Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Closing the Carcass Gap

Oppression rests on a bedrock of ideology, be it the divine right of kings, Christianism, Nazism or Communism. Without a dynamic ideology driving it, the best a leader could hope for was a tepid authoritarianism. A war driven by ideology takes on a nasty brutishness not found in wars fought for political or economic reasons. Slaughter rocks when ideology is giving the orders.

The question is how do you spin an ideology out of the raw material of life? What switch must a leader throw, what screw do must he tighten in order to create a jackbooted ideology that destroys all in its path.

We find a clue in the early days of sociology. The discipline arose in the nineteenth century with thinkers like Weber, Comte and Durkheim. These early thinkers were literate and well-red, and in many cases their writing approached poetry.

One of the tools these early thinkers used to understand the working of society was the “ideal type.” This was an abstract construct that represented a social phenomenon in its pure form. Examples of ideal types are democracy, capitalism, freedom and socialism.

It was understood by these thinkers that the ideal type was not reality. It was simply a tool with which one could analyze reality. Human beings are too contradictory, difficult, disorganized and undisciplined to ever achieve an ideal type—unless they are forced to.

Here now is the key to creating an ideology: Treat an ideal type as if it is real. Place this new “reality” on a mountain top, and drive the people up the slope with whips, cudgels and unmanned drones. Stalin did this with socialism and the end result was Communism, a mutant form of state-run capitalism.

The contemporary hotbed of ideology is the United States where every word is literalized and every ideal type is treated as a reality to be achieved. Saint Milton of Friedman is our patron saint of ideology. He took an ideal type, feral free enterprise, and treated it as a reality. The result has been a seething cauldron of poverty, misery, oppression and disenfranchisement. Just as Stalin gave us Communism, St. Milton has given us the Washington Consensus.

In the beginning, the Washington Consensus was rather wimpy as ideologies go. True, it caused its share of misery, but is simply couldn’t achiever the same body count as the traditional European ideologies.

That is until our Oligarchs decided to bring free enterprise and democracy to the Middle East. With that decision, the Washington Consensus started earning its chops as a grim reaper. We still have a ways to go before we catch up with the twentieth century ideologies, but this is America, home of the can-do spirit.

This is why Afghanistan is so important. We simply cannot allow this carcass gap to continue. We must show the Europeans that when it comes to body counts, we are number one.

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