There’s a quote that I see now and then that is usually attributed by mistake (and like many things, repeated and passed along until people regard the altered version as factual) to professional manipulator Karl Rove. I looked it up and found that the source was a New York Times article about ten years ago, about then-president George W. Bush, and the strange reality warp that ruled that presidency.
Excerpted from that article:
In the summer of 2002, after I had written an article in Esquire that the White House didn’t like about Bush’s former communications director, Karen Hughes, I had a meeting with a senior adviser to Bush. He expressed the White House’s displeasure, and then he told me something that at the time I didn’t fully comprehend — but which I now believe gets to the very heart of the Bush presidency.
The aide said that guys like me were ”in what we call the reality-based community,” which he defined as people who ”believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ”That’s not the way the world really works anymore,” he continued. ”We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”
My emphasis added.
That 2004 article is worth reading, because the strange reality warp described there is not unique to the Bush White House. It continues worse than ever, right now.
I listened to a new edition of James Kunstler’s webcast, a conversation between him and John Michael Greer, that’s definitely worth the hour or so to listen. Over the course of the hour or so of conversation, Kunstler and Greer dig into the complicated and weighty subject of just where things stand, here and now.
The two men spend a good chunk of time taking over all the complexity of the ways people here in America are pretending. It’s quite a complicated little knot of stuff, one I’ve been thinking about for years now, so it was interesting and meaningful to hear these two aware and thinking observers of the scenes around us to dig into it all.
Part of Greer’s comments was a key item, which was that in the present moment, you can go all over the United States and find all sorts of people, a wide variety, who seem to have some sort of sense, and opinions, that all kinds of things right now have something really badly wrong. Exactly what any given person might think about what is what is a more complicated issue. Of course that raises obvious thoughts about how you can regularly find some public opinion poll, cited ad nauseum on TV news, that asks a question in some uselessly vague form like :is the country headed in the right direction… yes/no?”. Unfortunately, questions about “what’s wrong?” inevitably, for a lot of people, lead straight into the kinds of problems I’ve talked about before, of the simplistic madness of bipolar political disorder and what I wrote about just days ago about people defining so much in terms of their ideas about opposite other people who are their imagined source of problems and all things bad and disordered.
Greer in particular talks at some length about the tangled complications. Even with some vague sense of things being wrong, it’s clear that there are many people who think that everything is just fine, for them, as is, status quo, and they will say and do everything possible to maintain the pretense. Where it gets more twisted is the phenomenon of many people, mostly in a group that would generally be categorized as the American middle class, who might sense, at whatever level, that many things are wrong and dysfunctional, but maintain a pretense of just sort of smiling and pretending it’s all good with a notion that if they just play along, they’ll be rewarded, or just avoid having the bottom drop out on them in some way.
Mixed in with all that is what’s clearly a widespread attitude, among many Americans, that goes something like: hey, things are just fine for me in my life and circumstances, so if somebody else has problems, they’re doing something wrong, there’s something wrong with them. What’s even more twisted and complicating things is that, ironically, the same people are likely to be complaining, sometimes fiercely, that some thing or another is not to their satisfaction, not living up to their expectations, even when what those expectations might be involve ideas of expected, deserved, normal. All kinds of political ugliness and madness stems from that.
Greer and Kunstler hit the nail right on the head in another element in current circumstances that is proving to be a seriously troublesome part of the political lunacy that comes as a result of an epidemic of pretending and delusions in place of looking at circumstances honestly and rationally, the subject of people trying to maintain American Empire at all costs.
In part of what’s happening in this subject, Paul Craig Roberts offered up another succinct summary of a complicated situation in Ukraine and all the lunacy that surrounds it now:
Washington is disturbed that Russia has twice foiled Washington’s war intentions and that the Parliament of the US Puppet State of Great Britain voted with the Russians.
Washington is also concerned with the growing economic and political relations between Washington’s EU puppet states and Russia. EU countries, especially Germany, have numerous and profitable economic connections with Russia, and all of Europe is dependent on Russian supplied energy.
Washington concluded that Washington was in danger of losing its control over Europe. While the Russian government was asleep at the switch enjoying the Olympics, Washington pulled off its coup in Kiev.
Neoconservative Victoria Nuland, appointed by Obama as Assistant Secretary of State, announced at a press conference last December that Washington had spent $5 billion purchasing fifth column Ukrainian NGOs that can be put into street demonstrations to destabilize a government and on grooming and purchasing Ukrainian politicians who will serve as Washington’s stooges. Nuland, of course, described Washington’s purchase of Ukraine as “furthering democracy” in Ukraine.
Washington’s coup against a democratically elected government brought to power extreme elements that proclaimed their hatred of Jews and Russians. These elements destroyed Russian war memorials erected to remember Russia’s liberation of Ukraine from the Third Reich, passed legislation outlawing Russian as an official language, and engaged in violent physical attacks on the Russian speaking population.
Ukraine has always been an area of changing borders. As some have put it, “Ukraine is a country in search of borders.” When Ukraine was a Soviet province, Soviet leaders attached, for various reasons, traditional Russian provinces to the Ukraine Socialist Soviet Republic. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, pressure from Washington on a weak Russia resulted in the separation of Ukraine from Russia and this included Crimea, a part of Russia since the 1700s and Russia’s warm water port.
The Russian populations in the former Russian territories that Soviet leaders foolishly attached to Ukraine were alarmed by the extreme Russophobia of the government that Washington established in Kiev. The former Russian territories voted to rejoin their mother country and to depart the Russophobic US puppet state established in Kiev.
The Russian government accepted the request from Crimea, but not the requests from the other former Russian provinces in order to demonstrate to Europe that Russia was not provocative and not the source of the crisis. Putin even had the Russian Duma rescind his power to intervene militarily in Ukraine in order to protect the secessionist provinces.
This restraint hurt rather than helped the Russian government’s position. Washington used its propaganda machine to label self-determination by Crimeans as “invasion and annexation by Russia of Crimea.”
As I’ve said before, I’ve been trying my best to relay all I can of people looking honestly and thinking clearly at the situation surrounding Ukraine, just to do something to counteract the vast and intense streams of nonsense and fiction being propagated by the US government and a compliant pseudo-news media.
There, we get into territory that isn’t just something that obviously has been a urgent topic lately because it’s so extremely troubling, but something Kunstler and Greer got into, not just in terms of the Ukraine situation, but the broader problem that’s a place where the Ukrainian story fits in as just one element. That is, people trying really hard to maintain their notions of status quo and future of Empire.
This should be obvious as a huge glaring issue, even one that flirts with the idea of “a defining issue of our time”, which has the unfortunate problem of getting into cliches that make people go numb, that phrase, or the general thing it describes, of every damned thing that gets tossed into the circus ring of infotainment news media as being a latest “defining issue of our time” or “Crisis” (with a capital C). The psychotic spasms of Empire are a serious, broad, pervasive problem that touches a variety of subject areas, but it’s a huge pink elephant in the room people are deliberately and in many cases desperately trying to avoid.