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The Lie of the Civilized Western World

by Sascha Pommrenke Saturday, Feb. 11, 2017 at 5:49 AM

"Terrorism is the war of the poor and war is the terrorism of the rich," Peter Ustinov said and thereby contradicted the media picture "we," the West who had to resist after being attacked without reason by barbarians. The so-called western values seem to be military values.


By Sascha Pommrenke

[This article published on October 1, 2015 is translated from the German on the Internet,]

"Terrorism is the war of the poor and war is the terrorism of the rich," Peter Ustinov explained and thereby contradicted the media picture "we," the so-called west who had to resist after being constantly attacked without reason by barbarians. The author and journalist Sascha Pommrenke contradicts that view. Sascha Pommrenke is the author of "Terror of the West."

Mr. Pommrenke, the President of Germany put on a pious act in his Christmas address: "Our culture, our democracy is against discord, hatred and death-bringing violence." Isn't that beautiful? We are the good. That is our culture.

Gauck is Mr. Pleasant. He winks and laughs. He is a feel-good president who doesn't strain people with truths. His task is to maintain the appearance that Germans live in the best of all worlds. He does that very well.

He sees the world and proclaims with the attitude of the preaching pastor. Therefore the good and the evil, brightness and darkness are central to him. That kind of one-dimensionality is really impressive for a head of state.

It is dangerous when this plain worldview is used to sedate one's population and militarist interventionists are heard. So the "new Germany" fights "for human rights," Gauck proclaims. Innocent persons will sometimes need to take up arms in this battle for survival, the President of Germany said in a radio interview. Whoever takes up arms must sometimes lay down his life, as he declared in his first visit to the German army in June 2012.

This is obviously not wrong. But Gauck and other world power apologists hide that "we," Germany and other western allies, by no means champion or fight for human rights. Quite the contrary. Human rights only fulfill the function of winning the population for one's intentions with noble motives in the struggle for resources, influence, prosperity, and rule. They are only means to an end, propaganda and disinformation for geo-strategists, militarists, just war theorists and other power politicians.

The history of the West is sold to us as a success story of democracy, the constitutional state, and capitalism. Actually, it is a history of countless wars and war crimes, state terrorism, torture, exploitation, and destruction. The "attraction" of the West is supposedly in its values, above all the basic- and human rights. That is the social narrative. But this narrative is really about its gigantic military6 machine and its unscrupulous deployments.

All people everywhere and in all times support human rights, it is said. However, the western military doesn't care about that at all. There are countless millions dead for which the West is responsible worldwide. Wars and war crimes did not end with the Second World War. Rather western armies are still fighting directly in Indochina and Korea. These wars also mark the warfare of the West today: carpet bombing, so-called smart bombs and drones, hidden and hybrid warfare, death-squads, secret service operations, executions, and assassinations. The so-called "western values" on closer examination seem to be military values.

How is "our culture" always sold to us as the treasure of civilization and the rest of the world as the hoard of barbarism? At the moment, "Muslims" are all called barbarians and "we Christians" are all emancipated, enlightened, feminist and different…

We live in a world of appearance. We are brought up with the idea that the western world is a civilized world where violence is excluded from social relations. Conflicts should be thrashed out. Better arguments count and compromises lead to a reconciled coexistence, according to the theory. That is actually the rule for citizens of a state at least as long as they don't put the ruling structures in question. However, the procedure is completely different from the plane of interstate conflicts. The United Nations and other organizations merely keep up the appearance that international affairs run according to peaceful principles. But we have actually been living in a world dominated by a hegemon for 25 years.

Thirty years ago, the classical sociologist Norbert Elias warned of hegemonal intoxication. A hegemonal power that faces no real rival anymore drives from war to war and carries out its alleged natural mission. The US and its allies are alternatively on a divine mission against evil or in a historically necessary eternal struggle against terrorism. Collective fantasies or myths are involved. These myths are the appearance consciously maintained by parts of the military, politics and the media. George W. Bush described this hegemonal fever with the words: "There will be a monumental struggle of good against evil" or "This crusade, this war on terrorism will last some time."

As to myths, are you following Chomsky who speaks of "necessary illusions" and the manufacture of consent by the elites? Rainer Mausfeld argued in a similarly scholarly way in a much-discussed lecture.

Exactly. Sociology is a hunt for myths. Gauck's words are frighteningly near these national myths that permanently damage the sense of reality. He marvelously presents the elite myth of the better, more civilized and morally superior German land.

The so-called pars-pro-toto distortion is part of that. The better parts of one's group are demonstratively emphasized in the ego-inflated distortion of reality. A mechanism of this can be seen daily in the media. "We are export world masters; "we" are the pope, "we" are emancipated, "we" are enlightened, "our" soldiers drill wells. What else do they do? Everything is right and yet nothing is right. Most persons are not the pope. The German army did not dig wells in Afghanistan and Germany is certainly not enlightened and emancipated.

Stressing the worst parts of the enemy characterizes this reality-distortion. Some examples of criminal migrants and refugees are distorted and elevated to a stereotype for all refugees. All Muslims are made a threat because there are wars and civil wars in some Arab countries. Islam is declared a violent religion and refugees are made migrating weapons.


The social psychologist Peter Bruckner summarized: "People are systematically raised for war, not for peace." "Civilized citizens" are on one side and "barbarians" on the other side. The barbarians are obviously the murdering Islamists. Barack Obama simultaneously expands the drone terror more and more. The US government knows this is nothing but terror. The portion of murdered civilians is high so the operating rules were changed – unfortunately not only to protect civilians. No, not at all. The term "militants" was simply expanded so all "male persons of military age" are included who hold out in a "bombing zone."

Cynicism and the contempt of humanity of terrorists come to light when civilians who support the hated state were declared targets. "Our" terror is only made marvelously invisible although it is many times "more effective" than the terror of "others."

Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Iraq and Afghanistan were saturated with carpet-bombing. Whether napalm, phosphorus or fragmentation bombs, the bombing terror of the West, as Eugen Kogon correctly described, doesn't respect law, borders or grace. Was that "civilized" or "non-barbaric"?

Would you reverse the descriptions so "the West" in comparison is "the greater barbarian" whose crimes are only hidden, negated etc?

No. Relations are involved, not relativizations. I measure the West by its own values; I don't measure the crimes of the West by other crimes. The myth that the West is driven by human rights and military intervention only protects the respective population must be broken. I would not describe the West as the greatest barbarian and certainly not as the good.

The worldwide tortures of the CIA and the US army are the best and most striking example of how untrue this is. If our media would fulfill its commission, people would not be simply fed with the so-called CIA torture report. As important as it may be as a historical document, it is also incomplete. At the same time, the German chancellor did not publically condemn the tortures. In her name, government spokesperson Seibert merely announced absurd platitudes that torture was always condemned on principle. Obama even received the Nobel Peace Prize for his words. He was obviously not judged according to his deeds.

At a federal German press conference, the government did not recognize any connection between western interventions in Africa and the Middle East and the refugee movements. That is an amazing denial of reality when one remembers Syria is the 14th Islamic country that was bombed or occupied by the US since 1980.

In addition, the special forces of the US are active in over 150 countries of the earth. There are murder lists and a worldwide network of US military- and drone bases. All the double standards of the West are clear here. Our American friends torture in the most brutal way while the impression is created that they stand for human rights. The West bombs one country after another, sends death-squads around the world, wages secret wars, overthrows governments, perpetrates assassinations and incorporates the world in its sphere of power.

We speak of wars and war crimes, exploitation, torture and the idea one is the "ruler of the world." Don't all states begin wars? Doesn't the West often defend itself?

That states are at war with one another is part of the human fate. This is certainly not a specialty of the West. Rather mutual killing seems to be a disproportional element of the nature of human power struggles.

With the exception of Israel and Great Britain in the Falkland Islands, the West was never attacked after the Second World War. And neither Israel nor the United Kingdom razed the aggressive countries to the ground.

The nationalist power intoxication encourages militarists to tell stories in politics, media, and academia that "the US" would be attacked in 2001. The dreadful terrorist attack in world history is instrumentalized here; the efforts of superpowers are allowed free rein. Several days after the attacks of September 11, George W. Bush declared the US would now battle terrorists in up to 60 countries of the earth. The US was forced into a "war on terror." Nothing occurred to the western world except to promise unconditional solidarity. However, this solidarity is to the US military machine greedy for destruction, revenge, conquest and profit that is not impressed by the rules of international law; this solidarity is not to people.

The "war on terror" involving dominating the world is openly formulated as a goal of the US national security strategy and is not a defense against attacks. A shocking self-perception stands behind this. The US holds itself as elected to determine the history and fate of the planet. The US regards itself as the best land of the earth with the best people of the earth. American exceptionalism and the belief in its election are the charisma that radiates on its "loyal allies." A certain habitual German line of tradition is manifest here. Once convinced of their higher valence, people snuggle up to Big Brother in the hope of finally arriving on the sunny side of history. That is what is understood under the "masters of the world" and their worldview.

It is this collective myth that allows the resources of the earth to be seen as one's one resource. Another Nobel Peace prize winner Henry Kissinger once summarized this: "Petroleum is too important to be left to the Arabs." That is also true for all other raw materials. The prosperity of the West and the quality of life that is actually expressed in quantity of life are largely based on the exploitation and oppression of the rest of the world. The promise of capitalism that everything will be better through competition and all people profit from this is nothing but a hypocritical, lying and self-referring view of the world that can never withstand scrutiny without fading out the majority of the world's population.

The West consumes the global raw materials far disproportionately. We consume human lives. That must be made clear. In the West, products are inexpensive and profit rates are high. Raw materials like coltan, for example, must be mined under inhuman conditions. The lifetime of workers, often children, is racially shortened. That keeps our cell phones inexpensive.

Compassion for non-persons is alien to the masters of the world. 6 million children dying from malnutrition before their fifth birthday worldwide yearly doesn't matter to them and another million of malaria. Nearly 3 billion people have less than a day for survival. A person dies of starvation every 3.6 seconds. This has to be visualized and the mutual relations. On the other hand, the western world affords a military budget of one trillion dollars a year! That helps maintain the inhuman living conditions, not overcome them!

Now there are all kinds of theories and arguments why the wages in poor countries where the rich invest are finally rising and why the prosperity of all nations will rise more and more. Do I understand rightly they don't trust the explanations and the "invisible hand of the market" – that everything will be good if "the status quo or business as usual continues"? How should the barbarism of all nations – including the West – be encountered together? Do you have any ideas?

The invisible hand is one of those mystifications that constitute and maintain an appearance world. The grand delusion of capitalism is the lullaby of the middle-class conscience. We can all continue as in the past. Everything will be better very automatically. Good Night. In the meantime, thousands die day in day out of the consequences of exploitation and in wars that preserve global inequalities.

The problem is that the West affords a gigantic military machine that depends on wars for its existence. Even worse, the more the escalation spiral turns, the better for the military and obviously the widely branched and interlocked industry.

I see the dethronement or stripping of the power of the warrior-case as the only possibility for escaping the next great war. Nothing will change as long as we think in the categories of war, killing and above all the underlying inequality of people.

We must extend the range of identification to all people and thus gain a "we" that includes all humanity and not stop with national, ethnic or cultural units and their peculiarities. Everyone can begin with him- or herself. We must be careful not to devalue other people out of fear, envy, ill-will or one's experienced inferiority or powerlessness.

Reconciling instead of dividing, compassion instead of powerlessness – should be our motto. Every individual person in his or her qualities is a representative of all humanity. Therefore killing persons is always a crime in itself.

This logic has the power to break the logic of capitalism and militarism. That is the power we need.

Sascha Pommrenke studied sociology, social psychology and political science at the Leibnitz University in Hannover. He works as a free author and journalist and published “Terror of the West.” He publishes on the themes violence, society and media criticism on his site

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