Saturday, December 11, 2004
Giulietto Chiesa - The Ten Commandments of the Empire
"The Empire isn’t just the United States of America, even though the American share of it is undoubtedly the biggest and certainly the dominant one. We see the Empire as being essentially American, but the immense power at its disposal is starting to turn it into something different and bigger, with a population that is actually smaller than America’s and a territory that is no longer definable. In this transitory stage of its growth, the Empire appears to coincide with the United States of America, and what misleads us even further is the fact that this coincidence dominates the minds of the American leadership, who see themselves as the Empire’s permanent leaders. In actual fact, they are merely its interim advance guard.
All this makes the subsequent stages of these processes harder to interpret. For example, the Empire has a virtual capital, symbolised by New York, which, for this and other reasons, has become the main target for terrorist hatred. But the Empire’s territory does not coincide with that of the United States of America. It has offshoots in almost every part of the world, apparently bound by different state laws. In actual fact they are all bound by the same logic, the same interests, the same laws – much more cogent than those of the individual states – and an identical culture, that of the global super-society."
Chiesa writes of a concept called "The Command Deck", or in other words "the Power". It is sustained by a media system which operates upon deception:
"It has been repeated ad infinitum that the 11th of September changed everything and that nothing will be the same again. And yet, even though almost everything has changed, here we are, still cocooned in our old ways as if nothing important happened, happy, even, that the dreaded changes haven’t upset our daily routine.
Terrorism, Osama bin Laden, bombings, war, victory, Taliban, Al Qaeda: all these words and names, new and old, reeled off before our eyes. Some sink in and others vanish without trace before we can grasp their real meaning. Millions of us, if not billions, can’t understand what’s happening to our world and our lives, as if our and our children’s destiny has been altered. All we can sense is that something really serious has happened, with enormous, dangerous consequences, but we can’t quite put it in context. So many things we were sure of have vanished, superseded by uncertainty and a growing sense of anxiety.
The only certain thing is that the versions we’re served up with are either totally untrue or so distorted as to be completely unacceptable. And so we have to look elsewhere, but not without first asking another central question: what exactly is it, this media system? Can it really be such an enormous source of deception, the biggest thing separating us from the real world, the thing that stops the person in the street from actually perceiving, seeing or understanding reality?
It is very evident that these dutiful defenders of America will not allow the powerful, or should we say “the Power”, to be criticised in any way whatsoever. These are people already well versed in the art of bowing and scraping to “the Power”, wherever it may be, so just think what they’ll be like when “the Power” actually becomes “the Empire”! So, quite often, they find themselves in the inglorious position of defending those who already have ample defensive (and offensive) capabilities of their own. And there are lots of these defenders: the majority of political commentators, for example, would never have got where they are without giving cast iron proof of their absolute loyalty to “the Power”.
All this needed time to come about. It was a long, complex and contradictory gestation. It didn’t all go smoothly, as always happens when the forces in play are real and not the abstract schemes of utopians that just happen to be in power. You make your plans as you go along, on the spur of the moment, but then you need intellectuals to give them form, glorify them in the eyes of the public, ennoble them and explain them. These propagandists have to be trained, convinced and, if necessary, bribed and corrupted. And then all obstacles, doubters, non-believers and wise guys have to be got out of the way. Playing it clean if possible, but dirty if necessary. For those of you who’ve forgotten, an instructions manual has already been written for this and it’s enough to follow it. It’s called The Prince by Nicholas Macchiavelli and it’s free, because it’s out of copyright.
The aim, therefore, is to stifle the discussion and silence the adversaries, an aim that is much more ideological than you would care to think. It also explains perfectly, for example, why the whole of the Italian press (and not only the Italian press) often say the same things. The rule is that the people controlling the media have to be totally reliable: they don’t even have to be told what to say. They already know it by heart. They have already internalised the rules of the game. Being reliable is something that requires lengthy training and considerable single-mindedness. On every level of the information hierarchy you have to prove that you have a total disregard for the truth, a complete readiness to deceive and an absolutely impenetrable cynicism. This, as a rule, is the only way of getting up to the next level."
Yet, and we are still only in the first chapter of this fundamental book, Chiesa is at his journalistic best when he dryly points out the "Ten Commandments" which "the Power" implements to enable them to systematically
"make the laws of the market work in favour of the supremacy of the United Sates, thus making it possible for the American people (the great mass of them) to consume much more than they produced and for a much smaller number of them to “get rich overnight”. The purpose of these Ten Commandments should have been – and, in fact, was – to keep any competitors appearing on the scene under control and force them to give up as soon as they seemed to be getting in the slightest way threatening."
This chilling passage explains the concept:
"The Ten Commandments we’re talking about – unlike those of Moses – have been fully implemented. They would now be easily demonstrable, point-by-point, even by those of us not claiming to be specialists in politics or economics, if only the world information system were to make them visible. They act and operate every day. They are the general rule. Besides, the author of this book is no specialist, but quite simply someone who, by profession and somewhat irreverently, collects and sorts the bits of news he can find and puts them in order. The fact that the Ten Commandments have always been hard to see, to the point of becoming completely invisible over the last few years, is explained by the simultaneous, gradual internationalisation, or globalisation, of the media (Information and entertainment magnates of the world, unite!). The tools of communication, which are – very broadly speaking – information, entertainment and advertising, are controlled by a single group of owners, and not a very big one at that. With the synergic use of information-communication technology resources, these people are now able to determine what several billion inhabitants of our planet have to consume, eat and drink, how they have to enjoy ourselves, where they have to spend their free time, how they should make love, how they should furnish their homes (assuming they have one) and what they have to wish and dream for. And all this in real-time, steering waves of emotions, feelings and, of course, opinions, around every meridian and parallel of the Earth. It is certainly not by chance that these ladies and gentlemen – who nobody elected, by the way – are an integral and decisive part of the global super society. Without their systematic, continuous and numerous acts of interpretation of reality and without their omnipresent work of suppressing, distorting, remixing, filtering and censoring, the Ten Commandments would never have been implemented."
And, without further ado, the Ten Commandments of the Empire: by Giulietto Chiesa, with intuitions from Robert Hunter Wade of the London School of Economics and Aleksandr Zinoviev, a Russian journalist:
"So, here are the Ten Commandments that have created the Empire and that have taken us to war, or rather, the Superwar 6:
1) Make your currency the irreplaceable reserve currency for all, or almost all, other countries.
2) Do not tolerate any external constraint whatsoever on your ability to create your currency at will. You will be able to finance virtually unlimited trade deficits with the rest of the world.
3) Decide on your monetary policy exclusively on the basis of national interests and make other countries dependent on your monetary policy.
4) Impose an international lending system at variable interest rates denominated in your currency. Borrowing countries in crisis will have to repay you more when their capacity to repay is less. You’ll have them under your thumb.
5) Be ready to engineer volatility and economic crises in the rest of the world when needed. Nip any potentially aspirant competitors in the bud.
6) Use all means necessary to impose intense competition between exporters in the rest of the world. This will give you an inflow of imports at constantly decreasing prices relative to the price of your exports.
7) Keep on good terms with the elites and middle classes in the rest of the world, regardless of their democratic credentials, because their support for your framework is essential. Never allow the elites and masses of a country to unite around ideas of “national” development or anything else hostile to your dominion and hegemony.
8) Use all means necessary to encourage completely free capital mobility and international investment. Under the conditions described above, all the capital will flow towards you, because it’s the best, safest and most profitable place to put it. As for overseas investment, make sure your corporations are free to come to the aid of the national elites for the management of their financial assets, private and public education systems, health care, pensions and the like.
9) Use all possible means to encourage free trade, so that all countries (i.e. all the other countries) are bound by it at all times and you can apply it as and when it suits you.
10) In order to ensure that everything is achieved in an orderly way, without too many evident conflicts, you will need international organisations that appear to be governed by members with equal rights, but which in actual fact are financed in a way that allows you to control them."