals or corporates or industrialists – that is the correct of the problem. The majority groups with little resources are exploited by some handful of oligarchs. When the US majority groups raise their voice against repression then only system will become equal.