What Rape Gets You

We almost always react to problems. We identify them and move to mitigate them, fix them or destroy them. Sometimes we’re mystified by problems; we just can’t understand how this particular problem could have arisen. Many times we ignore problems. We might find them inconvenient, or we might simply wish that they would go away because the thought of what we might have to do to make them go away is too difficult to maintain for more than a few seconds. Mutually Assured Destruction comes to mind. Climate Change comes to mind. 

There may be a cluster of pernicious problems that when taken altogether seem impossible to deal with. We may even think these problems through and realize that if we were to implement solutions that would solve our problems we’d have to change our world so radically that it would seem like we were living in a parallel universe. 

And most of us are used to things as they are. We're comfortable enough with our world. We only know our world. So what's the problem? But perhaps we don't know our world well enough to notice we have a problem. 

Some problems explode in our face, seemingly coming from nowhere. “What honey? But just yesterday you were telling me how much you loved me. What happened?” Or, "WOW - that chemical plant in just blew up!"

So what's the problem? We need those cheap chemicals for all our cheap stuff. In the US, it's illegal to build a plant like the one in Tianjin within city limits. Some kinds of plants can't even operate in the US anymore because they are too dirty or too dangerous so we simply move them to other countries where they don't have restrictive regulations and are friendly towards our business pursuits. These countries produce our chemicals and refine raw materials for us so we can have them shipped back to the US as needed for added value manufacturing. This is why we need trade deals. We like things this way because our stuff is cheaper, we're out of danger, and executives can get great salaries for their ingenious solutions to circumventing regulatory problems, taxes, etc. Politicians can bask in the spotlight, lobbyists can get paid and we can enjoy a nice standard of living. 

Other problems incubate and grow silently in the shadows, they fester and spread like cancer until the whole system is damaged beyond repair. The cost of these kinds of problems is enormous. Think of corporate and bank bailouts; think Greece; think of healthcare; think civil war; think world war; think terrorism.

Then there are the problems that we don't even notice because they are part and parcel of who we are. Like a bad habit one’s had for so long it seems like a good thing. It’s not even that we rationalize bad behavior or a fragile system in order to maintain the status quo. It’s just who we are. When a cultural anthropologist enters the village of a tribe of cannibals she doesn't look at the behavior of eating other human beings as a problem - it’s just their culture. If she finds out later that the behavior is causing some malady as a byproduct, she’ll investigate and perhaps even intervene and attempt to enlighten the tribe as to the cause of the disease. She'll try to explain that the cure is nothing more complex and difficult than changing a core aspect of their culture. Will she be met with violent resistance or hailed as a hero? 

Rape is a problem. For most cultures, since long ago, rape has been viewed as more than a problem; it’s been seen as a horrific, evil crime, a crime that, at its core, is about exerting power over helpless victims. Some rapists can be very clever, they can use drugs to weaken their victim’s will to resist, they can employ subtle forms of intimidation and let the fear that inspires do the softening up, or they can use information and propaganda to convince their victims that they are not actually being violated. Bill Cosby comes to mind. Trade sanctions come to mind. Foreign sanctioned and supported death squads come to mind.

The Death Squad Dilemma 

Cuba Trade Embargo Click on the image for more information. 

Cuba Trade Embargo Click on the image for more information. 

There is a grand and tragic literature across domains about rape - its causes and its consequences. Mostly we refer to rape as a crime committed by one person against another. But what of the many other forms of rape. The kind of rape that one country or empire commits against another. The most convenient example would be The Rape of Nanking during the Second Sino-Japanese War. The mass murder of civilians took place from December 13, 1937, through January 1938. The Japanese military attacked Nanking and raped, murdered and pillaged systematically for weeks. This is, of course, nothing new. During this particular conflict, however, it was so systematic that it's impossible for some historians to stomach the coverup of Emperor Hirohito's crimes against humanity. MacArthur, like other vain leaders, will save a criminal for convenience. To attempt to compile a comprehensive list of these kinds of incidents throughout world history would be exhausting and depressing. I’m extremely thankful that I avoided having to be involved in such State actions of violent rape during my lifetime. I've only avoided such a fate through the lottery of birth. Lucky me. 

It seems no country, or culture is innocent.

There is, however, an even worse kind of rape if you can imagine that. The rape motivated by power and greed that seems so much a part of our institutionalized nature that we'd have to be a different species to transcend it. I’m not being metaphorical here. Before we go on let’s take a peek at the common definition of rape. When we use the word rape in a broader sense it's not simply hyperbolic metaphor.




unlawful sexual intercourse or any other sexual penetration of the vagina, anus, or mouth of another person, with or without force, by a sex organ, other body part, or foreign object, without the consent of the victim.


statutory rape.


an act of plunder, violent seizure, or abuse; despoliation; violation:

the rape of the countryside.


Archaic. the act of seizing and carrying off by force.

verb (used with object), raped, raping.


to commit the crime of rape on (a person).


to plunder (a place); despoil:

The logging operation raped a wide tract of forest without regard for the environmental impact of their harvesting practices.


to seize, take, or carry off by force.

This is the entry is from dictionary.feference.com and it’s plain that what we're talking about is a well-worn path.


We don't have to share any other references to make what we're talking about clearer. Empires have been raping countries and nature for thousands of years. The violence of our violations of human dignity and our ecosystem have been ramping up to enormous proportions since the industrial revolution and continue today unabated. 

When we see boatloads, and truckloads of migrants crossing borders all over the world we need to pause for a long hard look at what’s causing this sudden increase in refugees, migrants, and illegal aliens. We also need to remember that it's nothing new. The migration issue exploded in the 19th century along with industry, technology and amazing new means of travel. 

When we rape and pillage, when we destroy fine cultures just for profit, we create problems. People in Africa are thinking, where did our culture go? Where did our natural resources go? In what pockets did the booty fall. Why are we in debt? Why is our world on fire? Who started this? What empire is responsible? We don't know, but the Dutch, the British, the Belgians, the Germans, the Italians, the Russians, the Chinese, the Americans seem to have profited nicely from the use of our resources, our markets and our people. Our world is violated beyond repair. We've been raped for decades. Things are better in the empire's homeland. They've made good use of us. We have no choice not but to go there and try to survive. Of course, a rapist will never appreciate his victim or feel compassion. His desire is simply to rape and to have power over his victim. A victim of rape feels worthless, a victim of rape feels that he has nothing to lose - in some ways he's already dead so risking his life to extend his life seems normal. Going on is simply the instinct to survive. 


The truth is that the causes of these problems have created an everlasting wound that spurts a fountain of blood from our global socioeconomic system. A culture of greed feeds on the weak and the vulnerable. Indeed globalization has empowered these problems to an amazing degree. And now that we belong to a global culture we need to stop the bleeding and heal the wounds.

When Trump and others like him talk about bringing plants back to the USA, and bringing jobs back to the USA, he’s lying to us. He doesn’t have any solutions. He's just telling us what we need to hear. He couldn’t possibly have any solutions because he is a paragon of the system that’s causing the problems he’s professing to be able to fix. Think carefully when politicians speak. They are more often than not telling you what you want to hear so they can get on with their business.

There are libraries full of books and petabytes of data on the Web focused on the causes of the problems we're speaking of. Many economists, historians, psychologists, social scientists, business leaders, engineers and artists have already produced a museum of information and exhibits on the subject of how our system works. We have all the information we need. It’s all there. We just have to be able to see the patterns and interpret them correctly. Then we might realize that we need some new and radical ideas if we're going to ever be able to live "the good life".

The current socioeconomic, political, cultural global system is untenable. It’s not sustainable. It can't last. It has been and still is a perpetual act of violent rape. It doesn't matter how comfortable, entertained, or busy we are - that's a fact. We only seem to notice rape when the power mad violence happens to us, or someone we love, or to a system we've learned to revere. Ignoring this tragic state of affairs won't make it go away. 

When empires rape cultures and the natural environment with impunity for power, money and prestige there are always consequences. The western powers created Iraq, raped Iraq and now Donald Trump says that Iraq doesn’t exist. Shock and awe begets shock and awe. The almighty Super Power triumphs in one moment only to see that nothing has changed. Iraq still doesn't have its Disneyland, it only has its civil war.  

We now have another empire movement in Iraq and elsewhere, ISIS, a State that Rukmini Callimachi of the New York Times says, enshrines a theology of rape. A given sect can display good or bad behaviors. We usually know intuitively when something isn't right. In our liberal tradition of tolerance we want to protect believers, we want to protect people's right to do as they wish - until it's too late. It's hard to predict the unintended consequences of our passions. At the end of the day, we still have one State raping another because it can and because it thinks it has the power to remake the world in its image. Nation building is part of that ignoble tradition. There will be no Disneyland in the Islamic State. Whatever they have there when the end comes, and it will, will probably not be the kind of alternative way of life we've been talking about here. 

When the US went to Vietnam and facilitated the bombing of Laos and the My Lai massacre it was a powerful State raping the hell out of a much weaker State with impunity. It doesn't matter how we rationalize the need to do such evil, it's still evil. We do this over and over again, sometimes raping and killing for over a decade until we decide to stop. We then pull out, no pun intended and go our merry way as if to say, "enough now, we've made enough out of this conflagration." We do it because we have the resources and the will and many times we do it to defend an ideology that itself is imperfect. Over ten years we've been paying for wars in the Middle East and absolutely nothing has changed for the better. We still don't understand each other. The conflicts multiply and rage out of control. Anyone who calls that a win is either insane or dishonest. 

Your can of Coke is a product of rape. My computer is a product of rape. The corn by-products in almost every product on the shelves in your local grocery store are the products of rape. Most of us remain unaware of the trade-offs and the impacts of our consumer culture. It seems we can all live these impacts - until we can’t. 

Photos of smelting plants in the UAE and such. Just move the plants where they can operate efficiently and their people will be killed if there is an accident.

The evidence is out there. It’s right there in your face. You can look at it if you want to and do something about it or you can look the other way like an entitled, spoiled, frat boy who clicks a pic of a rape in progress and goes to the other room for a shooter before plopping down on the couch to play a computer game, and do a bong hit with a line of coke. 

Kill the market and you kill the problem. It sounds scary doesn't it. It is scary, it means we'll all have to make sacrifices. We fear losing something way more than we fear getting something, even if that new thing is potentially a much better system.

We'd kill our neighbor on boxing day to get a deal on a pair of running shoes. We’d kill flipper for a tuna sandwich. We've heard this kind of thing for decades and yet we just keep plugging along.

I know, I've upset you. I'm sorry about that. I'm upset too. I don't know how we can change this, but it’s the 21st century and we're still staring down intercontinental ballistic missiles armed with nuclear weapons; we're still watching our world coming to a boil because of our addiction to consumerism and cheap energy. We're still raping other countries and nature for the raw materials we need for our orgy of consumption.




the act of consuming, as by use, decay, or destruction.


the amount consumed:

the high consumption of gasoline.


Economics. the using up of goods and services having an exchangeable value.



Older Use. tuberculosis of the lungs.

progressive wasting of the body.

I'm not aware of any leader who’s really facing the problem square on and trying to find solutions. The US election is nothing but entertainment. It's big business in every way. It’s another diversion to keep us from having to feel guilty. We can simply blame everything on someone else or some other country or culture. We know what cake is for, it's for eating, not having.

We could go on ad nauseam relating events of rabid rape throughout history, and it wouldn't change the institutionalized behaviors responsible for its never ending eruption. We read Flipboard or watch TV news. We know what's happening, and until we can admit we have a problem we'll just keep plugging away.  We'll keep on plugging away until things become too painful and horrific to bear. What a sad state of affairs. Like plugging away abusing your body until your heart explodes and hoping that high-tech medicine will fix it for you. If you have the price for it of course.

We need real change my friends, or civilization as we know it will come to an end. The technologists, the scientists, the philosophers, the billionaire philanthropists and even God himself are not going to cut the right wire as the last second ticks down to the ultimate catastrophe. We are simply going to have to save ourselves. We need a rigorous, evidence-based culture before the above forces can unite and help us develop a better way forward. 

In an era where every little fellow, people like me, can run their own show, amidst the pathology of that, the overload, the vanity, it’s hard to imagine all of the sensible movements of our world coming together to organize a peaceful revolution that can save us. But that's precisely what it’s going to take. If we don’t come together, help each other and cooperate with one another, our children die. Or, at best live vastly impoverished lives compared to us. Then again, maybe the Paleo Lifestyle is the moral high ground of our ultimate fate. 

"But we're going to terraform Mars" I hear someone saying. Even if we could and we injected humanity onto that new Eden, we would still be a potential deadly disease infecting our creation with our toxic hubris. It may not end well even if we were able to upload our avaricious consciousness into a super cool machine. We'd just have a super sick, super intelligent machine wreaking havoc on the universe. Dystopian thoughts indeed. We need to fix our cage. We need to live well to be well and that's a tall order. Traditions have been trying various formulas for that since the dawn of civilization.

Oh, you don’t think so? It’s not rape! It’s progress you say? It’s just human nature? Okay, well there you have it. As a friend keeps telling me, “There is nothing you, me or anyone else in this world can do to change things. You just have to keep plugging away.” 

If sensible, evidence based, movements don't come together as a force of good with new ideas that can inspire us to develop and run new institutions that can manage our global resources in a more sustainable way; if we continue to muddy the waters of our consciousness in this information-age; if we can't nurture the better angels of our nature and learn to love each other and our environment then the rapist in all of us all will triumph and we’ll deserve the dire consequences of our actions and our inaction. 

Go in peace, but get off that couch. 


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Steven Cleghorn

Steven is an autodidact, skeptic, raconteur and film producer from America who has been traveling since he was a zygote. He's a producer at The Muse Films Ltd. in Hong Kong and a constantly improving (hopefully) Globe Hacker. He's seeks the company of interesting minds.