YesXorNo: a 2nd Anniversary
A thank you and a review
Updated 2023-06-13: Two pieces have been added to Sources (for ideas), both by Pepe Escobar. I particularly recommend the article which quite by happenstance is published on the same day as this article and dovetails beautifully with the Mackinderian analysis offered.
A 2nd Anniversary
A long time ago, in a nation far, far away ...
Today marks the second trip around our beautiful and fearsome star since this little geopolitically oriented newsletter was announced. Knowing that a community has expressed interest in one's writing with no endorsement is a humbling gift.
I wish to express thanks not only to the readership/listenership but also to James Corbett who was the inspiration for this little effort. A family member, a mentor also deserves thanks. He has offered caustic criticism when egregious torture of English was on display. More commonly he offered encouragement and gentle guidance.
Over the course of the publication of 337 articles and 49 podcasts both not much and quite a lot seems to have changed on our planet and in our understanding of these changes.
The Mackinderian “world island” theory which underpins the core analysis published on this site continues to be useful. For an introduction to it, I thank Professor Alfred McCoy, who happened to warrant a mention in the most recent podcast. The Caucasian maritime powers, first from Europe and then the New World continue to hold sway, in their eyes, over the technological, financial and resource sectors of the world economy. However, so abusive has this colonial relationship with the greater population of the world become that alliances first considered after WWII during the birth of the non-aligned movement have begun to reform. This time this alternative "block" is lead by the very alliance that war-mongering master diplomat Kissinger and communist-hating geopolitical mastermind Brzezinski attempted to prevent and undermine; that of a terrifying alliance between Russia and China, an Asian land-based power.
Risk is back!
Since Mackinder's birthing of geopolitics as a discipline of study, technology has advanced at a mind-blowing pace. Our information processing capacity has rendered the western education system, which was designed to produce clerks, as largely irrelevant for that purpose. This information processing explosion, and the shift to using finance as the dominant control mechanism have been employed by the USA for its empire.
The main transport technologies remain unrevolutionized though significantly improved. The most significant improvement for goods transport is probably the standardization of the shipping container. Improvements in engineering have given better motors and steel shaping capabilities. These have flowed into rail transport as well as international shipping. Digital data processing buffed by multi-modal high speed information delivery (copper and satellite, using protocols derived partially from the Internet) have combined with better rail-track and car and hull design to allow rail freight to also increase in delivery volumes and timeliness. Shipping continues to overwhelmingly dominate international trade by weight and volume.
It is this land based power with railroads as a core alternative goods transport which Mackinder foresaw and is now looming into view via China's multi-trillion dollar Belt and Road Initiative. The handling of the COVID outbreak caused quite a stutter in goods shipments breaking the supply chains of many a multinational, though that has largely passed.
It was the mishandling (or theft) of national foreign currency reserves by the Anglo- and European powers which gave the non-aligned nations quite some pause as to the reliability or indeed legality of the western controlled banks and financial systems. The "mishandling" was exemplified by the "impounding" of Venezuela's gold (2 billion USD), Afghanistan's reserve bank funds (7 billion USD) and then Russia's foreign reserves (130 billion USB). This in turn gave increased impetus to the alternative banking and financial transaction messaging systems being developed by both Russia and China. Western bankers warned the western political leadership of the risk involved in impounding such a large amount of Russian foreign reserves. Advice from the US Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank were ignored.
Following Russia's direct intervention, to prevent an impending Nazi genocide in the Donbas, the west exposed the cold-war basis for its ideologically driven foreign policy. Not only is the target the no-longer-communist Russia but the west's financial and military mechanisms have both failed. Ukraine and NATO are losing this war, not Russia. The trio of trouble representing the foreign policy elite are laughable. The elite themselves couldn't strategize themselves out of a wet paper bag. Their understanding of the world is even older than their data.
The result is that China/Russia via BRICS+ and the SCO with their new financial systems have established a countervailing block from which the west cannot escape. The west has also depleted its armories, which is excellent news for the western military industrial complex but leaves the west vulnerable and unable to use kinetic belligerence as an effective threat to the larger members of this alternative block. The western allies’ political leadership have yet to realize this because the west’s military leadership are having trouble informing their political masters of this annoying turn of events. The rest of the world is quite aware of the changes occurring in trade, finance and military capacity.
Reading the Zeitgeist
On a psycho-social level the post-modernity period has been infused with a few pysop fads with various names and memes. Identity politics and politics driven by narratives devoid of any reality check are the core. Various movements have come and gone from Black Lives Matter to Me Too. Underneath is the constant use of people's sensitivities to human rights as a political, rhetorical battering ram wielded by the west's military intelligence agencies, particularly the CIA and MI6 via the State Department and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Anyone paying attention has seen this through violent to colour revolution one after the other in Libya, Syria, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan with various spin offs from the Global War of Terror sprouting like forget-me-nots in Africa. The human tragedy of the Yemen civil war is finally coming to a close thanks not to the USA, who could have stopped it at any time, but China and Russia. This too has been observed by “the rest of the world”.
People are beginning to see the narrative based psychological assault on their logic and their understanding of the reality around them. Rising prices and longer work hours focus the mind.
More conservative social groups are seeing the elevation of the "rights" of minor sexual orientation or self-identification groups as a threat to the core of the structure of society itself, the family unit. This cis-gender naming or identification process is very important to a tiny percentage of the world population. Its elevation into the news cycle and more importantly its entry into the education of pre-pubescent children is seen as inappropriate by both conservative and centrist populations. Even "the left" are beginning to realize that their real missions of labour reform, anti-colonialism and anti-war are being replaced by a far more nebulous social agenda.
One embodiment of this strange push has been the replacement of non-sexually oriented (though implicitly heterosexual) models in the recruitment advertisements for groups like the USA's military and intelligence services with deliberately non-heterosexual models. Conservative groups from west to east are both scratching their heads and laughing as Russia continues to throw out macho-male oriented advertisements for its military. If there is going to be fighting, who do you want fighting for you, a cis-gendered rainbow-flag wielding socially aware soldier or a young man who takes his training, stamina, weapons knowledge and commitment very seriously? Now, you're a major. Ask yourself the same question. War is brutal. So is its logic.
The key element in this human-rights wielding psyop-infused geopolitical narrative war is the media. Old greybeard McGovern is at pains to emphasize, when opportunity presents, the importance of the M in the middle of "MICIMATT" (Military Industrial Congressional Intelligence MEDIA Academic Think Tank complex). The compliant, stenographic, ill-informed minions of the media have exposed themselves for the self-serving sycophants they are. You know it. I know it, and I thank them for such a betrayal of their profession. This is why I and many better than myself have been able to slip themselves into a new media empowered by the Internet as a technology and the ever hungry "data as the new oil" surveillance monopolies which provide the publishing platforms we use.
One is forced to ask oneself what does a young journalist do when they realize that they are being sucked into an access journalism model which gives them narrative rather than information? This is their cross and crossroads. They comply and succumb or they leave. This is why publications like ScheerPost and Consortium News continue to survive. These and other individual, subscriber based models are where the good journalists go.
Where are Kevin Gozstola, Caitlin Johnstone, Matt Taibbi, Glenn Greenwald, Patrick Lawrence, Eva Bartlett, Kit Klarenberg, Vijay Prashad, Vanessa Beeley, Chris Hedges, Ben Norton and Brian Berletic and even Tucker Carlson? The answers do not include the NYT or WaPo or the news wires of AP, Reuters or AFP, they are: The Dissenter, Substack, Racket News, System Update, Consortium News, Wordpress, The Grayzone, The Tri-Continental Institute for Social Research, The Wall Will Fall, ScheerPost, Geopolitical Economy, various video distribution platforms (Youtube, Rumble, Odyssey) and even Twitter.
Voting with your Time
This migration away from the dinosaur media, to borrow a phrase from Corbett, is the other face of the western populace realizing that the narratives are just narratives, that they are generated and have nothing to do with reality, law, human rights or anything else. They are about power and only worth engaging with to learn what those who believe they are in power are trying to hoodwink people into.
The real news, the better analysis is living outside of the old structures. It is reported by individuals who are connecting their isolated outposts into digital, thematic networks which are replacing the delivery networks wherein the dinosaurs wither.
So, not much has changed, but quite a lot is changing. It has been a joy to write during this interesting period and a pleasure to have your engagement.
A pox on your enemies! Live long and prosper!
How the BRI train took the road to Shangri-La, Pepe Escobar, The Cradle, 2023-06-12
Note that when Escobar refers to “the five former USSR republics in the Heartland” in this article he is refering to the Mackinder theory of geopolitics to which I refer above as “world island”. They are one and the same. The logic is as follows. He who controls the Heartland (central Asia) can control Asia, and if you control Asia you can control the “one world island” (Asia + Europe + Africa), and if you control that, you control the world. This theory is well known to geoanalysts the world over. The same problem appears in the game of Risk where, when playing world domination mode, control of Asia is so powerful that every other player will contribute to ensuring that no one player controls this continent. Hence my link above to a terrible old article from this newsletter where the game of Risk frames the introduction to Mercouris’ commentary on the naval capability contest happening in the western Pacific as China and Russia up their naval capacity to counter the USA’s.
Pepe Escobar Moscow speech at founding of International Russophile Movement (2023-03-14), Pepe Escobar, Андрей, uploaded 2023-06-05
Crosstown Traffic, The Jimi Hendrix Experience (from the 1968 album "Electric Ladyland"), Jimi Hendrix (by Legacy Recording), uploaded 2018-10-16