New research investigating the transition of the Sahara from a lush, green landscape 10,000 years ago to the arid conditions found today, suggests that humans may have played an active role in its desertification.
The best metaphor I can think of is: Austerity is like bloodletting in the Middle Ages, only with a lower success rate.
An essential aspect of what people call the “deep” state is its continuity despite formal (or nominal) changes of regime. We might call this the “real” state, whose continuity and impunity is derived from its masters: the capitalist ruling class.
That class, and the system it has created, is in general crisis, the result of a cascade of contradictions it can no longer “export,” having spread its structural disease of infirmity across the globe. A consensus has emerged among international capital that there is no escape from the crisis except to quickly complete the task of global conquest, and to accelerate the financialization of all aspects of life, including in the “home” countries of imperialism. The rulers believe — with objective justification – that they are in a race against the clock, and that Russia’s resistance to the massive imperial offensive begun in 2011 could cause the clock to run out, and the ultimate death of their class.
Their fears were compounded by the wholly unexpected capture of one wing of the electoral duopoly by the billionaire real estate developer, Donald Trump, who is personally rooted in a political current of domestic capital that is fixated on using the state to inflate land values and related assets. In a profoundly racist society such as the United States, the manipulation of land values is inextricably tied to race: it requires the ability to control and remove less desirable populations from real estate that is to be “developed,” and to enlist whites in a general “uplift” project (“Make America Great Again”) whose subtext is always racial.
States within the global political economy today face a twin insurgency, one from below, another from above. From below comes a series of interconnected criminal insurgencies in which the global disenfranchised resist, coopt, and route around states as they seek ways to empower and enrich themselves in the shadows of the global economy. Drug cartels, human traffickers, computer hackers, counterfeiters, arms dealers, and others exploit the loopholes, exceptions, and failures of governance institutions to build global commercial empires. These empires then deploy their resources to corrupt, coopt, or challenge incumbent political actors.
From above comes the plutocratic insurgency, in which globalized elites seek to disengage from traditional national obligations and responsibilities. From libertarian activists to tax-haven lawyers to currency speculators to mineral-extraction magnates, the new global super-rich and their hired help are waging a broad-based campaign to limit the reach and capacity of government tax-collectors and regulators, or to manipulate these functions as a tool in their own cut-throat business competition.
We are in the middle of a technological upheaval that will transform the way society is organized. We must make the right decisions now
Source: Chaeconomica: Rise of the Robots
This is the world we enter every day, on our laptops and our smartphones. It has become a battleground where the ambitions of nation states and ideologues are being fought – using us. We are the bounty: our social media feeds; our conversations; our hearts and minds. Our votes. Bots influence trending topics and trending topics have a powerful effect on algorithms, Woolley, explains, on Twitter, on Google, on Facebook. Know how to manipulate information structure and you can manipulate reality.
We’re not quite in the alternative reality where the actual news has become “FAKE news!!!” But we’re almost there. Out on Twitter, the new transnational battleground for the future, someone I follow tweets a quote by Marshall McLuhan, the great information theorist of the 60s. “World War III will be a guerrilla information war,” it says. “With no divisions between military and civilian participation.”
By that definition we’re already there.