Archive for May 9, 2015


ThisPerfectDayThe first part of this essay recounts the totalitarian features of a little-known imaginary dystopia:  Ira Levin’sThis Perfect Day.  The second part applies Levin’s revolutionary insights to the contemporary world.

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“Chip, listen to me,” he said, leaning forward, “there’sjoy in having it, in controlling, in being the only one.”—Wei, master spider of the Invisible Government (in Ira Levin’s This Perfect Day, 1970)

“The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants.”—Thomas Jefferson, 1787

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Many of us are familiar with George Orwell’s Nineteen-Eighty-Four and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.  Both imaginative dystopias share the same pessimistic outlook:  Once the Invisible Government takes over, revolution is impossible.  In both novels, slavery is forever.

But not all artists share that pessimism.  One such literary masterpiece is Ira Levine’s This Perfect Day (available in English in pdf format here and in Spanish in WORD format here).  Though the novel was completed in 1969, it offers some vital lessons to contemporary revolutionary movements.

Levin’s Dystopia

All power in Levin’s future world is centralized.  Humanity is minutely managed by one gigantic computer, UniComp (or Uni for short), securely located in one enormous subterranean vault.  Uni in turn is controlled by a group of some 100 programmers, doctors, and other professionals who live deep underground too, near Uni.  These programmers are in turn answerable to a benevolent 200+-years-old dictator, Wei, the master spider and original mastermind of that dystopia.

As long as the programmers follow Wei’s agenda, they enjoy a life of luxury, fake night sky, freedom of movement, and a measure of intellectual freedom.  They also benefit from a superb medical technology that has the potential of prolonging their lives almost indefinitely.  On the other hand, if they try to meaningfully change the system, they will be forced out and partake again in the short, miserable life of the masses.

To the masses, and even to those chemically-untreated individuals living in comparative freedom in a few islands that are kept deliberately outside the system, the real government—the few programmers controlling Uni—is invisible.  Also, everyone is under the false impression that the central computer is located at a display center above its real location. Thus, occasional attempts to destroy Uni (the central computer) fail because revolutionaries attack the wrong target, and because they mistakenly believe that their real enemy is a machine.

The sheeple have only eight names: four for men and four for women.  There are no surnames, only a unique sequence of letters and numbers that identifies each person.  Most people have been engineered to look alike.  They always wear a bracelet which monitors and controls their every movement.  Uni decides what their job will be, where they will live, and whether they will have children.  Each person has an adviser, who reinforces the view that all is for the best in that best of all possible worlds, corrects the slightest deviation (by manipulating thought and by modifying the mind-controlling chemical regimen), and serves as a father-confessor.

Conformity is maintained through cradle-to-grave indoctrination and through a monthly chemical treatment that standardizes the people and renders them meek, gullible, and obedient.  Infractions are often reported to the authorities by fellow citizens, friends, lovers, and family members who are led to believe that non-conformity = infirmity.  Thus, in that perfect world, your own mother might turn you in, sincerely believing that she is helping you!

In this dystopia, the programmers and their central computer control the opposition too, thus further minimizing the chances of a meaningful revolution.

Controlling the opposition also serves as an ingenious, Darwinist, method of isolating potential trouble-makers and of recruiting new programmers.  Both goals are achieved by deliberately providing an escape valve.  Occasionally, an exceptional person—most likely just before receiving the chemical treatment—might begin to entertain doubts.  This is particularly likely in the case of high-level yet indoctrinated officials who are themselves engaged in the brainwashing of others.  Such people might begin to form a nucleus of resistance and figure out ways of reducing or eliminating the mind-altering chemical treatment.  Once people get to that point, they gravitate towards an old-world museum, where some ancient books are on display.  If they are highly intelligent and persistent, they can decipher the books (which are written in unfamiliar pre-New World Order languages such as French).  They are intentionally given sufficient hints to help them see that their ancestors were freer and often lived longer than the assigned age (62 for the sheeple).  Eventually, they become aware of the existence of a few remote islands free of Uni’s control.

The journey to one of these islands is perilous, and only a few lucky and intrepid voyagers make it.  Each island sports a Honduras-style dictatorship.  Most immigrants—despite their outstanding qualities and courage—are viciously discriminated against and barely manage to make ends meet.  Now and then, the most determined undertake perilous expeditions to destroy Uni.

But here too Wei (the master spider) leaves nothing to chance, for one member of any expedition, a “shepherd,” is Wei’s agent.  Those few who reach Uni—after an enormously difficult journey—usually explode the display center where Uni is allegedly located, and are then captured and enslaved again.  The few wiser strategists who reach the real Uni are disarmed at the last moment by the shepherd, who then usher them into a room filled with laughing and applauding programmers.  The master spider Wei then congratulates them and explains the new realities:  From now on they will be awake and form part of his Invisible Government.

Intellectually, physically, and morally, the lucky newcomers are as good as it gets.  They have successfully liberated themselves and prevailed against all odds.  And yet . . . just about all of them willingly acquiesce to a world that assigns the vast majority to life in a termite mound.

Only one successful new arrival—the chief protagonist of the novel–has the moral and intellectual courage to resist.  That man is nicknamed Chip (his formal name is Li RM35M4419).  Chip owes his exceptional character to a few converging factors (besides his genetic makeup).  First of all, in that standardized world, he must appear to his fellow zombies, and later even to his fellow programmers, as a grotesque, for he was born with one brown eye and one green eye.  Second, his great-great-grandfather was an accomplished astronaut, and he too had one brown and one green eye.  That is why his grandfather nicknamed him Chip (as in “chip off the old block”).  Third, his grandfather was also an accomplished man who dared think for himself.  At critical points during Chip’s early years, his grandfather did everything he could to plant seeds of doubts in his grandson, despite the risks.  (Indeed, the young Chip ends up snitching on his “sick” grandfather ).  Lastly, while Chip and his family were getting ready to descend 5 km underground and see the fake Uni, his grandfather (who was a member of the team that had built the central computer) unexpectedly appeared on the scene and took Chip on a private tour.  His grandfather explained that the pretty, gleaming metal bulks presented to visitors as Uni are a façade.  He then took Chip farther down, to see the real, ugly and cold, Uni.  While there, he told Chip that Uni can be approached through a long, subterranean access tunnel—a tunnel first conceived by Chip’s grandfather himself.  Thus, when the time comes to blow up the central computer, Chip will know where the real Uni is and how to approach it (but he will be lacking one critical piece of information: the existence of Uni’s programmers).

After joining the programmers, and after a few tentative attempts to confide in someone, Chip shares his misgivings with no one, lies low, and dedicates himself to the task of lulling Wei’s qualms.  For example, to please Wei, Chip consents to the replacement of his green eye with a brown one—even though this involves giving up a cherished part of his identity.

Nine months after the arrival of Chip’s demolition team, another team is ushered in, receiving the same applause and rationales as Chip and his companions received upon their arrival.  Chip slips away, gets hold of their explosives and weapons, and sets out to destroy Uni.  After a physical confrontation with the powerful Wei (who has the body of a young athlete), Chip kills Wei and blows up Uni.

At the end of their fight, with Uni’s end approaching, Wei lets go of his previous rationalizations and explains his real motive for engineering the New World Order:

“Chip!” Wei cried. “It’s yours! It’ll be yours some day! We both can live! Chip, listen to me,” he said, leaning forward, “there’s joy in having it, in controlling, in being the only one.”

“That’s the absolute truth, Chip.”

“You’ll see for yourself. There’s joy in having it.”

Chip knew all along that it was power hunger—not altruism—that drove Wei to murders, chicanery, and conquests.  On his way up from Uni to sunlight, Chip tells an angry programmer:  “’There’s joy in having it’: those were [Wei’s] last words. Everything else was rationalization. And self-deception.” .

(We may note in passing that the same psychology probably applies to the likes of Alexander, Amschel Rothschild, Napoleon, John Rockefeller, and Adolf Hitler).

Following the demise of Uni and Wei, Chip, fellow programmers, and sheeple, walk away from the scene of devastation.  With the sole exception of one member of the last expedition, everyone is angry at Chip and there is talk of lynching him.  But Chip is armed and willing to defend himself, and both sheeple and programmers are too confused, too timid, to actually do him any harm.

The book ends with Chip riding a helicopter toward the island where his wife and son are hopefully waiting for him.  For the first time in his life, Chip sees raindrops in daytime—nature’s affirmation that the era of total control is finally over.

Revolutionary Lessons

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Awake readers will immediately perceive parallels between life in This Perfect Day and our day. Indeed, if we allow the 2 or 8 or 80 or 800 people who control the West now to complete their project, our grandchildren will be lucky to live in a variation of This Perfect Day or Brave New World.  If they are a bit less lucky, they will live in Orwell’s 1984.  The most probable outcome, however, is a combination of all three novels, with variations.  All these projections, however, might be forestalled or followed by biospheric collapse and the extinction of humanity.

In This Perfect Day and in our day, few men control most of the world’s countries.  In these countries, almost all politicians, judges, and information sources are nothing more than the gleaming bulks of the fake Uni.  Like Wei, the men of today’s Invisible Government are willing to forego fame and adoration by the crowds in exchange for power and their immediate subordinates’ servility and awareness.

There is no doubt that invisibility in our day enhances their power, just as it enhanced Wei’s power inThis Perfect Day.  Thanks to it, the vast majority believes that presidents, prime ministers, governors, judges, and other functionaries possess real power.  In those rare instances where a few perceptive souls fully internalize one iniquity or another, they end up misdirecting their ire at these puppets.

In both This Perfect Day and our day, the opposition is controlled.  Many well-known “enemies” of today’s system, many popular alternative websites, are part of that manipulated or owned opposition.  Some of them are perhaps conscious of their role and take part in that deception willingly.  Others might believe that they are fighting the system, unaware of their usefulness to the Invisible Government.

utahLet us move to what is perhaps the key practical message of Levin’s cautionary tale.  All dissidents in that imaginary world understand the futility of trying to change the system through civil disobedience, appeals to the Invisible Government, or peaceful protests.  They do not attempt to open the eyes of the chemicalized, hormonized, televised, indoctrinated, and timid masses.  They shun civil disobedience, rioting, or killing indoctrinated and ignorant police and soldiers.  Every dissident in Levin’s dystopia fully sees that only decapitation can destroy the system.

By contrast, today most contemporary “dissidents” talk themselves into the curious notion that a direct physical attack on the Invisible Government is immoral or bound to fail.  Some writers and broadcasters in this camp are content to catalog the daily horrors of our world, but ignore Shelley’s obvious questions:

“O cease! must hate and death return?

Cease! must men kill and die?”

Others entertain the ill-conceived notion that the system can “democratically” reform itself.  Still others might realize that the problem is systemic, and yet content themselves with such counterproductive and servile strategies as peaceful demonstrations.  They are then capsaicinized, mauled, incarcerated, harassed, or even killed.  Unless their movement is subtly backed by the Invisible Government (as was the case, e.g., with the Civil Rights and Women’s movements in the USA), these dissidents always, always, accomplish nothing—and yet they come back for more.

These dissidents dedicate themselves to doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.  How many assassinated idealistic leaders, for instance, does it take to realize that the Invisible Government is perfectly willing to smear, incarcerate, or kill its opponents until genuine resistance dies?  These dissidents have heard about the Gracchi brothers, Gandhi, King, the five Kennedys, Hammarskjold, Allende and thousands of others, yet somehow believe, or profess to believe, that this time around it will be different.  Or: How many conversations with family members, friends, colleagues, or students does it take to convince oneself that the vast majority is brainwashed and will only wake up after the vicious system is overthrown?  Your typical progressive intellectuals know history and yet, inexplicably, condemn themselves to repeat it.

Thus, the coming strategic uprising against the masters of war, inequality, slavery, and ecocide will be ignored, ridiculed, reproached, or given the silent treatment by both the mainstream and “dissident” media.

Like Chip, we are on our own.

Russia will celebrate the Allied victory over Nazism on Saturday without U.S. President Obama and other Western leaders present, as they demean the extraordinary sacrifice of the Russian people in winning World War II – a gesture intended to humiliate President Putin.

Nobel Chairman Thorbjørn Jagland handing the Nobel peace prize certificate and medal to Barack Obama in Oslo, Norway on December 10, 2009. (Jewel Samad/AFP)

President Barack Obama’s decision to join other Western leaders in snubbing Russia’s weekend celebration of the 70th anniversary of Victory in Europe looks more like pouting than statesmanship, especially in the context of the U.S. mainstream media’s recent anti-historical effort to downplay Russia’s crucial role in defeating Nazism.

Though designed to isolate Russia because it had the audacity to object to the Western-engineered coup d’état in Ukraine on Feb. 22, 2014, this snub of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin – like the economic sanctions against Russia – is likely to backfire on the U.S. and its European allies by strengthening ties between Russia and the emerging Asian giants of China and India.

Notably, the dignitaries who will show up at this important commemoration include the presidents of China and India, representing a huge chunk of humanity, who came to show respect for the time seven decades ago when the inhumanity of the Nazi regime was defeated – largely by Russia’s stanching the advance of Hitler’s armies, at a cost of 20 to 30 million lives.

Obama’s boycott is part of a crass attempt to belittle Russia and to cram history itself into an anti-Putin, anti-Russian alternative narrative. It is difficult to see how Obama and his friends could have come up with a pettier and more gratuitous insult to the Russian people.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel – caught between Washington’s demand to “isolate” Russia over the Ukraine crisis and her country’s historic guilt in the slaughter of so many Russians – plans to show up a day late to place a wreath at a memorial for the war dead.

But Obama, in his childish display of temper, will look rather small to those who know the history of the Allied victory in World War II. If it were not for the Red Army’s costly victories against the German invaders, particularly the tide-turning battle at Stalingrad in 1943-1944, the prospects for the later D-Day victory in Normandy in June 1944 and the subsequent defeat of Adolf Hitler would have been much more difficult if not impossible.

Yet, the current Russia-bashing in Washington and the mainstream U.S. media overrides these historical truths. For instance, a New York Times article by Neil MacFarquhar on Friday begins: “The Russian version of Hitler’s defeat emphasizes the enormous, unrivaled sacrifices made by the Soviet people to end World War II …” But that’s not the “Russian version”; that’s the history.

For its part, the Washington Post chose to run an Associated Press story out of Moscow reporting: “A state-of-the-art Russian tank … on Thursday ground to a halt during the final Victory Day rehearsal. … After an attempt to tow it failed, the T-14 rolled away under its own steam 15 minutes later.” (Subtext: Ha, ha! Russia’s newest tank gets stuck on Red Square! Ha, ha!).

This juvenile approach to pretty much everything that’s important — not just U.S.-Russia relations — has now become the rule. From the U.S. government to the major U.S. media, it’s as if the “cool kids” line up in matching fashions creating a gauntlet to demean and ridicule whoever the outcast of the day is. And anyone who doesn’t go along becomes an additional target of abuse.

That has been the storyline for the Ukraine crisis throughout 2014 and into 2015. Everyone must agree that Putin provoked all the trouble as part of some Hitler-like ambition to conquer much of eastern Europe and rebuild a Russian empire. If you don’t make the obligatory denunciations of “Russian aggression,” you are called a “Putin apologist” or “Putin bootlicker.”

Distorting the History

So, the evidence-based history of the Western-sponsored coup in Kiev on Feb. 22, 2014, must be forgotten or covered up. Indeed, about a year after the events, the New York Times published a major “investigative” article that ignored all the facts of a U.S.-backed coup in declaring there was no coup.

The Times didn’t even mention the notorious, intercepted phone call between Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt in early February 2014 in which Nuland was handpicking the future leaders, including her remark “Yats is the guy,” a reference to Arseniy Yatsenyuk who – after the coup – quickly became prime minister. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “NYT Still Pretends No Coup in Ukraine.”]

Even George Friedman, the president of the Washington-Establishment-friendly think-tank STRATFOR, has said publicly in late 2014: “Russia calls the events that took place at the beginning of this year a coup d’état organized by the United States. And it truly was the most blatant coup in history.”

Beyond simply ignoring facts, the U.S. mainstream media has juggled the time line to make Putin’s reaction to the coup – and the threat it posed to the Russian naval base in Crimea – appear to be, instead, evidence of his instigation of the already unfolding conflict.

For example, in a “we-told-you-so” headline on March 9, the Washington Post declared: “Putin had early plan to annex Crimea.” Then, quoting AP, the Post reported that Putin himself had just disclosed “a secret meeting with officials in February 2014 … Putin said that after the meeting he told the security chiefs that they would be ‘obliged to start working to return Crimea to Russia.’ He said the meeting was held Feb. 23, 2014, almost a month before a referendum in Crimea that Moscow has said was the basis for annexing the region.”

So there! Gotcha! Russian aggression! But what the Post neglected to remind readers was that the U.S.-backed coup had occurred on Feb. 22 and that Putin has consistently said that a key factor in his actions toward Crimea came from Russian fears that NATO would claim the historic naval base at Sevastopol in Crimea, representing a strategic threat to his country.

Putin also knew from opinion polls that most of the people of Crimea favored reunification with Russia, a reality that was underscored by the March referendum in which some 96 percent voted to leave Ukraine and rejoin Russia.

But there was not one scintilla of reliable evidence that Putin intended to annex Crimea before he felt his hand forced by the putsch in Kiev. The political reality was that no Russian leader could afford to take the risk that Russia’s only warm-water naval base might switch to new NATO management. If top U.S. officials did not realize that when they were pushing the coup in early 2014, they know little about Russian strategic concerns – or simply didn’t care.

Last fall, John Mearsheimer, a pre-eminent political science professor at the University of Chicago, stunned those who had been misled by the anti-Russian propaganda when he placed an article in the Very-Establishment journal Foreign Affairs entitled “Why the Ukraine Crisis is the West’s Fault.”

You did not know that such an article was published? Chalk that up to the fact that the mainstream media pretty much ignored it. Mearsheimer said this was the first time he encountered such widespread media silence on an article of such importance.

The Sole Indispensable Country

Much of this American tendency to disdain other nations’ concerns, fears and points of pride go back to the Washington Establishment’s dogma that special rules or (perhaps more accurately) no rules govern U.S. behavior abroad – American exceptionalism. This arrogant concept, which puts the United States above all other nations like some Olympic god looking down on mere mortals, is often invoked by Obama and other leading U.S. politicians.

That off-putting point has not been missed by Putin even as he has sought to cooperate with Obama and the United States. On Sept. 11, 2013, a week after Putin bailed Obama out, enabling him to avoid a new war on Syria by persuading Syria to surrender its chemical weapons, Putin wrote in an op-ed published by the New York Times that he appreciated the fact that “My working and personal relationship with President Obama is marked by growing trust.”

Putin added, though, “I would rather disagree with a case he made on American exceptionalism,” adding: “It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation. There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. … We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.”

More recently, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov drove home this point in the context of World War II. This week, addressing a meeting to mark the 70th anniversary of Victory in Europe, Lavrov included a pointed warning: “Today as never before it is important not to forget the lessons of that catastrophe and the terrible consequences that spring from faith in one’s own exceptionalism.”

The irony is that as the cameras pan the various world leaders in the Red Square reviewing stand on Saturday, Obama’s absence will send a message that the United States has little appreciation for the sacrifice of the Russian people in bearing the brunt – and breaking the back – of Hitler’s conquering armies. It is as if Obama is saying that the “exceptional” United States didn’t need anyone’s help to win World War II.

President Franklin Roosevelt was much wiser, understanding that it took extraordinary teamwork to defeat Nazism in the 1940s, which is why he considered the Soviet Union a most important military ally. President Obama is sending a very different message, a haughty disdain for the kind of global cooperation which succeeded in ridding the world of Adolf Hitler.

A version of this article appeared earlier on Consortiumnews.com

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in Washington, DC. During his career as a CIA analyst, he prepared and briefed the President’s Daily Brief and chaired National Intelligence Estimates. He is a member of the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).