Monthly Archives: February 2011

The Politics of Nihilism

Life is absurd said French existentialist writers Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre back in the 1950s.  But surely there is no more appropriate description of life in the American Empire sixty years later.  Our lives are meaningless.  As psychiatrist M. Scott Peck presciently observed, we are ruled by “people of the lie.”  We are completely subsumed by the politics of nihilism.

What could be more absurd than:

  1. Barack Obama running for president in 2008 on a platform of “hope and change.”
  2. Liberal Democrats claiming that he represents a sea change in political philosophy from that of President George W. Bush, when, in fact, he is merely a smirk-free Bush.
  3. President Obama pretending that he is not a pawn of Wall Street, Corporate America, the Pentagon, and the Israeli Lobby.
  4. Norway naming him the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate while promoting illegal wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
  5. Obama’s claim that he can fix the nation’s health care system even though it is driven by fear of death on the demand side and greed on the supply side rendering it completely unfixable.
  6. His disingenuous opposition to the war with Iraq when he ran for president.
  7. The White House charade that it supports the so-called Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
  8. Obama’s refusal to close the Guantanamo prison or block passage of the renewal of the Patriot Act in clear violation of his campaign pledge to the contrary.
  9. The White House’s hypocritical campaign of harassment against Chinese President Hu Jintao on the issue of human rights.

10.  The Obama administration’s decision to limit its serious support of anti-government demonstrators exclusively to those in Iran while giving only lip service support to protestors in other authoritarian regimes in the region.

11.  Allowing the right-wing, racist Likud government of Israel to dictate our foreign policy in the Middle East.

12.  The realization that neither tax cuts, government spending, nor printing money have much impact on either the housing market or employment growth.

13.  Our President creating the illusion that he and his administration know how to fix the ailing economy and that everything will soon be just fine.

14.  His pretending to be a political liberal, which he is not, or more ridiculously, conservatives accusing him of being a socialist, when, in fact, he is a technofascist.

15.  The notion that it is possible to control 310 million people from one central bureau in Washington, D.C.

And what can we do about all of this?  We can rebél said Albert Camus.  We can peacefully rebél against the nihilism of the American Empire – the separation, the meaninglessness, the powerlessness, and death.  The time is now.

Rebél

Thomas H. Naylor

February 23, 2011

Founder of the Second Vermont Republic and Professor Emeritus of Economics at Duke University; co-author of Affluenza, Downsizing the USA, and The Search for Meaning.

Artistry in Revolution

“You can say you want a revolution,” sang John Lennon and Paul McCartney, “Well, you know we all want to change the world.”

What America needs is neither a tea party movement, a tenth amendment movement, a nullification movement, nor a secession movement but rather a peaceful revolution.

Unfortunately, the premise underlying the tea party, tenth amendment, and nullification movements is that the U.S. government is indeed fixable.  All one need do is return to the Constitution and everything will be just fine.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  The U.S. government is owned, operated, and controlled by Wall Street, Corporate America, the Pentagon, and the bellicose Israeli government, who like things just the way they are, and are prepared to make sure they stay that way.

Secession, on the other hand, is viewed by most Americans, particularly those on the political left, as a complete anathema to be avoided like the plague.  The mere mention of the word conjures up images of slavery, the Civil War, violence, and racism.  So ignorant are most Americans of the moral, philosophical, and legal principles underlying secession that anyone displaying secessionist tendencies is labeled a “racist.”  Those opposed to secession often embark on well organized smear campaigns employing the racist tag to discredit secessionists.  As someone who has spent twenty years promoting the idea of peaceful secession in America, it is extremely painful for me to admit that the modern day secession movement in America was probably dead on arrival.

But what about the American Empire—the largest, wealthiest, most powerful, most materialistic, most environmentally destructive, most racist, most militaristic, most violent empire of all-time?  What can be done about an empire which condones the annihilation of Afghanistan and Iraq, a convoluted war on terrorism which it helped create, the illegal rendition of terrorist suspects, prisoner abuse and torture, citizen surveillance, the Patriot Act, the Military Commissions Act, staggering deficits, corporate greed, Wall Street bailouts, pandering to the rich and powerful, a culture of deceit, and a foreign policy based on full spectrum dominance, imperial overstretch, and unconditional support for the apartheid state of Israel?

For some of the reasons outlined above, there may be no escape from the Empire.  The fantasy of an individual state seceding from the United States is most likely an impossible dream.  The Empire simply will not tolerate such an action, and the political will does not exist to make it happen.

The United States has lost its moral authority.  When all is said and done, there is but one morally defensible alternative to the Empire—peaceful dissolution, just like back in the USSR.

Twenty years ago the Soviet Union unexpectedly, peacefully imploded. Could that happen to the United States?  How sure are we that American exceptionalism will save us from the adverse effects of a crash of the dollar, financial meltdown, a collapse of the economy, or some major environmental catastrophe?

This is a call for rebellion against the Empire, a Second American Revolution.  The objective is not the overthrow of the government, but rather the peaceful break up of the Union.  In the poignant words of Albert Camus, “It is those who know how to rebél, at the appropriate moment, against history who really advance its interest.”

Rebél

Thomas H. Naylor

February 21, 2011

Founder of the Second Vermont Republic and Professor Emeritus of Economics at Duke University; co-author of Affluenza, Downsizing the USA, and The Search for Meaning.

A Eulogy for the First Vermont Republic 4 March 1791

Ladies and gentlemen, it is my solemn duty to inform you that on 4 March 1791 the First Vermont Republic, the only American republic which truly invented itself, entered immortality and became the fourteenth state of the American empire.  Fourteen years after declaring its independence, Vermont was seduced into the union by the promise of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.  Two hundred twenty years later the Green Mountain state finds itself in a nation whose government condones the annihilation of Afghanistan and Iraq , a convoluted war on terrorism which it helped create, the illegal rendition of terrorist suspects, prisoner abuse and torture, citizen surveillance, the Patriot Act, the Military Commissions Act, staggering deficits,  corporate greed, Wall Street bailouts, pandering to the rich and powerful, a culture of deceit, and a foreign policy based on full spectrum dominance, imperial overstretch, and unconditional support for Israel.

A state convention convened by the Vermont Assembly on 10 January 1791 petitioned the United States Congress for admission into the Union.  By a vote of 105 to 4 the delegates of the convention opted to sell the soul of the independent Republic of Vermont to the Empire.  Vermont’s statehood petition was ratified by the U.S. Congress on 4 March, a day that will go down in history as a day of infamy.

America was supposed to have been immortal, but in the end it could not deliver.  Its government has lost its moral authority.  It has no soul.  As a nation it has become unsustainable and unfixable because it is effectively ungovernable.

Is it possible that out of the ashes of the First Vermont Republic a Second Vermont Republic might emerge?  Might not Vermont experience a kind of resurrection from the dead, or at least from its two-century long slumber, resulting in a new state of consciousness opposed to the tyranny of Corporate America and the U.S. government and committed to once again becoming an independent republic?  Might such a republic embrace these principles:  political independence, human scale, sustainability, economic solidarity, power sharing, equal opportunity, tension reduction, and community?

What if tiny Vermont, the second smallest state in the Union, were to become an example for other states to follow leading to the peaceful dissolution of the largest, most powerful empire of all time—the United States of America?  Literally every reason why Vermont might want to opt out of the Union is equally applicable to every other state.  Vermont’s paradigm for secession could easily be adapted to any other state.

Is it possible that the Green Mountain state might actually help save America from itself and help save the rest of the world from America by seceding from the Union and leading the nation into peaceful disunion?

In the words of Reverend Ben T. Matchstick, we pray for Vermont independence “in the name of the flounder, the sunfish, and the holy mackerel.”

Amen

Thomas H. Naylor