American Values Volume I June 2018
Copyright 2018 by the authors. Area series by Phil Mittereder Dead Cert by Paul Clark All other writing by Rand Williamson Front cover by anonimus DREAD Back cover by Samantha Pinto Layout by Chris Montgomery
The U.S. of A. means a lot of things to a lot of people. Growing up, I remember learning about the history of our nation in school. We were taught about the ambitions of the founding fathers: to create a free society guided by reason and values of individual liberty rather than the traditions of the past. The truth behind this narrative wasn’t important; I was instilled with the view that life, even the life of one individual, had value. I remember 9/11, the national panic that followed. I remember my Dad saying that he wished he was younger so that he could use his sniper training in Afghanistan. We entered into two wars. Later we found out that we were in Iraq under false pretenses. As I studied and did more research one thing became apparent: of the values that America has adopted into its national character, none guide its actions more than its love and worship of war. It’s true. Nothing receives more resources. Presidents come and go, political parties gain and lose power, but the cult of death is always there. War is the man behind the curtain. It always demands more, and we are always happy to oblige. People from all walks of life and political ideologies agree it’s wrong, but no one has built a united front against it. As our country spirals towards a “second cold war” can we really afford to continue down this path?
(For Dan, Dave, and Gary)
Forecast: warm, clear, and sunny. May was flexing her growing muscle. So, we gathered that day outside the Pentagonâ€™s walls where daily death puts on finishing touches. The youngest among us singing a song of life. The elders of the tribe intoning a prayer for the dead. If we must place our bets on such a dangerous outcome, an old man limping into glory as sure a thing as we can get.
Area 52 The invisible grasp for a visible foothold Here in the desert where people can almost breathe until the sound systems show up, overnight, unaccountably and Agent Don goes in to get his freaky fascism on
Guestbook at the Los Alamos History Museum
as a snare in the service of militarism
Surely one of the most disgusting snares of the modern militaryindustrial complex is the justification of war through the appeal to the common personâ€™s humanitarian tendencies. If you arenâ€™t big on flag waving and you are savvy enough to realize a developing nation on the other side of the world is no existential threat to you personally, maybe you can be fooled into thinking that the US war machine can be used as a tool for good in the world. The world, after all, is full of tyrants, murderers, terrorist organizations, and all manner of human misery. In every hemisphere, people languish under the boats of hostile foreign invaders, or perhaps, under the power of their own authoritarian governments. They are gassed, slaughtered, driven from their homes into countries where they are aliens. Their suffering is real, but do not be fooled. Humanitarian intervention is an oxymoron when it comes to the US military. In fact, no single organization in the world has, directly or indirectly, caused more human suffering. Politicians often position themselves to exploit peopleâ€™s suffering by pretending to have a solution to that suffering. This is no different. It is great to have humanitarian ideals and to want freedom for other people, but when you support military intervention by the USA you are not actually fulfilling those ideals. The use of military force can only create instability; it cannot make people more free even if it removes a dictator from power. Ask the Iraqis and Libyans who now live under the control of radical Islamic groups. Ask the Syrians, who have spent years being used as pawns by different interventionist powers; who suffer deformities from the depleted uranium bombs dropped on them by the same U.S. military that periodically claims to care about them being gassed. There are hundreds of
examples from across the world. Don’t let the war machine pull on your heart strings. Their industry is death and wealth accumulation for the powerful, not justice for the weak. When you allow their false humanitarian pleas to sway or silence you, you are not only hurting the people you want to help – you are also hurting yourself. If you care enough about the lives of those overseas enough to risk the lives of young Americans, it stands to reason that you also care a great deal about the poverty and suffering going on in your backyard. Last year, the official military budget was $582.7 billion dollars. That amount dwarfs every other countries defense spending. It is more then the next ten big spenders combined. That is $582.7 billion dollars that can never go to schools, to housing, to creating jobs, to growing food, or to taking care of the sick. This money ends up in the private bank accounts of those on the boards of weapon manufacturing and military contractor companies. In his famous essay, Beyond Vietnam, Martin Luther King Jr. made the connection between rampant US militarism overseas and the lack of support for people here at home. He said, “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.” That was in 1967, and since then the issue has only gotten worse. The war-addicted elites of this country continue to push us closer and closer to the edge. More and more people need help as the living conditions of our country continue to decline. Faith in our institutions is at an all time low. Like a drug addict, we sweat and howl and point our finger at everything but the obsession that is the true cause of our woes. We look for justifications to continue down the well-trodden path, even as the knowledge of what it does to us becomes clear and erodes our national spirit. It may be hard to face, but that is all that the talk of justice and human rights by our government is: a justification for our next fix.
Area 36 “It doesn't get any better than this!” strung out on his island of guns, drinking a mango pineapple straw berry apple rita mix from a coconut Life as a carnival Life as a carnivore Life as a construct Meanwhile, You keep digging keep falling down Life as a hole Life holds you close as a boa constrictor it just doesn’t get any better than this
Area 56 The forgotten speak from the oceanâ€™s floor flung through a forgotten death just beneath the surface, in the blank canvas wall debates held to the brand like bulk spinach rotting away in the lower shelf
“The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking and we thus drift toward unparalleled catastrophe.” —Albert Einstein “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” —Matthew 10:28
One of the most powerful abilities of the human mind is, perhaps, its ability to normalize its surroundings. When something new is first introduced into an environment, it causes discomfort. It throws the mind off balance, but before long a new equilibrium is set. It is amazing what we can get used to. It is amazing how this principle applies to every level of our sensory and cognitive experience. The same thing that allows you to adjust to the hot water while taking a bath, the same thing that causes a weird scent to disappear after you have been in a room for a bit is the same thing that causes a battered woman to stay with her abuser year after year. After all, what can you do, Diane? I think about this principle a lot when I think about the bomb. After Trinity, the first nuclear test, and the subsequent explosions of Little Boy and Fat Man over Japan, the collective human mind was shaken. It created an imbalance that was hard for people to ignore. Right away, the government began to shape a narrative that would
normalize what they had done. It wasn’t long before we were told that the only path to ensure our continued existence was a marriage of convenience with death. As the Cold War took off and the 20th century moved on, we began stockpiling bombs in order to solidify our position in the world. You can’t, however, fool all the people all of the time. William S. Burroughs was one of many who commented a great deal on the profound shift caused by the development of nuclear weapons. Burroughs said the secret of the nuclear bomb is that it was actually hot enough to destroy the soul of those caught up in its blast. He identified the bomb as a soul killer jeopardizing the physical and metaphysical fabric of our world – a transcendent evil. In Burroughs’ view, the bomb is the single most important event since the birth of Jesus Christ. Time can be neatly divided into before and after these two events. Burroughs wasn’t alone in his alarm. There was, and is today, a chorus of voices calling out from the wilderness – scientists, artists, activists. Their voices are faint, yet those who take the time to listen can still hear them warning us of the continuing and ever-growing danger.
Still, here we are, and most of us go about our daily lives never thinking about the massive destructive potential that could be unleashed at any moment. As a millennial, the threat of nuclear annihilation has never felt especially real. Not because it is not there, but precisely because it has always been there. I simply have never known another world. I’m used to it. In the post–Cold War era the danger of nuclear war seems contained, yet it doesn’t take a particularly bright person to feel that the heat is rising all the time. Right now, we normalize that as well, but this defense mechanism of ours only works within a certain temperature range. It’s an elephant, one of many, that has been setting up a permanent camp in every room for decades. To be exact, some scientists have speculated that the planet’s average temperature could rise as much as 10˚F by the end of the 21st century. That is one of the most extreme scenarios right now, but just a few years ago a 3˚F increase was considered one of the
worst case situations. What does that mean? What’s the difference between 3 and 10 degrees? It seems modest, but with the difference between those levels of heat, nations will disappear. Islands and coastlines will be submerged. Fertile land will become desert. A refugee crisis will unfold like none that has been seen in modern history. People will flood into new areas driven by starvation and environmental catastrophe. The threatened and actual violence of those already living in habitable areas will do nothing to stem the tide. What’s happening with refugees in the EU right now is a joke compared to what this could be. Every level of the global order will enter into decline. When that time comes, the bomb will still be sitting silently there in the corner: a can kicked down the road for generations. Maybe the glimmer of its metal casing will catch someone’s eye. The sleeping ghosts of the 20th century will yawn and begin to stretch their limbs, sensing now is their time to shine. Of course using the bomb would be a horrible idea, but it is sitting there, looming larger and larger with each passing day. It will promise power and order. As the heat ramps up, will someone finally listen to those sweet nothings? How much hotter would it need to get?
The first thing that hits you after the casing of the bomb gives way is the gamma radiation and ultraviolet light generated by the 足fusion 足reaction. A wave of super-high-energy photons will cascade through you like quantum buckshot tearing your very DNA to ribbons. At this point, it is already too late for you. Even if you were to somehow be magically teleported away, you would have nothing to look forward to but a very short, brain-damaged, and painful life. Your 足organs would all fail massively. Your cells, having had their programming warped beyond recognition by the blast, would multiply out of control and consume your pathetic form. This is the fate of those who are too far away from the immediate blast to be killed outright. Then, not even a second later, the wave of ultraviolet light will hit your eyes and cast you into darkness. You will feel your skin start to heat up and brown like toast. The reaction within a nuclear warhead is so hot that it separates electrons from the nuclei of their atoms. That immense thermal e足 nergy is what hits you next. Your hair and clothing will instantly turn to flames. Your eyes will begin to seep out of their sockets like milky tears that evaporate entirely before they can stream down your face. Naked flesh and fat will ignite like a candle burning on both ends. Your skin will peel off as it begins to melt. Your whole form will begin evaporating. Then, your blackened bones will start to rapidly decompose from the heat. Finally, the charred remains of your body will be blasted by a shock wave and scattered. There, broken and completely isolated, the last of your bits will break down. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. That is pretty fucking hot, but what can you do?
Area 451 We burned it to shreds. And then we burned those, too.
Worshippers at the Trinity Site obelisk
Patriots Be Warned
Patriots be warned! Don’t let anyone twist your love for your country. Don’t let anyone corrupt it to fit an agenda that works against the wellbeing of yourself, of your family, your friends, your neighbors, and of life. Those with power and wealth will often talk about sacrifice for the greater good of the nation. That’s fine, but look at what they actually do. Do you see any of them rushing off to join the military? Any of the Trumps or the Bushes, the Kennedys, Clintons, or Obamas? Don’t fall for their “do as I say not as I do” bullshit. There is a reason they keep themselves and their families at arm’s length from direct participation in the American War Machine. This system mutilates people. It doesn’t matter if its intentions are noble or foul. It lulls you in with platitudes about civic duty and love of country. Then, it puts you through hell and spits you back into civilian life without consideration for the consequences. It is a beast ever on the move. It has no time for self-reflection. The fruits of this system are clear for anyone to see. Physical and mental disabilities are rampant among veterans. On any given night in the USA, 39,471 of its veterans are living on the street. Veterans are 22% more likely to commit suicide. Generations of families have suffered trying to take care of the damaged individuals that the War Machine creates. This says nothing of the millions of lives ruined overseas. Why enlist in the military to serve a country you love? There are other ways! This country is not defined by the institutions that claim to serve you while simultaneously throwing you under the bus in favor of “American interests overseas.” If you are like most Americans, you have absolutely no overseas interests to speak of ! This country, at its core, is the individuals and communities who
populate it. I’m not proud of the State Department, but I am proud of the relationships and bonds I have formed here. I don’t love the Justice Department, but I do love the land and the people who have supported me. Stop listening to the hypocrites and throw off the nationalistic weights they pile on your back. They do so only for their own benefit! Instead, talk to your neighbors and figure out what your community needs. Go out and start a community garden, start programs to educate and share skills, start a community watch, build your own institutions of support. All these avenues of service reflect your love of country and build you up in the process. True love of country comes from loving those around you, not by killing those far away! Patriots be warned!
The Sweeping Ceremony A Poem About Hope
The sweeping ceremony will happen Has already begun Relativity permits us only to slow time Never to stop it So hold on white knuckled to that crimson sea Where the blackened limbs of children float Like plastic bags in the Pacific Ocean Trapping and suffocating generations of the young Like your justifications trap the minds of my people Leaving them blank Vacant Lacking even the decency to cough As your smoke chokes them Twiddling while your papers fiddle And the flames grow higher Friends, family, neighbors, enemies All trapped in your crooked mandala Waiting for the sweeping ceremony to begin.
We sincerely thank you for taking the time to read our work and we hope that it resonated with you. Do you have something to say?
We are looking for submissions for future volumes. We need a large body of voices to carry this project forward meaningfully. If you are interested in submitting writing or visual art or if you just have questions about doing so, email us at: email@example.com
One Saturday every month, we will continue our discussion on war, politics, and American Culture through film screenings. All screenings will take place at the Earth Coincidence Control Office in Philadelphia. The schedule below may be subject to change.
June 23 The Century of the Self, Part 4: Eight People Sipping Wine in Kettering July 21 Investigation of a Flame August 18 Iraq for Sale September 15 Starship Troopers
For more information about location and schedule updates, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org