The Present Cannot Be Understood in the Present (December 1, 2009)
News flash: My interview with Richard Metzger at Dangerous Minds is now available for viewing. (And yes, I know I look old...give a 55-year old a break!)
Experience requires interpretation to reach understanding.
As the end of 2009 lies just ahead, it's a good time to state that the goal of this blog is to seek an interpretation of the present which provides an integrated understanding of what we experience in "real time."
It may seem painfully obvious to say "the present cannot be understood in the present," or perhaps even counter-intuitive, but it nonetheless a profound truth.
Can the person who has just fallen in love understand all that is at work beneath his/her obsessive thoughts, mad hungers and overwhelming passions? Of course not; an integrated understanding of all that is launched by the immense complexity we tidily label "falling in love" takes years or even decades of parsing.
We are daily offered up data which has been neatly packaged and pre-digested for our consumption, with a specific intent: to convince us that the Elite-dominated status quo is in fine working order and it is working in our best interests.
We might start an integrated understanding by correctly identifying pre-digested interpretations of highly refined/massaged data "propaganda."
Thus we are reassured that a Black Friday tally of $10.7 billion is higher than last year's $10.5 B total, and thus the "green shoots" "recovery" is alive and well.
The context of just how meaningful $10 billion is in an economy of $13 trillion is left safely unstated.
Beneath the surface of direct experience and the present, various mechanisms are at work. An integrated understanding must peel away the obfuscations, ambiguities, lies, misinformation and propaganda and then properly place the present in historical and analytic contexts which elucidate the present in a longer-term and more insightful setting.
Though history may appear chaotic and random on the surface, we can discern three broad categories of mechanisms:
1. Sub rosa plans, agendas and actions which are purposefully obscured from the public. While some such agendas might be considered conspiracies, most are State/Elite policies aimed at maintaining and enlarging the powers and wealth of the status quo State and financial-rentier Power Elites.
Thus the "bail-out" of the financial sector with taxpayer funds and the entire "green shoots" stock market rally were far from random events. They track a carefully plotted plan of maintaining the status quo's power and the intellectual framework which supports it.
2. Unplanned contingencies such as the Afghan War which draw a response from an ill-prepared and divided Status Quo. As an example, we might ask: is the U.S. occupation/"mission" in Afghanistan bolstering or hindering the production of poppies and heroin there? I mean this is the broad sense, not in the narrow confines of a propaganda campaign which seeks to confuse the American public with happy stories of U.S. aid to Afghan farmers.
What are the consequences of the answer? Does anyone even know?
Exactly how does the U.S. plan to eradicate a shadow network in a vast, inhospitable country? Does such a plan (if there is indeed a plan at all other than saving face and "soldiering on") have any historical precedent of success?
Referring to the metaphor of the blind men touching various parts of an elephant and then describing the animal, we might ask what parts of the elephant the various U.S. Federal agencies are touching, and then compare their descriptions of the beast with the actual living animal.
Some three decades after the end of the Vietnam conflict in 1975, various interpretations of U.S. actions, policies and goals are still being issued and hotly debated: we could have won, we should have won (and exactly what was "winning" anyway? Sustaining the corrupt Thieu regime in perpetuity?), the war was a colossal mistake, etc.
What we know for a start is that any interpretation which ignores thousands of years of Vietnamese history, the social, political and religious threads of Vietnamese culture and the sub rosa interventions of the U.S. in Vietnam throughout the 1950s and early 60s will be fatally flawed and thus inaccurate.
The interpretations of the U.S. experience in Vietnam continue to echo and play out in the present, and thus these interpretations are far from mere historical analysis; they remain highly reflective of the present and the entire U.S. government's machinery of Empire.
3. Cyclical trends and forces which are not within the control of governments or private capital Elites. Examples include drought, global financial crises (government control of private debt repudiation is largely an illusion, as we shall soon see in 2010-2012), and various cultural/religious movements.
Though the State/Power Elites can propagate blissful accounts of endless reserves of oil, natural gas, shale oil and coal (we have 50, 100 or even 200 years of supply left beneath our own soil, if MSM accounts are to be swallowed whole), they cannot control the actual production or the cost/price of the energy in the long run. (Yes, various price control schemes can be tried but these inevitably lead to shortages and other disruptions.)
The complexities of all these contexts and mechanisms is overwhelming. Yet we cannot surrender to these fortresses of complexity without surrendering all hope of understanding the present and the future which is already constrained by forces far beyond the control of the government/Power Elites' partnership of domination.
It is tempting to slip into the comforts of ideological, simplistic "understandings" and other manufactured "truths" designed for easy consumption. But those understandings are inherently limited and thus misleading. They will not be accurate guides to the future, as they lack insight and are not based on an integrated understanding.
I hope you come along for the ride through 2010 and beyond. It promises to be an eventful voyage.
NOTE: Thank you to everyone who wrote me and/or contributed to the site in the past 12 days;
I will be unable to return to my normal routine for a few more days. Your patience is
NOTE: the Kindle reader for PCs is now available for free
which means you can
read the Kindle version of Survival+ on your PC.
"This guy is THE leading visionary on reality.
He routinely discusses things which no one else has talked about, yet,
turn out to be quite relevant months later."
NOTE: contributions are acknowledged in the order received. Your name and email remain confidential and will not be given to any other individual, company or agency.
Or send him coins, stamps or quatloos via mail--please request P.O. Box address.
Your readership is greatly appreciated with or without a donation.
For more on this subject and a wide array of other topics, please visit
All content, HTML coding, format design, design elements and images copyright © 2009 Charles Hugh Smith, All rights reserved in all media, unless otherwise credited or noted.
I would be honored if you linked this wEssay to your site, or printed a copy for your own use.
|consulting||blog fiction/novels articles my hidden history books/films what's for dinner||home email me|