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Atwood, Paul

Paul Atwood lecturing at UC Berkeley, Center for the Study of Social Change

Paul Atwood author of War and Empire: The American Way of Life spoke to Center for the Study of Social Change about what he termed The American Empire and the Future.

This was a wonderful lecture filled with facts and references. He mentioned Fletcher Prouty‘s book, which I had never heard of, The Secret Team: several times as seminal, so it’s now winging its way from Amazon to me. He and the audience all seemed healthy and happy but they were all clearly plagued with the idea that Capitalism is evil but as Atwood said, “What’s the alternative?”. One point he made repeatedly was that America is absolutely dependent on cheap energy and especially cheap oil. He admitted the pollution problem and associated global warming but clearly he felt the real problem was American absolute dependence on foreign oil. That dependency has forced American political policy into rapacious relationships with the oil producing countries.

Atwood’s suggested policy is reminiscent of the 60s antiwar movement’s but he admits the US had no compelling reason to be in Southeast Asia at that time and this war is more realistically tied to necessity rather than ideology. I found myself agreeing with him about the facts and their inevitable consequences of global war when the oil supply gets tight but disagreeing with him about the way forward to the future. He says we the common people should rebel against the forces of government which have brought us to this crisis, “Blame the government, not the soldiers, and if you don’t like the war, do something about it, don’t sit on your hands.”

Well, I saw this problem fifty years ago and departed the military under a cloud, and wrote a book because of it, Tao and War. But, that didn’t change the geo-political effects of economic growth coupled with population growth which will soon bring on an absolute shortage of some critical item. Stored energy in the form oil, coal and gas are the absolute necessities for modern society and for the creation of food for our current seven billion people. When the energy supplied by those finite resources are in short supply the population must drop back to a pre-industrial level, below one billion. People will be unwilling to do this voluntarily so there will be massive wars of which WW #x will be only one and the population will drop far lower. It’s not all doom and gloom. Some people will survive but world population could drop back to pre-agricultural levels. That is why we need The EarthArk Project. It will give future humanity the ability to at least feed themselves.

Paul Atwood appeared to me to be a reincarnation of  Albert Parsons a workers spokesman of Chicago Haymarket fame. Parsons was hung, along with several of his companions who were several blocks away from a hand thrown bomb which killed seven policemen. They were, unquestionably, the scapegoats of the corrupt Chicago political system. He was a fine thinker and  speaker and ended his days saying, “And now to all I say: Falter not. Lay bare the inequities of capitalism; expose the slavery of law; proclaim the tyranny of government; denounce the greed, cruelty, abominations of the privileged class who riot and revel on the labor of their wage-slaves. – Farewell.” I believe Atwood would agree with those sentiments. The Haymarket Affair was on May, 4th 1886 which was a number of calm protest speeches about the May 1st murder of some workers by police at that earlier rally. Some unknown provocateur threw the infamous spherical bomb which became the icon for terrorism. This event is still commemorated in Russia as the May Day parade. My interest in Albert Parsons and the Haymarket was my attempt to link Arthur Conan Doyle to that terrorist bomb event. See: REVENGE Rache! Rachel poster from Chicago Haymarket bombing.

Any worker and his descendants who began investing 10% of their earnings into money earning enterprise would now 125 years later on be owners of some of the means of production. This technique is described in many books including: Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosake. It seems that, to these worker minded people, even owning ones own home is a form of theft because they have taken to heart the axiom that all property is theft.

I wandered a bit with this post but I want to say that everything Atwood said was clear and accurate. We agree on the facts but disagree on what to do with the facts. To paraphrase Saint Augustine, I hope for a better world freed of private desires but not just yet.

“There’s a dollar sign behind almost everything.” Prouty