I just finished making some substantial revisions and additions to my book. As I edit the rest, I will post each section until the whole book is online. Please read the footnotes as some contain important information.
Tools of Control
A Book about How Four Growing Institutions Control Human Thought, Behavior, and Identity, and How We Can Destroy Them to Attain Freedom, Autonomy, Sustainability, Biodiversity, and Human and Ecological Well-being.
Adam S. Goldstein
“None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.”
– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
A Note to Readers About the Origins of this Book and My Criticisms of Religious Rulers and Dogma:
A few friends of mine inspired me to change the tone of my book. I don’t want to give readers the impression that the situation is all hopeless as if doomsday is coming tomorrow. That kind of fear-mongering is senseless. While there are incredibly dire problems in the world that must be solved, it’s important not to get overwhelmed, so the tone of my book was changed and I focused more on what can be done rather than how much we have been and are controlled because I believe we must focus our emotions on current circumstances (while never forgetting our history) and not become emotionally trapped in the past.
This book is not intended to offend anyone for their religious beliefs. I respect and care about innocent religious people just as much as I do innocent, secular individuals. I merely want the debate to be open, but right now it is too closed. If you can’t even question your own beliefs, this is destructive. I do it all the time. I am humble enough to admit I don’t know if there is a God or not, but I do know our universe is governed by physical laws, and we don’t have scientific proof of any God. Too many people use religion to deceive. People in power will pretend to be passionately religious and claim that their mission is “Godly,” so that they can influence the zeitgeist and religious people’s behaviors. They do it simply for money and power.
Religious behaviors developed before organized religion and these behaviors were mostly positive and helpful. (Some examples I will discuss in this book are cave art, intentional burial, mediation, increased focus on others, increased self-awareness, and wonder about the cosmos.) But organized religion and its power became more and more centralized until it transformed into another tool used to control people. Religion also made the idea of hierarchy more ubiquitous, God being at the top, which made it easier for governments to develop and claim they were ruling by “divine right.”
I don’t like labels, but if I had to identify with any school of thought on the subject it would be agnostic humanism. I know and have become more conscious of the fact that for many people (including good friends) “God” is a more of a metaphor. God can mean love for some people. For others God may mean “unity consciousness” or “collective consciousness”. For some God means all life forms and Earth. In this case, respecting and loving God means something very positive. I think these conceptions of “God” are ultimately positive. But God as a vengeful, omnipotent, omniscient entity removed from humanity that can do no wrong is incredibly dangerous. To believe this you must also believe there are divine reasons all things occur. But there aren’t. This belief is so dangerous because it requires some kind of justification for every horrible event on Earth that has occurred and continues to occur. Some argue these horrible events are “learning experiences,” but we’ve had enough learning experiences to know how to treat each other. Homo sapiens evolved about 100,000 years ago. Most of us know already how to treat each other. We all have some sense of right from wrong. The main influence creating division and conflict is the richest of rich and the most powerful people in the world because they profit from it.
We humans are constantly deceived, lied to, and misled, so most of the actions we take (especially in industrialized countries) do not promote a world the way we want it to be with humans and all life on Earth abundant and healthy. Most current tragedies are man-made. They are systemic and broad. They affect billions of people, but the true source of them is just a few. The institutions, people, and ideas that control us are what my book is about but not the sole focus. These tragedies are not caused by God, unless God means humanity for you, in which case God represents a fragmented majority of honest people and a small minority of parasites directing and killing us all. I think it is important to be clear when talking about “God” what is meant because God is such an emotionally charged concept for so many people, and the word can have so many different meanings. I think it is important to know how to talk about this sensitively. Some people don’t like their beliefs questioned at all and if that is you, you may not like the things I say.
I think it is important that those of us who understand the dangers of organized religion make our criticisms about religious institutions and dogma, and let religious individuals know we are not criticizing them specifically, unless they do something worth criticizing. Current organized religions like Islam and Christianity have been positively used for mass non-violent protest, charity, (prominent examples of religious activists with very positive impacts include Dorothy Day, MLK, and Pope John XXIII who advocated bishops, priests, and common people to devote themselves to helping the poor and defending their rights in Latin America, to which the American government responded by essentially waging war on the Church there in the 1980s with the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero in 1980 – a few days after he sent a letter to President Carter beseeching him to not send aid to the homicidal military junta put in place by the US government – and the assassination of six leading Latin American Jesuit priests in 1989) gatherings and demonstrations of unity but sometimes even non-violent protests become violent as the focus shifts to dogma and division or they are attacked because of the intolerance and hate for their beliefs by other extremist groups. The concept of organization is key, but we have to remember why we are organizing. We all want and need the same things, regardless of our beliefs, and I believe we must organize to ensure basic human and ecological needs are met. I have faith not in an esoteric God, but faith that most of humanity will eventually unite and do the right thing.
We all have experiences which create a tapestry of beliefs. Before I get into the book, I should explain why I have formed my beliefs at least about religion. When I was still a child, I was always very bothered by the big questions about life that no one I knew could answer. Questions about the meaning of life, our purpose, and death racked my mind as soon as I discovered them, but no one else my age seemed to be as bothered by them as I did and I couldn’t see why. I saw so much undeserved suffering, conflict, and death in the world and I wondered why God (who I was taught to believe in and who was supposedly omnipotent) would let all of this happen and give us so little guidance.
I was raised to be religious and I was taught my religion had many of the answers that I sought. I first embraced it and made every effort to be a good religious person because I was told it was necessary to be a moral person allowed access to a (good) afterlife. But I grew fairly bored by the Church services and its school. Most of the reverends at my Church seemed like moral, well-meaning people who cared for others, but they couldn’t answer the questions I had. When I asked, they couldn’t tell me why God would let so many people die every day from hunger, dehydration, disease, and war or give me real proof that these people would live on eternally. Instead, they would recite the same familiar platitudes about morality, God, and worship in their sermons, and the choir songs that accompanied them often struck me as eerie and almost cult-like. They were supposed to be angelic, but when there were such serious issues going on, I felt it was strange. I asked myself, “Why shouldn’t the music reflect these issues? Why should we make this space beautiful for the sake of being beautiful? Why not make what is outside of us beautiful?” The focus was on God and pleasing him and I wondered why an omnipotent being would need mortals to please him or why he would create a universe just to be pleased by his creations.
Since my ministers did not have the answers, I started studying my religion and others to see if they had the answers. What interested me most about religions was their attempt to answer the questions that could not be answered by science. Religions seemed to fill in the gaps, and I noticed they had major effects on ethics worldwide. But as I studied them more and more, I found more contradictions. I was told the Bible was a book of stories about moral principles. But the Old Testament has very few loving passages. In most parts, God acts as an apathetic, angry avenger for mankind’s “sins,” such as in Genesis wherein God wipes out the entirety of life on Earth aside from two of every animal and Noah’s family for humanity’s perceived “sinfulness”. I also saw the Bible contradicts much of what science tells us about our history, and I found just as many, if not more, hateful, bizarre, misogynistic, and violent stories and rules than loving and inclusive ones. Many supporters and believers in the Bible are not aware of these stories because not all them have actually read it. I think that is because it is very hard to read and many don’t want to more closely examine their beliefs. They just want the simple comfort from simple answers.
As I was reading the Bible, I also saw religious extremism was fueling violence worldwide. I saw priests who were supposed to be the “closest to God” in the news for molesting children, and I saw the separation and boundaries created by people with strong, disparate religious convictions that prevent them from even talking with one one another. Religion can also connect people, but the mass organization of religious pathos doesn’t always produce an outcome that is positive. People who gather for religion don’t always gather for the sake of each other, and when differences collide and overcome the unity created, conflict is often the outcome.
After being dragged to Church on Sundays, I would sit in this lavish, extravagant building and wonder about the hypocrisy of it all. While children were starving and dying, we sat in a Church worth millions and for what? I did not understand why I had to come to this certain building every Sunday to be a moral human being. I could do the same service and volunteer work the Church did without attending or even having religious beliefs.
Religion did not seem to be the answer from where I was sitting. It just seemed to be a distraction or a series of easy answers to very complex, loaded questions. Religion serves as a coping mechanism for what is unknown, and I was using it as most do. I didn’t want to believe my life or the lives of those I cared about could end so abruptly and forever. But eventually I stopped going to Church, much to the dismay of my very religious mother, because I knew it was false hope. It was not getting me closer to anything.
I wrote about religion to try to make sense of it, and I tried to reconcile the positive aspects of religions that I could see with the equally evident negative and contradictory parts, but I couldn’t do it. No religion had any of the answers to the moral questions I had, and I saw many religions doing more harm than good by giving people false hope who just wanted the answers like I did. So I abandoned my book on religion and I started to learn more about science, the scientific method, and scientific discoveries throughout our history.
I became certain the answers would be strongly rooted in science, and I wanted to learn about every piece of history from the Big Bang to the present. I learned how the very young universe evolved and eventually formed stars, solar systems, Earth, and life. I also studied the evolution of life on Earth from its beginning around 3.85 billion years ago to the present. I studied human evolution, the development of tools, language, agriculture, and government.
My research on cosmology, physical laws, Earth history, and early human history gave me perspective. I learned early on in life that there is consistency in the universe, and the universe has obeyed the same laws since almost immediately after the Big Bang about 13.7 billion years ago. This makes the future outside of human influence predictable. Regardless of the human impact, positive or negative, there is no known way to break physical laws. This means there cannot be a universal keeper of moral order. But this is no reason to worry. It is actually positive. The universe has to behave in consistent, predictable ways or otherwise we would live in constant fear that the universe may become intentionally malicious and chaos could ensue. Some people do live in constant uncertainty because they believe God or the universe may punish them or their families. Some even believe God will bring the apocalypse at some point due to religious scriptures that make these predictions like the Book of Revelation in the New Testament and these concerns are often very troubling to these individuals.
When I discovered that inequality and suffering are not caused by supernatural forces or God or even physical laws alone but rather are largely shaped by man-made institutions, I realized I needed to narrow my focus on these institutions. During this time, I met with people from a variety of walks of life who helped inform me about these issues, such as professors, psychologists, prison counselors, politicians, political dissidents, anarchists, authors, and struggling portions of the population like homeless individuals and drug addicts. What I learned from all of this is that there are four primary institutions that control us most today. They are large governments, the concentration of religious power and dogma, massive international corporations, (including banks) and corporate, mass media outlets.
It took about seven years of research and writing to complete this book, my third. It has been a long journey. Although the state of the world is palpably grim, the purpose of this book is not at all to depress readers. It is the opposite. Turning a blind eye to these problems only makes them worse. From studying these institutions we learn how to fix them and how the welfare of the everyday people, other forms of life, and ecosystems can be so easily improved. Doing so can be hugely uplifting. The alternative of ignoring the suffering of those around us, our own, and ecological destruction is far more grim. The next section will introduce these four institutions and explain how they shape humanity. The rest of the book will be an informal history about their development and the conclusion will be devoted to explaining how they can destroyed for the well-being and happiness of all life forms and our home planet.
A Short Note to the Reader about the Origins of this book…………………………………….(3-6)
Part One: Introduction
- 1.1 Tools of Control………………………………………………………………….(11-12)
- 1.2 Governments…………………..…………………………………………..……(13-25)
- 1.3 Billion Dollar, Transnational Corporations…………..………..……………..….(26-28)
- 1.4 The Corporate News Media……….……….……………………………………(29-33)
- 1.5 Religion: The Fourth and Most Unique Influence………………………………(34-43)
Part Two: A Brief History of Money, Government, Religion, and Science and Why They Evolved
- 2.1 The Conception of Tools, Money, Agriculture, Government, and Religion……
- 2.2 Fiat Currency Today, Education and the Division of Labor ……………………….
- 2.3 The Development of Religious Thought and Behavior……..………………………
- 2.4 Organized Religion…………………..………………..………………………..
- 2.5 Abrahamic Religions…………………………………………………….……..
- 2.6 A Brief History of Palestine and Israel, the Ongoing Occupation of Palestine, and the Crimes Against Humanity Committed by the Racist Israeli Government……………..
- 2.7 Abrahamic Texts………………………………………………………………..
- 2.8 Immorality, Violence, Myth, and Contradictions in Religious Texts and Communities……………………………………………………………………………………………….
- 2.9 Religion, Sex, Contraception, Abortion, Homosexuality, Marriage, Puritanism, and Rape by Clergy……………………………………………………………………………………………
- 2.10 The “Problem of Evil”………………………………………………………
- 2.11 The Birth and Development of Science and Religion’s Effect on its Progress………………………………..…………………………………………
- 2.12 The Crusades and Science After the Middle Ages…….………………………
- 2.13 Religion’s Effect on Recent History and Education in the Presence of Scientific Knowledge………………………………………………………………………….
- 2.14 Scientific Knowledge, Copyright Laws, and Their Effect on the Spread of Authoritarianism………………………………………………………………………………………….
- 2.15 Colonialism in Antiquity and the Road to Modern Imperialism….………….…
Part Three: The Birth of Modern Corporations, Banks, Growing Economic Inequality, and Their Effects on the Natural World
- 3.1 Corporations and Imperialism…………………………………………….……
- 3.2 The Rise of Corporate Executives and Bankers in America…………………….
- 3.3 The Corporate Takeover and the Destruction of the Working Class in America Via Bailouts, Tax Breaks for the Rich, and Corporate Executives Hired to Regulate Themselves In Government…………………………………………………………………………..
- 3.4 Global Warming, Greenwashing, Ecocide, the Corporate State Role, Environmental “Nonprofits”, and Sustainable Solutions…………………………………………………………
- 3.5 The TPP, TTIP, TiSA, CETA, and other “Free trade” disasters…………………….
- 3.6 The Scam of Billion Dollar “Lending” and Debt Slavery Disguised As “Humanitarian Aid” and “Development” by International Financial Institutions…………………………
- 3.7 The Richest of the Rich………………………………………………..………..
- 3.8 The Stock Exchange: A Rigged Casino……………………………..………….
- 3.9 The Poorest of the Poor, Their Health, and Spending on Life-Saving Resources and Services Versus Military Spending………………………………………………………………….
Part Four: The Evolution of Electronic, Corporate Media, Advertising, Propaganda, and Their Effects on Humanity
- 4.1 Developing Propaganda and Feeding Consumerism……………………………..
- 4.2 The Inventions of the Telephone and Television, their impact on Culture, and the Development of the Counterculture in America………………………………………..
- 4.3 The Counterculture, the Civil Rights Movement, and the Women’s Movement of the 1960s …………………………………………………………………………………………………….
- 4.4 The Civil Rights Movement, State Collusion with The Klan, the Futility of Nonviolent Protest Alone, a Brief History of Gun Control, the Racism of Both Political Parties, and the Necessity of Armed Resistance………
- 4.5 News Media Biases, Advertising, Telecommunications, and Their Sociological Effects…………………………………………………………………………………
- 4.6 Media Manipulation and Patenting Life…….……………………………….
Part Five: The Selective Drug War, Incarceration, and Involuntary Hospitalization: Three More Means of Social and Economic Control
- 5.1 Gentrification…………………………………………………………………
- 5.2 The Real Reason for the Selective Criminalization of Drugs….………………
- 5.3 Drugs and Terrorism………………………………….………………….…..
- 5.4 Analyzing the Current, Illicit Opium and Cocaine Markets, US Government Protection and Distribution, and the Correlation Between GDP, Smuggling Routes, Drug laws, and Addiction………………………………………………………………………………
- 5.5 Analyzing and Understanding the Licit Opium Market and the Most Abused Substance on Earth……………..…………………..………………………….….
- 5.6 A Brief History of the Criminalization of Cannabis in the United States …..…………………………………………………………………………………….
- 5.7 Cannabis and its Efficacy as a Medicine……………………………………..
- 5.8 Legalizing Drugs in a Responsible Way……………………………………..
- 5.9 Reforming Rehabilitation Programs like the “Twelve Steps”…………………
- 5.10 The Profits and Racism of Prison Slave Labor, Private Prisons, and the Corporations Cashing In………………………………………………………………………………………………..
- 5.11 Rape in Prison, the Mentally Troubled Locked Up, and the Social Consequences of Prisons………………………..………………………………………………………………………….
- 5.12 The Mental Health Industry and Involuntary Commitment..…………………
- 5.13 The Rosenhan Experiment…..………………………………………………
- 5.14 Psychiatric Medication, Overmedication, and Holistic Alternatives………..
- 5.15 Rethinking Normality, Insanity, and Mental Wellness………….…………..
- 5.16 Questioning the Distinction Between Acceptable and Unacceptable Forms of Violence ……..……………..………………………………………..………….
- 5.17 Abolishing the Insanity Defense and Creating Alternative Criminal Defenses………………………………………………………………………………………..……
- 5.18 Bipolar Disorder, ADD, Schizophrenia, Childhood Psychiatry and Antipsychotics…………………………………………………………..……….
- 5.19 Rethinking Mental Disorders, Brain Diseases, their Relationship with Bodily Diseases, and For-Profit Psychiatry………………………………………….……………
- 5.20 Crime, Punishment, and Grand Juries,…………………………………………………..
- 5.21“I Feared For My Life” and Other Excuses Cops and the FBI Use to Get Away With Murder, Terrorism, and Entrapment……………………………….………………………………………..
- 5.22 Larger Wars………………………………………………………………………
Part Six: Global Wars for Capitalism and Corporations and the Fight against “Communism”
- 6.1 Collective Ownership, Worker’s Control, Unions, Autonomy, Anarchism, Communism, the Spanish Revolution, and their Suppression by Capitalist Empires……………………
- 6.2 A Brief Explanation of State Socialism, Libertarian Socialism, Anarchism, and Communism, and Why They Were Redefined by Capitalist Empires..……….…..
- 6.3 The Deception and Brutality of the Soviet Union and the US Government, and Their Persecution of Anarchists, Dissidents, and Libertarian Socialists and communists…….……………………………………………………………………………………………………………….
- 6.4 The Korean War………………………………………………………………
- 6.5 The Vietnam War……………………………………………………..………
- 6.6 The CIA, its Devotion to American Corporations, Profit, State Capitalism, and Crushing Socialism: From Operation PBFORTUNE to Operation Ajax to Operation Condor to the Bay of Pigs…………………………………………………………………….…..
- 6.7 Oil Wars……………………………………………………………….……..
- 6.8 The Iran-Contra Affair…………………………….…………………………
- 6.9 The Persian Gulf War and the Following Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq………………………………………………………………………………..
- 6.10 Governments, War, Murder, Terrorism, Euphemisms in Corporate State Propaganda, and Double Standards…………………………………………………………….
- 6.11 The Privatization of War and the Military and Black Site Prisons …………
Part Seven: Solutions
- 7.1 Destruction of What’s Destroying Us…………………………………..……………….
- 7.2 Taking Back the Stolen Wealth of the World….…..…….………………….
- 7.3 Rewilding, Reorganizing, and Rebuilding From the Bottom Up For Human and Ecological Needs.
- 7.4 What Can We Do Individually?………………………………….………..….
- 7.5 Final Words………………………………………………………..…………
- A Short List of Charities, Free Services and Resources…………………………..
1.1 Tools of Control
Among the most common features of almost every state that has ever existed are vast socioeconomic inequities, which still exist in disturbing extremes, even in same regions. Beverly Hills, for example, known for its wealth and bourgeois, lavish mansions is just about fourteen miles away from sprawling L.A. ghettos wrecked by violence and police brutality. These kinds of inequities are largely grown by the four primary institutions that control us: governments, hierarchical religious institutions, the corporate media, and transnational corporations more broadly. While these institutions have had some positive effects on the world, they are primarily responsible for globalization and capitalism in their most dominant forms and all the suffering that comes with them.
There is immense beauty and value in the world, and they must be preserved. But these institutions see nothing but profit in the Earth’s natural beauty. They seek to exploit or extract all of the world’s natural resources, including people and other life, simply in an attempt to satisfy their insatiable greed. For equity to be more than just an abstract concept, these tools of control have to be destroyed and vastly different systems of voluntary, horizontal organization and lifestyles must become widespread that meet human and ecological needs.
Globalization is the extension of social and economic relations worldwide. Complex systems of communications, transport, and trade have flattened the world and sped up globalization greatly. If socioeconomic relations were extended worldwide in the most responsible way, this would have great benefit. Equal, just, and peaceful relations between all people could be established. Borders, (which should be abolished along with border patrols) and languages would not have to be boundaries to the free exchange of information and ideas. But this does happen mainly because of a few selfish actors who misunderstand people. Globalization has mostly been driven by a desire for economic conquest and control, which has contributed to these unequal conditions. Most global trade is also literally driven by fossil fuel burning planes, ships, trains, trucks, and other vehicles, which contribute to one of the most serious problems we face, anthropogenic climate disruption. Globalization has been so glorified that many have forgotten about the importance of interacting with our neighbors, bettering our own neighborhoods, and supporting local organizations. Instead, many simply buy the cheapest products possible made in sweatshops on the other side of the world.
Beyond “going local,” the specialization and division of labor inherent within state capitalism make sustainability and self-reliance nearly impossible. Students go to college to study one subject for years and produce tons of it. Competition, therefore, is fierce, there is little reason to collaborate, and there is a strong incentive to keep producing whatever one is trained to produce even if there is no demand or need for it (because we’re not trained or licensed to do anything else and our survival depends on continuing to sell whatever we’re trained to make or do). Instead, people could study many subjects and produce all of what they need, reconnecting with the land, moving away from capital, and achieving self-reliance. The institutions that control don’t want that because they want us to be dependent on them and believe we “need” them. Beyond “going local” the specialization and division of labor inherent within state capitalism make sustainability and self-reliance nearly impossible. Students go to college to study one subject for years and produce tons of it. Competition, therefore, is fierce, there is little reason to collaborate, and there is a strong incentive to keep producing whatever one is trained to produce even if there is no demand or need for it (because we’re not trained or licensed to do anything else and our survival depends on continuing to sell whatever we’re trained to make or do). Instead, people could study many subjects and produce all of what they need, reconnecting with the land, moving away from capital, and achieving self-reliance. The institutions that control don’t want that because they want us to be dependent on them and believe we “need” them.
The most significant problems with the institutions that control is that they have become too concentrated, powerful, and ubiquitous, their ambitions are unending, and their direction is mostly determined by small groups of affluent, powerful, and extremely arrogant and bigoted families and individuals. These people, sometimes referred to as the 1%, the bourgeoisie, or the “economic elite,” snuff out the most positive aspects of these institutions like honest politicians and religious ideologies that promote the well-being of all. The most powerful and rich people do not want socioeconomic equity because they make their money from inequity.
Like the other institutions that control us, religious powers have become global as well. Christianity and Islam have spread to nearly every country in the world and 84% of the world was religious in 2010 according to the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. The religious population has grown so much because religion is forced on us. Religion can be a comfort to many, but the world is also torn apart by it. Religious convictions often separate people with different, deeply held beliefs, and it is one of the most common causes of war. Religious extremism still drives ethnic cleansing and genocide to this day, especially in Africa and the Middle East. Unfortunately, when some well-meaning religious missionaries travel to such places to help, they often end up fueling conflict by giving inhabitants a religion to rely on, which makes them targets for extremists and this can also fuel internecine conflict. Such missionaries often do not know about the history behind the imperialist indoctrination of native peoples and how it has spread massive violence and disease in the past. When sacred beliefs (especially ones about an afterlife) are all that a group of people have to lose, they often become more inclined to act in extreme, irrational ways, and they may not feel their life means anything if they have an eternity of bliss awaiting them in the “afterlife.”
“Every action has a reaction.” – Isaac Newton.
It is worth recognizing there are some well meaning people in government. I campaigned for a friend of mine, Libby Kimzey for local office before I became an anarchist. She didn’t win, but I met and talked with her opponent and wish she had, even though I no longer believe in government. Most good people in government get pulled one way or another by corporate interests, which is one of the major problems with representative government. “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” as John Dalberg-Acton warned. Therefore, while there are a few people in government who do care about public safety and the natural world, they are few and far between, and sometimes even they will do the bidding of the corporate interests without even realizing it because we are all so powerfully influenced by corporations and the wealthy. They have to operate within the framework of the system, which is oppressive and doesn’t ask for anyone’s consent, except that of the rulers. It is built on coercion, violence, slavery, stolen land, and genocide. Politicians also have to appeal to their demographics and because representatives generally “represent” millions of people who believe in vastly different ideals, they often have to compromise their beliefs to do this and outright lie. By trying disingenuously to appeal to everyone, they end up representing no one. There is simply no need for representatives. We are capable of making decisions about our own lives, and it requires incredibly naivety to trust anyone with the kind of power we give representatives. Some argue representatives are “necessary” because common people don’t have the time to read every bill and piece of legislation. But we have to ask ourselves are these thousands of rules, regulations, and pieces of legislation hundreds or thousands of pages long necessary? Life ought to be far more simple than states and those vested in capitalism have made it to be.
Far too much of the world is controlled by force, threat of force, propaganda, or some combination of the three. These are the primary tools of governments. If individuals cannot be controlled by force, the easiest way to manipulate them is to deceive them with propaganda, and usually propaganda that instills fear is the most effective. Our opinions are shaped largely by people we have never met and we are told to hold positions that are against our own collective best interests so that the super-rich and powerful will benefit. For example, we are often warned about some ruthless and even apocalyptic threat, so that we will support fighting it and even give up our freedoms to “defeat” it when the “threat” is, in fact, negligible, non-existent, or created by our own growing government and its zeal for the spoils of war. We are also told that tax cuts for the rich are “good for the working class” because of the “trickledown effect,” which is nothing more than vile, laughably incoherent propaganda pushed by the super-rich. The super-rich (billionaires) are maintaining and worsening most of the inequities of the world. They are the creators of the most destructive, exploitative jobs. But they want to convince us that heavy taxes on their incomes to profit the poor would somehow hurt the poor when they just hurt the profits of the super-rich. We are expected to trust that by adding to the riches of the super-rich, they will somehow spill over onto the rest of us and that this is supposed to be more effective than simply taking their wealth and redistributing it among common people.
Out of the four forces that control us, governments may have the most evident effects on people. Governments are supposed to control production and people for the common good, but they very clearly do not. Virtually all governments condone the use of force to control nonviolent people as they see force as a much needed tool, and most states label dissenters and critics of their actions “criminals” or even “terrorists”. When governments are built on conquest, genocide, the pilfering and exploitation of land, and oppression of people, the only legitimate self-defense is directed against them. Violence is often the first and most popular option governments take. They do almost nothing to deter aggression and reduce the will for “crime” and violence, and they commit the largest crimes of all.
American police killed about 1100 people in 2014 alone, almost twice the number killed by mass shooters since 1982,1 yet the corporate news media spends far more time talking about mass shooters and gun control for common people. Americans are 58 times more likely to be killed by a cop than a terrorist.2 According to FBI data, in 2008 a total of 14,180 Americans were murdered and the 2008 US population according the US Census Bureau was 304.1 million. That same year there were about 765,000 sworn police officers with powers to arrest in America according to a census by the Bureau of “Justice,”3 and at least 629 murders by cops4, (a conservative estimate) which translates to a murder rate of 82.22 per 100,000 cops and just 4.4 per 100,000 members of the public. Therefore, the police who are supposed to “protect and serve” murdered more than 18 times more people than citizens in 2008. That year there was one cop for every 397.51 people, making up about .251% of the total population. In other words this .251% of the populous made up of cops was responsible for about 4.435% of all of the murders. Their victims are primarily society’s most vulnerable people like addicts, people of color, the poor, dissidents, and the mentally troubled. A report by the Office of Research and Public Affairs entitled “Overlooked in the Undercounted: The Role of Mental Illness in Fatal Law Enforcement Encounters” found that people with mental illness are 16 times more likely to be killed by police than other civilians. The report states “By all accounts – official and unofficial – a minimum of 1 in 4 fatal police encounters ends the life of an individual with severe mental illness. At this rate, the risk of being killed during a police incident is 16 times greater for individuals with untreated mental illness than for other civilians approached or stopped by officers”5
Further, in 2013 there were more than ten million people in prison, and a fifth were locked up in America, despite the fact that America only contains 3% of the word’s total population.6 America has by far the largest prison population in the world. In just forty US states, the District of Columbia, Guam, and Puerto Rico in 2014, there were at least 7.8 million Americans with outstanding warrants,7 (3.9 million of whom were wanted for minor misdemeanors) including a staggering 16,000 out of the 21,000 total residents8 of Ferguson, Missouri, the site of unending police abuses and terror. This doesn’t just devastate those incarcerated but their families as well as five million children in the US have had at least one parent in prison9 and in 2010 2.7 million children (about 3.6% of all children in US) had one parent in prison.10 That same year 1.8% of white children had an incarcerated parent while a staggering 11.4% black children (about 1 of every 9) had an incarcerated parent. Incarcerated parents can lose their children because of the “Adoption and Safe Families Act,” which requires state agencies to terminate parental rights if a child is in foster care for 15 of the preceding 22 months. 73,000 parents lost the rights to raise their children in 2000 alone due to this Act. Only Nebraska, New Mexico and Oklahoma have statutes that prevent this.
Prison is modern day slavery. However, the old institution of formal slavery is still alive and well too, contrary to popular belief, and it is upheld by various governments. According to the Walk Free Foundation there were, in fact, 21-29 million slaves worldwide in 2014 predominately in countries like India, China, Pakistan, Nigeria, Mauritania, (where 4.3% of the population is enslaved) and the Ivory Coast.11 Mauritania’s government waited until 2007 to finally criminalize slavery and it barely helped. Slavery has also increased in Libya in recent years as refugees who seek to escape dictatorships in Africa like Nigeria’s are sold by smugglers there who promise them safe travel for a price.12 They are then generally captured by Libyan authorities and deported back home with nothing. According to investigative journalist, Benjamin Skinner, there are more slaves today than at any point in human history and slaves are also cheaper than they have ever been. In his research he was offered a ten-year-old sex slave for $50 in Haiti where there are 300,000 child slaves according to UNICEF.13
Most of us who live in self-proclaimed “free” countries do not believe that our government is a malicious influence because governments make us believe we need to be protected from the very people and problems (like criminals and poverty) governments and the super-rich help create. Most governments help produce and maintain these problems by creating and maintaining massive economic inequities through the exploitation of the working classes and “crime” naturally follows. Governments also harbor the most criminals as criminals enter government in order to avoid prosecution for their crimes. Even when (mostly rich) governments develop very socially useful projects like the construction of public libraries, schools, or hospitals, they do not do the physical work. Common people do the work. Common people also fight their wars and buy most of their products while most government representatives never fight their own wars or suffer the consequences of their own policies. Government representatives are simply parasites who feed on the working class and the poor.
Most of us can agree we do need various rules in the world for communities to function well and I am among them. But we do not need the types of rules we have that were written by people with heavily concentrated power in order to maintain their power, nor do we need governments to enforce these rules. Anarchy has become associated with chaos, but anarchy simply means a system without rulers. The etymology of the word demonstrates that as its root Greek words are “an” and “arkhos”, which together mean “without ruler.” Societies that lack rulers are not chaotic. Quite the opposite is the case. Rulers create chaos in their quest for greater power, capital, and control. Anarchy does not have to mean the absence of government. But any form of anarchic government or organization has to be voluntarily created with the consent of all, directly democratic, organized from the bottom up, and nonviolent (except in self-defense) with no legitimate monopoly on force. As the central tenant of anarchism is “no rulers” there can be no managers or wage slavery. Instead, under anarchy workplaces are democratically managed and this makes it quite similar to libertarian socialism. For libertarian socialism or anarchy to function, there must be willingness to collaborate. Collectivization cannot be forced on common people. However, the wealthiest parasitical rulers must be forced by the people (not by state decree) to give up their power and ill-gotten resources by any means necessary because this is an act of self-defense and defense of the planet. Billionaires don’t work one million times harder than those with a net-worth of $1000. No one deserves nor needs billions of dollars and it is misanthropic to hoard that kind of money when billions of people don’t have basic necessities like adequate, nutritious food, clean water, proper shelter, or health-care.
There is no court, government body, or single person, no matter how sound or intelligent, that could make decisions that are always correct about what is morally right. Every aspect of human behavior cannot be controlled anyway, even if there was a perpetually accurate moral body to make these decisions about what is right and wrong. We must have the freedom to act as we wish with the central understanding that we must respect the autonomy of others, except in defense of our lives or others. The best behaviors cannot be forced from people but fostered. Fundamentally, we need to build a more just society to reduce the will for violence and coercion by treating voluntary, quality education, life-saving information, healthy food, potable water, clean air, biodiversity, health-care, and freedom as rights. The evils of the world will never be legislated away. The world will only reach an equilibrium and a positive peace and equity with complete freedom. Of course, people’s interests and values inevitably collide and there will likely always be violence and sometimes retribution for that violence and some people will never be deterred to stop hurting others without being killed themselves. But that is a part of life and it can be diminished by removing all governmental, corporate, and religious authorities from power who call themselves “legitimate” and who over and over get away with their crimes against humanity and suffer no consequences because they’re the “authority figures,” and authority figures rarely punish other authority figures. A system wherein no one has authority over anyone else against their will and people use their best judgment is the only one that will foster the best behaviors from everyone. Through the right kinds of education and sharing of information, humankind can come to understand how all of life is interconnected and how hurting another who doesn’t deserve to be hurt often harms both parties.
What many people who have their faith in the state don’t realize is that government is not some kind of abstract, impartial institution that always works in the same, consistent way. It is made up of very flawed, biased individuals and one judge’s or cop’s conception and interpretation of the law and “justice” is going to differ from another and often they don’t care about either. Therefore, the best arguments don’t win. Either the person the judge or cop likes the most wins or the person with the biggest bribe wins. (Appealing to the ego of authority figures often works too.) If a judge simply doesn’t like someone, he or she can punish the defendant with the most severe sentence. Cops, prosecutors, prison guards, and soldiers similarly make decisions everyday about how to deal with people with little to no accountability, oversight, nor regard for the actual law oftentimes. There is no “law.” They are mere words on pieces of paper but how they are enforced, if at all, is a matter of personal discretion of the people in the government, so it is much more chaotic than many realize. And the solution isn’t “better” people to fill those roles because these roles, these positions of immense power, are the core problems. No one can or should be trusted with that kind of power. Most people with “the law” on their side use it as a mere excuse to do whatever they want to do with no consequences. Cops decide what constitutes “reasonable suspicion” and judges have the power to uphold or deny these judgments. They literally make “the law” as they go. They also wrongly assume fear of them constitutes “reasonable suspicion” because they are divorced from reality. Innocent people get arrested, harassed, beaten, and killed by police all the time. That’s why people fear them. But they assume people fear them because they have “something to hide.” Meanwhile, the fears of cops are always assumed to be rational in court and a “legitimate” cause for murdering other people. The excuse “I feared for my life” is enough to exonerate a cop in court of murder. But a citizen could never use that defense against a cop in court even though citizens have far more reasons to fear cops.
When the fragile ego of these authority figures is challenged, their reaction is usually to break the law to get what they want. As an example, in June 2014 after Brevard County Judge, John C. Murphy, demanded assistant public defender, Andrew Weinstock, waive his client’s right to a trial and he refused, the judge demanded he sit down. When Weinstock didn’t sit, the judge said “If you want to fight, let’s go out back and I’ll just beat your ass.” The Judge then punched him in the face twice. Though the judge was fired, the altercation exemplifies the absurdity of having these “legal vacuums” in the confines of courtrooms and more broadly the whole idea of laws and “supreme authority” that can’t be questioned by threat of incarceration or death. They believe they can do whatever they want because they’re “in charge.” The cops in the courtroom didn’t intervene initially because they work for the judge. After the judge reentered the room, the rest in attendance in the courtroom clapped, illustrating the sycophantic, bootlicking nature of the public.
Higher courts like the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights that can prosecute politicians and others in the state for crimes rarely work because their decisions aren’t enforced. For example, on March 4, 2009 the ICC issued an arrest warrant for Omar al-Bashir, Sudan’s genocidal dictator for crimes against humanity but the government of Sudan simply ignored the warrant, illustrating the ineffectiveness of courts in general. All trials are a sham. They only result in action when the government wants and has the force and resources to enforce the decisions.
When the concept of authority is put into practice, it always destroys accountability because the buck is always passed from higher-ups to underlings and vice versa. Everyone involved gets to absolve themselves of responsibility because they say “it’s the system that is the problem” and “I’m just doing my job to survive.” Some of the most common excuses are “I’m just following orders,” “I’m trying to do good,” “I’m trying to change the system from within,” “If I quit someone worse will take my place,” and “I’m just trying to support my family.” But they continue to contribute to the system and act like they have no other options, which is an egregious lie. When Joe, your neighborhood plumber, screws up, he is held completely accountable. But when a so-called “peace officer” or someone else in the government screws up, that’s called a “professional error” that he made “under orders” that most of society chalks up to the “stress of the job” because the “peace officer” isn’t an individual; he represents the institution of government that statists believe must be defended, even if it means covering up the crimes of individuals in them. The most heinous actions ever committed in history were performed by people claiming to be “just following orders” like the pilots who dropped nuclear bombs over Nagasaki and Hiroshima or the officers of Japanese internment camps commanded by their “superiors.” Because they were just listening to their commanding officers, they were able to absolve themselves of all responsibility for their actions. Their commanding officers often did the same as they argued they only gave the commands but did not actually do anything beyond that. This hierarchy that allows for so much endless buck-passing exists so that no one has to feel responsible for the atrocities of war and state terror. As Peter Gelderloos explains in his book, The Failure of Nonviolence,“In most institutions, the degree of separation between one’s actions and the consequences is far greater. There is not a single boss and victim on the other side of the door, but multiple layers of authority to whom the buck can be passed, and the consequences are usually out of sight and out of mind.” (Gelderloos, Peter: The Failure of Nonviolence, pg. 126).
The last thing we need are arrogant egomaniacs sworn into power under the pretense of “legitimacy, divine right, and moral character” What’s right and wrong are subjective and no one can make a ruling that is “officially right.” The idea is infantile. There’s nothing democratic about representation or authority. Yet virtually all representative governments call themselves “democracies.” Giving one person the ability to sentence thousands to life in a cage or to be beaten, raped, or killed is antithetical to direct democracy.
There is this terrible myth that those of us from the so-called “first world” live in “democracies.” But most of us never give the government consent to rule our lives. We are born on land that is governed and we don’t get to pick where to be born, of course. We are not even capable of giving consent (legally) when we are born and yet we are still immediately governed by a myriad of laws and the inclinations of those with the law on their side. And leaving the country costs money many don’t have. Even when we can vote, in America our votes in the presidential elections make no difference because of the electoral college, racist “voter fraud” laws (that are overwhelmingly used against black communities, such as in Indiana where in 2016 Connie Lawson, the Indiana Secretary of State ordered state troops to intimidate black voters at their houses and raid a registration operation intended to register minorities because some of the voter information allegedly didn’t match up with state records), gerrymandering, the influence of super PACs (political action committees), unlimited corporate donations, the difficulty of registering to vote, and the fact that 6.1 million Americans are prohibited from voting due to felony convictions14. The electoral college is possibly the worst of all of these factors because the popular vote is made irrelevant by the electoral college. Americans can overwhelmingly vote for one candidate but that candidate will still lose if the electoral college decides to chose someone else. Someone outside of the state may say they support the government but that’s irrelevant to the state. They rule with or without the public’s approval. Plenty of common people do object but the government doesn’t care, unless those people actually interfere with the state’s operations. Governments are like an alien force that terrorizes us without end. They steal our money via taxation and then act as if they are charitable for giving away a few food stamps. The myth that they rule with our consent or that any government in any way resembles a “democracy” is one of the most terrible, ubiquitous lies that will not seem to die. No government gives anyone freedom or rights. Governments can only take away freedom and rights. No government, no matter how it is structured, could ever guarantee anyone’s safety. Nothing can. But as many don’t want to live with uncertainty, they believe the myth the governments keep them safe. Governments want you to be grateful they haven’t kidnapped you and thrown you in a cage. But only obsequious, boot-licking sycophants are grateful for fascist regimes showing relative mercy.
While the electoral college is relatively new, it’s not as if democracy died as soon as it was introduced. As soon as the Americas were colonized by the Europeans, autonomy died in this continent. In the Constitutional Convention, James Madison said that the government’s utmost imperative is to “protect the opulent minority from the majority” because the wealthy are the “more responsible set of men.” The rest in attendance agreed. The Constitution concentrated the power of the government in the Senate, which back then was not elected. It was selected by rich property owners and served as a sort of electoral college. We shouldn’t forget this country as well as the rest of the states in North, Central, and South America were built on slavery, stolen land, and genocide of indigenous peoples. In fact, twelve US Presidents (George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, Andrew Jackson, Martin Van Buren, William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, James K. Polk, Zachary Taylor, Andrew Johnson, and Ulysses S. Grant) owned slaves. The colonizers attempted to justify these acts by dehumanizing indigenous people. George Washington, a widely revered “founding father” in America referred to indigenous peoples as “savages” and “beasts of prey” in an attempt to justify further colonization: “The gradual extension of our settlements will as certainly cause the savage as the wolf to retire; both being beasts of prey though they differ in shape.” 15
Although not all politicians are intentionally malicious, all do malicious things because they are controlled primarily by the super-rich and the institution of government. Governments make people believe every one of their laws is just and that their wars are always worth fighting and even admirable. They also try to convince us that the people they lock in cages are just as inherently evil as those we are fighting abroad. But most of this is done merely to benefit our ideological and financial rulers, and the abhorrent conditions of prisons and our governments that glorify state-sanctioned violence create the most brutal “criminals.”
America is still the world’s number one empire and threat. The US government wages war on everyone who dare oppose its hegemony. It is a fact this government funds and commits more terror than any other country in the world. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, in 2015 the US spent $597 billion on military expenditures, about as much as the next eight top military spenders combined, (China spent $215 billion, Saudi Arabia spent $87.2 billion, Russia spent $66.4 billion, the UK spent $55.5 billion, India spent $51.3 billion, France spent $50.9 billion, Japan spent $40.9 billion, and Germany spent $39.4 billion), enough money to end world hunger, homelessness, and dehydration and to fund medical care and education globally. If the budget of the Pentagon, homeland security, nuclear programs in the DoE, veteran benefits, and intelligence agencies is included in the tally of US military expenditures, the figure rises to a staggering $900 billion per year.16 In 2009 the USG (US government) had soldiers in 148 countries.17 In 2010 there were 4,999 military facilities in the US, its territories, and overseas according to the Pentagon’s 2010 Base Structure Report. There are 50,000 American troops in Southern Germany alone, even though it’s safe to assume Hitler is no longer a threat. (He killed himself in 1945). In 2011 the US government sold weapons to 172 countries18, (more than 50% of the global total of weaponry sold) including countries rife with government terrorism and police brutality, such as Sudan, Saudi Arabia, the Congo, Egypt, Israel, Mexico, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Turkey, and Ukraine. The US military openly targets hospitals, schools, mosques, UN centers, and other civilian infrastructure in Afghanistan, Syria, Pakistan, and Yemen and various other countries and has the gall to blame their targets for using “human shields.” The US government operates CIA black site prisons like Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, Stare Kiejkuty in Poland (formerly an outpost for the Nazi intelligence service) and black-site prisons like them on American soil like Homan Square in Chicago where human beings are being held, humiliated, confined, raped, and tortured without trial, representation, or the light of day, most having never committed a crime.
The US government funds dictatorships like Saudi Arabia’s “Royal Family” that offer resources valuable to US corporations like oil and executes democratically elected leaders like Patrice Lumumba. (In December 2013, the U.S. State Department admitted that President Eisenhower authorized his murder and his killers received CIA funding and weapons) when they stand in the way of corporate America’s profits. The US has fueled genocides across the world in South Sudan, Niger, Chad, Nigeria, the Congo, East Timor, Yemen, Vietnam, Korea, Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Palestine, and many more countries. Every single US President in history has committed crimes against humanity.
US police and prison guards detain, harass, beat, torture, incarcerate, and kill without due process. Their word is always trusted in courts. Savage, bloodthirsty prosecutors and judges side with killer cops. Almost none are convicted. The US Department of Defense is the world’s largest employer with 3.3 million employees and being an American soldier is one of the most popular jobs on the planet, despite the fact that so few gain anything from it. Unemployment, homelessness, suicide, mental disorders (like PTSD, severe depression, anxiety, and so on), and disabling injuries are all very common among veterans. So long as men and women are willing to sacrifice themselves as cannon fodder to expand US hegemony, the empire will live on. Soldiers and people thinking about joining the military need to understand the state doesn’t care about them. As an example, during the Vietnam War the Kennedy administration with the participation of the UK, Canada, and Australia conducted Project 112, a biological and chemical experiment wherein sarin, VX, e. coli, tear gas, and other biological agents were sprayed on Porton Down in the UK, Ralston Canada, and 13 US warships to test if the nerve agents would result in temporary paralysis. 60,000 soldiers were sprayed with these poisons in these experiments, which were also known as the Shipboard Hazard and Defense. The state simply views soldiers and the rest of us as lab rats and expendable cogs in the machine.
As stated the empires of the Americas (North, Central, and South) were all built on slavery, stolen land, and genocide. During the 16th Century alone a heart-wrenching 100 million native people were wiped out out by settlers, colonists, and European and American government empires, including 10 million in North America, 30 million in Central America, and 50 to 70 million in South America.19 Most who survived were enslaved or forced onto reservations (thousands of Cherokee were forced into concentration camps before being forced on the Trail of Tears) and Indian Boarding schools where their culture and identity were destroyed and they were forced to speak English and prohibited from singing all Native songs upon penalty of beatings or rape. The economy of the Americas was also built by African slaves kidnapped from their homeland, as well as the slave labor of many other races. Our current laws and prisons reflect that history. Minorities today make up a disproportionately large portion of the prison population. In 2008 one out of every 36 adult Hispanic men in America was behind bars and one out of every nine black men (ages 20-34) was imprisoned as well.20 (Further, one out of every nine people in prison is serving a life sentence.)
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, in 2008 3,161 of every 100,000 African Americans of all age groups were in prison while only 487 of every 100,000 whites were imprisoned According to the NAACP, in 2008 Black and Hispanics made up 58% of the US prison population, even though Black and Hispanic people consist of approximately one quarter of the US population. These disproportionate numbers are mostly due to racism in our laws, court systems, police departments, and federal agencies, as well as inherited poverty in communities with many minorities. These discrepancies are also due to the unfair expectations many people have of minorities. What sells in mainstream, corporate media is not usually a success story about a minority who worked hard building a business or a nonprofit. Instead, stories about minorities selling drugs, pimping, playing professional sports, or rapping sell. The road to success for minorities is made intentionally very narrow. (And even in an art form like rap, there is massive exploitation. Rappers talking about real issues don’t get the most contracts or airtime. They are a minority. The “Top 40” rap tracks are mostly just mindless, ludicrously bourgeois, and misogynistic.) Some internalize these expectations and this narrow vision of success, believing they can do no more. Minority groups are also turned on each other by the state and corporations, further increasing the murder rate of minorities in the same jingoist way the state turns whites against minorities. The state argues the government is not the cause of black people’s woes; but rather Hispanics, Muslims,Asians or even other black people moving in their neighborhoods are to blame.
“Criminals” are products of society just like everyone else. They are shaped by the environments they are raised in. Governments and other institutions that control us do not like to admit this because they want to “other them” or dehumanize them so that they can attempt to justify waging an endless war against them them instead of resolving the omnipresent socioeconomic inequities that cause crime created by the super-rich and their oppressive institutions.
Destructive crime can be prevented by reducing poverty, desperation, ignorance, and suffering, which are created by the very same institutions that attempt to justify using violence and mass incarceration as a way to “contain” crime. Further, there are also crimes that are positive to commit like not paying taxes, stealing from billionaires to feed the poor, sabotaging the operations of ecocidal corporations, dodging the draft, or helping immigrants cross the border illegally. The focus should not be on crime reduction but the elimination of laws that criminalize behavior and foster the worst in us.
Despite popular misconceptions about prisoners, very few people go to prison for violent crime. Most people arrested each year in America and in almost every country are incarcerated for drug crimes. Out of the 10,797,088 arrests made in the US in 2015, more were made for drug crimes (1,488,707) than for any other type of crime.21 (There are more people in prison for violent crime than for nonviolent drug crime, however, because violent offenders are generally kept there far longer.) Prison, in almost all cases, makes people much more violent. If there wasn’t so much violence and inequity inflicted by powerful institutions, very few people would want to be violent.
According to a 2016 report by the Prison Policy Initiative, seventy percent of the 646,000 people incarcerated in more than 3,000 US local jails were still awaiting trial and not yet convicted of a crime because they could not afford bail. The report correctly states the “constitutional principle of innocent until proven guilty only really applies to the well off…Using Bureau of Justice Statistics data, we find that, in 2015 dollars, people in jail had a median annual income of $15,109 prior to their incarceration, which is less than half (48%) of the median for non-incarcerated people of similar ages. People in jail are even poorer than people in prison and are drastically poorer than their non-incarcerated counterparts,”22 People found innocent after spending time in prison before a trial or after reopening a trial (usually because of a new piece of evidence that surfaces) and who have spent years in prison also aren’t offered any reparations or even apologies. Presumption of innocence is a legal principle that has its roots in Roman law. It was considered essential even then when slavery was an accepted practice, and the writ of Habeas corpus or a version of it is used by most self-proclaimed “democratic” governments today, yet 90% of all prisoners in Libya are awaiting trial. 77.9% of prisoners in Paraguay are awaiting trial. The figure is 74.9% in Benin and 74.4% in the Philippines. In the notoriously corrupt Congo 73% of the prison population is awaiting trial. In Yemen it’s 70.1%. Venezuela has the second highest percentage of pretrial detainees of any South American country at 71.3%. Uruguay and Bolivia are close behind. Even Saudi Arabia, Syria, Sudan, and Sierra Leone, incredibly corrupt and autocratic states, have lower percentages. In the US 20.3% of the prison population is awaiting trial. Only one state in the entire world, the tiny island of Tuvalu, has no pretrial detainees.23
People in power pursue “criminals” most aggressively when they are not making money for those in power (and many criminals don’t pay taxes on money acquired illicitly), so many are caught and put in prisons where they are forced to work for the government and its corporations often for mere pennies an hour. Simply not having money or a home is enough to be labeled as a criminal in many countries. For example, the London’s Hackney Council wrote an order called the “Public Space Protection Order,” which fines homeless people who sleep outside up to £1000 or about $1500 USD.24 It’s not just this London borough, however. The Vagrancy Act of 1824 that is still law criminalizes sleeping on the streets and begging in the whole of England and Wales. There are similar laws in various US cities, prohibiting eating, sleeping, begging, and even sitting outside.
Most prisons are places of punishment, not reformation. Governments claim the purpose of imprisonment is to protect people, but they are doing the opposite by keeping prisoners in cages where they only become more anti-social, angry, and connected with other criminals, which causes most of them to be greater threats to society when they are released. Recidivism is so high largely because prisons don’t want to reform anyone. War is also often waged for financial gain and the same fear tactics are used to garner public support for it. People are coerced into fighting and spending, because it is irrational to do another person harm who isn’t harming you, just as it is irrational to mindlessly spend money and consume, and fear is generally the tool used to coerce us into these behaviors. Billion-dollar, transnational corporations instill this fear too, and they profit even more than governments do.
1.3 Billion Dollar, Transnational Corporations
Billion dollar, transnational corporations exert much of their influence through governments with their corporate lobbyists and major donations to political campaigns. We are surrounded by corporations, their products, advertisements, waste, and destruction because governments let this happen. Unless you live in the mountains of Siberia, the effects of corporations are hard to avoid. Not all corporations are the same, of course, but the most profitable ones only become so profitable by stealing resources and engaging in the most unfair trade possible. They will buy (or steal) natural resources from far poorer people for the lowest price possible, and they pay their employees the least amount of capital possible for their labor in order to create the cheapest products on the market. This gives them monopolies on certain vital services and products, which are denied to those who cannot afford them in our “free market” system. And opting out of this corporate-state controlled system is quite difficult when just about everything has been “claimed” as “private property.” Foraging, hunting, and farming (without capital, a license to hunt, or a land deed) have become nearly impossible, and we have become the only species on Earth that has to pay to live, which is absolutely absurd.
Large corporations don’t merely dictate to the public which products we “need” to buy. They print money (most banks and currency printers are private corporations, not government entities) and leave us in perpetual debt with their usury, lending us their printed notes for products and services we cannot afford and charging absurd interest rates on the borrowed money, so that they can take away all of our possessions once we default. They also sell us medications that can create addictions and kill us. They sell us unhealthy, genetically modified food that they refuse to label sprayed with pesticides, fungicides, and insecticides known to cause cancer and destroy the environment, food that is primarily consumed by the poor because they are the cheapest foods available. They push cigarettes and alcohol (the largest preventable causes of death) on us while the government imprisons people for using cannabis, a drug that has killed no one. They sell us blood diamonds, clothing stitched by children in sweatshops and inmates, wood from old growth forests, and oil drilled as a spoil of war. And they sell us fantasies that are supposed to alleviate the crushing solitude and alienation created by capitalism. Corporations do this by flooding the airwaves and streets with invasive advertisements that create wants. They decide what people want and they make us fear the consequences of not owning what they are selling. They make us feel inadequate without the latest device or the biggest house. They make us fear ending up alone if we do not buy one product or another. They try to make us value products over each other. We are told that somehow every product is “integral” to our otherwise “empty” lives because we are not just being sold a product; we are often being sold a lifestyle or a whole identity, something that we can hide behind.
Corporate power is rooted in government. The most technologically advanced governments in history always felt entitled to more than they had, so they colonized new land to take its resources and exploit its cultures that were less technologically advanced. Out of colonialism grew modern imperialism and hegemony driven by the most rich and powerful people on the planet. Modern corporations have managed to re-brand imperialism, so few people recognize that imperialism is what is being forced on them. Teachers in history classes often talk about the historic empires of England, France, Russia, China, Japan, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, the US and so forth, but they still exist and they are thriving, which is almost never mentioned. They still have by far the most economic and military power, which they use to gain more of the same.
The precursors to modern corporations were joint-stock companies, which were investments in colonial conquests financed by the English government. They had royal charters and managers with political power and investors who bought shares of the colony. Early examples include Virginia, Pylmouth, and Mass Bay. The British East India Company was one of the first modern transnational corporations that laid the groundwork for contemporary corporations. In the 17th century, the British East India Company acted as another branch of the British government. It took over the governments of nations with its armies to exploit their inhabitants, and this eventually resulted in the Bengal Famine of 1770 that killed ten million Indians. The company also sold (literal) tons of opium to China, even after the country made the drug illegal. This caused widespread addiction in China. Major corporations today are run by the same principles. They make money by exploiting poor people and they feel they have a right to as much money as they can possibly take without giving back to anyone who has less. This is misanthropic and nihilistic. Some individual transnational corporations make almost as much money as entire continents. For example, Walmart’s revenue in 2010 was $421 billion. This was greater than the individual GDP of about 165 officially recognized countries. Only about 27 of the richest countries had a GDP greater than Walmart’s 2010 revenue, and Walmart made most of this money by exploiting their underpaid Chinese and American workers.
This money is further concentrated in the hands of just a few owners of these corporations. According to a report by the Institute for Policy Studies, the Forbes list of the richest 400 Americans had more wealth (a total of $2.34 trillion) than the bottom 61% of the nation (194 million people) combined.25 The report also found “The Forbes 400 now own about as much wealth as the nation’s entire African-American population – plus more than a third of the Latino population – combined.” Another report by Oxfam published in February 2017 showed that the eight richest men in the world own as much as the poorest half of humanity.26 The report also found “The incomes of the poorest 10% of people increased by less than $3 a year between 1988 and 2011, while the incomes of the richest 1% increased 182 times as much.” Most of that wealth is concentrated in America. In fact, 50% of the world’s richest one percent are Americans27 To be a member of that one percent in America, one must make at least $380,000 a year. However, to be a part of the richest one percent of the world as a total, one only needs an annual income of $34,000 (after taxes).
Billions of dollars is not made from hard work but rather from inherited or stolen resources, exploitative corporations, and other state funded institutions. (No billionaires are truly “self-made.”) This is especially true in countries that have even less opportunities than America or none at all. Hoarding money or resources needed to survive ought to be considered sociopathic when there are people who die without them. In many cultures, hoarding extreme wealth and resources is instead lauded and seen as commendable. Billionaires are considered inspirational “success stories” gushed about in the media because we live in a profoundly sick world. Communities must be organized based on the planet’s and people’s needs, not greed.
Money only equals survival because governments and corporations have privatized our means of survival. But we don’t need money. We need the resources it buys, which can be equitably shared (and were before money was invented) without any formal private ownership. Money is just printed paper. It just confuses us about what is really important, so it ought to be abolished along with the corporations that hoard it and resources. Barter, social currencies, resource based economies, and decentralized cryptocurrencies are more than sufficient to meet our needs.
1.4 The Corporate News Media
Mainstream, corporate media conglomerates do little else but instill fear and spread propaganda. Openly partisan, political pundits and talking heads instill most of this fear but even mainstream news castors who try to be objective are still very affected by corporate and political interests since their employers own giant corporations tied to governments. Since former US President Bill Clinton signed the Telecommunications Act of 1996 into law, under which Title 3 allows cross-ownership of media giants, most media outlets have conglomerated into the “big six,” (GE, News-Corp, Disney, Viacom, Time Warner, and CBS) which control about 90% of the American media. They have consolidated their power and influence to increase cronyism and lies to serve their socioeconomic and political ends. Just a handful of large corporations own the most viewed news stations in the world and they lie to viewers every minute, essentially constituting an oligopoly on telecommunications.
Viacom owns CBS, formerly known as the Colombia Broadcasting System, which itself owns 30 TV stations, CBS radio, and publisher, Simon & Schuster. Disney owns ABC, the American Broadcasting Company, 30 radio stations, ESPN, A&E, Lifetime, music, video game, and book publishing companies. Disney is also partnered with the Hearst corporation, which owns more networks, newspapers, and magazines. Time Warner owns CNN, Cinemax, HBO, Warner Brothers, Newline Cinema, DC Comics, TBS, TNT, and more. General Electric (GE) was formerly owned by NBC, the National Broadcasting Company, before it was bought by Comcast, which owns AT&T Broadband, 14 NBC TV stations, Telemundo, NBC News, CNBC, MSNBC, Peacock Productions, the Weather Channel, Bravo, E!, USA network, parts of the MLB and NHL networks, part of Hulu, Seeso, Universal Pictures, and DreamWorks. GE now owns GE real estate, GE Capital Aviation Services, GE Oil and Gas, GE Power and water, and GE healthcare. The News Corporation owns Fox News, the Fox broadcasting company, Fox Business Network, National Geographic, FX, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post, Barron’s, SmartMoney, 20th Century Fox, and Harper Collins. Even local news stations are owned by large corporations like Belo, Gannett, Media General, and Post-Newsweek. These giant conglomerates make billions of dollars by selling us the “big lies.”
The ties these media conglomerates have to politicians and other government sources are usually significant and sometimes very much transparent. For example, former mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, one of the richest people on Earth worth $46 billion as of 2018 according to Forbes owns Bloomberg L.P., the multinational mass media corporation, which includes Bloomberg News, Bloomberg Television, WBBR radio station, and Bloomberg Terminal, a computer terminal subscription service that provides in-depth, privileged stock information mainly to large financial firms. None of these properties were considered a conflict of interest during his term as mayor of NY. Bloomberg also has the NYPD in his pocket. On November 29th 2011, he bragged to MIT during a speech: “I have my own army in the NYPD, which is the seventh biggest army in the world.” This army has virtually created a police-state in New York and police corruption there is rampant. This plutocrat is still supported because he controls so much of the media but he’s akin to a character out of George Orwell’s 1984.
The corporate media has a more subtle influence on individuals than governments do because it doesn’t use force to control people, but words are often more powerful. Even without using force, the media has blood on its hands. Despite having the ability to stop mass atrocities by promoting awareness of them, the corporate news media usually avoids them if they implicate their own government or corporate sponsors. The US-sponsored massacre of innocent civilians in East Timor in 1991 is one example. Most major US news outlets did not report it. Many of the most deadly conflicts are not reported on, such as the genocide in South Sudan and the Congo. (Part of the reason for this is that they don’t want to discourage tourism and investment there for the benefit of US corporations abroad.) But the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11th , which killed 3000 people, have received more attention from US news outlets than perhaps any other attack in history. The coverage on them along with the rhetoric was largely used to justify the invasion and carpet bombings of Afghanistan and Iraq, which have killed over a million people. (According to poll conducted by the Opinion Research Business (ORB) International published on 14 September 2007, the US war in Iraq has claimed 1,220,580 lives since 2003. Of course, the death count is even higher today.) Exploiting tragedy is a very common tactic to generate fear to serve political and financial ends and ratings. But if there is no money to be made from the tragedy, coverage of it is avoided.
The corporate news media distorts the realities of war perhaps more than any other subject. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are but two examples. Much of the reporting on the Cold War efforts were spun incredibly on both sides of the conflict as well, which I will discuss this in book. Today, we hear about U.S. soldiers “fighting nobly” in the Middle East nearly every day from US news media conglomerates, but we rarely hear about the millions who have been killed in the region and the crimes against humanity committed by the US military and private military contractors.
The corporate news media in general does not want to report on any humanitarian crises that are too polarizing, depressing, or that implicate their government or their sponsors for fear that they will lose their support. Investigative, corporate journalists often get their information from government officials who are reluctant to keep providing them with newsworthy information if it is not spun in the government’s favor. Therefore, we often hear more about the social lives of politicians than their policies because this is what safely sells.
The current famine in Eastern and Central Africa is almost never discussed on major news stations in America or in other rich countries, and millions more may die as a result. The ongoing genocide in the Congo has killed six million people with little US coverage or intervention, except from mostly independent journalists. Catastrophes like hurricanes do not usually get worldwide attention, unless they are very severe or they involve a rich country or are situated next to one. If a US construction firm is contracted to rebuild after the disaster, mainstream news reporters suddenly become bleeding hearts, begging for donations. This is also often done to attract emotional investment and time because this translates into better ratings and more money for the owners of these broadcasting companies. (WPRI News owned by ABC contacted me very quickly after my sister went missing, not because they were concerned, but because they wanted a story. They also cut most of what I said from their segment.) Oftentimes, when there is a tragedy it is best not to dwell on it and endlessly relive the experience because it makes it more difficult to move forward, but that is exactly what corporate news stations do.
Politicians also exploit tragedy. When US wars are waged, US construction companies with ties to politicians often secure contracts from the government responsible for the damage to rebuild. The Clintons in particular have a history of profiting from disasters and funds intended for disaster relief. For example, when the earthquake of January 2010 devastated Haiti, relief supplies were delayed from landing at an airport in Haiti so that Hillary could land there for a photo-op and a press conference, make a statement, and then fly back to Washington. $13 billion dollars was raised from international relief organizations for Haiti at the time. Senior Adviser and Counsel for Hillary’s 2008 Presidential Campaign, Cheryl Mills was responsible for the allocation of US tax money to Haiti through USAID. Bill had been previously appointed as special envoy to Haiti for the UN and was now also named co-chair of the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission. The Clintons ensured the money intended for disaster relief went to Clinton donors who had economic interests in Haiti. $124 million went to one textile factory in Caracol in Nord-Est on the north shore of Haiti where the earthquake had no effects. The factory was supposed to create 64,000 jobs but it only created 5000 and the biggest beneficiaries were Gap, Target, and Walmart, which received tariff-free textiles produced via cheap Haitian labor. Further, the New Settlements Program in Haiti was supposed to build 15,000 homes for $53 million but instead built 2600 homes for $90 million. Most of the money was used to build luxury hotels right next to those devastated by earthquake. Dalberg Global Development Advisers was also supposed to relocate people made homeless from earthquake but chose the edge of a cliff as their camp site.
The corporate news media in rich countries like America often distracts individuals from issues that have the greatest social impact. It primarily keeps people complacent in rich countries because most corporations and politicians do not want wealthier citizens to resist since they have the resources to affect inequality. There are brilliant exceptions, of course, but they are rare and often less popular because they are not propped up by large corporations. Ironically, satirists who get mainstream attention are often propped up some of the very same media monopolies they criticize.
These media distractions exist because there is a demand for them. Beyond news many television programs, songs, films, and other types of media have made people obsessed with celebrity life and the pursuit of wealth. They make many of us believe that we can become rich and famous as long as we work hard enough, which makes us slave away tirelessly in our unsatisfying jobs to no avail. The goal is to keep us chasing the dream without ever reaching it. This is done by constantly increasing competition and demanding productivity, using the most desperate individuals to secure the lowest costs of labor and creating a mess in the process, which they can film, reproduce, and twist in the ways that further serves their interests. More specifically, desperate people willing to work for next to nothing are blamed for “taking jobs” away from the middle class instead of blaming greedy employers willing to exploit these desperate people and refusing to pay decent wages.
As a result of the dearth of values in the corporate media, too many people want to be celebrities in rich countries like America and so they broadcast and expose themselves in every way that technology allows them until nothing in their lives is private anymore, and nothing is considered too banal to share. Too many are unaware of world-wide problems because of this. Online newsfeeds are cluttered with selfies and cat pictures instead of real news. However, if most people were made aware of the world’s many pressing humanitarian crises, they would likely feel compelled to do something.
Even when hard work from common people pays off and we are able to achieve mass appeal through our talent or knowledge, we are often exploited by the private sector to benefit those who already have a great deal of capital. The smartest students, for example, are very often exploited for their knowledge and ideas by large corporations and left penniless. But students can fix this problem by collaborating and spreading knowledge freely and democratically, as well as by creating their own collaboratives and collectives and never selling out to large corporations.
The most financially successful, corporate news media outlets in poor countries generally invokes even more fear and stoops to more egregious demagoguery and jingoism, scapegoating minorities unapologetically to explain why there is massive inequality and suffering. This is often done to incite action, rather than complacency. Poorer people usually have less access to the diversity of information and education that richer people enjoy, so this can prevent them from knowing when they are being lied to, and these institutions that control us take advantage of that. There are fewer mindless distractions in poor countries because common people in them do not have the money for them, and their rulers mostly want them producing in factories, fighting in the military, or exploiting minorities as police, instead of being distracted.
There is a handful of incredible television programs, films, and reliable, trustworthy news programs nearly globally. But overall there is far too much corporate and political influence on the media, and this is responsible for global problems. The most widely disseminated media ought to be the most socially or environmentally useful, educational, or valuable in some capacity but that is far from the reality. Instead, what is disseminated most right now is whatever will sell most easily or what governments and corporations pay to run to further their own agendas.
The governments of wealthy self-labeled“democracies” create the illusion of freedom and control popular opinion. But in poorer countries ruled by unapologetic dictators, monarchs, or oligarchs, this illusion of freedom does not need to exist to maintain their wealth. Force is used far more often because citizens there are only considered useful to their government as instruments of production or warfare. Individuals worldwide are only considered to be useful by governments and corporations as producers, consumers, soldiers and occasionally voters, (although elections can always be rigged). Therefore, subtle media propaganda is more commonly used as a tool in wealthy countries. As Noam Chomsky wrote in Manufacturing Consent: the Political Economy of the Mass Media, “Propaganda is to democracy what violence is to dictatorship.”
The corporate news media, corporations more broadly, governments, and religious institutions are constantly feeding us false dichotomies, forcing us into Manichean binary thinking to conquer and divide. For example, they tell us either you’re a republican or you’re a democrat. You either support this politician and hate his or her opponent or vice versa. Either you’re conservative or liberal. Either you’re a hawk or a dove. Either you like Coke or Pepsi. Either you’re a saint or sinner. You’re either a Catholic or Presbyterian. You’re either right or wrong, and so on. They make no room for gray area or nuance, even though the world is full of both. This forces common people to bicker and turn against each other: whites turn against blacks, Christians turn against Muslims, men turn against women, vice versa, and so on. They also do this by “othering” minorities, drawing clear demarcations in society and drawing attention away from the source of the world’s misery: the very institutions attempting to divide us and put us into boxes, rooting for “our teams”. This makes most people overlook the faults of their “own team” while focusing relentlessly on the faults of the “opposing team” and inventing faults, even if those faults are shared by “their team”. As a result, most people don’t want to do what’s morally right or to know the truth. They just want to be “right” or on the “winning team.” It is an exercise in hypocrisy. If they hear the puppet they voted for committed war crimes, instead of looking into it and changing their position accordingly, they ignore it (this is an example of cognitive dissonance) because most people don’t like to admit they’ve made a mistake. They’d rather keep living the lie and convince themselves they made the right decision.
It’s easier to cast off the journalist who revealed the war crimes as crazy, stupid, or wrong then it is to reevaluate our own values and choices. Most people seek out sources of information that only reaffirm the values and choices they’ve already chosen. This is called the confirmation bias. The institutions that control us also instill in us a collective amnesia or “organized forgetting.” Most people will bemoan the past president and swear never to fall for the “political tricks” again, but when election season starts anew, they are wooed once again into believing the solution is one politician here to save the day. The system never fundamentally changes because most people don’t learn from history. They accept the official narrative, which is almost always a lie and they side with their oppressors, (this is also called Stockholme syndrome) for some false sense of security.
1.5 Religion: The Forth and Most Unique Influence
The economic rulers of the largest governments, corporations, media outlets, and religious institutions cause most of the suffering that exists in the world. They are responsible for most of the poverty, income-related health problems, and deaths from wars. Nearly everyone on Earth is affected by these institutions in some way, but most people don’t blame them for the unequal conditions in the world because they are so successful at manipulating people. In fact, they claim that without them these problems would be worse, despite the fact that most of us don’t get help from these institutions and are regularly hurt by them. Instead, if they aren’t blaming minority groups, most people blame “the devil” or seek help from “God.”
Governments and religious leaders tell us that there is a “good reason” (usually “God’s will”) that they and others suffer, and many of us either believe this or remain unaware of the extreme severity and scope of the suffering in the world, but we, common people, collectively have the ability to prevent this suffering and I believe we have the moral obligation to do so. The individuals whom governments make us fear and hate the most like the people we fight in wars and the people we imprison are often not much different from us. Most were just unfortunate enough to be born in traumatic circumstances. Because many of us want to believe so badly that people do not suffer undeservedly, many of us believe governments and other self-righteous institutions when they tell us those we punish and torture deserve to suffer.
Some of us tend not to consider what makes a person commit behaviors we consider vile. Many of us have deeply held convictions about these ideas that come from our own experiences and what we were taught. But as long as the people who are seen as “evil” by the majority are being punished, many of us do not feel the need to question our convictions. Most of us who do wrong do not knowingly do so without provocation. The world is an ever-evolving, interconnected web of organisms and ecosystems that can all create an equilibrium when the actions we take reflect an understanding and respect for that fact. But it easy to forget this interconnectedness when misfortune strikes. A tragic death can make us feel like the whole world is against us or that it’s “everyone for themselves” but nature does not operate this way. We breathe oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide. The carbon in this CO2 is sequestered by plants for their survival and this frees up the CO2’s oxygen, which we then use for our survival. We eat plants; they eat our waste. Nature is cyclical and consists of a myriad of symbiotic relationships. Ideally, human communities can operate in the same way but rulers of humanity turn us against each other by continually passing the buck for their own transgressions.
More evil or destructive behavior is generally created than destroyed when people are locked in cages and countries go to war. Good people can become vicious and misanthropic when they are locked up or they see their family killed in war. But as stated many of us attribute the occurrence of unfortunate events to an even greater authority like the “universe” or “God.” If a person is suffering or being punished, many of us tend to believe there is a reason for it, which is one of the gravest mistakes we could make.
We are often told not to care about people who act in ways that are socially or traditionally unacceptable because many of us do not understand why individuals take these actions. But no one is born misanthropic or humanitarian. The will to do “evil” or act immorally is not born in anyone. In an interview for the documentary, The Corporation, Noam Chomsky said “every one of us under some circumstances could be a gas chamber attendant or a saint.” Right and wrong, good and bad, and identity are oversimplified concepts and who we become can sometimes be very much out of our control because our environments and our DNA (which we do not choose) shape who we become.
People are generally treated and viewed based on how they act, look, and represent themselves while other significant factors like what made them that way are often ignored. Identity is complex and fluid. No one can choose their exact appearance, of course, but identity is not completely chosen either. These larger malicious institutions at work can be more difficult to detect than the more positive influences on identity. If more of us knew how these negative institutions affect us, we would likely be far less dismissive of struggling people who are accused of being the problem. These institutions that control us often transform the groups of people that are judged most harshly and perceived as immoral, indolent, or evil.
We humans are often told not to consider humanity as a whole. Most of us care about those who care about us. But this love is not always extended globally. The internet and other devices that enable global communication have only been fairly recently invented, so some just haven’t talked with the people they regard as their enemies and consequently don’t know them. Most of us also know exactly what influences our friends and family (for better or for worse), so we are able to look past their shortcomings and forgive them. But it is difficult to do this for everyone on Earth, (it is not necessary to forgive everyone but understanding the motivations of as many as possible is vital) especially when we are being distracted and divided by our financial rulers. Therefore, it is easier to generalize and not care about a certain distant person, race, religious group, or country. This is a major problem because if the majority of us are only driven to positively influence those within our own social groups or even those within our own borders, then the massive inequity and suffering that exists in the world will continue to persist when it does not have to.
As stated, about 84% of the world is religious and almost everyone practices religious or superstitious behaviors (including me at times, despite knowing they are irrational). For some people their religion gives them great comfort, but at what cost? Most people believe what happens to them happens for a reason (this is an example of “magical thinking”) because it is too difficult to believe otherwise. Everything that happens is supposedly part of “God’s plan” (this is called providentialism) and even many nonreligious individuals like to believe there is some esoteric, universal keeper of moral order. If things do not always happen for meaningful reasons, then many fear we are just at the mercy of other people (and the forces that truly control us), and the futures of our identities are largely out of our hands. We want to believe there is a meaningful reason suffering exists because if there isn’t, there is no assurance it will end. The world just looks like absolute chaos without an understanding of science or the belief in a God controlling it all. Because science is harder to understand, most people believe in God.
Many of us who don’t believe all people who suffer deserve it ignore these people and focus on our own lives. But how can we pray for ourselves while children who pray for food, water, and peace don’t get them? Some people have little difficulty believing people do not suffer without good reason because they have only suffered for meaningful reasons or they have at least convinced themselves they have. But they must ignore all of the people who have endured so much senseless suffering. Because the desire to believe that all events happen for divine reasons is so strong, even the people who needlessly suffer the most often still believe there is a reason for their pain. And as mentioned the institutions that actually cause the most suffering reinforce this misconception to avoid being seen as our real enemies.
Most people who are suffering believe that “God” or the “universe” is attempting to teach them a lesson or better them in some way. But the true major causes of suffering that control and manipulate us are not supernatural or esoteric; they are manmade, and it is these institutions that have so successfully convinced us that the supernatural is the cause of our ups and downs and even who we become as people. These institutions also attempt to justify what they do by claiming God is on their side; they claim natural disasters, their own catastrophic mistakes, or the destructive impacts of their greed that kill millions are “acts of God” who is angry at whichever group they dislike the most. (Most terms of service [TOS] agreements large, transnational corporations ask us to sign also protect them legally in cases of “acts of God.”) And corporate executives and governments often ask us to pray to our Gods when they could easily fix the problems they are creating. When they fail to take responsibility for their own mistakes, they often claim we just weren’t pious enough or some other nonsense.
As an example, Steve Lafermine of Columbia Christians for Life said Hurricane Katrina was punishment for the country’s “tolerance of abortion” since he believed the satellite photo of the disaster looked like an aborted fetus. On the still popular Christian TV program, “The 700 Club,” Reverend Jerry Falwell called the September 11th attacks acts of God. He said: “I really believe the Pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are trying to make an alternate lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say ‘you helped this happen.” Host of the show and former Baptist minister, Pat Robertson, agreed with this ridiculous claim.
I would be remiss to mention another instance that exemplifies the character of Robertson and of these huckster religious frauds. In the early 90s, Pat used his tax-exempt, “nonprofit” Operation Blessing International Relief and Development Corporation as a front to fund his diamond mining company, the African Development Corporation contracted by genocidal dictator, Mobutu Sese Seko, with whom he had been friends since 1993. He claimed donations to his “nonprofit” would go to airlift refugees out of Rwanda when in actuality donations were used to airlift diamond mining equipment to Robertson’s diamond mines in Zaire according to the two pilots who flew Pat’s planes.28 So not only do these religious zealots blame individuals and groups they don’t like who are completely blameless for tragedies, they also attempt to profit from them, much like politicians.
Politics are treated just like religions in that most people are just as fanatical, obdurate, and sycophantic about their politics as their religion, and politicians are treated just like preachers or even as messiahs. Convention centers are their churches or cathedrals. Their campaign speeches are their sermons for the indoctrinated, podiums are their pulpits, and they both want your money. They pander to their audiences, tell them what they want to hear, and make them fear when they want them to act. They both ask for your blind obedience and unquestioning faith in authority (God or the government or both). Even their patterns of talking are the same with soaring peaks and deep valleys, reaching for applause or an “Amen!” It’s so easy to be either. They both make promises they can’t keep and lie through their teeth. Most importantly, they prioritize feelings over facts, appeal to our ‘guts’ instead of our intellect or hearts, demand us to constantly look ahead, hope and pray for change, and to never act for ourselves. But talk is cheap.
In America and many other countries we are supposed to have a “separation of Church and state” for obvious reasons. A government that claims to be “ordained by God” (as some do like Israel’s) could not be more dangerous or potentially deceptive and manipulative. But in reality Church and state could not be more intertwined. We have so-called “sin tax” on products like alcohol and cigarettes, American currency is inscribed “in God we trust,” politicians get elected based on their alleged beliefs in God and dogma, and we swear on Bibles in court. Being an atheist is even punishable by death in religious dictatorships, such as in Afghanistan, Iran, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Nigeria, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. In Israel religion essentially is the state. These are but a few examples of the myriad of interconnections between Church and state.
All of the institutions that control us are connected. They are motivated by similar or sometimes the same exact aims. They use many of the same methods to control us and they all make controlling the public easier for each other. But religion is a very unique, controlling influence and one of the most powerful because it often affects the rulers in charge as much as it does the rest of us. Some religious leaders positively impact people’s lives while others control and shape people’s minds in negative ways, not always for selfish reasons because many do not see the harm they are doing, and in fact, believe they are helping.
The Vatican proclaims itself openly as a religious state, as does Israel. But they are somehow seen as normal by some, despite the extravagance of the Vatican and the Israeli government’s complete disregard for the lives of Palestinians, minorities in Israel, and anyone who opposes them. Some even consider these states “Holy” because they have their religion to hide behind. Israel’s intelligence agency, Mossad, even carried out mass killings of Palestinian leaders under the code name “Operation Wrath of God.” Religion and government in practice are inseparable.
Like corporate executives and politicians, some very powerful religious leaders use fear and force a great deal. People are made to fear God, and the consequences of not believing in some “Holy Book” or another, despite the fact that these books are extremely contradictory. Violence has been used in history endlessly by religious groups, and religion is still the cause of or justification used for most wars and terrorist attacks. Nearly every violent empire in history had a dominant religion that was used to justify imperial conquest and violence. The Holocaust, the Inquisition, the Taiping Rebellion, the Thirty Years War, the Crusades, the French Religious wars, the witch hunts, the current suicide bombings in Iraq, the genocide of native peoples by Christopher Columbus (whose name literally means “Christ-bearer Colonizer”29) and the many wars fought over Israel were driven by religious extremism. In fact, “one year after Columbo’s [Columbus’s] first voyage, Pope Alexander VI in his Inter Cetera Divina Papal Bull granted Spain all the world not already possessed by Christian states, excepting the region of Brazil, which went to Portugal.”30 Catholic Priests in 1524 also helped Pedro de Alvarado and his soldiers slaughter the Mayans in Guatemala, in some cases by burning them alive, and then destroying the records of their existence. Jesuit and Franciscan missionaries also aided the Spanish and Portuguese empire in colonizing most of South America.
Certain groups of people usually claim they have the “right” to destroy other peoples because of “God given superiority”. Moreover, most wars that weren’t solely motivated by religion were waged by people who felt they were doing God’s bidding, which is not surprising considering most religious texts say that murder and war under the right circumstances are acceptable. Most individuals are more fearful of God than they are of the people they call their enemies, and politicians and clergy use this fear to serve their own interests.
When the number of people who suffer undeservedly and are helpless to change this or themselves in a significant way are taken into consideration, the concept of fate appears to be as real as Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny. Of course, not everything that occurs is good or helpful. Events occur because of preceding events and these events occur because of scientific laws that govern the universe. There is currently no scientific evidence that supports the existence of God, and if there is one, God would be breaking physical laws by affecting the universe in any way. But many religious people do not believe this, which is another reason religion can be so dangerous, and religions are made even more dangerous by dishonest, venal, power-hungry rulers that take advantage of them to control people.
Although the US government is supposed to keep Church and state separate, some politicians have still succeeded in passing measures that require children be taught religious theories instead of scientific ones. This is one of the reasons why the majority of Americans still believe in Creationism. In some regions of the world like destitute parts of Pakistan, the situation is even worse and many schools only have one book and it is a religious one. This is incredibly dangerous because while our “Holy Books” do have a few morals to teach us, most have far more hate, dogma, misogyny, and myth in them. Over 300 US schools teach creationism and receive taxpayer money via school vouchers. The Supreme Court ruled in 2002 that state-funding of religious education is constitutional in the case of Zelman v. Simmons-Harris, despite being a clear violation of the 1st amendment. However, 35 states have Blaine Amendments that prohibit public funding of religious education.
The scientific method can explain why just about everything occurs, and yet so many people still cling to their supernatural explanations because these powerful institutions and the people who run them are so adept at manipulation. Our supernatural explanations (religious and otherwise) can be very sensitive issues. They can become desperate convictions, which ensure conflict and rash, impulsive decisions when the only line of communication people have with “God” is in their heads. The irony is that scientific technology is applied and used every day without a second thought by people who say they do not believe in the most basic, scientific principles. But scientific laws exist whether we believe in them or not.
Religion is the oldest controlling influence. It was first created to answer questions we did not have the correct answers to. The cause of all events was first attributed to supernatural forces because there was so much around us that we could not explain. Eventually, the beliefs we formed about these supernatural forces became sacred issues we took very personally, and many were willing to die to defend them, and many did because their beliefs predictably conflicted. The ancient rulers of Egypt and Mesopotamia took advantage of this to concentrate their power. Many of the first rulers of governments claimed to be close to Gods or Gods themselves and this was the main reason people listened to them and let them rule. The same is true today. Some leaders pretend to be Godly or else close to God in order to manipulate others. Many positions of power within organized religions and governments also only subsist because of each other, and it is tremendously dangerous that they do.
One of the most serious examples of corporate and political buck-passing for their own mistakes is global warming. According to a report entitled the “The Carbon Majors Database: CDP Carbon Majors Report 2017” by the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) in collaboration with the Climate Accountability Institute, just 100 enormous corporations are responsible for over 70% of the world’s carbon emissions.31 The mass production and use of poisonous chemicals32 and fossil fuels is responsible for millions of deaths, and religious dogma is often used to placate people about this problem. The combustion of fossil fuels (coal, petroleum, and natural gas) oxygenates many elements in them, creating various byproducts including carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is a natural element of the atmosphere that we exhale after every breath, but excess carbon dioxide traps heat in the atmosphere, raising global temperatures and reducing solid water (ice) on Earth, which further increases the temperature of the oceans as more the sun’s rays are absorbed by the ocean instead of being reflected by ice. If we continue burning these fuels at current rates or faster, worldwide flooding and another ice age could result. Flooding is already occurring as the sea level slowly rises, many coastal cities are being destroyed, and millions have been forced to resettle. According to a 2012 report commissioned by 20 different governments and written by the humanitarian organization DARA, 100 million people will die by 2030 as a result of climate change if nothing is done.33 Five million already die every year from air pollution, hunger, and disease caused by climate change and carbon-intensive economies according to DARA.34
According to another study by the Lancet Commission, nine million died from diseases caused by man-made pollution in 2015 alone, triple the number of deaths from AIDs, malaria, and tuberculosis combined.35 The Guardian reported in 2017, “The vast majority of [these] pollution deaths occur in poorer nations and in some, such as India, Chad ,and Madagascar, pollution causes a quarter of all deaths…Low-income and rapidly industrialising countries are worst affected, suffering 92% of pollution-related deaths.”36 But many religious politicians and media talking-heads have claimed global warming will not cause another flood because “God” declared there will not be another global flood in Genesis in the Bible. These kinds of ridiculous claims persuade some, but the flooding is already occurring, and millions have been displaced and killed by it and other environmental disasters caused by the excess moisture in the atmosphere from melted glaciers.
Natural disasters have become far more common in recent years due to man-made climate change and these natural disasters do far more damage in poorer countries like Haiti, which experienced an Earthquake in 2010 that killed 380,000 people, because they lack the funding to prepare for emergency situations and the money to rebuild when they do strike. Many construction companies also ignore the building codes required to reinforce buildings and prevent collapse to save money on supplies. The disaster in Haiti, as well as many others that are caused or made worse by global warming (like Hurricane Katrina37) and even terrorist attacks, have been called “acts of God” by various religious, political pundits and corporate leaders.
Despite the denial, the evidence is irrefutable. 2016 was the hottest year ever recorded38 (17 of the 18 hottest years ever recorded occurred since 2000) and C02 levels are higher than they have been in 3 million years.39 Coastal cities around the world are flooding from the melting of the ice caps (which are projected to soon disappear by some scientists40) Greenland’s ice sheets, and valley glaciers. Coral bleaching, eutrophication, plastic waste, radiation from nuclear power plants, and rising water temperatures are devastating marine life. Extreme weather events like hurricanes, droughts, forest fires, and heavy rains are on the rise. Parasites and diseases that thrive on increased moisture and heat are proliferating too from the increase in warm moisture in the atmosphere. And the human made Great Pacific garbage patch that weighs 7 million tons41 and is twice the size of Texas is growing with little efforts to halt its development. Outside of the patch, a total of 250 million tons of plastic waste currently pollute our oceans. About 8 million more metric tons of plastic waste enter our oceans every year according to a study conducted in 2015.42 Half of the world’s species have been killed off by humans in what is called the Holocene extinction event and the WWF and Zoological Society of London have projected that if human activities continue as they are, we will lose 2/3 of the world’s species by 2020.43 Our waterways are being poisoned by pipeline leaks, industrial waste, litter, radioactive waste, chemicals, mining tailings, and runoff from massive, unsustainable, conventional farms. Water-tables are being poisoned by fracking, mining, and drilling. Our food is being poisoned with synthetic pesticides, insecticides, fungicides, and GMOs engineered to survive these poisons, and our air has never been so polluted. Meanwhile, our politicians scream “drill baby drill!” Even under self-described “environmentalist” democrats like Obama, there was more oil exploration and drilling than ever before in history. Politicians remain obsessed with “jobs” and “the economy” when both will be useless if there is no clean air to breathe, clean water to drink, or healthy food to eat.
The calamitous reality is that if the institutions that control us are not stopped, they will destroy us completely either through pollution and environmental exploitation or by waging world war with nuclear weaponry. If they do not destroy us, they will at the very least continue to completely redefine what it means to be human in putrid ways, keeping us forever in chains as chattel. If the most misanthropic and ecocidal leaders of these institutions had their way, we would just be mindless, indistinguishable drones, constantly producing, consuming, and fighting for the benefit of the richest and most powerful few whilst always praying for change. The admittedly ambitious purpose of this book is to help prevent that.
In this book, I will explore the history of these institutions. The most controlling, destructive, and powerful corporations, corporate media outlets, and government agencies are based in the US, yet America is perceived as the “most free” country on Earth by many because their propaganda tells us so. Therefore, this book will focus greatly on them. I will show how and why I believe these institutions evolved.
The conclusion of the book will tie all of these elements together and explain what I believe is the most fundamental problem that causes these influences to continue to feel entitled to control people. This book will prove why government, fiat currency, for-profit corporations, religious hierarchy, corporate media, capitalism, state borders, and wage slavery in all their forms must be abolished. It will also prove the necessity of anarchy, armed resistance to state and corporate tyranny, sabotage of destructive corporate operations, guerrilla tactics, voluntary, horizontal organization from the bottom up, resource based economies, barter, social currencies, gift economies, collective, communal control over the means of production and distribution organized by need and ability (libertarian socialism), community watch groups, environmental preservation, “rewilding”, sustainable agroforestry, sustainable energy capture and use, experiential education, free textbooks, and resistance to all forms of oppression and unjust authority. This will help us understand what we can do to stop the institutions that rule us, so that we can regain control over our own identities and improve our lives, the lives of others worldwide, and all forms of life and ecosystems, including the air, water, and soil that support us.
1 Agorist, Matt: In 2014, Police Killed Nearly Twice as Many Americans than Mass Shooters Combined Since 1982. The Free Thought Project. June 22nd 2015. <<http://thefreethoughtproject.com/2014-police-killed-americans-mass-shooters-combined-1982/#JZqOMJr2PhYrTA4k.99>>
2 Syrmopoulos, Jay: A U.S. Citizen is 58 Times More Likely to be Killed by a Police Officer than a Terrorist. The Free Thought Project. March 7, 2015:
3 Brian A. Reaves, Ph.D.: Census of State and Local Law Enforcement Agencies, 2008. BJS. July 2011 <<http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/csllea08.pdf>>
4Andrea M. Burch: Arrest-Related Deaths, 2003-2009 – Statistical Tables. BJS. November 2011. <<https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/ard0309st.pdf>>
5 Doris A. Fuller, et al.: “Overlooked in the Undercounted: The Role of Mental Illness in Fatal Law Enforcement Encounters. Office of Research and Public Affairs December 2015. http://www.treatmentadvocacycenter.org/storage/documents/overlooked-in-the-undercounted.pdf
6 UNODC: “Prison Settings.” October 12th 2010. PDF.
7Loretta E. Lynch: Survey of State Criminal History Information Systems. December 2015. BJS. <<2014. https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/bjs/grants/249799.pdf>>
8US DOJ, Civil Rights Division: Investigation of the Ferguson Police Department. Page 58. March 4, 2015. <<https://apps.washingtonpost.com/g/documents/national/department-of-justice-report-on-the-ferguson-mo-police-department/1435/>>
9 David Murphey and P. Mae Cooper: Parents Behind Bars: What Happens to Their Children? Child Trends. October 2015. <<https://www.childtrends.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/2015-42ParentsBehindBars.pdf>>
10 The Pew Charitable Trusts, 2010. Collateral Costs: Incarceration’s Effect on Economic Mobility. Washington, DC: The Pew Charitable Trusts. <<http://www.pewtrusts.org/~/media/legacy/uploadedfiles/pcs_assets/2010/collateralcosts1pdf.pdf>>
11 Walk Free Foundation, Global Slavery Index, 2014.
12 Nima Elbagir, et. al: People for sale: Where lives are auctioned for $400. 11/14/2017. CNN. <<http://www.cnn.com/2017/11/14/africa/libya-migrant-auctions/index.htm>>
13Terrence McNally: There Are More Slaves Today Than at Any Time in Human History. Alternet. August 24, 2009. https://www.alternet.org/story/142171/there_are_more_slaves_today_than_at_any_time_in_human_history
Uggen, C., Larson, L., & Shannon, S. (2016). “6 million lost voters: State-level estimates of felony disenfranchisement”, 2016. Washington, DC: The Sentencing Project.
15Chomsky, Noam: Hopes and Prospects, (2010) pg 17.
16Jeffery D. Sachs: The fatal expense of American imperialism. Boston Globe. 10/30/16. <<http://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2016/10/30/the-fatal-expense-american-imperialism/teXS2xwA1UJbYd10WJBHHM/story.html>>
17“ACTIVE DUTY MILITARY PERSONNEL STRENGTHS BY REGIONAL AREA AND BY COUNTRY” DoD. 6/30/09. <<https://wikileaks.org/gifiles/attach/126/126194_hst0906.pdf>>
19 Gord Hill: 500 Years of Indigenous Resistance, pg. 6, PM Press, 2009, and Woodow Wilson Borah, “America as a Model: The Demographic Impact of European Expansion Upon the Non-European World”, in Actas y Memorias XXXV Congreso Internacional de Americanistas, Mexico, 1962.
20 The Pew Charitable Trusts: “One in 100 Behind Bars in America in 2008” January 26 2008, Pg. 6. Print.
212015 Crime in the United Stated: Persons Arrested. FBI. <<https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2015/crime-in-the-u.s.-2015/persons-arrested/persons-arrested>>
22 Bernadette Rabuy, et. al: Detaining The Poor. May 2016. <<https://www.prisonpolicy.org/reports/DetainingThePoor.pdf, page 2.>>
23 Highest to Lowest – Pre-trial detainees / remand prisoners. Prison Studies. http://www.prisonstudies.org/highest-to-lowest/pre-trial-detainees?field_region_taxonomy_tid=All http://www.prisonstudies.org/highest-to-lowest/pre-trial-detainees?field_region_taxonomy_tid=All
24 Mark Wilding: Fining People $1,500 for Being Homeless Is a New Low for London. VICE. 6/4/15. <<https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/8gkne3/criminalising-the-homeless-is-a-new-low-for-london-733>>
25 Chuch Collins and Josh Hoxie: Billionaire Bonanza: The Forbes 400 and the Rest of Us. December 1, 2015. Institute for Policy Studies. <<https://www.ips-dc.org/billionaire-bonanza/>>
26Deborah Hardoon: An economy for the 99%. January 16, 2017. Oxfam International. <<https://www.oxfam.org/en/research/economy-99>>
27Annalyn Censky: Americans make up half of the world’s richest 1%. January 4, 2012. CNN. <<http://money.cnn.com/2012/01/04/news/economy/world_richest/>>
28David John Marley, Pat Robertson: An American Life (Rowman & Littlefield, 2007), p. 190.
29Akwesasne Notes, Volume 9, No. 4, 1977.
30 Gord Hill: 500 Years of Indigenous Resistance, pg. 13, PM Press, 2009.
31 Dr. Griffin, Paul: The Carbon Majors Database: CDP Carbon Majors Report 2017. Climate Accountability Institute. July 2017. <<https://b8f65cb373b1b7b15feb-c70d8ead6ced550b4d987d7c03fcdd1d.ssl.cf3.rackcdn.com/cms/reports/documents/000/002/327/original/Carbon-Majors-Report-2017.pdf?1499691240>>
32 A prominent, historic example of a chemical created by corporations that resulted in widespread death is Agent Orange. During the Vietnam War, Monsanto and Dow Chemical created this herbicide, which was airdropped over Vietnam to destroy the forests and flush out the Vietcong, as well as destroy their food sources, but what they supposedly did not realize at the time was that the chemical they sprayed was infected with extremely toxic dioxins. As if defoliation isn’t bad enough, 400,000 died and 500,000 Vietnamese were born with severe physical defects as a result. Many Vietnamese people are still affected by these toxins to this day. US soldiers were also exposed. The Truman administration in collaboration with Arévalo administration of Guatemala, its health ministries, and Johns Hopkins University also conducted an experiment from 1946 to 1948 funded by the National Institutes of Health wherein doctors intentionally infected 1,308 soldiers, prisoners, mental patients, and prostitutes with syphilis, chancroid, and gonorrhea without their consent, (only half of whom received treatment) resulting in 83 deaths. The USG apologized in 2010 as if that makes everything okay. Seven plaintiffs attempted to sue the USG for damages in March of 2011 but the suit was thrown out because (unbelievably) the judge claimed the US could not be held legally liable for actions taken outside the US. The experiments were led by US Public Health Service physician, John Charles Cutler, of the similar Tuskegee syphilis experiment of 1932 conducted by the US Department of Health wherein black men were told they were receiving treatment for syphilis but in reality were only being observed to document the stages of progression of syphilis until death. Cutler also participated in the Terre Haute prison experiments wherein prisoners were infected with gonorrhea. DDT is another example of a once ubiquitous, corporate made poison.
33 “Climate Vulnerability Monitor”, DARA International, 2012. <<http://daraint.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/CVM2-Low.pdf>>
34CLIMATE VULNERABILITY MONITOR: A GUIDE TO THE COLD CALCULUS OF A HOT PLANET. pg. 14. http://daraint.org/climate-vulnerability-monitor/climate-vulnerability-monitor-2012/report/
35Professor Philip J Landrig et. al: The Lancet Commission on pollution and health. October 2017. The Lancet. <<https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(17)32345-0/fulltext>>
36Damian Carrington: Global pollution kills 9m a year and threatens ‘survival of human societies’ October 20 2017. The Guardian <<https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/oct/19/global-pollution-kills-millions-threatens-survival-human-societies>>
37 The majority of the deaths from Katrina were caused by the negligence of the US Army Corps of Engineers who designed the hurricane levees, FEMA, and the Bush administration, as well as corporations that use or extract fossil fuels.
38Jugal K. Patel: How 2016 Became Earth’s Hottest Year on Record. NYT. 1/18/17. <<https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/01/18/science/earth/2016-hottest-year-on-record.html?_r=0>>
39Nicola Jones: How the World Passed a Carbon Threshold and Why It Matters. Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. 1/26/17. http://e360.yale.edu/features/how-the-world-passed-a-carbon-threshold-400ppm-and-why-it-matters
40Ian Johnston: Arctic could become ice-free for first time in more than 100,000 years, claims leading scientist. The Independent. 6/4/16. http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/climate-change/arctic-could-become-ice-free-for-first-time-in-more-than-100000-years-claims-leading-scientist-a7065781.html
41André Craens: Garbage Patch – The Great Pacific Garbage Patch and other pollution issues <<http://garbagepatch.net/greatpacificoceangarbagepatchfacts/>>
42Jenna R. Jambeck: Plastic waste inputs from land into the ocean. Science magazine. 2/13/15. http://science.sciencemag.org/content/347/6223/768
43Damian Carrington: World on track to lose two-thirds of wild animals by 2020, major report warns. The Guardian. 10/26/16. <<https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/oct/27/world-on-track-to-lose-two-thirds-of-wild-animals-by-2020-major-report-warns>>