Eight Billion Mildly Deranged Monkeys

This is a work of fiction.

image from Pixabay, CC0

Seville came in from lacrosse practice, dropped her stuff in the closet, and plunked down on the sofa opposite where her father was working.

“OK. This makes absolutely no sense, dad.”

“You’re just figuring that out now? I though you were my smart daughter.”

“I’m your only daughter, dad. No, I mean the Nord Stream pipeline bombing. So, your premise in everything is that everything we do is conditioned behaviour, and that we’re all doing our best, right?”

Darien nodded, slowly, pulling his attention away from reading something on his computer.

“So, Sy Hersh, a Pulitzer Prize winning investigative journalist, who uncovered the My Lai massacre, and did much of the work exposing Watergate and the Abu Ghraib tortures, has published overwhelming evidence that the US Navy and CIA, with the complicity of the government of Norway, and with the advance approval of Biden, blew up the Nord Stream pipelines. That’s an act of war against a major nuclear power, and a war crime under any sane definition. Staggeringly risky act. Huge, long-term consequences. So how on earth was it ever approved?”

“My guess is that they thought they would get away with it. They do this kind of thing all the time in dozens of countries. By the time their biggest atrocities are fully revealed, they’re old news and too late to do anything about, so people just shrug and move on. It’s always worked before.”

“So how exactly were they ‘conditioned’ to commit endless numbers of war crimes and atrocities? And by whom?”

“Fear is a great conditioner. People like Joe Biden and Victoria Nuland have oceans of blood on their hands. But they have both been conditioned all their lives by the people around them to absolutely believe they’re doing the right thing. That if they don’t commit ‘good guy’ atrocities, then ‘the terrorists’, who play by their own rules, win.”

“Jeez, you make it sound like Hollywood war, or a sports movie, where the evil guys cheat and almost win but the good guys triumph in the end. Real life’s not like that.”

Darien shrugged.

Seville continued: “They must know they can’t keep these things secret when there are investigative journalists and whistleblowers committed to exposing them?”

“Last I saw, most real investigative journalists and whistleblowers who dared show the US or its allies in a bad light were either shunned by all the major media, or they’re living in exile, or in prison on trumped-up charges. Or dead. Who’d want to risk their life to expose crimes when the citizens have been conditioned to see those crimes as just business-as-usual?”

“So why are the media colluding with all this? Surely some of them have some moral compass ‘beyond the ends justifies the means’.”

“Maybe because powerful people have conditioned them the same way. They’ve come to believe that they have the power to topple governments, as they did with Tricky Dick. They don’t want to topple Biden by telling the truth about what he did, because if that happened, Trump or DeSantis will win, and Putin and Xi will win. So they refused to print Sy’s story, even the journals he used to work for, for the same reason they now refuse to print anything by Noam Chomsky.”

“But someone is eventually going to publish it, surely?”

“Doesn’t matter. If the main arbiters of important public discourse all refuse to give it any attention, it can be dismissed as blog blatherings and conspiracy theories.”

“So the generals and the defence industry, like the US general who just announced his troops are readying for war with China in 2025, what’s their conditioning?”

“I suppose it’s the same as it’s been for 70 years, still fighting the cold war. They believe religiously that the only safe future is one under unipolar US control. That all foreigners are suspect — especially if they look different from us, or espouse socialist ideas, or question the American dream. The crusade of the US/NATO political-military-industrial complex is for a world free of conflict because it’s free of dissent. A world where everyone believes the same thing. Conditioned fear, conditioned faith.”

“Not to mention a world with big profits for defence contractors.”

“Yep. And my sense is the defence contractors genuinely believe they’re doing the best for their shareholders and their families, and also upholding freedom and democracy.”

“Sheesh… OK, so what about the climate crisis? If Biden really believes we have to keep temperature change below 1.5ºC, how can he justify mongering for wars with Russia and China that will enormously worsen global warming?”

Darien smiled: “That’s a really good question. How would you explain it, giving him the benefit of the doubt that he’s trying to do his best?”

“He’s fooling himself, believing that somehow he can put off dealing with climate but not fighting world wars? Or he believes that he can’t do anything with an antagonistic Congress? Or that if he tries to deal with climate change he’ll be out of office and the alternative going forward will be much worse for the planet?”

“OK, those are reasonable guesses. Let’s take them one at a time. Now this guy has the brightest minds on the planet who know the most about climate change at his disposal. What do you think he believes about the possibility of stopping or mitigating climate collapse?”

“Hmmm, well, since the billionaires are all buying bunkered mansions in New Zealand, because they know collapse is coming soon, Biden probably knows it too. So privately he’s acknowledged that that battle is already lost?”

“I think that’s a reasonable assumption. So if climate collapse is coming soon and can’t be stopped, what’s his duty?”

“Well, the alpha rats start hoarding all the food in times of scarcity. So… his duty is to get everything he can for the Americans as soon as possible… and that means that since Russia and the OPEC countries have so much energy, and China owns and processes all the key metals and dominates global manufacturing, they both have to be defeated and their wealth and processing capacity has to be appropriated for American use.”

“Makes sense to me. Sounds like a conspiracy theory though, doesn’t it?”

“It’s a very depressing idea. So fear is the primary conditioner. But there’s something else going on these days, isn’t there? I know a lot of adults who are living in despair about war and the climate and the general failure of your generation to leave anything for my generation. They are experiencing… what? Guilt, grief, helplessness, hopelessness… shame?”

“Yes. Brilliant. Shame is almost as effective at conditioning us as fear. So what do we do when we feel overwhelming shame?”

“Look for someone else to blame everything on. Or deny it’s happening at all.”

“Exactly. I think there’s a growing sense that we have failed dismally to make the world a safe and healthy place for future generations. So who or what do we blame?”

“Um… ‘systems’ that needs to be reformed. Overpopulation. Immigrants. Russia, China, Iran. Communism and socialism. Corrupt, greedy individuals. Failure to take responsible action… But you say no one is to blame!”

“Yes, but most people will never accept that. They’ve been conditioned that someone or something must be to blame, must be responsible. So if people have been conditioned to feel shame and fear, and to have absolute faith in certain unquestionable truths, it doesn’t surprise me to see them scapegoating others. And in the meantime, if they’re feeling hopeless, they may also be inclined to hoard everything they can for themselves, their families, and their confrères. Hoarding is our biological conditioning in times of scarcity and precarity. Blaming is our cultural conditioning in times of catastrophe and shame.”

“You don’t have a very high opinion of our species, do you?”

“I don’t mean it to be critical. It’s just our conditioning. No one is in control. We’re just eight billion mildly deranged monkeys, all trying to do our best and conditioning each other to continue to do what has got us into this mess, with the best of intentions.”



“Fuck… That totally sucks… So, if we’re doing our best and our best isn’t good enough, then what?”

“Then we vacate the scene and see if the next group of species, which may or may not include humans, can avoid the mistakes we made when we were, for no apparent reason, put in charge of the lab.”

“If there’s a livable ‘lab’ left.”

“True. But we eight billion at least get to find out how the story ends. The first 100 billion of our species died before they had any idea where we’d be now. That’s something, isn’t it? We all want to know how the story ends, even if it’s not a happy ending.”

“That’s not good enough; we have to do something.”

“Of course we do; that’s our conditioning. That’s all we can do.”

“I hope you’re wrong about us all being conditioned and not having free will.”

“Me too. For your sake. If we’re all just acting out roles in a play, for no reason, for no purpose, with no idea what our next lines are going to be, and all that can be done is to watch, and to wonder, and to give up trying to make sense of it and understand it and just witness the sheer awesomeness of it, that’s fine with me… apparently.”

“If you say ‘apparently’ one more time, I might have to kill you.”

“Oh, but then who would you have to depress you with data and charm you with witty rhetoric and enchant you with impossible, useless ideas about how the world works?”

“I’m sure among those eight billion deranged monkeys there must be a few who could render that invaluable service.”

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2 Responses to Eight Billion Mildly Deranged Monkeys

  1. Ray says:

    Let the deranged monkeys do what they have to do, even if they don’t know that.
    Deranged monkeys are best left alone.
    It’s wrong to expect a few of the billions of deranged monkeys to come up with something useful for the rest of the deranged monkeys.
    It’s the billions of deranged monkeys right, no duty, to fuck up themselves and the planet.
    Just leave them alone. They instinctively know what to do and how to do it.

  2. David Beckemeier says:

    So is there anything other than this “unnamed” source to verify Biden ordered the pipeline bombing??

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