War or Peace? World Entering Epochal Period of Geopolitical Change



In a famous speech to the US Congress in March 1991, just after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the US Gulf War victory over Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, a triumphant US President George H.W. Bush proclaimed the dawn of a “New World Order.”1 The term, with its ominous freemasonic connotations, raised many an eyebrow and Bush never again publicly used the term. However, what he meant became starkly clear to the world in the two decades following the collapse of the Berlin Wall. Now that very US globalisation strategy is in a shambles and the outlines of possible alternative orders are slowly emerging.

The US financial crisis that exploded on the world with a vengeance in March 2007 was the beginning of the end of the Old New World Order as Bush had envisioned in 1991, even though US elites were in denial of that reality. The sole superpower after the end of the Cold War had embarked on a quest of global empire disguised under the rubric of “globalisation.” The Clinton presidency from 1992-2000 marked an era of financial deregulation unprecedented since the 1930s. Big banks were set free from virtually all restraints and became “Too Big to Fail” as a result. The Wall Street Gods of Money knew they could literally “get away with murder” after their follies in the 1997-98 Asia financial crisis, the 1998 Russian sovereign debt default and the subsequent bank bailouts by the IMF and various governments.

When Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan made it clear to Wall Street in 2002 after the collapse of the dot.com stock bubble that the Fed would provide bank liquidity in unprecedented volumes and encourage what Greenspan termed a “revolution in finance,” the Big Wall Street banks responded like piranha devouring a bleeding body.

They created an entirely new concept called Asset-Backed Securitisation in what soon became trillions of dollars of dodgy new financial assets called MBOs (Mortgage-Backed Securities). The only real collateral behind the new MBS bonds sold by Wall Street was a financial house of cards built by the Big Three credit rating agencies – Moodys, Standard & Poors and Fitch – together with a small group of specialised Wall Street asset insurers who ultimately became insolvent.

The ensuing financial crisis is well-known. The decision of former Wall Street mogul Henry Paulsen to deliberately let a major Wall Street investment bank, Lehman Brothers, go bankrupt triggered a global systemic panic that almost brought the world down with it. Since that day in September 2008, the Fed and the European Central Bank have been adding liquidity to financial markets via the big banks to keep the banks solvent, at taxpayer expense.

The consequence of the Wall Street banks’ crisis and the Washington pro-Wall Street response, has been the greatest rate of US federal debt growth in history. Since the US sub-prime real estate crisis emerged in 2007, US federal debt has increased by US$7.2 trillion or almost 80% in just five years. Since Bush’s New World Order speech and the end of the Cold War, US federal debt has risen by an incredible US$13 trillion to an alarming Third World debt-to-GDP level of 104% today. Government debt is growing at a rate of well over $1 trillion annually, and the recent fiscal “chicken game” with federal debt default in October 2013 and Congress’ unwillingness to grant a rise in the debt ceiling, have shattered confidence of governments and private investors around the world. As debt burdens force Washington to cut its budget, the footprint of Washington in global politics is also dramatically lessening. Politics, like nature, abhors a vacuum and others are moving to fill the US global political vacuum.

New Coalitions

Paradoxically, the post-1991 US pursuit of a de facto global empire, ‘The American Century’, as Time-Life publisher Henry Luce named it in a famous 1941 editorial in Life magazine,2 has created precisely what it intended to eliminate. It has spawned the seeds of a multi-polar world, united in opposition to a new tyranny posing as “American democracy.” Nowhere is this better seen than in the alignment of both sides over Syria since March 2011 when Washington and NATO launched a full-scale regime change effort to topple Bashar al-Assad.

Obama chose to act in the “Arab Spring” through proxies, mindful of avoiding a new Iraq or Afghanistan debacle. That meant relying on the Islamist regime of NATO member Turkey and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s AKP party. It meant relying on Qatar’s Emir Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, whose ambitions to dominate the natural gas market to the EU pitted him against Syria. It meant relying on Saudi Arabia, home to the ultra-feudal fundamentalist Wahhabite Islamic Royal House. All were Sunni Muslim and, until very recently, it seemed that all backed the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood that took power in Egypt in the so-called Arab Spring.

Here a new fault-line in global geopolitics began to emerge, a fascinating one. Defending the minority Alawite regime of Bashar al-Assad, a bitter foe of the Muslim Brotherhood, were Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and China, both UN Security Council veto members who blocked any US attempt to get a Security Council sanction for military intervention into Syria.

Russia’s stake is enormous. Her only Mediterranean naval base, Tarsus, is in Syria, an old Cold War ally. Russia’s entire natural gas geopolitics depends on blocking the Qatar gas domination. Qatar and Iran “share” the same giant gas field in the Persian Gulf. In March 2011, the month the Qataris, Turkey and others launched a full assault inside Syria, Assad had just signed an agreement with Shi’ite Iran and Shi’ite-dominated Iraq to build a gas pipeline from Iran’s Persian Gulf gas field ultimately to the Mediterranean, a direct rival to Qatar. Russia had interest in backing the Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline.

At that point Qatar, Saudi Arabia and to a degree Erdoğan’s Turkey, launched a dirty war to topple the pro-Iran Assad regime. They financed various fanatical Islamic Jihadists who began invading the country from Libya, Pakistan, Afghanistan and even Germany, to die in the name of Holy War. They were for the most part paid mercenaries and ruthless in spreading terror and atrocities, blaming it on Assad’s army.

As the coalition of Russia, Iran and, to a limited degree a more cautious China, dug their heels in, Saudi Intelligence head Prince Bandar, an intimate of the Bush family, was put in charge of toppling the pro-Iran Assad regime. In August 2013 an increasingly desperate Bandar, according to Jordanian journalists inside Syria at the time, provided chemical weapons to the Saudi-financed terrorists in Ghouta, Syria to create a false flag pretext. It was designed to force Obama into a “red line” military intervention in Syria to break the deadlock.3

As we now know, the world was within a hair’s breadth of a potential World War by early September 2013, pitting Iran, Russia, China, Iraq and Syria against a US-led coalition. The rabid pro-war neo-cons in Washington, urged on by the anti-Iran Netanyahu regime in Tel Aviv, backed a bungling Obama into a dangerous corner where America’s very credibility as a Superpower appeared on the line. The last thing Obama wanted was another hapless US war in the Middle East.


At the last moment, as Deus-ex-machina, Russia’s Putin, who only days earlier had been diplomatically shunned by Obama ostensibly over the Snowden NSA affair, came forward with an OpEd in the New York Times. Putin offered to broker a diplomatic solution by removing Syria’s stocks of chemical weapons. Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov openly called US Secretary of State John Kerry a liar on Syria.

Surprising many, Obama grabbed the offer as a life preserver. War was off the agenda. Saudi Arabia and Israel’s Netanyahu were furious, with the Saudis threatening a new direction away from US satrapy to an as-yet-undefined new alliance.

The Putin initiative, backed by Iran and accepted by Assad, opened the way for Obama to move to the fore open negotiations after 34 years with the new Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

Those talks, to further Israeli and Saudi anger, resulted in a breakthrough on 24 November 2013 in Geneva: The USA pushed through a Six-Power agreement with Iran to resolve the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program, leading to lifting of economic sanctions.

France and Britain were arm-twisted into joining the US, China, Russia and Germany in the historic deal that, ironically, boosts the emerging pole of Eurasian power in what I have often referred to as a new “Iran Triangle” of mutual interests between Russia, China and Iran.

As Washington tries under Obama to reign in US military engagements in the Middle East and to an extent Afghanistan, a new power locus around the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation of China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan is emerging. Created in 2001 it is defining a new Eurasian economic space. Rail links are being built or expanded creating links from Beijing to Turkey, to Germany and beyond, enabling overland freight transport, creating new growth zones.

Barring World War, which is not to be ruled out, this Eurasian nexus will define the centre-of-gravity of the world economic growth for perhaps the next century or more. The new markets will become a magnet attracting EU economies led by the export-hungry Germany.

The political class of the EU in this context is in an existential dilemma of the first order. Its institutions are a relic of the Cold War and US domination. With the US economic power in shambles and its political leadership in question, the EU faces a Scylla and Charybdis challenge. If it hangs on to the post-1945 Atlantic Bridge, she risks economic disaster as the Eurozone depression deepens and Eurasian chances pass them by. If she “goes east” not West, she opens huge new potential markets in the world’s most populous region, Eurasia, but risks alienating the American Superpower.

Epochal Change

The next several years in my view will witness epochal change as the world order begun with England’s Industrial Revolution in the mid-1700s and spreading to North America gives way to new alignments in Eurasia and to an extent in the South led by Brazil in South America.

This new reality in a degree is reflected in the regular dialogue between the so-called BRICS – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – since 2010. Notable is their mutual efforts to shape their economic destinies independent of the former colonial masters in Europe or of the USA. Ultimately the emergence of independent regional groupings of nations bent on peaceful economic growth and cooperation offers the chance for a more peaceful and prosperous world. Naturally, not everyone is overjoyed at this prospect, least of all the trillion-dollar NATO arms industry which faces economic collapse if genuine peace were to “break out.”

Over the twenty years since the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union, I was privileged to have been invited to Russia, China, Iran and many parts of the former Warsaw Pact, as well as Turkey, Indonesia, Sudan. I met many responsible academics, military and political elites of those countries. It has become clear to me that the last thing Russia or China or Iran want at this point is a new world war.

We have a golden chance to move mankind a significant step closer to a world not ruled by the dogma “might makes right,” but by peace and attempts at mutual cooperation. It would be a refreshing change if we did not squander it as the world did in 1991 when Washington decided not to end the Cold War but try to control the entire world as a sole Superpower, what I call in my book, Full Spectrum Dominance – Totalitarian Democracy in the New World Order. We have a genuine chance today to build a “New New World Order” based on social justice and peaceful development of our planet.

F. William Engdahl has contributed an article on the recent major Middle East geopolitical developments to New Dawn Special Issue Vol 7 No 6.

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1. George H. W. Bush, ‘Address Before a Joint Session of Congress on the End of the Gulf War’ (March 6, 1991), accessed in http://millercenter.org/president/speeches/detail/3430.

2. Henry R. Luce, ‘The American Century’, LIFE magazine, 17 February 1941, accessed in www.informationclearinghouse.info/article6139.htm.

3. Phil Greaves, ‘The Syria Chemical Weapons Attack and the Role of Saudi Intelligence. The Mint News Report. New MintPress Statement Reveals Saudi Pressure on Reporter’, GlobalResearch, November 23, 2013, accessed in www.globalresearch.ca/the-syria-chemical-weapons-attack-and-the-role-of-saudi-intelligence-the-mint-news-report/52359154.


F. WILLIAM ENGDAHL is an award-winning geopolitical analyst, strategic risk consultant, author, professor and lecturer. He has been researching and writing about the world political scene for more than thirty years. His various books on geopolitics – the interaction between international power politics, economics and geography – have been translated into 14 foreign languages from Chinese to French, from German to Japanese. F. William Engdahl contributes regularly to a number of international publications on economics and political affairs including Asia Times, RT.com, RT TV, GlobalResearch.com, Japan’s Nihon Keizai Shimbun and Foresight magazine. He has been interviewed on numerous international TV and radio programs including USA Coast-to-Coast with George Noory, Al Jazeera, Channel 1 Russian TV. Websites: www.williamengdahl.com & www.engdahl.oilgeopolitics.net.

The above article appeared in New Dawn No. 142 (January-February 2014)

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Spaceship Earth: The Visionary Ideas of the Russian Cosmists



Winston Churchill famously characterised Russia as “a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.” It’s apt, then, that the father of the Russian space program – perhaps of all space programs – was an ascetic librarian who taught that humanity should work for the physical resurrection of all the dead. Nikolai Fyodorov (whose name is also transliterated as Fedorov; 1829–1903) was the first man to seriously theorise about interplanetary travel. He also coined the term “spaceship Earth” to convey a sense of humanity’s interconnection with the cosmos.

Fyodorov, little-known in his lifetime, served as mentor and inspiration for an entire philosophical school known as the Russian Cosmists. These visionaries, often neglected, sometimes persecuted by the Soviet state, conceived of such advanced ideas as rocket travel, a prolonged human lifespan, and the use of electromagnetic energy to enhance vitality. And in many cases they produced the models and formulas that would make these far-fetched ideas a concrete reality.

The ideas of the Cosmists, always visionary, sometimes fantastic, seem closer to reality now than they did a hundred years ago, and the school of the Cosmists continues to this day in Russia, with conferences and papers dedicated to the propagation of these ideas and activities. It is time that their work became better-known.

The foremost authority on the Cosmists in the English-speaking world is George M. Young, author of The Russian Cosmists: The Esoteric Futurism of Nikolai Fedorov and His Followers (published by Oxford University Press in 2012). Young grew up in Madison, Indiana, in the US and received a B.A. in English from Duke University and a Ph.D. in Slavic languages and literatures from Yale University. He has taught Russian and general humanities at Grinnell College, Dartmouth College, and the University of New England, and for many years between academic positions directed a fine arts and auction business specialising in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century American and European paintings. He is currently a research fellow at the University of New England’s Center for Global Humanities.

Young is the author of Nikolai F. Fedorov: An Introduction, published in 1979, and has published many essays and reviews on Russian literature and thought in academic and general magazines, journals, and edited collections. Other books include Hermotimus’ Voyages, a collection of poems, and Force through Delicacy: The Life and Art of Charles H. Woodbury, N.A. George and his wife, Patricia, live in rural southern Maine and are the parents of two grown children.

Richard Smoley (RS): The Russian Cosmists aren’t familiar to most English-speaking readers. Maybe you could begin by telling us a bit about who they were and why they’re important.

George M. Young (GY): In a recent issue of Quest magazine, Richard, you observed that over the centuries at crucial moments in history, small groups of people have emerged who were working from a higher plane of consciousness. Among these groups you mention the Pythagoreans, the Chartres school of cathedral builders, the late medieval Brethren of the Common Life, the Rosicrucians, and H.P. Blavatsky’s circle of Theosophists.

I think the Russian Cosmists, working in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, may be another such group. They did not consider themselves a group, or even a school of thought, but individually addressed similar profound, cosmic problems, treating subjects usually considered esoteric or occult as matters suitable for serious scientific and philosophical investigation. The major Cosmists include the religious thinkers Nikolai Fyodorov, Vladimir Solovyov, Nikolai Berdyaev, Sergei Bulgakov, and Pavel Florensky; the philosophical scientists Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, Vladimir Vernadsky, Alexander Chizhevsky, Valerian Muravyov, and Vladimir Kuprevich, each of whom was a broad, polymath genius, in no way able to be pigeonholed as simply “religious” or “scientific.”

Florensky, for example, wrote seminal papers in mathematics, developed crucial processes for the electrification of Russian industry, taught in revolutionary schools for workers while wearing his priest’s cassock, and wrote The Pillar and Ground of Truth, one of the great classics of Russian Orthodox contemplative spirituality.

Others were similarly multitalented. They addressed topics such as the infinite extension of the human life span, the overcoming of death, the physical resurrection of the dead, the reconstitution of the human organism, the recreation of whole human individuals from particles of identity, the exploration and colonisation of cosmic space, the reversal of time, and the practical realisation of universal human brother-sisterhood.

The Cosmists show us today how it is possible to overcome dichotomies and bridge gaps. Theory and practice, science and religion, esoteric and exoteric, ideal and real – the Cosmists found ways to unify apparent opposites. Another quality of theirs that we might take note of is the confidence with which they addressed the most enormous, apparently insoluble questions. Can we, should we attempt to overcome death? Can we, should we attempt to remake humanity? Explore and colonise space? Yes, the Cosmists said, with a conviction not much in evidence elsewhere today, we can and should, and here is how to start!

RS: Could you talk a little bit about Nikolai Fyodorov and his work? If I understand it correctly, he coined the term “spaceship Earth” back in the nineteenth century.

GY: Nikolai Fyodorov was the prime exemplar and source of Russian Cosmism. Born in southern Russia, the illegitimate son of a Russian prince and an unknown local woman, Fyodorov led an ascetic, eccentric life, first as a rural elementary school teacher, and then as a Moscow librarian of legendary erudition. That he was also a highly original thinker was known to only a few contemporaries, but this handful included Fyodor Dostoevsky, Leo Tolstoy, and Russia’s leading philosopher, Vladimir Solovyov.

Fyodorov’s central idea was that everything we now do leads toward division, destruction, and death. Our “common task” as humans is join together in a grand “project” to use all our god-given intelligence to counter nature’s force of division and death, leading eventually to universal immortality and the resurrection of all the dead. Individual parts of the “common task” included travel beyond earth to collect the dispersed particles of our ancestors (“dust of the fathers”) in order to restore them to wholeness and life, the reconstitution of the human organism to allow us to survive in space under conditions now unable to support human life, and human control over gravity, allowing us to liberate our planet from its natural orbit and guide it through space on courses of our own choosing. More than a century before Buckminster Fuller, Fyodorov argued that we should no longer ride as idle passengers but must become “captain and crew of spaceship Earth.”

Fyodorov did not know exactly how the spiritual-scientific workers of the future would solve the technical problems of biological engineering and interplanetary voyage, but he knew what the goals should be and he believed that if humanity undertook the “common task,” future expertise would be able to find solutions.

For Fyodorov, as early as the 1860s, space colonisation was not an optional fantasy, but a necessary human step toward fulfilment of a divine plan. Dust of our ancestors is dispersed throughout the universe. The human task is to gather and revive this dust, to find homes beyond Earth for the resurrected multitudes that otherwise would overcrowd our planet, to populate the uninhabited and currently uninhabitable places in the universe, to spiritualise all the currently dead matter in the cosmos. In a sense, Fyodorov was the ultimate alchemist, attempting to turn all human knowledge and labour, all science, religion, and art, into a single task of transmuting currently dead or dying matter into eternal, universal life. His posthumously published writings seemed ridiculous to most of his early readers – perhaps less so today.

RS: I gather that Konstantin Edouardovich Tsiolkovsky, a pupil of Fyodorov’s, laid some of the groundwork for what became the Russian space program. Could you tell us a little bit about him and what he accomplished?

GY: Even before Fyodorov’s writings were published, a handful of listeners and readers recognised in him a mind far ahead of his time. Tolstoy wrote that he was proud to have lived in the same century as Fyodorov. And Solovyov wrote that since the appearance of Christianity Fyodorov’s “project” was the first forward movement of the human spirit along the path of Christ.

But the follower who did most to realise a portion of Fyodorov’s “project” was Konstantin Tsiolkovsky (1857–1935), a mostly deaf but precocious seventeen-year-old boy from a small village who moved to Moscow to educate himself and came under Fyodorov’s tutelage at the library. As Tsiolkovsky would later write, Fyodorov guided his readings, taught him to take notes, and served as his one-man university. After a few years studying with Fyodorov, Tsiolkovsky returned to his village to teach. After school hours he built wooden model rockets and spaceships, and developed and published the mathematical formulas that eventually led to the launching of the world’s first artificial satellites. In addition to his seminal scientific papers, for which he received recognition as the grandfather of the Russian space program, Tsiolkovsky published science fiction tales about space exploration that inspired generations of young Russian readers to dream of becoming cosmonauts. And though he could not publish them through official Soviet outlets, he wrote and sometimes printed and circulated numerous esoteric and theosophical speculations concerning higher sentient beings and energies alive throughout the cosmos.

RS: What does it mean to be a “Cosmist” in this context?

GY: I think one of the main features of Cosmist thought is what Fyodorov called the shift from a Ptolemaic to a Copernican comprehension of the universe. Intellectually, we have long realised that our planet is not the centre of the universe, but emotionally, culturally, aesthetically, and in almost every other way, we cling to a Ptolemaic cosmology. The Cosmists urge us not only to think but to feel and in every way realise that we are citizens of the entire universe. Not only the planet, but the cosmos is our home, and our lives are meant to span not merely seventy-odd years, but forever. The Cosmists propose that we are not the end product, but are still in the early stages of evolution. We are still children, or at best, adolescents, with all the characteristics and problems of that age, and have a long way to go to attain maturity. The insecurities, appetites, and needs – sexual, gustatory, etc. – that now drive and dominate our lives will eventually subside. We will be greatly changed from what we now are. As Fyodorov wrote, we need to realise – to make real in every way – that we are already “heaven dwellers.”

RS: How did the Cosmists conceive of interplanetary travel?

GY: Tsiolkovsky developed formulas and designed rockets for human beings as we are today. But he, Fyodorov, and others also imagined possible interplanetary, even intergalactic travel for more advanced levels of humanity. A step in that direction would be the cessation of what Fyodorov called “cannibalism” (i.e., that we stop eating organic matter, all of which he believed is made up of particles of our ancestors), and the attainment of an autotrophic way of life, in which, like certain plants and other organisms, we would feed on air, sunlight, and other elements. In Cosmist thought, we must direct our own evolution. Instead of taller, heavier bodies, we should choose to develop smaller, lighter bodies, and eventually perhaps eliminate all our mass and become bodiless minds, free from gravity, god-men able to be anywhere and everywhere in the cosmos. At that stage, interplanetary travel would be automatic and instantaneous: decide to go to Jupiter and you’re there.

RS: It seems that the Cosmists were among the first thinkers to conceive of human possibilities beyond the limits of the physical earth. What do you think were some of their most important contributions in this regard?

GY: Fyodorov and the other Cosmists tried to make literal sense of ideas such as “resurrection of the dead,” “heaven on earth,” “eternal life,” “oneness with God,” “manna from heaven,” etc. They believed that we should not merely dream and pray for “heavenly peace,” but could and should take the actualisation of such concepts as our human duty and task. So the first step for them was a shift in consciousness, changing speculations about things “not of this world,” into tasks to be realised in this world, turning metaphysics into engineering projects. Writers like Jules Verne, Prince Vladimir Odoyevsky, and others had written entertaining speculative fiction about a future with space travel, but the Cosmists said: “Let’s not just talk about these things, let’s do them.”

As far as results are concerned, Tsiolkovsky published the formulas enabling man-made objects to escape Earth’s gravity. Solovyov developed a philosophy of active love pointing humanity toward a higher, spiritually mature, androgynous level of existence. Bulgakov countered Marx’s earthly, materialist philosophy of economics with a Cosmist, spiritual “Philosophy of Economy” that casts man as responsible owner and regulator of the universe. Vernadsky developed the idea of the noösphere, a sheath of mental energy as real and influential as the stratosphere, ionosphere, and other spheres of energy surrounding our planet. Muravyov proposed new socioeconomic structures that would facilitate mass human control over time. Chizhevsky invented devices that focused electromagnetic energy to invigorate workers and increase animal productivity, and further discovered correlations between periodic solar storms and cycles of mass human activity. And Kuprevich laid the foundation for remarkable Russian advances in gerontology and human longevity research that is now being conducted. I think, then, that one of the major contributions the Russian Cosmists have made is to take seriously the idea that humans are made for infinite space and infinite time.

RS: Tsiolkovsky held not only that life is distributed throughout the universe, but that the most advanced forms of life are not to be found on Earth. How did he conceive of, and portray, these forms of life?

GY: Tsiolkovsky was a panpsychist, recognising life and sensitivity throughout the universe. He believed that a spiritual atom (atom dukh) inhered in every particle of the material universe. Tsiolkovsky’s cosmos, moreover, is teleological, rationally organised, and hierarchical. Lower life forms, consisting mainly of matter in which spirit is dormant, evolve into higher ones, in which spirit is awakened and more dominant, and eventually as we approach perfection we will outgrow our material envelopes and join the rays of cosmic energy that constitute something like the pleroma of the Gnostics.

For Tsiolkovsky, integral life is distributed throughout the universe, and the most advanced, most highly developed life forms are not to be found on earth. In cosmic evolution, higher life forms move on, leaving lower forms behind, and the higher life forms guide and shape the evolutionary paths of the lower forms. So in Tsiolkovsky’s view, we are being guided and shaped by higher life forms from somewhere beyond our planet. The past is endless, and many universes have come and gone before the present one, and the processes and forces that guide and shape our paths are real and intuited, but beyond our present rational understanding.

RS: There has been an enormous amount of interest in extraterrestrials and UFOs over the past two generations. Do the Cosmists have anything to contribute to this conversation?

GY: Most Cosmist speculation focuses on our human role in and toward the cosmos, but some attention has also been given to how cosmic beings or forces interact with us. Tsiolkovsky, as noted above, thought that higher life forms beyond Earth guide and shape our evolution. And his younger colleague Alexander Chizhevsky (1897–1964), who lived and worked in the same town as Tsiolkovsky, devoted most of his scientific research (he was also an artist and a poet) to the influence of solar and other cosmic waves and particles of energy on earthly life. He won recognition and honours for his “Chizhevsky Chandelier” – an electromagnetic device that produced negatively charged aero-ions for curative and therapeutic uses and to stimulate more productive animal and human output in henhouses. But his best-known work today is his discovery of correlations between solar and human cycles of activity. In a series of charts and graphs covering two millennia of human history, he demonstrated – though not entirely convincingly – that wars, revolutions, and other examples of mass upheaval coincided almost perfectly with the eleven-year cycle of solar eruptions, and that during the middle, less active years of the solar cycle, peace, prosperity, and creative mass movements flourished.

Chizhevsky’s argument might make sense in a general way: human life and history may well be influenced more than we now recognise by unseen, unmeasured forces from the sun and from other sources beyond our planet. But Chizhevsky’s charted and graphed correlations seem too neat for the little we actually know about “universal” mass activity in remote places and eras. A more nuanced presentation of the same overall data might be more convincing.

As for UFOs, Cosmist thinkers have little to contribute, perhaps assuming that entities wishing to interact with us and our planet would probably have passed beyond physical planes of existence, and if they did appear to us as visible entities, it would only be as illusions – adaptations dumbed down for our convenience.

RS: Could you say something about Vladimir Vernadsky (1863–1945) and his ideas of the noösphere?

GY: Of all the Cosmists, Vernadsky had the most conventionally productive life. Others were exiled, imprisoned, even executed for their Cosmist ideas, considered heretical at the time. Vernadsky, thanks in part to his international reputation and to his apolitical devotion to pure science, but perhaps mainly because of the economic and military value of his work in atomic energy, was permitted to conduct and publish his research through even the worst periods of Stalinist repression.

He is best known today for his formulation of the “biosphere” as the planet’s sheath of “living matter,” and the emergence of the “noösphere” (from nous, the Greek word for “mind”) as the biosphere’s sheath of “thinking matter.” Though better known in the West through the writings of his French colleagues Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and Edouard Le Roy, who probably developed their ideas while attending seminars taught by Vernadsky at the Sorbonne, the idea of the noösphere is most extensively developed by Vernadsky in Russian. Like Chizhevsky, Vernadsky emphasised the importance of cosmic forces on the shaping and development of our planet. The biosphere serves as a transformer converting cosmic radiation into active energy in electrical, chemical, mechanical, thermal, and other forms. Radiation from all stars affects the biosphere, but we measure and are aware of only a small portion, mainly from the sun. The noösphere, emerging through the biosphere, is a new geological phenomenon, as important as the earlier emergence of the biosphere on our inert planetary rock.

Humanity, for the first time, becomes a major geological force, and thinking matter will change the planet as thoroughly as did the emergence of living matter. Vernadsky insists that we can and must alter our habitat by labour and thought. Like other Cosmists, he is confident that our efforts are more likely to improve than destroy our environment. The noösphere is not the final, but merely the latest stage of biological evolution in geological history. He writes that many stages have preceded and many will follow but this is our present stage, and its course is only beginning to be apparent to us.

RS: Where do you think the ideas of the Cosmists can take us in the twenty-first century?

GY: The ideas of the early Cosmists have been further developed in the late twentieth and early twenty-first century. In Moscow, the Nikolai Fyodorov Museum and Library sponsors seminars, publications, research presentations, and other activities for today’s Cosmists. In Kaluga, the town where Tsiolkovsky and Chizhevsky lived and worked, the Tsiolkovsky Museum of Cosmonautics also sponsors wide ranging research and publishing projects. Other centres in St. Petersburg, Novosibirsk, and elsewhere engage in studies and activities related to but not directly linked to the Fyodorovian tradition of Cosmism.

Some of the most intense activity related to Cosmism is in the field of human longevity and immortology – the science of immortality. One scientist, Igor Vishev, has predicted that technology is advancing so rapidly that there are already people alive today who will never die. Others, of a transhumanist orientation, emphasise the coming union of man and computer, human and artificial intelligence. Other researchers have investigated alternative realities, developing mechanical devices to induce states of altered, perhaps higher, consciousness.

In remote areas of Russia and Siberia, utopian groups have emerged, attempting, as Fyodorov and Florensky did, to create an alternative human communal future by looking deeply into the Russian past. For Fyodorov and Florensky, the spiritual past with a future lay in pre-Petrine Russian Orthodox Christianity. For the communal Cosmists of today, the spiritual past with a future lies for the most part in pre-Christian Slavic paganism. At academic conferences on Cosmism, a feature of many presentations and discussions is the interdisciplinary character of the research. Since Fyodorov’s day, the division of knowledge into narrow specialties, along with the separation of thought from action, has been viewed as an example of modern intellectual decline and death. Today’s Cosmists follow their classic predecessors in fearlessly addressing the big questions and proposing bold, active, comprehensive solutions. The Cosmists are aware that the problems and solutions they discuss today may not be the ones they will be discussing tomorrow. But they are also aware that Cosmists past and present have made an important start, and the discussion will continue.

The Russian Cosmists: The Esoteric Futurism of Nikolai Fedorov and His Followers by George M. Young (Oxford University Press, 2012) is available from all good bookstores and online retailers.

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RICHARD SMOLEY has over thirty-five years of experience of studying and practicing esoteric spirituality. His latest book is Supernatural: Writings on an Unknown History. He is also the author of Inner Christianity: A Guide to the Esoteric Tradition; Conscious Love: Insights from Mystical Christianity; The Dice Game of Shiva: How Consciousness Creates the Universe; The Essential Nostradamus; Forbidden Faith: The Secret History of Gnosticism; and Hidden Wisdom: A Guide to the Western Inner Traditions (with Jay Kinney). Smoley is the former editor of Gnosis: A Journal of the Western Inner Traditions. Currently he is editor of Quest: Journal of the Theosophical Society in America and of Quest Books.

The above article appeared in New Dawn No. 140 (September-October 2013)

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Libya Then & Now: An Overview of NATO’s Handiwork



In 2011, as the entire world watched the Arab Spring in amazement, the US and its allies, predominately working under the banner of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), militarily overran the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.

The peaceful civilian protesters they claimed to be intervening to protect were not really what the US and its cohorts presented to the world. Many of these so-called “protesters” were armed, and when this became apparent they eventually began to portray themselves as “rebel forces.” These so-called “rebels” in Libya were not a military force that emerged spontaneously for the most part, but an insurgency movement cultivated and organised before any opposition activities were even reported in Libya.

After Libya’s rapprochement with the US and the European Union, it was unthinkable to many that Washington and any of its allies could even have been preparing to topple the Libyan government. Business and trade ties between Libya and the US, Britain, Italy, France, Spain, and Turkey had bloomed since 2003 after Colonel Muammar Qadhafi opted for cooperation with Washington. No one imagined that Saif Al-Islam Qadhafi’s “New Libya” with its neo-liberalism could be on a collision course with NATO.

Yet, the US and its EU partners for several years made preparations for taking over Libya. They had infiltrated the Jamahiriya’s government, security and intelligence sectors. Longstanding imperialist objectives existing since the Second World War, aimed at dividing Libya into three colonial territories, were taken out of government filing cabinets in Washington, London, Paris and Rome, and circulated at NATO Headquarters in Brussels.

In league with these colonial plans, the US and its allies had been cultivating ties with different members of the Libyan opposition and had always reserved the option of using these opposition figures for regime change in Tripoli. Putting together their colonial designs and mobilising their agents, the US and its allies began organising the stage for establishing the Transitional National Council (TNC) – simply called the Transitional Council – and similar bodies to govern Libya as its new puppet leadership. The British and French even held joint invasion exercises months before the Libyan conflict erupted with the Arab Spring in 2011, while various intelligence services and foreign military commandos from NATO and GCC countries were also on the ground in Libya helping to prepare for the destabilisation of the North African country and the toppling of the Jamahiriya’s government and institutions.

Realities have been turned upside down and the victims were grossly portrayed as the aggressors in the conflict. While the Transitional Council’s forces, augmented by mercenaries and foreign fighters, were torturing, raping, and murdering civilians and those that were standing in their way with the aid of NATO and the GCC, Muammar Qadhafi was inflexibly and exclusively blamed for all the violence inside Libya. Nor were the atrocities an exclusively Libyan versus Libyan matter. During the conflict, NATO committed serious war crimes and crimes against humanity in its effort to overrun and control the North African country. Not only did foreign journalists help justify and sustain the war, but they played major roles in assisting NATO’s war effort by passing on information about Libyan targets and checkpoint locations to the Jamahiriya’s enemies. The war, however, did not go as planned and Libyan resistance proved far stronger than the Pentagon and NATO initially imagined.

In the course of the confrontation and at the international level, a series of human rights organisations and think-tanks were utilised for preparing the stage for the conflict in Libya and the toppling of its government. These organisations were mostly part of a network that had been working to establish the mechanisms for justifying interventionism and creating the net of individuals and public faces needed for creating a proxy government in Libya in the false name of “democracy.” When the time came, these bodies coordinated with the NATO powers and the mainstream media in the project to isolate, castrate, and subjugate the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya. These so-called human rights organisations and the mainstream media networks worked together to propagate lies about African mercenaries, Libyan military jet attacks on civilians, and civilian massacres by Muammar Qadhafi’s regime. International news networks extensively quoted these human rights organisations in what would amount to a self-fuelled cycle of misinformation, while the same human rights organisations continued to make claims on the basis of the media’s reports. In other words, each side fed the other. It was this web of lies that was presented at the Human Rights Council in the United Nations Office at Geneva and then handed to the United Nations Security Council in New York City as the basis for the war in Libya. These lies were accepted without any investigation being launched by the United Nations or any other international bodies. Any Libyan requests for international investigation teams were ignored. It was from this point onward that NATO used the UN Security Council to launch its war of aggression against Libya under the pretext of protecting civilians and enforcing a no-fly zone over the Arab country. Although not officially accepted by the United Nations Security Council, the “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P) doctrine was being showcased as a new paradigm for military intervention by NATO.

All known advocates of Pentagon militarism and global empire demanded this war take place, including Paul Wolfowitz, John McCain, Joseph Lieberman, Elliott Abrahams, Leon Wieseltier, John Hannah, Robert Kagan, and William Kristol. The Project for the New American Century (PNAC) and the neo-conservative crowd was the realist foreign policy camp in Washington. The entire US establishment lined up to pick off Tripoli and reduce it a weak and divided African protectorate.

Libya & the New “Scramble” for Africa

To put NATO’s war in Libya within the framework of historic analysis, one only needs to be reminded that the main thrust of the sudden physical European colonisation of Africa, called the “Scramble for Africa,” started when an economic recession originally called the “Great Depression,” but in retrospect renamed as the “Long Depression,” hit much of Europe and North America from roughly 1873 to 1893. In this period the entire tempo of Western European contact with African nations transformed.

Prior to this economic recession, Western European companies and enterprises were content dealing with African leaders and recognising their authority. Few Western European colonies in Africa had existed aside from a few coastal strips based on strategically-placed trading posts in Sierra Leone and Lagos in the possession of Britain; Mozambique and Angola in the possession of Portugal; and Senegal in the possession of France. At this time the biggest external force in Africa was the Ottoman Empire, which was beginning its long decline as a great power.

Even with Western European colonial incursions into Africa by Britain, France, and Portugal, most of the African continent was still free of external or alien control. Intensified European economic rivalries and the recession in Western Europe, however, would change this. Britain would lose its edge as the world’s most industrialised nation as the industrial sectors of the USA, France and Germany all began to increasingly challenge British manufacturers. As a result of the recession and increased business rivalries, the corporations of Western European countries began to push their respective governments to adopt protectionist practices and to directly intervene in Africa to protect the commercial interests of these corporations. The logic behind this colonial push or “scramble” was that these Western European governments would secure large portions of Africa as export markets and for resource imports for these corporations alone, while these African territories would effectively be closed off to economic rivals. Thus, a whole string of Western European conquest began in Africa to secure ivory, fruits, copal (gum), cloves, beeswax, honey, coffee, peanuts, cotton, precious metals, and rubber.

Although appropriating Libya’s financial and material wealth were objectives of the NATO war in 2011, the broader objectives of the criminal war were part of the struggle to control the African continent and its vast wealth. The “Scramble for Africa” was repeating itself. Just like the first time, recession and economic rivalries were tied to this new round of colonial conquest in the African continent.

The emergence of Asia as the new global centre of gravity, at the expense of the nations of the North Atlantic in North America and Western Europe, has also primed the United States and its allies to start an endeavour to close Africa off from the People’s Republic of China and the emerging centres of power in Russia, India, Brazil, and Iran. This is why the Pentagon’s United States Africa Command (USAFRICOM/AFRICOM) played a major role in the war.

The London Conference on Libya, where the Libya Contact Group was formed on 29 March 2011, was a modern version of the Berlin Conference of 1884, which attempted to solidify the gains made by European colonial powers in their first rush to control African societies and territory. The Istanbul Conference on Libya, where the Libya Contact Group met for the fourth time on 15 July 2011, was virtually a declaration of the intentions of the US and these countries to appropriate Libya’s vast wealth. This is a template for usurping the wealth of other countries in Africa and beyond. In this regard, the Transitional Council has served as nothing more than a proxy that was designed to help embezzle Libya’s vast wealth.

Moreover, Libya had to be neutralised in line with the intentions of this project to reclaim Africa, because of Qadhafi’s pan-African ambitions to unify the African continent under Libyan leadership. Libya and its development and political projects were effectively erecting a barrier to the re-colonisation of the African continent. In this regard, the war was launched by “Operation Odyssey Dawn.” This name is very revealing. It identifies the strategic intent and direction of the campaign in Libya. ‘The Odyssey’ is an ancient Greek epic by the poet Homer that recounts the voyage and trails of the hero Odysseus of Ithaca on his voyage home. The main theme here is the ‘return home’. In other words, the military assault’s codename meant that countries like the US, Britain, France, Italy, Germany, Belgium, and Turkey were on their own odyssey of ‘return’ into Africa.

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The Crown of Africa

Libya is a lucrative prize of massive economic value. It has immense oil and gas resources, vast amounts of underground water from the Nubian Sandstone Aquifer System, important trade routes, substantial foreign investments, and large amounts of liquid capital. Up until 2011, Libya was blessed with a rare gift in regard to its national revenue in that it saved a significant amount. In fact Libya possessed more than US$150 billion in overseas financial assets and had one of the largest sovereign investment funds in the world at the start of 2011.

Until the conflict in Libya ignited, there was a very large foreign work force in the Jamahiriya. Thousands of foreign workers from every corner of the globe went to Libya for employment. This included nationals from places like the Philippines, Turkey, sub-Saharan Africa, China, Latin America, Belarus, Italy, France, Bulgaria, Romania, Canada, Russia, Ukraine, Serbia, and every corner of the Arab world. For years, these jobs inside Libya were an important source of economic remittances in the cases of some African economies, such as Niger. Moreover, many foreign workers from places like the Philippines and Italy even chose to make their lives in Libya and open their own local businesses.

Before the NATO war, Libyan society had come a long way since 1951 when it became an independent African country. In 1975, the political scientist Henri Habib described Libya on the dawn of its independence as a backward country saying:

When Libya was granted its independence by the United Nations on December 24, 1951, it was described as one of the poorest and most backward nations of the world. The population at the time was not more than 1.5 million, was over 90% illiterate, and had no political experience or knowhow. There were no universities, and only a limited number of high schools which had been established seven years before independence.

According to Habib, the state of poverty in Libya was the result of the yoke of Ottoman domination followed by an era of European imperialism in Libya that started with the Italians. He explained that, “[e]very effort was made to keep the Arab inhabitants [of Libya] in a servile position rendering them unable to make any progress for themselves or their nation.” This colonial yoke, however, began its decline in 1943 after Italy and Germany were defeated in North Africa during the Second World War.

In 1959 Libya’s oil reserves were discovered. Despite political mismanagement and corruption, since 1969 these Libyan oil reserves were used to improve the standard of living for the country’s population. In addition to the revenue from Libyan energy reserves, the Libyan government played an important role in maintaining Libya’s high living standards. Although never fully nationalised, Libya’s oil would only, in progressive steps, fall under the control of Libyans after the 1969 coup against the Libyan monarchy by Qadhafi and a group of young military officers. Before 1969 most of the country’s oil wealth was actually not being used to serve the general public. Under Qadhafi’s leadership this changed and the National Oil Company was founded on 12 November 1970.

To a certain extent the isolation of Libya in the past as a pariah state played a role in insulating Libya economically and maintaining its standards of living. From an economic standpoint, most of the Arab world and Africa have become globalised as components of an integrated network of regional economies tied to the United States and the European Union. Libyan integration into this global economic system was delayed because of the past political isolation of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya when Washington, London, and Paris were openly at odds with Tripoli.

Despite having vast sums of money stolen and squandered by Qadhafi’s family and their officials, social services and benefits, such as government housing and numerous subsidies, were available to the Libyan population. It has to be cautioned too that the apparatus of a modern welfare state does not mean that neo-liberal restructuring and poverty were not afoot in Libya, because they very much were. What this means is that economics was not the driving force for the internal dimension of the fighting in Libya. For years, up until 2011, Libya had the highest standards of living in Africa and one of the highest in the Arab world. There is an old Libyan proverb, “if your pocket becomes empty, your faults will be many.” In this regard, Libya’s faults were not many in economic terms.

In 2008, Libya had protests that were reportedly caused by unemployment. Most protests in Libya from 2003 to 2011, however, did not have any real economic dimension dominated by breadbasket issues. This set the Jamahiriya apart from Arab countries like Tunisia, Egypt, and Jordan where breadbasket issues were important factors behind the protests that erupted during the same period in 2011. This, of course, does not mean the protest movements in the latter Arab countries were strictly the result of breadbasket issues and economics either. Demands for personal freedoms and backlashes against corruption were major motivating factors behind the fuelling of public anger in all these Arab states. In Libya, if anything, the frustration tied to the rampant corruption rooted amongst Jamahiriya authorities and officials had created shifting tides of resentment towards the government.

As briefly mentioned, Libya also has vast amounts of underground water stored in the ancient Nubian Sandstone Aquifer System, which is situated under the territories of Chad, Egypt, Libya, and Sudan. Libya and Egypt hold the largest shares of this water source. In a joint initiative, called the Nubian Aquifer Project, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the financial organisation Global Environment Facility (GEF), have all worked with the governments of these four African countries to study this vast source of underground water beneath the Sahara Desert. Using isotopes, the IAEA three-dimensionally mapped the Nubian Sandstone Aquifer System.

In the Jamahiriya, the Great Man-Made River Project was initiated under the orders of Colonel Qadhafi followed by the establishment of the Great Man-Made River Authority in 1983 to exploit the Nubian Sandstone Aquifer System for the benefit of Libya and the other regional countries in the Sahara and the Sahel regions. The project was domestically funded mostly by taxes on fuel, tobacco, and international travel, with the remainder of funding provided directly by the Libyan state. Up until 2008 the Libyan government had spent about US$19.6 billion dollars on the water project.

According to the Isotope Hydrology Section of the IAEA, the Nubian Sandstone Aquifer System is the world’s largest fossil aquifer system and will be “the biggest and in some cases the only future source of water to meet growing demands and development” amongst Chad, Egypt, Libya, and Sudan. As fresh water supplies become limited globally, it was forecast Libya’s water supplies will be of greater value domestically and regionally. Huge water multinationals in the US, France and elsewhere were salivating at the idea of privatising Libyan fresh water and controlling the Nubian Sandstone Aquifer System.

The Libyan Investment Authority (LIA) had shares and invested in major international corporations such as oil giant British Petroleum (BP), the world’s largest aluminium producer United Company RUSAL in Russia, the US conglomerate General Electric (GE), the Italian bank and financial giant UniCredit, the Italian oil corporation Ente Nazionale Idrocarburi (ENI), the German engineering and electronic conglomerate Siemens, the German electricity and gas company Rheinisch-Westfälisches Elektrizitätswerk (RWE), British publishing giant Pearson, and British telecommunications giant Vodafone (UK). Libya had purchased Exxon Mobil’s subsidiary in the Kingdom of Morocco, Mobil Oil Maroc, and bought half of Kenya’s oil refinery. The LIA bought all of Royal Dutch Shell’s service stations in Djibouti, Ethiopia, and Sudan in 2008. Tripoli announced in the same year that it was buying a major share of Circle Oil, an international hydrocarbon exploration company with operations in Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia. A Libyan agreement was also made with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to build a pipeline in the western part of its territory. Large investments were made by Libya in agricultural, industrial and service projects in Africa from Egypt and Niger to Mali and Tunisia.

In 2008 Goldman Sachs was given US$1.3 billion dollars by the Libyan Investment Authority. In unfathomable terms, Goldman Sachs told the Libyans that 98% of their investment was lost overnight, which means the Libyans lost almost all the money they gave Goldman Sachs. To Tripoli and other observers it was clear Goldman Sachs had merely appropriated the Libyan investment as a cash injection, because it needed the funds due to the global financial crisis. Afterwards, Jamahiriya officials and Goldman Sachs executives tried negotiating a settlement under which Goldman Sachs would give Tripoli huge shares in the Wall Street financial giant. These negotiations between Libya and Goldman Sachs for a settlement finally ended in 2009 with both sides failing to agree on a formula to replace the Libyan money that Goldman Sachs had effectively appropriated from Tripoli.

Goldman Sachs was not alone in filching Libyan investment funds: Société Générale S.A., Carlyle Group, J.P. Morgan Chase, Och-Ziff Capital Management Group, and Lehman Brothers Holdings were also all in possession of vast Libyan investments and funds. In one way or another, NATO’s war on Libya and the freeze of Libyan financial assets profited them all. They and their governments were also not happy with Qadhafi’s ideas and proposal to the United Nations that the former colonial powers owed Africa almost US$800 trillion dollars.

The fact that Libya happened to be a rich country was one of its crimes in 2011. Oil, finance, economics, and Libyan natural resources were always tempting prizes for the United States and its allies. These things were the spoils of war in Libya. While Libyan energy reserves and geopolitics played major roles in launching the 2011 war, it was also waged in part to appropriate Tripoli’s vast financial holdings and to supplement and maintain the crumbling financial hegemony of Wall Street and other financial centres. Wall Street could not allow Tripoli to be debt-free, to continue accumulating international financial possessions, and to be a creditor nation giving international loans and investing funds in other countries, particularly in Africa. Thus, major banks in the United States and the European Union, like the giant multinational oil conglomerates, had major roles and interests in the NATO war on Tripoli.

An Overview of the African Geopolitics of the War on Libya

NATO’s operations in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya have helped erode Libyan political unity, which has had clear implications for the North African country’s spatial unity and all the nations bordering Libya. Libya and its region have been destabilised. The domino effect can clearly be seen at work in Niger, Mali, and the Central African Republic where there has been fighting as a result, at least in part, of the NATO war on Libya.

Within a strictly African context, Libya sits at an important geographic point. The country is a geographic gateway into Africa and connects the northeast and northwest sections of the continent. Libya’s national territory falls within the Sahara and Sahel regions and events in Libya directly influence Sudan, Egypt and the regions of the Maghreb, West Africa, and Central Africa. Libya is also one of the states that provide access to the open sea for landlocked Chad and Niger. Aside from Tunisia, all of the countries on Libya’s borders touch and connect the bulk of Africa’s regions with the exception of the southern region of the continent. Casting out the Tunisian Republic, these bordering African states are Egypt, Sudan, Chad, Niger, and Algeria. Libya’s position is very special in this regard and this territorial embrace with these other large African states bordering multiple countries and regions is very important and would be pivotal if the Libyan project to connect the continent through a north to south and east to west transportation and trade corridor were to be developed fully.

From a socio-cultural standpoint, Libya has tribal and cultural ties to all of the bordering countries. Ethnic differences in Libya exist too, but are minor in degree. Libyans predominately consider themselves to be Arabs. The largest Libyan minority are the Berbers, which can roughly be divided into northern groups and southern groups. There was always awareness that tribalism in Libya, if given antagonistic political connotations, could be a very dangerous thing for Libya and the bordering countries. The tribes that Libyans belong go beyond Libyan borders and form a chain in an overlapping tribal network extending all the way from Niger into Burkina Faso and Mauritania. Tribal fighting in Libya could destabilise countries like Senegal and Mali in West Africa, Chad in Central Africa, Algeria in North Africa, and Sudan in East Africa. It is in this context that NATO powers began speaking about an Arab-Berber divide in North Africa in 2011. Regime change in Tripoli has left a political vacuum where politics has fuelled tribalism and regionalism in Libya, which is now warily watched by all of the countries bordering Libya and affecting them.

“A New Beginning” in Cairo: Obama’s attempts to Manipulate Islam

Identity politics and faith have also wound up as factors in the competing exchange of geopolitical currents governing the sea of events surrounding Libya. The questions of what is a Libyan and what is an ethnic Arab have been superimposed as factors in the war on the Jamahiriya as a means of attacking the pan-African movement and separating Libya, and North Africa in broader terms, from the rest of Africa. Faith and religiosity have also been mounted as dynamics that are being sought as geopolitical tools and weapons of influence.

President Barack Hussein Obama was elected by tapping into the hopes of the US public and presenting himself as a “prince of peace” and “messiah of hope.” Amongst his elegant speeches, he claimed to have a desire to reengage with the so-called Muslim World. Since 2009 Obama has consistently tried to utilise what he sees as both his African and Muslim credentials on the basis of having a Kenyan father who was a Muslim, to present himself as a “Son of Africa” and as someone sympathetic to Muslims. As part of his outreach to Muslims, President Obama gave a highly promoted speech at Cairo University on 4 June 2009. Obama’s presidential speech was named “A New Beginning” and was supposedly meant to repair the damages in the relationship between the US and the so-called Muslim World. The speech is described as such by the White House:

On June 4, 2009 in Cairo, Egypt, President Obama proposed a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world, based upon mutual interest and mutual respect. Specifically, the President said that the U.S. would seek a more comprehensive engagement with Muslim-majority countries, countries with significant Muslim populations, and their people by expanding partnerships in areas like education, economic development, science and technology, and health, among others, while continuing to work together to address issues of common concern.

Many people in predominantly Muslim states were fooled by his pledges of peace and mutual respect. In his actions, Barack Obama proved to be no less of a war hawk than his predecessors in the Oval Office. His Cairo speech was significant because it actually marked the start of a new campaign by the US to geopolitically use Muslims and their hopes and aspirations. In the same timeframe as his speech, the US State Department began to engage with the Muslim Brotherhood and even prior to the speech asked for members to attend Cairo University to hear him.Almost as if foreshadowing the coming of the so-called Arab Spring, the speech in Cairo’s fourth point was about the rise of democracy and the instability of regimes suppressing democratic values. Many of the organisations and figures that became involved in the Arab Spring and supportive of the war in Libya would all hasten to Obama’s calls for a “New Beginning.” Amongst them was Aly (Ali) Abuzaakouk, who helped found the Transitional Council.

From Jakarta, Indonesia, in late-2010, Obama would go on with his themes of engagement with the Muslim World and speak about democracy, faith, and economic development in his second speech addressing Muslims. From that point on Al-Qaeda faded from the spotlight of US foreign policy and, well into the upheavals of the Arab Spring, the US worked to put the ghost of Osama bin Laden to rest by declaring in statements that were altered several times that the Al-Qaeda leader was killed in Pakistan by a team of CIA agents and US Navy commandos on 2 May 2010. What this all amounted to was the preparations for the fielding of US agents amongst opposition groups in the predominately Muslim countries of the Arab world and an attempt to subordinate the faith of Islam as a tool of US foreign policy by using fighters and proxy political parties that used the banner of Islam. Thus, Washington’s alliance with deviant militant groups claiming to fight under the banner of Islam was rekindled in 2011. This alliance manifested itself in the fighting in Libya and later further east on the shores of the Mediterranean in Syria and Lebanon.

Libya Now: Destitute, Divided, & in Conflict

The historic project to divide Libya dates back to 1943 and 1951. It started with failed attempts to establish a trusteeship over Libya after the defeat of Italy and Germany in North Africa during the Second World War. The attempts to divide Libya then eventually resulted in a strategy that forced a monarchical federal system onto the Libyans similar to that established over Iraq following the illegal 2003 Anglo-American invasion. If the Libyans had not accepted federalism in their relatively homogenous society they could have forfeited their independence in 1951.

During the Second World War the Libyans aided and allowed Britain to enter their country to fight the Italians and the Germans. Benghazi fell to British military control on 20 November 1942, and Tripoli on 23 January 1943. Despite its promises to allow Libya to become an independent country, London intended to administer the two Libyan provinces of Tripolitania and Cyrenaica separately as colonies, with Paris to be given control over the region of Fezzan, which is roughly one-third of Libya, the area to the southwest of the country bordering Algeria, Niger, and Chad (see map on page 60). Following the end of the Second World War, the victors and Italy attempted to partition Libya into territories that they would govern as trust territories. The American, British, French, and Soviet governments referred the matter to the UN General Assembly on 15 September 1945. There, the British and the Italians made a last-ditch proposal on 10 May 1949, called the Bevin-Sfora Plan for Libya, to have Libyan territory divided into an Italian-controlled Tripolitania, a British-controlled Cyrenaica, and a French-ruled Fezzan. This failed because of the crucial single vote of Haiti, which opposed the partition of Libya.

The British then turned to King Idris to softly balkanise Libya through the establishment of a federal emirate. A National Assembly controlled by King Idris and an unelected small circle of Libyan chieftains was to be imposed. This type of federalist system was unacceptable to most Libyans as it was intended to be a means of sidestepping the will of the Libyan people. The elected representatives from the heavily populated region of Tripolitania would be outweighed by the unelected chieftains from Cyrenaica and Fezzan.

This did not sit well with many Arab nationalists. Cairo was extremely critical of what the US and its allies were trying to do and called it diplomatic deceit. Nevertheless, even with the opposition of most Libyans, federalism was imposed on Libya in 1951 by Idris. Libyans popularly viewed this as Anglo-French treachery. Idris was forced to abolish the federalist system for a unitary system on 27 April 1963.

The imperialist project to divide Libya was never abandoned; it was just temporarily shelved by different foreign ministries in the Western bloc and NATO capitals. In March 2011, US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, Jr. testified to the US Senate Armed Services Committee that at the end of the conflict in Libya, the North African country would revert to its previous monarchical federalist divisions and that it would have two or three different administrations. NATO’s Supreme Commander, Admiral Stravridis, also told the US Senate Armed Services Committee in the same month that Libyan tribal differences would be amplified as the NATO war carried on. There were even multilateral discussions held about dividing the country, but the exact lines were never completely agreed upon and negotiations kept on waxing and waning with the frontlines in the desert and mountains.

US plans to topple the Libyan government that were put together in 1982 by the US National Security Council under the Reagan Administration were also revised or renovated for NATO’s war in 2011. One can clearly see how these plans played out through the dual use of an insurgency and military attack. According to Joseph Stanik, the US plans involved simultaneous war and support for CIA-controlled opposition groups that would entail “a number of visible and covert actions designed to bring significant pressure to bear on Qadhafi.” To execute the US plan, Washington would first have to encourage a conflict using the countries around Libya “to seek a casus belli for military action” while they would take care of the logistical needs of CIA-controlled opposition groups that would launch a sabotage campaign against the economy, infrastructure, and government of Libya. The code name for these secret plans was “Flower.” In the words of Stanik:

The NSC restricted access to the top-secret plans to about two-dozen officials. Flower contained two subcomponents: “Tulip” and “Rose.” Tulip was the code name for the CIA covert operation designed to overthrow Qadhafi by supporting anti-Qadhafi exile groups and countries, such as Egypt, that wanted Qadhafi removed from power. Rose was the code name for a surprise attack on Libya to be carried out by an allied country, most likely Egypt, and supported by American air power. If Qadhafi was killed as a result of Flower, Reagan said he would take the blame for it.

It also just so happened that the Obama Administration’s US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates, who was the deputy director for intelligence at the time, endorsed Rose, the military subcomponent of Flower.

Since NATO toppled the Jamahiriya government, this is exactly what has happened in Libya. A free for all has come about, which has spilled over into neighbouring states such as Niger. There are multiple factions and different administrations including the Transitional Council in the District of Tripoli, the Misrata Military Council in the District of Misrata, several self-styled Emirates in Cyrenaica, and Jamahiriya loyalist and tribal governments in the Western Mountains and Fezzan. There have even been fusions where Jamahiriya loyalists and anti-Jamahiriya militias have joined to fight all others. The end product has been lawlessness and Somali-style civil war. The state has basically been “failed” by the US and its allies. Post-Jamahiriya governmental authority is only exercised by those in power outside of their offices and a few spaces. Violent crime has proliferated. Tripoli and other major cities are being fought for by different factions and Libyan weapons are being smuggled into different countries. Even US officials, which helped midwife the groups running rampant in Libya, have not been safe from the turmoil they helped create; the murder of US Ambassador John Christopher Stevens in Benghazi on 12 September 2012 is testimony to this.

Oil and gas production has been stopping. National assets have been sold off to foreign corporations and privatised. Libya is no longer a competitive economic power in Africa anymore. Nor is Libya a growing financial power. Tripoli virtually transformed from a debtless country to an indebted one overnight.

There is also a great irony to all this. The warplanes of the US-supported Libyan regime that has replaced the Jamahiriya began bombing Libyan citizens in 2014 as battles for control of Tripoli raged. The US, European Union, and NATO have said nothing about this whereas in 2011 they started a bombing campaign and war on the basis of false accusations the Jamahiriya government was doing exactly this. The deceit of these players is more than evident.

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An award-winning author and geopolitical analyst, MAHDI DARIUS NAZEMROAYA is the author of The Globalization of NATO (Clarity Press) and a forthcoming book The War on Libya and the Re-Colonization of Africa. He has also contributed to several other books ranging from cultural critique to international relations. He is a Sociologist and Research Associate at the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), a contributor at the Strategic Culture Foundation (SCF), Moscow, and a member of the Scientific Committee of Geopolitica, Italy.

The above article appeared in New Dawn Special Issue Vol 8 No 5.

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The Counterfeit Culture & the Fall of the US Empire



“The Counterfeit Culture” is the title of an article on 2 September 2011 by Mike Adams in his widely distributed daily health email newsletter NaturalNews. He used it to express a dismay that is increasingly widespread, essentially as a result of the corporate takeover and corruption of America.

Amongst his protests were the following:

The Federal Reserve is in the business of counterfeiting money.

The mainstream media is in the business of counterfeiting news.

The pharmaceutical industry is in the business of counterfeiting medicine.

The medical schools are in the business of counterfeiting medical degrees.

Doctors are in the business of counterfeiting false medical authority.

The mega-sized food corporations are in the business of counterfeiting food.

The global consumer product companies counterfeit consumer products (“baby oil” from petroleum).

Social networks like Facebook are in the business of counterfeiting friends.

Home builders construct counterfeit homes (that won’t stand in 20 years).

Public schools counterfeit school diplomas. (Who needs to learn to write?)

The Pentagon counterfeits war. (Bomb the World Trade Centre & blame someone!)

Mainstream historians counterfeit history.

Apart from his initial noting of counterfeit money and counterfeit news, understandably Adams focuses mostly on healthcare counterfeits. His inclusion of the September 11, 2001 atrocity as “The Pentagon counterfeits war,” almost as an afterthought, captures something perverse about the contemporary American psyche. After all, this event transformed America more than any other nation in the following ten years, rarely for the better. Adams identifies it as a counterfeit but allows it to be hidden amongst a number of even more troublesome counterfeits.

There are many more iatrogenic deaths each year than the 9/11 deaths in 2001, but they do not normally serve as a cause for public outrage (iatrogenic refers to complications caused by medical errors). Certainly, they are far from being a credible justification for bankrupting the nation with foreign invasions and unwinnable small wars. Indeed, a commentator of the insight, knowledge and judgement of Mike Adams is so overwhelmed by the corruptions and counterfeits pervading healthcare that he seems to be exhausted by simply recounting his grievances and unable to do much more than list the abundance of counterfeits.

An article by Gary Null PhD et al reveals something of the extent of the medical counterfeits that preoccupy Adams.

“A definitive review and close reading of medical peer-review journals, and government health statistics shows that American medicine frequently causes more harm than good. The number of people having in-hospital, adverse drug reactions (ADR) to prescribed medicine is 2.2 million. Dr. Richard Besser, of the CDC, in 1995, said the number of unnecessary antibiotics prescribed annually for viral infections was 20 million. Dr. Besser, in 2003, now refers to tens of millions of unnecessary antibiotics.

“The number of unnecessary medical and surgical procedures performed annually is 7.5 million. The number of people exposed to unnecessary hospitalisation annually is 8.9 million. The total number of iatrogenic [induced inadvertently by a physician or surgeon or by medical treatment or diagnostic procedures] deaths is 783,936.

“The 2001 heart disease annual death rate is 699,697; the annual cancer death rate is 553,251. It is evident that the American medical system is the leading cause of death and injury in the United States.”1

Shocking as it sounds initially, the immediate death toll from 9/11 of close to 3,000 was nothing in comparison. Moreover, annual expenditure per person on American health care is more than double that in most comparable nations, dwarfing the comparable impact and cost of 9/11 and highlighting the pervasive nature of American counterfeits. The subsequent reactions and wars that followed 9/11 incurred costs to rival those of the American medical system.

Related to the above, but still poorly understood, American deficit finance (the Fed’s counterfeit money), is beginning to threaten the viability of the US dollar as the world’s reserve currency. This casts dark clouds over the future authority of a nation that would have to reduce its spending (much of it medical and military) each year by at least $1.5 trillion were it not able to continue printing at whim the global currency.

Like the other counterfeits, this attracts surprisingly little reflective analysis. The direct link between the problems of the Fed’s counterfeit money, the waste inherent in the American counterfeit medical system, and the never-ending War on Terror forever maintained by the counterfeit commemoration of 9/11, is rarely remarked. This reflects the pervasiveness of Adams’ “counterfeit culture.”

The Cost of the US Response to 9/11

Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel laureate, notes in an article for Al Jazeera that:

“The September 11, 2001, attacks by al-Qaeda were meant to harm the United States, and they did, but in ways that Osama bin Laden probably never imagined. President George W Bush’s response to the attacks compromised the United States’ basic principles, undermined its economy, and weakened its security.

“The attack on Afghanistan that followed the 9/11 attacks was understandable, but the subsequent invasion of Iraq was entirely unconnected to al-Qaeda – as much as Bush tried to establish a link. That war of choice quickly became very expensive – orders of magnitude beyond the $60bn [billion] claimed at the beginning – as colossal incompetence met dishonest misrepresentation.
“Indeed, when Linda Bilmes and I calculated the United States’ war costs three years ago, the conservative tally was $3-5tn [trillion]. Since then, the costs have mounted further. With almost 50 per cent of returning troops eligible to receive some level of disability payment, and more than 600,000 treated so far in veterans’ medical facilities, we now estimate that future disability payments and health-care costs will total $600-900bn. But the social costs, reflected in veteran suicides (which have topped 18 per day in recent years) and family breakups, are incalculable.”2

Stiglitz captures succinctly the manner in which America often harms itself more than its “enemies.” Whether al-Qaeda was responsible or not for 9/11, and there are many who question the official story, the response has profoundly damaged US military, political, moral and financial credibility and authority. Moreover, the evolving situations in Libya and Syria could threaten to expose another counterfeit – increasing reports suggest that the US-led NATO alliance is relying on al-Qaeda identities, possibly originally part of some Saudi mercenary group, to advance rebellion in states that fall into disfavour.

It is the counterfeiting in news, education and history however, that ensures that all these other counterfeits go largely unremarked in serious political, administrative and public debate and comment. This has created a major anomaly in the present global environment where the world is being precipitated into a new order by the ineptness and incomprehension of American and other Western elites. These are trapped in narrow, short-term frameworks of information and thought. They have become defined by rigid ideologies that make them subservient to a chaotic collection of corporate interests. Corporate profit seekers have captured control of critical political, legal, academic and other processes in the major English speaking powers, and through them they cling with self-destructive desperation to the power to dominate and define much international interaction.

The Internal Decay of Corporate Power

The attempt to shore up corporate privileges, often related to access to energy in less developed nations, has led to seemingly endless entanglement and draining of resources in small unwinnable wars. In this process, the Pentagon has been given unlimited license to plunge the US budget ever deeper into deficit and its own activities ever further into dependence on foreign, and not necessarily friendly, financiers.

Moreover, the readiness of American corporations to become ever more dependent on cheaper and more efficient foreign production ensures both the increasing depletion of their own productive capacity and the growing vulnerability of their financial institutions. It is extremely difficult to identify anyone who has strategic responsibility for what seem to be a confusion of disjointed policies that plunge America ever further into a morass of crises.

Policies are overseen by those who win a few minutes in the political spotlight. Yet they are forever distracted and preoccupied by trying to win favour and approval by servicing the corporate lobbies that fund and endorse their campaigns. They have no time left to even reflect on echoes of more productive strategies from a dimly recalled past.

As the “counterfeit culture” suggests, the lack of coherent strategic thought has wreaked havoc within the United States. Although a multi-cultural community, America’s academia, media, corporate and political cultures display no capacity to generate meaningful policy discussion that allows for other than very narrow and stereotyped cultural assumptions. This cripples the capacity to comprehend the increasingly complex dynamics of the global community.

Corporate America has brainwashed a priesthood of trained economists to rehearse endless counterproductive economic theory. This has been successful in deceiving domestic populations but has been disastrous by leaving the nation totally vulnerable and defenceless before other cultures that have mastered American corporate dogma and identified and exploited its weaknesses.

The fragmented, short term and narrow corporate domination of the political process gives the highest priority to a cacophony of disputing corporate interests over any coherent recognition of community priorities and strategies. It makes it easy for external interests to associate closely with and achieve their goals through domestic corporate lobbies. In the midst of this self-serving and self-destructive corporate confusion, is it any wonder that medical and military systems have strayed far from the businesses of health care and national defence.

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An End of Empire Moment

It is highly questionable that the events of 9/11 could have produced the outcome they did in any other than such a community as contemporary America. There is in the United States an almost total breakdown of culture, whether political, strategic, financial or military. In a sense the task for rivals is now simply a matter of feeding these weaknesses and being patient. Yet, the frenetic character of American society makes this seem unbelievable, only making it more inevitable and ever closer.

The corporate adventurism that built the British Empire has become the corporate self-indulgence and corruption that devastates the contemporary American Empire. All the elite groups that exercise real power and influence in the United States – such as politicians, financiers, Pentagon strategists, corporate managers, pharmaceutical executives, food scientists and agricultural entrepreneurs – have assumed a type of unchallenged authority in their areas and a variety of alliances of convenience with the other groups. This ensures that little reform is imaginable, let alone possible. All politically correct information is designed to reinforce the interests of the very groups that have brought the country to its present plight. Deviation from such information signals the end of any personal professional aspirations. Even successful presidential candidates have no option but to negotiate a modus vivendi with such groups and, in the process, abandon any aspiration to dealing with the real challenges at the end of an empire. This shows some surprising similarities with those at the end of other empires, even including the Chinese Qing Dynasty.

America’s end of empire moment is unique in an important respect. Even Britain was still controlled by a type of inherited aristocracy when it entered into decline. All previous empire collapses tended to be associated with aristocracies that had become ineffective. Apart from a few inter-generational banking families, America’s fate has been guided and dictated by privileged professional groups who have a monopoly on “expert knowledge.” They have become accustomed to a type of indolent privilege based on this “expert knowledge,” which, unfortunately for them, is no longer competitive, or even relevant, in a rapidly changing world. Consequently, they have become the guardians of little more than their own illusions, indulgent privilege and the nation’s decline. This is the source of dismay about the counterfeit culture, whether in medical, military of other areas.

Disintegration of the Existing Global Order

There is a growing body of observation, particularly but not exclusively in financial commentary, on the imminent collapse of a global system based on American pre-eminence. This takes on particular importance because it signals not just a decline in American power and authority but also the end of a period of what might be called loosely Anglo-American global order.

Marc Faber, Mr. Doom and Gloom himself, who is well respected in the financial world, spells it out: “I think we are all doomed. I think what will happen is that we are in the midst of a kind of a crack-up boom that is not sustainable, that eventually the economy will deteriorate, that there will be more money-printing, and then you have inflation, and a poor economy, an extreme form of stagflation, and, eventually, in that situation, countries go to war, and, as a whole, derivatives, the market, and everything will collapse, and like a computer when it crashes, you will have to reboot it.”3

Irish journalist Eamonn Fingleton recalled a pertinent observation by the late American historian Chalmers Johnson: “The United States today is like a cruise ship on the Niagara River upstream of the most spectacular falls in North America. A few people on board have begun to pick up a slight hiss in the background, to observe a faint haze of mist in the air on their glasses, to note that the river current seems to be running slightly faster. But no one yet seems to have realised that it is almost too late to head for shore.”4

They foreshadow the end of an Anglo-American order that can be traced back more than four centuries to the founding of the British East India Company. This gave birth to a new form of dynamic human organisation, the corporation, largely independent of government oversight. This led to a freewheeling corporate form of foreign adventurism that built the foundations of the British Empire.

Anglo-American power and authority, largely based on the discreet but ruthless use of corporate initiative, has established a global pre-eminence over the past two centuries. In the process it established forms and norms of modern life that have until recently assumed the character of certainties, largely beyond meaningful questioning or criticism.

Mounting and varied American difficulties and uncertainties have, however, intensified serious doubts about the continued viability of this order. Indeed, many of the international organisations founded in 1945 after World War II, whether the United Nations itself, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the GATT and later the World Trade Organisation, or other less prominent organisations like the World Health Organisation and CODEX, seem to be approaching a use-by date.

The reason for this is simple. These were all defined by the leading victorious powers in 1945 to serve discreetly their own, particularly corporate, interests. Accordingly they have many built in privileges for the United States, the United Kingdom and their close allies. These are rapidly becoming anachronisms, and unacceptable burdens on newly empowered emerging states that can insist on fundamental reform.

It is unlikely, however, that such reform will prove acceptable to the United States and its developed allies and it seems inevitable the existing international institutional system will become dysfunctional and marginal to important international activity. Already, the establishment of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) offers an indication of likely future developments. The rise of other important states like Turkey, Indonesia and Iran will likely advance this process as none of these communities has any interest in preserving Anglo-American privileges.

The situation might be redeemable were America and its close allies not widely understood to be bankrupt, propped up only by the continued tolerance of creditors. Were that withdrawn, the US dollar would cease to be the global reserve currency, the Pentagon budget would collapse, American troops could not be maintained offshore, the impoverishment of large numbers of Americans could raise questions of civil unrest and the poor productivity and competitiveness of the “counterfeit” American economy would be exposed and leave little prospect of recovery.

It is not surprising there is an increased body of English language commentary that implies a situation where global order and activity as it is known can no longer continue. Little effort is made, however, to explore the likely character of a new order with new opportunities. Why is there not more strategic realism and flexibility in the English language world that seemed dominant and assured for so long?

The events of 9/11 have provided a great distraction from the deteriorating situation outlined above. Many of the aspects of counterfeit culture mentioned by Mike Adams predate 9/11 by decades and have long been corroding and undermining the foundations of the Anglo-American global order.

The hyping of the 9/11 atrocity and the lust for crude vengeance met little resistance in a counterfeit culture where not only media but also academia had long been accustomed to serving causes backed by powerful corporate, political or other interests.

The 9/11 psyche is a symptom and a symbol of a counterfeit culture. Vast resources are squandered on the preservation and promotion of a simplistic, misguided, popular sense of righteousness as Anglo-American corporate power and privilege declines and disintegrates.

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1. “The American Medical System Is The Leading Cause Of Death And Injury In The United States” by Gary Null PhD, Carolyn Dean MD ND, Martin Feldman MD, Debora Rasio MD, Dorothy Smith PhD, www.ourcivilisation.com/medicine/usamed.htm

2. “The price of 9/11: Ten years after 9/11, al-Qaeda has been greatly weakened; but the price paid by the US was enormous, and unnecessary” by Joseph E Stiglitz, 5 Sep 2011, http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/opinion/2011/09/20119572556433850.html

3. http://marcfaberchannel.blogspot.com/2011/02/marc-faber-we-are-in-midst-of-crack-up.html

4. Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic by Chalmers Johnson, Holt Paperbacks, www.americanempireproject.com/bookexcerpt.asp?ISBN=0805087281, cited in “Chalmers Johnson: The passing of a true scholar” by Eamonn Fingleton, www.fingleton.net/?p=712

REG LITTLE was an Australian diplomat for over 25 years in Japan, Laos, Bangladesh, the United Nations, Ireland, Hong Kong, China, Switzerland, and the Caribbean, obtaining advanced language qualifications in Japanese and Chinese. Deputy or Head of Mission in five overseas posts, he served in Canberra as Director of North Asia, International Economic Organisations, Policy Planning and the Australia-China Council. He has participated in Conferences in Asia since 1987, has been a Founding Director of the Beijing based International Confucian Association since 1994 and has co-authored two books, The Confucian Renaissance (1989) in English, Japanese and Chinese, and The Tyranny of Fortune: Australia’s Asian Destiny (1997). His 2006 book A Confucian-Daoist Millennium?, available from www.confucian-daoist-millennium.org, examines if the leadership of a renascent Confucian-Daoist civilisation can displace that of a declining West.

The above article appeared in New Dawn No. 129 (November-December 2011).

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The Hidden History of China’s Secret Societies



Thanks to the latest Hollywood martial arts blockbuster along with a steady stream of Hong Kong action films, audiences around the world have been entertained by wild and colourful portrayals of Chinese secret societies.

These extravagant fictional tales often obscure the plain truth that for at least two thousand years secret societies did play a vital part in the dynamics of China’s political, social and religious life. Right up to the birth of the People’s Republic in 1949, secret societies were a special characteristic of old China.

“The officials draw their power from the law; the people, from the secret societies.” This Chinese saying sums up the centuries-old conflict between rulers and ruled, privileged and oppressed in imperial China. Secret societies were directly involved in all the peasant rebellions in Chinese history. As early as the second century, the armed uprising that eventually overthrew the Han dynasty was instigated by a Taoist sect called the Yellow Turbans, whose leader was renowned for his gift of spiritual healing and supernatural powers. The Yellow Turbans in their mixture of religion and political dissatisfaction may be regarded as the forerunners of the secret societies that sprang up all across China.

By organising opposition to excessive taxation and the despotism of corrupt bureaucrats, secret societies gained widespread support. In the words of Chinese historian Teng Ssu-Yu, they were the “nerve centres” of opposition to the imperial government, “which profit from favourable circumstances to start insurrections and rebellions.” The secret society formed a hidden parallel empire, a state within a state, and this was a major source of its strength. Nocturnal initiation ceremonies, arcane teachings, secret signs, symbols and passwords, all helped bind a member’s loyalty to the fraternity. As China expert Jean Chesneaux explains:

The secret societies claimed a rival order to that of emperor and mandarins. Vis-à-vis established society they constituted an ‘anti-society’ in the sense in which modern physicists talk of an anti-matter or an anti-universe… Their rites, secrets, oaths of initiation, conventional ideograms – features of which the Triad has provided very typical examples but which are found also in all similar associations – made a powerful contribution towards the consolidation of this autonomous order. The discipline was extremely strict, and any violation, betrayal, or collusion with the authorities was punished by death.1

One of the most influential of China’s secret societies went by the name White Lotus. It often had to change its name in order to conceal its identity, and was associated with other groups, principally the Society of Heaven and Earth (also called the Hung society or Triad). The White Lotus functioned primarily as a spiritual body, but in times of political dissatisfaction and social upheaval it quickly took on the outer characteristics of a radical political movement. As a Chinese imperial decree written in 1813 points out:

In normal times the society was engaged in daily worship… and preached that by reciting scriptures and verses, one can escape the dangers of swords and arms, water and fire…. But in times of famine and disorder they might plot for the Greater Enterprises (the founding of a new dynasty).

The White Lotus society led one of the largest rebellions in the second quarter of the fourteenth century against the foreign rule of the Mongols. Known as the Red Turban Rebels (due to their distinctive red headbands) White Lotus members were behind the formation of the Ming dynasty (1368–1644) headed by former Buddhist monk Chu Yuan-chang, who assumed full imperial powers under the title Hung Wu. According to Professor Chesneaux:

Chu Yuan-chang [Hung Wu], the leader of a peasant rebellion against the Mongol Yuan dynasty in the fourteenth century, belonged to the White Lotus sect, of Manichaean origin, and the name of the new dynasty which he founded, the Ming (which means ‘light’ in Chinese), originated in the esoteric vocabulary of the Manichaeans.2

That the Ming emperor Hung Wu was both a former Buddhist monk and a Manichaean initiate is significant because the White Lotus teachings blended Buddhism and native Taoism with Gnostic elements which had entered China from Central Asia with Manichaean missionaries. Later secret societies venerated Hung Wu above all other historical figures and pledged their allegiance to the Ming dynasty that he established hundreds of years after its collapse. In 1644 the foreign Manchus, who had menaced the Chinese Empire for centuries, claimed the Dragon Throne and established the Ch’ing dynasty. The secret society networks were united in a common purpose: “Overthrow the Ch’ing and restore the Ming.”

By the nineteenth century the cruel and despotic misrule of the Manchus had resulted in nearly a century of political and religious turmoil, leaving China in chaos and unable to effectively confront Western incursions. In the history of all the popular rebellions the name of the White Lotus appears and disappears. They have been linked with the famous Shaolin Temple of Chan Buddhism, reputedly where Chinese martial arts originated, and the Shaolin monks who took a blood oath to resist the Ch’ing dynasty. After the failure of the two great insurrections of the late eighteenth century, the White Lotus was the victim of violent persecution. In 1813 White Lotus members called the Eight Diagrams (named after geometrical figures used in Taoist divination) nearly took over the Forbidden City in Beijing.

The Society of Heaven and Earth or Triads absorbed much from the White Lotus tradition, and is sometimes regarded as its successor. Persecuted and hunted down by government forces, White Lotus initiates either organised new societies under new names or assimilated with the Triads. All these secret fraternities while clearly united in one political aim summed up in the slogan, “Overthrow the Ch’ing and restore the Ming,” also had their core mystical elements and ceremonial rites. They believed in, and taught, occult techniques to their members, among them the use of ‘magic amulets’ and numerology. J.S.M. Ward, an early twentieth century British expert on secret societies and bishop of an esoteric Christian community, concluded that, “the Hung or Triad Society seems justly entitled to claim that it is a lineal descendant of the Ancient Mysteries. Its signs are of primeval antiquity…” Bishop Ward published an exhaustive study of Triad practices, documenting the striking similarities to those of many other secret organisations.

At this point it is worth commenting on a strange connection between the secret societies of the Far East and Western esotericism. In the 1880s a young French aristocrat deserted the Foreign Legion in Indochina to join a network of secret societies, the T’ien-ti hui and the Bac Lieu. These Triads were of Chinese origin and viewed as Taoist societies. Count Albert de Pouvourville (1861–1940) thus described his membership in the Triads as a “Taoist initiation.” On his return to Paris, de Pouvourville became a successful writer and journalist, publishing under his Taoist initiate’s name Matgioi. In his writings he condemned French colonial policy in Southeast Asia and explored Chinese and Vietnamese history. He also undertook important translations of Taoist texts. At the same time Albert de Pouvourville, the Taoist secret society initiate, joined the Gnostic Church in Paris and was consecrated a bishop with the spiritual name of Tau Simon. Around 1904 he launched the journal La Voie, and published Les Enseignements secrets de la Gnose (The Secret Teachings of Gnosis). Stanislas Guaita, another French writer and occultist, was strongly influenced by de Pouvourville, as was Rene Guenon who acknowledged him as “one of my Masters” in 1918. Through Count de Pouvourville, Guenon received a Taoist initiation and was led to write his own studies of the metaphysics of the Taoist tradition.

By the start of the twentieth century China’s secret society networks had grown into a considerable force. They had long experience of resistance to the imperial bureaucrats and could rely on the support of the peasants and the poor. Writing in 1908, a young Chinese radical living in exile in Paris noted how throughout the Chinese Empire there existed, “secret revolutionary associations whose importance in the history of China has been great and whose activity in the contemporary [revolutionary] movement is considerable.”

The hated Ch’ing dynasty continued on until 1911 when it was overthrown by Dr. Sun Yat Sen’s Republican Party, with the considerable aid of the Triads. A Triad member of long standing, Sun Yat Sen had made use of the secret society networks to recruit supporters, raise funds, and disseminate propaganda on behalf of the Republican cause. The 1911 Revolution fulfilled one of the Triad’s traditional aims – “Overthrow Ch’ing.” On a visit to the tombs of the Ming emperors, China’s first president declared that the Ch’ing had finally been dethroned.

Mao Zedong is known to have been a keen student of Chinese history particularly China’s numerous peasant uprisings. Mao studied the structure and role of secret societies in these tumultuous events, and used this knowledge in building the Chinese Communist Party and waging a successful guerrilla war against both the Japanese invaders and the right-wing forces of Chiang Kai-shek. In these struggles Chairman Mao appealed directly to the ‘revolutionary spirit’ of the secret societies, urging them to join the ant-Japanese resistance and work for the liberation of China.

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1. Jean Chesneaux, Secret Societies in China in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries

2. Jean Chesneaux, Peasant Revolts in China, 1840-1949


MEHMET SABEHEDDIN is a researcher, writer and global traveller. He is a longtime contributor to New Dawn magazine. His areas of interest are wide ranging and include Sufism, Islam and esoteric Christianity. He can be contacted c/- of New Dawn Magazine, GPO Box 3126, Melbourne VIC 3001, Australia.

The above article appeared in New Dawn Special Issue 11.

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Prophecy in Our Time: Brazil Rising

brics-logo copy


… and between the parallels 15º and 20º south, there was a large and wide stream that began from a point where a lake was formed. When the hidden mines are caved in the middle of these hills, a great civilisation will show up, a promised land from where comes out milk and honey…

– Prophecy of Saint John Bosco, 1883

In 1883, an Italian priest named Dom Bosco had a strange dream of a land abundant in precious metals and oil that would be discovered between the 15th and 20th parallels. Many believe that Brasilia, the capital city of Brazil, is that place.

Brazil in the 21st century is fast emerging as a cultural and economic powerhouse. Brazil’s influence and wealth are increasing around the world.

Many economists believe Brazil, the largest and most populous country in South America, is on track to become one of the world’s four major economic powers. Together with Russia, China, and India, Brazil is expected to dominate the world economy by 2050. With a vibrant population of 190 million, Brazil will become an important player on the world stage in the 21st century.

According to the on-line resource Wikipedia: “BRIC or BRICs are terms used in economics to refer to the combination of Brazil, Russia, India, and China… [T]here are strong indications that the ‘four BRIC countries have been seeking to form a political club’ or ‘alliance,’ and thereby converting ‘their growing economic power into greater geopolitical clout.’ One of the recent indications was from a BRIC Summit meeting in 2008, in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg between the foreign ministers from the BRIC countries.”

Former Russian President Vladimir Putin is regarded as the instigator and driving force behind the BRIC cooperative coalition. Since 2000, Brazil has entered into an important alliance with Russia. In response to an invitation made by Brazil’s President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Vladimir Putin made a state visit to Brazil in November 2004. In October 2005, during a state visit of President Lula to Moscow, Silva and Putin signed the bilateral Brazil-Russia Strategic Alliance.

Brazil has also developed close ties to two other great nations with ancient and rich histories, India and China.

There is enormous interest in Brazil in Indian religion, art, culture, and philosophy. Hindu gurus and spiritual organisations are well received in Brazil. Mahatma Gandhi is highly regarded in the country and the government has sought to teach his philosophy of non-violence to the police. A statue of Mahatma Gandhi is located in a prominent square in Rio de Janeiro.

In 2004, Chinese President Hu Jintao and Brazilian President Lula exchanged official visits, and  committed themselves to bringing the countries’ friendship and cooperation to a higher level of development. Since then China’s presence can be seen everywhere in Brazil: oil, gas, railways, ports, steel and defence. In the Brazilian city of Sao Paulo, Chinese language classes are packed.

Following the 2008 global financial meltdown, Brazil along with its partners Russia, India and China is demanding a major role in negotiations to restructure the international financial system and prevent another economic crisis. After meeting in November with top economic officials from the four nations, Brazilian Finance Minister Guido Mantega said they will insist developing nations have a significant say in deciding how to fix the problems that lead to the global financial crisis.

“We are still directed and controlled by institutions that reflect the economic situation of the 1940s and 1950s,” Mantega said. Back then, the so-called BRIC nations were economic backwaters, and China and Russia were ruled by communist regimes. Mantega said the world financial structure created by rich nations can’t be fixed without a strong say from the BRIC nations.

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The above article appeared in New Dawn Special Issue 6.

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2012, the Apocalypse & the End of the Age



Cultures that view themselves as waning are usually those most likely to tap into doomsday scenarios, especially when the world’s end is followed by universal renewal.

– Prof. Anthony Aveni, American anthropologist & astronomer

An Apocalypse (Greek: ἀποκάλυψις apokálypsis; “lifting of the veil” or “revelation”) is a disclosure of something hidden from the majority of mankind in an era dominated by falsehood and misconception, i.e. the veil to be lifted…. By extension, apocalypse can refer to any End Time scenario, or to the end of the world in general.

– Wikipedia (www.wikipedia.org)

In 1997, a former reporter with the Wall Street Journal, Michael Dronin, wrote The Bible Code, based on the notion that hidden messages are embedded in the Bible. Not surprisingly, considering the uncertainty of the times, The Bible Code quickly became a best seller. Using a numerological system said to be derived from Jewish mysticism and facilitated by computer technology, Drosnin searched for signs of the ‘End Times’ and discovered the years 2006 and 2012 are of special importance. According to Dronin’s Bible Code system in 2012 the Earth will be hit by a devastating comet.

In Dan Brown’s mega best-selling fictional tale, The Da Vinci Code, his lead character Robert Langdon, in answer to a question about ‘the end of the world’, explains:

“Many religions speak of the End of Days. It refers not to the end of the world, but rather the end of our current age – Pisces, which began at the time of Christ’s birth, spanned two thousand years, and waned with the passing of the millennium. Now that we’ve passed into the Age of Aquarius, the End of Days has arrived.”

For Dan Brown and many others we’re not talking about an ‘end of the world’ with all its connotations of the destruction of humanity or the planet, but the transition from one age to another. Bible scholars support this view pointing out that often when the Gospel writers mention the ‘world’, the original Greek word used is ‘aion’, meaning age, or system of things. The biblical ‘end of the world’ refers not to the destruction of all life on the planet but to the conclusion of an allotted period of time, or a system of things. The end of the zodiacal Age of Pisces and the transition to the new Age of Aquarius is marked by a change in consciousness.

The Swiss psychologist C.G. Jung took an interest in the zodiacal ages and concluded we now live in an ‘End Time’ period, the transition from Pisces to Aquarius. Not long before his death in 1961, Jung experienced a series of visions of a future great catastrophe. His long-time associate, Marie-Louise von Franz, claimed Jung saw a worldwide conflagration occurring around the year 2010. Students of Mayan prophecy will be sure to note the close proximity of 2010 to the end date of the Mayan calendar.

Michael Dronin, Dan Brown, and Carl G. Jung – three very different writers – but their speculations about the ‘End Times’ have gained considerable attention in the Western world.

Less than a century ago, in the aftermath of the carnage and upheaval of the First World War, many of Europe’s most astute thinkers and writers concluded the Western world was in its death throes. They took the rationalism and materialism engulfing Europe in the first decades of the twentieth century as inevitable symptoms of the slow ‘decline of the West’. Many shared Oswald Spengler’s conviction, persuasively set forth in his 1918 book The Decline of the West, that Western civilisation was in an unstoppable process of spiritual and cultural disintegration.

The great French writer and Noble Prize winner Romain Rolland was amongst those who believed Europe was dying and that the only hope for the world lay in Asia. The celebrated French novelist and adventurer André Malraux also looked to Asia for inspiration. After his first journey to South East Asia in 1923 he openly attacked the sterility of materialistic Western culture, and in the following years he devoted himself to the radical nationalist uprising against Western imperialism that was developing in Indo-China.

A half a century earlier in 1888, the redoubtable Madame H.P. Blavatsky penned a controversial expose of the Catholic Jesuit order for an issue of her Theosophical journal Lucifer. After documenting the conspiratorial activities of the Jesuits, Madame Blavatsky left her reader in little doubt about the coming show down between the East and the West:

“There is a prophecy in the heathen East about the Christian West, which, when rendered into comprehensible English, reads thus: ‘When the conquerors of all the ancient nations are in their turn conquered by an army of black dragons begotten by their sins and born of decay, then the hour of liberation for the former will strike’. Easy to see who are the ‘black dragons’. And these will in their turn see their power arrested and forcibly put to an end by the liberated legions. Then, perhaps, there will be a new invasion of an Atilla from the far East. One day the millions of China and Mongolia, heathen and Mussulman, furnished with every murderous weapon invented by civilisation, and forced upon the Celestial of the East, by the infernal spirit of trade and love of lucre of the West, drilled, moreover, to perfection by Christian man-slayers – will pour into and invade decaying Europe like an irrepressible torrent. This will be the result of the work of the Jesuits, who will be its first victims, let us hope.”

One hundred years after Blavatsky penned these apocalyptic words, ‘decaying Europe’ which for centuries thanks to ‘the infernal spirit of trade and love of lucre’ had plundered the lands of Asia, Africa, and the Americas, found itself challenged by fast rising new global powers. The creation of the European Union and the absorption of the former socialist East European states were not enough to stop spiritual and cultural paralysis overtaking lands once identified as the ‘Christian West’.

For much of the twentieth century the United States led the Western world. With the end of the British Empire after World War Two, American economic, social and cultural values steadily became almost synonymous with the ‘West’. Today in 2012 the United States desperately strives to maintain its ‘New World Order’ of global dominance. At home the United States is in major social and economic trouble. In a country where the wealthiest 5% control 60% of the nation’s wealth, many find themselves in agreement with the late American novelist Kurt Vonnegut who remarked just before his death, “Working people have no leverage whatsoever. I’m trying to write a novel about the end of the world. But the world is really ending!”

The decline and fall of Europe and the USA may look like the end of the world. “This is going to be just like the Book of Revelation said it was going to be – the end of the world as we knew it,” the late Hunter S. Thompson wrote back in 2003.

The Apocalypse and the ‘End Time’ loom menacingly on the horizon. But is it really the ‘end of the world’ or are we witnessing the end of a civilisation that long ago reached its high point and now is in rapid decline? The Piscean Age which dominated the world for roughly the last two thousand years, represented by the Christian West, is quickly fading as we experience the first influences of the coming Aquarian Age. These are tumultuous and challenging times, pregnant with great possibilities, both constructive and destructive. Though an atheist, André Malraux predicted that “the third millennium will be spiritual or there will be no third millennium.” In the end this remains the only guarantee of a future worth living.

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MEHMET SABEHEDDIN is a researcher, writer and global traveller. He is a longtime contributor to New Dawn magazine. He can be contacted c/- of New Dawn Magazine, GPO Box 3126, Melbourne VIC 3001, Australia.

The above article appeared in 2012 New Dawn Collector’s Edition.

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Imperial End Times, Progress & the Water Dragon

Water dragon


English speaking people who have benefited from the past 200 years of Anglo-American global order have reason to view progress through 2012 with some sense of trepidation.

Almost everywhere, comfortable certainties are under challenge, whether from the widespread sense of economic decline and overwhelming debt or from the sense of tectonic shifts in geopolitical power blocs. Clumsy responses to these challenges are beginning to raise serious questions about the viability of some leading democratic powers. This is particularly so as their ever more desperate initiatives engage them in lands where unfamiliar cultures and local resentment offer little more than quicksands to devour military and other already depleted resources.

At the end of 2011 various commentators foreshadowed this from very diverse perspectives.

The prolific Bartle Professor (Emeritus) of Sociology at Binghamton University New York, James Petras, titled an article that appeared on the Global Research website on 25 December 2011 Unrelenting Global Economic Crisis: A Doomsday View of 2012 and concluded it with the following words:

“All indications point to 2012 being a turning point year of unrelenting economic crisis spreading outward from Europe and the US to Asia and its dependencies in Africa and Latin America. The crisis will be truly global. Inter-imperial confrontations and colonial wars will undermine any efforts to ameliorate this crisis.”

The peripatetic Brazilian born journalist, Pepe Escobar, in a German interview by Lars Schall carried by Consortium News on 29 December 2011, gave a much more geopolitical slant. He commented on the evolving global scene with passages that highlighted the possible further substantial growth of the BRICS grouping, the Russian and Chinese dominance of Central Asia, the pervasive influence of the Chinese diaspora throughout South East Asia, the fact that US policy shapers know absolutely nothing about other cultures and don’t even travel and the way that US action and Chinese inaction is inevitably drawing Pakistan closer to China.

The geopolitical environment was presented even more starkly by the Canadian based Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya in an article on the Global Research website on 1 January 2012:

“Neither Russia nor China will be able to stand idly in the case that a war is launched against Iran. In one way or another, if Russia enters a war against the US and NATO then countries like Belarus, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Moldova would all be dragged into the conflict as it broadens. The Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) and Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) would be collectively involved.”

The Nobel prize winning economist, Joseph Stiglitz, in the Australian Financial Review of 2 January 2012, offered a profoundly gloomy assessment of leadership in the US, without even referring to the above geopolitical challenges:

“Americans will have to choose between a leader who has proven that he can’t lead the US out of its economic morass and one who has not yet proven his inability to do so – but who could make matters even worse through policies that increase inequality and slow growth.”

In other words, it will be difficult to emerge from 2012, the Chinese Year of the Water Dragon, without an escalation of recent trends that have witnessed a steady decline in Western economic strength and a discreet but relentless growth in Asian wealth. This has been accompanied by the restructuring of political and economic order beyond the effective reach of Western power. On occasions, these trends can prompt acts like the “humanitarian intervention” in Libya and activities in Syria and Iran that may provide brief pyrrhic victories that only serve to strip away the last remaining threads of Western (NATO) credibility and authority.

While Escobar hinted that China often has to do little more than allow American misjudgements and misadventures to run their course to advance its interests, Nazemroaya suggested that the SCO, including China, may be approaching the moment where it is pressed to openly oppose American initiatives.

The weight of evidence suggests that China has been intent on a peaceful rise, committed to preserving the post-1945 Anglo-American United Nations based global order. The desperation that increasingly seems to infuse US leaders confronted with problems on many fronts has the capacity, however, to lead to a hastened decline in the authority of American led institutional structures, adding further to a sense of disintegration throughout the West.

As someone who has followed closely the rise of Asia and the decline of the US for almost half a century, since arriving in Tokyo as a diplomatic language student in 1964, it has been a matter of profound puzzlement that US policy has increasingly shown itself to be totally inept in responding to the creative energies of diverse Asian peoples. These have all at various times sought to align themselves closely, and as tacit subordinates, with the world’s “indispensable power.”

Today, the ASEAN plus Three grouping comprises over 2 billion people who lead the world in financial reserves, manufacturing production, applied technology, educational excellence and much else, and who are all led by administrative and commercial elites shaped by the Confucian tradition that derives from China. Over more than a decade since the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis, they have been exploring prospects for a new currency order and the recent China-Japan currency arrangement confronts America with a number of challenges with which it is ill equipped to cope. These include the further weakening of the US dollar as the global reserve currency, the growing consolidation of understanding across ideological boundaries between the Confucian communities of Asia, heightened questions about the longer-term allegiance of assumed US allies like Japan and Korea and the increasingly irresistible attraction of China’s economic dynamic, particularly when compared with American decline and financial distress.

East and South East Asia showcase perhaps the fundamental weakness of the US, which is an inability to think beyond popular stereotypes and work strategically with peoples of unfamiliar cultural character. American policy has proven vulnerable to over-reliance on using its financial leverage to buy alliances and wield military muscle, while neglecting serious diplomacy that seeks to build bonds informed by an understanding of educational, economic and political values and practices.

While America’s takeover of the British heritage of empire was skilfully managed by Franklin D. Roosevelt prior to and after 1945, it might be suggested that it has failed to use the British legacy to innovate successfully its own imperial tools. Perhaps the two central aspects of British success might be seen as fundamental to US failure. The invention of the modern corporation was used brilliantly by British leaders to motivate and mobilise young men to adventure out and discover and exploit wealth far from British shores. Moreover, the British were first movers in identifying and exploiting the power of fossil fuels – coal and oil – in seeking to extend power across the world’s seas.

Unfortunately, American corporations might be described as having gone feral, shipping American manufacturing and technology to countries that now do it better than the US and all too often harming human well-being and environments by focusing on short-term profit rather than on adding quality to human lives. Added to this, the concern to maintain a near-monopoly hold over fossil fuels seems to have been a major motive in initiating several recent disastrous wars. Moreover, there is growing evidence that the US has failed to master all the financial tricks that Britain developed as a centre of empire and may have fallen victim to practices of rehypothecation encouraged by the City of London.

In contrast, the peoples of East Asia, led initially by Japan but now by China, informed by the world’s longest continuous written tradition, and matured by the most colourful and enduring experience of imperial strength and weakness, have responded with tact, caution, imagination and strategy to the opportunities offered by poorly educated American political and business leaders. Indeed, education is probably the critical factor in the success of Asian communities, shaped as it is largely by a Confucian tradition that placed it above almost any other human endeavour. Educational deficiencies also seem to be a critical factor in US failures, as it repeatedly ignores clear warnings about its declining capacities.

Confucian education has qualities the West has never properly recognised and that place ignorant people from advanced economies at a serious disadvantage. These include early rigorous rote learning that builds a lifetime skill for mastering new subjects quickly, a knowledge of key classics and historical experience that is rare in today‘s West, a highly disciplined and social approach to life from an early age, a broad foundation in lifetime knowledge and skills and a lively and active intelligence behind the most discreet and obedient of manners. In many ways, it is the antithesis to the profit driven corporate spirit that initially built and then sought, with less success, to maintain an empire.

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The excellence of Asian and Chinese education is increasingly taking on a new relevance. Many, of course, still dismiss rote learning as being a poor preparation for life where innovation and adjusting to continuing change plays a critical role, but this is simply pandering to comforting and deceiving delusions and prejudices. Those educated by rote practices may be allowed a little longer by their societies to mature and apply the benefits of their learning but their success is demonstrated by the manner in which first Japan and later China have taken monopoly leadership positions in many of the hi-tech materials and components that are now fundamental in technological innovation. Moreover, competition for the world’s fastest computer seems now to be a two horse race between China and Japan. Asian graduates regularly make up large numbers in advanced courses in science, technology and engineering at Western universities where they tend to excel. And China is now said to graduate more students from domestic universities each year than America and India combined. As a consequence, it is difficult to see America even today retaining any technological military advantage, except in the minds of poorly educated political aspirants.

The situation is made no better by a little examination of American corporate culture. With the growing employment of mercenaries to undertake US military initiatives this has become even more critical in the projection of US power. Unfortunately, whether it is synthetic pharmaceuticals that not infrequently kill people quickly, processed food that poisons more slowly, chemical agriculture that depletes nutrition or financial services that can bankrupt a nation, the focus of US corporations on short-terms profit results has failed to guarantee quality in their products. It is difficult to believe that US military-industrial corporate culture is fundamentally different in basic quality.

The recent Iranian hacking and capture of a US drone with the latest technology can only reinforce such conjecture. Moreover, an article on 9 January 2012 titled The Heritage Foundation: Then and Now released by Counterpunch reveals fundamental and shocking inadequacies in the latest US fighters, F22 and F35, and is explicit about a web of institutional corruption that feeds defense mega-corporations:

“Here is a paradigm of the moral decay so visible among contemporary Washington defense ‘intellectuals’. These dabblers in defense pretend to serve seriously the real needs of our national defense and our people in uniform – when, in fact, they are serving the needs of foundations, universities, non-profits or politicians funded by defense mega-corporations seeking to expand their sources of government largesse.”

The unique and curious dilemmas posed by America’s decline and China’s peaceful rise for Australia, a country with Western history and culture but overtaken by Asian geo-political and geo-commercial realities, were captured acutely by another 2 January 2012 article, this by Andrew Clark, in the Australian Financial Review:

“So China – Australia’s biggest trading partner, the biggest foreign investor in Australia, the nation that generated the resources boom, transformed Australia’s terms of trade and has accumulated more spare cash than any other country – is about to take another great leap forward. This means a pervasive Chinese presence spreading from mining to farming, services, education, manufacturing, high tech industries, medicine and tourism and presenting a dilemma for Australian foreign policy traditionally wedded to retaining a strong US presence in the western Pacific.”

By highlighting apparent Australian dilemmas, without seriously addressing the sources of the West’s economic and political malaise or the East’s unique cultural and educational strengths, the article can be seen to illustrate the lack of informed forward strategising in even a front-line Western community like Australia. As elsewhere, a narcissistic assumption of Western, and American, superiority has caused a prosperous, but critically situated, nation to neglect even basic preparations for a world that would be profoundly reshaped by another decade of 10 percent per annum Chinese growth.

Of course, recently there have been a number of commentators warning of a bust in Chinese real estate and the decline of Chinese manufacturing markets in Europe and America. These, however, often have the character of wishful thinking or some form of political posturing and correctness. Invariably, they ignore China’s internal development strategies, growth of domestic markets and external strategic positioning in alternative global markets. In other words, there has been little or no reflection in the West on how best to accommodate China’s “peaceful rise.” In contrast, the “peaceful rise” itself has been achieved through careful and far-sighted strategising and sensitive diplomatic manoeuvring.

The harsh reality from a Western perspective is that numerous dangers and uncertainties loom large as the Mayan calendar foreshadows an approaching critical moment in December 2012. Yet these are likely to be viewed somewhat differently from an Asian perspective, where the Year of the Water Dragon accompanies a pervasive if discreet understanding of Chinese political and strategic tradition. It would seem that China has now advanced to a strategic position of economic and technological power and influence where anything other than informed and disciplined understanding and acceptance will prove highly damaging to would be rival powers. In other words, the biggest threat to a world already confronting a growing number of problems may derive from ignorant attempts to defend positions of privilege that have already been surrendered through neglect and complacency.

It is from this position that it will become increasingly important to address China’s peaceful rise from a perspective informed by an understanding of Chinese culture and history and accept with some resolution that those who achieve the best deals are likely to negotiate them by anticipating Chinese needs, goals and intentions. In this respect Russia’s Vladimir Putin seems to be well ahead of his Western rivals as he continues to show a keen interest in Chinese martial culture and traditions during frequent visits to his dynamic neighbour.

While it remains to be seen how Hu Jintao’s successor, Xi Jinping, defines his responsibilities, he dropped some hints in a 1 September 2011 address to the Communist Party school when he strongly recommended the careful study of Chinese history, particularly since the mid-19th century Opium Wars. Western behaviour in China in the second half of the 19th century is not something that puts it in the best light. The time may be approaching for some serious and objective work on strategies of how to negotiate with a revitalised Confucian civilisation and how to move on from the false and misleading stereotypes of Communist authoritarianism that remain popular in Western discourse.

Yet some Western comment suggests that many recent developments have been driven by a determination to strengthen the influence of the inter-generational financial families that control the West’s central banks and move towards a new and dominant global order. If this is true, such interests are approaching a decisive moment where they are far from well positioned to achieve their goals. Rather they seem to have created a global situation where they are in inevitable retreat and where a reluctant China will find itself in a dominant economic, technological and political position, desperately seeking to define strategies that do not impose on it the burdens of a monolithic global order.

Nevertheless, it is hard to see any other power that is positioned to play a comparable role in the post Anglo-American world. Given its likely role in shaping the ASEAN plus Three and SCO communities, with which it has geo-political and historical intimacies and its likely capacity to influence events in most parts of the world through the growing reach and importance of the BRICS community, both America and Europe may find themselves struggling to establish their relevance and importance if present trends continue. Their disposition to understand the character of changes taking place around them in terms of their recent, but declining, global dominance and to disparage unfamiliar cultural norms and standards leaves them particularly vulnerable to the unintended consequences of their own actions.

In this context, it is possible to see a situation evolving where the US, the UK and their close allies are the least aware and clear-sighted about the increasingly likely consequences of present trends and policies. Corporate and financial power, which fragmented private interests exercise within democratic communities, has so taken over media and academia that only the most determined and experienced alternative thinkers are likely to be able to formulate a sense of the rising influence of groups like ASEAN plus Three, SCO and BRICS and the inept and self-destructive actions of the global communities erstwhile leaders.

The processes touched on above are now so far advanced that attempts to address and reverse them are only likely to harm the personal and professional fortunes of those so bold to attempt such work. The corporate energies and fossil fuels that built and maintained imperial structures have not been able to nurture a more subtle and mature sense of civilisation and means of exercising power. The Chinese experience of imperial decline at various times over three millennia will suggest to them that these situations are rarely if ever reversed. The absence of a comparable interest in and knowledge of history in the contemporary West only further reinforces, through neglect, the dynamics leading to Western decline.

The concluding words of an article, appearing in Global Research on 7 January 2012, by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, a senior Treasury official in the Reagan administration, reminds that US policies offer little hope of reversing its present decline:

“I cannot predict how long policymakers can hold economic armageddon at bay with spin, money creation, currency swaps, intervention in gold and silver markets, and outright lies. The onset could be sudden and take place this year, but we shouldn’t underestimate the power of spin over a gullible public that trusts ‘their’ government and fervently believes that Muslim terrorists are out to get them and that the demise of the Constitution, the product of an eight hundred year struggle that produced Anglo-American civil liberty, is worth the price of ‘safety’.

“There is no safety in a police state and a debauched currency. The comfortable world that Americans have known is falling apart at the seams.”

Of course, US attempts to maintain its standing in the world through increasing and disruptive involvement in the domestic politics of those who are not “with us” and the incessant rhetoric and posing about Muslim terrorists has made the movement towards “a police state” an almost inescapable defence measure, necessary to avoid the deployment of US tactics against “the home of the free.” The simultaneous peaceful rise of China is in some respects the restoration of a global order where China led the world with forms of production and political authority until the Western intrusion into China’s domestic affairs with the Opium Wars in the mid 19th century.

A peculiar question emerges from the probable end of a period of Anglo-American Empire – does it also signify the end of the mythologies of universal values that derive from the European Enlightenment, such as democracy, rule of law, human rights and, most intriguing of all, progress? After all, the innovative culture of the modern world has depended on a close alliance between capital and science and it might in future be said that this must be seen to have failed in terms both of human politics and natural order. While the profoundly cyclical and holistic consciousness of Chinese civilisation is unlikely to surrender its recent technological conquests, it remains to be seen whether it will continue to be enamoured with the Western illusion that humanity can continuously reconstruct nature for the better.

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REG LITTLE was an Australian diplomat for over 25 years in Japan, Laos, Bangladesh, the United Nations, Ireland, Hong Kong, China, Switzerland, and the Caribbean, obtaining advanced language qualifications in Japanese and Chinese. Deputy or Head of Mission in five overseas posts, he served in Canberra as Director of North Asia, International Economic Organisations, Policy Planning and the Australia-China Council. He has participated in Conferences in Asia since 1987, has been a Founding Director of the Beijing based International Confucian Association since 1994 and has co-authored two books, The Confucian Renaissance (1989) in English, Japanese and Chinese, and The Tyranny of Fortune: Australia’s Asian Destiny (1997). His 2006 book A Confucian-Daoist Millennium?, available from www.confucian-daoist-millennium.org, examines if the leadership of a renascent Confucian-Daoist civilisation can displace that of a declining West.

The above article appeared in 2012 New Dawn Collector’s Edition.

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Embraced by the Light: Journeys to the ‘Other Side’

Embraced Light


Ancient religions including the shamanic traditions are replete with myths regarding the dying and death process. It was believed within these traditions that when a person died their soul was escorted into the afterlife by a special being called a psychopomp. In Greek psycho means soul and pomp means guide, so a psychopomp is a guide of the soul. In our modern world, the psychopomp tradition has changed to not only helping the dying, but also helping people develop their own specific spiritual path while living.

In 1983, I began a two-year internship at the Cincinnati Health Department’s Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) Clinic. At the time, I had no idea what was in store for me regarding my own talents in creating guided imageries, which eventually led me to become an ordained Gnostic Catholic Priest as well as a modern day psychopomp.

Within a few months into my internship, one of the counsellors informed me that the clinic had received the first AIDS case in Cincinnati. He asked if I was interested in working with him on the case, and I jumped at the opportunity. Throughout the internship and months following, we worked together on that case as well as other AIDS cases. I became a specialist in HIV and AIDS as well as other sexually transmitted diseases.

Creating Journey Into The Light Imagery

Working with HIV and AIDS afforded me the opportunity to begin working with the terminally ill. At the time, AIDS was a death sentence and it wasn’t long before I began counselling the dying. It soon became evident that several of my clients with AIDS had intense fears and anxieties around dying and death, so I decided to create imagery to help relieve their fears.

I plunged myself into various types of meditation, Kabbalistic pathworking, imagery techniques, hypnosis, as well as rituals from a variety of religious traditions. I searched the esoteric, spiritual and scientific literature, and attended workshops and seminars on dying and death. But what brought all the information together was the local near-death experience group. It was here I heard personal stories that enabled me to craft the imagery that would help my clients reduce their fears and anxieties regarding dying and death.

The imagery utilised various components of the near-death experience as well as the Tibetan Buddhist bardo journey. I also felt music along with mindfulness meditation would help my clients settle into a relaxed posture. I experimented with various types of music and found the perfect compositions by Marcey Hamm called Inward Harmony. The reason I chose this composition was the way it sounded, coupled with a profound testimonial. After one of Marcey’s concerts a man came up to her and told her several years ago he had a heart attack that was accompanied by a near-death experience. When he went through the tunnel into the light, the music he heard in the experience was the same as Inward Harmony.

Once finalised, I began using the imagery. I had my clients relax in a recliner and helped them move into a mindfulness meditation, while Inward Harmony played in the background. Once relaxed, I told my clients they have two bodies, a physical body and a soul body. I incorporated the Eastern religious belief that at death the soul moves out of the body through the crown or seventh chakra at the top of the head. Once their souls were out of their bodies, two beings of light were waiting for them. The beings of light escorted their soul bodies through a tunnel of darkness toward a dot of light that expanded, as their souls got closer. Once in the light, I left their soul bodies there for thirty minutes, and then had the beings of light escort the soul bodies back. Once back, I brought their soul bodies into their physical bodies, and then counted them out of the experience.

Although the imagery was designed to alleviate fears of dying and death, which it did, there was also an unexpected effect. At the time I assumed the imagery was just a made up drama occurring in the mind, similar to other imageries I used professionally. But all the clients I used this imagery with had profound mystical experiences when their soul bodies were out of their physical bodies and in the light.

Experiences With The Imagery

The first client I used the imagery with was Mark, and he was in extreme physical pain and going blind, complications from AIDS. He had a fear of dying based on his Roman Catholic upbringing around sin. When I first took Mark’s soul body out of his physical body with the imagery, his physical body became very calm and peaceful as I gently guided him into the light. When I brought him back into his physical body and into ordinary reality, I asked what had happened? He told me he met his sister. Your sister who lives in a nearby town, I queried? “No my sister who died before I was born,” he answered. I was startled and stunned by his answer.

In a later journey, Mark told me he met his grandmother who raised him and had died several years before I started seeing him professionally. At the time I couldn’t figure out what was happening inside Mark’s mind. Mark was slowly going blind but with these inward journeys into the light he was becoming calmer and more peaceful and could see the inner experiences clearly. Mark’s experiences were so profound he asked if I would promise him that when his life partner James was ready to die, who also had AIDS, I would take him through the imagery as well. I promised him I would.

Within a few weeks Mark was completely blind. The imagery worked so well that he wanted to know of any method I knew that would allow him to see the physical world with a different set of eyes. The only method I could come up with was the out-of-body experience method pioneered by Robert Monroe at The Monroe Institute. The Monroe method I practiced myself, and it works. So over the next few weeks, I taught Mark the method and he began practicing it with success. He finally related that he could see the physical world, but it was different.

Shortly after teaching Mark the Monroe method, he was admitted to the hospital for the last time. As Mark lay dying on the hospital bed, his father told me Mark came out of a deep sleep and said he saw me and his mother in the room. His father asked the physician about Mark seeing them and was told it was just the morphine. Maybe yes, maybe no.

I became more baffled with the information Mark shared with me. I could not understand what was happening in the imagery process. I had believed the imagery experience was only occurring in the mind. I could not explain his unusual stories. I definitely did not think I was actually escorting Mark’s soul into the light.

I continued using the imagery with people who were dying and they all had similar results until I met Phyllis. Phyllis was not dying, but in deep grief over the death of her father resulting from a severe long-term illness. I took Phyllis’s soul body on the inward journey into the light and left her there for thirty minutes. When I brought her back into her physical body, out of the experience, she began crying. I allowed her time to regain her composure and asked what happened in the experience. She reported meeting her father in the light and he had his dog with him. She revealed her mother hated dogs, and would not allow her father to have one. Her father kept in his wallet a picture of the breed of dog he loved, and when she met him in the light the dog in the picture was with him. This experience with her father in the light lifted the severe grief she had over his death and she now knew he was in a better place.

Hearing these experiences only confused me further because I didn’t know what to make of them. What was I doing? Was I actually taking their souls or consciousness out of their bodies on a journey into the light? I was at a loss to explain what I was doing until I began working with Mark’s life partner James whose experience put it all together for me.

James was Roman Catholic and, like his life-partner Mark, had a deep terrifying fear of death because of the extreme guilt of having AIDS. His dying process was painful and fraught with many bouts of denial. At times he could not bring himself to discuss death and had the delusion he would be cured. Working with James had a major impact on me, both psychologically and spiritually.

As I watched James deteriorate, it became evident he was running out of time. The promised I had made to Mark kept running through my mind to help James with the imagery when the time came, and the time had come. It took several months to prepare James for the imagery experience with much resistance on his part. Even discussing the imagery produced extreme anxiety and fear because it signalled his death. However, during the imagery preparation, James was diagnosed with a resistant strain of bacteria that was infecting the frontal lobe of his brain, a complication from AIDS. Within a week after the diagnosis, he was in a semi-comatose condition and placed in a hospice.

I began visiting the hospice weekly along with my life-partner Daryl, who also knew James. During those visits I was hoping James would become conscious enough so I could take him on the journey into the light. I explained to the hospice nursing staff about the imagery and how it worked and they were very supportive. On every visit, James’s nurse would give me the gloomy prognosis as he slid deeper into a semi-comatose condition.

I would stand beside James’ bed and talk to him as if he was fully conscious with Daryl standing on the other side of the bed just observing. After leaving the hospice on several occasions, Daryl and I discussed James’ condition and his lack of response to any verbal communication. We decided, although James was semi-comatose, I should still take him through the imagery experience as promised. James would be the first semi-comatose client to experience the imagery and I didn’t know if it would work.

The following week Daryl and I visited James with the intention of taking him through the imagery. James lay in bed shaking and screaming as I began playing the musical composition Inward Harmony. In James’ semi-comatose condition, I did not know if he could experience the music but I continued anyway. As before, Daryl stood on one side of the bed and I on the other.

With music playing, I began talking to James, guiding him into a mindfulness meditation as his body continued to shake. Then I told James he has a soul body connected to his physical body. His soul body is disconnecting from his physical body and moving toward and through the top of his head. When I told James his soul body was out of his physical body, his physical body stopped shaking and he went silent. I looked at Daryl and he looked at me with a questioning expression. I shrugged and shook my head indicating I had no idea what was going on inside James. This experience was unexpected.

I continued guiding James’ soul body through the ceiling and up through the next three floors of the hospice facility. On the roof there were two beings of light. One took James’ right hand and the other took his left hand and escorted him through the darkened tunnel into the light. In the light I told James he would meet his loved ones who had died, especially Mark, and I would leave him with them for thirty minutes and then guide him back.

After thirty minutes, I had the beings of light escort James back to the hospice roof. I brought James’ soul body back down through the three floors. When I told James his soul body was re-entering his physical body, James screamed and his body started shaking again. I had performed the imagery many times and heard many experiences, but nothing compared to this. At that moment my worldview was shattered and knew I had experienced something profound. A new insight flooded my awareness; I suddenly became uncomfortable performing the imagery as a psychotherapist and knew I had a spiritual and religious calling. Moreover, I knew the clergy and not a psychotherapist should conduct the imagery because we are not trained to work with the mystical experiences unfolding before my eyes.

A week later, still trying to understand the ramifications of the experience, I received a call from James’ mother informing me he had died. She requested I go to the hospice, gather his belongings and bring them to her. I agreed, went to the hospice and it so happened the nurse who was with James when he died was on duty. Gathering James’ belongings the nurse and I talked about his death. She informed me she had seen many people in semi-comatose conditions die, but James’ death was different. She said she watched him for a long time and noticed a subtle comfortableness slowly settling over him. He became so serene and then he was gone. She indicated it was a beautiful death and attributed it to the imagery.

Forgiveness & Comfort by Way of the Light

I had now used the imagery with the dying, and those in grief and in a semi-comatose condition, but had not used it with people in preparation for death long before they died. I started working with Jack who is one of the longest survivors of AIDS. His viral load was non-detectable and he was living an ordinary life given his condition. Jack contacted me for spiritual direction with an emphasis on preparing him for his eventual death. It took about a year to get Jack ready for the imagery experience.

In preparing Jack, one of the issues he had to address was his parents, who were deceased. Jack came from a highly dysfunctional alcoholic family. He grew up feeling unloved and rejected by both his parents. He knew his father hated him and was physically abusive. His mother was critical and condescending; he felt totally rejected and unloved. Jack hated his father for physically abusing him and disliked his mother for constantly telling him how stupid he was. There was a lot of unfinished business between Jack and his parents.

After working with Jack’s issues around his parents and those related to AIDS in conjunction with his psychiatrist, he felt ready to journey into the light. He felt going into the light would create a sacred path when his earthy journey finally ended. He had no expectations as to what would happen or what he would see. He just felt he would be closer to God.

I took Jack on the journey into the light and after thirty minutes brought him back and out of the experience. He sat for several minutes with tears streaming down his face. As usual, I had Kleenex on hand and waited for him to gain composure. Between emotional outbursts, he informed me he met both his father and mother in the light. Until that moment, he had hated his father and disliked his mother intensely. In the light, Jack was able to forgive them both and they accepted his forgiveness and told Jack they regretted how they treated him and they both deeply loved him. As Jack sat crying, he told me they all hugged each other and all experienced total forgiveness. The experience changed Jack’s feelings toward his parents. Jack now knows when he takes his final journey his parents will be waiting to welcome him into the light.

After working with Jack, I began wondering what healthy people would experience with the imagery. Within a few months, I was asked to present a lecture and a workshop at a local annual spiritual conference. I decided to present a lecture on near-death experience and reincarnation and a workshop on the imagery. The lecture was a packed house and the workshop had about seven participants. This was fine with me because the journey into the light with healthy people was purely experimental. I had no idea what the participants would experience, if anything.

The workshop was a two-day affair. The first day I gave a lecture and taught the small group how the imagery was to be done, and ran through a practice session. It all ended with questions and answers. The group was very lively with two of the woman very talkative and humorous.

The next morning I took the group through the imagery and after thirty minutes I brought them back. The two women who had been very talkative were in tears and would not discuss what they had experienced. One of the women did say she met her husband who had died the previous year. The other woman made no comment, she just sat with a glazed look. Two participants, a man and a woman, decided to share their experience with the group.

The man said his wife was very beautiful in life. She died three years previously of Alzheimer’s. They had a wonderful life together and he stressed they made love all through their marriage until the disease took over. He recalled how when I took him into the light there she was, as beautiful as ever. He said she was so beautiful he became sexually aroused and wanted to make love with her, then suddenly realised where he was and decided that was not the place to make love. He thanked me for uniting them once again.

The woman had a totally different experience involving her pet cat. She said she was so attached to her cat that when it was time for the veterinarian to put it to sleep, she could not bring herself to be there when it happened. She left the vet’s office in tears, leaving her cat alone to its fate. Afterwards, she felt extreme guilt over her reaction, leaving her poor cat to be put to sleep all alone. While in the light, she met her cat and it forgave her. Meeting her cat once again allowed her to let go of her guilt.

These experiences with healthy people are similar to those I had worked with up until that point. The question I continue to ask myself: am I actually taking these people’s soul bodies into the light? I have also taken myself into the experience and had a profound awakening. My experience was very different. I found myself in the light and in front of a screen of white light with silhouette figures behind it. Then aspects of my younger life began to unfold before my eyes on the screen. Questions about my life I had meditated on for years were answered. The experience was similar to a life review, but just answers to the questions I had and not my total life’s experiences. I also knew if I crossed the screen of white light I would not return into my physical body.


As a modern day psychopomp, I find these experiences uplifting; they have given me an intimate knowing of our next journey. These experiences are similar to what near-death experiencer’s have. I have taken people into the light and brought them back, and they now have an understanding of that final journey. Each journey is shaped by the life experiences of the journeyer. What needs to be addressed in the experience is addressed. In all the cases I have worked with, after the journey there is no fear of death.

Check out Rev. Gary’s other articles published in New Dawn: “Helping Stuck Souls Crossover” in New Dawn 143 & “Twin Souls Merging” in New Dawn 142.

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Marcey Hamm, Inward Harmony (Musical composition), www.musicbymarcey.com

Robert A. Monroe, Journeys Out Of The Body, Doubleday, 1971

REV. GARY W. DUNCAN began his career in the funeral business, became a polymer chemical researcher, a behavioral/social science researcher, a psychotherapist for 21 years and 12 years in the natural health business. He has taught at various colleges and universities, and has studied mystical and esoteric traditions for over 40 years. He is an ordained Gnostic Catholic Priest, spiritual director, published author (Twin Souls Merging), lecturer, spiritual/esoteric philosopher, consultant and Wellness Educator. Currently, he is writing a second book, Death, Transcendence and Beyond: A Psychopomp’s Guide Helping Souls into the Afterlife. He is also creating an international web-based Center for Soul and Afterlife Studies to explore all aspects of soul development and transitions into the afterlife. Rev. Duncan can be reached for lectures, workshops and phone or Skype consultation at soulpax1@msn.com or through www.twinsoulsmerging.com

The above article appeared in New Dawn No. 144 (May-June 2014).

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Manipulations & Mind Games: The Secret Battle to Control How We Think



Throughout history the mechanisms of persuasion and influence have always been manipulated by those in power as a means to maintain authority and legitimacy. In more recent times the overall manipulation of the mass public mind has become less about overt spectacles of fear and obedience, and more about subtle forms of media propaganda. The manufacturing of consent1 is endemic and has become a pervasive presence within modern societies.

Edward Bernays,2 who has been called ‘the father of public relations’, was a nephew of Sigmund Freud and introduced psychological and psychoanalytical methods into modern propaganda. Bernays considered media propaganda essential for manipulating public opinion because society, in his regard, was composed of too many irrational elements (the people) which could be dangerous to the efficient mechanisms of power (‘democracy’). Within the context of our modern mass societies, propaganda has morphed into a mechanism for not only engineering public opinion but also as a means for consolidating social control.

Modern programs of social influence could not exist without recent developments in mass media. Today, it exists as a combination of expertise and knowledge from technology; sociology; social behaviourism; psychology; communications; and other scientific techniques. Almost every nation state has made use of a controlled mainstream media, to various degrees, for the regulation and influence of its citizenry.

By way of mainstream media, a nation’s controlling authority is able to exert psychological influence upon people’s perception of reality. This capacity works hand-in-hand with the more physical components, such as enforcing the legal system and national security laws (surveillance and monitoring). State control, acting as a ‘psychological machine’, instigates specific psychological manipulations in order to achieve desired goals within its national borders (and often beyond).

Examples of these psychological manipulations include the deliberate use of specific cultural symbols and embedded signifiers that catalyse conditioned reflexes in the populace. These triggers have included ‘Red’ and ‘Communist’ during the US’s 1950s McCarthyism; or ‘Muslim Terrorist’ during the recent media-hyped ‘War on Terror’. Targeted reactions can thus be achieved making the populace open to further manipulation in this state. This is a process of psychic re-formation that works repeatedly to soften up the people through continued and extensive exposure to particular stimuli. These are often the subconscious symbols we live by – artificial signifiers in order to create a compliant society.

Today’s media, which includes the dominant presence of advertising, extensively uses the notion of ‘attractors’ and ‘attractor patterns’ to target audience consciousness. This type of symbol-manipulation is often referred to in the business as neuro-marketing. Mainstream media corporations are using the huge growth in global communications to further shape their science of targeting human consciousness.

In the case of neuro-marketing, many advertisers first audience-test their commercials using brain-scanning techniques in order to know which part of a person’s brain is being activated by specific strong attractors. For example, it has been discovered that specific attractors can bypass the logical part of the brain and impact directly the emotional part. In such cases, as in the film industry, the advertisers place an award symbol (such as an Oscar or Golden Globe) which has proven to be an effective ‘strong attractor’ that influences the emotional part of the brain. The philosophy here is to adjust the level of consciousness of an advertisement in relation to the measurable level of consciousness of the consumer.3

Advertisers are aware that a person’s consciousness passes on messages indirectly to the body in the form of galvanic skin response, pupil response, electrical nerve response, etc, and so every element of the screen promotion must elucidate the correct conscious reception. In order to achieve this correct set of attractor patterns, all elements are deliberately worked on: the music, the visuals, the script, the voice. Interesting, symbolic strong attractors that have the most impact to persuade the audience include visuals such as smiley faces and cute animals (dogs wagging their tails and kittens purring). In terms of voice, they include words such as ‘honesty’; ‘integrity’; ‘freedom’; ‘hope and change’; ‘friendship’, etc. For this reason it can be seen how politicians use a great deal of these attractor-patterns in their speeches and promotional material.4

Other methods of blatant media coercion include the use of so-called ‘expertism’; that is, using the expert in the white lab-coat tactic for creating simulacra of truth. For such propaganda to be effective it cannot be too far off the truth; in other words, it must have the appearance of reality. Trade, employment, and financial figures are an example of this when the media discusses statistics as if they represented the truth. And which members of the general public have the knowledge or the resources to check and confirm such figures? Those people that do know are usually those that have a vested interest in maintaining the illusion, such as traders and financiers. As a norm, statistics of a negative connotation are usually drawn from the smallest possible pile. And once a false (or ‘doctored’) claim is disseminated and accepted by the public, it becomes established and hard to deconstruct or invalidate (unless persuasive anti-propaganda is just as effective).

Accepted Forms of ‘Individualism’

Modern societies are set-up to accommodate and appeal to not only the mass collective but also to individualism. But the forms that accepted ‘individualism’ takes are often a sheath to hide the workings of a mass psyche. It is the ‘allowed liberty’ that is provided to the modern person in pursuit of material gains as long as they remain within the parameters of their established society. Liberty, then, is an expression of mobility within a pre-described system: it does not denote liberty external to the system. Examples are the rock clichés that the mainstream media love to promote and adorn their front pages. Notables are the raging antics of destroying hotel rooms and throwing televisions out of the window, behaviour that later morphed into copycat corporate rock PR. In essence, such ‘rebels’ are allowed, and even encouraged, because their antics sell records. Rebelliousness in these forms is thus another contribution to a consumerist society, albeit through a different manner. And today there are many forms in which individualism is allowed to manifest as long as it plays within a pre-described system.

Another form of individualism is corporate-media centralisation masquerading as diversity and choice. The display of diversity in the information coming from the mainstream media gives the illusion of independent reportage and news. Yet mainstream media, if it is not government owned, is likely to be owned by a corporate conglomerate, often with high-level state relations. An individual is generally attracted to a particular newspaper that reflects their views, beliefs, lifestyles, etc, without suspecting these are all diversified patterned behaviour within the system. The mainstream media caters for these needs by operating a variety of newspapers that support these mythical standpoints, whether they be politically left, right, left/right of centre, liberal, independent, this, that, or any other of the positions available for the ‘diversity within the unity’ of the mass mind.

Concentration of Media Ownership

It is somewhat worrying to learn that most Western media organisations are owned by only a handful of giant corporations: News Corp; Viacom; Time-Warner; Disney; Vivendi Universal, and Bertelsmann. For example, Disney (The Walt Disney Company) is the largest entertainment and media multinational in the world. Disney owns the TV networks ABC (USA), Disney Channel, ESPN, A&E, and the History Channel, as well as publishing, merchandising, and theatre subsidiaries. They also own Walt Disney Pictures, Touchstone Pictures, Hollywood Pictures, Miramax Film Corp., Dimension, and Buena Vista International, as well as 11 theme parks around the world.

News Corp comes in next as the world’s second largest media multinational with an incredible range of TV and satellite channels, magazine and newspaper holdings, record companies and publishing companies based worldwide, with a strong presence in Asian markets. Similarly, Time-Warner owns more than 50 magazines; a film studio as well as various film distributers; more than 40 music labels (including Warner Bros, Atlantic, and Elektra); and several TV networks (such as HBO, Cartoon Network, and CNN).

Viacom owns TV networks CBS, MTV, VH1, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, Paramount Pictures, and nearly 2,000 cinema screens, as part of their media empire. Likewise, Vivendi Universal owns 27% of US music sales via labels such as Interscope, Geffen, A&M, Island, Def Jam, MCA, Mercury, Motown and Universal. They also own Universal Studios, Studio Canal, Polygram Films, Canal+, and numerous Internet and mobile phone companies. Then there is Bertelsmann which, as a global media corporation, runs Europe’s second largest TV, radio and production company (the RTL Group) with 45 TV stations and 32 radio channels; Europe’s largest printing and publishing firm (Gruner & Jahr); the world’s largest English-language general trade book publisher (Random House); the world’s largest book and music club group (Direct Group); and an international media and communications service provider (Arvato AG).

In terms of mainstream news reporting it is always important to check the source when reading a news item, i.e. is it of an independent source or is it ‘according to a government source’, etc. The mainstream media is largely fed via global news wire services, the two largest being Reuters (now Thomson Reuters) and Associated Press. The Rothschild banking family bought Reuters around 1895 and in 1988 Reuters bought 44% of Associated Press. This again constitutes a centralisation of news information, as well as the various well-established political press offices. When such sources (especially PR offices) disseminate information as ‘truthful news’, it is doing nothing more than was parodied in Orwell’s 1984 as Newspeak.

Each day the mainstream media offers a kaleidoscopic view of the world – tragedies, disasters, coups, and politics flash before the eyes like a glitterball. As a result the viewer rarely has the chance to focus on one issue, and generally remembers very little. Nor is there the need to remember a specific event as the next day it is likely to be replaced by the next item of news. In this way the average viewer is granted their ‘nourishment’ and feeling of ‘open news’ whilst at the same time being denied any real depth of knowledge. In such media-saturated environments people are provided with a conversation space or talking point amongst friends and work colleagues; or as a buffer zone to cover up the embarrassment of a non-communicative family. And if all hell breaks loose at work, at least you have Breaking Bad or The Walking Dead waiting for you on the home screen!

The mainstream media and entertainment industry also manipulate viewers’ emotions through the continual images of sexual arousal to the point whereby many of us are desensitised and more accepting of sexual misconduct. The media of escapism allows us to live out our fantasies in what is considered a less harmful way. It provides us with an external platform on which to project our wishful desires. It is supposed to placate us, to make us forget the drudgery of our humdrum lives. There are also those few who are motivated to mimic the acts seen in the media, whether through violence or sexual perversion. No doubt the few who do indulge are considered worth the trade-off against the millions who are mollified and happily passive in front of the screen.

The creative capacity of human imagination is being substituted for a ready-made set of imaginative programming. We don’t need to imagine for ourselves when the whole stage-show is presented to us in magnificent Technicolour and computer-generated imagery (CGI). We have our tickets into the ‘flight into unreality’.

Arrested Development

Another more worrying possibility is that television can act as a factor in causing arrested development within younger children, thus resulting in a later generation of less neurologically developed adults. Child researcher Joseph Chilton Pearce has published findings that indicate how television prevents the higher brain in children from developing as television engages solely with the lower (aka reptilian) brain. If the higher brain is not activated sufficiently through external stimulation – which it rarely is via child institutions – then at age 11 the brain begins to destroy many of its unused neurons. This can lead to a permanent condition of arrested development, according to Chilton Pearce. What this points to is a serious lack of proper stimulants for many children in overly institutionalised and controlled social environments. Also, our brains do not fully mature until we are around age twenty-five, which explains the early targeting of children through advertisers and conditioning institutions.

Recent disclosures have described how large food corporations are targeting children through what has now been dubbed ‘advergames’ – free games to download onto smartphones and tablets that contain subtle advertisements for high-sugar products.5 A report commissioned by the Family and Parenting Institute, published in 2012, suggested that children’s brains process advergames in a different way from how they would process traditional adverts; that is, on a more subconscious and emotional level. In this context many children do not understand that such games are actually very sophisticated adverts and so have no conscious ‘cognitive defence’ to the food product marketing.

This is no longer a one-way game, and the media landscape is undergoing a significant transition. What has changed the playing field of the media over recent years has been the rise of distributed and decentralised global communications between individuals. The Internet in particular, as well as other forms of social and community media, has spurred the growth of individuals seeking to verify information for their own selves. Independent media, such as is now coming of age via the Internet, has served to counter-neutralise some of the overwhelming persuasive power of mainstream media. This has helped to shift some people away from the propaganda that was previously virtually unchallenged. This bottom-up media revolution has seriously compromised the conditioning techniques used by governments and corporations alike. A major example of this citizen media revolution was seen during the Arab Spring, circa 2011, where civil resistance was effectively organised through social media networks. There are, as would be expected, now concerted efforts underway to censor the Internet and other social media networks in various nation states, as well as on a global level.

It is therefore imperative that our independent media be protected; our social networks of free speech preserved; and our right to seek and speak the truth defended. Manipulating and messing with our minds has no place in a truly democratic and egalitarian future.

You can explore these subjects further by reading Kingsley Dennis’s book The Struggle for Your Mind: Conscious Evolution and the Battle to Control How We Think (Inner Traditions, 2012), a revolutionary call to overthrow society’s mental controls and expand consciousness for the greater good of humanity. Available from all good bookstores and online retailers.

Check out Kingsley Dennis’s follow up article “Winning the War of Minds & the Battle to Control How We Think” in New Dawn 145.  

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1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manufacturing_Consent:_The_Political_Economy_of_the_Mass_Media

2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Bernays

3. This idea, as well as neuro-marketing, was given to me in personal correspondence by Darryl Howard, who sent me his research ‘Advertising in the New Paradigm’ (Darryl Howard & Associates).

4. Anyone wishing to know more on this subject should investigate Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP).

5. ‘Food giants target children with addictive “advergames”,’ www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/food-giants-target-children-with-addictive-advergames-9222302.html

KINGSLEY L DENNIS PhD is a sociologist, researcher and writer. He is the author of several critically acclaimed books including New Consciousness for a New World; Struggle For Your Mind; After the Car; The Struggle for Your Mind and the celebrated Dawn of the Akashic Age (with Ervin Laszlo). His new book is The Phoenix Generation. He previously worked in the Sociology Department at Lancaster University, UK. Kingsley is the author of numerous articles on social futures; technology; new media communications; and conscious evolution.

The above article appeared in New Dawn No. 144 (May-June 2014).

Read this article with its illustrations by downloading
your copy of New Dawn 144 (PDF version) for only US$4.95

© New Dawn Magazine and the respective author.
For our reproduction notice, click here.