Tuesday, February 13, 2007

FLOYD FIGHTS FUNDAMENTALIST FLOOD

Chris Floyd has a couple of Posts over on Atlantic Free Press; they’re related and well worth the read.

In “Catapulting the Propaganda at The New York Times” (http://www.atlanticfreepress.com/content/view/937/81) he goes after the almost fantastical (but what is – or can be – fantastical here any more?) spectacle of Michael Gordon, a Times staffer who along with Judith Miller of the same paper cheer-led the media support for Sadaam’s WMD (you may or may not recall those infernal machines; it was years ago, in the run-up to the short slam-dunk that is currently our Eastern Front … and they never existed anyway). Now comes the aforesaid and doth affide thus: Iran is just about ready to deploy WMD so … you know … Let’s do the right thing and we will be greeted as liberators. Further affiant saith naught. Yah.

Floyd notes that Gordon and – coincidentally? – the White House “are now trying to conflate the Iranians with the Iraqi insurgency.” Iraq, Iran, Potayto, Potahto. Let’s not call the whole thing off.

In a classic example of how the National Crime State feeds the National Security and Imperial State, we see here some classic ploys long familiar from our own domestic travails.

In a good cause, the ‘story’ that the government/prosecution wished to have told is pressed upon us as the only truth of the matter. No need for a judge or even serious jury deliberation, folks – just agree with us and wield your magic stamp of approval and we will smoke this bad-boy! We will toast him and we will ghost him. We will bury him. Or … them … whoever.

Then, one perp is conflated with another into a non-existent monster-perp or monstrous perp-alliance where all the perps are consulting and pooling their perpish resources to effect mega-perpery 24-7, the whole constituting a monstrous emergency that only a government with total power can deal with. Hand it over, please … now.

Then the tellers of this terrible story display an absolute indifference to reason or logic. It’s not so much what the facts are, it’s what you feel about what the facts appear to be – so let those feelings out and hand over the power, please … now. Just do it. Unless you’re actually one of ‘them’ too? …

All of the above are familiar to the careful consumers of news as major elements in the various crime-du-jour manias that have swept over the country in the past 35 years or so and especially in the most recent domestic manifestation: the sex offense stampede, that most recent rush to help effect a revolution in ‘sensibility’ that has been co-opted by the insatiable hunger of the State for power over the citizenry. And yet it’s also a set of the hallmarks of Fundamentalistic exhortations: dark and bloody tellings, baleful predictings, knee-knocking forebodings, and you can help stop all of this by sending your donation in now.

Both the revolutionistic and the Fundamentalistic try to frighten Us into giving up Our inheritance: the Republic and the Constitution and – most certainly – the Bill of Rights. It’s all kinda a lot like what the Southrons tried in 1861. Sheesh – you can’t say they aren’t persistent. Never say die! So the Left and the Right – the god-hating liberals and the god-haunting conservatives – are sisters under the skin. Who woulda figured?

And it’s true – the threat to the integrity and the authority of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and to this Republic will never ever go away. The citizens of Light must be as alert and indefatigable as the citizens of Darkness. Although such is not often the case – the Bible tells us so. But We are just going to have to prove the Bible wrong on this matter: Light must be sleepless in its struggle against the encircling gloom. We shall each of us have to be all the things that British warships once were: resolute, indefatigable, valiant, defiant, dauntless. And we must dread nought.

But we cannot forget that there is indeed a great deal to dread, encircling us in the dark just beyond the campfire’s light and warmth.

Floyd does his bit in a second piece on Atlantic Free Press (“Storming Heaven: The Rise of Peudo-Christian Fascism”, http://www.atlanticfreepress.com/content/view/938/81/), commenting at length on Chris Hedges’ recent book on Fundamentalism and Christian Fascism (see “Hedges Fasces” on this site).

As noted above, the fear-scare gambit by which the Fundamentalists work themselves up into a frenzy of ‘belief’ (which they mistakenly assume to be present if strong emotional agitation and stimulation are present) is not unique to Fundamentalists. As a tactical technique it has been deployed by the assorted revolutionists and advocacies of the past 35 or more years. It was also deployed by the National Security State since back in the earliest days of the Cold War. In both cases, fear-scare was a tactical gambit to effect widespread and disconcerting change as quickly as possible. All to Our great detriment.

But Fundamentalism takes the game much farther: fear-scare is not merely a technique, it is rather the very substance of the faith-experience, the belief-experience, the religious experience. Bleaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh!

What part of the brain is engaged or activated by fear? Not the most advanced or what we would consider the most ‘human’ part. Rather, it’s the limbic system, the earliest and the most viscerally primitive part of the brain that is engaged by fear. There is a curious coincidence here: the feminist dream of a more woman-centered society always harbored within itself the possibility that a society thus skewed would start to exhibit more symptoms of emotional lability, reactivity, and – especially in light of the physiological weakness of the female compared to the male – of those emotions such as fearfulness and anxiety, easily provoked.

Some might say that such has come to pass – not only in the stereotypical “Lifetime” movies but also in the almost stereotypical ‘victim’ scenario that is now a staple of television news and daytime television.

Fewer would have predicted what also has come to pass: this hyper-emotionalism, especially in its fear-scare ‘flavor’, has played right into the hands of the National Crime State, which has been battening and fattening at the expense of civil liberties for more than a quarter-century now. And it has provided much of the playbook deployed by the Booshistas in their run-up to the lethal Iraq misadventure. And all under the cover of your friendly local master-government, racing over the hill on a strong horse to save you and sweep you into its many-Branched arms all the better to protect you and remain with you forever! You can then go on from there with the shirt-open-to-reveal-hairy-chest bit or the Karl Rove scenario about the nicely rump-ish gestalt of the 20-something George W. Bush. Something for everyone – a tyranny tonight!

And you shall be safe from crime, safe from WMD, safe from all the stuff that the stolid lumps called ‘men’ once accepted as part of the price of conducting a life in this vale of tears; it was a man – and a Dead White European one at that – who penned that bit about “lacrimae rerum”: there is an element of tears to everything that lives, to everything in this life, in this world. Aha! They just don’t get it, do they? “Tears” can be stopped – just let the government do its thing and things will change! Yes it will; yes it has – and to some extent irreversibly, it would appear.

But as we said, where the revolutionistas and the national-security puppeteers were merely deploying fear-scare as a tactic, the Fundamentalists have made it a religion. To be fearful, to be scared, to be ‘worked up’, to hate your enemies – this is to do God’s will, this is what it means to love your God! Punish them as you would have been punished if you hadn’t gone and saved yourself! Save yourself more!

What happens to people who live in a constant state of fear? What happens to them neurochemically? Physiologically? Psychodynamically? Characterologically? What happens to their thought-processes? Their attitude toward life? Toward others? What happens to a society or a culture comprised largely of such persons or burdened with their influence?

Hedges does a tad of conflating, and not inappositely. He ascribes the fearfulness of the Fundamentalist, or perhaps the factors that predispose a person to Fundamentalism, to be socio-economic: the awefull deforming forces that were nourished and released in the Regan-era and since. Fear of personal economic collapse and failure; resentment at being ‘left behind’ economically, educationally, and culturally; rage at being looked-down-on by voracious or mediocre ‘betters’.

All of those forces – and their name is Legion – were invoked and commissioned by the Republicans starting with Reagan, and Clinton himself made only modest efforts to banish them. As a Democrat he was as indentured to the revolutionistas as the Republicans were becoming to the Fundamentalists. And of course it was the profound vacuum created to smooth the path of the revolutions that also created the sucking vortex in American culture and life that in turn raised up and then drew in the Fundamentalistically-predisposed. Will the cycle be unbroken?

But while it’s neat and it’s not inaccurate, it’s not enough. There is a deeper level to this predisposition to Fundamentalism. We are all prone to it. It is a darkness within all human beings, a dark-hot, molten, magma-like element deep-down our spirit.

A culture and a civilization that seek rather to train a human being and to support a human being in the serious art of basing the self on the less-dark, perhaps more ‘advanced’ or ‘higher’ or more ‘mature’ capabilities within – now that is a worthwhile culture. A culture that aims for that and also aims for extending the person Up further into the self’s capabilities (“the better angels of our nature”), up and Beyond the self into the realm of spiritual strength mentioned by many of the world’s greatest religious or spiritual figures … now that is indeed a mature and a life-enhancing culture.

We do not have such a culture now. It is a legitimate question whether we ever did in this country; but once upon a time – and it was not so long ago – we were trying to make such a culture, trying to train our young toward such a culture.

But that was then. Certainly, all of those elements – the Vertical potential in the self, the lower and the more primitive potentials possessed almost of an independent power for evil, the judgment and participation of some Beyond – were all deemed obstructions (or rivals) to the revolutions as well as to the State that sought total power.

Even if there were no external threats, it would be a hard job indeed to mobilize individuals to embark on a journey of self-Mastery and self-Command. There are too many temptations and they are far too active, insistent even. And we live in a society where youth is a desiderandum, so that maturity and balance and reflection and study are unavailable even if they did present some attractiveness.

The Fundamentalists were in a sense the most susceptible. But not merely because of their precarious financial position. Rather because of the history of their part of the country, that region’s subculture, its values and myths and heroes. To this, as the 20th century entered its last – and revolutionistic – decades in this country, the influx of money and influence channeled through the Bible Bhagwans and the Dominionist Dons was a true ‘Flood’ in the Biblical sense, destroying humane-ness and human-ness, and humanity. Far more than they know, and in a savage irony, many of the Fundamentalists – regardless of whether they will be ‘left behind’ in some future event – have already been left behind, and have indeed left themselves behind. And as their chosen idols – the nation, the military, Victory – slip out of focus and out of history, they will be left with less than nothing.

Having abandoned any personal Interior or any Vertical, and having collapsed the Beyond into the surfaces of their own poor Present, they live in a Flattened and Fore-shortened world, a two-dimensional slab with no past and no future. And to provide any stimulation, to elict any sensation capable of dulling the razory ache of their fear, they must fantasize a cacophonous Apocalypse where all their enemies will be snuffed by the God who will instead choose them and give them everything they want (except – we must presume – sex). And so their own cartoonishness creates and is created by cartoonish conceptions of others and of God. All to their great detriment.

And in these troubled times, to ours as well. And to Ours as a People. For none of the skills required to People this Republic are present in – or valued by – Fundamentalism. Indeed, just the opposite.

What then is to be done? We must put away the things of a child; we must put on the armor of light and walk upright and seriously as in the day. Even if it is night. And night does draw near.

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