Monday, May 2, 2011

The Scariest Story Ever Told

"The last human freedom is to be able to choose one's attitude to a given set of circumstances."
- Dr. Viktor Frankl

Naomi Klein, author of The Shock Doctrine, recently gave a 20-minute lecture at a TED Conference about peak oil, climate change and the fundamental power of "stories". Institutional disciplines of all stripes, whether they are classified as religion, economics or "hard" sciences, constantly feed us tales about what we are and what we were meant to be. It is not necessary to know the specific details of her talk to follow along with this article, but I recommend readers take a look at it whenever they can find the time.


As Klein made clear in her talk, one of the most powerful and pervasive stories is the one which tells us that we were made to grow; to constantly consume material resources and become stronger, smarter, faster and more efficient than we were the day before; to completely dominate the planet and natural processes which gave birth to our species millions of years ago. Stories always serve a purpose of the storyteller, and, in the case of the never-ending consumption tale, the purpose is obviously to expand the material wealth and power of a relatively small sub-group of the species.

Yet, no religion or story can void the baser instincts of an animal when those forces become too powerful for the animal to consciously ignore. Even the most devout "suicide bombers" will only become martyrs if they expect their relations to be well-compensated for the act. The expectation of Angels or Virgins waiting patiently for them in a heavenly dimension is simply not enough. Necessary, perhaps, but not sufficient. This fact invariably raises the possibility that the sub-group will create a new story for its widespread audience.


Audiences must have a degree of trust in their storytellers, and that trust is usually not acquired in one instant, but rather takes some significant period of time to develop. At this point in our existence, however, the elite storytellers need a new fable and they need it quick, because the story of apathetic consumption is rapidly losing its grip on the audience. They need a narrative that transcends the tale of Adam & Eve, the prospect of a "great new frontier", the fulfillment of an "American Dream" or the religion of advanced technology.

It must be one that convinces people to let go of their material possessions and to find solace living in their own filth. One that instructs them to strictly obey orders from above, abandon any remaining shreds of their inner morality and brutalize their souls, at the risk of suffering a fate worse than death itself, if they should refuse to give in. The self-absorbed storyteller needs to spin a tale that will shock the world into a state of mind-numbing fear. A fear that everything and everyone you have ever known could evaporate into thin air right before your eyes; the fear that speaking your mind would be the equivalent of placing your own head in the Guillotine.

It is one thing to need a story, and another to adequately craft it and plant it into society's collective subconscious. This task must be accomplished with much more than words or a few symbolic actions, and it must be planted more quickly than any of its predecessors. Perhaps the chapters of the story should be so disjointed that most people will never even stop to think that they actually represent a carefully-woven piece of literature. In fact, it is now likely that a few crude chapters have already been written and are being widely circulated as the gospel truth in certain parts of the world.

Deadly attacks on the World Trade Towers by Al-Qaeda terrorists from Saudi Arabia, who trained in Afghanistan under the protection of the Taliban. An oppressive Iraqi regime that was harboring terrorists and developing weapons of mass destruction. An Arab man who attempted to destroy a commercial airliner with a bomb in his shoe, and a Nigerian man who tried to do the same with one in his underwear. A poorly-made car bomb planted in the middle of Times Square by a Pakistani terrorist.

An Iranian regime hell bent on developing nuclear weapons and wiping Israel off the map, and a North Korean dictator who could snap at any moment. Terrorist cells based in Yemen attempting to infiltrate bombs into the U.S. by disguising them as printers. Oppressive Middle Eastern regimes that must be dealt with before they massacre their own citizens. The timely death of a terrorist mastermind, whose body was immediately buried at sea and whose death could easily incite deadly retaliations.

"False flag" attacks are indisputably a part of Western history, and they are certainly a rational means for governments to gain political leverage over their own citizens. Some recent and notable examples involve attacks by Japan, Germany and the Soviet Union against their own people and/or infrastructure during WWII. [1].  Another would be the Israeli-backed bombings of American and British-owned buildings in Cairo, which were designed to discourage Western governments from implementing any "pro-Egyptian" policies. [2].  "Operation Northwoods", while never carried out, consisted of a series of proposed attacks against U.S. military and civilian targets by CIA operatives, which were drafted and approved by the Joint Chiefs of Staff. [3].

In stark contrast to attacks merely proposed, a study by the NSA, declassified in 2005, concluded that the "Gulf of Tonkin incident" actually involved one confrontation with North Vietnamese ships initiated by an American destroyer, and a second "attack" that never even occurred. This incident was America's primary justification for declaring open war against the North Vietnamese government. [4]. Even when officially recognized, the reality of false flag attacks tend to evade the consciousness of mainstream society. That dynamic is especially true when they involve accurate details cleverly mixed in with elaborate fiction.

While political scientists and other academics are worrying about "loose nukes" in the former Soviet Union ,which may potentially be procured by "hostile" groups or regimes, high-level government officials in the developed world could all but hand weapons of mass destruction to people with the training or desire to unleash them, and no one, including Presidents and Prime Ministers, would be the wiser. The actual perpetrators may even have their own personal reasons for launching an attack, and would probably not be aware that they are part of any larger scheme. Indeed, the most efficient deception is to make people believe they are hurting a sworn enemy when they are actually helping it.

Once again, the following scenario is not an inevitability, but merely a possibility that must be taken seriously and considered in light of ongoing developments. The attacks would perhaps be undertaken at a time when there is rapidly growing sociopolitical unrest in major cities, as a means of short-circuiting this naturally developing revolutionary fervor and re-directing its force towards the exact opposite - an unconditional faith in the executive structures of power that claim to defend our "national security".

It would most likely be the American audience that is targeted and forced to witness mass human casualties in their immediate environment, at the hands of a nuclear, biological or chemical release that could also cause some of the most gruesome deaths imaginable. A process that will make your skin crawl and your blood boil, on par with the relentless fires of Hell itself. How much destruction and how many deaths would need to occur before this story became convincing?

It could end up being anything from a single nuclear device in a single target city, to one placed in several major cities in several regions of the country. Alternatively, it could be sabotaged nuclear power plants, several "dirty bombs" placed in major cities or antibiotic-resistant bacteria placed in critical water sources. The first moments after an attack will be filled with sheer panic and chaos, and feel as if they had lasted a lot longer than they really did. Explosions would knock out large parts of the power grid, causing many to lose heat and electricity, and grocery/retail stores would be overwhelmed with people looking to stock supplies.

These moments will eventually devolve into a prolonged period of systemic fear, mistrust and disorder. Some places will be much more affected than others, such as densely-populated urban centers or suburban communities that are targeted for attack or cannot function without cross-border supply chains, healthy businesses and centralized government services. Relatively isolated rural counties, however, could also be prone to major supply disruptions and externally or internally-generated violence.

The attacks will naturally lead to a consolidation of various federal executive departments, nearly total usurpation of state and local authority, suspension of fundamental legal protections and a mobilization of all services in the U.S. military. Constitutional requirements of due process and habeas corpus will immediately be suspended, as intelligence officials warn the politicians and executive officials that the perpetrators are still in the country, further attacks are possible and no time can be wasted on bureaucracy.

The federal government's power of eminent domain will be exercised unchecked and without compensation, as law enforcement officials, military forces and private contractors seize vast tracts of land and thousands of homes and buildings in their attempts to "preserve life and maintain order". The Fourth Amendment's probable cause and warrant requirements will become even more dispensable than they already are due to "national security" concerns, and magistrates will be hard-pressed to ignore the constant pressure from above.

A large part of the federal and state court systems will first be overwhelmed, and then either completely made inaccessible or transformed into "validation stations". Any group of people who attempt to resist officially-decreed subordination will be labeled as a local insurgent force. If its members do not quickly give up resistance, then they will either be killed or indefinitely imprisoned after they are tortured for information. Indeed, active resistance would appear to be nothing short of futile, and people will feel forced to inform on their critical neighbors.

What, then, can anyone possibly to do to avoid such a radical outcome when the underlying decisions have already been made and the necessary technology is already in place? I believe the answer to that question is essentially two words - systemic defection. The people who have been trained for years to defend the system at all costs must find it in within themselves to disobey a direct order. They must shift their loyalties, re-direct their courage and spread it through the ranks like a wildfire. Defection must be a disease; one that roots itself in the brain and quickly catches.

The fear of being punished for insubordination or treason must be outweighed by the desire to die for ideals of equality and freedom. Insurgent groups and local law enforcement must join forces with the uniformed soldiers to realize a goal that would never be accomplished if they all remained separate. People of all races and both genders must finally escape from the "melting pot" in which they stew. That is how the scariest story ever told could ultimately become a story about unparalleled hardship, perseverance and defiance in the face of humanity's deepest fears.


  1. Very interesting. Klein is a first rate thinker. I think you should check out the Oil Drum site.

    Cheers WB7

  2. WB7,

    I do read The Oil Drum from time to time. That's what led me to The Automatic Earth (where I frequently post now), after reading this article by Nicole Foss (from TOD Canada):

    "Entropy and Empire" -

    Keep up the hilarious and insightful work on ZH!