May 31, 2010

Against the Blood-Dimmed Tide

Essays written on the occasion of past Memorial Day observances:

Against Annihilation of the Spirit: Let Us All Become Cowards

No, I Do Not Support "The Troops"

I remain very pleased with both these articles. And "Let Us All Become Cowards" is still among my handful of favorites of all the pieces I've written over the last several years. Among other subjects, that article discusses the astonishing film, The Americanization of Emily; the genuinely remarkable and brilliant screenplay was written by Paddy Chayefsky.

The following were my concluding paragraphs. As was only to be expected, these observations are as relevant today as they were three years ago:
So the myths prevail. Our wars are always noble, fought for the purest of motives. Our warriors are similarly noble, engaged in a high-minded crusade. They butcher and slaughter, and are butchered and slaughtered themselves, so that "civilization" might be preserved. Never mind that many of the warriors themselves would not agree. Never mind that the front-line soldiers know that war is insanity, and only insanity. Never mind the overwhelming, senseless, futile, endless horror of what actually happens in combat, and the details that never reach the public.

Chayefsky rejects the myths in their totality. He implores us to embrace cowardice. I beg you to follow his advice. You can be certain the cries for war will rise again, if not against Iran, then against North Korea, or in ten years' time against China, or against a country not now in the news, but which will fill the role required by the vast machinery of war. And when those cries overwhelm all facts and make reasonable argument impossible, and when they are amplified once again by an ever-compliant, always docile and obedient media, plead cowardice. If you value the sanctity of a single life, it is the only sane course to take, and the bravest.

May 21, 2010

Things that Make Me Want to Tell People to Shut the Hell Up

I plan to write about certain of the following excretions from the decomposing body politic in detail at some point in the future. But I'm beginning to feel like total shit physically again, so who knows when that will be. (Hey! If you want to be a real pal, you could make a donation to Artie's Fund to Go to the Doctor Once in a Blue Moon and Maybe Before the Heart Attack that Will Kill Him Happens. Or not. My deep thanks to the 10 or 12 readers who make regular donations. You are, truly and genuinely, saints, and I am profoundly grateful for your spectacular generosity. As for the rest of my vast readership -- ha ha ha HA! [that's laughter about the "vast," which, you know, it isn't] -- oh, well. And, nope, I can't cover next month's rent. But given how I feel at the moment, I mean, I can barely stand up, or even sit up half the time, without feeling that I'm about to keel over, I have the strong sense that whether I can pay next month's rent may not matter a damn. Well, we knew this day would come, right? I certainly have, for quite a while. No, acceptance isn't worth shit, if you were wondering.)

So just to take our bearings very briefly -- sort of to, ya know, have a handy-dandy map of contemporary moronity in our itsy-bitsy widdle heads -- let's consider the first item on my list:

"Libertarians" who "justify" their support for what are indisputably racist immigration laws by pointing to public opinion polls. I absolutely love this one. Consider: "libertarians" say they're individualists, in favor of individual rights above all. So to "justify" irrational, blatantly discriminatory policies, they cite polls which indicate that majorities of groups of morons agree with them. It's the libertarian thing to do! The height of individualism!

Recall that in 1968, a year after the Supreme Court decision striking down anti-miscegenation laws, a decisive majority of Americans (roughly 72%) remained opposed to marriages between blacks and whites. Shoulda left those laws in place! If we'd been real individualists, we would have!

And that brings us to the other aspect of this especially moronic approach. "Aw, how can it be racist? We just wanna enforce the law!"

For some words on that subject, start with another rude post. There are lotsa links there to take you to other essays about "the law." (Try this one, or this one.) "The law" means absolutely nothing in terms of what's just or, as in this case, even remotely defensible. To reframe an old saying for this issue (and many others): appeals to "the law" are the last refuge of scoundrels, racists and worse. And may we please always keep in mind that in contemporary America, no person who is a racist and/or who advocates racist policies, and who wishes to be taken "seriously" or achieve any degree of "respectability," is going to admit that's what he is or what he's doing? There. That didn't hurt too much, did it?

When immigration was a hot topic a few years ago, I wrote several essays about it. Here are some links, with some excerpts. The full essays have much, much more on the subject.

From three years ago, in "The Triumph of Racism":
[T]he record is disgustingly clear on the question of the single major factor that led to the death of this bill: the most repellent and primitive kind of racism. Ann Coulter is a singular blight on our cultural landscape, but she does possess one useful characteristic: she will often rip aside the false mask of more "acceptable" arguments concerning a particular controversy and allow us to see the remarkably ugly truth that seethes beneath. [I include Coulter's sickeningly racist statements, all of which are accompanied by her indignant protestations that she is not a racist. As events today demonstrate again, Coulter is very far from alone in these efforts. And just keep reading. Gotta love this fucking country.]


Here is the fuller truth that most Americans don't want to acknowledge, including and often especially "well-intentioned" liberals. This kind of vicious racism is usually kept more skillfully under wraps, especially in the last couple of decades when those in public life have learned to become increasingly clever at deploying hatefully wrong ideas covered with effective camouflage. But Hillary Clinton expressed much the same idea, in a comment at the last presidential debate that went almost entirely unnoticed. (Ruth Conniff noticed it, but she's one of the very few who did.) As I note in that post about Clinton, John Kerry offers a similar perspective, as does virtually everyone in our governing class.

As I've discussed in a number of essays, racism has been a foundational element of the United States since its earliest beginnings, long before an independent nation was even formed.


Despite all this, the myth of an inclusive America, one that opens its arms to all, continues. During the past week, I heard and read any number of comments that insist we affirmatively welcome immigrants. We welcome them so long as they are "legal" -- disregarding the hugely and incomprehensibly arbitrary nature of our immigration laws, and that those laws are crafted by already vested interests, those who also possess immense political power; we welcome them so long as they are willing to be fully "assimilated," that is, they are willing to be "Americanized," self-reliant, and independent in the mode adopted specifically by the ruling class in America -- which is to say, by affluent, white (and until very recently, exclusively male) Americans, who have always determined the particular content of the term, "American."
From March 2008, in "The United States: Now a Private and Exclusive Country Club, Ruled by Monsters":
In short, if the United States government decides you are not the "right kind" of person, you are not wanted and you will not be admitted. Following general principles of truth in advertising, I suggest we immediately rename America:
The United States, a Private and Exclusive Country Club
This should properly be followed by a brief warning to prospective applicants for membership, as well as to those requesting only brief visiting rights:
Please be advised that our membership requirements are restrictive in the extreme. We maintain the most rigorous standards of admittance, and only allow a select number of new members to join each year. If you think you have cause to wonder whether you are the right kind of person for our club, you are not.

Finally, consider the following. Sebastian Horsley is a private citizen, who happens to have written a book. He was detained for eight hours, questioned extensively about personal behavior that is not criminal by any reasonable and valid standard, and then sent packing back to London. Your kind is not wanted here, he was told. And the United States government used its considerable power to enforce its judgment.

At the same time, the United States government begins the sixth year of a criminal and illegal occupation of a country that never threatened it, and it has murdered more than one million innocent people. It appears to me, as I think it would appear to any sane human being, that these are actual crimes -- and crimes on a world historical scale, of a scope that is stupefying and almost ungraspable. Has even one person been called to account for those crimes? No. And with the deeply corrupt collaboration of the Democrats who have controlled Congress for over a year, no one ever will be.

For the United States is not just any exclusive, highly restricted country club. It is a country club run by and for a profoundly immoral and corrupt ruling class, led by those who order and direct genocidal murder and those who aid them in their monstrous crimes.
Well, this turned out to be not so brief. But I still have further points to make about this latest eruption of the disgusting racism that lies at the core of the American State and of American culture. I'll get to it, I hope.

In case you didn't follow the above link concerning Hillary Clinton, I want to highlight her statement. I consider it among the most deeply immoral, horrifying and repellent statements offered by any leading politician in recent years. Here is what she said:
Our troops did the job they were asked to do. They got rid of Saddam Hussein. They conducted the search for weapons of mass destruction. They gave the Iraqi people a chance for elections and to have a government. It is the Iraqis who have failed to take advantage of that opportunity.
I discuss the significance and nauseating immorality of Clinton's statement in, "Some Races Are Just Not as Good as Others." I have much, much more to say about the monstrousness of Hillary Clinton in particular. That may be the next installment of what I think will be a separate series: "Things that Make Me Want to Tell People to Shut the Hell Up." There is an astonishingly large number of "dissenting" progressives who strongly condemn many of Obama's policies and who simultaneously offer a ridiculously sanitized, even romanticized, view of Hillary Clinton. But Hillary Clinton is a war criminal and a monster. She has lots of company -- indeed, with less than a handful of exceptions, the same is true of the entire national governing class. On her record, such a judgment is unavoidable. I imagine some readers want more evidence and demand to see the full case. Oh, I'll provide it. You may be sorry you asked.

I offer one observation for those who seem incapable of grasping that it is entirely possible to hold more than a single idea in one's head at a time. Please note that my judgment that Clinton is a war criminal and a monster has nothing to do with my judgment that Clinton has been the target of disgustingly misogynistic attacks. I've written about the nature of those attacks at inordinate length; see "Kill That Woman!" as just one example. But note that these judgments do not contradict each other in any manner at all: they concern completely separate issues. O the wonder of it! Why, I sometimes think as many as five or ten entirely different things before breakfast! (No, I cannot contain my scorn for people's inability to understand this. And my scorn is prompted by many factors, including numerous comments I've seen to this effect: "I don't understand where Arthur's coming from exactly. He writes so powerfully about the deep-seated hatred of women in our culture, but he doesn't seem to think much of Hillary. Gee, golly, how can that be?" Yes, I've seen comments by actual human beings that say exactly that. One of the severely daunting problems that face us is not a shortage of fucking morons.)

So lots more to come! And again, just cuz I'm a pushy motherfucker who would prefer not to die just yet, you can consider contributing to my Visit a Doctor Before You Croak Fund. Or I could just wait until I have to call 911 again. Of course, that might be too late. Heck, not a biggie either way. I joke about it so I don't scream. Trying to avoid screaming is unfortunately one of my preoccupations these days. As always, your consideration is greatly appreciated.

May 19, 2010

(III) Life in the Shadow of Death, and the Power of "No"

Part I: What the Monster Said

Part II: A Story for the Children: Making Friends with Evil

I. Instructions in the Early Morning

I suppose a typical conversation might go something like this. The two gentlemen in question are on the phone.
"Good morning, sir. How can I help you today?"

"I have a new list for you. It requires action quickly, by the end of the week."

"Yes, sir. We're always ready to see that your requirements are met expeditiously."

"Good, good. I appreciate that. Here are the names. Elizabeth Worth, Ben Lowell, Alan Wilmington, Stewart Roth, Mary Comstock, Anne Foley. And there was one more ... oh, yes, here it is. A completely insignificant person, but what the hell. Arthur Silber."

"And you'll be sending the usual identifying information, just to be certain we don't mistakenly go after the wrong person who happens to have the same name?"

"Of course. Good Lord, we wouldn't want anything to happen to the wrong person."

The two men laugh quietly. They always enjoy a good joke.

"And I assume the instructions are the same as before?"

"Yes. Kill them."
I suppose it could be as simple as that. Instead of my name, imagine that it's your name on the list. In principle, it could be. This is the power the president and his fellow criminals now claim: the power to murder any person, anywhere in the world, for any reason at all -- or for no reason whatsoever.

Most Americans -- and probably even many of you reading this -- don't want to think about this for too long, or about what it means. I know that because this claim of ultimate power is rarely even discussed. In one sense, I understand that. When I think about it myself, I often want to scream for minutes on end. I recognize that this wouldn't be terribly helpful, and that it could lead to a personal fate I would prefer to avoid. So I sometimes write little stories, or I use four-letter words. I do that so I don't scream. (Just yesterday, I was reminded that I've been writing my little stories for some time. Here's one from over three years ago: "Imagine." That's very good. I do say so myself. Be sure to follow the link at the very end -- but you should read the story I offer before doing so.)

The president and his designated agents can order any one of you murdered. Just because they feel like it. Just because they're bored. Just because ... they don't need any "because." They order you murdered -- and you're dead.

Just like that.

If you focus on this fact for several minutes, if you let the nature of the Death State in which you live become fully real, you'll want to scream, too.

II. The Power of "No"

It is crucial to appreciate the significance of our ignorance (often self-willed), denial and apathy to the monsters who rule us. If a substantial number of Americans acknowledged the great evil their government now embodies, they would protest in some manner. I desperately hope they would do so non-violently; the Death State possesses the most fearsome weapons ever known to mankind, and it has no hesitation about using them. Don't give them the excuse -- although I must note that even peaceful protest might well be construed by these monsters as a "reason" to unleash those weapons against those who object. It must be acknowledged once again that they require no reason at all.

In many respects, the United States has operated in this manner for over a century. Until recently, the Death State confined its worst devastation to countries abroad. But perhaps you now have a better understanding of what many Filipinos felt a hundred years ago, what other victims of the evil of the United States have felt in past decades, or what Iraqis have experienced during the U.S.-instigated genocide, and the terror that those who live in Afghanistan and Pakistan experience today.

As long as the basic goals of the ruling class remained unchanged, it was inevitable that these methods of operation would be brought home at some point. A few months ago, I heard Catherine Austin Fitts, who is sometimes a very perceptive and unusually honest observer of the insanity that swallows us up, describe the manner in which the U.S. ruling class has "harvested" the rest of the world. She pointed out that our ruling class today harvests its own citizens more aggressively and openly than it has before. Austin Fitts hopes that the horror of the harvesting now performed on the domestic front will cause the ruling class to reevaluate its aims and methods. The evidence to date strongly compels the conclusion that her hope is badly misplaced. The ruling class won't stop until there is nothing left to harvest. We have a long way to go before that point is reached.

I wrote about the inclusion of the domestic front in the ruling class's war on humanity in the fall of 2008. After discussing the brutal, murderous reality of U.S. actions abroad, I observed:
It is now critical to note a further implication of this murderous method of dealing with others. Just as it is not possible for an individual to restrict what constitutes a fundamental psychological methodology to only one area of his life, so a ruling class will not employ one approach in foreign policy while dealing with matters of domestic politics in a radically different manner. In any case, the U.S. ruling class never had such a desire: in one way or another, other nations would be made to submit to the demands of the U.S. government -- and the same is true for U.S. citizens. The citizens of America will do exactly as the ruling class demands -- or else. As far as the ruling class is concerned, you have as little reason to complain as the murdered Iraqis do: the ruling class only wishes to improve your life. The ruling class acts only on your behalf, and "for your own good."

You now witness these tactics of intimidation and of the most transparently, viciously manipulative fear-mongering deployed by almost every member of the ruling class in connection with the bailout bill. I will not rehearse another time all the reasons this bill will do nothing but hasten the economic destruction of the United States, or why it is supposedly designed to solve a problem that cannot be solved: begin with my most recent essay on this subject, and follow the links (or scroll through the last few weeks of posts) for much more. (In the following, I do not even mention the cruder and more obvious methods of intimidation now so beloved by our government. See an earlier essay -- "Obey or Die" --for just one kind of example of what the cruder methods entail.)

The words speak for themselves, but the purpose of these pronouncements should be emphasized: our rulers do not want to scare you to death, although your death would hardly approach a matter of any serious concern for them. While your death is not (necessarily) required, your obedience is. You will obey them -- or else.
Consult "Terrorist State, Abroad and at Home" for more on these issues.

Now we witness the logically necessary endpoint of these terrorist tactics. Or else ultimately can have only one meaning: you will obey -- or you will be murdered.

Your life -- or your death -- means nothing to the monsters who rule us. For the moment, you're worth slightly more to them alive. The labor and rapidly diminishing wealth you represent still have some value in their calculations. That can change. At some point, it probably will.

And what are you going to do? With very rare exceptions, not a damned thing. You will not choose the route of non-cooperation. You will not choose to say "No." If you chose in that manner, you might be on the next list. I don't criticize this course of action in every case (although I certainly do in some categories of cases, and not infrequently I strongly condemn it). I simply show you the operations of the nightmare.

ADDENDUM: While I was looking for a different essay, I happened upon an article I wrote in March 2008: "The Inbred Mendacity and Stupidity of the Ruling Class." I'd forgotten most of the details of that piece. I plan to say much more in the future about the great importance of non-cooperation and how powerful it can be. In that connection, I was interested to see one particular passage in the earlier essay.

I mentioned a post by James Benjamin, in which he discussed one of my fables, "The Tale that Might Be Told" and its implications. I went on to write:
One of Benjamin's observations is especially significant: "One might also take away from Silber's essay the idea that the elites need us much, much more than we 'need' them." Exactly. In fact, the full truth is far worse than that: it is only the slavish obedience to authority, the reluctance and refusal to break the goddamned rules and "cause trouble," that makes the elites and their hold on power possible. Take away that obedience, take away the refusal to deny the legitimacy of the ruling elites and their demands that all the rest of us support them in their rule, and they have nothing. The elites know that; most Americans don't.

It's long past time all Americans learned these facts. You can help them in that task: don't vote for any national elective office. (I don't think voting for a Kucinich or a Ron Paul is necessarily wrong; both men have offered many views with which I am in complete agreement. But voting for them is entirely futile, as events of the last year have demonstrated beyond all question. Moreover, voting for national politicians like them implicitly gives credence to the idea that fundamental opposition is possible within the system -- when it is not. In that sense, I think voting for them is a grave mistake.) If there are some local and state issues or politicians you can support in good conscience -- which is to say, issues and politicians that challenge the status quo rather than supporting it -- okay. But nothing else.

The ruling class is corrupt, immoral, deadly, and entirely illegitimate. Their greatest fear is that you will realize it. Let them know in every way you can, and certainly in November, that you've figured out their con.

Call them on their shit. Then make them lie down in it. And then, ignore them.
My statement that the ruling class has "nothing" if and when a critical number of people refuse to obey (i.e., when they choose non-cooperation) doesn't contradict my observations concerning the weapons our rulers could use against those who don't obey. The "nothing" refers to the ultimate foundation of the elites' power; the weapons they possess represent only one aspect of the day-to-day operations of that power, as terrible as that particular aspect is.

And it cannot be overemphasized that peaceful non-cooperation can be enormously effective against even the most vicious of totalitarian regimes: see here and here for some astonishing and inspiring examples of that effectiveness from fairly recent history. From the first of those links, carefully note this: "[I]n the end almost all Danish Jews escaped unharmed."

The power of "No" is far, far greater than most people ever permit themselves to understand.

May 17, 2010

The Monstrousness Is Now Our Life

I see, via IOZ, that Ross Douthat has happened on a critical truth. I say "happened" because, although I read Douthat only very irregularly, I know enough of his approach to view this as a largely meaningless accident. Moreover, as explained below, the terms in which Douthat expresses this truth only worsen the terrible problem that engulfs us.

Nonetheless, the particular truth at issue is of singular importance. Douthat begins by noting that, "[t]his feels like a populist moment." What is actually happening is radically different:
But look through these anti-establishment theatrics to the deep structures of political and economic power, and suddenly the surge of populism feels like so much sound and fury, obscuring the real story of our time. From Washington to Athens, the economic crisis is producing consolidation rather than revolution, the entrenchment of authority rather than its diffusion, and the concentration of power in the hands of the same elite that presided over the disasters in the first place.
Douthat discusses Greece and the E.U. as one example of this phenomenon, and the U.S. government's response to our economic "crisis" as another. (I identified the same phenomenon in one of my earliest pieces about the economic "crisis": see "The Vampire, Struck by Sunlight" from September 2008, especially the final section.)

Douthat continues:
A similar, quieter consolidation has taken place in the realm of national security. After campaigning against the Bush administration’s foreign-policy overreach, President Obama has retained nearly all of the war powers that George Bush took up in the wake of 9/11.

Yes, some of the previous administration’s more sweeping claims have been repudiated. But the basic post-9/11 architecture of executive power — expansive powers to detain, interrogate and assassinate, claimed for the duration of an open-ended war — looks destined to endure for presidencies to come.
Immediately after this passage, we read:
Taken case by case, many of these policy choices are perfectly defensible.
To which, I must respond: No.

More accurately: Fuck, no. Not a single one of "these policy choices" is defensible. And when it comes to "expansive powers to detain, interrogate and assassinate, claimed for the duration of an open-ended war," these "policy choices" are insane, monstrous and deeply evil.

We are thus returned to the concluding passage of my article from the other day. Douthat is writing in the fucking New York Times, as perfect an embodiment of a predatory, oppressive, endlessly destructive and murderous Establishment as you can imagine. So all such issues -- issues, for example, of indefinite imprisonment, torture and assassination -- are "policy choices" to be politely debated, as we sip our tea, daintily curl our pinkies, chew our tasty little sandwiches oh so delicately and, every now then, tut-tut about some regrettable "excesses."

"Oh, my, we've murdered 40 more innocent civilians in Afghanistan/Pakistan/Iraq? [Remember Iraq?] Dear, dear me. Tragic."

"We're still torturing people? Torture is now a fully accepted and recognized method of warfare for the United States government? Oh, my. That would seem to be, well, a mite troublesome."

"We assassinate people, whenever the president says to? Really? know, I don't think I've tried the salmon sandwiches yet. They look delicious."

As I wrote:
Here is a note for those who write and talk about these issues. If you write on these subjects and if you talk about them regularly on radio and television, and if you do not state -- repeatedly, with all the conviction and passion that you can command -- that actions of this kind are insane, monstrous and deeply evil, you are not opposing the monstrousnessness. You are accommodating it, seeking excuses for it, trying to minimize it -- or, to use the phrase I often employ in my own notes -- you are "making friends with evil."

If you do this, you are not fighting against the monstrousness. You are part of it.
Ross Douthat and The New York Times: part of the monstrousness.

The same is necessarily true of any commentator who regularly writes in mainstream publications, just as it is necessarily true of any commentator who regularly appears on major television networks. Yes, motherfuckers, fill in your favorite "dissenting" liberal or progressive right fucking here. If they consistently and explicitly told the full truth -- namely, that all the most significant policies and actions of our Death State are monstrous and deeply evil -- they would not be writing for or appearing on mainstream outlets. That's how it fucking works, buddy.

Fuck. Fuck fuck fuck.


May 15, 2010

(II) A Story for the Children: Making Friends with Evil

Part I: What the Monster Said


The mother tries to calm her two young children. They've been in their beds for almost an hour and are still very upset. At school earlier in the day, they heard another rumor about some teenagers who had gone missing in a town several miles away.

"Now, now, we didn't even know them. And you can't believe everything you hear. You know the Council has forbidden talk about such things. You shouldn't listen when other children try to tell you such tales. Besides, even if something did happen to them -- and I'm sure it didn't -- they probably had done something very, very bad. That's why it's so important for you always to be good children."

She prides herself on being a good mother, and she tells herself that what she sees in her children's eyes isn't terror. "Now, the Council has distributed a news story for you to hear before you go to sleep. Just close your eyes, and I'll start reading it. We can talk about it at breakfast in the morning."

She notices the desperate look the children exchange before they close their eyes. She remembers that until a few years before, the children had sought comfort from her. They don't do that now; they seek reassurance only from each other, and they've begun to shrink from her touch. But the Council Subcommittee on Education tells her this is another proof of how well she's raising her children. They are learning to rely on themselves, and they're learning how to be hard and unfeeling. In a world where weakness of any kind is the worst sin of all, being tough is the primary virtue.

The mother begins reading. Her tones are soft and expressionless, as gentle as the rain falling outside as darkness gathers. Over several years, she has conscientiously eliminated any trace of emotion from her voice whenever she speaks to the children. She hasn't noticed that she never expresses any emotion to anyone now, young or old. And there is no one to tell her of the change, for everyone else is doing the same. There is only one exception to the requirement that no one show any intense emotion: they are all encouraged to express anger and rage, but only at those the Council has designated as enemies. Then, anger and rage are not just encouraged: they are required. The greatest anger and rage is reserved for those enemies who had appeared to be friends.

"The Good Ogre administration's decision," the milky smooth voice begins, "to authorize the killing by the Secret Signal Agency of a child suspect who is a citizen of Ogre City has set off a debate over the legal and political limits of mystery weapon strikes, a mainstay of the campaign against child terrorism."

The mother pauses and looks out the window. She sees the stars beginning to appear as the clouds disperse. She hears the breeze in the trees. It's all the same, she thinks. Nothing's changed. The world appears just as it always did. For a brief moment, she remembers similar stories from a few years before, when they concerned adults. As it turned out, there were very few adult terrorists. Those who had thought of protesting against what they considered to be the monstrousness of the new policies -- although they weren't actually new at all, they were only practiced openly now -- learned the lesson quickly enough. If they did protest, they would immediately disappear. Besides, almost no one objected, and almost no one wanted anyone else to object. It was easier just to go along. Finally, that's what everyone did, if they were adults.

For reasons no one understood, some children continued to resist. A few people talked about the indomitability and the resilience of "the human spirit," but they didn't talk about it for long. Besides, that kind of pseudo-poetic garbage was a sure sign that someone was a terrorist or at least a terrorist sympathizer. The Good Ogre and his designated agents might talk about "the human spirit" once in a while, but only insofar as that spirit was devoted to eliminating the Ogre's enemies.

To the extent the mother allows herself to be aware of the terror in her children's eyes, she knows that it reveals their failure to accept fully the Good Ogre regime. This is a sign of great danger. She wants her children to be safe and to remain alive. Isn't that what every parent wants? When the children's eyes are as expressionless as hers, they will be safe. We make ourselves dead, so that we may remain alive. An infinitesimal flicker at the corner of her mouth indicates the beginning of a bitter smile. Once, the mother thinks, I would have appreciated the horrifying irony of that idea. She stops the thought, and the flicker disappears. She continues reading.

"The notion that the Ogre council can, in effect, execute one of its own citizens far from a combat zone, with no judicial process and based on secret intelligence, makes some legal authorities deeply uneasy."

The use of "in effect" is a nice touch, the mother muses. As if the Ogre isn't actually ordering the death of one of his own citizens, not really. Except that he is. And if he can order the death of one of them, without any judicial process or evidence, he can order the death of any of them, even of a vast number of them. Stop it, she orders herself.

The mother has read the supplement to this story distributed by the Ogre Council. Tomorrow morning, she will point out to the children how this story demonstrates the openness and freedom of the new regime. "Some legal authorities" are "deeply uneasy." You see, children? she will say to them. A few people -- a few very bad people -- say that you cannot challenge the Ogre. But that's obviously not true. People do challenge him, and their objections are even printed in the official Ogre paper.

And look at how much space is given to those objections:

"Ms. Divoll, the former Secret Signals Agency lawyer, said some judicial process should be required before the Council kills an Ogre citizen away from a traditional battlefield. In addition, she offered a practical argument for a review outside the executive branch: avoiding mistakes.

"She noted media reports that Secret Signals Agency officers in 2004 seized a German citizen, Khaled el-Masri, and held him in Afghanistan for months before acknowledging that they had grabbed the wrong man. 'What if we had put him on the kill list?' she asked."

The mother knows that her children will think that objection makes a lot of sense, especially the older one, the girl. So she'll have to emphasize the response of the Ogre's agent:

"Another former Secret Signals Agency lawyer, John Radsan, said prior judicial review of additions to the target list might be unconstitutional. 'That sort of review goes to the core of Ogre power,' he said.


"Ogre officials say an arrest may not be possible. 'If we need to stop dangerous terrorists who hide in remote parts of the world, inaccessible to U.S. troops, law enforcement, or any central government,' said the counterterrorism official, 'what do you do — cover your ears and wait for a truly devastating explosion in Ogre Square?'"

The Good Ogre only wants to keep you safe, the mother will say several times. And he has information we don't have. We have to trust him, children. She knows the children will agree with her in time.

The rain has stopped. The world outside the window looks so wonderfully peaceful. If only those few people, now just those few children, would stop causing trouble. No one wants to think about certain questions any longer. She remembers how angry a friend of hers was the week before. One of the friend's children had come home from school repeating a question a classmate had asked. The child had wanted to know why, if it was true that the Ogre was as successful in eliminating terrorists as he and his agents repeatedly claimed, all the rules about what everyone could say and do kept getting more restrictive, instead of less. If the threat was being reduced and if they were safer, couldn't the rules be relaxed? But the rules kept getting stricter, and the punishments kept getting worse. The child said that didn't make sense to him.

The mother's friend went to the school administrator and furiously demanded that the troublesome child be silenced, even removed from the school entirely. No one has seen the child since.

The mother hears a voice in her head, as if from a great distance. You didn't always live this way, the voice says. Don't you see how insane this is? For one brief moment, the mother feels blindingly intense rage. It only lasts for a second, but the heat of it causes her to gasp. She's so unused to spontaneous, intense emotions that she can't tell what triggered it. A thought begins to form in her mind: perhaps she's enraged at a regime that would order children killed simply because the Ogre said so, enraged that she and her children, that all of them, have to live this way.

No, she tells herself. No! Ah, the mother thinks. I know what it is. I'm furious at myself for having such doubts, even for a moment. Yes, yes, that's it. The Ogre has said rage at oneself for thoughts of that kind is good, for it shows what a good Ogre citizen you are. That's why I'm so angry, the mother tells herself. I'm a good citizen, and my children will grow up to be good citizens, too.

The mother grows calm again. The children have fallen asleep. The boy's hands are knotted into tight little fists, and his eyelids flutter uneasily. The girl's body twists in on itself, as if she is trying to protect herself from an indescribable terror in the night. But, mercifully, they sleep. They look fine, the mother thinks. They're sleeping, and they're relaxed after a hard day. They're fine, she repeats to herself.

Besides, the mother tells herself, those other stories aren't true. They're an awful lie, the worst lie of all.

We've always lived this way.


The actual story is here. As you will see, I've changed very little, and nothing of substance. Read Chris Floyd on the nature and meaning of this assassination program.

I offer the story above, and I presented the previous article in the way I did, in an effort to try to break through the massive denial and resistance that suffocates our culture. I well understand that this is almost entirely a futile endeavor. Still, for some of us, the effort must be made.

I've been writing about this denial and resistance for a very long time. As just one example out of many, consider the opening of "We Are Not Freaks," written in February 2007:
I fear that many, if not most, of you who read this, will not fully understand what I'm about to discuss. Very tragically, this is unavoidable, for we live in a culture that suffers from severe emotional repression. Those issues that matter the most, that are genuinely sacred in the most profound sense of that word, are kept at a distance. To the extent we contemplate them at all, we forbid them to achieve their full reality.

I've discussed this in many essays with regard to our murderous foreign policy. Even the phrase "foreign policy" becomes a means of preventing ourselves from acknowledging the immense horror that flows from our actions. We murder hundreds of thousands of innocent human beings -- people who never wished us harm and who never threatened us -- and we speak of statistics, and whether and to what extent they are "accurate." That hundreds of thousands of innocent people are dead is not in dispute, just as we know that many hundreds of thousands more are terribly injured and have had their lives altered forever. But the horrors are not to be understood, not completely. This is only a "strategic blunder," perhaps a monumental one, but still just a "blunder." Our murders have been executed "incompetently." Most of those who unthinkingly parrot this line refuse to face what it would mean if we as a nation were competent murderers. In their descent into the amoral abyss, they appear to believe that would be an "improvement."

Our culture is suffused with ironic detachment, overintellectualization, and endless and ultimately futile policy debates -- while the murder goes on every day, as it will go on for at least several more years. Congress could stop these monstrous criminal acts within months, but they will not. Of course, they will continue to debate "foreign policy."

This severe repression is one of the hallmarks of our culture, and it can be found in most individuals. It begins in childhood, as all such mechanisms do (see the final part of my series, On Torture, and all of my Alice Miller essays for much more on this topic).
"We Are Not Freaks" analyzes these issues in more detail, and a number of more recent Alice Miller essays on related themes are listed and described here.

If you wish to see how widespread this repression and desensitization are, even among writers who protest monstrous policies, you can consult an article by Jeremy Scahill that I read only yesterday: "Who Runs the Secret 'Black Jail' at Bagram?" I would say that Scahill's article reads like a weather report, except that I've read and heard weather reports that contain more passion and commitment. Here's a representative sample:
President Obama, upon taking office, issued an executive order requiring the CIA and military to adhere to the Army Field Manual's guidelines for interrogations. "However, under secret authorization, the [Defense Intelligence Agency] interrogators use methods detailed in an appendix to the Field Manual, Appendix M, which spells out "restricted" interrogation techniques," reports Ambinder...
I don't know if Scahill himself has made this claim, but Obama and many of his liberal-progressive fans categorically stated, upon Obama's pronouncement about adherence to the Army Field Manual's guidelines, that Obama had "ended torture."

In fact, I clearly remember an ACLU ad shortly after Obama's inauguration. The ad appeared on many liberal-progressive blogs, and I was so incensed that I made a note of it at the time. This was the text of the brief ad, from the notes I made on January 25, 2009:
You ended torture & will close Gitmo.

We are restoring America together!

Let's thank Obama for these bold first steps! Send him thanks!
The ACLU does much valuable work. But these were shameful, detestable lies. I was enraged because I knew this was a lie then. Every person who was honest could and should have known that these were damnable lies. But you see how enthusiastically so many people believe the Good Ogre's lies. For more on the lie about "ending torture," see "A Deadly Liar and Manipulator," and this article and this one. As I stated in the earlier piece: "there are more than a few additional articles elsewhere making the same and related points."

The fact that Obama's claims on this issue are damnable, monstrous lies has been painfully, horrifically obvious since the time he first offered them. With very few exceptions, no liberal-progressive writers have told you that. More than a few writers -- and Obama himself -- continue to offer these same monstrous lies as truth even today.

Consider again the nature of the subjects under discussion: the immense evil of torture ("Lies in the Service of Evil" might help make the nature of that evil clearer to you), and Obama's claim that he has the "right" to assassinate anyone without judicial process or evidence of any kind whatsoever, simply because he says so. Reread the little story offered above. And then be brave enough finally to state the truth, at least in what should be the sacred space of your own mind:

This is insane.

This is monstrous.

This is deeply, unforgivably, irredeemably evil.

Here is a note for those who write and talk about these issues. If you write on these subjects and if you talk about them regularly on radio and television, and if you do not state -- repeatedly, with all the conviction and passion that you can command -- that actions of this kind are insane, monstrous and deeply evil, you are not opposing the monstrousnessness. You are accommodating it, seeking excuses for it, trying to minimize it -- or, to use the phrase I often employ in my own notes -- you are "making friends with evil."

If you do this, you are not fighting against the monstrousness. You are part of it.

May 12, 2010

Our Monstrous Culture, and the Monsters Who Rule You (I): What the Monster Said

I remember seeing about half an hour of the original Night of the Living Dead several decades ago. For most of the 1970s, I lived in the middle of Manhattan. I had been flicking through television channels late at night, and I stumbled across the film, which had been released theatrically in 1968. The film caused some controversy because of the nature and level of violence it portrayed. Since I'd now come across it, I was curious to see what the furor was about.

So I watched for a little while. I could barely believe what I was seeing. Limbs torn from bodies, zombies munching on human legs and arms, blood everywhere. I kept watching -- for a little while -- because I found that I was unable to make real to myself the kind of mind that would create this kind of mayhem. It wasn't simply that the images -- and, as I recall, the sounds, oh God, the sounds -- were horrifying. Of equal and probably greater significance to me was the fact that (in part, remembering some of what I'd read about George Romero, the director of the film) the creation of a movie about people who were terrorized and then eaten, all of which was presented in loving, careful detail, was clearly intended to be entertainment. This was fun! It appeared that a sizable audience agreed with this assessment.

After about 30 minutes, I couldn't bear it any longer -- and I realized that I would never understand what kind of psychological damage would cause a person to seek out "entertainment" of this kind and then proceed to enjoy it. I'm not interested here in pursuing a lengthy inquiry into the "legitimacy" or its lack with regard to this kind of "art"; to begin with, such terms are not ones I would employ with regard to judging art of any kind. But I am prepared to say that, generally speaking (always allowing for exceptions, for example, an actor who is so desperate for work that he'll do almost anything, and even then I'd have certain questions, although I doubt I would communicate them to someone I knew only casually who appeared in such movies), those who create such works and those who regularly watch them are engaged in pursuits which are distinctly unhealthy.

Since I'm briefly on this tangent, I'll add this thought. I view one explanation (or "defense," if you will) of this kind of movie as entirely invalid: that those who create or watch such films are seeking some sort of "release," and that they would never do this kind of thing in real life. A release -- from what exactly? That's where the problem lies. Moreover, every creation of this kind -- indeed, every moment of each of our lives, regardless of what activity might engage us, whether it's making or watching a movie, reading a book, or writing a blog post (or writing a comment about a blog post) -- contributes to an overall cultural atmosphere. And we live in a culture in which violence and cruelty in a huge variety of manifestations and in widely varying levels of intensity have become the overwhelmingly common thread.

The result is one I've described in a number of essays: for example, in "A Depraved, Violent and Indifferent Culture." The news story that served as the starting point for that article concerned "the two hour gang-rape of a 15-year-old girl outside her homecoming dance while onlookers watched, jeered and took pictures with cellphones..." Those onlookers -- who "watched, jeered and took pictures with cellphones" while a 15-year-old girl was gang-raped -- might have been watching a movie. You see the problem, and the connection.

I explored the roots of this kind of violence, as well as the celebratory air that often greets it, in that article. I also noted that this particular incident reminded me in crucial ways of the tasering of Andrew Meyer, as John Kerry witnessed the tasering -- that is, what might have been a murder -- occur directly in front of him and did precisely nothing to stop it. But Kerry was hardly alone: except for one or two brave and still recognizably human souls who protested, no one did anything to stop it.

In my discussion of the gang-rape story and the Meyer tasering, I went on to make these observations -- and this speaks to the comments that opened this essay (television and movies are interchangeable in this context):
The Huffington Post article [about the gang-rape] mentions the possibility that the prevalence of violence against women on television has desensitized people to such an extent that they fail to act when similar violence occurs directly before them in real life. I think the problem is worse than that. I've sometimes noted that our systematic denial has moved us so far from reality that what happens on television seems more real to many people than events in their own lives. I now think that isn't quite exact. I would rephrase the point this way, to make it more accurate: unless something happens on television, it isn't fully real. Period, full stop. It isn't that such people are clinically insane, in the sense that all their connections to reality are severed. Clearly, that isn't the case. But there is a sense in which many people connect much more, certainly in emotional terms, to events on television than they do in response to what happens to them, and to the events in which they take part.

At the same time, they think that what they see on television isn't fully "real" either, even when news events are reported. So reality -- and the actual events that happen to actual, breathing (and often dying) human beings -- are banished in large part across the board. Thus, the United States government unleashes a genocide -- and for the most part, people do nothing. The deaths of innocents in Afghanistan and Pakistan increase -- and people do nothing. Here at home, the most basic protections of individual liberty are systematically eroded and even obliterated, under Obama as under Bush -- and people do nothing.

None of it is fully real, none of it matters to a degree that causes people to resist in meaningful ways. Moreover, any signs of decency, of compassion and empathy, of being willing to say, No, and to mean it, any signs of healthy, vital life are ignored or, still worse, sneered at and made the target of mockery.
In the decades since Romero's original Night of the Living Dead first appeared, widespread, ungraspable violence and cruelty have become more and more common. The concept "depravity" has been rendered close to meaningless. When so much of what happens every day, here and abroad, is so unfathomably depraved, what does it signify to state that another 40 murders of innocent human beings represent still one more monstrous act, or that the torture of another dozen or three dozen or a hundred innocent human beings is unforgivably evil, or that the rape of another 10 or 30 or 50 girls and women constitutes a crime so immense in its magnitude that it makes all commentary completely beside the point, and even itself obscene?

None of it is fully real. Most of it is never even noticed. None of it appears to matter, not in ways which cause a critical number of people to resist in ways which might momentarily slow down the machinery of cruelty and death. If some people should notice, they'll watch, jeer and take pictures.

We've been treated to a remake of Night of the Living Dead, this time in full, bloody color, to enhance our enjoyment and pleasure. And we've descended still lower, if that is even possible. Basing my judgment on a few articles I read when it was released five years ago (I would never watch such a film today, for any reason at all), it appears we have movies (and at least one sequel) that celebrate torture, in exquisite, excruciating, drawn-out detail.

Since movies and television approach closest to reality for us today, let's imagine a scene from one of these celebrations of violence, cruelty, torture and death. Our scene is in color, perhaps even in 3-D (we want to be fully up-to-date and as completely real as we can, provided the contemplation of reality itself remains forbidden, thus allowing us the inestimable luxury of non-action). The monster of our imagination is feasting on human bodies. Young children, women, men, none of them distinguishable, only a mass of torn flesh, limbs ripped from sockets, muscles and guts strewn across the room, blood drenching the scene.

The monster's hands are dipped in the steaming abdomen of his meal of the moment. He rips out a kidney, or maybe the liver, perhaps the heart. He eats it, grunting and slurping, barely chewing, swallowing large chunks of bleeding flesh. He plunges his hands into the body again, pulls out huge parts of what had been a living human being just moments before, turns his head up, and drops the bloody hunks onto his face. He grunts again -- and then he laughs.

The monster sees us watching. His eyes open wider as he registers our presence. He looks directly at us, and smiles. Blood and pieces of flesh fall out of his mouth. He chuckles quietly. Then, suddenly, he looks at us with an expression suffused with sincerity. He's about to say something, and he wants us to know that what he's about to say is important. He wants to be sure we understand this.

"I take extraordinary measures to avoid killing these people," the monster solemnly says. "I have an interest in reducing these killings, and I'm doing everything I can to prevent them. But sometimes I can't avoid them altogether. When that happens, it's their fault. They leave me no choice."

The monster looks very sad. We hear him sigh deeply, regretfully. A few pieces of bloody, torn flesh fall out of his mouth to the ground. He looks directly at us once more. The monster wants to add another thought, one of special significance.

"And when I have to kill them -- but only because they leave me no choice -- I'm sorry. I'm truly very, very sorry."

The monster sits very still for a few moments. He sighs again. Then he plunges his hands deep into the guts of the body in front of him once more. He leans over and begins shoveling bits of flesh and entrails into his mouth.

You needn't be concerned about the following. It's not real. It's not as if it's a movie. So I mention this only as a point of momentary, exceedingly minor interest:
The Obama administration has gone to great lengths this week to smooth over relations with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, or at least to present an image of a partnership that has improved after weeks of heightened tensions.


Reducing civilian casualties were also the agenda for the meetings and today Obama said the U.S. has "taken extraordinary measures" to avoid [them].

The president was blunt: "We have an interest in reducing civilian casualties because I don't want civilians killed. And we are going to do everything we can to prevent that."

Karzai said Tuesday he was "thankful" for the efforts that the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, has made for "the protection of the Afghan civilians."

"It's the first time that when incidents like that occur, that he calls," Karzai said. "If it has occurred, apologizes for it, for which we are grateful."
This is remarkably touching. The sight of the reluctant, apologetic monster is deeply moving.

And we must always be grateful -- if not for the monstrousness, then certainly for the reluctance, and the regret. If we aren't, why, then we're monstrous ourselves. Isn't that the way it works, the way it's designed to work?

To be continued.

May 11, 2010

True, That

To succeed in the world it is not enough to be stupid; you must also be well-mannered. -- Voltaire
"Well-mannered." Shit. As just the latest example out of many, mind you.

I think I still like this one more, also from Voltaire:
I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: "O Lord, make my enemies ridiculous." And God granted it.

May 10, 2010

In Which I Am Extremely Rude. Motherfuckers.

Last week, I began writing several essays. The opening paragraph of one of them goes this way:
Our national political conversation is gut-wrenchingly sickening and simultaneously so determinedly moronic -- metaphysically stupid, as it were -- that it's as if irreversible catatonia has spanned an entire continent. I plan to discuss some of the following issues in greater detail, but that assumes I'm able to procure a vast supply of miraculously effective anti-nausea pills. For the time being, here are some notes, together with assorted links.
As I watch the grand pageant of crumbling America -- the last, best hope of astonishingly stupid people who continue to insist on blood-drenched lies that wouldn't fool an honest, healthy seven-year-old for a minute -- and as I consider the unrelenting denial that continues to smother the smallest glimmer of an original thought, even from so-called "dissenters," I feel impelled to speak in a somewhat plainer manner. So much for the fucking PSA.

As the ruling class crushes what little life remains in you, while it simultaneously -- and not coincidentally, you fucking moron -- obliterates life in all forms around the world, you should, at long last, consider giving up some of the nauseatingly obvious lies and myths that you still cling to with such pathetic desperation. Here's a foundational lie to start with, courtesy of Elena Kagan on being nominated to the Supreme Court (which nomination fills her with honor and humility and blahblahfuckingblah):
The court is an extraordinary institution in the work it does and in the work it can do for the American people by advancing the tenets of our Constitution, by upholding the rule of law and by enabling all Americans, regardless of their background or their beliefs, to get a fair hearing and an equal chance at justice.
You still believe this shit, doncha, buddy? C'mon, you do. That's because you're a motherfucking moron.

Oh, you think these people have crapped all over your precious ideal, but it remains an ideal -- and if only people like you ran things, there'd be rainbows and puppy dogs and kitty cats all over the goddamn world, in every teeny tiny little home, in every itsy bitsy backyard, and in every stinkin' rotten little heart. You continue to believe this shit because you are fantastically, remarkably stupid. You're also a gutless coward. Give up the lies, and you'd have to confront some deeply disturbing truths about the nature of humankind and the nature of the State -- any State, anywhere, anytime. The fables that have been drummed into you since you were such an adorable little toddler would fall away, and you would be naked before the howling winds of reality.

Get used to it, motherfucker. That gale's coming for you, ready or not. Better to be prepared: perhaps you'll be able to salvage some small bit of your humanity, and thus be able to help with the solemn task of building something far better on a much stronger foundation.

Almost everyone of all political persuasions writes and talks endlessly about the sanctity of "the law," and the imperishable necessity of "the rule of law." How might I informally express my reaction to perpetual whining of this kind? Perhaps this way: For Christ's sake, will you grow the fuck up? Begin with the marvelous passage here (titled, "A conversation during Civil War"), from which this is only an excerpt:
The truth [is] that there is no law, no Platonic Form out there to which we give paltry representation. There is only power: power in conflict with power, power seeking to drive out power, to establish its dominance, maintain its privilege. Power…acquiesces to law – sometimes – but it never, never bows to it. Power goes along with the law when it is convenient to do so, when it is not too restrictive, when it demands little more than the occasional sacrifice – for the powerful are certainly not above throwing one of their own to the mob when circumstances require. But when it comes to the crisis, power shreds the law like a filthy rag and has its own way. And then you see that the law is nothing but a rag, to be torn and patched and fitted to power's aims. The worst atrocities I have seen or heard of in this war have been committed wholly and completely under the law. This thing I held in such reverence was, is, nothing but a scrap soaked with blood and shit.
I had never read this until Chris Floyd posted it recently. I was grimly amused to see how closely it tracked certain observations I've made myself in recent years, even including the reference to "Platonic Forms." You'll find a remarkably similar passage in, "It's not the sex. It's never the sex." (See my passage beginning: "The law is not some Platonic Form plucked from the skies by the Pure in Heart. Laws are written by men, men who have particular interests, particular constituencies, particular donors, and particular friends.")

In that same essay, I went on to write:
With regard to these issues -- that is to say, with regard to every issue that matters in political terms -- the ruling class (or the elites) and the State are not different things: they are the same thing. As Christopher Layne observes: "Dominant elites do not hijack the state; they are the state." Rules, also known as "laws," are to control and direct the work and lives of those ruled by the elites. They are intentionally designed to protect the elites and to control everyone else. The elites may and will disregard them as they choose.

In exceptionally rare circumstances, a member of the ruling class may set aside the rules in a way that draws just a bit too much attention. As a result, all those "ordinary" people may become a trifle unruly; they might begin to wonder if the system is rigged against them in some basic way. Obviously, it is, but it would hardly do for the filthy masses to begin to grasp this central fact. In these situations, the ruling class will have to make some minor adjustments.


People who are unable or unwilling to grasp the nature of the corporatist-authoritarian-militarist system that is slowly killing us (as it kills millions of people around the globe much more quickly and brutally) continue to hope for prosecutions of some of the major war criminals in the Bush administration. At this late date, such illusions are no longer charming, as Burgess's illusions about the ruling class were. They are astoundingly, staggeringly stupid.

There will never, ever be prosecutions of any major figure for war crimes. Never. The system will not tolerate any serious challenge to its power and prerogatives; it will certainly not tolerate a challenge that would inevitably and necessarily implicate Democrats as well as Republicans.
That last link goes to a piece I wrote in November 2007. Jesus Fucking Christ, you people are exhausting.

The brief excerpts above contain some links. Don't follow them! Shit, I don't need to say that. I look at this site's visitor stats from time to time, and I see that, as always, almost no one ever follows even one link. So why do I continue to include them? Because I'm an extremely rude motherfucker, motherfucker. See, the arguments I'm making about the nature of the State and concerning "the rule of law" are complex ones. They necessarily stretch across a number of separate articles. So when I write about these issues, I include links to related posts -- so that you can see the evidence and arguments upon which I rely and thus decide if those arguments are persuasive. Fucking outrageous!

But I well understand -- oh, sisters and brothers, how well I understand and how sickening that understanding is -- that this is not what the vast majority of readers of political commentary (including blogs) are seeking. What they're after -- what you may likely be after -- is this:
Rarely will you find a carefully presented argument as to why one particular policy is better than another. For the most part, our political writers start with the assumption that their political affiliation and its associated views are unquestionably correct. Their writing consists of emotional signifiers to other members of their political tribe. Persuasion is not the goal; instead, the purpose is the reinforcement and reaffirmation of tribal identity, and reinforcement of the view that one's own tribe is "good," while all opposing tribes are "bad" in various ways and degrees.
Crap, another link. Ignore it. (Oh, you will! You're so fabulously dependable! Mofo.)

Because there's no danger you'll follow any of these links -- I mean, golly, we wouldn't want to wonder whether any of our cherished beliefs might be 100% bullshit and therefore maybe get a little upset -- here are a few more concerning the nature of the State itself. Albert Jay Nock has some wonderfully insightful comments on that topic:
The positive testimony of history is that the State invariably had its origin in conquest and confiscation. No primitive State known to history originated in any other manner. On the negative side, it has been proved beyond peradventure that no primitive State could possibly have had any other origins. Moreover, the sole invariable characteristic of the State is the economic exploitation of one class by another. In this sense, every State known to history is a class-State. Oppenheimer defines the State, in respect of its origin, as an institution "forced on a defeated group by a conquering group, with a view only to systematizing the domination of the conquered by the conquerors, and safeguarding itself against insurrection from within and attack from without. This domination had no other final purpose than the economic exploitation of the conquered group by the victorious group."
In "The State and Full Spectrum Dominance," I offered that excerpt from Nock, and I went on to observe:
Thus, it is not enough to say, as I myself did, that "the State has always formed and will always form alliances with certain individuals and segments of society," although that is also true. The more accurate statement, and a formulation that delves more deeply, is that the State would never have taken form at all, and it would not have been able to impose its rule, but for the existence of a class or group of individuals that crafted the State to their particular ends. Here, I am not concerned with evaluating whether those ends are good or bad (except for the fact that one may believe that domination and exploitation are always bad, as I do), but rather with identifying the basis on which the State is founded.
If you should consider throwing caution to the winds entirely and perhaps rising above submoronic status, you could read Nock's enormously valuable book, Our Enemy, the State. And definitely not so by the way, although almost everyone treats the State as an axiomatic organizing political principle, it was not always so, and there is no reason to think the State will continue to hold the same crucial position in the future. (I note, as I have before, that the State in roughly its current form will almost certainly continue for the rest of your lifetime and perhaps even for a few hundred years more, but in the great span of history, these are comparatively brief periods of time. The world and its possibilities are much vaster -- and much more promising -- than most people ever conceive.) For a detailed and illuminating discussion of this subject, you might read Martin van Creveld's, The Rise and Decline of the State. I'll probably be offering some excerpts from van Creveld in the near future. Oh, Christ, what am I saying? Two books? And these two books?! Fuck, that would be upsetting. Ignore my suggestions entirely. (You will? Jesus, I love you, man.)

Shit, I feel ... better. Ahhhh. And I hope you find me absolutely disgusting, not to mention unutterably condescending and insulting. I deeply hope you hate my guts. Gotta start somewhere, baby.

Next time, we'll talk about war crimes and war criminals, and why almost no one treats those concepts with any degree of seriousness or consistency. I haven't even begun to upset you. That, at least, is my fervent desire.

And just because I'm a rude motherfucker, and also because I'm a dedicated masochist, I'll list here the related essays mentioned above. Do Not Read Even One of These Articles!!!

"It's not the sex. It's never the sex."

Concerning the State, the Law and Show Trials

The State and Full Spectrum Dominance

Dominion Over the World: The Elites Who Rule Us

Psst: While You Were Gibbering, the Ruling Class Rigged the Game and Won Everything

There Is No "Lesser" Evil Now

The Ravages of Tribalism (I absolutely forbid you to follow the links to Part II and Part III of that series. And I hope to offer further installments in that series in the future. Anticipating their publication, I tell you now that you do not have my permission to read them. Ever.)