Tuesday, July 08, 2008

FEAR AS FUEL

Joe Galloway published a nifty piece about 4th Amendment violations (http://www.mcclatchydc.com/homepage/story/43123.html).

Concerning Congress he opines that “a majority” and “on both sides of the aisle” have made “a stunning surrender to those who want us to live in fear forever”. To which one can only respond: Bingo.

To put in a nutshell what I’ve Posted about all along, the lethal synergy that developed in the later-1960s was between a) the ‘revolutionary politics’ first embraced by the vote-desperate Democrats and b) the Israeli state’s playbook on how to succeed in establishing “facts on the ground”; the latter became the how-to master-plan for any Identity’s ‘advocacy’. And ‘advocacy’ quietly but quickly came to mean something hell and gone from the civics-textbook vision of a citizen saying up and speaking a piece in order to inform and maybe persuade other citizens at the town meeting; ‘advocacy’ became a cottage-industry and then a big business, but one poisoned by its roots in the ruthless, ends-justifies-means philosophy of ‘facts on the ground’ (hereinafter: “FOTG”).

And ‘facts on the ground’, in a profoundly dark irony, found itself running the same plays as the master manipulator of Western Civ’s most heinous spawn, Hitler; more specifically, the plays adopted and deployed by Hitler’s propaganda boss, Joseph Goebbels, who himself had creatively distilled ideas from Lenin and the great American advertising pioneer, Edward Bernays. Ach, such fearful symmetries, and so few degrees of separation, between Good and Evil. You almost have to imagine the distance between them, when comparing Goebbels and FOTG; if you look for more palpable differences, you may be looking for a long time.

The bottom line, of course, was to get large numbers of persons – the ‘public’ – to buy your product or support your movement. To achieve that End, ‘democracy’ was a poor tool: too slow, too much potential for distracting questions either irrelevant or far too relevant; too much possibility that at the end of the day too many folks would just say no.

Being a government, one had options that (in those days) commercial companies didn’t have: you could appeal to patriotism, you could tap into the deepest feelings in folks – feelings that were rooted in primal, atavistic fears, however neatly they were overlaid with a nice layer of civilized thought and behavior. And, if you really really couldn’t afford anything to go wrong and really really had to keep to a schedule, then you went for the gut. Forget appealing to ‘approval’ or ‘educating desire’; hit ‘em where they lived!

And fear is where all animals live, in their deepest, most primitive brainparts. We denizens of the world’s most enlightened, advanced, educated, cultured, tasteful, productive society and culture … we don’t like to be reminded of those dark places. And since our funeral industry has managed to paint over Death with a thick layer of skin-toned paste, and since our plumbing industry has found a way to quickly and efficiently remove our more animal producements, and since our media industry has found it to be far more profitable not to remind us of places where Death and defecation still play a major role in shaping people’s lives, well, we’ve lost the mental and spiritual skill to co-exist in the same dimension with Death and all the other dark and messy stuff. In fact, we like to think we’re above all that, beyond it.

Which makes us as fat and easy a bunch of targets for enterprising barbarians as did the imperial cities of Rome for the Goths, Vandals, Visigoths, and all their sisters and their cousins and their aunts. Pioneers couldn’t be so easily rattled by fear: man, woman, and child they lived with Death and animality and darkness, and they had developed and passed on the chops to deal with it all. There was a reason why even the youngest, most doe-eyed soldiers in those old Civil War-era photos (I know: daugerreotypes) were possessed of a sober fierceness that gave them a dynamic solidity, a seriousness and sense of living in the presence of large-things that are now utterly alien to Americans. And have been since the days of flappers and sodas, indoor plumbing and funeral parlors. (So shrink your hat size, Greatest Generation; you were the ‘adults’ in 1968 and you let the whackjob kids pretend they knew more than you did. Thanks a bunch.).

Fear is the great motivator, the great convincer, the great stifler of dissent. Not the opium of the masses but more like the crack or Ecstasy of the masses: propelling them to levels of energy and boundary-breaking behaviors they’d never be capable of on a normal day.

The National Security State knew it needed to stimulate and harness ‘fear’ in the American citizenry before the barrels were cooled after WW2; fear of Stalin and of the USSR and of ‘godless communism’ and of the Russkies having the Bomb. The National Nanny State, so profoundly rooted in the soil of feminist agitprop, built on ‘fear’; fear of physical assault, fear of sexual assault, fear of one’s children’s being sexually assaulted (and – one can only wonder – fear of one’s children being sexual at all, the great insight that made Freud even in his prime unclubbable and kept him off much of the dinner-party circuit). The fearfulness and the attendant suspicion and the ceaseless desire for safety and security (and – logically and much more darkly - revenge) became one of the great unspoken fuels of the burgeoning, engorging, Nanny State.

It has never been addressed, that the feminist ideology touted the sempiternal historical oppression of ‘women’ (when I talk about this stuff, I am not actually referring to all humans of the feminine sex/gender/persuasion or whatever the accepted word is today) but simultaneously touted its product – the liberated woman – as being a transcendent boon for society, instantly capable of taking the natural place she deserved, unmarred by eons of the fear and suspicion and anxiety and urge for revenge which must logically be at least part of the make-up of any human being so long and so thoroughly oppressed. But no. Political correctness, ‘sensitivity’, and the fear of being branded as any number of evil things kept anyone from kicking the tires, or even observing that a vehicle with this kind of history must have some serious and hard mileage and a transmission and shocks in need of serious work.

But fear was the first fuel and it was put to work forthwith. Fear of children being abducted in the hundreds of thousands every year (the late ‘70s); fear that children in day-care were being systematically molested by faculty (male and female) in costumes all around the country (the early-‘80s); fear that Catholic priests were systematically raping or at least touching children - defined within an age range from infants to military recruits, often without anybody having known for decades (the mid-‘80s; and the early-‘90s, and the early-‘00s … this tornado keeps turning around and coming back down Main Street); fear that many, maybe most, possibly all dates were ending in rape (the late-‘90s); fear that many women in marriages were being battered – defined within a range from being murdered to being not-spoken-to over the phone (the mid-‘90s); fear that unnumbered hordes of perverted strangers were roaming the land, not abducting children (that was the ‘70s) but rather murdering them after sexual assault, the possibility of family members being far more likely perpetrators conveniently ignored (the mid-‘90s and on into the present day).

We have become a fear-driven society. A society herded by fear. Stampeded by fear. A fear that, conveniently in many ways, allows no skepticism, no deliberation, no discussion.

Can it really be any wonder that when 9-11 occurred, the individual and societal circuitry that transmits and processes fear was already in place, tested, and perfected through long use? Can it be any wonder that a society that was willing to call the government into its own bedroom was willing to tolerate that government invading another country – for the purpose of alleviating American fears … ? (No, it makes no difference that now even Greenspan and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and Bush’s former press secretary among others admit that the control of oil has always been the primary strategic objective. We were used, and we had been rendered usable and had convinced the enterprising barbarians that we were usable by sitting still for decades of fear-fueled government invasions of our own lives.)

And let’s leave it to historians to figure out how it came to be that the feminist movement that so loudly brayed against being stereotyped as hysterical and irrational and driven by emotions, became a favored Identity of the Democratic Party and with that power embarked on a sustained wave of fear-and-revenge-fueled initiatives that under the Clinton Administration even managed to deform criminal law and jurispraxis, in addition to ensuring that generations of citizens have now been raised to be fearful and suspicious and, driven by those emotions, open to a panoply of anti-democratic ‘solutions’ to immediately eradicate ‘pain’ and achieve ‘closure’. While at the same time imagining that our modern American reality is merely the latest and greatest stage in the march of American democracy in all its tasteful, sensitive and compassionate power and perfection.

This is madness. And we laugh at the Fundamentalists?

Fear cannot be the fuel for a democratic politics nor the primary mental and emotional tone of a democratic citizen’s personality. Early generations of Americans, including the immigrants, were not fearless, but they had learned as children – from their adults – how to face fear, to live with it and to master their responses to it. And that involved a hefty amount of complex internal development, by the by, of a sort that could ground a personality, a character, an adulthood. And you could achieve a democratic politics with a People like that.

You can’t achieve a democratic politics based on fear. And you cannot trust anybody who says that you can. Other peoples in the past 100 years have yielded to that seduction and killed more human beings – man, woman, and ‘minor’ – than are dreamed of in our Identities’ worst media-amplified scenarios.

Nor can you in any way foster fear and consider yourself Liberal. You cannot bind yourself to a politics of manipulation rather than a politics of information and deliberation and call yourself Liberal. You may well be a revolutionary, although one in a good cause – but you are no Liberal.

And you cannot embrace an engorged government surveillance and a ‘unitary executive’ and call yourself a Conservative, at least not an American conservative. A German conservative, maybe – ala the Reichstag of the early 1930s, but not an American Conservative.

And you cannot consider The People as a manipulable or expendable mob of ‘extras’ and call yourself American at all.

I am not at all suggesting that women are second-class beings or that they do not deserve respect and the opportunity to contribute to society and culture – all citizens bear that right and that responsibility. Nor am I in any way suggesting that ‘the clock should be turned back’. But I am saying that the historical truth is that huge deformities have been introduced into American culture and society through the particular workings and agitatings of the feminist movement; and that those deformities have seriously compromised America’s very capacity to conduct a democratic politics; and that if this reality is not acknowledged then the chances are that democratic politics and American Democracy – which is our truest ‘identity’ – is doomed to go the way of the dodo.

And this country will go the way of Rome, as the Framers feared and as we are already seeing.

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