Democratic downfall

In Kapitalisme, Imperialisme, Rijken en verdeling in de wereld, and  Capitalism downfall I looked at some writings of Michael Parenti who as an American looked through his American glasses to the world.

In his writings we can read how Western colonization and investments have created a lower rather than a higher living standard in many countries. Imperialism has created what he has termed “maldevelopment”: modern office buildings and luxury hotels in the capital city instead of housing for the poor, cosmetic surgery clinics for the affluent instead of hospitals for workers, cash export crops for agribusiness instead of food for local markets, highways that go from the mines and latifundios to the refineries and ports instead of roads in the back country for those who might hope to see a doctor or a teacher.
Wealth is transferred from Third World peoples to the economic elites of Europe and North America (and more recently Japan) by direct plunder, by the expropriation of natural resources, the imposition of ruinous taxes and land rents, the payment of poverty wages, and the forced importation of finished goods at highly inflated prices. The colonized country is denied the freedom of trade and the opportunity to develop its own natural resources, markets, and industrial capacity. Self-sustenance and self-employment give way to wage labour. From 1970 to 1980, the number of wage workers in the Third World grew from 72 million to 120 million, and the rate is accelerating.{1}

English: Looking south from Top of the Rock, N...

English: Looking south from Top of the Rock, New York City {| cellspacing=”0″ style=”min-width:40em; color:#000; background:#ddd; border:1px solid #bbb; margin:.1em;” class=”layouttemplate” | style=”width:1.2em;height:1.2em;padding:.2em” | 20px |link=|center | style=”font-size:.85em; padding:.2em; vertical-align:middle” |This image was created with hugin. |} NYC wideangle south from Top of the Rock.jpg (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The negative connotations of “underdeveloped” have caused the United Nations, the Wall Street Journal, and parties of various political persuasions to refer to Third World countries as “developing” nations, a term somewhat less insulting than “underdeveloped” but equally misleading. I prefer to use “Third World” because “developing” seems to be just a euphemistic way of saying “underdeveloped but belatedly starting to do something about it.” It still implies that poverty was an original historic condition and not something imposed by imperialists. It also falsely suggests that these countries are developing when actually their economic conditions are usually worsening.

The leaders of the new nations may voice revolutionary slogans, yet they find themselves locked into the global capitalist orbit, cooperating perforce with the First World nations for investment, trade, and aid. So we witnessed the curious phenomenon of leaders of newly independent Third World nations denouncing imperialism as the source of their countries’ ills, while dissidents in these countries denounced these same leaders as collaborators of imperialism.{1}

In many instances a comprador class emerged or was installed as a first condition for independence. A comprador class is one that cooperates in turning its own country into a client state for foreign interests. A client state is one that is open to investments on terms that are decidedly favorable to the foreign investors. In a client state, corporate investors enjoy direct subsidies and land grants, access to raw materials and cheap labor, light or nonexistent taxes, few effective labor unions, no minimum wage or child labor or occupational safety laws, and no consumer or environmental protections to speak of. The protective laws that do exist go largely unenforced.{1}

capitalism

capitalism (Photo credit: wallstalking.org)

In all, the Third World is something of a capitalist paradise, offering life as it was in Europe and the United States during the nineteenth century, with a rate of profit vastly higher than what might be earned today in a country with strong economic regulations. The comprador class is well recompensed for its cooperation. Its leaders enjoy opportunities to line their pockets with the foreign aid sent by the U.S. government. Stability is assured with the establishment of security forces, armed and trained by the United States in the latest technologies of terror and repression.{1}

Over the last two decades, in Latin America, Asia, and even in Europe and North America, conservative forces have pushed hard to take publicly owned not-for-profit industries and services (mines, factories, oil wells, banks, railroads, telephone companies, utilities, television systems, postal services, health care, and insurance firms) and sell them off at bargain prices to private interests to be operated for profit.{1}

Today, the United States is the foremost proponent of recolonization and leading antagonist of revolutionary change throughout the world. Emerging from World War II relatively unscathed and superior to all other industrial countries in wealth, productive capacity, and armed might, the United States became the prime purveyor and guardian of global capitalism. Judging by the size of its financial investments and military force, judging by every imperialist standard except direct colonization, the U.S. empire is the most formidable in history, far greater than Great Britain in the nineteenth century or Rome during antiquity.{2}

For years politicians agreed to take in account the demands of the big businesses and made many regulations so that they could produce many products, often of which the safety of it was not clear.
For years the herbicides, pesticides, and hazardous pharmaceuticals that were banned in this country have been sold by their producers to Third World nations where regulations are weaker or nonexistent. (In 1981, President Reagan repealed an executive order signed by President Carter that would have forced exporters of such products to notify the recipient nation that the commodity was banned in the USA.)

Not only in the United States of America we could see many nuclear electricity and nuclear weapons plants pouring radioactive waste into the air, soil, groundwater, and rivers. Many governments thought they had found the cheapest way to make as much money as possible. After the two world wars there was the excuse of the Cold War and later came the excuse of the Terror War for which the military was allowed to be the biggest consumer of fuel and the greatest polluter, contaminating the environment with hundreds of thousands of tons of heavy metals, solvents, lubricants, PCBs, plutonium, iridium, fuel runoffs. and other toxic wastes. Nobody in the world seemed to mind that the military creates over 90 percent of our radioactive waste and stockpiles thousands of tons of lethal biochemical agents. {3}

The empire increasingly impoverishes the republic. Operational costs of global militarism may become so onerous as to undermine the society that sustains them, such as has been the case with empires in the past. Americans pay dearly for “our” global military apparatus. The spending binge that the Pentagon has been on for decades, especially the last fourteen years or so, has created record deficits and a runaway national debt, making the United States the largest debtor nation in the world. The government is required to borrow more and more to pay the growing interest on a debt that is owed to rich creditors at home and abroad.{2}

The borrowing brought a certain dependence of institutions and factories and became also the ground to create connections between politicians and multinationals, bringing their neutral position in danger.

The public was not blind and saw how those businesses could produce à volonté and had to reply to laws in an other way than the ordinary civilian.
Because of the disproportionate amount spent on the military and on providing growth to multinational organisations, civilians had to endure the neglect of social and  environmental needs. The greediness of the governments and multinationals plus the pressure by the media and money institutions brought ‘dream ground’. In those valleys of luxury dreams  the financial insolvency and decay of our cities could find her seed.

Governments having to find enough money to play their wars on terror and their bookmaker stock exchange games, brought the deterioration of transportation, education, and health care systems, and the devastating effects of underemployment upon millions of households and hundreds of communities were quickly felt. Also the little saver was lured in the money go round of the stockjobbers and the stock market annalists lost the North.

With the Capitalism downfall the world got an extra cost politicians underestimated. Frightful social and psychological costs, the discouragement and decline of public morale, the anger and suffering of the poor and the not-so-poor are now making that people not only lost confidence in the multinationals and in the banks. Worse is that they saw the politicians giving free way to all those who got us in such a mess. The politicians even allowed the multinationals to give their managers who made such a mess and bugled with the money of their  clients, extra bonuses on top of their atrocious high wages. The clumsy oafs got awarded prizes and a smooth over pat on the back.

At the same time criminals can just do the things they love to do without having to fear to be put in prison, because they are to full, so there is no place for them, or smart solicitors get them free on procedures mistakes. Those who have enough money can pay enough to get the court case until it is precluded by the lapse of time.
Lots of offenders are not send to prison, but are put by the court ‘on probation’. For this they use tags on the ankles which react on gps signals and voices. Good thing is that the persons are allowed to do things like unpaid work, though not many do that.

Abduction of Europe

Abduction of Europe (Photo credit: Bernt Rostad)

In Belgium not enough community sentences are given, instead of fining the offenders or sending them to prison, governments seems to prefer to let them go just like that. No wonder the persons who do want to profit off others feel quite safe.

Instead of letting the offender pay back the local community - for example, by getting him to do unpaid ‘Community Payback’ work, like removing graffiti, cleaning the pavements or parks, clearing overgrown areas - like pathways , clearing wasteland, or decorating public places and buildings - for example, a community centre , the Belgian population can see the criminals walk freely around laughing at our juridical system. Instead of aiming to help them to get away from crime the scum can feel cheered on.

Lots of people who have to wear the electronic tags break the rules of their court-imposed curfews.

Our world can see stupid things happening like the “deeply worrying” individual cases, where a known record of domestic violence did not get a restriction to that place, but the person was sent back to the family home to serve his few weeks curfew despite the objections of his partner. He was subsequently charged with assaulting her.

As with all technical material the government bring the excuse also for faulty equipment, claims of tags cutting out when offenders take baths or showers or roll over in bed, unnecessary recalls to prison and high-risk offenders not being monitored properly, among the problems.

In 2000, the position of the restorative justice consultant was created in order to realise a ‘restorative detention’. RJ-consultants are working within the prison walls and are employees of the Federal Department of Justice. In their mission of guiding the change process towards a restorative prison policy, they have an advisory role towards the prison governor.Today we still do not see much of the work done. though the idea may be very good. One proposal was “restorative detention” where civil servants would work in prisons to counsel prison personnel on how to promote a restorative environment. The main goal is reinforcing prisoners to think about the harm they have caused and how they can mend that harm.

But those civilians willing to contribute to the restoration of an offender were quickly minimised by the violence which increased in the overcrowded prisons, where more prisoners managed to escape using nurses, guards or other helpers as an hostage. Inmates themselves became the victim of gangs. Instability is being fuelled by increasing gang activity and a small minority of terrorist prisoners which means maximum security jails need sophisticated, continuous management.

Murderers getting Life (= 7, 10, 12 years) and serious offenders convicted for 25 years running on the streets after three years. Instead of life without parole, which means they get out to re-offend or at least so their victims relatives get to walk around in fear of them to compound their suffering. The government has given the citizens the idea they are not much considered with the victims or their relatives as much as the perpetrator.

Nordine Ben Allal, Kapllan Murat nicknamed “Getaway King” (le roi de l’évasion or ontsnappingskoning) are just a few known prisoners who managed successful prison escapes, and to make a fool of the police.

As in the ordinary society cuts to health, education and skills training budgets have unintended consequences in prisons.

The citizen is being confronted  by the banks ruling the country and owning the business and private market, the militarization and violence of popular culture, and the application of increasingly authoritarian solutions to our social ills. Many people had never thought our civilised countries could be so the victim of capitalism creating so many cases of real poverty. But people are becoming more aware that poverty can be found in the rich industrial nations as well as in the Third World. In the richest of them all, the United States, the number of people below the poverty level grew in the last dozen years from twenty-four million to almost thirty-five million, according to the government’s own figures, which many consider to be underestimations, thus making the poor the fastest growing social group in the USA, rivalled only by the dramatic growth of millionaires and billionaires.

While conservative elites want less government control, they usually want more state power to limit the egalitarian effects of democracy. Conservatives, and some who call themselves liberals, want strong, intrusive state action to maintain the politico-economic status quo. They prefer a state that restricts access to information about its own activities, taps telephones, jails revolutionaries and reformers on trumped-up charges, harasses dissidents, and acts punitively not toward the abusers of power but toward their victims. Conservatives also support repressive crime bills; limitations on the rights of women, minorities, gays and lesbians; censorship of films, art, literature, and television.

Four months away from the Belgian provincial and municipal elections of 2012 we notice already several posters on the buildings and big advertising walls. Normally on 14 October it should all be about local politics, but the country after the political mess of the recent two years shall likely to have to face the hammer of the civilians who are really fed up with this so called democratic system where all the power belongs to the few rich or the less than 1% and the crooks who get rewarded with their freedom and bonuses or a handout of a few million Euros, while ordinary folks have to work hard to gain just a few grand on which the government takes more than half of it in taxes.

Since the previous 2006 elections, the coming communal elections are no longer organised by the Belgian federal state but instead by the respective regions:Brussels with 19 municipalities, Flanders with 5 provinces and 308 municipalities. In the city of Antwerp, elections will also be held for its districts and we shall get Wallonia with 5 provinces and 262 municipalities, all in the picture of the greater part still called Belgium, but if they are not careful those who shall go to bring out their vote shall speak out for or against this nation and its fraudulent system.

Notes:

{1} Against Empire,The Brutal Realities of U.S. Global Domination by Michael Parenti > Imperial Domination

{2} Intervention: Whose Gain? Whose Pain?, Strong Empire, Weak Republic, A Dreadful Success; excerpted from the book: Against Empire The Brutal Realities of U.S. Global Domination by Michael Parenti; City Lights Books, 1995, paper

{3} According to Parenti there are some 21,000 contaminated sites on military bases and at nuclear weapons plants.

{} Neoliberalism: Not Just A Financial Crisis But A Crisis Of Democracy

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Dutch version / Nederlandse versie: Democratische ondergang

Previous:

+ Depression Economics and Paul Krugman

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  • Why Democracy Is Dangerous (lewrockwell.com)
    People around the world are fighting autocratic regimes in the name of freedom and democracy. They are right to fight for freedom, but wrong to fight for democracy. Libertarians should try to make it clear to them that the democratic path will not lead to freedom, but to slavery.

    Most libertarians no doubt sympathize with the courageous protests against authoritarian regimes by ordinary people all over the world. Unlike neoconservatives or liberals, libertarians are not worried when protesters threaten the “stability” of some US-backed client state. They have always warned that supporting dictatorships leads to unwelcome “blowback”, since oppressed people who revolt usually turn not only against their oppressors, but against their western backers as well. Post World War Two history is full of examples of this.
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    The advent of democracy has subverted rather than supported the freedoms and rights people enjoy in western countries. The power of the State has grown steadily in the last 100 to 150 years in line with the steady growth of democratic principles in government. In the 19th century, right up until the First World War, the tax burden in the United States was a few percent at most, except in times of war. Income tax didn’t exist and was even forbidden by the Constitution.
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    freedom and wealth people enjoy in most western countries are not due to the fact that they are democracies, but to the fact that their democratic systems were built on a classical-liberal foundation.

  • Slavoj Žižek: A “Radical” Apologist for Imperialism (karlomongaya.wordpress.com)
    Žižek’s trajectory only seeks to lead the emergent social movements away from the path of a clear and organized struggle to smash the present system and replace it with a new and liberating one.
    +
    Žižek boldly proclaims. “Capitalism is really universal today,” he adds. It has become, as Hardt and Negri describes it, a “Global Empire.”In this regard, Žižek is no different from present-day anarchists and postmodern leftists such as Hardt and Negri who rail against what they perceive as an amorphous and increasingly anonymous multinational or transnational capitalism lorded over by octopus corporations that have transcended the nation as their base.
    +

    Production and capital is now more concentrated than ever in the hands of monopolies based in the imperialist nations. The financial oligarchy sitting on the merger of industrial and financial capital has grown in leaps and bounds, especially with the financialization of the global economy. The export of capital has become more extensive than ever, with the most powerful imperialist nations having divided the whole world for themselves.

    The fundamental features of the world capitalist system as described by Lenin remain all the more true today. And to Žižek’s distorted political economy, Lenin would have said: “is ‘ultraimperialism’ possible, or is it ultra-nonsense?” It is precisely this nonsense that leads Žižek to take some of the most reactionary positions.
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    The fact that the Chinese revolution as led by Mao liberated millions of poor Chinese peasants and workers from the shackles of imperialist domination and feudal subjugation is overlooked. The victorious advance of a poor war-torn country relying solely on its own people and resources in order to develop step by step its agriculture and industry and raise the standard of living of its people is disregarded.
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    In a time when the whole world is up in arms against the oppressive and exploitative system and social movements are advancing towards ever greater heights, we are all, as Mao puts it, faced with three alternatives: “To march at their head and lead them? To trail behind them, gesticulating and criticizing? Or to stand in their way and oppose them?”

  • The Limits of the Occupy Movement (karlomongaya.wordpress.com)
    From Cairo to Manhattan, Manila to Athens, Quebec to Santiago the worsening crisis of the world capitalist system is pushing thousands to rise up against rising hunger, deteriorating living conditions, and intensifying poverty and inequality on a global scale.

    Not since the youthful Chinese Red Guards the raised the rallying call, “To Rebel is Justified” during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution amidst a similar global upsurge of people’s mass movements in the 1960s and 1970s have we seen protest actions of this scale.
    +
    Believing that the American majority has loss belief in the existing political system they pushed for a rhetorical strategy of simply unmasking the real conditions of capitalist society: “we would only had to delegitimate a system that has already almost entirely delegitimated itself.”
    +
    Since the movement of the working classes acts “during the period of struggle for the overthrow of the old society, on the basis of that old society, and hence also still moves within political forms which more or less belong to it,” these anarchists “conclude that it is better to… just wait for the… last judgement.”

  • Literature in the Oil Age: Goat Days (jadaliyya.com)
    The age of oil has produced unprecedented scales of human confinement and brutality. At the same time, people are traveling faster, and in larger groups than ever before: migration to the Gulf following the oil boom of the 1970s is a case in point. There are currently some fifteen million migrant workers in the Gulf, hailing mostly from Asian, African, and Arab countries.
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    Within the kafala system, a foreigner is barred from working in the GCC countries without local sponsorship (kafil). Once that employment relationship is severed, foreign workers become illegal residents, and must immediately leave the country. Since the kafala system ties workers’ permission of living and working in their host country to the permission of their sponsor, it forbids them to seek alternative employment. Those who strike or complain about poor working conditions and abuse risk losing their jobs, criminalization, and deportation. Najeeb describes Sumesi jail as a place where “the prisoners, lying down in whatever space they could manage, resembled dead bodies laid out after a natural disaster” (13), and elsewhere refers to his particular block as “a railway station where people arrived and departed” (25).
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    Little is known about the history of twentieth century slavery and indentured labor in the region prior to the 1970s oil boom. But the mass influx of millions of Indian migrant laborers to the oil kingdoms in recent times is reminiscent of a similar flow of labor across the same Indian Ocean, prior to, and on the cusp of, the discovery of oil. Indentured laborers from India were central to the successful functioning of the British Empire, and over a million of them were transported to colonies around the globe between the 1830s to the 1920s—initially taking the place of freed slaves on plantations of the West Indies.
    Slavery, to which American officials in Saudi Arabia had turned a blind eye, was officially abolished in 1962 by King Faisal, but contract slavery continued. The absence of formal “slavery,” in fact, calls into question what is essentially the same phenomenon in the contemporary world, through contracts that assume some sort of consent which is meaningless. The structures of confinement, transport, and labor from India to the Gulf can be seen, then, as part of the global imperial history of the twentieth century. As for the millions of migrant workers who traveled to the Gulf in search of employment opportunities, they have found themselves trapped between state and the sponsor.
  • By now, Umno-BN the most corrupt regime in ASEAN with largest stash of illicit outflows (hornbillunleashed.wordpress.com)
    Najib may preach to the people on ‘political certainty’ to save BN (Barisan Nasional) from tumbling in the next general election. But little does he realise that political certainty and economic stability remain an ideal when corruption is endemic in the government. Corruption or misuse of public power is synonymous to bad governance of a country.

    “UMNO and BN are whirling with a welter of scandals and corruption, a festering economy and of late the exposé that foreign authorities have been poring over the bank accounts of well-established Malaysians including politicians,” commented a senior lawmaker. “Nothing seems to bode well for the government before the next general election,” he added.
    +
    Corruption in all forms is hampering the political certainty for BN to stay in power.  With PR making major inroads in many parts of the country the next general election could see a change in the political equation in the country.  Ideally, no single political party or coalition should be at the helm of power for decades as this would breed venality.

    History has proven that many regimes have collapsed in the past when politicians misuse public power for their private benefit. Corruption in all its forms has brought changes to governments the world over.

    History has seen how countries in the present and past that have been under a single authoritative power for decades but finally collapse in a throbbing manner. Decades of unchallenged power or suppression of the people is akin to a ‘time bomb’ waiting to implode and for the regimes in these countries to cave in.

    When leaders, their families and cronies enrich themselves at the expense of the masses and the poor the rot starts. After or just before their downfall these self-seeking groups would seek to leave the country with their illegally accumulated wealth all stashed overseas and in foreign banks. Their close family members are turned into billionaires and own properties and palaces in developed countries.

    Many countries have faced the fate of having leaders identical to the late Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines and Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, to quote just two examples.

  • Special relations: new pup, same collar (bulatlat.com)
    an odious head of government is a useless head of a client regime. Someone who is perceived as unsullied, sincere and enjoys wide popularity (more by historical fluke rather than political track record), is a more useful and valued one.
    +
    Like his predecessors, Mr. Aquino conceals the fact that the so-called “sound economic fundamentals” are what constitute precisely the neocolonial relationship imposed by US imperialism that has prevented the Philippine economy from industrializing and achieving economic self-reliance and independence from foreign capital. To do this, he uses the corruption bogey as a smokescreen –“Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap.” — as though corruption, not the foreign control of our economy and exploitation of our people, is the root of poverty.
  • The End in Afghanistan is Totally Predictable (counterpunch.org)
    Once again a war has been lost by the US, this time to forces far weaker and more poorly organized than the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese army. Once again American troops are being asked to keep fighting for a mistake — this time the 2001 fantasy of the Bush/Cheney administration that it could make a client state out of Afghanistan, a mistake that President Obama doubled down on after taking over the White House, when he called Afghanistan the “good war” and committed another 30,000 troops there, plus ordering up an aggressive kill campaign of night raids, assassinations and the heavy use of pilotless armed drone aircraft.
    +
    The American forces in Afghanistan know they have already lost the war there. And they also know that as the drawdown of troops begins from that war-torn country, they will be hit harder and harder by the Taliban and other forces trying to take back the country from the US and from the compradore leaders who have been serving as the lackeys to the US. They know too that as soon as the last of them has boarded the last plane out, or perhaps even earlier, the current corrupt  Afghan leadership will be hopping a commercial flight out too, to join their money in Switzerland or Abu Dhabi or some other safe haven, and the Taliban will come marching into Kabul to take over from them.
  • A Estranha Aliança entre os Comunistas e os Islamo-Fascistas II (oinsurgente.org)
    many contemporary conflicts in the Middle East were fomented by the Soviet empire, particularly in the final years before its break-up. And the events he describes have had a significant impact upon the current state of the region—from the conflict in Iraq to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, to the development of a de facto alliance between the European Union and the Arab states. Perhaps most significantly, there is much here to suggest that it is past time to reexamine Gorbachev’s reputation as a reformer and liberalizer. Stroilov’s book suggests that in the Middle East, Gorbachev’s policy was old-school Kremlin imperialism, all the way to the end.
    +
    Sooner or later, as Stroilov correctly notes, all socialist regimes collapse. He argues that what we are witnessing today is the collapse of the Soviet empire in the Middle East—a process similar to that seen in Europe in 1989-1991. But unlike the despots of Eastern Europe, the Red Arabs were allowed to survive. Rather than ousting Saddam and pressuring the Soviet Union—which now had only a few months left to live—to withdraw its influence from the Middle East, Bush prioritized placating Gorbachev over aggressively pressing the United States’ advantage. In Stroilov’s view, these regimes could and should have been overthrown 20 years ago. That they were not, he argues, was because the Middle East was the domain Gorbachev was determined to retain and because Americans, naively enchanted by his charisma, allowed themselves to be hoodwinked.

About Marcus Ampe

Retired dancer, choreographer, choreologist Founder of the Dance impresario office and archive: Danscontact-Dansarchief plus the Lifestyle magazines "Stepping Toes" and "From Guestwriters". - Gepensioneerd danser, choreograaf, choreoloog. Stichter van Danscontact-Dansarchief plus van de Lifestyle magazines "Stepping Toes" en "From Guestwriters".
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6 Responses to Democratic downfall

  1. I think as the global economy grows more and more interconnected, with its peoples doing the same via the blogging, Facebook, etc., what one country does is increasingly going to affect other countries across the world, not just it its back yard. I think it’s going to get brutal, very brutal.

    Like

  2. marcusampe says:

    Yes, I am afraid we shall not be able to escape the Biblical prophesy that we shall see more problems in nature but also in the relations of people, disputes between religions, between children and their parents, people fighting against each other. Perhaps this last stadium started already with the war in the 2 Stream country (Iraq & Iran). But those who do have a believe shall be able to find comfort that though Armageddon would come with the terrible 3° World War, after this Jesus will return to judge the living and the dead. Let us therefore be prepared and strong enough to face the troubles.

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