There is much excellent journalism arising from the horrific acts by Israel in its genocidal attacks on Gaza and the two million people living there. Such articles often elucidate the larger picture behind the genocide in terms of the imperial world order, the legacy of European colonialism, or the Western effort to demonize all of Islam and its vast civilizational legacy. These articles may argue correctly that the only solution needs to be a true “political process” in which real movement is made toward removing the apartheid status of the Palestinian people and recognizing their human right to a dignified, legally protected existence. Dalal Iriqat, in a January 10, 2024, article in This Week in Palestine describes the situation as follows:
Aided by biased Western media, Netanyahu has managed to paint the Palestinian right of self-defense (Article 51 of the United Nations Charter) and right of resistance as terror. While Israel withdrew from Gaza and redeployed 9,000 Israeli settlers, the Strip remained under the total control of the Israeli occupation authorities. The goal behind the disengagement from Gaza was not to grant Gaza freedom. As articulated by Ariel Sharon’s top aide, Dov Weisglass, the disengagement was actually meant to ensure that “there will not be a political process with the Palestinians.”
Iriqat points here to the imperial mentality. The West repudiates any “authentic political process” whether this be with the people whose lands they have invaded in Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine or elsewhere. Just as they have prevented the people of Ukraine from engaging in any political peace process, even though this has meant the destruction of much of that country and its people, so they refuse seriously to engage in a political process with Palestine. The ethos of domination cannot endure the thought of equality. Iriqat places in his article the following haunting remark pointing to a deeper issue: “If Auschwitz archives document the tragedy of human history in the twentieth century, then what is documented on the Gaza Strip on television screens in 2023 is the collapse of humanity in the twenty-first century.”
Similarly, journalist Jon Swartz, in his online article of January 20, 2024, in the Intercept Magazine, declares: “People across the globe are particularly appalled by Israel’s violence because it is a manifestation and symbol of European colonialism, plausibly the most terrifying and destructive ideology in human history.” Were the Nazi and Japanese ideologies of World War Two dedicated to the enslavement and dehumanization of the peoples they mercilessly conquered throughout Southeast Asia, Europe, and North Africa manifestations of European colonialism? Yes and no.
Just as the holocaust of the 20th century portents the collapse of humanity in the 21st century, so the European colonialism of the past four centuries points to the fact that “the most terrifying and destructive ideology in human history” is alive and well today. As William Butler Yeats cried out in the year 1921, “And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?" Symbolically, the spirit of domination, which cannot recognize human equality, was born again in Bethlehem with the Zionist movement and its Nakba—killing and forcibly displacing some 760,000 people in 1948 in order to establish the Israeli state.
However, the dominator consciousness goes deeper than the North American-European colonialism of Netanyahu or Joe Biden. The deeper roots of the Gaza genocide lie in the dominant world consciousness going back to the focus (adopted by Descartes in the 17th century) on the power and autonomy of human subjectivity—the capacity to objectify “the other” as a mere external object of one’s consciousness. This can be exemplified by Auschwitz or by numerous Japanese genocidal crimes, such as the Nanking Massacre of 1937–38, which exterminated more than 300,000 Chinese civilians. It can also be exemplified in contemporary military doctrine that includes the simple calculus of “the kill ratio.”
What is the ‘kill ratio’? If it is correct that the kill ratio in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine (backed by Western imperialism) has been 4 or 5 to 1 (5 Ukrainian soldiers killed for every 1 Russian), then what analysists like Scott Ritter conclude is on the mark. From the very beginning, Russia has been winning that war, and it is now won. The effort to extend the US-NATO imperial war machine to the borders of Russia has been stopped because the kill ratio has all along meant that Ukraine could not be winning that war.
After the initial Hamas attack, Israel declared war on Hamas. In Gaza, what is the kill ratio? Could one compare the more than 500 Israeli soldiers killed to date with the 26000 killed in Gaza, giving a kill ratio of about 54 to 1? Is this a victory? But the 26000 were unarmed civilians, two-thirds of them women and children, not Hamas fighters. Genocide, the mass slaughter of unarmed people, is not a military success; it is an inhuman depravity. Yet it follows inexorably from the logic of militarism. The logic of militarism does not look at human beings; it looks at numbers (in deep resonance with the logic of capitalism, which also looks at numbers and not human consequences).,
The logic of militarism derives from the spatialized, ‘geometric vision of the world’ established at the dawn of the modern era in the 15th to 17th centuries. The world was thus looked at by Descartes and others as the sensorium of an ego-centered gaze in which all “external” events were understood as mechanized ‘bodies in motion’ governed by inexorable laws of physics. From this derives the modern military mentality that objectifies an enemy in terms of numbers, weapons systems, etc., and then “calculates” the kill ratios in terms of soldiers and equipment necessary for “victory.”
In this mode of visioning, the human spirit is dead, and all humanity has the potential to become dead. The human spirit, expressed in the great world religions as the spirit of love, compassion, justice, freedom, and redemption, became lost when the dominant paradigm of humanity (beginning with the European Renaissance) moved to the deadness of the early-modern cosmology and modes of seeing. “Objectification,” Karl Marx called it. The world as a “standing reserve” and the autonomous “subject” as an imperial will to dominate and exploit (as Martin Heidegger calls this in his 1954 essay on “The Question of Technology”).
It is not that people adopt this stance and then create institutions to match their dehumanized vision. Rather, the system demands such vision, and those people will rise within the system to run it who are most susceptible to this inner deadness. For such people, the objectified world, displayed before the imperial will like a shackled Guantanamo prisoner, is here to be exploited and dominated. It is a dead world, seen by dead eyes and a dead heart, yet all the while an eyes and heart subconsciously informed by cruelty and resentment, that is, human persons enraged in their depths by their own deadness—the Netanyahus, Zelenskys, or Joe Bidens who run this world.
Those who staff the Pentagon, the Russian, Chinese, or Israeli militaries, are the walking dead. Those who manufacture weapons of war, including nuclear weapons, at Lockheed-Martin or other weapons manufacturers comprise the walking dead. Those in the US State Department and Security Council who plan their wars on “the grand chessboard” of the world are the walking dead. Those in the US Congress (nearly all) who fund the war machine and support the Israeli genocide are the walking dead. Those in the European colonial juggernaut, supporting Israel and the empire through their NATO military machine, are the walking dead.
Why should the rest of us (the majority of the Earth’s population) consent to the destruction of nature and humanity under the reign of the walking dead? Why should we watch helplessly, witnessing their invasions, atrocities, endless militarization, and genocides? This need not be. There is a way out. As the vast majority, we can and must democratically take control of the fate of our precious Earth. Ratification of the Constitution for the Federation of Earth could help change all this.
The Constitution is premised on the new, holistic paradigm of the interdependence (mutual love, mutual understanding, and mutual compassion) of all living things, nature, and the cosmos. It can serve as a bridge to help people think in a new way, to come back to life, and to begin to live with compassion, sensitivity, and respect for human dignity. Its very design helps prevent those among us who are walking dead from rising to positions of power. My books of 2018, 2021, and 2024 all attempt to deeply chronicle this transformation, this absolutely necessary rebirth of humanity.
The logic of militarism is a subset of the logics of capitalism and sovereign nation-states, which are in turn a subset of the paradigm of objectification. All these logics arose during the early-modern period and are based on the mechanistic early-modern paradigm with its split between subject and object, placing the subject in willful control of the object of its gaze. It is this logic that is dehumanizing across the board. It leads people to “objectify the other,” whether this be humans, animals, or nature. To live in a sovereign nation-state and affirm its militarization is to potentially be willing to kill all other human beings, that is, anyone one’s government decides is the “enemy.” The orientation is genocidal in its assumptions, genocidal from the start. Murderous—a spawn of the walking dead.
What have we done to ourselves? We have embraced a way of seeing, a way of thinking, and believing that turns our beautiful and dynamically alive world into an objectified dead mechanism animated only by relations of power and will, subordination, and domination. The Israelis subordinated and dominated the Palestinian people in deeply inhuman ways in Gaza (“the world’s largest prison camp"), and then they reacted genocidally when the inmates violently rebelled against their dehumanization.
A kill ratio calculated between Israeli soldiers killed and Hamas fighters killed makes some sort of military sense (and that is why Hamas is so far not losing this conflict), but this calculation is, in principle, in no way different from 54 to 1. Wise people have declared, from time immemorial, that war and violence are not the way. Violence inevitably generates an endless “cycle of violence.” The only way must be democratic government for all humanity with its nonviolent ways of reconciliation, redemption, and moving forward, that is, a political process among people recognizing one another as equals. The Earth Constitution is a key to this process.
The modern egocentric, post-Newtonian consciousness objectifies the world and human beings in a gigantic maelstrom of power and force relationships. It recognizes little else. In his 1948 book on The Politics of Nations (still studied today by the US military), Hans Morgenthau said exactly this in his description of the relations between nations: the whole thing is about power and force, not “ideals.” In this consciousness, compassion, authentic love, the oneness of mutuality, the unspeakable beauty of the Earth, and the living world of plants and animals are all mute and dead.
Nature is what is calculable within a profit and loss calculus. A corporate pig farm does not care about the well-being or suffering of its pigs. A forest with all its living creatures is simply a calculation reflected by the profit and loss involved in cutting it down. A military operation is simply a calculation of the kill ratio and similar factors. A weapons manufacturer rates high on the stock exchange because of its high profit margin, having nothing to do with the devastation its “product” creates. The global ruling class: the bankers, the corporate executives, the politicians—all walking dead.
It is our objectified world view, in our outmoded egoistic “enframing” of the world, our assumption that a human being is reducible to the “will to power.” This is what is behind the Gaza genocide. Israel has lost this war not only because of its genocidal extermination of Gaza’s men, women, and children. It lost because it is already dead. Its soul is dead. Like the American war machine that supports it, both are manifestations of the modern world’s commitment to death. It is a way of living on our beautiful, vibrant Earth as a perversion of our common humanity. To my mind, this can only be described as “a walking death,” killing all living things that get in its way.