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The Future Foresee: A Letter of Apology to My Grandson


The Future Foresee: A Letter of Apology to My Grandson

Tom Engelhardt

Dear Grandson,


It’s likely that your grandson will grow up in an America that has been crippled by a nuclear attack, probably from some rogue regime or terrorist outfit but possibly from pushing Russia or China too far and triggering a limited exchange, or worse. In any case, the future seems better suited to more authoritarianism than anything resembling real democracy. I would advise young people to consider moving to more peaceful and reasonably democratic nations – New Zealand, Australia, Malaysia, the Pacific islands, Central America, Ecuador, and others come to mind. Most of America has become a cauldron of gun violence, drug abuse, random criminality and racial animosity. It might be time to strap the parachutes to the kids and throw them out the cabin door.


If there is a nuclear detonation on American soil, it will most likely be from a false-flag operation.

Would Wall Street kill a million people to enhance profits? They already have.



As a great-grandfather myself, I can empathize with the author and share the fears that he feels for his grandson.

The truth is, however, that my grandfather owed me much the same apology as this piece gives.

Tom focuses on recent events as the reason for his concern. In fact, these events are culminations of plans and schemes that had been in the works for decades if not centuries. The “warrior corporation” was born in England in the eighteenth century; Wall Street has just refined the lessons.

My point is that we cannot regard the barriers to peace and prosperity as recent developments. They are part of the fabric of modern civilization and have been for centuries.



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Central America??? You gotta be kidding! Honduras is the new fascist death-squad state, Guatemala and El Salvador are little better, Nicaragua is Sandinista in name only and is currently ramming neoliberalism down everybody’s throats - including a environmentally destructive cross-isthmus canal being built by a Chinese multi-billionaire. Panama is corrupt as always. So that leaves just little Costa Rica and tiny Belize.


Thanks, Tom. I have no kids or grandkids - just lots of now mostly young-adult nephews and nieces. I also have two cats and a woman I once loved but who is now effectively only a roommate.

But the trajectory of my viewpoints, which for me actually started while I was standing on Pennsylvania Avenue on that damp gray January 20, 2001, has followed yours exactly.


Tom, we should all take the same 2 weeks off and show up in DC fir a cherry blossom festival. While there, we could just take back our country. Not a difficult undertaking. Just a matter of scheduling. Washington, DC, in the spring time is really a great place to vacation; bring the kids along! In the interiem just keep paying your taxes.


I did as you suggest here (in despair at what appeared to me to be the downward spiral to suicide of the US after 9/11, I waited until the 2004 presidential election for voters to restore some sanity. That didn’t happen and the day after that election, put my house up for sale and moved to New Zealand 8 months later. The first year, it seemed like a social paradise absent of racism, sexism, or homophobia. Coupled with the stunning natural beauty and despite the terrible transport facilities, just about every short-term visitor shares this impression of the country. Reality hit after about 18 months when it became that the apparent absence of those 3 social ills in NZ was not due to enlightenment but total apathy. In the dominant culture there, passion for anything, expressing emotion (especially by men) is a cultural taboo and seen as indicating a lack of self-restraint, as indicative of a primitive and impulsive nature, and/or a simple lack of maturity. So, while it is true that the 3 “isms” cited above dont’ result in lynch mobs or, typically, in violent attacks, there is pervasive discrimination (though always-ever-so-polite-with-every-‘i’-dotted and ‘t’-crossed). Attacks come not in direct, visible form against which one can defend oneself but in passive-aggressive ways by folks who even take ownership of their own prejudice. I remember concluding that I’d prefer a fish-fight with a Texan redneck than navigating this “ever-so-polite” but ever-so-vicious" cultural landscape. And so, 5 years later, I’m back, sometimes thinking that I should have heeded those who told me as I was leaving “you can do more to change the course of this ship of state from inside the US than from without”. Let’s put our American energy to good use and turn the ship around. That may be possible. What is 100% certain is that if we don’t try, it ain’t gonna happen… My 2 cents’ worth …


Tom - I’m not American but being of the same generation and having grandchildren, ranging from teens to toddler, I share many of your concerns. But it seems to me that you don’t seem to understand just why the US and many other states are forever waging wars. Let me explain briefly.
You know how the big chain stores and supermarkets etc. compete for customers, for trade? How banks compete for our custom? How on Wall Street and other Stock Exchanges there is perpetual competition for investment? How the big oil and gas companies range the world, competing to collar the best oil reserves etc.? In short, the fact is that the whole capitalist system is founded upon the principle of competition, at every level. Even the workers as wage slaves are forced to compete against one another for jobs or a step up and a better salary. And the companies they work for employ managers whose role is to maximise the profits the business can show and the dividends that can be paid to shareholders.
So how come there are so many wars? That’s the wrong question. Rather, it’s amazing there aren’t more wars, since all governments are trying to “defend” the interests of their section of the global capitalist class. As it is, I honestly cannot think of a single year in my lifetime when there has not been some wars or wars going on somewhere. And nowadays more than ever, a ‘peace’ is simply a temporary, often only a momentary truce (.e.g. Ukraine) - like the school playground fight which stops for a few minutes only when one of those involved calls for Pax (or Cross Keys…) only to resume later.

Tom, I’m about your age and also have grandchildren in my thoughts. Throughout my life there probably hasn’t been a single year without war somewhere.
But that is inevitable so long as we live in a capitalist world. At every level this is a system based on competition - between companies, between nation-states, even between workers who are
forced to compete against each others for jobs etc.
It is because the world we live in is one of economic competition, not cooperation, it is because of this that all the peace-making / peace-keeping efforts of the UN (and earlier the League of
Nations) are fruitless.
So much for doom and gloom! But I am hopeful for the future - at least when the sun shines!
There is a class of people - the working class, the 99% of relative have-nots - who are simply exploited by this system of production for profit for the benefit of that tiny minority of people who are forever
being enriched and who live off the surplus that we produce. Working people will surely sooner or later wake up to the fact that this crazy, competitive, war-mongering, polluting system just cannot be reformed
so as to work for the benefit of all humankind!
To end this crazy, warmongering system, and replace it with a social system based on not class exploitation, but on the common ownership of the means of producing and distributing wealth organised and democratically controlled by and in the interests of the whole community

That I think is feasible, do-able. For all the efforts of reforming politicians down the generations,


PS Sorry for the technical glitches above! I hope the gist of my spiel got through…


“a typically human inability to imagine the unpredictable future”… that’s what I would say to you. The problem is that you don’t go seek for the unexpected, you are incapsulated in a vacuum of leading US progressive writers, of which every single one, without exception, has his/her own interest that things don’t change. You think that if it’s not US authors or US movements that manage to reclaim the narrative and shift the power, then nobody else can.
You forgot that people in the age your grandson are more likely to have imagination, like physicists, for some reason, who try to understand the invisible, explain it and find the unexpected solution.