The New Nihilism

The twin events of World War 1 and the misnamed “Spanish Flu” (which actually appeared on a US military base in Kansas) shattered the ability of people to believe in tomorrow. The harsh lesson of both catastrophes was that it did not matter how hard you worked or what you did, your home could be destroyed in an instant, those you love die in your arms, and you yourself could be killed without a moment’s notice. Civilizations, once popularly viewed as enduring constructs, were proved fragile as entire nations were wiped from the face of the Earth, together with their cultural heritage. Society was now impermanent, and even the very young saw themselves as frail and mortal beings.

The result was a “live for the moment” mentality. Few wanted to work for tomorrow when tomorrow was so easily stolen. Money was to be spent at the moment, on the decorations of the “Gilded Age”, or for those who eschewed materialism, life was surviving for the moment and staying comfortable until whatever was going to happen, happened. It was the age of the Bohemian lifestyle, of frustrated artists in dusty attics in Paris, of what poet Gertrude Stein termed the “Lost Generation”.

Likewise, World War 2 triggered a repeat of a nihilistic mood around the world. Here in the US it was the "beatnik" generation. To a lesser degree Vietnam triggered the "Hippies."

Common to all these lives was Nihilism, which while popularly described as a “belief in nothing” is more accurately described as the absence of belief or faith. Whereas atheism was an absence of belief in gods, Nihilism was an absence of faith in anything, including society itself. The twin horrors of World War 1 and the Spanish Flu created a climate in which nothing seemed to be worthy of trust, either spiritually or governmentally. Those who had seen the horrors first hand could not bring themselves to plan or work for the future. “Future” was something that could not be relied upon. Why work and sacrifice for a future that could be wiped from the face of the Earth at the whim of whichever world leader was the least mentally stable? Why worry about health? Why exercise? You could be dead tomorrow anyway. Why struggle to be a productive worker for the money-junkies? Why not enjoy life? Why not smoke? Why not drink? Why not do drugs? Why not have sex with whomever you wanted? Why worry about future consequences of today's actions when the future is demonstrably under the control of people who blow up that future on an alarming regular schedule?

A new nihilism is starting to appear in the United States. Like the Lost Generation, this malaise proceeds from multiple sources.

First and foremost is the reality of ongoing wars, inevitably leading to a new global war, started with the very weapons that ended the last global war. Having been raised with decades of dire warnings about how nuclear weapons can end the world amid cold-war exhortations to build personal fallout shelters, it should not come as a surprise that most people equate the current military buildup as a prelude to that much predicted end of the world. This is not metaphor; the kids with those brass keys in the silos can really do it. Who wants to work hard to build a future that might vanish in a flash of white light?

The concept of the end of the world carries with it religious overtones. Many religions have their own versions of the end times, and current world events have convinced many religious sects that those times are at hand. Parents are concerned that their children are starting to abandon their education in the belief that it will not be needed following the imminent rapture.

The economy is also playing a role in the new Nihilism. The stock market frauds of the last decade have wiped out entire lifetimes of work. People have worked a lifetime to pay their mortgages only to see their homes taken through obvious bank fraud, rubber stamped as "the law" by a complicit and corrupted government. The loss of high-paying jobs have forced people to accept employment far below their levels of education, causing them to wonder why they bothered with college, or sold themselves into unpayable student loan debt. What can young people think about their own futures when they see adults with advanced degrees in menial positions? Can we blame them for deciding not to bother?

Mainstream media has destroyed its own credibility over the last few years with overt government and corporate propaganda, such as Saddam's nuclear weapons, leaving the general population unable to trust that they even know what is really going on in the world.

It is easy to count the costs of war and bad economic policy in terms of dollars, bodies, of flags won and flags lost. But the real cost of prolonged war and economic deprivation will be a new American “Lost Generation”, one so hopelessly devoid of trust in tomorrow that nothing can be done to save it.

We are headed in that direction now. Just look into the faces of our kids, and you can see it. When the sum of all the dead bodies, intentional impoverishment, lies and deceptions reaches a critical mass, people will stop supporting the nation, because they won’t trust it. They won’t support the economy, because they won’t trust that. Don’t look for a “rebound” because there won’t be one. Nobody will be willing to work towards a future they do not believe exists.

Of all the things the US Government has stolen from us, the gravest loss is the loss of trust in a better tomorrow. Those who accepted in silence the war in Afghanistan did so in the trust that once Afghanistan was conquered, things would get better. Those who accepted in silence the war in Iraq did so in the trust that once Iraq was conquered, things would get better. Those who accepted in silence the war in Libya did so in the trust that once Libya was conquered, things would get better. Those who accepted in silence the war in Somalia did so in the trust that once Somalia was conquered, things would get better. With the obvious march towards war in Iran, the trust is gone. There will be wars from now on. None of us alive today will live to see a time of peace. And things are not getting better. Not at all. That dawning awareness saps the national spirit and drives us towards a new nihilism, and a new “Lost Generation”.

But there is a new phenomenon taking place; one that undermines the possibility ofvictory6 (however that is defines) in all these wars started by the US in all these foreign lands. The nihilism that followed WW1 and WW2 (and Vietnam and Korea etc.) occurred after those wars were over. The wars were fought and won by a population that still had trust in that better future and were willing to sacrifice for that future.

Today is different. Because the fundamental nature of information flow through society has been transformed by the internet, the nihilism is already starting to infect our society. That means that along with the US having lost the manufacturing that allowed the US to prevail in previous wars, the US population has lost their faith that the bloodshed and financial sacrifice will make their world better. Unlike previous wars, the nihilistic decline has already settled across this nation. We not only lack enough soldiers to win a prolonged conventional wars, we lack soldiers who see a potential future worth risking life and limb for. The American people have come to understand that ultimately, all these wars were about protecting the profits and privilege of private central banking, and few indeed are willing to offer themselves as a sacrifice on the altar of greed. The illusion of noble ideals and objectives is already gone, and Americans are once again of the mind, why not enjoy life? Why not smoke? Why not drink? Why not do drugs? Why not have sex with whomever you wanted? Why worry about future consequences of today's actions when the future is demonstrably under the control of people who blow up that future on an alarming regular schedule?

This new nihilism, infecting America before World War 3 has well and truly gotten underway, is yet another reason, together with the lack of manufacturing, money, and manpower, why the US will not win this war. Of course, to the bankers for whom war is their greatest harvest, they care not who wins or loses, as both sides are driven into debt slavery by the war.

But for the rest of us, who are more aware of the true nature of government and war than any previous generation, the time has come to ask if the path to that better future we all once wanted, lies on a path that is not wanted by the government and the bankers. The time has come to ask if we should not decide for ourselves what is the best path to a better future, and once again regain control of that future destiny.

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