Sharia For Sale

When the Americans military arrived in Iraq in 2003, their immediate concern was to root out Saddam’s associates and break up the Baath Party organization. The Americans had only the most simplistic outlines about how the country was organized; they put Saddam at the top of a pyramid with the military, the party and internal security immediately below; the remaining spaces were filled in with assumptions based on Crusader Rabbit cartoons. It was only as the hunt for the absent Saddam intensified did the military begin to piece together the Iraqi political and administrative relationships, (Brian Joseph Reed):


Click on the image above or on this link to bring up the entire graphic. The Americans soon discovered the Iraqis didn’t have a government so much as a mom-and-pop retail store run by members of the Al-Bu Nasir clan from Saddam’s home city of Tikrit. Reed’s chart only shows some of the connections. The Iraqi military command and and important commercial firms were all run by the same insiders. What mattered to Saddam above all else was loyalty. Competence … not so much.

As the Baathists were rounded up, figures from the arrivisté clans filled the old places. The structure of the new regime was more or less the same as Saddam’s with some decorations applied; a ‘parliament’ to give the public impression of a democratic republic, agencies intended to distract the locals and Western media, also elections which served to reinforce factionalism by increasing the influence of the clans.

In the north, insiders were Kurds associated with the Talabani and Barzani families; in Baghdad and points south, roles were filled by al-Dawa party- Al-Muntafiq clan cronies and their Iranian handlers. Ministries were staffed with loyalists to whomever was the leader- of the moment: first Ayad Alawi (ex-army/security force INA party), then Ibrahim al-Jaafari and Nouri al-Maliki (both pro-Iranian Islamic al-Dawa party). New managers’ qualifications were the same as those who served Saddam: personal loyalty to the leadership and the party. It was no surprise with the system broke down in 2014; the Americans spent billions upon an enterprise without a foundation.

When Nouri al-Maliki took power in 2008, he inherited a state with deep sectarian divisions and a long history of military intervention in politics. Concerned that political opponents might use the military as a quick route to power, Maliki separated key brigades, including the army’s 56th Brigade, which is tasked with protecting government institutions and officials within Baghdad, and the first and second Presidential Guard Brigades, from military command. He then replaced experienced commanders with men personally loyal to him. Further, since 2010, when Maliki took over the post of interim Interior Minister, he has also exercised direct control over all Ministry of Interior forces, including the Border Guard and Federal Police, which serve as counterweights to military power.

Islamic State attacked Mosul with about 600 fighters. There were ex-Baathist locals taking part, a total of about 2,000 insurgents. The government defenders represented an overwhelmingly large force on paper, but only a handful were effective soldiers and they were short of supplies, (Washington Post):

Mosul commander was on vacation despite warnings of attack, report says

Loveday Morris

The top Iraqi army officer for Mosul remained on vacation last summer despite repeated warnings that Islamic State militants were planning to seize the city, and his units had less than a third of the soldiers they were supposed to have on the day of the battle.

The armed forces lacked effective command and control, with multiple competing decision-making centers, the report said. Senior commanders who made “grave” mistakes during the assault were appointed for political reasons rather than for their experience, it said.

In a matter of two weeks in June of 2014, the northern provinces of Iraq; Anbar and Ninevah as well as parts of Salah ad Din, Diyala and Kirkuk were ‘under new management’. The Baghdad yes-men and Iranian spies had run away, replaced by irate locals. Acting as shock troops (or at least pretending) and asserting authority were militants claiming lineage from Jordanian trigger-man and petty hoodlum Abu Musab al-Zarqawi; goodbye Iraq, hello ad-Dawlah al-Islāmiyah The Islamic State.


The enduring image of Islamic State during its moment in the sun: black-clad bad asses driving into your town in long convoys of brand-new Toyota Hilux pickup trucks … buy one today!

The media served up the impression that the group had burst out of nowhere … this was reasonable but also misleading. The individual militants were well-known to the Americans as tens of thousands of them had been rounded up and held at Camp Bucca and in other Iraqi prisons, some for long periods.

By the time the American ground forces left Iraq in 2011 the prisoners had been set free. What is not known is how many were recruited as American agents, or whether their release was conditional on pursuing a Washington agenda. There are persistent rumors American agency was responsible for the creation of Islamic State; the murky circumstances surrounding the militants and their jailers is suggestive.

After the militants took over northern Iraq their wanton killing of prisoners began, accompanied by the surge of videos and social media activity. The source for this new material is unknown (Qatar?). As it turned out, the Western media ‘picked up the dinner plate and ran with it into the kitchen’: becoming instant pitchmen for a suspiciously convenient ‘Red Menace’ updated to meet 21st century public expectations. The more victims there were, the more intense was the attention, to the point where the apparent aim- or purpose of the organization was to find victims and murder them so as to put videos of the executions on television …


… which makes sense because it offers a purpose to the brutality; to provoke- and then pave the way for (more) intervention from the West (Turkey): to ‘sell that sharia’!

Islamic State’s villainous predecessors were prissy throwbacks from the days when US government employees actually read books. Bin Laden & Co. had aged to the point where they had become respectable, like Tories or old whores: characters from a 19th century Dickens serialization: recherché, twitchy Fagins sending boys onto the streets to pick pockets. The threat they represented no longer resonated with the metrosexual, dis-educated Western permateens hooked on subscription TV and smartphones. The latest upgrade is a ‘Windows 20’; a deterministic post-singularity cyborg adhering to inscrutable, nonsense rules; a form of artificial intelligence with a quasi-human face and a Pintarest account. The only thing missing are the electric cars …


Do you see me? Of course we do! We grasp Islamic State instantly because we’ve spent decades and trillions of dollars perfecting ourselves until our monsters are in our image, intimately familiar because they are us … a novelty reality TV show where those voted off the island are run over by a tank. Islamic State occupies the ‘too much is never enough’ corner of Pop culture along with Charles Manson and Omar Little, Edie Sedgewick and Donald Trump. It squats at the end of the road, a toad-like squirmy headed Freddy Kruger in James Howard Kunstler’s twilight America; where “anything goes, nothing matters and nobody cares.”


Official Islamic State team merchandise.

There also is the Turk’s hands in this affair, little paid attention to it. Turkish involvement makes sense as the mobilization and marshaling of the anti-Assad militants has largely taken place on Turkish soil. Just as there are Turkish forces on the ground in Kurdish Iraq today, there were Turks in Mosul during the collapse of the Iraqi forces, (Dr. Abbas Kadhim):

Some New Revelations About The Capture of Turkish Diplomats in Mosul

On June 11, 2014, the day that followed the fall of Mosul in the hands of ISIL, 49 diplomats working in Turkey’s consulate in Mosul were taken captive by the terrorists and they remained in captivity until September 19. During their 101 days of incarceration, they were treated very well, according to the consulate’s Commercial Attaché Mehmet Argüç, who was among the captives. According to his interview with Turkish Hurriyet Daily News, they were able to talk on their phones to people in Turkey and the Consul General Öztürk Yılmaz maintained in contact with Ankara all the time, he was also among the (so called) captives.

The way these diplomats were taken by ISIL remained a mystery, just as the details of their liberation were vague. Although they had a chance to leave the city before ISIL arrived in the consulate’s neighborhood …


The Turkish Consul, Öztürk Yılmaz, was appointed ambassador to Tajikistan after his release, but he resigned shortly thereafter to run for office in the general parliamentary elections of November 1, 2015 (in Turkey) and was elected as the Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy from Ardahan. In his press interviews he avoids any discussion of what happened to him and his staff in Mosul. But his recent comments in the Turkish Parliament session on December 22, 2015 confirm what Iraqi Intelligence official described as a “negative” role played by the Turkish government and its diplomatic mission. He said:

“In the last five years, setting aside the [Iraqi] state, Turkey invited all Sunni tribes in Mosul to Turkey. Turkey hosted them. They came in, stayed, ate, and made plans. On 11 June 2014, all gave allegiance to Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi.”

— Öztürk Yilmaz

How many Turks does it take to change a light bulb? Who knows? We can see how many are needed to hand over northern Iraq to a bunch of sadists. What could be seen through the media peephole was a military offensive similar to the Nazi blitz of France in 1940. Widen the field of view and it was clear the fix was in: government commanders were on the take, from whom nobody knows but that they were is certain; soldiers on duty rosters not soldiers at all but boys signed up with the understanding they would kick back their pay to the commanders. Offered proper ‘incentives’, government forces scattered like rabbits, officers first with the rest following along as best they could. The takeover was an implosion; a combination of inept Baghdad leadership, a corrupt coup-proofed military plus Turkish meddling and just plain luck on the part of the militants. The resulting panic engulfed the entire country, amplified over the following days by militant propaganda and the Western media echo chamber.

Serving ‘terrorist stew’ to the media as a main course is nothing new. Going back to the American occupation of Iraq, the Bush administration made a mountain out of the molehill Zarqawi as it does now with Islamic State:

Now, the administration attributes to Zarqawi a ubiquitous, virtually demonic role in the new Iraqi disorder. But the adjectives often used to describe him and his cohort – “elusive” and “mysterious” – might as well be applied to the evidence offered by the administration to support its view of his influence. Besides historical data, what evidence we have of al-Zarqawi and his al-Tawhid organization in Iraq are crude, poorly-synchronized video tapes of masked men as well as audio tapes and cryptic communiques that crop up periodically on equally cryptic web sites. This wisp of information leaves too much to interpretation, which has not proved to be the administration’s strong suit. Nevertheless, the news media continues, by and large, to breathlessly transmit whatever the administration has to say about Zarqawi. The scandal regarding Iraq’s non-existent weapons of mass destruction has barely dented the pipeline.

Comparing Combatants in Syria – Iraq Theater,
Whose Proxy are You?

There are two ‘sides’: each group on the table is a proxy of the groups above it.

TURKEY (proxy for US & KSA) vs. SYRIAN GOVERNMENT (proxy for Russia and Iran)
ISLAMIC STATE, AL-QAEDA & NON-ISIS JIHADISTS / FSA (proxies for Turkey) vs. HEZBOLLAH (proxy for Syrian government)

Do you see me? Both al-Qaeda and Islamic State are indirect proxies of the United States, they have to be as there is no one else they can be proxies of! That they might be somehow, magically ‘self-supporting’ is blatant fraud. If you drive a car you support Islamic State: this is the mainspring of the struggle, to gain control over oil resources or for one petro-state (Saudia) to increase market share at the expense of others (Iran, Russia). The world does not see the US stealing consumption from other countries including that of its own ‘allies’. This is accomplished by cutting off countries’ credit, by manipulating the different currencies and by inoculating peaceful countries with violent militias then reaping the benefits that flow from the resulting chaos. When goods cannot be consumed in the ruined countries they are available to the West.

The Islamic State heyday was mercifully brief, lasting only until the organization’s ill-fated assault on Kobani in northern Syria, where its best fighters were wiped out. The oil price crash that commenced in 2014 deprived the group of income. After the Kobani debacle, (February, 2015) the group could only direct suicide attacks against civilian targets and isolated forward positions of the weakest of the Syrian/Iraqi combatants.

Last June (2016), the Syrian Democratic Front surrounded Islamic State forces holed up in the town of Manbij on the group’s supply corridor with Turkey. After two months of modest resistance, the surviving militants agreed to leave the city under safe conduct. Along with the YPG assault, it is likely the local civilians were extracting pounds of flesh from the Islamic stragglers left behind by their fleeing bosses. As the convoy of fighters rolled from Manbij toward Turkey, the group’s defense of the entire border area collapsed, a reversal of the flash-capture of Mosul a little over a year earlier;


Sayed Ridha

The Hilux pickup trucks are long gone: an SDF drone’s-eye view of Islamic State convoy fleeing Manbij; the Kurdish convoy that pursued the militants to the Turkish border is out of the frame.

The US has been working hard to prevent the Kurds pushing the militants over, it is desperate to keep the group alive. The Kurds have reasons of their own to keep ISIS hanging on; the group is relatively punchless compared to other groups. Dislodging ISIS in northern Iraq will send millions of displaced persons into the Kurdish countryside requiring expensive relief that the Kurds can scarcely afford. Destroying the group in Syria would increase the Rojava Kurds’ visibility, potentially lining them up as adversaries of Assad and his Russian allies. One of the reasons for the Kurds’ success is to limit the number of enemies: Islamic State’s potency — even as a fake — is a useful illusion to everyone concerned at the moment.

Where the US interests lie, (Washington Post):

A reminder of the permanent wars: Dozens of U.S. airstrikes in six countries

Missy Ryan

In Iraq and Syria, between Saturday and Monday, the United States conducted about 45 strikes against Islamic State targets. On the other side of the Mediterranean, in the Libyan city of Sirte, U.S. forces also hit fighters with the militant group. On Sunday in Yemen, a U.S. drone strike killed six suspected members of ­al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. The following day, just across the Gulf of Aden in Somalia, the Pentagon targeted al-Shabab, another group aligned with ­al-Qaeda. The military also conducted several counterterrorism strikes over the weekend in Afghanistan, where the Taliban and the Islamic State are on the offensive.

Where does it end? Nobody knows. The Americans could end the fighting without firing a shot but won’t because it would mean giving something up, even though we don’t really have anything any more. Giving up delusions that we have made precious is too much to ask: we sell sharia until the checks bounce and then we’re done.

Part One: It Only Gets Worse

Part Two: Abu Hajaar

Part Three: Sharia For Sale

Part Four: Ghosts of Vietnam

57 thoughts on “Sharia For Sale

  1. Eeyores enigma

    Great dive from the springboard into the whole ME/NA situation.

    I simply call it demand destruction. If they are not growing (which would mean more consumption) they need to be dying.

    As Jeffrey Brown pointed out in his export land model, they would have all been consuming more and more if we didn’t go in there and “bomb them back into the stone age”.

  2. ellenanderson

    Thanks for that, Steve. It is taking some time to digest. Amazing to see “the facts” in that narrative.

  3. Ken Barrows

    The policymakers involved should read The Hills Group. If that report is correct, one cannot even justify that this nonsense is for some great scheme, but rather a grandiose one. For example, say the USA actually “wins” this battle and achieves all its objectives. What then?

    1. steve from virginia Post author

      After this is the next battle and the next … then the ones after that. It’s the fighting that matters not the results.

      Meanwhile, we all go broke; the fighting stops when we’re bankrupt.

  4. ellenanderson

    Thanks for that link. I read it with interest until I got to the following conclusion: “Once we strip this conflict of its humanitarian patina and recognize the Syrian conflict as an oil war, our foreign policy strategy becomes clear. Instead, our first priority should be the one no one ever mentions—we need to kick our Mid-East oil jones, an increasingly feasible objective, as the U.S. becomes more energy independent.”
    Oops! What tortures are in store for those in the US who are opposing the pipelines that are supposed to lead to our energy independence?

    1. steve from virginia Post author

      I’ve never bought the pipeline argument. If the Saudis-Qataris wanted to route a pipeline through Syria they would have simply paid the requisite bribes. If Assad didn’t want the free money the pipeline would be routed through Jordan, Lebanon or even Israel. A pipeline could be routed through Sinai or across northern Egypt to connect with trans-Mediterranean pipelines from Libya. There are gas fields in the eastern Med waiting on pipeline connections; Israel, Jordan, Palestinian Authority, Lebanon, Cyprus even Greece would be eager partners w/ Saudia, Iran or anyone else picking up the tab for a trans-Med pipeline.

      The Iranians also want a pipeline (or more than one) to the Mediterranean. There are already many pipelines with more under construction. Of course, pipelines aren’t constructed during wars but there are other activities held up by fighting including agriculture. Pipeline routing is not the reason Assad’s security forces fired live ammunition into crowds of demonstrators in Homs and Aleppo, or why they rounded up thousands of ordinary Syrians and abused them in makeshift jails.

      As for the US; it is hard to justify pipeline investment on hard, cold accounting. The issue is whether oil fields are going to last long enough to provide oil to run through a pipe for its projected lifespan. In the Bakken, the answer has been no. Short play life is a projected problem for all LTO plays but is fact on the ground in Alaska.

      There is a need for GAS pipelines from the LTO plays … instead of OIL pipelines. The idea is to deliver gas to paying consumers rather than flaring. Billions of BTUs are simply wasted while the oil barons look to escape their reliance on railroads.

  5. Ken Barrows

    At the second Presidential debate, Hillary Clinton told one Ken Bone that we are already “energy independent.” I thought it was true because the MSM tells me there is only one candidate that lies constantly.

  6. Creedon

    I’m a big B.W. Hill fan. If he is right this nonsense won’t go on much beyond about 2020 because the rest of the world will be becoming, much like the Middle East is now, very fast. We will be too broke and preoccupied with our own problems to be busy destroying the Middle East.

  7. dolph

    Another post, Steve, without mentioning the elephant. Too scared of mentioning the elephant? Scared of what observing it might do to us? I’ll give it a go by providing you people with some hints. I’m not scared anymore, might as well lay everything on the table.
    1) throughout history they have been kicked out of every country they have lived in
    2) they were instrumental in the beginnings of the soviet union when large numbers of them were present in Russia
    3) currently a large number of them live in a small but influential country in the middle east, which is protected by all the major powers
    4) currently a large number of them are amongst the richest and most influential people in the finance, politics, and media of the United States
    5) no criticism of their policies or their wealth is allowed; everybody and everything else can be questioned but them
    6) Their name rhymes with “pews”.

    Identify the elephant, and everything else which doesn’t make sense falls into place.

      1. steve from virginia Post author

        Greater Turkey is more like it.

        Maps of non-existent/imaginary countries are meaningless and have nothing to do with resource constraints.

    1. steve from virginia Post author

      Israelis are not involved with the MENA mess, they can sit back and watch their enemies (and allies) self-destruct.

      Native Americans were ‘kicked out’ of this country, why? Was it because they were enemies of the state or inherently subversive or was it because they occupied land and resources that European colonists and their descendants wanted for themselves?

      The Soviet Union arose from the 1917 mutiny in the Tsar’s armies, caused by structural logistics problems that the Russians were unable to solve during wartime: inadequate railroads w/ insufficient rolling stock and locomotives. They also possessed too few horses, this was a problem all the armies faced except the French and the US. As the Bolsheviks struggled against royalists and 3d party warlords to gain power they offered full civic rights to Jews in the areas they controlled; Jews were considered an untapped human resource the same way Kurds in Syria view women, today. As the Bolshevik revolution became a civil war a few Jews became Soviet officers under Trotsky. Most were later purged by Stalin during his clean sweep of the Soviet military during the 1930s.

      The general tendency in the West and elsewhere is to maintain the status quo. Few new countries are created and when they emerge they are supported by almost all the other countries because it is in collective- and individual interest to do so; this is true for Israel also for Iraq and South Sudan. BTW: Pentagon Inc. ‘support’ for the Israelis is no different from Pentagon Inc. support for other countries such as Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt, Japan, South Korea, Germany, etc. It’s all business.

      There are tycoons of all shapes and sizes in the US and elsewhere. I don’t know how many Jewish tycoons there are in China, Dubai, Kuwait, Japan or South Korea but if there are any it would be surprising. As for questioning, current Israeli policy in the US is controversial and opposition to it in the US is strong; even stronger in Europe. The idea that criticism of Israeli policies- or criticism of 3d country policies regarding Israel is taboo is simply false.

      What’s not false is increased antisemitism in the US and the West which is an ancient disease, a relic of long-forgotten empires. Like the Islamic State today the Jews are bogeymen who have been pillaged without mercy or restraint. Out of the woodwork like cockroaches crawl the emergent Nazis. The possibility of officially sanctioned murder is the parent to the act as if there has not been enough blood shed for no reason other than to satisfy the cult of industrialized death.

      Israelis share the same big problems with other moderns: peak oil, peak credit, climate change; over population, too many machines, too many cows; racism and refusal to discuss the problems. They have wagered national outcomes on a defunct paradigm and have done so to the degree that real innovation — coming up with non-technical solutions to non-technical problems — is not considered. In this sense Israelis are in the same boat as the Chinese or Americans who are doing exactly the same thing …

      Part of the Alex Jones/Zero Hedge trope is the idea there is a shadowy control group out of the picture that manipulates everything and everyone by black magic or remote control: Free Masonry, Illuminati, Rothchilds, Bilderbergs, etc. The enemy is us: our growing list of non-negotiable demands for diversions and fake dramas, empty prosperity (bread) and pointless destruction (circuses).

  8. encouragement

    self-loathing is the product of capture bonding. the royal we needs to stop if honesty is in order; for example, the white, doomer meme that was peddled as a minor revelation of several years ago — i know some of you here will remember it — that “we are all niggers now,” was an evil one in that — as with all evils — it claimed a certain truth, yet that truth lay in service to a falsehood (self-loathing). self-loathing represents an inability to hold oneself accountable for one’s own enslavement. house niggers were self-loathing. field niggers were not. house niggers and wannabees suffered a high degree of capture bonding, field niggers less so or not at all.

    i encourage folks — especially institutional preachers (such as bloggers) not to do that to themselves and, by extension, to others. psychospiritual paralysis is a really destructive modeling process. i encourage folks to stop being self indulgent and think of the children.

    “The Americans soon discovered the Iraqis didn’t have a government so much as a mom-and-pop retail store run by members of the Al-Bu Nasir clan from Saddam’s home city of Tikrit. Reed’s chart only shows some of the connections. The Iraqi military command and and important commercial firms were all run by the same insiders. What mattered to Saddam above all else was loyalty.”

    you don’t like pointing your finger at fake tribal semites but you do like pointing your finger at fake tribal muslims. why is that?

    1. steve from virginia Post author

      First of all, you have to put things in proper context: which is about the bankrupt notion of progress in the context of American ideals as set forth by ‘progressives’ Martin Luther King and Dwight Eisenhower.

      Some progress, some dream. This — the evil of banality — is what we are stuck with. The article of faith was that the unholy matrimony of art and commerce would conjure a form of ‘value’. This union could not earn any value in any marketplace. The outcome is commerce- abandoned and endless blight, the wasting of the Earth and all that inhabits the Earth.

      Artcommerce or commerceart or whatever the marketers intended to label it could never support itself and was never supposed to. The outcome is not and never has been the triumph of a techno- establishment but that of the unscrupulous. King’s failure was his appeal to the “better angels” of human nature, Eisenhower’s was to appeal to rationality and tradition. Neither could imaging the full scope of the waste- based economy. The angels have been turned into street whores and reason baffled by incoherent nonsense.

      Tradition, like money is a time- value. Over time the abandoned and rotting big box stores become ‘traditional’ along with ‘traditional’ Detroit, ‘traditional’ Las Vegas, ‘traditional’ Ireland and ‘traditional’ Spain. This is what citizens must begin to get used to.

      We are all niggers, now.

      Loathing, self- or otherwise has not been the problem and is not the problem here, rather it is adherence to a bankrupt ideology of material progress that results in a habitat made up of our own waste. This is not a white doomer meme, it is entropy.

      As far as Saddam goes, the critique is of the US establishment particularly the military and the misunderstanding of how Saddam organized his country. The failure was not Saddam’s but that of successive Iraqi governments to craft a governing structure or to better adapt. The US failed by not bothering to learn anything the adversary it had chosen to engage.

  9. encouragement

    thank you for your response.

    nobody (commenting) here adheres to that bankrupt ideology, so why keep using the royal we? it’s not only unconstructive it’s also inauthentic – as in, it’s not yours, and you don’t believe it.

    that was one of my points.

    as to the nigger meme, which as i recall was first peddled — that i came across anyway — by CHS, could be wrong, not gona look it up, and i’m not bringing him up to slight you but to say that CHS said it in the context of what he perceived to be a neo-feudal new normal for the middle class. he was making a ‘new’ characterization of the financial realities and my point, here, is that my previous comment still stands in your context, in that money is and always has been a proxy for energy surpluses, and energy surpluses are what creates growth and, more to the point, obviates entropy. this is a materialistic line of thought.

    but i’m not a materialist like you, and i was putting the nigger meme in a life context; when we say ‘context is everything,’ we should be saying that in the literal sense – otherwise what we have is relativism, which is a state without context, and a resultant irony.

    in life, there is physical slavery and there is metaphysical, or mental, slavery.

    a nigger was an industrial slave. they were industrial slaves because although africans on plantations may have been in an agrarian setting on plantations, the commodities they produced were in service of industrial markets, and even their initial enslavement in africa was underpinned by the coal-powered british brass trade.

    we, too, are industrial slaves. private property laws and mandatory private money chasing are all the evidence we need to establish that fact. we are niggers with a bigger paddock, and if we play by the rules they will allow us to rotate ourselves in different paddocks. we’re all niggers, physically speaking, more or less, until collapse.

    but ‘now’ has nothing to do with it, and entropy has nothing to do with it either. in the life context, civilization itself is the great enslaver of man, and it’s not our fault that we were born into it. mankind’s problem isn’t biological, it’s circumstantial, and the circumstances are subject to change. civilizations arise due to the ecological compaction of humans and the resulting pathogenic, anaerobic human cultures that arose from that compaction. the selfish decision by hierarchical societies to intensify modes of production at the heavy cost of biodiversity loss, rather than remain humble and wise. the common man in a hierarchical society of intensification (progress), assuming a lack of complete ignorance (most people), is either a domesticated wretch of a house nigger who goes along selfishly to get along selfishly, all the while being fed by others, or a man of backbone who does the best he can to not miss out on opportunities to move into open spaces and move out of enclosed spaces, and to take responsibility for his life.

    i fail to see the connection between entropy and being a ‘nigger.’ seems like a mixed metaphor to me. entropy doesn’t really apply to life, as it’s just a scientific abstraction.. life is cyclical with death – they beget each other.

  10. ellenanderson

    “mankind’s problem isn’t biological, it’s circumstantial, and the circumstances are subject to change. civilizations arise due to the ecological compaction of humans and the resulting pathogenic, anaerobic human cultures that arose from that compaction.”
    Who knew?

  11. encouragement

    i know, ellen. sorry i’m not toeing the line. we used to get along.

    i imagine you agree that the problem isn’t biological. the result of that would be self-loathing or christianity or jainism, etc. and if it’s not biological then it’s circumstantial, and obviously civilization is the most relevant (to us) paradigm, but we could also talk about pre-civilizational state-like societies, pre-states, chieftains – stuff that cultural anthropologists have examined in great detail, and theorized about, in order to try and understand the mechanisms involved in The Fall.

    the compaction theory is just a metaphorical amalgamation of marvin harris’ (“Cannibals and Kings”) airtight (or common sense) compaction theory and biological soil farming principles.

    feel free to substitute hierarchical or expansionary for pathogenic, and stifling, foul, selfish, self-loathing, or opportunistic for anaerobic.

  12. ellenanderson

    Well Steve, I guess this is marginally better than DNS attacks. You must be getting someone’s attention!

  13. Reverse Engineer

    The commentary stream here seems to be focused on who to blame? Is it the Jihadists? Is it the Pews? Is it the neo-cons? Is it the Illuminati? Is it Charles Hugh Smith? Is it Thermodynamics & Entropy? Or God Forbid, is it the collective “WE”” that are to blame?

    SHOULDER THE BLAME! You drive a car or you ride on buses and buy groceries shipped via truck from 1000s of miles away at the food super store, don’t you? You use the internet with a laptop made in China polluting their water supply, don’t you? You’re not here participating in this commentariat if you don’t.

    When you have a large network like this, it’s pretty darn hard to finger blame precisely, because of course in reality nobody has complete control over the system. It’s a network with its own rules and its own intelligence, which is not the same as any individual intelligence of any Homo Sap participating in the network. Depending on your perspective, anyone or any group can be deemed guilty or innocent, which of course just results in everyone fighting everyone else. That’s not too productive, now is it?

    To be able to properly assign blame, you need to exit off the plane, like the Hexagon did in Flatland. You need to see the Big Picture, the whole of what is occuring here. When you do that, where to assign blame becomes quite obvious.

    Hint: It’s not the Jihadists, it’s not the Pews, it’s not the neo-cons, it’s not the Illuminati, it’ not Thermodynamics and Entropy, nor is it Charles Hugh Smith, Steve Ludlum or even RE. It’s not even the collective “WE”.

    Blame does exist though and it must be assigned and there must be retribution and punishment for that blame, or we cannot move forward. The challenge of our time is to properly assign the blame and make the consequences for it unavoidable.


  14. Eeyores enigma

    So re, you have failed to address the issue here. Yes it is us but is it biological or circumstantial?

    I personally agree with a lot of what encouragement is saying. I also think that it doesn’t necessary conflict with Steve’s main theme on this blog.

    1. Reverse Engineer

      Read for comprehension. It’s not “us” to blame. P2 is sarcasm. Do I peg the blame here? No I don’t. You should already know who is to blame, I’ve been over it enough times already. If you don’t know who is to blame, it’s your problem, not my problem.


    2. encouragement

      hey eeyore,

      if it’s circumstantial then it’s not us, but ONLY if we try harder that it not be us.

      being whole is a co-creative condition. co-creation stops where civilization starts. civilization is a compartmentallization of life, a separate self. a selfish way. selfishness is by definition self-loathing because our conscience remains, always, even if it has been relegated to a fiat status by the separate self, and sees the separated self, and loathes it, and we become of two minds, schizoid, and our conscience is what assigns blame to the self, but that self is not us or we, it is merely our civilized aspect that has been compartmentalized-off by an external force, and repetitively glorified by the profit motive.

  15. ellenanderson

    Perhaps we should blame our expensive educational establishment for allowing people to graduate before they have learned to think, spell or punctuate their sentences?

  16. encouragement

    not much! 🙂

    i had forgotten that you wrote on the WAANN meme, and brought him up in part to show that it was a(n) (unconstructive) meme and not just a single idea, and in part to show that yours and his conception of it was essentially the same.

  17. Ken Barrows

    Not on Twitter, but saw your tweet about Volcker and Peterson. It’s a nice world they have: corporate and household debt does not exist.

    1. steve from virginia Post author

      Another in a long line of ‘let them eat cake’ moments from our fearless leadership, proven time and again to be intellectually bankrupt.

  18. Volvo740...

    I’m to blame! I just bought a plane ticket to go see my aging mom back home. Caught a good deal. How to can you fly to Sweden (return) for $450? Who is making money on that?

    We all know this is going to go down somehow someday. Is already going down for millions of people today. The question is how fast. Will there be (official) world war? Will my hood hang together? Will I be able to feed my family in the year 2040? Will there be jobs for programmers? And the big question: Will there be fuel for my 740?

    1. encouragement

      oh brother. life is a totality of embodied phenomena. tools are not embodied phenomena. they are inanimate. now on the managerial agenda is gun violence, and next up is tool violence.

      socialists, just like capitalists, want to have their cake and eat it, too. they ‘believe’ in autonomy and “structural arrangements” (centralization) at their convenience, as if they are mutually inclusive, and this disregard for most fundamental structural reality — you can’t have your cake and eat it, too — is further nested within another civilized structural unreality: politics.

  19. ellenanderson

    Thanks for the reminder. I had forgotten that wonderful piece and was in the process of reading the following from Ugo Bardi’s blog: “Heidegger was of the very strong view that, contrary to our thoughts about technicity, it was not something we controlled. Something which I believe events have more or less borne out. Citing the Sorcerer’s Apprentice, he stated ‘It is obvious that man is never master of his tools.’ “

    1. encouragement

      ‘It is obvious that man is never master of his tools.’

      this is a crude and a rhetorical statement, and not something that can be taken at face value. the inclusion of the word ‘never,’ for starters, is just plain stupid because it flies in the face of historical facts regarding many subsistence societies. this claim also appears to know nothing of systems theory.

      marvin harris showed that the positive feedback loops at work in selfish surplus societies produced a soft cultural determinism that he characterized as mechanical in nature, and which led to bondage:

      “As a result of the studied neglect of the science of culture, the world is full of moralists insisting that they have freely willed what they were unwittingly forced to want, while by not understanding the odds against free choice, millions who would be free have delivered themselves into new forms of bondage. To change social life for the better, one must begin with the knowledge of why it usually changes for the worse. That is why I consider ignorance of the causal factors in cultural evolution and disregard of the odds against a desired outcome to be forms of moral duplicity.”

      1. steve from virginia Post author

        I can look out the window and see that our tools are the masters and we are little more than domesticated livestock.

        The makers of the (so-called) tools are battling each other for access to necessary resources. This is behind political sham that marks the end of surpluses, overrun by unmanageable costs.

        At some point a surplus of costs has costs of its own. The putative masters themselves are not what they seem, they are caught up in the storm, helpless as leaves in a flood.

        Harris is entitled to his own opinions, I don’t agree. It is hard to see why anyone would care about non-specific ‘others’ who could be free but obviously aren’t: it’s a sales pitch. The product is an abstraction like ‘security’, ‘education’ … ‘health care’. Freedom is both suggestive and subjective. It is the dictators who offer freedom with the lie that they alone are powerful enough to supply it. Meanwhile the masses try to figure out how many of their children they need to sell in order to keep their TVs and automobiles: the answer is ‘all of them’.

        Mass freedom is far more dangerous than mass slavery because it is cannibalistic. The pre-historic hunters ate their habitat; they had to, otherwise we would still be hunters; there would be no modernity because it would not have been necessary!

        There is no such thing as freedom in a world with 7 billions of us and billions more machines, it isn’t hard to figure out what is wrong; all that’s necessary is to stop lying to ourselves. Why is not relevant.

  20. encouragement

    i witnessed an armed standoff on the neighboring property, between three deputies and a friend of mine and his son, that ended in no gunfire or arrests even. the friend and his son had come to settle a score with the neighbor and his friends over some untrue and damaging things that they had said around town. in fact, 15 mins after all the guns were withdrawn they all ended up in my driveway, because the person who had had untrue things said about him was visiting me at the time, and the father was still pointing at the junior deputy while giving the senior ranking deputy a hard time for something disrespectful that was said by the former during the standoff, and the latter was apologizing for it. so we can see that highly egalitarian circumstances can still be created, and in the countryside, a person of character and presence, standing in his or her own power, can move a respectable measure towards freedom.
    it’s not like i don’t get the rhetorical idea that tools are our masters. it’s certainly not empty rhetoric, but it’s also not fundamentally true in that you’re putting the cart before the horse. the metaphysical aspect of life always precedes the physical aspect; form follows function, physical freedom follows mental freedom. ‘tool’ is too broad of a term, anyway, and ‘master’ perhaps too narrow, to furnish even a worthwhile rhetorical debate on the matter.
    my point in including the harris quote was because he was saying why it’s important to understand that even though it may look like it, it’s not the (effectual) mechanization itself that is responsible for man’s enslavement, but rather the causal mechanistic cultures that preceded and gave rise to tools of massive power; the first hydraulic societies that employed large-scale irrigation and… institutional hierarchies, were still using hand tools and (involuntary) muscle power.
    ‘mass freedom’ is an oxymoron; leopold kohr (sp?), was it, who said that bigness was the chief cause of human misery? if by mass freedom you mean anarchy (geographically distributed societies without institutionalized hierarchies), and that anarchy is cannibalistic, you have some explalining to do. historical examples of cannibalism almost without exception (according to the evidence) took place in civilizational settings where non-human animal protein was severely depleted in the compacted local ecology, and was taken part-in by the ruling classes, and the people-meats were invariably the spoils of a selfish, expansionary form of warfare.
    the vast majority of hunter-collector societies lived within their ecological budgets and did not eat their habitats. generally speaking they rotated themselves on the land in order to let the food chain recover, and to act in concert with the seasons. between bands there were no man’s lands. population growth was kept in check to a significant degree by longer female reproductive cycles caused by their naturally occuring low-carbohydrate diets (common sense) combined with the non-sedentary way of life, but they also practiced population control with great discipline through the rythmn method of birth control (common sense) and, when necessary, female infanticide (common sense) and non-expansionary warfare (common sense).
    there were only a handful of instances in human history (with a few more up for anthropological debate, though harris shoots-down those with aplomb) in which severe local ecological depletion and an emergent human hierarchy combined to create the circumstances for a cultural intensification towards a formal mode of largely involuntary (coerced) crop production and irrigation building projects, leading to surpluses and coinage, whence the dependency and capture bondage set-in. this handful of anomalies harris called ‘pristine states,’ and all other states that ever coalesced did so in response to the expansionary wars of the pristine states, and he called these coalitions, or post-federations, in their fully- established phase, ‘secondary states.’
    i agree of course that civilization was bound to happen sooner or later, and it did multiple times, without any relation to each other, but the basic idea that pre-historic man modernized because he ate his habitat is misleading. it was hierarchical human culture whose elites became corrupted by excessive power, and selfishly chose to intensify the mode of production, at the cost of biodiversity loss instead of adapt ecologically. ecological adaptation always entails reducing unsustainable consumption. it’s only a selfish elite operating in a compartmentalized people-world that can maintain the false pretense that consumption growth is sustainable.
    intensification was never necessary; it was elitism that made intensification desirable. as soon as a person gets in the habit of getting something for nothing they become disconnected from life. the desire to get something for nothing (acquire by proxy) is the nature of elitism. subsistence cultures gracefully accepted their place as a single species in the ecology, and took their lumps when hard times came and learned from them.
    that you refer to prehistoric man as hunters alone seems to reveal the bias in your political adherance to vegetarianism. contrary to your claim that ‘prehistoric’ man ate his habitat, indigenous people were thriving on the north american continent just several hundred years ago, and had been for a very very long time. when european civilization began its expansion there there were an estimated 150 million buffalo alone, the soil depth seemingly limitless. the wild human populations of the earth cannot be held responsible as with the elitist populations.
    regarding harris, i can only recommend “cannibals and kings.” i suspect that harris was a man in his prime, standing in his own power, when he wrote it.
    “It is hard to see why anyone would care about anyone who could be free but obviously aren’t: it’s a sales pitch”
    jeez, steve, that’s pretty cynical! love is why. it’s an offering from a clear heart. the two reasons are love and opportunity. the final chapter in the book is called ‘the industrial bubble.’ he talks about the openings — windows of opportunity — that come around every so often, through which we can pass, if we muster up the courage and try hard enough, and in doing so find ourselves with a greatly increased measure of freedom. the coming industrial collapse is the great window of opportunity he foresaw in the 1960s but did not get to live through.
    i don’t find it constructive to politicize freedom as you did in suggesting that it is most relevant as a tool of dictators, because that would be to change the meaning of the word. freedom in and of itself, living freedom, is not subjective like you say it is. nor is it absolute, of course, since life imposes all sorts of hard limits upon us, as well as consequences. living freedom is certainly objective, though, if you see it for what it is, which is simply a reflection of the spirit of life, the full-spectrum of voluntary, self-organizing principles observable across embodied life, non-political violence and all, an original participation rather than a derivative participation as mediated by a managerial class.

    1. Ken Barrows

      Hunter gatherers we first were and hunter gatherers we shall become. All the political talking won’t change that one bit, but the chatter interests me all the same.

  21. dolph

    How can you talk about anything without talking about race?
    Your “we are the world” kumbayaism is a product of the energy surplus that powered American empire and allowed white, baby boomer liberals to believe that things really could be different this time.

    It’s not. It’s never different. Humans are tribal, we are wired that way. Either you fall in line with your in group, or you die. If you argue otherwise, it means that you want me to give up my life, family and identity for total strangers that hate me and want me dead so they can take over, so they can have my house, my job, my money.

    How does this make any sense? If there are billions of us that are going to die, and if you want to make it through the other end, you have to fall in line. This gives you a fighting chance. It’s the lone wolves and deluded peaceniks who will be the first to be eliminated.

    1. encouragement

      hey dolph,

      tribalism and race aren’t related like you are suggesting. tribes generally didn’t cover enough ground in a lifetime, before animal domestication, to see much of anyone who looked distinctly different from them, and since then there were, i’m sure, innumerable instances of interracial tribalism that resulted from all kinds of circumstances, but probably most often due to war.

      the maskokee seminole of northern florida, among other regional tribes, took-in as their own escaped african slaves during the american-seminole wars. they intermarried and interbred.

      i wouldn’t encourage falling in line unless it’s behind a great leader.

  22. encouragement

    an example of living freedom as an objective reality can be found in the life of texan cynthia ann parker, as detailed in the historical novel, Ride The Wind, by one of my favorite authors, lucia st. clair robson. parker was a white woman who was kidnapped by the comanche. her adaptation to comanche life would undoubtedly be seen as a classic case of capture bonding by the subjective clinical profession, when in fact it was nothing of the sort, because although the kidnapping itself was against her will, the true way of life she entered objectively increased the measure of freedom in her life; indeed, by her kidnapping she was freed from capture bonding, and when, much later, she was recaptured by the texas rangers and returned to her biological family, she unsuccessfully tried to escape back to her comanche home, and ultimately stopped eating and drinking.

    1. steve from virginia Post author

      I don’t read novels. The last one I read was Nicholas Nickleby. It was good to quit while ahead, so to speak.

      Ana Karenina wasn’t half-bad either. It had a couple of good lines in it.

      1. encouragement

        i don’t read novels, either. they are like the light horse in the industrial age: field ornaments; missed connections. these books aren’t that but anyway, i’m not asking you to read them.

        crime and punishment made me cry for three days, but i was heartbroken at the time. on the road did the opposite, when i was idealistic.

        what was the last novel i read? shit. the corrections, maybe, when it came out, by that enfeebled metrosexual johnathan franzen. i loved that book, but i was suffering from a lifelong bout of arrested development.

  23. Tagio

    People who don’t get anything out of fiction don’t know how to read fiction, imho. If you’re interested in a novel that has a subtext of what leadership really is, in the context of reading the signs of impending doom and establishing a new home, I’d recommend Watership Down, written in the dark days of the 1970s.

    1. ellenanderson

      Agreed –
      Well what about Moby Dick? It is sort of about oil isn’t it? “Better to sleep with a sober cannibal than a drunken Christian” is Melville’s considered opinion since you all must discuss cannibalism.

    2. encouragement

      hey tagio,

      i don’t think anybody is confused as to what leadership really is. it’s a simple concept. leadership represents the follower’s recognition that another’s improvement upon, in any particular respect, one’s own level of accomplishment, is relevant to him. in subsistence societies, cultural success is propelled by community-minded competition for positions of leadership, which would look, at times, like two people playing leapfrog. in surplus societies, sports fill the void.

  24. ellenanderson

    Steve has a book list that hasn’t been updated for awhile. Maybe a few novels could be added. I think that The Magnificent Ambersons may be on it (if there are any novels.)
    I wonder whether any of you guys actually followed that link from reg1950 and read “Tools for Conviviality” by Ivan Illich. The latter’s book “Energy and Equity” is on Steve’s list. In case you didn’t follow the link here it is again and many thanks to reg1950 (whose name I haven’t seen here before.) ttp://
    Both Paul Goodman and Ivan Illich were very influential anti-modernists in the early 1970’s when it seemed that we could have chosen the path of conservation perhaps. Paul died young and Illich was rejected as too pessimistic by Mitterand and the proponents of “morning in America.”
    Do read – and enjoy – Tools for Conviviality. A good thing to do on Tuesday if we prefer to avert our gaze from the gruesome spectacle that is sure to unfold one way or another.

    1. steve from virginia Post author

      I’m going to have to work on the book list, it’s been neglected probably because it doesn’t make any noise.

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