Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Cultural Hubris and the Militarized Corporate State

It is a misnomer to call it racism because the entire concept of race is a myth. Some may point to the slaughter and mayhem this myth has left in its wake as proof of its reality, but the sad truth is that myths of all sorts are always deadlier than reality. Just look at the brutality religious wars create.

Rather what we are seeing in the Beltway’s justification for the Afghan enterprise is a cultural hubris carried to the point of madness. It is the assumption that western, liberal democracy is the acme of social evolution and that its practitioners have a moral obligation to spread it to the far corners of the earth. (One wonders just how civilized the West is, given the millions killed in our wars and our death camps. However, if a culture believes itself on the side of “right” it can do no evil.

A corollary of this hubris is that all other cultures are mired in barbarity, superstition and ignorance, and it is the West’s duty to lift them out of this swamp. And we do this by converting savages into middleclass suits who talk like us and think like us, after we’ve bombed them into submission.

Consequently, we believe that everything outside of our cultural gated community constitutes a threat that must be neutralized.

In his West Point speech, Obama personified this mindset when he said, “This struggle against violent extremism will not be finished quickly, and it extends well beyond Afghanistan and Pakistan. Our efforts will involve disorderly regions and diffuse enemies.” “Violent extremism” is code for insurgent nationalism, a no-no for the West because it represents a rejection of our utopian mindset. (Only a died-in-the-wool cynic would suggest that the real reason for our Eternal War of the Empty Policy to justify our militarized corporate state.)

According to Mike Whitney, Obama’s remark was inspired by a report by Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) who said:

He [Obama] must make it clear that the ideological, demographic, governance, economic and other pressures that divide the Islamic world mean the world will face threats in many other nations that will endure indefinitely into the future. He should mention the risks in Yemen and Somalia, make it clear that the Iraq war is not over, and warn that we still face both a domestic threat and a combination of insurgency and terrorism that will continue to extend from Morocco to the Philippines, and from Central Asia deep into Africa, regardless of how well we do in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

That’s the trouble with a gated community; the very presence of a gate makes you feel threatened regardless of whether or not the threats are real. The first law of a militarized corporate state is that if there are no real threats out there, we’ve got to make some up. We need a worldwide conspiracy where none exists; we need phantoms and ghosts, monsters hiding in the closet, rabid natives, frothing fanatics and lots of off-white flesh begging for a benevolent blow from our velvet fist.

In his speech, Obama did more than escalate the Afghan war. He deftly replaced a moribund Communism with Islam as the new justification for a new Cold War. Only this one will be religious, which will make it even dicier.


d myers said...

It seems almost every empire builder needs to spread something. The Romans-civilization, the Italians- catholicism for salvation, Spain- their form of catholicism for salvation, England more civilization, France republicanism, Russia-a workers paradise, and the US democracy and security. This redneck hippie anarchist thinks its bullshit. At least with the Germans, Japanese, ottomans and the mongols you knew upfront what they were upto. They were honest.

Case Wagenvoord said...

Idealism is the grease that lubricates the gears of wholesale butchery.

TAO Walker said...

"Idealism" also greases the skids under the rabid ideologues theirownselfs. All this feckless flailing they're doing now is a sign they've effectively lost their always slippery grip on "power."

It'd be a good time for the "general population" to make-a-break for it....while the prison administration is so obsessively preoccupied with phantom foreign "threats." The tormentors and their two-legged tools are nearing the end of their rope, and the sudden stop is going to be "brutal."


Ivan Hentschel said...

The pathways of history are littered with the corpses of discarded ideological god-ghosts, who have been replaced with a cause-de jour to sell more weaponry or acquire more ill-gotten gain. And if all else fails to rally the masses to the cause, stir in some religion. This essay is guilty only of understatement.

Ivan Hentschel said...

And that "grease" of which you all speak is actually human blood.

"Theirownselfs": nice new noun. I'll have to remember that one. I love it!

Cirze said...

Thanks for a uniquely powerful post.

When the Berlin Wall went down I said to a colleague at Westinghouse, "Well, that's that. What do you think they'll come up with next to keep the contracts flowing?"

I have to admit that in the days after 9/11 I was open-mouthed at the hubris of the seemingly ignorant Yale and Harvard boys about the scary Islamists and their world-threatening status.

It only gets worse every day.

No matter whom we elect as leaders it seems.

Thanks for your thoughtfulness.