Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
November 14, 2005

The Real America

Some sane person writes an LA Times Commentary, though I am not sure that the headline is correct:

This isn't the real America by Jimmy Carter

IN RECENT YEARS, I have become increasingly concerned by a host of radical government policies that now threaten many basic principles espoused by all previous administrations, Democratic and Republican.

These include the rudimentary American commitment to peace, economic and social justice, civil liberties, our environment and human rights.

Also endangered are our historic commitments to providing citizens with truthful information, treating dissenting voices and beliefs with respect, state and local autonomy and fiscal responsibility.

At the same time, our political leaders have declared independence from the restraints of international organizations and have disavowed long-standing global agreements — including agreements on nuclear arms, control of biological weapons and the international system of justice.

Instead of our tradition of espousing peace as a national priority unless our security is directly threatened, we have proclaimed a policy of "preemptive war," an unabridged right to attack other nations unilaterally to change an unsavory regime or for other purposes. When there are serious differences with other nations, we brand them as international pariahs and refuse to permit direct discussions to resolve disputes.

Regardless of the costs, there are determined efforts by top U.S. leaders to exert American imperial dominance throughout the world.

These revolutionary policies have been orchestrated by those who believe that our nation's tremendous power and influence should not be internationally constrained. Even with our troops involved in combat and America facing the threat of additional terrorist attacks, our declaration of "You are either with us or against us!" has replaced the forming of alliances based on a clear comprehension of mutual interests, including the threat of terrorism.

Another disturbing realization is that, unlike during other times of national crisis, the burden of conflict is now concentrated exclusively on the few heroic men and women sent back repeatedly to fight in the quagmire of Iraq. The rest of our nation has not been asked to make any sacrifice, and every effort has been made to conceal or minimize public awareness of casualties.

Instead of cherishing our role as the great champion of human rights, we now find civil liberties and personal privacy grossly violated under some extreme provisions of the Patriot Act.

Of even greater concern is that the U.S. has repudiated the Geneva accords and espoused the use of torture in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, and secretly through proxy regimes elsewhere with the so-called extraordinary rendition program. It is embarrassing to see the president and vice president insisting that the CIA should be free to perpetrate "cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment" on people in U.S. custody.

Instead of reducing America's reliance on nuclear weapons and their further proliferation, we have insisted on our right (and that of others) to retain our arsenals, expand them, and therefore abrogate or derogate almost all nuclear arms control agreements negotiated during the last 50 years. We have now become a prime culprit in global nuclear proliferation. America also has abandoned the prohibition of "first use" of nuclear weapons against nonnuclear nations, and is contemplating the previously condemned deployment of weapons in space.

Protection of the environment has fallen by the wayside because of government subservience to political pressure from the oil industry and other powerful lobbying groups. The last five years have brought continued lowering of pollution standards at home and almost universal condemnation of our nation's global environmental policies.

Our government has abandoned fiscal responsibility by unprecedented favors to the rich, while neglecting America's working families. Members of Congress have increased their own pay by $30,000 per year since freezing the minimum wage at $5.15 per hour (the lowest among industrialized nations).

I am extremely concerned by a fundamentalist shift in many houses of worship and in government, as church and state have become increasingly intertwined in ways previously thought unimaginable.

As the world's only superpower, America should be seen as the unswerving champion of peace, freedom and human rights. Our country should be the focal point around which other nations can gather to combat threats to international security and to enhance the quality of our common environment. We should be in the forefront of providing human assistance to people in need.

It is time for the deep and disturbing political divisions within our country to be substantially healed, with Americans united in a common commitment to revive and nourish the historic political and moral values that we have espoused during the last 230 years.

The best President the US ever had.

Posted by b on November 14, 2005 at 10:33 UTC | Permalink

Comments
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r'giap- I have an overactive imagination. I have no idea what codeRX is...RX is the shorthand for a prescription, and code is...whatever it is, eh, LoVIe?

We've just had a tornado warning here at IU. Ppl had to leave classes and go into the hallways b/c the sirens were going off and a funnel cloud was reported in more than one place. 100 mph winds. Another storm line is coming behind the one that just passed. I'd rather be in Paris, but I'm stuck at the library.

b real- I stand corrected about Jefferson. You're right, obviously. I do not actually fetishize the founders...Jefferson's hypocrisy about Sally Jennings is unfathomable.

But you're also right that he does not represent all of the ideas behind Enlightenment ideology.

My favorite Enlightenment-fetishizing political philosopher was Mary Wollstonecraft. She was not a very good novelist, but she was a great rhetoritician.

As I remember, the Hopi said long ago they were told to look for white men dressed like turtles, and if they only had fire, the world would be out of balance, and would remain so until the white people learned to live as part of the earth... one way or another.

and slothrop, my apologies for my sharp tongue...it was "for effect" --and obviously it made me drama queen for the day.

I could rightfully argue that I'm the one who should get fucked, but I'm way too busy.

and with that, I have to go for the night.

It's funny to me to be arguing the "conservative" position when that's definitely not the usual case in my life...which just indicates how conservative so many Americans are.

Posted by: fauxreal | Nov 15 2005 22:30 utc | 101

Outraged,

Simply pointing out that most Iraqi judges are not, for a variety of readily understandable reasons and motivations - such as sympathy, corruption, and fear - eager to convict when the evidence is there to do so. The fact of the matter is, they're notorious for not doing so. Is this surprising?

Posted by: Pat | Nov 15 2005 22:48 utc | 102

faureal and rememberinggiap... codeRX maybe = code doctor (ala spin doctor, i.e., someone of knowledge...?)

just a guess.

Posted by: esme | Nov 15 2005 22:51 utc | 103

yeah, who knows. maybe the rx is for the VIAGRA down the middle.

Posted by: fauxreal | Nov 15 2005 22:59 utc | 104

"In any case the counter-insurgency was lost within three months of the invasion ... everything since has just added to the butchers bill for naught (IMO)"

Which makes the (exuse me) goddamned posing of every useless motherfucking politician and cocksucking Pentagon/Centcom yes-man we have just goddamned inexusable.

For naught indeed.

Posted by: Pat | Nov 15 2005 23:01 utc | 105

..or the levitra or xanax or ambien or prozac or valium. what are you left with then? I have no idea what that means, but things can mean more than one thing, I suppose.

Posted by: fauxreal | Nov 15 2005 23:06 utc | 106

pat

just a paranthetic opinion - but someone like u s marine arrives here like anybody else - there is a smorgasbord of differing & sometimes conflicting information here - a mature person can choose, define & take what is necessary, no

neither you or i or anybody else for that matter is offering anything other than the truth (sometimes or mostly sourced) as we know it. what is agffective is clear & so too what is information

surely a discerning visitor arrives somewhere in the milieu - we are not without humour (well perhaps i am) - i don't see it as a useful thing - this converting business - but i do take your point that perhaps we could be quicker on the uptake, sometimes

& pat i think you know that i know that you know that i know that you know that the poseurs at centcom are exactly that, inexcusable

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Nov 15 2005 23:33 utc | 107

Did the white phosphorus we used to melt people count as chemical weapons against civilians ?

Do the drowning, suffocating, and rape/sodomy interrogation techniques we use count as torture ?

Does locking a person up without presenting even allegations to anyone for years and years count as not giving them habeas corpus ?

Does using an untrue justification of imminent threat of WMDs count as misleading Congress to go to war ?

Ah, such difficult technical questions to debate ... NOT !

Where is America ? She has travelled the wrong path and lost her way and we have lost her ...

Posted by: Outraged | Nov 15 2005 23:35 utc | 108

Did the white phosphorus we used to melt people count as chemical weapons against civilians ?

No.

Do the drowning, suffocating, and rape/sodomy interrogation techniques we use count as torture ?

Used by whom exactly and with the sanction of whom exactly?

Does locking a person up without presenting even allegations to anyone for years and years count as not giving them habeas corpus ?

Yes.

Does using an untrue justification of imminent threat of WMDs count as misleading Congress to go to war ?

Ah, but it was a preemptive war. Canny notion, that. And don't let anyone sell you the idea that Congress was a victim in all this.

Posted by: Pat | Nov 15 2005 23:51 utc | 109

@Pat
Go and read the latest posts (and articles) on the 'Shake and Bake' thread ... Taguba and others authoritive/reliable sources have documented rape/sodomy and we know water-boarding is approved for OGA interrogations ... do you still believe in 'bad apples' whilst Cheney argues for legal sanction ? ... I don't believe Congress was a victim, I lelieve they were complicit.

Posted by: Outraged | Nov 15 2005 23:59 utc | 110

Ah, but .. Pat can always interject the prevarication. There is always a "technicality" to mitigate the case against America.

Let me try:-

Q1 Are you outraged that white phosphorus was used to melt people ?
Q2 Are you outraged at the drowning, suffocating, and rape/sodomy interrogation techniques used ?
Q3 Are you outraged that habeas corpus has been discarded ?

Anything less that an emphatic 'yes' means that we can discard the pretence of measured debate. The veneer of civilization has been stripped. There is no further use for weasel words.

Posted by: DM | Nov 16 2005 0:17 utc | 111

Outraged,

Taguba did a really good job. He did not find - and it was not there to find - that "drowning, suffocation, and rape/sodomy" were "techniques of interroation" used at Abu Ghraib by 525 MI Bde or its ostensible help-mates among the MPs posted there.

Abu Ghraib WAS a case of inmates running the assylum, and what actually took place is FAR worse than most are aware.

Posted by: Pat | Nov 16 2005 0:25 utc | 112

"Ah, but .. Pat can always interject the prevarication."

And she can always ignore you, DM.

Posted by: Pat | Nov 16 2005 0:31 utc | 113

@Pat
Taguba did document rape and sodomy in the full report and we are both aware of other events beyond Abu Ghraib, to which I referred.

How you can persist with the 'bad apples' thing is beyond me ... how did the 'packed in ice' man die ? Suffocation whilst being beaten and shackled ... certified as homicide and it wasn't, we both know, done by the MP bad apples nor Navy Seals !

I say again, those in service are often just as much victims ...

Individual soldiers, units, whatever, are honorable and professional and the sentiment of service and duty rightly to be defended ... but the system, command and the executive are beyond the pale.

Posted by: Outraged | Nov 16 2005 0:49 utc | 114

"Taguba did document rape and sodomy in the full report and we are both aware of other events beyond Abu Ghraib, to which I referred."

Yes, he did. WHAT HE DID NOT FIND IS THAT THESE WERE USED AS TECHNIQUES OF INTERROGATION.

Or does that make no difference to you in your tireless work as an investigator and researcher?

You're not doing anyone here any favors, you know, by pushing tabloid-level crap and endlessly repeating assertions that have no basis in fact. You're encouraging the continued marginalization of the anti-war movement.

Have at it.

Posted by: Pat | Nov 16 2005 0:58 utc | 115

@outraged

Wake up! How loud must Pat shout this. It's all crap. There were no interrogations. There were no questions asked. All this drowning, suffocating, rape and sodomy stuff was JUST FOR FUN.

Posted by: DM | Nov 16 2005 1:08 utc | 116

@Pat
Why do you take my words out of context and specifically focus exclusively on Taguba ? Semantics ?

And yes, rape/sodomy, suffocation and water-boarding have been publicly corroborated and documented as used in interrogations, just not as you claim I exclusively assert by Abu Ghraib's 'bad apples'. MPs who were 'softening up' their detainees for interrogations ... thanks MG Miller ...

Ever heard of extraordinary renditions ? For what purpose does one process 'ghost detainees' ?

I'm tired and respectfully couldn't be bothered right now, but there's ICRC, HRW, congressional testimony on the public record ... let alone the numerous defense and agency inspector-general investigative reports which keep finding proven evidence of torture and unlawful killing, i.e. homicide, yet consistently can't seem to find anyone actually accountable or responsible, and not just in Iraq.

Why do you consider such open source, independent, and corroborated sources 'tabloid-level crap' ? Non-facts ?

Posted by: Outraged | Nov 16 2005 1:32 utc | 117

"I'm tired"

I bet you are. Can I suggest you stop barking up the wrong fucking trees?

Posted by: Pat | Nov 16 2005 1:44 utc | 118

"AP) Iraqi and U.S. officials disclosed Tuesday that more than 170 malnourished Iraqi detainees had been found in a weekend raid at an Interior Ministry detention center and that some appeared to have been tortured."
does this count?

don't think i'm ignoring ya'll, i am a little stunned w/not much to add.

Posted by: annie | Nov 16 2005 2:01 utc | 119

I am convinced that the joy, rage, enthusiasm, self confidence, and exquisite fighting spirit of Moon of Alabama will propel its members into the vanguard of the progressive movement in this country.

I'm buying the next round for the house.

Posted by: jm | Nov 16 2005 2:07 utc | 120

i want to go on record again thanking outraged for his tireless work sourcing, interconnecting updating - what are in essence & in substance - facts

facts that have to be repeated & repeated & repeated again & again & again for it to be understood the nature of this criminal administration & all its works

as workers of both the material & immaterial - it is the least we can do in the face of the horror that the cheney bush junta has created

for all of pat's elaboration - there can be no hiding from the central fact - that there exists within - the american armed forces a moral & cultural malignancy which by it's very nature goes from top to bottom

in essence - pat has for some time tried to seperate the follies of this administration from the practices of the occupation forces. pat has done so in large part by demonising the resistance while at the same time regarding them as a serious menace. on the other hand - whatver the armed forces do whether it is abu ghraib or the use of napalm is that it is paranthetic, largely an accident, out of the control of the army

as my mother would say you can not have your cake & eat it too

i can understand loyalty to institutions i have been a victim of such loyalties for which i have always taken personal responsibility but both in iraq & in afghanistan there is a litany of malfeasance of which the armed occupation openly participates

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Nov 16 2005 2:30 utc | 121

Why do you consider such open source, independent, and corroborated sources 'tabloid-level crap' ? Non-facts ?

I think the simple answer is: Pat would have to come to grips with the terrible truth and he/she is clearly not ready for that.

Posted by: Enough | Nov 16 2005 2:30 utc | 122

i want to go on record again thanking outraged for his tireless work sourcing, interconnecting updating - what are in essence & in substance - facts

I am deeply grateful for Outraged. It is his work that has made several people I know change their minds and re-examine previously held positions. I want him to know his efforts have made a difference.

Posted by: Enough | Nov 16 2005 2:42 utc | 123

As a doctor, I was required to provide medical care to wounded prisoners who were tortured during questioning. I was asked by the regimental intelligence officer if I would administer succinyl choline to temporarily paralyze the muscles of respiration of POWs as an aid to interrogation. I could not abide it and after six months I registered a public protest during a change-of-command ceremony for my commanding officer. I was arrested for "conduct unbecoming an officer" and my career in military medicine was over.

http://www.truthout.org/docs_2005/111305C.shtml>Gordon Livingston looks back on his service as a medic in Viet Nam. plus que ça change...

Carter caved in. If he hadn't, who knows -- maybe a small plane crash or a "crazed assassin"...? He tried to tell the US public not only what they as individuals didn't want to hear, but what Wall Street and Big Oil didn't want anyone to hear. A hopeless case, hung out to dry with neither populist support nor elite support...

Anyway, dropping by on a break from too much busy-ness, I see everyone is firmly in character and full of energy :-)

my $0.02: I think the current situation -- climate destabilisation, peak oil, etc. -- is way beyond what any adjustment of the existing US 2 (1.5?) party system can address. arguments over the viability of the Dem Party, Carter's character, or the outcome of Fitz's hearings, increasingly seem to me like a sideshow... what happens in the US may not have that much bearing on the big picture. imho the US is almost a has-been Great Power already, for whatever good or bad that may entail. I suspect that municipal and regional politics will have a far greater bearing on quality of life for individual Americans in the next decade than Federal-level politics. but as usual, crystal balls come with neither manual nor warranty.,,

Posted by: DeAnander | Nov 16 2005 2:46 utc | 124

i want to go on record again thanking outraged

I do too.

"October 6, 2005 According to the Paris-based media group Reporters Without Borders, the weblog publishing and hosting system Blogger.com has been blocked since October 3, 2005 by the Saudi Arabian government agency that manages Web filtering.

The Internet Services Unit, the Saudi agency responsible, acknowledged that access to blogger.com had been blocked but did not offer an explanation, according to reports. The ISU manages the gateway used by all ISPs in Saudi Arabia, enabling it to control Internet exchanges. However, censorship decisions are reportedly made by the Saudi security services."

*Thanks for keeping the info flowing.*


Posted by: Shukran | Nov 16 2005 3:14 utc | 125

I think the simple answer is: Pat would have to come to grips with the terrible truth and he/she is clearly not ready for that.

Posted by: Enough | Nov 15, 2005 9:30:38 PM | #

Oh, you're the privy now.

And you DO have Outraged to thank for that. He knows EXACTLY what's what.


Posted by: Pat | Nov 16 2005 4:57 utc | 126

For Pat, when [s]he is ready to read eyewitness accounts which are either ignored/censored or failing that, falsely discredited:

Former Army interrogator describes torture in Iraq


Debunking the official denials re Whiskey Pete


Statement of Col. [formerly Gen.] Janice Karpinski regarding who initiated/encouraged pervasive torture policies

Vice President Cheney's seminal role in the torture policy scandal and why he needs to retro-acively legalize torture

The military's "bad apples" are just the "fall guys" for the leaders who gave orders/permission/encouragement to media-brainwashed "patriotic" young AMerican soldiers who wouldn't mind signing up to go torture/kill the "anti-christian towelheads and sandniggers who hate our freedoms and caused 911". They are brainwashed to torture/murder for God and country any/all insurgents and civilians who resist collaborating with such brutal occupation forces. And then in order to protect themselves from war crimes accusations, the brass prosecute the torturers as bad apples whom they imprison or demote, and they try to change the laws regarding torture so their behaviors can be described as lawful.

Posted by: | Nov 16 2005 5:36 utc | 127

above links/ bad apples post is mine.

Posted by: gylangirl | Nov 16 2005 6:14 utc | 128

I was under the impression that real interrogation was serious business done under tight control, not like the free for all that was Abu Ghraib, indicative of the mad spew that is Iraq.

I observe in fascination as people try to make sense of this aberration that seems to exist in another dimension. Trying to analyze it as if it were a real war with real sides and real tactics. None of these apply from my perspective. Granted, the results are tangible and resemble war. People are imposing a previously formed view that has no application to this situation akin to theater of the absurd. From the 24 reasons that changed monthly to the endless guessing as to whether the characters even exist in the material plane. And who is really fighting whom. People go into the war zone and come out dazed and baffled. A million experts are dumbfounded (not so unusual, of course). Maybe we have to extend our brains into a completely new area to even begin to understand it.

Posted by: jm | Nov 16 2005 7:22 utc | 129

This extends to the torture problem too.

I'm sure many of you know about the experiments that were done by psychologists with ordinary people who were told they were delivering shocks to victims. Almost everyone complied and the phony shocks were increased until the victims were screaming. Still the people went on.

The war zone, interrogation rooms, and torture chambers are in another psycholgical dimension and to analyze it from your "normal" perspective makes it impossible to fully understand. There are psychopaths involved, the psychotic dimension of war, and the unwavering obedience to authority that prevails, probably because of all the fear in these surroundings. Survival becomes paramount in a way many of us can't fathom. And once the mechanism gets tripped, these people fall into this deviant behavior uncontrolled as their masters push them on and the Dionysian orgiastic element takes hold.

We all know how wrong it is. But there are so many wrongs that continue nonetheless. We can't legislate, or write articles, or look at pictures and expect it to stop. The root causes have to be found. War has to end. Humans will have to change and evolve. And the facing and understanding of all human impurities has to be done. It is difficult to know what to do. We have to have guidelines and punishments, but we also have to accept the truth of its existence, and of the almost unimaginable challenge in erradicating it.

The good thing to know is that in these experiments, there were a few who refused to do it. This is what we have to bank on. What element is it that makes a person defy authority and follow his conscience.

Posted by: jm | Nov 16 2005 8:09 utc | 130

@jm

What element is it that makes a person defy authority and follow his conscience.[?]

Something almost as quaint as the Geneva Convention? Used to be vaguely described as 'character'.

Posted by: DM | Nov 16 2005 8:20 utc | 131

Then, DM, that's what we've got to count on in all of this, right?

Posted by: jm | Nov 16 2005 8:37 utc | 132

As usual, an interesting and impassioned thread, for which a thank all participants (except, perhaps, Code RX who seems to have left only vertical spam, unless I missed some subtlety). Pat seems to have attracted a fair number of barbs, which I'm sure will have no serious effect, but which strike me as worth a bit of comment. The richness of this locale lies largely in the attempt at civility with regard to divergent points of view (although, obviously, neo-cons would undoubtedly undergo major hazing should they enter MOA). Pat makes no secret of her affective ties with members of the U.S. armed forces nor of her disdain for torturers and their apologists. What I think she is trying to defend (rightly, in my view) is the resistance within the traditional military line of command to the dreadful impositions coming from above. I think she believes (again, IMO substantially correctly) that many, if not all, of the worst excesses with regard to torture were perpetrated by agents outside the traditional MILITARY chain of command. This is not at all to deny the sort of horrors coming out of the School of the Americas or Fort Huachaca, but merely to state that such activities seem to be distinctly the purview of the "secret government" (CIA, yes also DIA, and even blacker operations and operatives) rather than the combat arms of the U.S. military. My impression (of course, I freely admit to not knowing what I'm talking about) is that just as the official (analytical branch) of the CIA was resisting the Bush-Cheney rush to war with Iraq, the regular armed services middle echelon was resisting the erosion of that aura of respect for the Geneva conventions which they rightly see as fully justified, both pragmatically and idealistically. Here the recent posts of Pat Lang or the many critiques of Col. Karen Kiatowski are pertinent. Naturally this is not a case of 100% allegiance within the ranks, but rather a strong majority tendency: sadists and saints are always with us, the former, alas, more common than the latter.


So, what I think is the major issue indicated implicitly by Pat's postings is the signaling of a cancer operating within the U.S. body politic: the parallel and unaccountable "security structures" which have over the last half century come to dominate American polity to the detriment of its official administrative organs. It seems that the Bush administration has pushed the abuses connatural to such structures to their furthest limits. The wide use of mercenaries ("contractors") in Iraq is only one indication. The very probable existence of neo-Phoenix type operations of selective assassination by covert death squads, "extraordinary renditions" and all the other horrors tend to be consigned to the "secret government" for the very obvious reason that they are inconfessable. This is not a new phenomenon: the Los Angeles cocaine connection during the Iran contra affair saw middle level DEA officers being thwarted in their attempts to do their jobs, just as some of those at Guantanamo who have spoken out against what is happening there now have been smeared and forced out. The clandestine agenda of the secret government takes precedence over both offical pieties and institutional norms. I think that this is one of the principle reasons why traditional conservatives are more outraged then liberals about what is happening: conservatives tend to respect institutional prerogative and tradition.

Admittedly these remarks apply to the questions of torture and clandestine operations, and do not touch on the equally horrifying use of white phosphorous, neo-napalm, and depleted uranium in classical military operations. These are being used, however, in fighting a war of agression (the real meaning of "war of choice") which should never have been begun, and almost certainly would not have been undertaken without the treasonous machinations of a powerful coterie gathered around the levers of power for the undemocratic shadow government and their mediatic henchmen who must by now be considered an integral part of those
parallel structures.

Sorry to have lapsed into my usual pomposity and verbosity.

Posted by: Hannah K. O'Luthon | Nov 16 2005 9:17 utc | 133

thank you HKOL for laying it out in a way that even I can understand.

I second the motion for treating Pat with deserved respect. She is obviously tough enough to not need kid glove treatment but her presence here has added balance and that is always needed and appreciated by me at least.

Posted by: dan of steele | Nov 16 2005 9:27 utc | 134

If you ever pay attention to the News Hour Iraq KIA list at the end of the broadcast, you may have noticed the large number of over 25(yrs old), the many 30 something, and occasional 40 something, and even a few over 50 making that list. This would seperate this war from those of the past, in that the casuality statistics don't indicate the usual conscripted cannon fodder, but would indicate, that many (of the post 25yr old) have chosen the military as a career. At first thought (&no doubt the civilian commands position) this is not particularly significant, the natural and expected outcome from a "professional" type military engaged in a war. But, along with the military "advantage" of having an un--conscripted, and thus un--slacker troop of true believers at hand, there is I would gather, an unexpected downside, silently at work here which has had remarkably little press. Lost in this is the fact that unlike a post teen army (doing the real dying) we now have many of those, leaving behind established career time and legasy, along with the wives(or spouse) and children. And these would be people of some maturity and knowledge and a greater expectation as to answers concerning policy. I'd bargan that the burnout of such an "army" is far more structural than anything that happened after Vietnam. Nothing worse than a true believer being smitten.

Posted by: anna missed | Nov 16 2005 10:51 utc | 135

A bit of "counter-tendency" to my earlier posting, but maybe not.

Posted by: Hannah K. O'Luthon | Nov 16 2005 11:04 utc | 136

@jm

Well, Mr Airhart (via HKOL's link) appears to be a man of character.

I'm counting on Mr Airhart and countless others who are in a position to oppose this obscenity. There is a hard road ahead.

@dan of steele.

I am willing to accord Pat any amount of respect, but not what she stands for. What is happening in Iraq is obscene. Seldom are things so clear. This type of prevarication and endless talk about the rules of engagement and the letter of the law serves only to obfuscate. Ultimately that is complicit with the crimes.

Posted by: DM | Nov 16 2005 12:40 utc | 137

@Pat
Yes, so very tired. I'm human, I do get fatigued, especially emotionally drained by all this shyte (and I don't mean the MOA). These days I'm an 'almost' pacifist and therefore consciously, actively withdraw from what I perceive as 'confrontation' situations ...

My perception is we unfortunately seem to infrequently talk past one another as if we're on slightly off comms frequencies, failing to effectively communicate. Perhaps my tendency to sometimes speak holistically, assuming recall of previous posts is to blame. Ah, the limitations of mere text. In any case I doubt my contributions here could actually be
encouraging the continued marginalization of the anti-war movement.

I'm sorry that I've apparently upset you. Yet I do not shy away from what I've said.

If you want a punching bag to vent against re me or my posts ? You're welcome, go ahead, Have at it ...

Posted by: Outraged | Nov 16 2005 13:37 utc | 138

DM

I am willing to accord Pat any amount of respect, but not what she stands for.

fair enough, however we are only bit players in this great game and fairly powerless to change things. What she stands for is not necessarily obscene, would you not have an army or police force? That kind of free for all is seldom workable in real life.

Lay blame where it is due, the nice church ladies and engaging old gentlemen as well as the psychotic thugs who blindly and fervantly support war deserve your scorn more than any soldier. I can assure you that the vast majority of soldiers have no desire to fight war.

Posted by: dan of steele | Nov 16 2005 13:46 utc | 139

This thread reminds me of two things...

1. the delineation between the German SS, whose code of ethics was loyalty to the NAZI party leader, and the German career military whose code of ethics was more professional.....Hence Rommel's predicament.

2. the difference betwen a professional army swearing allegiance to a constitution and a praetorian army swearing allegiance to its commander only.

We are marching to Praetoria.

Posted by: gylangirl | Nov 16 2005 18:09 utc | 140

@jm,

The root causes have to be found. War has to end. Humans will have to change and evolve. And the facing and understanding of all human impurities has to be done. It is difficult to know what to do.-jm

Many answers to this question are found especially in the book For Your Own Good: Hidden cruelty in childhood and the roots of violence by Alice Miller; A translation of Am Anfang war Erziehung in which one of the chapters makes psychiatric connections between Hitler's own childhood traumas and the traumas he unleashed on his world as an adult.

Quotes at the beginning of the book hint at the content within.

"It is quite natural for the child's soul to want to have a will of its own, and things that are not done correctly in the first two years will be difficult to rectify thereafter. One of the advantages of these early years is that then force and compulsion can be used. Over the years children forget everything that happened to them in early childhood. If their wills can be broken at this time, they will never remember afterwards that they had a will, and for this very reason the severity that is required will not have any serious consequences.
--J Sulzer, An Essay on the Education and Instruction of Children, 1748

Such disobediance amounts to a declaration of war against you. Your son is trying to usurp your authority, and you are justified in answering force with force in order to insure his respect, without which you will be unable to train him. The blows you administer should not be merely playful ones but should convince him that you are his master.
--J G Kruger, Some thoughts on the Education of Children,1752

It was constantly impressed upon me in forceful terms that I must obey promptly the wishes and commands of my parents, teachers, and priests, and indeed all grownup people, including servants, and that nothing must distract me form this duty. Whatever they said was always right. The basic principles by which I was brought up became second nature to me.
-- Rudolf Hoss, Commandant at Auschwitz

What good fortune for those in power that people do not think.
--Adolf Hitler
"

Indeed any of Alice Miller's books describe what needs to happen on the personal level of parenting in order to stop warfare by adults. Her book Thou Shalt Not Be Aware descibes the media's and the medical institution's resistance to challenging a pervasive childrearing poisonous pedagogy that has essentially set up the good son/daughter to unknowingly become a fascist and to unquestioningly support wars of aggression.

Posted by: gylangirl | Nov 16 2005 18:48 utc | 141

@gylangirl

Thanks for mentioning Alice Miller's books, I completely agree. I have mentioned her work a few times here at Moon. Her work also led me to James DeMeo's SAHARASIA: The 4000 BCE Origins of Child Abuse, Sex-Repression, Warfare and Social Violence, In the Deserts of the Old World

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Nov 16 2005 20:04 utc | 142

We are marching to Praetoria.

Please be careful w/yr. use of "we". Are you marching anywhere? I am not. Did you mean to say that the Fascists are trying to remake the Military?

My point being that you dangerously mask reality, and obfuscate who the Real Actor is.

Posted by: jj | Nov 16 2005 20:27 utc | 143

shit in one hand . . .

Dear Noam & Howard:

In a blog "comments" dialogue, here [link], I recently embraced former President Jimmy Carter's baptist heart-shout -- his new book -- critically aimed at the radical, revaunchist Bush Adminstration. This provoked numerous protests of "moral equivalency" -- cutting ol' Jimmy Earl off at the knees as just another enforcer (a lesser thug, but thug nonetheless) for the Capitalist Hegemon.

I described as "unpragmatic" these disavowals and disassociation with Carter's critique, contending that only the broadest possible coalition -- including even establishment republicans (like the recently outspoken Scowcroft and Wilkerson) -- can deliver the ouster, the repudiation, and villification of the Bush/Cheney junta that history requires.

Absent reforms that will lead to the viability and success of third, forth, and fifth party candidacies, I said I'd trade a neo-liberal Trilateralist (Carter) for a neo-conservative Dominionist (Bush) any day of the week, and confessed a willingness to accept "incremental mitigation" over improbable "utopianism." "Don't you dare vote for Democrat!," was among the ardent retorts. And, given the "winner take all" system we are saddled with, '"socialists: 9, democrats: 41, republicans: 49" is not a tolerable solution,' was my reply.

Eventually, I asked, 'Who and what would Chomsky and Zinn vote for?'

So that is what I am asking here. Please, could you shine some light on this conversation, perhaps simply pointing to related comments you've made elsewhere? Further, I'd appreciate even more your permission to pass along to the others engaged in this dialogue any comments you can add.

Thank you both so very much!

Sincerely,
[manonfyre]


and hope in the other -- see which fills up first.


I will certainly let you know if I hear anything.


[initial result -- email to hzinn@bu.edu returns:

"I am unable to reply to your message. as my b.u. e-mail address no longer works. I assume my friends will will be able to find my new e-mail address (I am trying to avoid junk mail!)"

tried something else.]

Posted by: manonfyre | Nov 16 2005 22:52 utc | 144

There isn't much of a military to do any marching at all right now. It's my understanding that empires built through military conquest have large, highly organized, efficient armed forces with a desire to fight in the ranks. The Romans rotated the troops and rewarded them heavily after each tour. The power of reward is one of the greatest motivators. "we" have a military in disintegration, especially since there seems to be dissension among the leaders. Even with all the hi-tech weaponry, ground forces are need in a geographical expansion for the multitude of tasks required to maintain control. I also think because of the unusual diversity in the American history, nationalism is not really as strong as other places with their ethnic homogeny. I know many will argue this point, But I hear a lot of Americans say they hate their country and their leader. Not the stuff of nationalism. The citizens of this country have been reluctant to go to war. The Civil War was one of the most horrible and still lurks in the collective conscience. A real empire can't be built without the enthusiasm of common warriors. And because we know it's wrong, to get people to kill others on a large scale is a huge task, unless they feel the personal threat in some violent way. That's what's wrong with this Middle Eastern debacle. The people don't genuinely feel the threat nor the need to conquer and steal. That's been artificially imposed with little success. We don't have a deep Muslim hatred. We have others.

gylangirl & Uncle,

Thanks so much for the links. People use extreme examples like Hitler and supposedly the natural characteristic of the Germans in their lust for authoritarian leadership, but the roots are there in all of us. You are so right. Instead of self control being taught, children are ordered to behave in certain ways and not even given reasons why. It happens in varying degrees, but the power struggle with authority always occurs, and I think, seldom worked out to insure an equitable society. There is also some fundamental traits in each child that leads her/him to comply or not. And the parents, who will all push the control to different points before stopping.

There is also the shame factor as we quickly learn that our bodies do such ugly things that have to be hidden. You can't even fart and pick your nose. Harmless activities. I think this sets up the insatiable curiosity of adults who want to look at graphic depictions of bodily horrors.

It's so interesting and deep. but to me, knowledge and understanding are the ways to improvement. Only when we begin to recognize the miracle of life and the intricate human body, learn to admire it, and learn to give it pleasure without fear can we even begin to think about great societies. When we start to view our existences as something other than punishment. These have to become natural, the norm. All these violent revolutions are getting us nowhere. Every act of violence demands an equal return. Same with an act of goodness. The fact of reciprocity is one to be studied, as some smaller island societies know.

Posted by: jm | Nov 16 2005 23:29 utc | 145

manonfyre

Chomsky has a blog on zNET.

Posted by: Malooga | Nov 17 2005 1:12 utc | 146

Thanks for the Saharasia link, U$.

Posted by: jonku | Nov 17 2005 1:17 utc | 147

Re the precedent of attempted seizure overseas of Pinochet, certain Israeli generals, Fujimori ... Bush next ? Not likely, but an ironic passing thought ...

What little the US media is reporting on this issue is simply commentary on what the British press has to say ... excepting maybe a highly selective sanitized article in Forbes and a single article in Wapo and MercuryNews ... does our media not have a position even now ? The silence really is stunning especially from Murdoch's media ...

Pretty much every country in the world is running with this, the story just won't die ... starting to look like Abu Ghraib II re Image ... Karen Hughes really has her work cut out for her now with this as well as the 'breaking' Iraqi Police/paramilitary torturers and death squads ... maybe McCain might think up a legislative amendment to another bill to deal with this 'image' problem next ...

Iraq: Shake & Bake: Who Would Jesus Burn?

By Dave Lindorff

The US has now matched Saddam, crime for crime, using chemical weapons against the Iraqi people. Coming next: Bush in the box?
What kind of country is this?

Not only does America use grotesque chemical weapons in its "War of Liberation"--in this case white phosphorus bombs that are as nasty as anything Saddam Hussein could have dreamt up, with the ability to eat their way into a body and liquefy flesh--but our shameless leaders, when caught in the act, try to lie their way out of their own atrocious behavior...

- snip -

The only bright spot in this horror show is that President Bush, our strutting, god-communing commander-in-chief, will now end his career (hopefully sooner than anticipated) confined to the U.S., lest he be arrested and tried in a cage like Saddam for the crime of using chemical weapons against civilians in Iraq.

What a grand irony that would be.

Posted by: Outraged | Nov 17 2005 1:25 utc | 148

Chomsky has a blog on zNET.

Thanks, M.

Did they get the note? Will they read it? Will they accept, in effect, an invitation to chime in as guest commentators on this thread?

Not holding my breath, but who knows? We do sometimes ask some pretty good questions here.

Halfway confident my note was at least delivered to Mr. C's widely published email address [chomsky at mit dot edu].

Not sure yet I am among the "friends...able to find" Mr. Z's working address, though last attempt [sent to admin at howardzinn dot org -- "please forward"] was not yet, as other attempts were, returned as "undeliverable."


Posted by: manonfyre | Nov 17 2005 2:34 utc | 149

In a reflective moment I am surprised that this is even occurring ...

Ten years ago would 'the left' have ever imagined so many ex-agency staff, and others, today being vocally on the same side of reason ?

The agency has never actually been the Hollywood myth of a monolithic bloc with a single conformist view ... despite the constancy of infamous deeds (Directorate of Operations) and range of characters (Dulles et al), even when committing the worst of unforgivable acts ... its always sought out 'red-blooded' patriots ...

Yes, in a moment of reflection, how ironic, how formerly implausible, the alliances of 'today' against the threat that is Bush&Co, indeed ... foreseeing future consequences, a former Office director issues a call to arms ?!

Do the People of the United States Care Enough to Stop Him?

Evidence Mounts That Bush Wants New Wars
By BILL CHRISTISON
Former CIA analyst

In this his time of troubles, Bush seems to be moving deliberately and rapidly toward new wars of aggression in an unforgivable gamble to overcome his troubles. His speech on Veterans' Day, November 11, 2005 at the Tobyhanna Army Depot in Pennsylvania leads to this conclusion more clearly than any of his previous speeches and activities. The new wars would be the start of a world war initiated by Bush and radical Christianity against what he calls radical Islam, but in truth the wars would be waged against all Islam.

To repeat, despite Bush's arguments to the contrary, the "clash of civilizations" would consist of wars started by us. The killing of innocent people in these wars is likely to be massive, and the wars could at any time turn nuclear. If the people and the politicians of America allow these wars to take place, the stain on the morality of Americans will last for generations...

- snip -

Bill Christison was a senior official of the CIA. He served as a National Intelligence Officer and as Director of the CIA's Office of Regional and Political Analysis.

Posted by: Outraged | Nov 17 2005 14:58 utc | 150

My son, a junior in college, e-mailed Chomsky and got a reply -- so i think he trys to do that. Do'nt know if he'll take on the question though, i'd bet he does.

Posted by: anna missed | Nov 17 2005 16:43 utc | 151

[drumroll!] reply from Mr. C:

I voted against Reagan in 1980, despite Carter's criminal record. And advised voting against Bush in swing states in 2000, 2004. Only seems to me reasonable to prevent the worst.

Noam

Posted by: manonfyre | Nov 17 2005 19:35 utc | 152

[was preparing this when Chomsky's reply rolled in]

I recall it was Outraged who recently counseled us to "play the ball, not the player."

Had something of a dust-up with Slothrop the other day here, and it was very tempting, in the follow-up, to have a go at the player. I even quipped that I'd, 'return later to mop the floor with Slothrop. I kid Slothrop.'

In notes I prepared to that end, I characterized Slothrop's idealism as 'fatalistic.' And I wondered if S., in some sort of "give me liberty or give me death!" bravado, wasn't in fact matching with his own "power to the people!" intractabliity against the "history is only ever written in blood" of the neo-cons and the "death to the infidels" of the jihadists. I wrote, 'he'd invite us to cock up our own entries in the "Neo-Con vs. Salafist" apocalyptic demolition derby, coming soon to major cites everywhere.' "America must die as a lie of the enlightenment.," he'd said.

But I've thought better of Slothrop's idealism, since. In fact, I'm feeling injected with a renewed political enthusiasm precisely because of how S "played the player," in my own case. Between the two of us, I will concede that I am certainly more slavish and deferential to the status quo. And I must also admit that fear has played a bigger role in my political calculus than it does, apparently, for S. My position, then, more nearly matches the charges I made of "complicity" and "surrender."

So, Slothrop, I thank you for your courage and defiance, and for calliing me out.

Years ago I asked a friend to recommend "the very best book you've ever read." His recommendation: "Pedagogy of the Oppressed," by Paolo Friere.

Slothrop's passion reminds of Paulo and my friend, and compels me to read again this "very best book."

Posted by: manonfyre | Nov 17 2005 20:00 utc | 153

Just want to add that Jonku's statement,

It is a valuable debate to me, criticising the political system as something to eliminate or viewing the system as something to improve.

struck me as the quintessential brief of this thread.

Thank you, J!

Posted by: manonfyre | Nov 17 2005 20:29 utc | 154

manonfyre

As deanander has often implied here: too little, too late.

In any case, keep on truckin' until that epiphanic moment, we finally do the right thing, and then the sun goes out.

Posted by: slothrop | Nov 17 2005 20:38 utc | 155

Hey, slothrop, you forgot something: keep on truckin' baby.

Reminds me of what a friend said as he left our workplace for the last time, "keep the baby, faith."

Posted by: jonku | Nov 17 2005 21:01 utc | 156

@slothrop

Who's being supercilious now?

___________________________________


In the analysis of dramatic narratives (novels, film, etc.), as in life, there are sequences of events that can be boiled down to a "bright moment" preceding a "dark moment," and vice versa. There is a point in the story when everything is going just fine and "bright," then "blam!" -- it all goes to shit and "dark." Or, conversely, all is dark and dire, then, viola!, a new day dawns.

So too, it seems, can our personal views of history adopt similar narratives. As we peer forward and strain to see the future, it's not unusual to diverge into similarly opposite views. And it is a toss-up, for sure. Is our human history on the verge of the "dark" or the "bright?"

Put me down for "bright!"

Posted by: manonfyre | Nov 17 2005 22:13 utc | 157

...and quite warm

Posted by: b real | Nov 17 2005 22:40 utc | 158

@manonfyre

"In the analysis of dramatic narratives (novels, film, etc.), as in life, there are sequences of events that can be boiled down to a "bright moment" preceding a "dark moment," and vice versa."

As I explained in a previous thread, I've had it with dramatic archetypes. I've had it with fables about how the hero brings the forces of darkness to their knees by a miraculous revelation brought to the people. Our irrational faith in fables is what produces American exceptionalism and "good guys vs. bad guys" in the first place.

I have been in agreement with the majority of what you have written, but to endorse a Pollyanna viewpoint that the world is scripted to occur in this way or that is, to my mind, the worst kind of fatalism and borders on the blind faith of the extremists (Islamic, Christian, Neocon or Other) who have imposed their Weltbild upon the rest of us and orchestrated the very horrors we are decrying here.

To some extent, I believe that we "live our own myths", as Joseph Campbell described it, but these are myths of our active making. To give up the struggle of reforming our world or bringing the corrupt to justice because things are pre-ordained by the God of Literature and Motion Pictures to work themselves out in a particular direction is beyond irresponsible... it is a concession of powerlessness. And I do not hold to that.

Posted by: Monolycus | Nov 17 2005 23:09 utc | 159

@Monolycus et al...


The Madness of George W. Bush: A Reflection of Our Collective Psychosis

Bush’s sickness is our own.


“The Jungian analysis by Paul Levy, of Bush and the culture which maintains him, reaches deep into the American psyche. It should be studied and digested by everyone. If the citizenry would recognize that Bush's egomania is acting out a national illness, we would all be saner. If the US could integrate the "shadow" which Bush projects upon "the axis of evil," perhaps we could achieve world peace and start to solve global problem. A MUST READ.”

Carol S. Wolman, MD, Board Certified in Psychiatry

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Nov 17 2005 23:25 utc | 160

@Unca

I'm not sure why we aren't just stamping "Gott mit uns" on all our currency. Waitaminnit...

Posted by: Monolycus | Nov 17 2005 23:29 utc | 161

In the link supplied by Uncle $cam above, Dr. Paul Levy describes our national disease as having taken hold of George W., naming it ME (malignant egophrenia).


With Bush as president it’s as if we’re in a car going over the speed limit being driven by a drunk adolescent who has fallen asleep at the wheel. It’s our responsibility to recognize the extreme danger of our situation and come together to do something about it, whatever that might be. If not, if we continue to passively and helplessly watch what is playing out in front of our very eyes, then we have no one to blame but ourselves. To quote Abraham Lincoln, "We--even we here--hold the power, and bear the responsibility." Now is the time to join together and creatively express our true voice. As the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. says "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." Our only limitation is in our own imagination.

Posted by: jonku | Nov 17 2005 23:55 utc | 162

Uncle,

I've been following Levy's assessment for a long time and have been crusading for the understanding of who Bush really is....a symbol of our society and the time. He isn't something that has been placed on us from some far outside source. He sprang from within us. The more we study the situation and identify the things he refects about us, the closer we will come to maturity and growth. Especially before he's gone. We are not his victims. If anything, it is the reverse.

Bush is like a roto rooter sucking all our negativity. If you look at it, we and others around the world have dumped on him incessantly and he's absorbed it all. He has served as a sewer for this society, I believe, and the purge of Katrina was probably the turning point. I've never seen any leader here yet who has been hated and ridiculed as much as him. And he remains unchanged until we get it. He is so clear and so easy for us to see. A huge opportunity in the string of more deceptive leaders we have had.

I know we, as a country, have seen some new truth about ourselves illuminated as a result of this painful experience, and time will bear this out.

@Monolycus

Our irrational faith in fables is what produces American exceptionalism and "good guys vs. bad guys" in the first place.

This is interesting. I think perhaps our fables our actually based on our real experiences. We pit good against bad by nature and our stories, folk tales, myths, etc. are an outgrowth. And maybe buried in our minds is a collective belief(hope) in the the good triumphing. I think a more logical view, though, is that neither wins. It's a cycle. If there are entities out there, there are certainly enjoying the cosmic game.

To give up the struggle of reforming our world or bringing the corrupt to justice because things are pre-ordained by the God of Literature and Motion Pictures to work themselves out in a particular direction is beyond irresponsible... it is a concession of powerlessness. And I do not hold to that.

Very well stated. I actually think that most people don't truly follow the preordained dictum even if they say so. I think our collective chip contains a belief in possibility and unpredictability which is just as powerful. It makes for our individual life long struggle between fate and personal will. What would we do without this?

I see around me now a dramatic moment in this struggle where we are divided between those who believe that we are doomed at the moment and going into darker territory and those who perceive a turning point. Absolutely no one knows. And does it really matter? Wherever we go we make the necessary adjustments. So each personal perception is important to keep as it is the individyual's own way of navigating. We should learn, I think to believe in our own.


Posted by: jm | Nov 18 2005 0:13 utc | 163

@jonku,

We--even we here--hold the power, and bear the responsibility."

I need not say more.

Posted by: jm | Nov 18 2005 0:28 utc | 164

@monolycus

First, I suppose there are occasions when "playing the player" is "playing the ball" -- occasions when our puny tet-a-tet pissing contests are emblematic of broader social issues and deserving of greater scuntiny.

Second, there are times in these forums, absent intimate clues and with little more than these printed words alone to go by, that we marshal canons against flies. I have done this myself, and had it done in my direction.

Finally, there is nothing in what I said above that is inconsistent with your more nuanced conclusion that,

"these are myths of our active making."

I couldn't agree more. And that is precisely why I, for one, am unable or unwilling, "[t]o give up the struggle of reforming our world."

If I err in my personal approach to this struggle by holdiing a "positive" outlook, and on the side of faith as against doubt, hope as against despair, say what you will, but that is my "mistake" to make.

One last dash of this saccarin rot: Sometimes you have to believe in things before you can see them in the world, and not the other way around.


Posted by: manonfyre | Nov 18 2005 2:13 utc | 165

@Uncle $cam at 6:25:23 PM
Excellent catch. Thankyou.

Posted by: Outraged | Nov 18 2005 2:34 utc | 166

"It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped each time a man stands up for an ideal or acts to improve the lot of others or strikes out against injustice he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest wall of oppression and resistance."

~ Robert Kennedy, Jr.
South Africa - 1966

Yeah, like he said.

Across the whole political landscape, we are often arguing from different stages of consciousness, different "memes" as described in Spiral Dynamics[pdf file], and, so, we often talk right past one another.

Posted by: manonfyre | Nov 18 2005 3:21 utc | 167

@manonfyre

As I said before, I have agreed with most of what you have shared in these forums so I was a little baffled when I interpreted your post to be an advocation of passivity ("Relax, the myth will out", or less generously, "Gott mit uns"). Happily, I see that I misread your point and apologise if I seemed unduly critical of you on a personal level.

Posted by: Monolycus | Nov 18 2005 4:29 utc | 168

How Bush speaks for YOU

Posted by: Way to go, U.S.A. | Nov 18 2005 5:03 utc | 169

...And, following in Unca's worthy footsteps, a few moments and a search engine has provided for me two analyses of Bush's psychological pathology in respect to the "Gott mit uns" mindset. One comes from the Left and the other from the Right... but their conclusions are eerily similar. The primary differences between these analyses boils down to the same question we bat around in respect to 9/11, intelligence "failures" about a weapons program in Iraq prior to 2003, the release of Valerie Plame's identity after Joe Wilson's derogatory article, et cetera, ad nauseum. The question boils down, simply, to: "do they really believe these things they are doing or do they simply cynically exploit things that they have allowed to happen?" Fascinating to me, the analysis from the Right is the less charitable answer.

Whether or not Bush the Younger's ostensible craziness is actually craftiness, Unca's point above still stands. It works because we, as a culture, ARE as unbalanced as we perceive our leaders to be. I can't weigh in on the degree to which Bush the Younger and his ilk buy their own rhetoric, but the rhetoric stands because a sizeable portion of us do.

Now, we are raising a question about the USA reaching a "turning point" that could take us to a lighter or darker place than we presently enjoy. I will throw my tuppence on that pile. Optimism alone won't make the day brighter, but the inaction that results from fatalism has the potential to make it a whole lot darker. If we find ourselves at a "turning point" our action or the lack of it can have a very tangible effect on the outcome. If we decide that the clouds are lifting and do nothing, I guarantee to you that things are going to get darker. If we keep pushing, whether we are hopeful or desperate, we might be able to steer this trainwreck to a slightly better ground. To paraphrase the Lincoln quote provided by jonku above, whether you are feeling optimistic or pessimistic about things, it's on us now to get what what we deserve.

Posted by: Monolycus | Nov 18 2005 5:19 utc | 170

some interesting ideas from paul shepard re humans, agriculture, mental illness, and war ("cooperative murder").


War is the state's expression of social pathology.

. . .

Certainly no other animal exhibits anything like the degree of intra-specific killing and maiming that occurs within our own species. That wars have continued despite the variety of political forms that have been tried through the ages of written history suggests that something more fundamental is at fault than systems of ideas and programs. The New Guinea spear duels and the Big Powers missile race are equally biological malfunctions - instinctive but pathological. As in other forms of mental illness, the true causes are submerged in unconscious obscurity, shielded by conscious images and ideas that are the opposite of the truth - such as the stereotype of the farmer as man of peace. Modern war is attributed to the failure of belief or will or leadership or failure to contain the animal and archaic savage beneath our skins. In fact, swords of war are hammered from plowshares. To consider goat-breeding and soil-breaking virtuous is self-deception; war emerged with the shift in ecology, which produced the arrogant concept of land ownership and the struggles for resources, space, and power.

. . .

Agriculture removed the means by which men could contemplate themselves through any terms other than themselves (or machines). It projected back upon nature an image of human conflict and competition and then read analogies from that to people (or as Levi-Strauss puts it, "naturalized a true culture falsely").

The result of this is that human groups foreign to one's own are read as other species, and on the historical misconstruction of nature as violent, the displacement, enslavement, and killing of the others as logical. One enacts rather than thinks the role of predator or prey. The poetic energies of puberty are deflected from their confrontation with the cosmic and nonhuman toward that which ontogeny had been directed for a million years, turning it back in myths that disguised the maternal symbosis in celestrial dress. In short, the unfulfilled maternal symbiosis of infant and mother leaves a vaccum that can be exploited to draw the new birth of adolescence backward...

. . .

Civilization increased the separation between the individual and the natural world as it did that of the child from the mother, amplifying an attachment that could be channed into aggression.

. . .

What agriculture discovered was not only that plants and animals could be subordinated, but that large numbers of men could be centrally controlled by manipulating these stresses, perpetuating their timorous search for protection, their dependence, their impulses of omnipotence and helplessness, irrational surges of adulation and hate, submission to authority, and fear of the strange.

. . .

In many ways the sensory impact of village life fostered an impression of opposition, or duality: things were in or of the community and village or they were not, they favored the crops or hindered them, were wild or tame, weeds or crops, useful or worthless...In the simplified ecosystem of agriculture it would be possible to adopt, as it were, the posture of jural duality that enables the juvenile, newly caught up in the spirit of his burgeoning sense of ethics, to make judgements with overweening certainty...For the small child, a kind of bimodality of cognition is normal, a part of the beginings of classifying and making categories, an essential step in the adult capacity to make abstractions. The world at first is an either/or place. The human mind makes a hazardous trip, begining in an undivided unity - the I-am-everything paradise of the fetus - proceeding through a world of contraries, and arriving at maturity able to work in multiplicity and plurality. Getting stuck in the binary view strands the adult in a universe torn by a myriad of oppositions and conflicts.

. . .

What all cultures seek is to clarify and confirm the belongingness of their members, even at the expense of perpetuating infantile fears, of depriving the members of the objects of their quest for adaptedness and making their only common ground their nonrootedness.

In this connection it is no surprise that the "adaptability society" celebrates childhood, admires youth and despises age, and equates childhood with innocence, wisdom, and spiritual power. Its members cling to childhood, for their own did not serve its purpose.

. . .

The high percentage of neuroses in Western society seems often to be interpreted as a sign of a highly stressful "lifestyle". If you add to it - or see it acted out as - the insanities of nationalism, war, and biome busting, a better case than simply that of lifestyle can be made in terms of an epidemic of the psycopathic mutilation of ontogeny. Characteristic of the schizoid features of this immature subjectivity is difficulty differentiating among fantasy, dream, and reality.

. . .

The incidence of mental disorder leading to mutual slaughter is perhaps the best evidence that the human cerebrum is near its tolerable limits in size...The crisis of mental overreaching does not end there. Hypercomplexity is determined by function as well as by volume. A changed environment may render the brain unfit. A brain of razor-sharp keenness useful in a world of human rarity may be too large in a world of billions of people. Today the symptom of the overdone head is no longer the scapegoat ceremony ["desperate, shocking (and usually successful) measures to readjust the group neuroses by means of scapegoats"], however; it is the insanity by which mass society delivers itself into military hands.

Posted by: b real | Nov 18 2005 6:00 utc | 171

I read an intersting theory about this in which the author claimed that war was an outgrowth of our predatory instinct not finding it's outlet. Maybe when agriculture arrived, the impulse turned in on itself. The hoarding and protecting of commodities have cetainly played a part. Maybe even the stationary aspect of community gave rise to vulnerability...less swift-footed and able to run and escape.
Also the increase in leisure could have given rise to imagination and conceiving of this duality and conflict. Maybe the growth of community led to the need for governance, authority, and the resulting conflicts.

Others have written about the advent of agriculture causing man's problems. I have always believed that the initial separation from the umbilical at birth is the seat of our fear compelling us the rest of our lives to reestablish the connection. Nothing seems to work as we grasp for food, things, people, etc. We have yet to master the acceptance of our separation from others. If we could, I think this would automatically manifest as viewing the other as less threatening. We would not identify with them, not compete for the same things, and probably understand that there is enough to go around for everyone. If we could only step back, breathe, and perceive our safety, which in reality, is there. It's all perception.

Posted by: jm | Nov 18 2005 7:44 utc | 172

Hey jm and Monolycus, thanks but my post referred to and quoted from Dr. Paul Levy as supplied by Uncle Scam.

I messed up the quoting a bit.

Posted by: jonku | Nov 18 2005 8:22 utc | 173

@Monolycus

Now, we are raising a question about the USA reaching a "turning point" that could take us to a lighter or darker place than we presently enjoy. I will throw my tuppence on that pile.

Now that sounds good. I especially like the phrase,"we presently enjoy".

Posted by: jm | Nov 18 2005 11:04 utc | 174

fwiw- Hollyweird's insistence on what Levy, above, calls an adolescent world view of good and evil sharply divided between two entities (and his labeling of this as the ME disease strangely reminds me of Tom Wolfe's "Me Generation" indictment of the same generation decades ago...) is not really so elemental as the world of myth.

rather, the "hollywood ending" stems from Restorative three-act drama of the Victorian era in which all sorts of behavior is permitted as long as good wins out and bad is punished and vanquished...and was the stuff of middle-class entertainment (and also the required storyline of, say, fantasy video games or fantasy movies for children...)

in Greek drama and tragedy all does not end well. suffering is suffering sometimes, and revenge often only exacerbates suffering, for instance. the gods were as flawed as the humans...which reminds me of something I read somewhere about Jevovah being a jealous god, like the gods of Greek myth...and his jealously was such that he tried to exterminate the idea of any other representation of god/goddess...

Rome, the empire, had a literature of "laws" far into its existence...its real literature was the drama of the Greek city-state...the empire's "literature" was the language of control. Even when they conquered Macedonia, Rome could not conquer the intimate horrors of the drama of Medea or Oedipus. What "literature" is really widely acknowledged from Rome? -- The literature of war...Gallic, Punic...until Ovid's Metamorphosis showed fools to be fools and asses to be asses.

I'll quote the abstract from an article that's not available w/o subscription that states Heidegger's understaing of this idea from H's Parmenides lectures (tho Heidegger was on the wrong side of empire viz a viz Germany)...

One of Heidegger's most insistent assertions about the identity of modern Europe is that its origins are not Greek, as has been assumed in discourses of Western modernity since the Englightenment, but Roman, the epochal consequence of the Roman reduction of the classical Greek understanding of truth, as a-letheia (un-concealment), to veritas (the correspondence of mind and thing). In the Parmenides lectures of 1942-43, Heidegger amplifies this genealogy of European identity by showing that this Roman concept of truth--and thus the very idea of Europe--is also indissolubly imperial.

the small-scale participatory demos-centered world in other words, is not our reality. instead, the parsing of laws of control, of "truth" as black vs. white judgment, rather than the unconcealment of tragedy and comedy, is our national "literature" contained in H.weird and popular fictions like Crichton...and reflects the popular view America wants to see as itself.

...which is also why we've never confronted or admitted our complicity in murder with Pinochet or the Iran-Contra criminals who now control so much of our govt... if we're doing it, it's not wrong...

For me, it's sort of like that aesthetic fairy tale --The Picture of Dorian Gray -- and in order for America to maintain its image of itself, its soul, as revealed by the honestly artistic is hidden and rotting.

Unkka- your other link to the eco-anthro paper is also interesting. no doubt access to resources has influenced the ways humans have tried to make sure they reproduce and have access to enough resources to survive. If the anxiety of paternity in an environment of limited resources and thus, it would seem, higher infant mortality makes the idea something to think about in terms of how resources are allocated in society today, as well.

Posted by: fauxreal | Nov 18 2005 13:09 utc | 175

jm- Also the increase in leisure could have given rise to imagination and conceiving of this duality and conflict.

actually, the evidence points to pre-agricultural societies and hunter-gatherers having more leisure time than their "civilized" counterparts. stone age economics by marshall sahlins made a good case. the figure that i see in my readings is an average of 4-5 hours per day of work for adults in these type of cultures.

Posted by: b real | Nov 18 2005 17:13 utc | 176

b real / jm,

I seem to remember also a study (french?) on comparative time (between native /contemp) spent on social relations within that "leisure" time -- that showed the aboriginal cultures spent exponentially way more time involved in social / family intercourse than contemporary society. Its more than leisure time itself, but what people do with it. Thinking of that reputed 5 or 10 minutes a day parents spend in conversation with their children these days.

Posted by: anna missed | Nov 18 2005 19:07 utc | 177

fauxreal,

Very interesting about the Restoration Drama. You got me thinking. I think there is a difference between the literature and drama you are describing and the myths, fables, fairy tales, and folklore. Our playwrights have also been tragic, but Hollyweird banks on the myths quite a lot, which are not the same.

b real, anna m., slothrop,

Also interesting. And I am delighted because I am a great believer in the value of not doing. I think the moronic emphasis this society places on being busy is a huge problem. It's as if it is a sign of great importance to be too busy and I think just the opposite. The most confident are the ones who appear relaxed and unhurried.

I think not having enough time for the self, having too many activities for the time allotted disturbs the perception of time. That is the mantra I always here..."I don't have enough time". What a concept. It never made sense to me. Time is a constant and outside our arithmetical control. We all have the same amount. Perception once again and beeing too busy is a form of oppression under the apparent weight and restriction of limited time. Nonsense, and probably one of the factors causing illness.

I wonder what was wrong with the hunting/gathering approach that led it to morph into the sedentary lifestyle.

Posted by: jm | Nov 19 2005 1:19 utc | 179

jm- just for accuracy's sake..not Restoration drama...that's the term for drama in the era of the 1660s restoration of Charles II in Eng. and the time of Aphra Behn and Congreve, whose The Way of the World is bitterly satrical about his era.

Restorative three-act drama is a term that applies to a sort of theatre, etc in which "order" is restored by the end, no matter what happens in between...and why people can like the beginning and middle of movies better than the endings, maybe?

And fairy tales were "cleaned up" when they were collected by the Grimms and Perrault from the common people. The story of Snow White, for instance, was originally a story about a Prince who took her as his mistress and wife...bigamy, in other words. The wife was changed to an older female/mother, and the dwarves became dwarves, not illegitimate children.

Cinderella stems from an ancient Chinese folktale about a tight fit, so to speak b/t a man and woman in congress (yuck, what a terrible image if applied to our view of that word...)

In western Europe, in the older stories, Cinderalla dances and birds peck out the eyes of her mean step-sisters.

...and so many stories contain "wicked" stepmothers because so many women died in childbirth, and like baboons, humans would favor their own offspring...

another aside...Lear is considered a version of the Cinderella story by many folklorists...

and again, myths of gods and goddesses were not like Hweird myths, with the exception, maybe of life/death/rebirth myths, which didn't start with Christianity, but were also, in more horrific form, in stories like the one of Attis

In terms of the history of myth and folklore, the formulaic stories Hweird tells are not ancient at all, but rather, derive from patriarchal structures of "the one" that is the only important character or life and is always right...if only everyone else would listen and follow.

this is VERY IMPORTANT to recognize, imo, because the assumption that such tales are the only archetype is wrong and lead to all sorts of prejudice and assumptions about who we are as humans.

..which is why I'm writing this post.

Posted by: fauxreal | Nov 19 2005 17:10 utc | 180

I agree, Fauxreal, about the danger of the stories about the one that is omnipotent, but sometimes I wonder if it is deeper than the stories, and actually comes from deep within the human consciousness. I think the lesson to be learned, and therefore these stories are all necessary...is that the omnipotent one is ourselves. But only in relation to our own destinies. In that the sense, the stories are guidelines in our education, as we learn not to dictate to others, but merely illuminate.

Posted by: jm | Nov 19 2005 23:05 utc | 181

The archetypal western fairy tale has also been interpreted as the triumphant search for/return of the longlost female/nurturing self which humanity has caste off/repressed in favor of exhalting male supremacy/violent self.

Posted by: gylangirl | Nov 20 2005 2:23 utc | 182

Like the ancient Greeks ... the modern day Irish tell stories founded in reality ... tragedies.

Posted by: Outraged | Nov 20 2005 2:32 utc | 183

à tragoidia
the song of the goat

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Nov 20 2005 2:40 utc | 184

You're so silly. All cultures have stories reflecting all experience. Tragedy? Try Tennesse Williams or Eugene O'neill. The Greeks had outrageous comedies. We have a certain fatalism knowing that death awaits us and maybe tragedies reflect this, but the emotional pantheon cries for full expression in all of its variations. That's reality. The flux of feeling. Some of us root in tragedy and reach out from there to comedy and others probably do the reverse. They come from the same umbilical, solar plexus source.

What exactly is so decidedly tragic about life?

Posted by: jm | Nov 20 2005 3:17 utc | 185

Life is unbelievably rich with all experiences for us to pluck, like the proverbial low hanging fruit.

We see immeasurable tragedy around us and we continue to add to the collection with our imaginations. But here we are, day in and day out, thoroughly enjoying our friendships and conversations on the Internet. Learning, growing, and looking forward to every new day to see what new posts and fresh ideas have come in. We love our minds and our ability to verbalize and some absolutely adore every word that comes forth from their fertile brains. We share, we try to improve, and we keep longing for a better society and keep searching for ways to bring this into fruition.

We are rich. What is so tragic about this?

Posted by: jm | Nov 20 2005 4:22 utc | 186

how about the torture & muder of manadel al jamadi - ordered by general sanchez & carried out by colonel pappas & his men under the most sadistic & cruel circumstances

the continuing theatre of cruelty at abou ghraib


source: sy hersh - chain of command : french translation pp 79 -80

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Nov 20 2005 4:26 utc | 187

Yes. These are tragic.

Posted by: jm | Nov 20 2005 4:31 utc | 188

other scenes :

act l scene l

rumsfield, perle & cheney taking coffee in bureau

act l scene ll

jack abrahamoff handling money to rep tom delay in envelope

act l scene lll

bagram air base afghanistan
four afghanistan youth being beaten to death by some soldiers
from kansas

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Nov 20 2005 16:36 utc | 189

the real america

sioux falls, black hills, south dakota, perhaps

& words for that america given by george jackson
(soledad brother assasinated by prison guards)

' i think it is best to split this world in two - those
who are guilty & those who are innocent" prison letters

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Nov 20 2005 17:57 utc | 190

The "real America"?

Hating America is OK if you must but what does it accomplish? Does it stop the tragedy?

Posted by: jm | Nov 20 2005 18:21 utc | 191

@jm
Self reflection and analysis is not 'hating America' ... self-delusion and denial is akin to being a drug-induced junkie ... narcissism or patritism ?

Posted by: Outraged | Nov 20 2005 18:35 utc | 192

jm

george jackson was a great american
he cared for america as much as you

he died for it

he was killed as bob dylan sang because :

"they were frightened of his power
they were scared of his love"

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Nov 20 2005 18:44 utc | 193

Everyone I've known in life has participated in the theater of cruelty in some way. Are you, r'g, so above this? You would be the first. Are you absolutely sure you are wise enough to judge everyone else accurately? Can too much obsession about others' behavior sometimes mask our own crimes, even if they are smaller.

Thankfully, most folks stop short of the extreme cruelty, but since we have never been successful at controlling others, wouldn't it make sense to look at our own wrong doings and start from there?
Who knows, maybe some day it would have a cumulative effect.

We simply cannot police the human race. Wherever we get control we are losing it in some other place. If we could really learn true ethics, morality, and compassion on an individual basis while we are bemoaning the cruelty of others and sometimes incarcerating them, we might make real progress. We are fully aware of the human horrors around us. Are we as aware of them in ourselves?

Posted by: jm | Nov 20 2005 18:45 utc | 194

I fully understand, r'g, about the fear of love. And I think this is fundamental. It extends to our belief in our unworthiness and a punishing life. I ponder this situation constantly and try to come up with a way out. I believe so strongly that self knowledge is the start.

Posted by: jm | Nov 20 2005 18:51 utc | 195

We absolutely must love ourselves first to stop all of this madness. The ones who cling to hate will have to catch up at their own pace. Force has never worked.

Posted by: jm | Nov 20 2005 18:56 utc | 196

from comments on the society of the spectacle

Thus, a thousand of conspiracies in favor of the established order tangle and clash almost everywhere, with the overlapping of networks and secret questions or actions always pushed harder; and the process of rapid integration is pushed into each branch of the economy, politics and culture. The degree of intermingling in surveillance, disinformation and special activities continually grows in all areas of social life. The general conspiracy has become so dense that it is almost out in the open, each of its branches starts to hinder or trouble the others, because all these professional conspirators are spying on each other without exactly knowing why, or encounter each other by chance, yet without recognizing each other with certainty. Who is observing whom? On whose behalf, apparently? And actually? The real influences remain hidden, and the ultimate intentions can only be suspected with great difficulty and almost never understood. So that while no one can say he is not deluded or manipulated, it is only in rare instances that the manipulator himself can know he has succeeded. And, besides, finding oneself on the winning side of manipulation does not mean that one has justly chosen the strategic perspective. It is thus that tactical successes can get great forces stuck on bad paths.

Posted by: notbored | Nov 20 2005 18:56 utc | 197

Yes. The fear of surveillance is universal. Almost like a huge cosmic eye.

The real intentions of anyone are a mystery to everyone, including themselves. We are all manipulators. Excellent ones. We learn that immediately upon birth. We also are ensnared in delusion. One and all.

So we are safe in this ultimate confusion until they/we figure it out. And maybe even then.

Posted by: jm | Nov 20 2005 19:20 utc | 198

notbored

debord died dead drunk
while his words contain wisdom
their cynicism i find intolerable

debord's ideology was as misanthropic as the man himself

what we need today is 1 2 3 many fred hamptons

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Nov 20 2005 19:31 utc | 199

Cynicism? Intolerable?

Posted by: jm | Nov 20 2005 19:44 utc | 200

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