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The Empire Never Ended: Philip K Dick, Valis, and the Psychopathology of War

CJ Stone is an author, columnist and feature writer. He has written seven books, and columns and articles for many newspapers and magazines.

This, to me, is the ultimately heroic trait of ordinary people; they say no to the tyrant and they calmly take the consequences of this resistance."

— Philip K. Dick

Philip K Dick: Valis

Philip K Dick: Valis

The Empire Never Ended

There was a very strange book written sometime in the late seventies by the science fiction writer Philip K Dick. It's called Valis, and it really is the oddest, most exasperating book I've ever read. On the one hand it is clearly autobiographical, containing details about Dick‘s own life, his failed marriage and his nervous breakdown, on the other there are fantastical elements in it which might be describing something that had actually happened, but might just as easily be science fiction conceits. I won't go into the plot here, except to say that there is a single line he repeats over and over again throughout the book, always in bold, always in capital letters. THE EMPIRE NEVER ENDED - he says, like that - THE EMPIRE NEVER ENDED.

He's talking about the Roman Empire.

In some form or another, the Roman Empire has continued to flourish, long after its apparent demise, taking on various disguises. In fact, he says, the time between the era of the early Christians in their on-going spiritual war with the Roman Empire and now - the time he was writing in, the late seventies - is false time. That era and this era are beginning to coalesce. These are - the times we are living in now - literally apostolic times.

This of course may be just a science fiction conceit, a plot device to keep the novel going. Or Dick may have believed that it was true. Who knows?

I suspect the latter.

However you want to view it, there may be some truth in this assertion. It may not be literally true, but psychologically, spiritually, economically, militarily, you might say, THE EMPIRE really has NEVER ENDED. Or if it ever went away for a time, it has certainly returned with a vengeance.

In fact, you only have to look at a bunch of riot police in full combat mode, with their shields and their batons, with their close formations, their phalanxes and their armour to know that Roman military techniques are still very much in evidence.

The Empire is a psychological as well as a military state. It exists as a mental construct, as a psychopathic state of mind, as a system of control. It exists in all of us. All of us are infected with this thought-form virus. It's no use hating George W Bush, as the world‘s most prominent psychopath. In his position we would do exactly the same. It's not a question of right versus left. It's not even a question of right versus wrong. It's a question of survival now. It's a question of finding out what we have to do to survive.

War is not just like peace but with bombs. It is a wholly different state of being. In war the psychopaths are in control. Everyone is a psychopath to some degree. A psychopath is someone who thinks of everyone else as an object, a mere source of gratification. Not every psychopath is a killer. Most psychopathologies are controlled in a state of peace, since the first concern of the psychopath is to blend in. But in the state of war the psychopath is unleashed on the world. The psychopath as ruler, as state, as war-profiteer, as war-monger, as war-addict, and in every single individual.

War is the psychopath's playground. Now all the rules are dispensed with. Now every human is an object of sensory gratification. Now power rules. Now I can take pot shots at the little objects around me pretending to be human. Nothing matters any more but my own self, my own self-gratification. Other people's bodies become playthings in the hands of the torturers in all of us. This has always been the case in a state of war. It's either self-gratification or self-sacrifice. The worst and the best. And there is a whole historical power psychology dedicated to this cause, the retention of war as a means of gratification and control. This is the true meaning of "The Empire." It's what Philip K Dick means when he says, "THE EMPIRE NEVER ENDED."

The New Roman Empire

Roman military techniques are still very much in evidence

Roman military techniques are still very much in evidence

The following is from a 1919 essay called "The Sociology of Imperialisms" by JOSEPH SCHUMPETER.

He says:

"There was no corner of the known world where some interest was not alleged to be in danger or under actual attack. If the interests were not Roman, they were those of Rome's allies; and if Rome had no allies, then allies would be invented. When it was utterly impossible to contrive such an interest-why, then it was the national honour that had been insulted. The fight was always invested with an aura of legality. Rome was always being attacked by evil-minded neighbours, always fighting for a breathing-space. The whole world was pervaded by a host of enemies, and it was manifestly Rome 's duty to guard against their indubitably aggressive designs."

You only have to replace the word "Rome" with "The United States" for that statement to become perfectly true of today's situation.

The other thing about the Romans is that they regarded all other nations as barbarians. Civilisation was the unique preserve of the Roman State and Roman society. All other people, unless under the power of the Roman State, were intrinsically inferior.

There was a very funny item in the news a while back. It was on Channel Four. Some British reporter "embedded" with American Troops in some part of Iraq having to deal with the local populace. It was just weird: this American soldier, trying his darndest to be friendly for the sake of the Cameras, extolling the virtues of the American Way of Life to a room full of Iraqi men and women, while, outside, US forces were bombarding an empty vineyard. Why were they bombarding an empty vineyard? It was just in case some insurgents might be intending to use it, they said.

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Apparently, in America, if you don't like your mobile phone company, you can just change the company. And if you don't like your politicians, you can just change your politicians. That's how the friendly soldier was trying to sell the invasion to the Iraqi population. Politicians and mobile phone companies are both part of the democratic way of life that the United States is bringing to Iraq.


The guy was sincere, by the way. He'd obviously been hand-picked for this very reason. He was clearly a nice guy who just wanted to educate these dumb Iraqis about America. He was trying to civilise them.

The Iraqis, meanwhile, were looking perplexed. They just didn't know what he was talking about.

I mean. The Americans - the country that bought us Coca-Cola and Mickey Mouse - trying to civilise the Iraqis. This is one of the most civilised nations on the planet: or at least it was until the British and the Americans took over, that is, until oil was found there.

I'm not being anti-American here, by the way. We British share as much of the blame. The empire that Philip K. Dick is talking about is currently the preserve of the American state. Previously it was the preserve of the British state. Take a look at those borders, with their straight lines and their squiggles. The Iraqis didn't draw them. The Americans didn't draw them. The British did. They drew those lines to delineate where the oil was. The Americans are only following an Imperialist design that the British had already laid down in the sand.

Some facts about Iraq

The Epic of Gilgamesh, the earliest known piece of narrative literature, as written on clay tablets in 2750 bc

The Epic of Gilgamesh, the earliest known piece of narrative literature, as written on clay tablets in 2750 bc

Modern civilisation began in Iraq. The Iraqis invented agriculture. They invented astronomy and astrology. The entire astrological system still in use today in every Daily Newspaper was invented in Iraq over five thousand years ago. They discovered the planets, they mapped the stars. They invented the 24 hour day, the sixty minute hour and the sixty second minute. In a very real sense we still live within Iraqi time. They invented the seven day week. They invented mathematics and writing. The earliest known work of literature, the Epic of Gilgamesh, written in cuneiform script on clay tablets in about 2750 BC in the land of Sumeria, in a region of modern Iraq, talks about a place called Uruk, of which Gilgamesh is the King. This is how ancient and consistent this region is, that the name of the country still holds. The book describes one of the earliest cities ever built, which housed a population of over 50,000: it's immense walls, its towering public buildings, its statues and its architecture.

Interestingly, I put the word "Uruk" U - R- U - K into my search engine and got the website of one of the critical anti-American groups currently working in Iraq: Clearly the Iraqis know their own history even if we've forgotten it.

Abraham was born in Iraq, in a city called Ur in the North. In that sense you can say that God was born in Iraq too: that the idea of God was born there. Also, according to the Bible, Eden is located in Iraq, between the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers. You can read it in Genesis. Genesis 2:10-14. Iraqis living in this region agree. They believe that this was once Eden. Even as little as twenty years ago, this still was Eden, the place where the marsh Arabs lived. Before the first Gulf War, that is, before the marsh Arabs uprising, before Saddam drained the marshes and drove them all out.

Iraq has always been a place of religious tolerance. Several of the world's religions have flourished here, plus some that could not have survived anywhere else. Not only does it support Sunni and Shia Muslims, it is also home to Assyrian Christians, who still recite the Gospels in their original Aramaic, the language of Jesus; Nestorian Christians, a sect who believe that Jesus had a duel nature, one half purely human, the other half purely divine, plus the last of the Gnostic sects, the Mandaeans, followers of John the Baptist, who to this day practice daily baptism in baths they refer to as The River Jordon, and who refer to God as The Great Life. Plus, until 1948 Iraq had one of the largest populations of Jews in the Middle east, a population who were respected according to Islamic law, along with Christians and Mandaeans, as "People of the Book." There's been a Jewish population in Iraq since 791 BC.

In fact, take a note of this: pogroms against the Jews were not committed in Muslim countries at all, but in Christian countries. Until 1948 and the establishment of the State of Israel, Jews were respected throughout the middle east. That's just a fact. Iraq had no sustained history of anti-Semitism before 1948.

This is a selective reading of the history of Iraq, as any history must be. I offer it only as an antidote to the current popular understanding of Iraq as a country of terrorists. The problem with culture is that it can be wiped out in a generation. Attack and humiliate one generation and watch what happens. Watch the lure of crime. Watch the sectarianism. Watch the terrorism. Watch the violence. Watch the kidnapping and murder. You can wipe away a thousand years of culture in the space a few years. That's exactly what has happened in Iraq.

Of course, as you know, there was talk about weapons of mass destruction and an Iraqi nuclear bomb. It was all false, of course, as we know now, but it was at least plausible at the time because, in fact, Iraqi scientists were quite capable of creating such things, not just nuclear as well as biological weapons, but advanced technology for peaceful uses too. In other words, as well as being an ancient state, Iraq was - at least until the sanctions and then the war - an advanced state, an educated state. Iraqi doctors, Iraqi scientists, Iraqi designers, Iraqi technicians are amongst the most qualified in the world. Iraqi artists, Iraqi writers, Iraqi film-makers and Iraqi musicians abound. This is a culture that encourages art, that encourages science, that encourages learning, and has always done so.

The idea that we have anything to teach the Iraqis about civilisation is absurd.

Boondoggle Nation

Sumerian art

Sumerian art

After the invasion the occupying army sent troops to protect the oil ministry and the oil fields, and allowed the Museums to be looted. All that Sumerian, Assyrian and Babylonian art. All of that cultural treasure from the oldest civilisations on this planet. Stolen. Looted. Taken away. Where to? Into private collections, no doubt. Into the hands of those who declared this war. I'm fairly certain that some people already had their shopping lists before the invasion and that they were allowed to do this.

The point about Imperialism is that it is profitable. War is profit. Economic growth is a measure of economic activity. In fact, a pile-up on the motorway contributes to economic growth. Ambulances have to be sent out, police cars, fire engines. The emergency services. Cars have to be cleared from the road. Cars have to be replaced. Insurance has to be paid out. It's all economic. It all adds to growth. How much more so a war, then? Armaments have to be made, armies have to be trained, uniforms have to be cut and sown. Buildings have to get blown up and rebuilt. Infrastructure has to be destroyed and then remade. No mention of people note. People don't come into this equation at all except as collateral damage. People are merely seen as objects in an economic landscape.

The beauty of all of this for the United States and British elites is that the public are paying for it all. They pay private companies to build arms, and armies to use them to knock down buildings, and then private companies to rebuild the buildings again. Private companies to guard the oil fields. Private companies to fix the electricity and the water supply. Private companies to make a profit and all out of taxpayers funds, what Noam Chomsky calls The Welfare State for the Rich, what the Americans, colloquially, call a boondoggle. Maybe this is why the water and the electricity don't work so well. Why, several years after the invasion, there's still times of the day without an electricity supply. Even Saddam could keep an electricity supply going.

They say that there is no alternative to the continued occupation, because the Iraqi security forces cannot keep security. But there is an alternative. There always was an alternative: a United Nations mandate lead by armies from Muslim Nations.

Would the Iraqi Insurgency be blowing up Indonesians and Jordanians? Or Syrians and Iranians? Of course not. But then again, the idea that Iraq could be overseen by Syrian and Iranian forces is unpalatable to the oil lobby currently in control of the US government.

Also, given the high degree of technical expertise in Iraq, who should rebuild Iraq but the Iraqis? Not substandard American manufacturers like Halliburton, out to bleed the Iraqi and the American public dry. The Iraqis can rebuild their nation themselves. They have the skills. They have the intelligence. All they lack is access to their own resources.

Instead we have a state sponsored American army protecting Iraqi oil so that American private companies like Halliburton can draw the profits.

None of this bears any resemblance to what we used to call capitalism. None whatsoever. All of this is done through the agency of the state for the profit of those who control the state apparatus. Capitalism is just a euphemism. It‘s a cover story. This is not a capitalist system. The capitalist system died sometime in the 19th century during the South Sea bubble. Since then capitalism has been state sponsored. Maybe it always was state sponsored. All that guff about "enterprise" and "risk-takers". These people take no risks. They live in state-sponsored luxury. This is not a capitalist system, it is an imperialist system, the only difference being that instead of a single emperor you have a whole class of emperors who share the spoils out between them. 2,000 Neros instead of one, and all of them just as mad, all still fiddling as the Earth burns. They control the armies. They control the government. They control the research and development. They control the economy. They control what we see on the news, and to a large degree, as a consequence, they control what we think.

We have bread and circuses. We have Oprah Winfrey and the FA cup final. We have Tescos and Sainsburys. We have Hollywood blockbusters and TV soap operas. We have wars we never asked for against nations we've never heard of. We've got threats from around the globe. If international terrorism doesn't get you then the bird flu will. We've got drug companies making ridiculous profits while our recreational drugs are in the hands of the mafia. We've got trivia and tat and then fear just around the corner. We've got obscene wealth in the midst of obscene poverty. We've got lies to send us to war, and lies to keep us there. Lies, lies and more lies.

One final thing, from me to you. You can take it or leave it. You can believe it or not. I don't care either way. This is it. The revolution is both political and spiritual at the same time. Anything that is only spiritual, or only political is not revolutionary. It's like man and woman. It's like left and right. It's like heart and soul. All things come together in this. The revolution is political and spiritual at the same time.

Not one. Not the other. Both.

As to what these terms mean, exactly, I'll leave it up to you to work it out.


© 2008 Christopher James Stone


Just my opinion on October 29, 2017:

I find it crazy that the same people against Colonialisation are now pro-Globilization/anti-Nationalisation.

Jay C OBrien from Houston, TX USA on July 17, 2016:

Great article. The US should stay out of tribal conflicts overseas. Fighting foreign wars only makes the US look bad.

From article, "The revolution is both political and spiritual at the same time. Anything that is only spiritual, or only political is not revolutionary. It's like man and woman. It's like left and right. It's like heart and soul. All things come together in this. The revolution is political and spiritual at the same time.

Not one. Not the other. Both."

Suggestion: study the Baha'i system of thought. "The essence of all the Prophets of God is One and the same." There is but one continuous, evolving religion.

Naomi Starlight from Illinois on June 18, 2016:

Someone else who read Valis and thought, holy fuck, what if some of this IS right? I've believed for years that the modern day Catholic church is the present heir to the Roman Empire, that in the 4th century AD the Roman Empire did not fall so much as it incorporated the might of the barbarian warlord and civilized them with the Christian message so that they would become warriors for God, and more importantly, for Rome instead of against her. They forged a new empire, a Christian one. That's what became not just the Holy Roman Empire, but all of Christendom. John the Revelator mentions "Babylon" many times in his book, but he's really talking about the Romans. He had to code his messages with allegory, symbolic numbers, and symbolic names, because the Romans would have killed him or censored his letters if he had written openly about Roman cruelty and savagery against the Christian. By the 4th century, Rome had become a place mired in sin of every kind, where life, sex, and death were cheap and meaningless, where people existed to be used. It was not sustainable. Only becoming a Christian Empire saved it at all. And now, we have become Roman again, and again, we have uncivilized, warlike invading hordes threatening us. Another way to say the Empire never ended is to say, history repeats itself.

advocate on November 01, 2013:

War isn't only profit, but it is finance, the economy, currency, etc etc etc.... all of these are substitutes for God. Whether or not one believes in God (I personally do believe in Lord Jesus Christ) makes no difference, because every single person is ruled by some sort of god regardless of their opinion, whether it be a practical or an impractical godform. In our case, we are either unwittingly or (by differeing DEGREES) wittingly worshiping the god of war aka god of fear aka god of death aka apollyon.... it's right there on the dollar bill! It's the undead zombie oversoul of the 12 ceasars, again and again and again... because we trust in POWER more than we trust in Love. Don't let people sell you up the river. Freedom is not Power, and anyone who tries selling that to you is a dangerous psychopath, albeit subtle and crafty. True freedom is to know Love, and that Love with a capital L can only come from God.

"He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love." 1 John 4:8

Christopher James Stone (author) from Whitstable, UK on June 05, 2013:

I'm not arguing against the civilisation of India here, I'm arguing FOR the civilisation that emerged from Iraq. Your comments are very interesting but in no way do they refute or deny what is also true, that a great civilisation emerged from the region around Iraq in a period when Europe was entirely uncivilised..

Anonymous on June 05, 2013:

“The single fact that we owe not one single truth, not one idea in philosophy or religion to the Semitic race is, of itself, ample reward for years of study, and it is a fact indisputable, if I read the Veda and Zend Avesta alright.” Albert Pike

When we believe that modern technology is really modern, this prejudice makes us question great physicists like Oppenheimer, the father of modern atomic bomb who on seeing the first nuclear explosion in the last century said that he had read the description of a nuclear weapon in Bhagavadgita – the ancient Sanskrit text which says,

“If the radiance of a thousand suns

Were to burst at once into the sky

That would be like the splendor of the Mighty one…

I am become Death,

The shatterer of Worlds.”

When asked about how he felt on exploding the first atomic bomb on earth, Oppenheimer replied that the explosion was “First in modern times“.

It is not that we cannot believe such things, it is simply that we DO NOT want to believe this. How can my great grand father be more intelligent than me? It is our attitude. We forget that it is our great ancestors who taught us how to count.

We seldom realize the importance of what Einstein said:

“We should be thankful to Indians who taught us how to count without which no worthwhile scientific discovery would have been possible.”

We fail to recognize the magnitude of the famous British Historian Grant Duff’s words:

“Many of the advances in the sciences that we consider today to have been made in Europe were in fact made in India centuries ago.”

We ignore what the American Historian Will Durant said:

“ India was the motherland of our race and Sanskrit the mother of Europe’s languages. India was the mother of our philosophy, of much of our mathematics, of the ideals embodied in Christianity… of self-government and democracy. In many ways, Mother India is the mother of us all.”

Most of us are not even aware of the historical facts which the famous French philosopher and writer Voltaire knew when he wrote:

“It is very important to note that some 2,500 years ago at the least Pythagoras went from Samos to the Ganges to learn geometry…But he would certainly not have undertaken such a strange journey had the reputation of the Brahmins’ science not been long established in Europe.”

Mr. W.D. Brown, the British philosopher, admits in his Superiority of the Vedic Religion as under :

“Vedic religion recognises but one God. It is a thoroughly scientific religion, where religion and science meet hand in hand. Here theology is based on science and philosophy.”

Christopher James Stone (author) from Whitstable, UK on June 01, 2013:

Thanks. I'll put that link into the text.

Thomas Manley on May 31, 2013:

Have you read Ecos article 'Ur Fascism is always with us'

Christopher James Stone (author) from Whitstable, UK on June 20, 2011:

Thanks visionandfocus. It was written as a speech but I'm very proud of it.

visionandfocus from North York, Canada on June 20, 2011:

This is an awesome hub--voted up! Everyone should read this. For some of us, it will be a validation of what we believe to be true, only we could never in a million years express it so eloquently. For others, it would be an eye-opener, and these are the people who really need to stop acting like sheep and believing everything they're told and start thinking for themselves.

Thanks for taking the time. Great job!

Christopher James Stone (author) from Whitstable, UK on April 30, 2011:

The Roman Catholic Church was the ideological wing of the Roman Empire, which still has power today, so in this sense I agree with you. But Dick is talking about the actual Roman Empire, not just it's propaganda wing, which most people think crashed with the Holy Roman Empire in the late Middle Ages.

As for your second statement: well you've got your timings wrong there. Saddam Hussein did indeed attack the Kurds with poison gas, but this was in 1988 when he was still an ally of the USA, which means that the Americans must have been aware of it but kept quiet about it. News of the attack didn't come out till after the first Gulf War in 1990. However, by the time of the second Gulf War in 2003 - and after more than a decade of sanctions - the Iraqis HAD got rid of their weapons of Mass Destruction, hence the reason given for the second war was entirely false.

ruffridyer from Dayton, ohio on April 30, 2011:

There is a belief that the Roman Empire became the Holy Roman Empire and is now know as the Cathlic Church.

Also people claim President Bush was wrong, no weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq. I wonder if the Kurds would agree with that statement. Thousands of their people were killed with Guns and Bombs by Saddam, That I think qualifys as mass destruction.

H. on July 18, 2010:

Great conversation.. I didn't read every one of them, because it's 12:37 am and it's my bedtime.. I completely agree with everything you guys write about.. but I believe religion is the other way to control people and politics.. the more religious nut someone is, the better or easier to manipulate them to any way they want to. I believe Christians were with the war, believing the second coming of Jesus will happen after that shortly. :) gosh what stupid people.. how easy to lead them. Sorry about my English. It's my second language.

Christopher James Stone (author) from Whitstable, UK on January 23, 2009:

Tony, thanks for the message. You can get Valis via the link above, though I wouldn't recommend it. It has its moments, one of the best openings to a book ever, but it soon ties itself up in knots and becomes increasingly infuriating. Worth looking at, but don't expect to enjoy it. I've thrown my copy across the room more than once. The basic premise is interesting though, and I continue to believe it: that THE EMPIRE NEVER ENDED and that we live within apostolic times.

Tony McGregor from South Africa on January 23, 2009:

I read this Hub with great respect, and wish I had come across it sooner. I have not yet read Valis but will now seek it out. I love your writing and will explore more of it.


Love and peace


Chef Jeff from Universe, Milky Way, Outer Arm, Sol, Earth, Western Hemisphere, North America, Illinois, Chicago. on September 02, 2008:

There was so much that has been absorbed by the Roman Empire, and not just people or nations, but also beliefs.  After all, Christianity today is just one of the major beliefs that has become Romanized - even the so-called Protestants or Evangelicals, are simply using Roman techniques at law and discussion to further their points.

When the early Catholic Church, and later the many Protestant churches became absorbed into the ideal of a New Holy Roman Empire, they were just doing what the Catholics did with local non-Christian beliefs - using what was there, making it look and sound Christian, and then moving on. 

Thus the veneration of Mary was the logical step after the non-Chrstians deities were absorbed and worshiped in lands the Christians conquered.  The adoption of words and festivals such as Easter and Yule, both words used by non-Christians of Germanic origin, and even the days of our week, many of which are either pre-Christian in origin, or early Christian.  Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday & Friday all come from ancient gods of Germanic origin, and Saturday comes from Roman beliefs.

Even in other European languages these days reflect a certain absorption of non-Christian beliefs into the body politic of Christianity, as it became the latest incarnation of the Roman Empire.

One need only look at our government buildings to see the influence of ancient Rome.  One need only study the writings and beliefs of our earliest leaders to see with what high regard they held the Roman system of law and justice.  Yes, changes were made, adaptions as new ideas were absorbed into the New Roman Empire, but the basic core of the empire remains intact in both deed and purpose.

In the Roman Empire religion served the state.  Religion was inviolate, even if many of the leaders merely paid it lip service, because those in power understood quite clearly that it formed the central core of everything that was Roman.  When that religion was perverted, the nation began to fall apart.  It took a new incarnation to restore Rome to its former glory, and Christianity fit that bill quite nicely. 

But it was not the only avenue attempted - Mithraism was more popular than Christianity for a very long time, but it both failed to provide immediate results demanded by followers and never offered any of the "feel good" after life comfort that Christianity offered, so it was eventually lost its appeal

Just the same the beliefs and dogma changed to fit the times and political reality of the reincarnated Empire.  That, perhaps, is the major reason you are spot on in your hub that the Roman Empire never really died: It simply underwent (and is still evolving) constant metamorphosis to become the encarnation we see living today.

hot dorkage from Oregon, USA on August 18, 2008:

I know this stuf but I don't like to think about it. Stupidity runs amok, people believe clever shiny lies that are shit at the core and ignore the beautiful and shining truth because it's all covered with shit on the outside.

And you express it so well.

Christopher James Stone (author) from Whitstable, UK on July 02, 2008:

Hopefully it is Hill Country.

Hill Country from San Antonio on July 02, 2008:

this looks interesting

Christopher James Stone (author) from Whitstable, UK on June 24, 2008:

Thanks ColdWarBaby, respect to you too. These are critical times and we need a critical mind to deal with them.

ColdWarBaby on June 24, 2008:

CJStone, we say much the same things but you do so with much greater finesse. 

War is profit.  Such a sad truth and so unnecessary.  I have come to think of what is euphemistically referred to as the “free market” as fascist capitalism.  Money is god and death the most profitable product.

The cycle of Empire to which you refer to is something I bring up repeatedly.  I find it maddening.  Even someone such as me, with only the most rudimentary knowledge of history, can clearly see the blank staring lunacy of the vicious cycle of death we keep endlessly repeating.  What will it take to get us off this blood soaked wheel?

I read your words with growing respect.  Keep it up.  Never surrender.

Christopher James Stone (author) from Whitstable, UK on June 23, 2008:

Don't worry pgrundy, f**k off is a good reply. I'm not sure I'll come up with anything better.

pgrundy on June 23, 2008:

Good advice! I'll be looking forward to your hub, should you decide to follow through with it. That will fun, as I suspect you are much better at comeback repartee than I am! I used to be very quick, but as I get older I get fuzzier, and all I can muster for a day or two is, 'oh, f**k off,' until I've time to process whatever it was, at which point I don't even care anymore.

Come to think of it, that's not such a bad thing!

Christopher James Stone (author) from Whitstable, UK on June 23, 2008:

It's all right pgrundy I like you. Americans I mean. I think that you can't blame a whole nation for the policies of their government, and anyway, most of you didn't vote for the current bunch of maniacs, so why should I blame you?

As for the religion hub, forget it! Just don't go there any more. Delete the emails. let everyone else get on with whatever battles they're involved with. Anyway, I think might take the flak off you for a while as I'm considering putting up a hub called Letter to a Christian which might get a few people riled.

What makes the Mandaeans so fascinating is this literature they have, very ancient traditions, contaning words supposedly said by John the Baptist and Jesus, plus one of their books is about why they stopped being Jews. It's this whole other strand of tradition which I love.

Leave the mad dogs to their bones of contention, huh?

pgrundy on June 23, 2008:

Hi CJ, I checked out the Mandean links--such beautiful artwork and writing. I'm fascinated by other cultures. At my bank job, I talk to so many first generation Americans from all over the world, many from the middle eastern countries, but also lots of Chinese people, Slavic people, Indian and Pakistani people, Mexicans, Cubans, and Islanders, and a few Europeans. Some Americans seem to have this view of being 'American' as meaning, not foreign, which is so bizarre since almost all of us are from somewhere else. Most of the people who are coming here now though are escaping from war or extreme poverty. Otherwise, who would come here? Europeans come here to spend money sometimes, on holiday, but they don't like us. Why should they? We have never been less-liked in history, thanks to the murderous policies of our government.

The religion hub I put up is becoming less fun. Puncture a delusion and its like lancing a boil--you have to listen to all the screaming and flapping around afterward. Comedian Bill Maher was talking about religious fundamentalism one day with talk show host Larry King, and King said, "But don't you have to respect everyone's religious point of view?" And Maher said, "No. Why should I respect something I think is evil?" or something of the sort--I'm paraphrasing him, but the gist of it was, if its toxic nonsense, call it toxic nonsense. If someone is free to say that only people who believe in their one narrow little form of religion will be saved (from what? Hello?) then surely I am free to say that's hogwash. But if I say so, then I have mad hogs coming at me.

I'm not always great at choosing my battles.

Christopher James Stone (author) from Whitstable, UK on June 22, 2008:

It would be interesting to know what you DON'T agree with Agro Donkey..

Agro Donkey from Ohio on June 22, 2008:

Not bad, I don't agree with you all the way but you hit on some very nice points. I think that you are very talented. Good work and good luck in all you do.

Joanna McKenna from Central Oklahoma on June 22, 2008:

I vaguely remember knowing in high school that Iraq was the cradle of civilisation and birthplace of all the things you listed. Then several decades of Real Life shoved that knowledge into the far reaches of this pitifully small brain, and it was forgotten. Thanks for reminding us so eloquently of Iraq's true place in history, and that the current occupation was never about freedom or democracy or wiping out terrorism. It was always, and still is about controlling Iraq's oil and the huge profits to be derived from it.

It never ceases to amaze how many otherwise intelligent indivuals believe BushCo's line that we're there to make America safer, when in fact being there has had the opposite effect.

Happy Solstice to you too!

Christopher James Stone (author) from Whitstable, UK on June 22, 2008:

Happy Solstice!

Christopher James Stone (author) from Whitstable, UK on June 22, 2008:

Handshake marisuewrites. You don't have to wait in line. That's the beauty of this technology, isn't it, that it offers us a forum, a place where we are all equally important. I work hard on my hubs, but that's because I love it so much, and because, here at least, we can shrug off the burden of the propaganda system and learn to think for ourselves again. Anyway, I just glory in the attention :)

marisuewrites from USA on June 22, 2008:

CJ, we all are learning so much from you.  You work hard on your Hubs, or does this just pour from you as water from a fountain?  I have to read your hubs several times as they are full, and my brain at different times of the day is on overload, and requires emptying so that I can absorb your information.

Very interesting work, and I thank you, as I am your number 1 fan who now has to stand in line --  I'm quickly being replace by many who push ahead of me as they admire your writing.  good for you and keep it up!  British?  Who Knew?  Hands across the water stretch for a handshake!!

Christopher James Stone (author) from Whitstable, UK on June 22, 2008:

Yes, I find it very useful and inspiring pgrundy. I'm like you in a lot of ways, actually a little bit incoherent when i speak. But on paper - well, here I am, master of my art! But it's been a lonely struggle, and finding people here who I can get on with and relate to has been very helpful to me. It started when I went to visit Steve in Tenerife, him being such an old friend, and us being virtually out of touch. So initially it was a way of getting back in touch with Steve. I suspect you're a lttle bit brighter than me though. It's the speed with which you can get it down which astonishes me. Some of my stuff has been around a while: but yours is always fresh, hot out of your fevered brain as it were.

Yes, I take Christianity very seriously too. That's why I mentioned all those sects in the above hub, so people can see what a rich and varied tradition it is. Have you followed up on the Mandaean link yet? They bring fresh new light into the study of Christianity, a parallel tradition, clearly from the same roots. Their name for God, "The Great Life" also throws light on the line about Jesus being the way, the truth and the life. He ISN'T the only way. Sometimes when I'm feeling paranoid I imagine that the whole reason for the invasion of Iraq is to wipe out these parallel sources of information so that the fundamentalist scenario can reign.

I hope you're not too disappointed with Valis. It's a real dog's dinner of a book.

pgrundy on June 22, 2008:

Yes, we do seem to be members of a mutual admiration society, but for my part, I confess it has been inspiring. If someone is reading me and responding with understanding and enthusiasm, it just goads into writing more and trying hard to write better. I think this is probably a good thing. It feels good anyway! I hope you are getting something out of it as well.

Bill, my current partner, was my internet pen pal for several months. It was an unusal and, in a way, very old-fashioned way to begin a relationship. By the time we met we felt as though we had known each other for years.

I am better on paper than in person--I think, in fact I know, that is why I started writing in the first place. I have a very soft wimpy persona, very nonthreatening and even doormat-ish. But on paper I'm the castration Queen. Also I write better than I speak, so its much easier to be understood if I write it all down.

I am familiar with Liberation Theology. The irony of my "piss off the Christians" hub is that I really do take it all very seriously and have explored every little nook and cranny of the religious world looking for a place to belong. I believe now that my life started when that search ended. Now, I'm more into spiritual aesthetics. Is it beautiful? That is apparently my role.

Reading Dick will so impress my partner. He already thinks I'm the only girl on the planet who actually reads science fiction, and Dick is like, well, Dick!

Christopher James Stone (author) from Whitstable, UK on June 22, 2008:

BTW, I do say that Valis is quite exasperating. It could have been a better book. The opening is extraordinary, brilliant. It's intriguing till about 2/3rds the way through, then it's just irritating.

Christopher James Stone (author) from Whitstable, UK on June 22, 2008:

Hi pgrundy, when will this love affair end. I mean between our writings and musings, of course. You are so spot on. Have you read any Liberation Theology, btw? This seems to me the perfect reconciliation of politics and Catholicism, particularly Gutierrez. I'm always reminded, when they talk of their "war on terror" and the "clash of civilisation" with Islam that earlier victims of the same philosophy were Catholic priests, nuns and bishops in Latin America.

pgrundy on June 22, 2008:

This is brilliant. I agree it's one of your best ever.

The beginning about Philip K. Dick's book Valis--I will read it, because what you describe here is very close to what I understand Jesus to be saying from a political standpoint--there is a political dimension to the teachings of Jesus, and I see it as very close to what you describe in Dick's book. The Empire never ended, it never does end; in fact it repeats itself cyclically over and over throughout time, as does the whole drama of the birth of Jesus and his death at the hands of the Empire and subsequent resurrection in the hearts of survivors. The whole grand story is repeated again and again until one day it all gets totally out of control, everything is destroyed (or nearly everything) and then it will all start yet again. That's a hub in itself I guess.

I took this understanding of scripture with me when I tried to reconcile with the Catholic Church. It went poorly. Why I expected otherwise is just a sad story, but I felt at one time that if only I could do or say the right thing I would belong there.

As we speak, Exxon and other multinational oil companies are being given no-bid contracts to run the Iraqi oil fields. Congress quietly passed this measure last week while everyone else was watching Oprah and wondering if Obama is a Muslim and so forth.

Last night I was at my in-laws (well if I was married they'd be my in-laws) and the topic of conversation was the death of capitalism. One point of view was that capitalism has been left to run amok and that is why the US is a dying nation, that we need regulation. My sister-in-law said just what you say here--She said that's not nearly cynical enough, there is no capitalist system anymore, there is only a small elite with unlimited power and wealth and the lies they tell to the rest of us, in other words, the Empire.

Brilliant hub, thank you again.

Christopher James Stone (author) from Whitstable, UK on June 22, 2008:

Great song Steve. I'm going to put it as a link in the hub.

Steve Andrews from Lisbon, Portugal on June 22, 2008:

Yes, the studio version is here:

and  the live one, which I prefer here:

PS Thanks for playing Neil Young in the video - he is my all time favourite singer-songwriter and musician beating Cohen and Dylan for being number one for me!

His album Greendale in my opinion is as brilliant as Living With War and is one of my most played CDs.

Christopher James Stone (author) from Whitstable, UK on June 22, 2008:

Perfect song lyrics Steve. See: great mind think alike. That's exactly what my hub is saying. Is there a copy available?

Steve Andrews from Lisbon, Portugal on June 22, 2008:

Chris, I think this is one of your best hubs ever - brilliant work!

It always occurs to me that whatever is done in Iraq the danger from depleted uranium remains and no one knows how to deal with that!

In the Roman Empire observation I have some lines in my song Citizen of Earth which go:

"The Roman Empire was much like today, Patricians and Plebians and social decay until the fires burned it all away but the ghost of Nero's still fiddling..."

Pixi and I did the song live on air on Red Dragon radio many years back.

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