DICTATOR WATCH MANIFESTO
AN OPEN LETTER TO THE PEOPLE OF THE WORLD: PLEASE JOIN US
Are you for democracy, or dictatorship?
Are you part of the solution, or part of the problem?
Do we meaning all the life on Earth do we live, or do we die?
It is time for the people of the world to decide: which side are we as a species,
and you as an individual, on? Things are rarely black and white, but in this case
they are. The world all of life is at a crossroads. The coming century,
regardless of the direction we choose, will be the most tumultuous the planet
has ever seen. It will be characterized by a level of chaos hitherto unexperienced,
with social conflict that makes the World Wars seem small by comparison, and with
an extinction event among other species, which is already underway, with no precedent
for the last sixty-five million years. Still, there is a choice. The magnitude
of this catastrophe will vary, from the extreme to the unimaginable, depending
on what we do now.
You have to decide. You cannot sit on the sides, or deny. There is no middle ground:
denial is equivalent with complicity. (You do not necessarily have to be a front
line activist, but if you have a lifestyle that has as its prerequisite environmental
destruction and social dictatorship and inequality, then you have made your choice:
the wrong one.)
Of course you could respond: why do anything? Why should we care, such as if other
species die out? Evolution is working the way it always has. Thats just
the way things are.
The answer to this is that we are not machines, programmed to act in a certain
way and in that way only. We have free will, which we use to make choices, and
this will is grounded in reason. Using our reason, the advanced consciousness
we have evolved, we can survey our world, understand it, and attempt to make the
best choices among those that are available.
This raises the question, what measure should we use as our guide: what should
be our goal? Some people have argued that the goal is the maximization of happiness.
Society, particularly the media, regularly acts as if the goal is the avoidance
of boredom. Another measure, though, which is not unrelated to the first, is the
preservation and creation of value.
Over the last 3.5 billion years all manner of life forms and natural habitats
have evolved on our planet. Similarly, in the last two hundred thousand years
the period of time since Homo sapiens evolved as a separate species
an extraordinary array of distinct human cultures has been established. This diversity
represents what is truly unique and beautiful about the Earth: it constitutes
the real value of our world.
Every time a species dies out, every time a natural habitat is cut down, every
time a traditional human culture is assimilated by the modern world,
part of this value is irrevocably lost.
This concept of value can also be used to evaluate any actions that humans consider,
as individuals and through groups. If such actions preserve environmental and
cultural diversity, and establish the conditions in which they can continue to
thrive, then they are acceptable. However, if the actions reduce the diversity
and the potential for further development, even if only through indirect consequences,
then they are not.
One view of the modern world says that we are progressing, inexorably. The modern
system is one of Democracy combined with Capitalism, and while it suffers abuses,
it has the ability to police or reform itself. It will, someday, lead us to the
utopia of our dreams (or fantasies). Another view though is that our present conditions
are already dire, and highly likely to get much, much worse. This perspective
argues that there are social undercurrents of which we are for the most part unaware
that are leading us not to utopia, but dystopia.
The basis of the latter view is that we do not look at things as they really are,
that we confuse symptoms with problems. For example, right now America
the world all of Civilization is at war with terrorism.
We are also at war with drugs, and crime, and poverty. We have so many wars now
that we have a war du jour. (Iraq!) This is absurd. Terrorism, drugs, crime
and even poverty are merely symptoms, and symptoms can only be treated,
not solved. We may treat them with guns, prisons, police, or welfare whatever
but even if they seem to go away they will return. For the symptoms to
be treated such that they never return, that they never can return, the underlying
problems must be solved. It is time to address these problems.
One such problem is our lack of ethics. This applies to everyone we all
face the challenge of implementing ethical principles to guide our lives
but it is regularly clearest, and also the most magnified, with our leaders. The
art of life, or one of the fundamental components of what is termed wisdom, is
to recognize subtle distinctions. (As was mentioned, normally things are not
black and white.) One example is the distinction between having an absolute set
of ethical principles that you then apply in the different situations that you
encounter, versus changing your principles to fit the situation, to satisfy your
The United States Government is not principled: it is not ethical. It pretends
to be the leading light of freedom, but this is a farce. US leaders change government
policy to fit the situation, really, to satisfy their own personal objectives.
These objectives in turn reflect the desires of their supporters, for the most
part corporate supporters, who provide their campaign funding. Because of this
connection US policy is not devoted to such goals as freedom, and equality,
and the better world their widespread adoption would create. It is rarely even
tailored to meet the more immediate needs of ordinary Americans.
Ethical principles are also regularly sacrificed to meet the needs of geopolitics,
meaning for the US and other democracies that they will work with
one dictatorial system to gain power over another, and then change their allegiance
when a new opportunity presents itself. The US in particular has a long-standing
policy, which is perhaps more active now than ever before, to cooperate, even
conspire, with political dictatorships around the world if it has the potential
to serve US interests (or, more accurately, the interests of US politicians).
The world at present is permeated with dictatorial systems, which are growing
in power, and which the US refuses to confront. Indeed, under President Bush the
US government is rapidly becoming a dictatorship itself, over all the people of
America and all other nations, and also over the planetary ecology and all other
forms of life.
Washington and Jefferson would be appalled at the depths to which America has
sunk. The Tories have won. It took two hundred years, but it appears that the
War for Independence, and the deeper war for equality and human rights on which
it was based, were not conclusively decided. The Tories came back, insidiously,
and now they have the power.
The main loci of political dictatorship around the world are Asian authoritarianism,
of which China is the bulwark; Islamic theocracy, with its foundation in Saudi
Arabia; and traditional tribal conflicts and dominations in Africa. In the Americas
dictatorship also survives in isolated locations such as Cuba, although there
is the potential for widespread resurgence beginning in such nations as Venezuela
China last year announced that it would always be a communist one party state,
i.e., a dictatorship. Around Asia most nations are openly dictatorial, and increasingly
accepted as legitimate in this form by the West. Islamist ideology is also growing
in power it has been given great impetus by Osama bin Laden and September
11, 2001 leading to the call for more Islamic regimes and the installation
of Islamic law (sharia), including in such countries as Nigeria, Malaysia
and Indonesia. And, virtually all Islamic states, beginning with Saudi Arabia,
remain committed to dictatorship: to rule by monarchs and mullahs, the repression
of women, etc. Some would say that the religion itself is flawed, because it has
an ineluctable connection to violence. The call for Jihad against infidels
unbelievers can never be renounced since it came directly from God via
the Prophet. And, for Africa, the division by the colonial powers of the continent
using arbitrary national borders, thereby combining groups with long histories
of conflict, guarantees that it will not soon achieve peace.
Building on this is the evolution that is occurring in social dictatorship, where
power is shifting from traditional political and religious forms to modern economic
ones. Multinational corporations and other economic entities, i.e., financial
and supranational, are ascending in power and as they do they are reinforcing
such historical structures. This is because political dictatorship represents
their ideal operating environment. For corporations, they need only pay the requisite
bribes and market monopolies are theirs for the asking, and, they can avoid all
the social and environmental costs of their actions.
Of course, even with this change many deeper or systemic patterns still hold.
Men still wield power over women; the rich over the poor; and the well-educated
over the not well-educated.
Lastly, we have yet to see, through action (rather than just words), widespread
adoption of a more benevolent attitude by humanity towards nature, to signal,
finally, the end of our dictatorship over all other species of life. (This dictatorship
continues in part because the modern economic system is predicated on massive
exploitation and destruction of natural habitat.)
To recall terrorism, it is worth asking the question: what is a terrorist? One
would suppose that it is someone who causes others to fear for their lives. If
we were able to ask, what do you think other species would say about George Bush,
(un-elected) head of the most powerful and influential country in the world, who
opposes all new efforts to help them and who is rolling back the few protections
that they have, which steps will certainly lead to their continued, wholesale,
slaughter? Their blood would run cold. Terror would be a very apt word to describe
their reaction. Furthermore, Bushs own links to big business start with
the energy industry, which along with the other extractive industries, including
timber, mining and ranching, are the leading environmental terrorists on the planet.
(Bush is also, of course, a rancher himself.)
As this suggests, there are all manner of linkages between the various dictatorial
systems. For instance, the West, including the US and Europe, is appeasing China,
such as through allowing it into the World Trade Organization and by awarding
it the 2008 Olympics. In the process its many, many crimes, of the widest variety
imaginable, have been overlooked. Western democracies have bowed to the demands
of their corporations, to facilitate trade, which trade in turn funds the Chinese
dictatorship, most importantly the military on which it is based. This makes it
even more entrenched. (Instead of opposing it, we are assisting it.) China in
turn funds and arms Pakistan (among many other dictatorial states, including North
Korea, Iraq, Iran, Libya, and Serbia under Milosevic), which itself arms the Taliban,
Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda, and Kashmiri militants, who then attack the US,
India and elsewhere. China also funds and arms Burma, which represses its people,
supplies the world with heroin and methamphetamines, and grants safe haven to
Pakistani nuclear experts who support bin Laden.
How can we so quickly have forgotten the price of appeasement: the lesson of Chamberlain
China is taking great steps to extend its imperial domain, and these steps
together with its increasing legitimacy will doom the nations of Asia,
starting with Tibet and excluding perhaps only India, to perpetual dictatorship.
Such nations will never be able to escape the power of such a strong regional
influence. China is also building an arsenal of nuclear-armed missiles that will
be able to reach the United States, not to mention Taiwan. But this may be exactly
what politicians such as President Bush want. They want a new Cold War (another
war!). Rather than confront China now, and work to transform it to a democracy
and eliminate this threat, they defer and allow the threat to increase. This will
ensure that there is no effective opposition to funding a Star Wars program, and
a larger and larger military, and also to such things as internal security measures
that infringe civil liberties (Homeland Security). Knowingly or unknowingly,
by following such a policy they are working to build the world envisioned in Orwells
1984, with regional powers forever at war with each other, not for the
purposes of conquest but as a means to create and justify repression at home.
The driving force that is ultimately behind all of this is the world of business,
starting with the arms industry. Companies have established partnerships with
the greatest political criminals history has ever seen (such as the businesses
that worked for Hitler and Nazi Germany). The blood on the hands of the latter
is money in the bank for the former. Contemporary links of this nature include
Bushs father, the former President, who was also at one point ambassador
to China (and head of the CIA) and who is now a principal of the Carlyle Group,
a leading investor in the country; and Vice President Cheney, the former CEO of
Halliburton, which is active in Burma. Another company active in Burma is Unocal,
which also had well developed plans to work with the Taleban in Afghanistan. But
it is not only heavy industry that supports and funds political dictatorships.
All manner of corporations actively solicit them. For example, Rupert Murdoch,
who heads News Corp., one of the largest media conglomerates in the world, has
extensive commercial interests in China and, at least in the past, has censored
from his media negative accounts of the dictatorship. What we are experiencing
is a new type of cabal: the leaders of nominally democratic nations are in bed
with political dictators, major corporations, and supposed media watchdogs.
It has to be stopped, and since our leaders cannot be trusted, since our social
checks and balances have failed, we, the ordinary people of the world, are going
to have to do it. Even though individuals such as the current US President will
come and go, there is no chance that this will lead to real improvement. This
is because the system itself is flawed. It is this system, which selects and grooms
our leaders and instills in them the ideology of oppression, that we must fight.
Said another way, our system of self-rule must be real self-rule, in other
words, a direct democracy. And, we must use our voices to speak for those who
in our political system have none, for all the species of the natural world.
The time to end dictatorship has come. Indeed, if we are not able to reverse the
current trend, the developing supremacy of corporations over government, we may
lose what small chance of success remains. It is not an overstatement to say that
we are at the turning point in history. Homo sapiens may implode, and take all
other species with it, or we can confront our problems and build something truly
new. We must create a discontinuity: throw off what we have and who we are, and
change. Now is the time to exceed our grasp.
The only solution is a mass, and voluntary, opting-out of the current system,
and this in turn requires efforts to counter the brainwashing to which we are
all exposed. We can start with identification: we must increase our accuracy thereof.
When leaders are unethical they become dictators. They may not be recognized or
named as such, but thats what they are. It is not Chinese President Jiang
Zemin, but Dictator Jiang Zemin (and also Mass Murderer Jiang Zemin). Similarly,
it is not President Musharraf of Pakistan, or Prime Minister Mahathir of Malaysia,
but Dictator. We also have Dictator Gates and Dictator Murdoch (and before them
such individuals as Dictator Rockefeller), not to mention the anonymous dictators
of the advertising industry. Then there is Dictator John Paul, and the Dictators
the sheiks and mullahs of Saudi Arabia.
We must also better identify, or understand, ourselves. You will have to decide
which side of history you are on. To repeat: are you part of the solution or part
of the problem?
- If you believe humans have more rights than other species, you are part of the
- If you accept without questioning what you are told, you are part of the problem.
(This statement includes this letter: you should question everything.)
- If you believe the answer to every economic difficulty is to consume more, you
are part of the problem.
- If you live in a sprawl house, you are part of the problem.
- If you are not seriously considering not having children, you are part of the
- If you judge other people on the basis of characteristics that they cannot help
having, rather than on their behavior as individuals, you are part of the problem.
- If you accept the status quo, if you do not actively oppose the wrongs that
you see around you, you are part of the problem.
- If you yourself do wrong, if you lie and cheat and abuse and steal, you are
part of the problem.
And so on and so on.
September 11th was a great tragedy, the latest in a long line of heart-wrenching
traumas. There is no better way to honor the dead, from all such events, than
to confront and defeat the parties responsible. But, there is no easy answer to,
or even understanding of, such acts and conflict. Furthermore, political and media
commentary and, subsequently, public opinion, always centers on the most superficial
of appraisals. However, at any point in time, and certainly following a disaster
of this magnitude, there is the possibility to dig deeper and go after the source.
An alternative view is that September 11th resulted from the clash of two dictatorial
systems: Islamic extremism; and unregulated global capitalism and its assault
on all traditional cultures and values, with the US as the leading proponent thereof.
The specific justification that was given, which obscured this deeper phenomenon,
was Americas unquestioning support of Israel over Palestine, where it finances
and arms one side in a long-standing conflict even though both sides have legitimate
concerns and have committed grievous wrongs.
(This support must be opposed, but not through murder! This is an example of the
aforementioned discrimination, of the ability to recognize subtle distinctions.
It is unacceptable to use unethical means to achieve an ethical end, in this case
the right of self-determination for the Palestinian people.)
Prior to September 11th the US public was asleep. It had been lulled by the news
and entertainment it is offered, actually, force-fed, and more deeply by
self-deception: a desire not to know (including to be ignorant of the effects
of US foreign policy and the globalization of capitalism). Periodically, though,
such slumber is disturbed. The outside world intrudes through an event that it
is not possible to ignore.
Unfortunately, the shock of Sept 11th, the opportunity it represented, was not
grasped. In other words, the victims died in vain. The event was manipulated to
reinforce existing power structures. It was insufficient to instigate the general
public to rise up and overthrow them.
More generally, the wars against terrorism, drugs, crime, and poverty are phony
wars. They do not address the real problems. And, they have been publicized and
politicized and through this structured to serve other purposes. They are not
even being fought with victory as the goal (as if victory were possible).
Ultimately, what is at stake in our current predicament, the crossroads or turning
point that we now face, is our deepest nature. Homo sapiens, like all other species,
is motivated by selfishness. But given the abilities we have developed this selfishness
has been magnified one million-fold to the detriment of everything, including
ourselves. We must leave this form behind. While it is true that you will always,
as an individual, think your thoughts, it is not true that they must
always be of yourself, of what you want. Evolution demonstrates one
truth: one must change adapt or die. Through actions, not only words,
we must strive to evolve, to create a new post-human species, one with the governing
ethic of selflessness, not selfishness, and cooperation, not competition.
More precisely, humanity is a species in transition. However, our entire social
architecture is designed to hold us back.
- We have been indoctrinated to have faith in superstition and legend, when reason
can and does show a better way to live (and purpose for living).
- We have been taught that political power should not be inherited, but persuaded
that this is acceptable for economic power. Through this we have been deceived,
since the one grants the other.
- We have been manipulated to become slaves to technology and to worship the belief
that it will lead us forward, technology that is pursued solely as a means to
earn profits. As a consequence, we have failed to recognize that such subservience
to selfishness is in direct opposition to the evolution in ethics that is guided
by our reason, and brain development.
Indeed, our entire social structure functions to serve one end selfishness,
and through this inequality, which reason tells us is the exact opposite of that
for which we should strive.
In summary, humanity is now facing challenges that are more severe than any we
have previously encountered (and which are also of our own making). Even worse,
our prospects are slim. The forces of dictatorship have already amassed such great
power that they are approaching invincibility. Still, our responsibility for life,
for the future of the Earth (and to correct our own mistakes), demands that we
try. Therefore, once again, you should ask yourself: which side are you on? For
all individuals and groups who choose to be part of the solution, the time has
come. We must marshal our resources and energy, and courage. We must work together,
spread the word, and organize.
Life is the will to think and the courage to act, including for others. Now is
the time to prove that we are alive.
for Dictator Watch
25 December 2002