Do we need Madame Guillotine again in 2024?

The execution of Louis XIV

Get real, they cry – as they fill their maws and dirty their snouts.

by Phil Hall

The agents of the United States maneuver and push the public’s pointiest point of perception as their preferred tactic. They want to influence policy, action, and generate passivity and acquiescence in order to preserve the hegemonic power of their country and of their county’s elites in the face of resistance from the American people themselves. Real events happen in real time, and they act on the now to exert their influence on them.

These intelligence operators have a sickness: they believe in deconstructing culture into its component atoms, its selfish genes. They do not believe in the forces of altruism, reason, and understanding. Instead, they think that nothing is what it seems and that all human behaviour can be broken into selfish, narrow motivations. They also assume that the thirst for power and status is universal. To put it bluntly, these intelligence operators are as amoral as those of any totalitarian regime

Apartheid forces suppressing the Soweto Schoolchildren’s rebellion

In South Africa, they had many informers who spoke Zulu and Xhosa. They had many opportunities to understand what people were saying and thinking. But instead, the Apartheid regime took its cues from organisations like the CIA under Lyndon Johnson, the beneficiary of the Kennedy assassination.

The leaders of the Apartheid regime did not seem interested in understanding the history, literature, or sociology of the majority population in order to develop counterarguments to the ANC and other opposition organisations. They did not act according to a proper analysis of the social, economic and political situation that existed in South Africa. An analysis of that conjuncture might have helped them take on board the reasons for the rise of greater and greater opposition. Had the agents of the Apartheid state done so, they might have been able to bring in reforms in order to ameliorate the political situation, benefitting.

The Apartheid state refused to deal with the human reality of the majority of South Africans on their own terms, but used instead a weaponised form of anthropology to try and take that social reality apart and analyse it. They preferred, with the help of the CIA, to deal with the South Africans who opposed Apartheid as if they were primates. On the recommendation of the CIA, when confronting the school children’s revolt against being forced to learn the language of the oppressor (in order to better understand his barked commands) the police, from their ‘Hippo’ armoured trucks, were instructed to take out the ‘Alphas’.

Who were the ‘Alphas’, according to Margaret Mead and her more than sinister cabal informing US intelligence in its culling and influencing operations? The Alpha was the individual at the center of the crowd, and the individuals on either side, on the extremes, corralling the rest were also ‘Alphas’. CIA anthropological advice described a demonstration as a sort of horned crescent. Mead was the Mitford sister of the ‘zombie neo-liberal’, Ayn Rand.

In their eyes, the state did not kill activists, thinkers and moral human beings fighting for a better society, like Chris Hani and Steve Biko, they were merely killing ‘Alphas’. This was the way the Apartheid regime confronted the response to their oppression of the majority population; not through argument, or understanding, but through covert methods of manipulation and control supported by the CIA, coming from some psychology and anthropology departments in the USA; departments that had ties with its intelligence services. The social sciences were used as tools for political ends, providing specialised knowledge.

Margaret Mead

US academia? The best US academics are horses running in a horse race with blinkers on. Most of them have no demonstrable love or respect for the truth; most of them are mere intellectual flunkeys. Someone as observant as Noam Chomsky, in commenting on the Vietnam war and the massacres in East Timor, becomes persona non grata to these geldings. Freedom of thought? Not a chance!

Though it is not accurate or fair to assume that the US foreign policy establishment always acts in a unified and coherent way to manipulate and exploit world events, reductionism is at the heart of their understanding and strategising; being, so to speak, ‘in the moment’. US intelligence strategists work on situations as they unfold in real time in order to affect them, gaming out possible responses with supercomputers. The advice of experts is only secondary. It comes from think tanks, forums, lecture halls and seminar rooms, and from informal chats at dinner parties and during games of golf.

Operatives at the sharp end are nihilists, lacking in all compunction. They assume equanimity in the face of two million Vietnamese dead – and that’s just one war. They live in a nirvana of ‘So what?’ thinking. So what if a million Iraqi children died of hunger? Madeleine Albright said that it was worth it to get rid of Saddam, after all?

Pushing the pointy point of perception, the point source of reality, through strategic influence and managing perception, is how US intelligence seeks to direct history along its preferred time line. Its hands are on the ouija board, interfering with ‘the Tao’, with the sacredness of life, with human aspirations for betterment.

Portrait of Witter Bynner in Santa Fe by Robert Hunt, 1919

There is a warning for these people, in the version of the Tao Te Ching translated by the poet, Witter Bynner

‘Those who would take over the earth
And shape it to their will
Never, I notice, succeed.
The earth is like a vessel so sacred
That at the mere approach of the profane
It is marred
And when they reach out their fingers it is gone.
For a time in the world some force themselves ahead
And some are left behind,
For a time in the world some make a great noise
And some are held silent,
For a time in the world some are puffed fat
And some are kept hungry,
For a time in the world some push aboard
And some are tipped out:
At no time in the world will a man who is sane
Over-reach himself,
Over-spend himself,
Over-rate himself.’

Oh the disappointments of the democratically elected Don Quixote socialists, trying again and again to do what’s right for people, of well-meaning academics and intellectuals in the face of the pigs who get close enough to the trough, and then snort. ‘Get real!’ As they fill their maws and dirty their snouts.

US forces in Iraq, 2008 , Goran Tomasevic/Reuters

What is the ‘now’ the United States Foreign Policy Establishment wants to manipulate and ride to victory? The United States Media, Security, Military Industrial Complex exerts its heavy, philistine weight on moments of history, regardless of what most of humanity thinks, wants, or aspires to; humanity in all its global complexity.

Is the ‘now’ they push at the ‘now’ of a year, a month, a week, a day, an hour? Has it become the present of an instant? Is this ‘now’ just a suppressed search result? The ‘now’ they act upon has narrowed and narrowed over the years into a moment, a fraction of a moment, requiring the use of tools like artificial intelligence.

The agents of US imperialism strategise and manipulate in real time as shells fall in Ukraine and events unfold and spill out and over in all their incredible complexity; the overflowing complexity of seven billion souls existing on a four-and-a-half-billion-year-old planet. The lovers of the capitalist materialism, of its Thingyverse reduce everything down to a pointy point… then they push at that point.

Naomi Klein has talked about how corporations find opportunities in disaster, in the destruction of countries through civil war, in the short selling of their treasury bonds in London and New York financial markets, in coups and defamation, in assassinations. As Mankoff put it in his famous cartoon for The New Yorker in 1992.

‘And so, as the end of the world scenario will be rife with unimaginable horrors, we believe the pre-end period will be filled with unprecedented opportunities for profit.

Meanwhile, the potential of human beings, of all human beings, to realise their creativity and live beautiful connected lives full of love and meaning lies rotting. The rot is the artificial scarcity imposed by the theft of the wealth that people create with their labour.

Madame Guillotine, look at these smooth, svelte, softly encased vampires, the wealthy and powerful elites who exploit and oppress others. They fly from yacht to forest, to lake, to private beach and retreat. They are kind to their dogs and their children, but push for wars, sending hundreds of thousands to die in the conflicts that they, and the people like them, profit from . They murder millions of children through the fostering of scarcity. They destroy nature and the life chances of billions by polluting the environment and consuming the Earth’s resources . They threaten the whole planet with nuclear destruction .

I have a nostalgic admiration for the French Revolution and its use of the guillotine as a symbol of popular justice. Madame Guillotine, bloody as you are, humane socialists that we are, perhaps we need you again.

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