Dig This: It Can’t Go On, Part 1

Our Founding Patriarchs understood the economically destructive and corrosive effects of foreign entanglements and war on freedom and democracy.1  President after president has warned about the special interests and the usurpation of power in our republic.2   Yet, we continue to ignore the costs of militarism, nationalism and unchecked capitalism in our lives and on our freedoms.  These costs include our health, civil liberties, wealth and quality of life, and indeed the future of all coming generations. Still, we don’t look; mired in materialism and ignorance, we continue to embrace violence and aggression, going steadily down the path to our own destruction.  Or, if we do look, we turn away, assuming we are not powerful enough to affect change, determine our own lives or even take a moral stand.  It can’t go on—It is not sustainable.

Some of you will argue that American power and dominance in the world is at its highest point, a position unprecedented in the history of the world.  I would not disagree, but I would ask you to consider that probability and history would say, “It’s all downhill from here.”  We are not the first empire to believe ourselves all-powerful and indestructible.  Angkor Watt, the Egyptians, Mayans, Mongols, Persians and Romans were all deluded about their greatness and ended in chaos and poverty.  We will be no different, unless we are willing to look at history and the collective wisdom we have accrued as human beings.  The studies of people like Jared Diamond give us insight into the causes of the failures and collapse of civilizations and societies in the past.  There are several very distinct factors in these seemingly unpredictable downfalls.  According to Diamond, those factors are: 1) Environmental degradation 2) Climate change 3) Foreign Relations 4) Internal political, economic and social factors within the society or culture.  It is seldom one factor that causes collapse, but certainly it could be one of several that trigger it.

To see our future, we have to be willing to look honestly at our past.  We have to be willing to set aside our collective American ego and take a hard look in the mirror.   What do we see?   It isn’t very pretty.  We have been exploiting people and extracting resources since the moment “we” stepped foot in the New World.  1492?  The celebrated Christopher Columbus was operating under the charter of the nobility of Spain to exploit natural resources and start slave colonies while exporting Western religion in the wake of the genocidal elimination of native populations.3  This was the economic model of the European colonial powers in the Americas and around the world for centuries, and the United States adopted this model from its inception. These policies exist in some form to this day.  The Pentagon is the enforcer of economic and foreign policy, and has the distinction of, not only being the “greatest purveyor of violence”4, but also the largest polluter and the greatest sinkhole of tax dollars of any entity on Earth.

Our record on the environment does not reflect well on us.  Americans consume 25% of the Earth’s resources and represent only 6% of the Earth’s population.  We are consuming and degrading natural resources at an unprecedented rate with no sign of letting up.  Agricultural land, forests, water and air are degraded and polluted; species are dying at an alarming rate, in what is called the 6th Extinction.4 The newborn infant in America is born with 200 toxins in its blood.5,6  Our ocean fisheries are being depleted, and many will fail as sources of food for millions of people in the next century.7      Huge areas of the Gulf of Mexico are devoid of life due to our massive use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides.8   Unregulated corporations continue to operate to our detriment despite the obvious threats to the environment.9 

At first glance, our reflection is looking sickly, suffering from collective toxicity.  Even this quick glance at our environmental record is enough to make us consider if Jared Diamond’s prediction of our societal collapse10 within the next few decades is more probable than we might want to consider.  In Part 2 of this article, we will look at the other factors that will determine our future as an Imperial power.  Until then, I urge you to fact check me and think on the other factors that affect us.  Where are we headed?  We have the ability to change, to deal with our future.

Doug Bennett is local talk show host on KKRN, 88.5 FM; community organizer; and retired general contractor.

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29 Responses

  1. Avatar Denise says:

    Big fan of Jarod Diamond myself! To your point of American consumption, lately I've been pondering conspicuous consumption in my own life. The old axiom "they don't make 'em like they used to" comes to mind.

    I'd like to see American companies provide jobs that create quality items and let that be the niche market. I'm no CPA but I am told by such that it is perfectly legal for American companies to take all their labor overseas where they don't pay much labor costs, yet the American companies still enjoy our tax credits. Say what?

    I guess on the one hand the standard of living for the overseas workers has had to improve before those companies came over, but what do we get on the flip side? Junky crap that isn't much cheaper than before that end up in our landfills? With a side of huge unemployment?

  2. Avatar Christian Gardinier says:

    Doug, very nice article! I thank you for the macro perspective and AnewsCafe for the strength to publish it.

    It seems to me that our collective destructive behavior as a nation starts locally and expands globally very quickly due to mass consumerism, technology, greed and fear. Additionally, our post WW II culture propagated by the traditional media brain washes us that we are no longer "we the people" (a collective) and the "new" Tea Party Rush Limbaugh mantra is me, myself and I. Here some examples…

    Locally we try to use government to punish the disadvantaged, the homeless (thanks to politicians like Missy…) and nationally (as well as globally) try use our government to sustain corporatism's 1% wealth and power over all. And we are supposed to feel good about flexing our power when we break and fragment the threads that run though all? The result is war and other types of violence, mass pollution, social injustice and economic inequality. This can't be a sustainable way to live… locally or globally! Doug, you are right… I don't think that's not what the "Patriarchs Founders" had in mind when we collectively formed this nation way back then.

    Thanks to folks like Doug and to media outlets like AnewsCafe we are at least given information to "look in the mirror" and do something different if we decide to do so. Like it or not, we are all collectively connected to each other and to Mother Earth. Knowledge can be power and it will take a collective vision to change the trajectory we seem to be on…

    Looking forward to Part 2!

  3. Avatar Doug Bennett says:

    Both great comments. We the people, collectively, have the responsibility to act when necessary to right the ship of government. Thanks to people like Edward Snowden, it should now become apparent to all Americans that the basic freedoms required are disappearing.

  4. Avatar Melita says:

    Excellent article, Doug. History always seems to give me a better perspective. Thanks for the lessons.

  5. Avatar pmarshall says:

    Yes, very good article. And all so true. We all feel so helpless to try to turn it all around; there are so many who couldn't care less!

  6. Frank Treadway Frank Treadway says:

    Heavy Stuff…However, it doesn't make me have less faith in the manner in which we as a country, state or city operate within our daily lives. When the pendulum begins to tilt too far one way or the other politically, ethically or simple common sense in our society, we have the ability to right the ship and sail onward to the next generation of human existence. I have basic faith in my grand kids and their ability to keep Mother Earth on a safe and progressive trajectory. No Henny Penny here !

    • Avatar Carol M says:

      Maybe I'm a Pollyanna but I agree with you.

    • Avatar Annie says:

      I'm sure all those failed civilizations thought so, too.

      In the past, when civilizations failed, humankind continued because we had not reached unsustainable populations. That's no longer the case.

      It's a classic case of overshoot. What happens next is a massive die-off to correct the balance.

      • Avatar Doug Bennett says:

        Annie-

        Your point is well-taken. Being a Pollyanna or not being Henny Penny was a luxury for a time now past. Let's call it what it is, "escapism". Like so many fluff pieces available, they allow you to suspend reality and temporarily bath in the "feel good" part of your illusion. Unfortunately, this equates to apathy in a time where action and a clear understanding of the situation is most important.

  7. Avatar Rodney Jones says:

    Great article Doug, blends nicely with the research I've been doing on the Iroquois Confederation of the six tribes. This confederation had a huge influence on the writings that ended up being The Constitution for the United States of America. We have become a ME NOW society; the Iroquois were / are a matriarchal society and before a decision was made three things had to be taken into consideration: 1) will the decision benefit all of humanity, 2) will the decision protect mother earth, 3) how will the decision affect the children 7 generations from now.. If all decisions made in DC were made with these considerations we would slow the inevitable collapse and destruction of our society…

    • Avatar Doug Bennett says:

      Our Founding Patriarchs learned governing skills from Native Americans, but did not adopt the value system. Their system was built on the same consciousness as their parent empire, British colonialism. One of the conditions of the Peace Treaty of Paris, that ended the American Revolution, was the right to ignore Native American rights east of the Thirteen Colonies. Thus started the murderous genocide and westward expansion, we call Manifest Destiny. Another misnomer coined in the official U.S. history books.

  8. Avatar Bruce says:

    Good article Doug. You always touch on the heart of the subject and the truths we need to understand. Keep up the good work.

  9. Avatar Hal Johnson says:

    I agree that it seems we're heading headlong into darkness, and I think apathy is our biggest foe. Widespread outrage seems to have died around the time of the fall of Saigon. Nowadays, people seem to feel that if they have a low mortgage rate, an SUV, and the latest iPad, then life, by George, must surely be good.

  10. Avatar CouldBeTrouble says:

    Doug, Please forgive me if I am misunderstanding you or if I am jumping to conclusions by not waiting for "Part 2." Firstly, to be devoid of hypocrisy you and all commenter's here have had your power turned off, right? You walk or bicycle to where you must go and you raise your own meat, poultry and vegetables as well, I assume. You do not frequent any corporate America or China or India retail outlet, I am sure, and heaven forbid you have Dish, Direct or an Internet service provider and use Google, Yahoo, Facebook or Twitter. am I correct? Well you all have at least one failing here, so on to my point. History is full of dirty little details we can "blame" for one reason or another to make our points, however, history is no longer and remember it was the Democrats who used Manifest Destiny to rationalize war with Mexico to acquire land for America, land that if was not won it's inhabitants, you, would be speaking Spanish. Let me guess, you are pro amnesty, right? Conservatives are by nature just that, conservative. Myself? I am as self sufficient as anyone can be in this current society and to go back to the Sixties and the "Hippie Dream" is not realistic as was proven then and will be proven now. We are dependent on the vast exchange of extremely finite goods and services if we want to live in this modern culture. That's the problem, we are all addicted to the convenience of goods and services the world provides. Am I wrong? OK, so how to fix the problem. Easy, just get rid of petroleum products. Wait a minute, that wont work 75% of everything uses or is made with petroleum. Hmm… OK then get rid of CO2. Well now we can't breath so I guess that's out and better get to work on that volcano stopping machine.OK, I could go on but my point has been made. We are addicted and the rest of the world is addicted and no one is going to want to stop. So, you say a NWO must come in to "supervise" all our activities to make sure we are living according to someones guidelines of sustainability? It has been shown that our own government is most definitely not up to the task. Their percentage of spending and waste far exceeds any corporate or private entity and has for decades. Why? Because it's not their money, they don't care if they get it right or wrong they will just raise taxes if the latter. At least corporate America has respect for a "bottom line." Now here's the clincher, who exactly do I blame? I blame you for voting for these "progressive" idiots who do not care about people's rights, freedom or even conservation. They just want to be in the "elite" class to be exempt from the tyranny they impose on us peons, who by the way, give them the money to tyrannize with. My bottom line: This is not a problem that is easily solved and furthermore it will not be solved by man and if you are arrogant enough to think it can then you are part of the problem.

    • Avatar Doug Bennett says:

      Well, you obviously don't know who I am. You try to dismiss facts by implying I am somehow tied to "Democrats", the "Hippie Dream" or the ubiquitous "NWO." And you certainly are confused about who I voted for or what my religious values are. You use a typical tactic popular among some people, so they can discredit, dismiss or pigeonhole someone else. Nice try.

      Your logic is one that many Tea Party people embrace. Government is bad. Corporations are good. Only God can fix it. This simplistic view doesn't account for the fact that multinational corporations and many "democratic" governments are now indistinguishable. You say, " At least corporate America has respect for a 'bottom line'." Your right, and most of them only respect the "bottom line." Because of deregulation that is all they have to care about.

      There are a couple of other line of your rant that have a degree of truth, "…we are all addicted to the convenience of goods and services the world provides….. We are addicted and the rest of the world is addicted and no one is going to want to stop."

      Big sweeping statements like these are usually false. Of course, all of us are not addicted and many of understand the need to change and move away from these "addictions" towards something that makes more sense.

      Finally, assuming God wants anything to do with the mess we humans have created is presumptuous and irreverent in my view. It is also dis-empowering human beings. God gave us everything and the free will ("in his image") to make of it what we will. I think the question for us is whether we have the moral courage to take up the responsibility of stewardship the Bible states was conferred on us.

      The responsibility is ours.

    • Avatar Melita says:

      Yep, you misunderstood.

      No serious thinker about today's maladies would use extravagant comparisons such as yours when making a point, i.e. unless you are off-grid and feed yourself don't complain about the conveniences of modern life; or, get rid of petroleum and CO2 as an answer to our problems, and we're all addicted so let's give up and pay the piper, etc. And, to suggest "progressives" want to be elitist shows a serious lack of understanding of our political and societal conditions.

      Far too many people remain stuck in partisan, left/right thinking when the decay of society is an up/down, rich/poor state of affairs, one history reveals over and over.

    • Avatar randy says:

      "This is not a problem that is easily solved and furthermore it will not be solved by man and if you are arrogant enough to think it can then you are part of the problem."

      Your religious blindness is shining through.

      The points Doug makes about climate change, over consumption of finite resources and the unsustainable, catastrophic course we are on are all backed by scientific fact.

      • Avatar CouldBeTrouble says:

        It is typical for the non believer to blame religion for what they perceive as disagreement to their views, classic "progressive" style. The facts are clearly in front of you and whether "climate change" is real or a ploy for control, that is all you will get from allowing government, any government and especially the UN, to get involved. When you get the comic book mentality out of your heads and understand nature is and has always been larger than man then you must realize the direction the "powers" must take are not what you will want to see. This is a subliminal forum for Agenda 21 folks, and I was not mistaken. I wrote my first comment not having a clue who Doug Bennett was and I nailed him by his words. Have a nice "climate change." Oh, and I thought all you progressive types hated Redding??

        • Avatar Doug Bennett says:

          Could be Troubled-

          I think Jesus had a quote for you:

          "You never knew me".

          • Avatar CouldBeTrouble says:

            Doug Bennrtt~

            I think Jesus had a quote for you too:

            "1 Timothy 4

            (NIV)

            4 The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. 2 Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron."

  11. Regarding #3, Foreign Relations, here are a few thoughts on this matter.

    To control a free people, it is not necessarily what a government does. More likely, it's what its citizenry "thinks" it can do. For example, most Reddingites think drones are a neat new thing. Some of us can't wait to get in on the action. It could be a new gold rush, so to speak. However, In Pakistan or Yemen or Somalia, places quite familiar with drones, the very sound of one of these flying overhead instills gut wrenching fear. How do they know that perhaps someone in the house next door has not been targeted for death by someone in a country (our country) 10,000 miles away? Accidents happen. When they do, and they do very often, this foreigh government gives the "incident" the name, "collateral damage."

    Well, most Reddingites might say it's a cost of doing business – a cost of "keeping us free." And, as has happened not so long ago when an American citizen was targeted and killed, it can be excused by saying that he was a terrorist. Hmmmm.

    Well, what will happen when a "terrorist" is presumed to be living next door to you in good old Redding? And, suppose one day you hear the sound of a drone overhead? You already know that American citizens have been targeted and killed. It should not be to much of a leap of imagination to finally understand how people in other countries feel about what we are now doing in their airspace. Should this ever happen here, welcome to what real gut wrenching fear is all about. Of course it never will. Let's hope.

    But, just maybe, we should examine what we are doing in these other countries and see how it affects our relations with our other neighbors on this planet. At the very least we might try to develop a little empathy for citizens of those countries that we feel we must overfly and occasionally bomb. All for very good reason. Keeping us free.

  12. Avatar Pamela says:

    Thanks Doug for your insightful comments.

  13. Avatar Mauro says:

    Humans are free to be the masters of our own future but a small psychopathic slice of each generation has convinced the masses that riding Life on Earth is a business that has EVERY attribute of religion, though negatively, and further constrained the Convinced by every addiction imaginable.

    The ONLY difference is that NOW one can see the TIME RUNNING OUT as species after species slips under the waves of existence and crustacious life dissolves before our eyes and the smartest minds approaching humanity (choke!) are poisoned out of view forever in Asian Rivers, Amazon tributaries, the Coves of Japan….

    and the world of soil, moist, rich…the story of Life….has blown to the wind, vapors of every chemical ever made, ascending into our skies to breathe yet again. Dusted Life, again forever tossed into human karma….humanities debt to the Great Force that gives each of us our NOW.

    Oh whoa again I wail….the pain and suffering our fellow beings endure at the end of our illogical whip!

    A child shouldnt have to see it but every adult should look it square.

    We near the greatest fall of them all.

    What do we have to lose by doing something different?

    Why not try being Human?

    (I think humans are classified as "terrorists" at the DHS, Fusion Centers, FBI yada yada)

  14. Avatar Annie says:

    http://guymcpherson.com/2013/07/collapse-awarenes

    "All animals in an isolated environment (like a vat, an island, or the Earth) do as we did, when they consume the available resources in a finite system until they overshoot the system’s carrying capacity and begin to die off. "

    Hey, I'm willing to keep trying (and do) but I recognize it for what it is: a lost battle.

    • Avatar Doug Bennett says:

      I guess I'm not willing yet to concede that we cannot fix what we have created. That was an excellent link you provided, James Hecht's article on collapse awareness. He and I are kindred spirits in the belief that exposing the truth of our human condition, especially in the U.S., is a worthy effort. "Doom and Gloom", yes, but not insurmountable at this point. As Hecht says, "Meaning is the redeemer which leads people to hope,"

      As another of my heroes, Chris Hedges has said (quoting Augustus),

      "Hope has two daughters, Anger and Courage; anger at the way things are and courage to change the way things are."

  15. Avatar Donna Jean says:

    Thank you Doug Bennett for all you do to inspire and engage others to think.