The answer is 42. Wait… what?
Many people will recognize the reference, to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy by the brilliant Douglas Adams, and the part of the story where a grand project was undertaken to build a fantastic supercomputer to analyze the question of the meaning of life, the universe, and everything. The amazing machine eventually cranks away and spits out an answer: 42. Naturally, nobody knows what the hell that’s supposed to mean.
The late Mr. Adams was English, but fit well into a grouping of some other writers, Americans, I can think of who have been brilliant, arguably geniuses, in writing fictional narrative forms that captured human absurdity in a story; Mark Twain, Rod Serling, Kurt Vonnegut, Harlan Ellison.
In thinking about how to start this note, that all came to mind as I thought about what might be the most tragic absurdity of our time, here and now, is the pervasive problem of people reacting to complex times by thinking that they will simplify things, when, realistically, they end up only being simplistic. The result of “42” from the computer in the Hitchhiker’s Guide story was a kind of ultimate result- a massive project seeking to reduce and simplify to the ultimate simplification, and only managing to produce an end result “answer” that makes no sense at all.
I realize that I’m now about to say something I keep saying, in relation to a variety of subjects. Not understanding the different between simple and simplistic just makes things worse. Being simplistic about a complex subject does not simplify anything, it has the effect of complicating things even more by taking the real complexity and piling on an added layer of nonsense, confusion, and even severe delusion.
Right now, lots of complications are around us, and an awful lot of the pile seems, more and more, to involve the complications of shifting sands of circumstances tangled up with ambitions of empire, all over the place. It’s almost too much to even track and itemize the individual stories, never mind all the facts and complexities of any of them. The unfortunate result of that is that too many people don’t even try, and just swallow whole all kinds of simplistic nonsense.
The main thing that prompted thoughts about all this, today, was reading an installment of Charles Hugh Smith’s running blog “of two minds“, which addressed a particular large subject: China.
The short version is that there are a lot of ideas floating around about China, the present, and possible future, that, shall we say, might not be exactly accurate. The most common notion is of China as a growing economic superpower destined to overtake the United States as Mighty Empire Superpower Dominating the World in the 21st century. That notion certainly seems to fit into the mindset of the American neocon cult who see anything and everything as a threat to the American Empire (even as they fall all over themselves to deny at every possible opportunity that it’s about being an empire).
The twist of irony in that is that if you dig into the morass of absurdity of current American politics, I think it’s a pretty fair generalization to say that there’s quite a lot to be found of people who hold certain notions in their heads: they’re firmly in the neocon camp (the “neoconservatives”) who want, in practical realistic terms, whatever they might say to sugarcoat it, a worldwide empire, the United States government controlling everything everywhere on the globe, enforced by the US military all around the globe, to maintain what they see as a controlled environment for their business plans involving what’s generally referred to as globalization. The irony comes in the ideas of globalization about “outsourcing” everything possible, wiping out large chunks of manufacturing activity in the US, and having that done elsewhere in the world by people working for nearly nothing, relative to American economic standards. Obviously, one of the places involved is China, so that essentially, you get people literally handing over large chunks of the American economy, and the facility to do a lot of work, to China (and other places), becoming completely dependent on that, and then turning around and doing lots of saber-rattling about US worldwide military dominance that includes playing the tough guys of the world telling China what they will and will not do, or else.
Added to the combination of arrogance and irrational absurdity of all that is another topic of changing circumstances that people are largely ignoring, that the reality of depletion and diminishing returns in petroleum is only going to make things more problematic over the coming years in maintaining the habit of making things thousands of miles away on the other side of the planet and shipping it across vast ocean in gigantic petroleum burning freighters.
But let’s move on.
Just keeping up with strange events is hard, different major stories coming on the same day sometimes. Just days ago I wrote about the anniversary of a very bad day on September 11 coincided with action in the US Senate, a vote about whether or not to vote, that stopped a vote in the Senate about the Udall Amendment proposition to amend the US Constitution to enable Congress to put limits on the current state of corrupt dysfunction where the US government is basically determined by the highest bidders.
Today, September 18, a couple of stories are on hand, both international in nature.
One, of course, in case you had not heard, Scotland is having a vote (concluded by now, but the results unknown as I type) to determine whether Scotland will declare itself independent from the United Kingdom.
Getting far less attention is the story that in Spain, a long running movement in politics there is getting more active, wanting the Catalonia region to separate from Spain, something that has apparently been quite a long running issue of contention (violent at times), and once again picking up energy.
Overall, I think it seems evident that there’s something in the air in many places in the world, with a common characteristic of people wishing to break up larger government entities, large nations and even empires, into smaller, more regional and local entities and governments. It’s all likely to be difficult given forces that wish to maintain empires or ambitions of empire and large scale control.
Meanwhile, here in the same day, checking the “business news” phantasms on CNBC reveals that “the Dow” is now up into new record high numbers, again, continuing to get the usual excited chatter happening, while that whole realm just gets more and more detached from reality, what some of us call “the real economy”.
This proceeds as the news of that realm this week has involved the questions about what the Federal Reserve Bank will or will not do about their continuing pair of economic distortion tricks. One, pumping out “new money” at essentially 0% interest to players in the trading-game phantasms of Wall Street, feeding this unreal “market boom”, along with the long running program of the Federal Reserve pumping out billions of dollars per month in buying up the worthless paper theoretical “assets” of the financial derivatives kind, to play games of accounting trickery allowing the financial entities selling this trash to make their accounting look better.
The essence of that craziness is reflected in chatter about “Fed policy” on CNBC and elsewhere. There, some truth leaks out, as it becomes clear, listening to the Wall Street cult, that ceasing, or even reducing, either of those long running programs of artifice and trickery is likely to bring reality crashing into what keeps being portrayed as a wonderful party of economic wonder. At least, it’s sold as that, even though the wonder and goodness of all that is an invisible phantasm, a giant pretense, to all the rest of us, including people dealing with operating businesses doing real work and dealing with actual value, or the people working for them for a living. The reality slips out as people chatter anxiously saying that The Fed simply can’t start charging real interest for the funding of the trading casino games that have replaced concepts of investment, they simply must not stop spending billions of theoretical money (that the Federal Reserve creates) buying up the piles of worthless fraud financial instruments contrived to create “wealth” out of nothing, mathematical contrivances, or “the markets” will turn to chaotic shitstorms.
That isn’t all. There’s much more.
Yes, as I had mentioned before, the Washington bunch wanted to invite Ukrainian coup government President Poroshenko to Washington. To review, this is the new oligarch in Ukraine, supposedly the new head of government since the election arranged after the US backed coup overthrowing the previous oligarch President. This oligarch is suitably cooperative with the neocons in Washington, unlike the previous (democratically elected) oligarch, who was more inclined to maintain association with Russia, which made him an enemy of the neocons and ripe for “regime change”.
It was, evidently, a complete farce, a dog and pony show of staggering dishonesty and deception, that follows right along with the narrative being fed to us about the Ukraine saga. It was full of nonsense and fiction about poor little Ukraine, standing alone trying to defend freedom and democracy against evil ogre Russia trying to conquer them and then steamroller over all of Europe. Complete and utter bullshit, complete with statements that this is the United States’ war (well, in a sense, there is truth to that, but not the way it was meant in this bit of theater), Europe’s war, the whole world’s war, fighting off the evil Soviet Union and their plan for world domination. The differences between this stuff and the reality is astonishing.
You can find the show presented as the propaganda machine wants it presented by NBC, or another article from NBC, or from the British form of this from the BBC. None of those explain the US backed coup, or that it looks very likely that the real power in the new coup government still lies with “Prime Minister” Yatsenyuk, AKA “Yats” to Victoria Nuland, US State Department nursemaid to the coup earlier this year that overthrew an elected President who failed to play along with the US/EU plans. After the coup in Kiev, and a visit from CIA director Brennan, the junta government that had taken over quickly went about attacking the Russian-Ukrainians in the east who dared to want to have no part of the gang that had overthrown their government (dominated by people who openly proclaimed their desire to drive them out of Ukraine, or better yet, slaughter them), and the resulting civil war, with the Russian-Ukrainians in the east literally fighting for their lives in their own homes, sold to the American and European citizenry as “Ukraine-Russian War”, with Russia attacking Ukraine.
It’s sickening. And this played out before a joint session of Congress.
What a day, you might think? Oh! There’s more!
It also came to pass that Congress also managed, followed by a dog and pony show from President Obama, to approve a plan to arm and train “Syrian rebels”, their plan to attack the dreaded ISIS/ISIL/IS/whatever, who are never mentioned in all this kind of thing as being “Syrian rebels” (but a different bunch), said to have been set up in business by… wait for it… US government support in the hopes, among the neocon madmen, that they would overthrow the evil Assad in Syria, because the neocon bunch decided he is not worthy to run the government in that country, which, I remind readers, is not the United States of America, begging the recurring obvious question of how it is any of their business.
The question comes to mind… gee, what could possibly go wrong?
Add to that all the righteous noises from Washington directed at the Russian government for months about “respecting the sovereignty of other nations”.
That’s just about enough.