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The war in Afghanistan began with the oppressive, theocratic Taliban in power, and ended with the oppressive, theocratic Taliban in power. Sisyphus rolled his Katamari Damacy boulder up the mountain, and it rolled right back down again. The absurdity of the war is obvious on its face, but there is a desperation to find meaning within it that would make Camus blush. Though it’s somewhat old news by now, during the American withdrawal, there was all sorts of noise about how Western forces were abandoning their Afghan comrades to the brutality of the Taliban.

I am not trying to diminish the severity of what the Taliban has done and will continue to do with those dissenting under its rule. My glibness comes as a result of the crocodile tears shed over the bodies of those slain during the withdrawal from the war that ignore the over a hundred thousand bodies that accumulated preceding it. Losing a war is bloody; that’s the reality of war. If you don’t like it, maybe question the war itself rather than the means of its end.

The realities of war

The tears come from the bipartisan desire to create meaning in a pointless war: if there are good Afghans to save, it means that the war produced good Afghans worth saving. Nobody would have given a shit about them otherwise; the West would be much more inclined toward taking refugees if there was a heartfelt belief that we need to create a safe haven for those fleeing violence and persecution. The sad irony is that those whose freedom from the Taliban was being demanded were those who had aligned themselves with the invaders, cementing the linking of a “good” Afghan with their complicity in the war.

Another central tenet that the war in Afghanistan was meaningful is the women’s liberation that the war provided. Some women were able to go to school, and therefore 20 years of death, torture, and war crimes are vindicated. Those women are worse off now than they were before; again, no argument, but finding miniscule acts of success to justify what is otherwise 20 years of pointless war is incredibly ignorant. In actuality, using war to generate feminism is more likely to produce a nation of incels who see feminism as cancer than an Islamic Feminine Mystique.

Thanks, Betty Friedan!

Using feminism as justification for the war in Afghanistan, and gesturing loosely toward the mostly urban women who benefited, pointedly ignores the majority of women who live in rural settings where most of the war took place. Afghan women were certainly not benefitting from the war when they and their families were dying from it. The quick rise of the Taliban points to a nation hungry for incel-logic; Afghanistan may actually be worse off than it was 20 years ago from the perspective of democratic and liberal reformation due to the brutality used allegedly in its name. Sisyphus’s boulder fell back down the mountain and into a ravine. The West tried to viciously impose liberal secularism in Iran with the Shah, and he too was violently overthrown by a virulently religious fundamentalist group. Any positive regard held for Western ideals is just as dead as all the rest of them.

The war made Afghanistan worse, and for what? The bipartisan narrative adopted in much of the media paints the picture of a blundering but ultimately benevolent force trying so hard to do good but occasionally failing in simple but horrific ways. Like if Rocky Balboa knocked out Apollo Creed in the first round, but because his eyes were all bruised up and he couldn’t see, he wandered into the crowd and begun striking civilians at random. At home we’re watching and thinking, no! Rocky! If only Mickey had cut you so you could see! We are helpless as Rocky bludgeons old women and children in his missteps. Then, after the crowd boos too loudly for too long, we lament Rocky leaving, shaking our heads at the blows he receives on his way out the door. Meanwhile, Apollo Creed has gotten up and dusted himself off, and being the only one left standing in the ring, claims victory.


We could still love Rocky after such a blunder. It’s forgivable. But that’s not how war works. The better analogy would be if Rocky was at a bus stop where Apollo Creed was reading a newspaper, and Rocky was like, “I heard you hate women!” and then pulled out a gun and shot him. Then he wandered away from the bus stop to a nearby wedding reception and shot up the guests. And he did so with eyes wide open.

The West knew what was going on in Afghanistan. They’re actively preventing themselves from being held accountable to international law. We’ve had whistleblowers point out the war’s criminality to us repeatedly and they’re all being punished for it by both American political parties. And for what? For what? For literally no reason. Terrorism didn’t go away; Al-Qaeda evolved into ISIS-K. Afghanistan is fully red pilled. America wanted war instead of justice, the rest of the West went along with it, and this is what we’re left with.

Cartoons make the villains easy to spot!

I’ve purposefully avoided talking about the military-industrial complex and how the reason for the war is obviously all the money that was made by the defense contractors and weapons manufacturers. It’s not that I disagree, it’s that we don’t have a smoking gun pointing to that level of Machiavellianism, and I want to be as convincing as possible. The war is provably pointless in a way that ought to make us reflect on why it ever happened in the first place. When there is no justification for a war, it’s a lot easier to compare it to straight-up murder. The war in Afghanistan was criminal. Those who participated in it are criminals. Anyone saying otherwise is covering up a crime.

I like divine proofs. They’re fun because the good ones force you to acknowledge the hazy boundaries of materialism. I’ve written about a few before, and though none of them have changed my mind, they still offer unique ways to contemplate the universe and our position within it.

I’ll just quickly go through them because they’re not that complicated. The first is similar to the First Cause proof, which I outlined in a previous blog, where the universal chain of causation needs to have a beginning, and that beginning is God. The finger that pushes the first domino, so to speak. This new variation looks at contingency instead of causation, but follows a similar pattern. For example, I may have been caused by the biological pairing of my parents, but my existence is contingent on a lot more than that. I depend on air to breathe, food to eat, millions of different types of bacteria to digest food, etc. The planet upon which I depend is also contingent. It is contingent on gravity to keep it composed as it is, a sun around which to revolve, its elemental makeup to determine its type, and so on. Our planet, our sun, our solar system all depend on the universe itself to house us in space. So again if we continue this chain, and we consider the entire set of contingencies that make up the universe, there would need to be some necessary entity upon which a universe of contingencies would need to depend. Contingency without necessity cannot be sustained indefinitely, so this necessary entity becomes the immovable bedrock upon which everything else is built. This necessary entity is of course God.

Next is the ‘layers of reality’ proof. It posits that there is a hierarchy of realities, each one providing the “realness” for the one below it. For example, if I think I glimpse a snake, I may become frightened and withdraw. This “snake” is real because it evoked a response, but its realness exists at the most minimal level because after a second, more inquisitive look, I determine that it is not a snake, but a rope. The reality of the “snake” is provided by the similarities in shape and coil. The rope is thus the second layer of reality. However, we can examine the rope further and analyze its fibers, its tautness and strength, the structure of its make, and so on. This offers a third layer of reality: the type of rope. This type of rope further determines the reality of the previous, nondescript rope of a semi-casual observation. These layers of reality go further, as the molecular makeup of the rope will determine its rope-ness on an atomic level. The type of rope is again predicated on this deeper level.

Do we go further than this? The deeper we go, the more assured we become, as each layer of contemplated reality offers more information than the last. Beyond the atomic level we cannot glimpse, but do we assume that because we do not possess the tools to measure beyond this level of reality that it does not exist? That an extra layer cannot exist that represents the foundation of reality? A determining layer of reality upon which all else sits might not in fact be measurable by sensory-based tools that humans could ever produce. It is an assumption to opine beyond this level, but no more absurd an assumption than saying that just because we can’t measure it doesn’t mean it isn’t there. We never would have discovered magnetic fields until we had the magnets to measure them. This doesn’t mean that we will eventually create a tool to measure this extra-material layer of reality since we may already be imbued with the means of accessing it!

And yeah, blah blah blah I know you can’t say anything about a God proven by either of these methods. Get over it.

Charles Eisenstein (2013) predicts that a convergence of crises where the devastation of the environment, the increasing social hostilities across the world, the domination of monolithic international corporations over the global economy, and the impotence or facilitation with which governments typically respond to these factors will inescapably lead to the end of civilization. Ronald Wright (2004) looks at the rise and fall of previous civilizations and sees that there is a large sampling of civilizations that grew too large, consumed all their resources, and then spread out once those resources were finished. In an effort to see how humanity behaves without any room to expand, Wright looks at Easter Island as an example of a confined society where every last resource, in this instance trees, was eliminated, thereby destroying the civilization and the ecology of the island.

This analysis of the past and prediction for the future paints a bleak picture for our now global civilization. Humanity has run out of room to spread, and it is quite quickly running through its finite resources. Eisenstein (2013) suggests that those who wish to do some good for the world should continue their progressive practices in order to provide a solid foundation upon which humanity is to rebuild after the coming calamity. Another somewhat facetious approach is accelerationism; if we accept that the end of our global civilization is inevitable and imminent, the morally righteous course of action would be to speed that process along so as to hasten the opportunity to rebuild. This posits a critically important question, however: are we truly bound by a predetermined Armageddon where all hope of salvation for our current world is already lost?

Possibly the greatest threat to the stability of the world is the proliferation of international corporations. The Corporation (Achbar, Simpson & Abbot, 2003) illustrates the way that businesses that might otherwise be benign have infected the status quo by externalizing the problems they produce and internalizing anonymous blamelessness. Corporations lack any kind of accountability (outside of the profit motive) due to their personhood lacking any kind of body to incarcerate or otherwise punish. This leads to environmental and ecological destruction which damns future generations, and inhuman working conditions that damn the current one. Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Prices (Greenwald, Gilliam, Levit & Smith, 2005) localizes these issues by demonstrating how large corporations can turn communities into ghost towns by using predatory market practices to eviscerate smaller businesses and unfair labour practices to impoverish their workforce. These corporations run not just an oligopoly in the world’s economy, but in the media as well. In 1983, there were 50 different companies running the news media in America, and as of 2004 there are six (Perkins, 2011). By achieving a stranglehold on what the general population consumes as ‘news’, and by providing only the dominant cultural narrative through it (Mullaly, 2010), the corporate agenda can act with an even greater impunity than what the anonymity of corporate personhood normally would allow.

While these corporations continue to increasingly subjugate every aspect of the planet, the general populace faces contrasting destitution. The debt of the average Canadian is approximately $1.64 of debt to every dollar of income and continues to grow (Wong, 2015). This spiraling debt is the result of the credit industry; a tragedy caused by a gluttonous system creating superfluous demand to consume its petty trinkets (Perkins, 2011). This demand is built on a foundation of nothingness, however, and by witnessing its rapid growth we can predict a debt bubble destined to burst.

In addition to these worrying dilemmas, speaking out against them has its own problems. The film What Would Jesus Buy? (Morgan & VanAlkemade, 2007) depicts the criminalization of dissent as the protagonist of the film, Reverend Billy, is routinely harassed by police and security, or even arrested as he attempts to decry the commercialization of one of North America’s most sacred holidays. While many armchair activists might like to believe that posting a politically-themed status update on their Facebook page might be the equivalent of enacting social justice, the reality is that change will only occur through tangible efforts made by real people, such as the Reverend Billy. However, by forbidding that kind of activism through the use of police and the laws to which they adhere, the status quo clamps down on any real activism that might take place. While purporting to celebrate free speech and social justice, by relegating activism to predetermined locations where it might safely go unheard, society creates a wall where change breaks like a wave on the rocks.

Those working to create that change often find themselves at odds with one another as well. By being entrenched in a society that fosters competitiveness and creates a zero-sum funding method for social programs, activists are forced to fight not only against the structural inequalities of our broken system, but also against other activists that are labouring toward common goals. The system by its very function disrupts progress simply by exerting its default ideology of competition and capitalism (Bishop, 2006).

In addition to the systemic factors undercutting progress, there is a further burden on those advocating for change. Quite often when things go wrong, the blame will fall on those working toward ameliorating them. One example is the death of an Aboriginal teen which was primarily blamed on the “persistent indifference of front-line government workers” (Changes being made, 2015, para. 4). The problems inherent in the structure of racist policies that function to the detriment of Aboriginal youth go unnoticed as culpability is thrust upon the persons closest to the issue. This culpability further stigmatizes those seeking social improvement, and acts as discouragement toward even bothering in the first place.

So in the face of the impossibility of overcoming insurmountable global obstacles, or, on the off-chance that they are overcome, doing so in a timely enough manner that the already crippling environmental damages do not become irreversible, why do we bother? What leads us to bang our heads against this wall, suffering the slings and arrows, while facing off quite literally against the world? Would it not be simpler to merely give in, let the wave of inevitability wash over us, and accept somewhat less facetiously the merits of accelerationism?

The existentialist philosopher Albert Camus utilizes the myth of Sisyphus to illustrate how one might be able to confront meaninglessness. While Camus speaks ontologically, the method applies to social justice as well. Sisyphus is condemned to an eternity of pushing a giant boulder up a mountain, seeing it roll down the other side, then walking down to push it back up again. Camus, rather than seeing this as dreadful punishment, celebrates it and declares that Sisyphus must own his task and complete it passionately. He claims that Sisyphus overcomes the will of the gods in this manner in spite of them, and announces that “there is no fate that cannot be surmounted by scorn” (Camus, 1956, p. 314).

Bob Mullaly mirrors this view by declaring that anger is the necessary tool to combat futile odds: “anger at governments that cater to the wishes of the wealthy at the expense of women, children, visible minorities, and other marginalized groups; anger at a social welfare system that homogenizes, controls, and monitors people who are forced to go to it for assistance and that has proletarianized its workers; and anger at the discrimination, exploitation, and blocked opportunities that so many people experience today” (Mullaly, 2010, p. 283). Mullaly suggests anger as a tool to rally a community around an issue in an attempt to overcome it. From this perspective, it is only through owning the cause and becoming passionate about it that pointlessness can be conquered.

There are also those who believe that when knowledge is gained and compassion is utilized, fighting against these crises is humanity’s natural response. Si Transken defines these fruitless warriors as fuchsia elephants, who “may be on the verge of extinction,” but still “cannot blend into the chicken crowd” (Bryant et al., 1999, p. 33). No matter the outcome, fighting for social change compels them, and no amount of pressure from outside forces will quell the fires that have been lit inside. Once one adopts the mantle of the fuchsia elephant, it cannot be discarded. One may submit to the “exhaustive demands of the circus crowd” (Bryant et al., 1999, p. 33) and have their fire reduced to embers, but the fuchsia will never fully wash out.

Whatever the cause, be it natural or passionate, we must continue to fight. Even in the face of impossibility, in the face of meaninglessness, the battle for social justice must continue. Accelerationism works solely on the faith that there will be enough of a world left to rebuild once the convergence of crises has devastated it, and that is a deadly gamble. Giving up is not an option.


Achbar, M., Simpson, B. (Producers), & Achbar, M., Abbot, J. (Directors). The Corporation [Motion Picture]. USA: Big Picture Media Corporation

Bishop, A. (2006). Becoming an Ally: Breaking the cycle of oppression in people. Black Point, Nova Scotia: Fernwood Publishing.

Bryant, V., Dahl, P., Lane, L., Marttila, M., Transken, S., Trepanier, C. (1999). Battle Chant. Sudbury, On: Battle Chant Ink.

Camus, A. (1956). The myth of Sisyphus, p. 312-314 In Kaufmaan, W. (ed.) Existentialism from Dostoevsky to Sartre. Cleveland: Meridian Books.

Changes being made after report on death of Aboriginal teen: Children’s Ministry. (2015, Oct. 20). Prince George Citizen, p. 6.

Eisenstein, C. (2013). The ascent of humanity: Civilization and the human sense of self. Berkeley, CA: Evolver Editions.

Greenwald, R., Gilliam, J., Levit, L., Smith, D. (Producers), & Greenwald, R. (Director). Wal-Mart: The high cost of low price [Motion picture]. USA: Brave New Films.

Morgan, S. (Producer), & VanAlkemade, R. (Director). (2007). What would Jesus buy? [Motion picture]. USA: Arts Alliance America.

Mullaly, B. (2010). Challenging oppression and confronting privilege. Oxford, NY:Oxford University Press.

Perkins, J. (2011). Hoodwinked: An economic hit man reveals why the global economy imploded – and how to fix it. New York, NY: Crown Publishing Group.

Wong, C. (2015, Sep. 12). Household debt ratio grew in Q2 as debt increased faster than income. Prince George Citizen, p. 32

Wright, R. (2004). A short history of progress. Toronto, ON: House of Anansi Press.