On the POSSIBILITY and DESIRABILITY of PEACE
In 1967, a book was published by Dial Press which purported to be the report of a secret government commission, leaked by one of its members. Entitled The Report from Iron Mountain – On the Possibility and Desirability of Peace, the book exposes the kind of thinking, cold, dispassionate and entirely free of humane values, which informs long-term government planning at the highest levels. Offering paradigm-shaking insights into the world of top-level policy-making, the Report from Iron Mountain became a huge bestseller and fed into the anti-war movement. Meanwhile the establishment media circulated rumours that the report was a spoof, and its publication as nonfiction a hoax.
Five years after its publication, the editor of the book, one Leonard C Lewin, confessed that he was indeed the author, stating that the work was intended as a satire on the values of elite government think-tanks such as the Rand Corporation. Eighteen years later, in 1990, Lewin substantiated his authorship claim in a copyright action against Liberty Lobby, who had republished the report, claiming that as a government-commissioned study it was inherently in the public domain. Liberty Lobby settled with Lewin, paying him an undisclosed sum and handing over to him more than a thousand unsold copies of the book. Lewin later authorized a new edition published by Simon and Shuster, insisting in an afterword that he was the author, and that the text was satirical fiction.
If so, it’s a strangely brilliant piece of work. Dr Strangelove without the laughs, it eschews the defining acid-tones of satire. Lewin has used instead a much subtler irony, creating a text so convincing, so coldly authoritative that the reader continually has to remind himself that it is not authentic. You look again at the title of the report – On the Possibility and Desirability of Peace – and feel unsettling swirls of irony. The report assumes the theoretical possibility of peace, citing the probable admission of Communist China into the United Nations, but it does not assume its desirability:
Previous studies have taken the desirability of peace, the importance of human life, the superiority of democratic institutions, the greatest “good” for the greatest number, the “dignity” of the individual, the desirability of maximum health and longevity, and other such wishful premises as axiomatic values necessary for the justification of a study of peace issues. We have not found them so. […] In this case [the normative value] has been simply the survival of human society in general, of American society in particular, and, as a corollary to survival, the stability of this society. (p 22)
What is assumed is that war is essential to economic stability and the structure of society, and this assumption calls into question the desirability of ending the ‘war system’ unless problems of transition can be solved. The great challenge in moving to a condition of permanent peace and universal disarmament would be to find replacements for the non-military functions of war. War sustains scientific and technological advancement, cultural paradigms, and the ‘ecology’ of human society; above all it alone creates political authority, and preserves the hierarchical structure of society, including the widespread poverty which is essential for an elite still dependent on human labour.
Lewin perfectly evokes the style of top level government think-tanks such as the Rand corporation, or the Hudson Institute. Using a military contingency model for peace studies, the Report is tasked to achieve “military-style objectivity” and “avoidance of preconceived value assumptions … without, for example, considering that a condition of peace is per se good or bad” (p22).
A chillingly persuasive rationalism is convincingly achieved; even if the reader knows the publication history of the document, doubts can’t be entirely allayed. The contents of the report are experienced as simultaneously horrifying and completely logical. Such is Lewin’s mastery – creating this level of ambiguity is a beautiful balancing act.
But did he write it? Was he the hoaxer, or was the hoax a hoax? Would it be so difficult to threaten or induce someone into claiming authorship in order to discredit an authentic document?
If it is fiction, it’s arguably an achievement worthy of a place alongside the dystopian visions of Huxley and Orwell. In fact it somewhat resembles Orwell’s book-within-a-book, ‘The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism’, and has a similar effect on the reader. Suddenly what we see in the world starts to make sense, and the juggernaut of warfare, crushing millions beneath its wheels, becomes even more sickening and terrifying. The system stands revealed in all its psychopathic glory. War is essential in maintaining balance in the economy by destroying surpluses. War perpetuates poverty, for without the poor the system would collapse. Orwell, through his off-stage character Emmanuel Goldstein, makes a similar revelation. In Chapter III of ‘The Theory and Practice’, we read:
But it was also clear that an all-round increase in wealth threatened the destruction – indeed, in some sense was the destruction – of a hierarchical society… For if leisure and security were enjoyed by all alike, the great mass of human beings who are normally stupefied by poverty would become literate and would learn to think for themselves; and when once they had done this, they would sooner or later realize that the privileged minority had no function, and they would sweep it away.
A permanent condition of peace, then, is only possible if economic, sociological and political surrogates for war can be found, and it is the purpose of the report to identify and evaluate such surrogates. Whether real or fictional, the report is eye-opening and, to the innocent reader, disorienting, like passing through Alice’s Looking Glass, or peering through the wrong end of a telescope. Orwell’s paradox becomes clear. Peace is defined as stability. Stability is ensured by war. War, therefore, is peace.
The report is presented as contingency planning for a world at peace. How could sufficient human product be destroyed, wasted or taken out of the system, without war? How could political authority and class hierarchy be maintained? In a system where nation states no longer make war, how can a credible enemy-image be maintained to unify the population, and sustain political authority?
The report considers a number of surrogates for war and assesses their feasibility and effectiveness, ultimately concluding that at the present time it is not possible to solve the conundrum. It fulfills its remit to approach the question ‘without preconceived value-assumptions’ by considering ideas such as the reintroduction of slavery in a euphemized and technologically up-to-date form. It even spends time discussing the use of ‘blood-sacrifice’,or ‘blood-games’ along the lines of empires from the past such as the Incas and the Mayans. It briefly touches on the proposal of simulating an extra-terrestrial threat to the planet, before concluding that this is currently out of reach technologically. Indeed, it holds back from fully endorsing any of the proposed surrogates, and its conclusions are dominated by the need for ongoing research into the problem. However, one possible surrogate is given considerable space and returned to in the conclusions, and that is the threat of environmental collapse.
An effective political substitute for war would require “alternate enemies,” some of which might seem equally farfetched in the context of the current war system. It may be, for instance, that gross pollution of the environment can eventually replace the possibility of mass destruction by nuclear weapons as the principal apparent threat to the survival of the species. Poisoning of the air, and of the principal sources of food and water supply, is already well advanced, and at first glance would seem promising in this respect; it constitutes a threat that can be dealt with only through social organization and political power. But from present indications it will be a generation to a generation and a half before environmental pollution, however severe, will be sufficiently menacing, on a global scale, to offer a possible basis for a solution. It is true that the rate of pollution could be increased selectively for this purpose; in fact, the mere modifying of existing programs for the deterrence of pollution could speed up the process enough to make the threat credible much sooner. But the pollution problem has been so widely publicized in recent years that it seems highly improbable that a program of deliberate environmental poisoning could be implemented in a politically acceptable manner. (p 51)
The report repeatedly returns to this environment-collapse surrogate, clearly viewing this proposal as the one with the most potential, though with caveats:
When it comes to postulating a credible substitute for war capable of directing human behavior patterns in behalf of social organization, few options suggest themselves. Like its political function, the motivational function of war requires the existence of a genuinely menacing social enemy. The principal difference is that for purposes of motivating basic allegiance, as distinct from accepting political authority, the “alternate enemy” must imply a more immediate, tangible, and directly felt threat of destruction. It must justify the need for taking and paying a “blood price” in wide areas of human concern. In this respect, the possible enemies noted earlier would be insufficient. One exception might be the environmental-pollution model, if the danger to society it posed was genuinely imminent. The fictive models would have to carry the weight of extraordinary conviction, underscored with a not inconsiderable actual sacrifice of life; the construction of an up-to-date mythological or religious structure for this purpose would present difficulties in our era, but must certainly be considered (p 53-4)
Is Emmanuel Goldstein’s description of the world system – our world system – any less descriptive because it is embedded within a fiction? If Lewin wrote this, the text shows tremendous prescience. If he didn’t, it’s a blueprint: the architect’s amazing premonition of the building.
In 1991, round about the time that Lewin was quashing Liberty Lobby’s republication of On the Possibility and Desirability of Peace as an authentic government document, a book was published by the globalist think-tank The Club of Rome which came to similar conclusions. The Club of Rome is an elite association of approximately one hundred scientists, economists, businessmen, high level civil servants and future-planners, heads of state and former heads of state, which exercises influence on a par with the more controversial Bilderberg Group. Its earlier reports, The Limits to Growth (1972) and Mankind at the Turning Point (1974) had promoted Peak Oil and laid the foundations for the modern environmental movement, influencing policy in the industrial West and laying the foundations for the United Nations’ Agenda 21. Its 1991 report, entitled The First Global Revolution, addresses what its original prospectus called ‘The Predicament of Mankind’, and contains some widely quoted passages which evoke the premises and conclusions of Lewin’s earlier work.
The need for enemies seems to be a common historical factor. Some states have striven to overcome domestic failure and internal contradictions by blaming external enemies. The ploy of finding a scapegoat is as old as mankind itself – when things become too difficult at home, divert attention to adventure abroad. Bring the divided nation together to face an outside enemy, either a real one, or else one invented for the purpose. With the disappearance of the traditional enemy, the temptation is to use religious or ethnic minorities as scapegoats, especially those whose differences from the majority are disturbing. Every state has been so used to classifying its neighbours as friend or foe, that the sudden absence of traditional adversaries has left governments and public opinion with a great void to fill. New enemies have to be identified, new strategies imagined, and new weapons devised. (The First Global Revolution, p75)
Like the earlier work, it addresses the problem of moving from a military to a civil economy, and returns – decisively – to the environmental-collapse surrogate.
In searching for a common enemy against whom we can unite, we came up with the idea that pollution, the threat of global warming, water shortages, famine and the like, would fit the bill. In their totality and their interactions these phenomena do constitute a common threat which must be confronted by everyone together. But in designating these dangers as the enemy, we fall into the trap, which we have already warned readers about, namely mistaking symptoms for causes. All these dangers are caused by human intervention in natural processes, and it is only through changed attitudes and behaviour that they can be overcome. The real enemy then is humanity itself. (p 115).
Here, the report explicitly admits the political efficacy of ‘the threat of … global warming’, whether or not that threat is factual. As in the Iron Mountain document, it arises out of a search for ‘a new enemy to unite us’. The difference is that Iron Mountain is explicit about the genocidal sabotage of the planet’s life-sustaining systems. The congruence of both perspective and language between the two reports certainly raises the credibility of the 1967 document.
It is clearly evident that a propaganda programme to make ‘humanity itself’ into the ‘real enemy’ is already far advanced, and that the children I reassured that day in the forest are its victims (propaganda is always most intensively focused on the young). They have been psychologically poisoned by the idea they should feel guilty for everyday actions like turning on a light, riding in a vehicle, or cooking; even the act of taking and expelling a breath. As Barrack Obama warned an audience of young South Africans in 2013, “If everybody raised living standards to the point where everybody’s got a car, and everybody’s got air-conditioning, and everybody’s got a big house, well, the planet will boil over.”
So those who aspire to these things should not, and those that already have them have been told, over and over again, that they and their children are a cancer on the planet. In this way they have been forced to subconsciously accept the obstruction of Third World development and the depopulation agenda of the elite. As we move towards the technological singularity, human beings increasingly become economically superfluous. At a certain point the value of a human life, economically speaking, approaches zero. Once technology can perform all tasks currently performed by humans, that value becomes negative. Bill Joy (CEO of Sun Microsystems and the inventor of Java script) explored the implications for the mass of humanity in a thought-provoking and widely-read article in Wired Magazine at the turn of the millennium, in which he discusses Ray Kurzweil’s The Age of Spiritual Machines and reproduces extracts quoted by Kurzweil from the published manifesto of Theodore Kaczynski, the ‘Unabomber’.
Due to improved techniques the elite will have greater control over the masses; and because human work will no longer be necessary the masses will be superfluous, a useless burden on the system. If the elite is ruthless they may simply decide to exterminate the mass of humanity. If they are humane they may use propaganda or other psychological or biological techniques to reduce the birth rate until the mass of humanity becomes extinct, leaving the world to the elite. Or, if the elite consists of soft-hearted liberals, they may decide to play the role of good shepherds to the rest of the human race. They will see to it that everyone’s physical needs are satisfied, that all children are raised under psychologically hygienic conditions, that everyone has a wholesome hobby to keep him busy, and that anyone who may become dissatisfied undergoes “treatment” to cure his “problem.” Of course, life will be so purposeless that people will have to be biologically or psychologically engineered either to remove their need for the power process or make them “sublimate” their drive for power into some harmless hobby. These engineered human beings may be happy in such a society, but they will most certainly not be free. They will have been reduced to the status of domestic animals.
The real enemy – of the planet and therefore of ourselves – is us. How do you defeat such an enemy, seven billion strong? And if you are going to corral it under a world government as you sterilize and kill it through the deliberate poisoning of air, water and food, how do you do that in a politically acceptable manner?
Why the Future Doesn’t Need Us