Tuesday, September 20, 2011


DADT has been repealed; “gays and lesbians”, as today’s official mantra seems to run, can now serve openly in the military. (I didn’t get the most recent Memo: I had been under the strong impression that it was not Correct to draw attention to the “lesbian” bit, for whatever reasons.)

There are two major points that need to be made.

First, this continues a sequence of (pick one or several: reforms, major policy changes, victories, administrative adjustments) that represent more than anything else the achievement of objectives embraced by this or that Identity over the past 30 or 40 years. Political indenture to Identity Politics has continued throughout this period, curiously intensifying as politicians increasingly desperate to cobble together various fractals of the population into reliable electoral demographics have sought to distract public attention from far larger and more vital national issues critical to sustaining the common-weal.

Indeed it must be seen – and will be seen as such by future historians – that throughout this 40 or so years’ trek the country’s political representatives lost effective control of the economy and the most profound question of the decency and morality of US policy toward most of the rest of the world.

Such that – at this point – the ‘victory’ of the long-standing objectives of this or that Identity takes place in a time or Moment in the country’s history that is hugely changed from the now-distant era when the agenda initially took shape.

Thus, for example, the election of ‘women’ (simply because they were female) to political office and of a black male to the Presidency (simply because he was ‘black’ – and maybe also ‘young’, like JFK) were taken as substantive and ‘historic’ victories. As if such events had any relevance to the intensifying short-comings and short-falls in American policy and the utterly indispensable national economy.

Identity politics leads to symbolic politics leads to spin politics leads to celebrity politics.

And only guts and competence and gravitas can save Us now. And I use gravitas in the most profound and serious and maturationally and characterologically freighted sense of the term.

The phantasmagoria, the queasily fantastical tenor of American politics, was becoming increasingly clear as American elites seemed thoroughly pleased, satisfied, and content with such ‘successes’ even as the tectonic forces deranging and undermining American competence and capability on the world scene continued to erode the foundations of the American position in the world and even the foundations of the working integrity of the American polity as a democratic and constitutional republic.

It reminded me of nothing so much as the now-pathetic satisfaction of the commanders of the French Army and the British Expeditionary Force as they moved north smartly – according to the dictates of a strategy deployed in 1940 based on the experiences of a First World War then decades in the past – while a lethal German armored mobile thrust, ignored in the Allies’ general cocky jubilation, had already burst out of the Ardennes, crossed the Meuse, and was making its way mostly unhindered to the Atlantic coast of France, where it quickly cut off from the south all of those gloriously enthusiastic  Allied forces now taking up positions, facing north, in Belgium.

And it kept getting replayed – this fantastical happy-time of ‘success’ – as more and more ‘successes’ of old strategies were celebrated by elites while the vital challenges posed by the current and present national situation were kicked like so many cans down the Road of History.

Until those cans have now accumulated to such a depth and breadth that the Road can no longer be traveled at speed.

Thus today's victory arrives in the midst of a national Situation which is not only hugely diminished but is also far more dangerously fragile and unstable than that Situation was when the victory was first envisioned, decades ago.

It can hardly be a surprise. The Democrats, gearing up for an election for which they have not only little success of their own to show but also a frighteningly large collection of initiatives that merely continue the frakkulent policies and assumptions of the Bush 2 years, were clearly going to be in the market for some ‘success’ – any ‘success’ – that they could in any way, shape, or form spin as indication of their overall competence to govern and steer the country through the awful rocks and shoals against which it is now trapped. (Nor am I here subtly touting the Republicans.)

But the national Situation – and the military – have so profoundly changed (and not for the better) that this new ‘victory’ shrinks and even pales into irrelevance when viewed in comparison to the awe-full challenges and dangers facing the nation as it struggles to retain its position on the world stage.

As the economy fundamentally fails (We produce nothing of sufficient value to competitively trade among the nations in order to sustain a population of 300 million people); and as the value of the Dollar fades on the world scene; and as the government continues to run Reagan’s old game-plan (now 30 years old) of counting on the rest of the world to continue accepting America’s ‘primacy’ as the Great Victor of 1945 and as the Leader of the Free World and thus to continue accepting the flood of dollars now gushing out of the printing presses like confetti ; … as all of that happens and intensifies, there is going to be less and less purchasing power to fund a vast military.

It is only a little bit of an exaggeration to suggest that today’s ‘victory’ has simply led the ‘victors’ to the position of those hapless Commonwealth reinforcements who landed in Singapore in early 1942, now gleefully stretching their legs on solid land after the bumpy confinement on the ships, only to arrive just in time to be surrendered to the much smaller Japanese force that had out-fought and out-thought the bumbling British command.

But it gets worse.

The American military of today will be tasked now with more and more GOAG missions (Go Out And Grab), at the end of which they will have to Stay And Keep what they have Grabbed. (So, if you like spiffy military acronyms: GOAG-SAK).

It will be done – wherever possible and for as long as the pretense and pretext can be kept up – under the aegis of ‘humanitarian intervention’ and with the ‘international cooperation’ of the UK and France, two other Associate Victors of 1945 who find themselves now in the same boat as the Great Victor of 1945.

But the ‘natives’ of the world are not fools (if they ever were) and have now been empowered in a way that their forebears in earlier centuries were not. They will resist.

And since the US will be increasingly desperate, then it will become increasingly impatient with any resistance or objection by the natives (much as the German philosophy in World War 1 was that the German Army had so much to do so quickly in order to win that ‘the harshest immediate measures of repression ’ against the locals were “authorized” in order to minimize interference with the overall plan).

Nowadays, of course, the American pretext will be based on the simplistic and unexamined assertion that if you resist America then you are resisting Democracy and must therefore be Evil so you will get what you deserve.  This monstrous birth is by Bush out of Israel, but will now be brayed by the New Left elites who will provide the ‘humanitarian liberation’ pretext: if you don’t have the same idea of (pick one or several: women’s, gay and lesbian, minority, other) rights then you must be Evil or at least Ignorant and must thus be either suppressed or educated.

Either way the armed forces will be the solution.

They will ‘liberate’ and just happen to Grab while they are in town.

It is into this world – changed even more lethally and insidiously than the world of the Vietnam War era – that today’s success will deliver its giddy beneficiaries.

The US military ground forces are suffering from malaise of spirit (and probably also spiritual deficiency) as well as maturational challenges that have proven so intractable that the government has taken to dosing them with untold amounts of officially-prescribed drugs (to say nothing of whatever illicit drugs are also being consumed; see, for example, my Posts here, here, and here).

Nor can it be ruled out that the troops on some level realize what they have really been sent to do and are not only frightened by the awfulness and complexity of invasion and occupation, but morally disturbed by what they have to do and what they are really there for.

The Greeks, if memory serves, have for quite some time had a Navy (and perhaps Army) that allows gays (not sure about the lesbians) to serve openly; they are also in danger of economic collapse. I am not at all saying the “gays and lesbians” caused the economic collapse (not sure about the military efficiency of the Greek armed forces) but simply that the ‘success’ of same-sex orientation or bigender or transgender or what-have-you initiatives really counts for little in relation to a country’s essential stability and economic viability.

The Rainbow is not going to be able to ward off the cataclysmic storms that are coming. And if the Rainbow comes back after the storms have passed, it will rise over a much changed and much diminished national landscape, if not also a now-failed Republic.

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Sunday, September 18, 2011


So, in reference to my immediately preceding Post, I want to put the key thoughts in short form.

The element of the Beltway elite comprised of officials and corporate elites have realized for quite some time – at least three decades – that the US could not retain its post-WW2 economic primacy (which stemmed from America’s highly Productive culture, its Abundance of resources and raw materials as well as Productive infrastructure, and the fact that in 1945 most of the developed world was suffering the huge effects of the war being fought on their turf). By 1970 the economies of the rest of the developed world were recovered enough to start competing again.

Nevertheless, political considerations starting in the late 1960s required the embrace of what I have always called the ‘Revolutions of the Identities’ which included both the positive intentions of replacing responsibilities with ‘rights’ and the negative strategy of ‘devalorizing’ the Productive culture as (pick one, several or all: white, male, bourgeois, working-class, conformist, oppressive, traditional).

The Corporate-Finance interests hit upon the general strategy of ‘supporting’ the many cultural changes and subsequent national legislation and policy because it reduced the influence and power of American organized labor; subsequently, as the Cold War started to wind down in the 1980s, they began outsourcing to foreign countries.

Starting in the late 1970s under Carter, efforts to keep up the appearances of a bustling economy and also reduce government spending, led to de-regulation of vital public utilities and services. This dynamic was continued under Reagan, who also began borrowing heavily against America’s world credit and its status as Victor of 1945, Leader of the ‘Free World’ (against the USSR), and owner of the world’s reserve currency – the dollar. On Reagan’s watch, the US slid from the world’s largest creditor nation to a debtor nation.

When the USSR collapsed, this actually accelerated the American loss of primacy because not only large swaths of the Cold-War ‘West’ but also Central European ‘East bloc’ countries opened up outsourcing and investment opportunities; equally, numerous Pacific-Asian nations, not only freed from a sense of impending Communist subversion but also benefitting from major advances in the ease of exchanging information, shipping goods, and moving investment capital around the planet, made their non-unionized low-wage labor forces hugely attractive to Western capital investment and corporations.

Thus in the 1990s, under Clinton, not only outsourcing but off-shoring became the elite plan embraced by both the Corporate and Left-Progressive elites. This kept up the appearance that the US economy was vigorous and growing; but the Productive infrastructure – facilities and culture – were being greedily and hastily dismantled. In its place, for primarily political purposes, it was confidently asserted by Progressive-Liberal elites that a ‘Knowledge and Service’ economy could simply and easily replace the old (sweaty, masculine, bourgeois) Industrial Production economy.

No consideration was given to either a) the overall credibility tof the presumption that finance, insurance, real estate,  human services and entertainment could of themselves sustain a major world economy; nor b) the strong possibility that such an economy would lethally skew the demographics of the Citizenry into a hugely remunerated wealthy class with an ancillary ‘elite’ Knowledge class, a horribly shrunken middle-class, and a hugely expanded low-paid servant class.

Throughout all of this era (1970-late 1990s) a continually developing neo-conservative, patriotistic (as opposed to genuinely patriotic) New Right sought to continue the growth of what was slowly becoming the nation’s only remaining major Producer: the ‘defense’ and weapons industry. This dovetailed with an effort to continually re-assert American military prowess as a way of maintaining – by military force rather than Productive competence and economic vitality – American control of ‘the Free World’ and the Developing  and Third World.

With the fall of the USSR, the New Right exploded into a phantasmagorical frenzy of hyper-hegemonism: the US had ‘won’ the Cold War and now was not simply Leader of a Free World (that no longer actually existed since its Evil Twin – the Soviet slave world – had now ceased to exist) but also Leader of the World in general.

‘Democracy’ was now touted as absolutely vital and a ‘right’ of all of the world’s nations.

And this dovetailed nicely with the sense that had been building to a very sharp point from the 1970s and throughout the post-USSR 1990s: that this country could no longer sustain itself on the basis of Productivity (and the Knowledge and Service economy ‘replacement’ was proving itself – who knew? – utterly incapable of performing the magic it was invented to perform).

The solution that began to take shape in the 1990s was: to use ‘humanitarian intervention’ as a pretext for intervening militarily and thereby securing ‘position’ in parts of the world’s resource-rich or strategically-located lands.

The truly amazing burst of home-computers that sparked the American dotcom revolution of the early 80s was genuine. But it masked the loss of the genuinely Productive industrial infrastructure, both physical and cultural. Reagan’s continuation of de-regulation into the ominously engorging F.I.R.E. (finance, insurance, real estate) sector of the economy – especially as it related to the equally ominous introduction of the role of banks as entrepreneurial profit-centers rather than as solid and stabilizing cash-management institutions – resulted in the Savings&Loan scandal of the mid-80s.

When the dotcom revolution – which had turned into a ‘bubble’ by the 1990s - finally burst in 2000, and under the impetus of Bush 2’s eagerness to distract the country with even more easy credit (fantasy ‘wealth’ to replace actual solid assets), what then resulted was the elite-managed creation of Bubble after Bubble, under-regulated by a government that was now as indentured to the F.I.R.E sector for even the appearance of economic productivity as it was indentured to the assorted Identity-Politics ‘bases’ and ‘advocates’ on the Left and the responsive ‘Fox’ bases on the Right for whatever electoral reliability could be managed.

But, hiding under the distractions of the consequences sparked by 9-11 and the increasing derangement of the economy by the wars’ monstrous cost, was the fact that the F.I.R.E. sector, aided by the repeal of Glass-Steagall and with the help of such odious panderers as Phil Gramm in the Senate, was now pretty much calling the economic shots. Unsupervised by a now helpless government, the super-executives who had been nurtured by the Gordon-Gekko ‘Greed is good’ creed of the early 1980s,  maniacally inflated the Bubble(s) until the whole shebang blew up in 2008, though there had been warning tremors as early as mid-2005 (or 1971, if you want to take the long view).
When 9-11 – that egregious and incomprehensible result of what appeared to be the most profound and widespread government bumbling and incompetence – happened, the Right-neocon elements of the Beltway elites instantly used it as a pretext to invade Iraq, a former US ally from the Cold War 1980s that happened to be both strategically located and “sitting upon a sea of oil”, a vital and finite resource necessary to many of the world’s growing economies (the US no longer gets most of its oil from the Persian Gulf region), control of which would keep the US in a powerful position in the Great Game of world politics. It also invaded Afghanistan, another former US ally from the Cold War 1980s, which is even more strategically located and possessed of never-exploited mineral resources that the great and growing economies of China, Russia, and India might get their hands on.

Corporate elites were enticed by the chance of enhancing profits by controlling the vital oil supplies of the growing competitor economies and of hugely increasing the assets of American petroleum-related and weapons-related industries.

Increasingly, as the Iraq and Afghanistan gambits ran into hardly-unpredictable military failure, the New Left and Progressive elites – worried that their agitations and ‘reforms’ were losing steam in this country – were invited to the party: their agendas of various ‘rights’ and requirements for deep cultural changes, all in the name of ‘humanitarian liberation’ and ‘rights’, would provide a marvelous pretext and ‘front’ for the new US stance to the world: Go Out and Grab. (Or ‘GOAG’, pronounced GO-agg).

Thus Libya: possessed of excellent location and large oil reserves as well as 150 tons of pure gold in its Central Bank; having recently been agitating to dethrone the US dollar (and petrodollar) as the reserve currency for oil-rich nations conducting their trade; and happily led by a quirky and indubitable dictator who could be – with every pretext of decency and ‘concern’ – overthrown so that his people could be liberated (with the help, no doubt, of a permanent US presence not far from the seat of government).

And this was under a Democratic president who, as a black male, was originally spun as the Summum Bonum of the civil-rights and multicultural revolutions of almost half a century before.  And who has proven to be incapable, on the basis of those ‘qualifications’, of stopping either the Beltway indenture to corporate wealth or the Beltway indenture to military over-extension in the service of GOAG.*

And therefore, the Question facing this democracy of Ours – facing The People, facing Us – is: Do We agree with and allow Our government to GOAG (used here as a verb) on Our behalf?

Or perhaps at least using Us as a pretext (i.e: it’s in ‘the vital national interest’ that the government GOAGs), whereas really most of the swag is going to go to the Corporate and Very Rich; the now greatly-reduced drones (i.e. The People, most of Us) getting hardly a dribble to hold together and sustain whatever lives that We can manage.

Naturally, GOAG is going to generate a whole lotta resistance from the ‘new natives’ who are actually the old 19th century colonial natives – especially in resource-rich Africa  – of the Bad Old Days of Colonialism.

But for the US, and a bunch of other ‘over-mature’ Western economies such as the UK and France, such ‘blowback’ is actually welcome and indeed necessary: the old Israeli excuse against the local Arab populations can be deployed (they hate us for what we are or for what we have achieved), while such counter-violence as those Grabbed natives inflict can quickly be termed ‘terrorism’, the pieties of 9-11 solemnly invoked, and the drones (having replaced your grandfather’s ‘Marines’) can be sent in.

This is what the new Age of GOAG is going to be. And while arrayed in the sheep’s clothing of ‘humanitarian liberation’ and ‘progressive reform’ and simultaneously in the patriotistic armor of American righteousness and might, it will remain the old Great Game.

Only this time the US isn’t going to be getting involved because it’s young, up-and-coming, and flush with vitality and energy, but rather because it is now an aging boss-ape that must become a predator against all the world’s vulnerable peoples in order to keep itself going in the manner to which it has become accustomed.

The world, ironically under America’s ‘leadership’, is sliding back into the 19th century Great Game.  Such progress. Who knew?

This is not a happy picture.  Especially in regard to what this country is now well on the way to becoming and in regard to what most of the world’s vulnerable peoples (not militarily strong enough to repel intervention or offers of ‘aid’) think of us: as one German soldier unhappily and ominously wrote home after the initial whizz-bang success on the Eastern Front had stopped being military fun and started to reveal the whole invasion’s lethal fallacies, “They know now what we really bring”. And ‘they’ were starting to blow up supply trains, ambush troops, and in myriad ways to resist the Grab.

This is not a happy picture. We are becoming a predator-state, a predator ‘superpower’ increasingly driven not by arrogance but desperation. A National Nanny State combined with a National Security State that has to Grab or Fade: the National Grab State.

Nor can We avoid looking at it and deliberating as to what We, The People, want to do about it.


*Thought should perhaps be given to judging candidates for major political office not on whether they fulfill some vision of a 'revolution' half a century ago - he's black, she's a woman, s/he's 'young' - but rather primarily on some level of maturity, character and pure guts. Yes, competence is important but almost the entire sitting political class is now indentured to and habituated to the politics of 'the deal': go along to get along and keep using the taxpayer's money to reward your friends and your 'bases'. 

Congress has been doing this for half a century now, and with increasing intensity: letting the Executive and the Supreme Court do the heavy-lifting while the Honorable Members did their 'deals', collected their swag, and shuffled off to Honorable Retirement. 

Congress is the core piece in the operating mechanism of the Constitution (notice how big Article I is compared to Articles II and III); but it has long given itself over to the plague of 'deal politics' - in no small part as a result of the torturous fracturing introduced by Identity Politics and a concomitant dumbing-down of the political competence of the Citizenry and The People in the past several decades. 

In regard to Congress, consider the bad old days of the Civil War when one Union Senator said of a dilatory Union general: "I intend to make him either fight or throw up". The Citizenry need to make Congress either do its job or throw up.


Sunday, September 11, 2011


How did We get here?

The Right blames the Left, the Left blames the Right. Few want to admit that the New Left’s National Nanny State and the New Right’s National Security State have both been working hard to get Us here.

The New Left – born in the late 1960s – demanded the Beltway terraforming of American society and culture, luring whatever was left of ‘liberalism’ among the politicians into the revolutionary Content and Method that had always been lurking in the elite heart of American Progressivism. There was a great Outrage (or many) that demanded immediate government intervention in order to ensure ‘rights’ – no deliberation, no thinking-through, no thought as to consequences or workability … just an emotion-laden, government-heavy overturning of everything traditional or common-sensical in order to put in its place the demands and agendas of this, that and the other ‘rights revolution’. The crazy and poisonous political agitations of the later 1960s generated more than enough hot-air (or steam) to blast a path through the restraining walls of careful thought and deliberation. The pols scented votes – what was not to like?

The New Right – reaching its apotheosis in the necons – watched the massive erosion of maturity and rationality effected by the New Left in the late 1960s and the 1970s, and considered the possibilities for themselves that might open up as a result. If the New Left could get so much done with emotional demands that brushed aside fact and reason, why couldn’t the New Right surf the same type of waves?

When emotion trumps fact or reason, then the ‘victim’ and his/her ‘story’ somehow participates in the same dynamic that drives the beer-swilling patriot waving a plastic flag and pledging allegiance to Rambo.

The New Left scripted a national melodrama where the Beltway would be the cavalry, this and that and the other oppressed group would be the settlers, and the Injuns would be … the vast, ballasting, productive Middle of American society and culture: the working and middle (or lower-middle, you’d have to say today) classes. And all their pomps and all their works.

It’s a frightening thing to contemplate – and even more frightening to realize that it went most un-noticed (or at least unspoken) for decades, but somehow in the 1970s world history was given the stunning example of a government – in a democratic Republic – literally turning on its own core population and attacking its values, traditions, ethos, and culture. Which were also the values, traditions, ethos, and culture that had sustained the nation not only in terms of historical time but also in its capacity to produce goods and support itself. (See Fred Siegel’s excellent article here for a look at how this played out in New York City, as a microcosm of the nation.)

In fact, you can make an excellent case for the possibility that the Beltway – especially the New Left at the beginning – literally set out to ‘redistribute’ assets NOT from the workers to the rich (the New Right would work that angle) BUT RATHER from the independent working and lower-middle classes to a new client class of ‘paralyzed poor’ who would become – as in ancient Rome – indentured clients of their ‘elite’, ‘knowledge class’ Democratic patrons. Nor was this a matter of ‘justice’ or ‘rights’, but an out-and-out political assault-on and theft-from one class in order to bankroll a more politically useful class. The cynicism is awe-inspiring.

Yes, there is much to be said for reworking arrangements which lay too much of a load on a marginalized sector or group in society. Justice demands it.

But you can’t just go galloping in with a government cavalry-charge of imposition and achieve that. Especially when little substantive thought has been given to just what should be done and just what can actually be workably done (the two are not the same).

But the New Left somehow convinced the Beltway pols that all the 1940s and 1950s European social thinkers who tried to draw lessons from their experiences of Fascism, Nazism, and the most stubbornly brutal of the old European colonial regimes … that all of them had some vital and precisely accurate relevance for America as a culture and a polity.

The unspoken assumption – the unstated middle of the case – was that the America of the 1950s was for all practical purposes a Fascist, Nazi, colonialist oppressor State and Culture. So much so that nothing less than a thorough dismantling of it (especially insofar as it was white, male or male-friendly, and working-class that subscribed to conformist bourgeois values and lifeways) would be acceptable.

Or perhaps the American culture, polity, and people were just dull, boring, conformist, and so stupid that they ‘just didn’t get it’. The ‘it’ in this case being as vaguely and fuzzily defined as it was in the days of Clara Bow – “the Original It Girl” – whose early 1920s film career as one of the first ‘stars’ had far too many Americans worrying about how to get ‘It’ or beating themselves up for not having ‘It’. (If life was tough enough keeping up with the Joneses next door, how on earth were you going to succeed in keeping up with Gable or Harlow or Garland or Dean or any other celluloid phantasm?)

But somehow – I think it is becoming clear these days – the ethos of the working and lower-middle classes was somehow a backbone to the culture and to the society. And the idea of not only replacing the backbone but literally ridiculing it and attacking it has to be considered as highly fraught if not also greatly ill-advised. Have you ever heard of ‘full skeletal replacement’ surgery? There’s a reason why-not .

And how many cohorts of Americans have now been raised without ever hearing – from media, elite, or government figures – the phrase “the dignity of labor”, so weighted with the history and character that built the country and sustained it for so long?  

I think it’s relevant here to imagine the challenge set to a ‘too-modern’ society, if it might be put that way. To use the imagery of the sea: in the days of the sailing ship, it was clear to all that each of the crew had to be knowledgeable and competent in the art and tasks of handling vital sailing tasks: you were never far away from the power of the sea on a sailing vessel; you could never forget or form any cuddly illusions about the power of the sea.

As ships actually began not simply to take along assorted passengers, but actually were built for the task of transporting passengers – the first ocean ‘liners’ in the mid-19th century – there were simultaneously crewmembers assigned solely to serve the passengers, plus passengers whose interest and purpose was simply in getting to their destination. Neither of these categories necessarily knew enough – or had cause to think – about the power and lethality of the sea and the complexities and vagaries of the wind and weather.

As the liners became more mechanized – steel, engine-driven mini-cities or floating hotels – far more of the crew were either actually assigned to serving passengers or were mechanics who labored in the deep places within the steel hulls and knew little about sailing or the sea.

With the arrival of Hollywood films – especially as they developed in the ‘30s and beyond  – large swaths of the population began to imagine, or perhaps pre-consciously presume, that life should resemble the scenes they saw on the giant screen. Forgetting that the scenes they saw on the screen were the result of highly-controlled, strictly-choreographed filming, often on sound stages, that reflected a level of highly developed and enforced directorial control over the ‘life’ that was unfolding on the screen that did not in any way resemble the far less controlled (or controllable) challenges of real life. People began to live life more by (again, without thinking about it) imitating what they had seen on the screen rather than having to more directly and robustly apply themselves to the challenges of developing a self and conducting a life directly, in a ‘hands-on’ mode.

And they began (without thinking about it) expecting life to behave the way they saw it on the screens. Yet what was on the screen was the result of a draconian hierarchical organization presided over by a director and organized by large production crews down to the minutest detail. This dynamic could not have good consequences for a healthy, competent, Citizen Republic and for democracy.

People began to approach life more through a deep and subtle form of imitation with expectations that things would work out for them as the ‘star’ of their life-script the way things worked out ‘in the movies’.

And on the sea, people imagined they were merely on a moving hotel when they boarded a vessel; and more and more of the crew were dedicated to being ‘hotel staff’ rather than sailors facing the sea. This became clear as early as the Titanic debacle: sure that so marvelous a vessel would never sink, the passengers were shocked to discover that few of the crew were actually competent in handling the life-boats and literally ‘sailing’ them free of the great sinking vessel.

The ‘Disneyworld’ view of life is similar: few people realize precisely how much control – meticulously planned and robustly if smilingly enforced – is required to provide that experience of ‘authentic reproduction’ that actually fools too many folks into forgetting that the Disneyworld-experience is not so much an ‘authentic reproduction’ of the way life could (or should) be, but is rather merely an imaginary and highly-structured fantasy and illusion.

There’s nothing wrong with that per se, but only if the illusion is recognized for what it is. When the illusion  is mistaken for reality itself, then the ‘illusioned’ are operating on a hugely inaccurate presumption about life and even about conducting a life and building a self and sustaining a social community and a political common-weal.

Blend this predisposition with the ‘revolutionary’ eagerness to concentrate more on the ‘vision’ one wants to see actualized than on the reality one must necessarily manhandle into ‘change’ … and you wind up with a lethal mix of fake reality and outright fantasy, and an increasing public incompetence in dealing with reality or even in distinguishing reality from non-reality and fantasy and illusion..

In the later 1960s this entire toxic brew was quaffed by far too many, driven even more urgently by the Boomery callowness of youth who had grown up in what We now know was a highly-unusual and actually quite fragile Age of American Dominance and Abundance (1945-1970, more or less).

The whole shebang drove ‘radicals’ and citizens alike, and thus legislators as well. The more stolid and prudent working-class and lower-middle class awareness of the true challenge required to sustain self, life, and family in this Vale of Tears were kicked to the curb as being outmoded, unnecessary, and oppressively depressing and ‘dark’ and ‘negative’ and ‘downbeat’.And the country descended into an orgy of simultaneously ‘change’ and ‘fantasy’ (recall the decades-old American political mantra of ‘the Dream’) that had now become disconnected from any ballasting awareness of the genuine challenge and fragility of living as an individual or a community or polity. It was ‘Wheeeeeeeee!’ all the time, whether brayed insistently by radical reformers, or cheeribly burbled by happy-faced gurus.

Any voice calling for caution and prudence so as not to overturn the craft altogether was dismissed as ‘backlash’ and fuddy-duddy ‘fear of change’.

And this was true of the New Right as well as the New Left. And it exercised its lethal pull in matters economic and military as well as in matters cultural and domestic.

And the band played on.

At any rate, the Beltway – led by the Dems in the beginning – bought into the ideas that A) you could use revolutionary Method to achieve Good by imposing it through government hyper-activity and B) you could saw off the old ‘head’ of the culture, society and polity, and install the new Correct ‘head’, without the entire organism starting to go into de-fib. And while you were at it, might as well scoop out the old ‘heart’ and impose the new Correct one – again, all so quickly and cleanly and surgically accomplished that there would be no ill consequences to the living entity stretched out under the surgical knife of your governmental authority (and purse-strings) .

It is only nowadays, I think, that the Beltway can be seen as some variant of the old Crazy-Professor or Crazy-Doctor script (shades of the 1950s!) or perhaps old Doktor Baron von Frankenstein himself: assemble all the demands, stitch them together, juice’em up with electrical jolts of cash, and turn the critter loose to build a new and better Transylvania. Ja!

Nowadays, even the best and most honest of ‘liberal’ commentators cawn’t think why ‘liberalism’ has failed (let alone ‘progressivism’ and ‘radicalism’). But they are happy to presume it was the fault of the New, neocon Right.

And they’d be right in some large ways. The neocons didn’t make the witless New Left assumption that you could gut the heart, mind, and brawn of a Producing culture and offshore your production and still maintain a working economy. (Have you heard any gushy good news about the Knowledge and Service economy recently?) They didn’t imagine that you could kill the Goose and still rely on a steady supply of Golden Eggs for your Greater-and-Better-Transylvania plans.

Rather, the neocon New Right made the witless assumption that you could continue to pour whatever Golden Eggs remained mostly into military production and – eventually – military adventures (and mis-adventures) and yet not wind up bankrupting the country by wrecking its balance of trade. (War, alas, is not really classifiable as a form of ‘trade’, but as you go deeper into debt you need other countries to buy your dollars and bonds in order for you to keep subsidizing your military that is then going to go out and get into those other countries’ business … you might see the ultimate un-workability of this game-plan. See here for an extended explanation.)

So We had witless assumptions being made by both New Left and New Right (the old Democrat and Republican monikers mean nothing any longer, nor do ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative’ as applied to those Parties). And both sets of assumptions required an invasive and impositional government (either as Nanny State or as Security State). And both sets took no account of the possibility that the Great Victor of 1945 would ever cease to be the Number One economy in the world.

And when in the early 1970s it became very clear that something was going wrong with the economic capability of the Great Victor, each side blamed the other (a sense of entitlement or a sense of military adventurism were wrecking the economy – but nobody with ‘access’ wanted to say that BOTH were). Then in the 1980s Reagan deregulated a whole lotta stuff and borrowed a whole lot from other countries, and suddenly New Left and New Right realized that the Golden Egg supply was getting verrrry iffy, and thus both had to let the famous F.I.R.E sector (finance, insurance, real estate) call the shots in the hopes that somehow ‘the money professionals’ would know how to keep the Eggs coming.

In the 1990s the Dems were the ones who tried to pander to their feminist demographic by agreeing that the nasty, brutish, swinish, masculine ‘industrial productivity’ culture could be given the coup-de-grace by allowing corporations to offshore manufacturing jobs; the sooner the masculine culture was gone the better and the Beltway pols would through their PACs get a cut of the proceeds of all the sales. And the Knowledge-and-Service culture would keep the country going  as the Great New Transylvania was established.

Such a deal! Such wisdom. Such foresight.

Then came 9-11. Somehow, almost as if the thought had long ago occurred to them, the Beltway Biggies went after Iraq (although so many of the perps were Saudis) and Afghanistan (where no Western power has ever won, going back to Alexander the Great).  Bin Laden had hoped to lure the US into overreactions that would eventually bankrupt it – thus ending its ability to impose itself, as he saw it, into the rest of the world’s affairs.

His strategy recalled – weirdly enough – Jimmy Doolittle’s April 1942 bombing of Tokyo, which although it caused only limited damage in the larger view of things, so infuriated and embarrassed the Japanese military that they planned what turned out to be the Battle of Midway (where, in the space of 5 minutes on an early June afternoon in 1942, 12 iron bombs dropped on 3 major Japanese fleet carriers  instantly overturned the strategic balance of the entire Pacific war  - a 4th carrier was wrecked shortly thereafter; if you want more to contemplate, the 4 Japanese carriers were all in on the attack on Pearl Harbor the previous December, and the US planes that destroyed them flew from the very US carriers that had been at sea that December morning and escaped destruction).

And the US responded in fury – so it is widely imagined – by going after Iraq and Afghanistan, and overextending itself lethally.

But then came Libya.

Here it is claimed that We are merely performing a ‘humanitarian service’. This is the position of Samantha Power, a feisty red-headed, Irish born feminist poster-person who loves baseball. Extending into foreign affairs the classic tropes of American radical feminism, she insists that the government “can’t just do nothing” when there is ‘oppression’ in the world; and she means “gross human rights violations even if they don’t meet the definition of genocide”. [italics mine]

Which means that whatever  government decides to define as “gross’ needn’t even prove ‘genocide’, but rather the government can go ahead and ‘just do it’, going after another sovereign nation with planes, drones, bombs, or whatever else comes to hand.*

As was the case with so many feministical demands for government action in American domestic politics, this approach – while ‘sensitive’ and surely emotional – cares not a bit for any larger consequences. Just as demands for draconian domestic violence and sex-offense laws cared not a hoot for the integrity and coherence of Western justice procedures developed over long centuries, so too Power’s approach gives not a thought to the fact that the entire Westphalian concept of sovereignty, upon which world diplomacy has been based ever since, and surely since the erection of the UN in 1945, is thereby undermined at a stroke: any government that decides it is seeing “gross human rights violations” (however those rights are defined) can invade.

Does the same apply to the US if some country decides it sees such violations in the US? Or is that thinking too much?

She attributes any doubts about her insistent demands for intervention to political calculation and fear of “doing the right thing” (that is to say, fear of doing what she wants done and which she is already sure is the right thing).

She figures that if there’s a problem around the world breakfast table, then the US Nanny should not hesitate a moment to mete out whatever ‘justice’ is requires. After all, what’s a government and a military for if not to assuage ‘pain’? (She hasn’t apparently considered the possibility of the invaded nation fighting back, or of civilian casualties incurred either by accident or because the locals want to repel the invaders.)

Anyhoo, what ‘gross civil rights violations’ suddenly arose to attract her concern seem to do with the Libyan government sending Viagra-crazed troops among the populace to commit  - waittttt forrrrr itttttt! – sex offenses.

It stuns – really – to watch this sort of thing without the rose-colored glasses either of the New Left (pain is being assuaged!) or the New Right (another bum bites the democratic dust!).

It also makes you wonder: once upon a time the idea of females achieving power in government was considered inadvisable because – as the thinking went back then – they were prone to irrationality and emotionalism, which are the sort of things you really can’t let loose in the dangerous world of government-to-government affairs, especially where shooting war and lots of death are possible outcomes.

Well, things have come this far and here We have a National Security Advisor whose overall philosophy is that consequences don’t matter and that you shouldn’t think too much about big stuff and you should instead just go ahead and do it if you really believe that you ‘get it’.

It seems rather emotional, and in its refusal to consider wider and deeper and large possible consequences it seems irrational. It may seem un-gallant to notice it, but there it is.

But as genuinely bizarre as this self-determined authority to wage ‘humanitarian intervention’ is, it’s not my main concern here.

I’m thinking that Power and her whole philosophy and the advocacies that espouse it are just ‘useful idiots’ (to borrow a phrase from radical-feminism’s great-grand-uncle, the late V.I. Lenin). They serve as a pretext for a far deeper and far more serious set of objectives.

I want to propose this: that serious Beltway thinkers, in both the Executive and Legislative Branches, have known for quite some time (since Reagan’s era at least) that this country was no longer going to be able to maintain its economic primacy (perhaps even viability) on the basis of its own Productivity.

And that therefore, at some point, sooner or later, the US government was going to have to Go Out and Grab other people’s stuff in order to control fresh resources and – as the dynamic crest of history passed to other nations and other parts of the world – to keep a place at the Great Game’s Table.

So long as the USSR stayed in business, the world’s nations could be held to the script that had been set in the mid-1940s with the Cold War: support the US totally or become a slave of the Soviets. But as soon as the Soviets (and all their military power and threat) went away in 1991, the nations of the world began to realize that without the Soviet threat they didn’t need to kowtow to the American ‘protector’ and ‘leader of the free world’ – after all if the Soviet slave world dissolved, then the ‘free world’ of the Western, NATO, US-led alliance also faded (sort of like when in Tolkien the evil Great Ring of power was destroyed, the subordinate Good Rings also lost their power).

Within a decade, in one of the most stunning sequences of comprehensive official failure this country has ever experienced, 9-11 happened and, almost instantly thereafter, the US government claimed that a) Iraq’s secular and anti-religious state was behind the religiously-motivated attacks (go figure) and that b) Saddam had weapons of mass destruction (oops – guess not, but so what?) and that c) Saddam was somehow the new Hitler and it was 1941 all over again.

But I think that he was sitting on a whole lot of oil – which is slated to become a valuable commodity as soon as the stuff runs out; and in a great location (in the Persian Gulf and near the great central Eurasian land routes that connect Russia, China, and India without any reliance on the sea-routes that are still more or less controlled by the US Navy).

Afghanistan is even more conveniently located to have some influence on those land routes; and it is possessed of significant rare-mineral wealth not yet exploited.

And Libya sits on the Mediterranean, possessed of large oil reserves and 150 tons of pure gold in its Central Bank, and is also located on the continent of Africa, where there are no doubt huge amounts of still unexploited (and now rather urgently needed) natural resources.  And – thinking of Power – a whole bunch of countries that have never really grown into full maturity as governments and for which violence against their own peoples is a governmental way of life. Oh, and are so small that they really can’t put up much of a fight if they were to one morning find themselves the target of ‘humanitarian intervention’ and ‘regime change’ (raising the curious symmetry of recent domestic American concern for school ‘bullies’- funny how the deep night moves).

So what I am driving at here is that Cheney was right: the US is going to have to go over to the Dark Side. But not to gleefully torture natives for the hell of it (for ‘shits and giggles’ in the military shorthand) but rather because the world’s natives are now sitting on top of a whole lotta stuff that the US now sorta reely reely needs right away if it is going to keep its lifestyle and any sort of position as a Player in a world-situation that History now seems to be taking in a direction rather different from the WW2 and Cold War scenarios (where the US was John Wayne and the Great Nanny wrapped up into one).

The Beltway has never had the courage to come out and say this to the American People. To do so would be to admit that the country is no longer possessed of the Abundance (in Productive capacity and resources) that gave it a primacy over all the other nations of the world for so long; and that the Beltway has not only known about this but contributed to the mess by its witless doings of the past 30 or 40 years; and that now We are ALL going to have to go over to the Dark Side and let Our government Go Out and Grab Stuff or else We are all going to have to take a huge cut in pay and lifestyle (and not just until things ‘get better’ because 1945 and 1965 and even 1995 are never coming back, economically speaking).

Yes, ‘human rights’ (or women’s rights, or animal rights or the right to be free from pain) may serve as a lubricating pretext for a while.

But We might as well grow up and face this awful fact: the Beltway is operating on the assumption that it’s Grab-Wars or 2nd-class status for all of Us.

And it may very well be right in its assessment of Our situation at this point.

And thus the question for Us is: Do We allow this sort of role for the United States in the world today?

Nor can We escape the moral Question by hiding behind the Beltway: that either they know best or they are just trying to cover their own frak-ups now. This country is most surely headed toward a much diminished role in world affairs – and if the dollar ceases to be accepted as the world reserve currency then that is going to be much more true than any living American can ever imagine or has ever experienced.

Recently, by the by, before he was ‘intervened-against’, Qua-daffy was trying  - by amazing coincidence - to organize regional governments to denominate oil purchases in some currency other than the dollar. But then, so are the Chinese and Russians and Indians, who – I am going to bet – not even Samantha Power seeks to intervene-against; or if she does, she and her intervention philosophy will find themselves out of a security clearance  forthwith.

So if We assume that Cheney and all his ilk are right in their assessment, then do We accept their Go Out and Grab solution? Do We allow US military forces and might (at least for as long as they can be paid for) to be deployed in Our name for that purpose of Go Out and Grab?

THIS is the moral Question that now faces Us. This is the Great Question of Our Time. We face a ‘rendezvous with destiny’ here. And watching a whole lot of WW2 documentaries and films where the Americans win isn’t going to change the fact that those days (and perhaps that America) are gone, baby, gone.

We cannot say that We can no longer distinguish illusion from reality: to do so is to surrender the Republic and the Constitution – after all, if you don’t have The People you don’t need all the rest of it.

Nor will We be able to muster even the excuse of the German people in 1946, who at least could claim that if they had dared to speak up against the depredations made against the world community by the Third Reich they would have found themselves in a concentration camp or up against a wall forthwith. We do not (yet) live in a totalitarian dictatorship, no matter how much leftover 1960s’ radicals like to toss the image around.

We are not a Fascist or Nazi government. We are still a democracy.

What say you, then?

What say you?

That Question is not going to go away. It faces each of Us now. And it will be asked of Us in this world.

And the Next.


*And you see here the efflorescence of a dangerous bit of legal thinking thought-up for the purposes of the Adolf Eichmann prosecution and execution in Israel 51 years ago: that if you have participated in genocide, then there is an undying ‘universal jurisdiction’ by which any country can arrest and prosecute you.

Eichmann, you may recall, was the SS officer in charge of arranging the transport of European Jews to the death-camps. He had escaped to Argentina after the war and had been living there with his family for 15 years when the Israelis – seeking to revivify awareness of the Holocaust for a generation of their young who had not been alive in WW2 – secretly sent a Mossad team to (pick one: kidnap, capture, arrest) him on Argentine soil and spirit him back to Israel, lying all the while to Argentinian authorities that the now-drugged Eichmann was merely a drunken El-Al employee being brought back to the plane to ‘return’ to Israel.

During the ensuing trial the Israeli prosecutor proposed – and the banc of 3 Israeli judges accepted – the theory of ‘universal jurisdiction’: that, much like with pirates in the days of sailing ships, Nazi participants in the Holocaust were hostes humani generis – enemies of humanity – and any sovereign power whose navy captured one could execute the brute forthwith as a service to humanity and on the authority of ‘humanity’.

But dubious as this ‘principle’ might be from a formal legal point of view (to say nothing of the fact that it justified post facto what was actually a sovereign Israeli assault on another nation’s authority and jurisdiction and constituted nothing more or less than a government-kidnapping), it was still primarily a ‘police’ application: any nation could investigate, arrest, and try such a person.

BUT what We then see taking ominous shape in the United States as early as Clinton’s Balkan adventures – though not coming into full fruition until the current Administration – is the concept of ‘humanitarian intervention’: that a) upon its own judgment as to what constitutes a “gross” violation of this or that “right”, then b) a government (i.e. the US) can forthwith invade another sovereign’s country and even effect regime change (and perhaps culture change).

And in an eerie similarity to the under-the-table advantages that such universal-jurisdiction provided to the Israeli government, the benefits to the US government would be a powerful influence over (if not de facto take-over of) a valuably-resourced or usefully-sited nation that it had targeted for precisely that purpose.

You see where this sort of thing can go. And is going as We speak.


If the above thought is correct, then the fact that continuing US military activity in Muslim lands is generating significant terrorist blowback potential … is not going to be a problem for the government. Indeed, very much the opposite. Because  the ongoing blowback will generate the pressure and justification for the government to Stay-and-Keep what it set out to Go-Out-and-Grab, which was its primary but hidden objective in the first place.

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Sunday, September 04, 2011


Well, it had to come to this sooner or later. Psychologists are now suggesting – though of course with due scholarly and professional circumspection – that human beings may have a ‘soul’.

Further, that their profession is probably the most capable to deal with this ‘amazing new discovery’.

Clearly neither the Red Queen, the Mad Hatter, the Cheshire Cat, nor any of the rest of the gang have left the building.

This amazing news was occasioned by military medicine’s ongoing efforts to deal with the stubborn reality of troops’ being seriously impaired simply from the experience of operational-service in Our queasy new-model “humanitarian interventions” and “kinetic military actions”. For the second year in a row more troops have killed themselves than have been killed in the line of duty over there.  Further stunning numbers of them are now displaying the many symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).*

Several thoughts come to mind.

First, organized religion has been rather deeply involved in the matter of ‘soul’ for quite some time. In the case, for example, of Catholic Christianity, extending back – not to put too fine a point on it – for two millennia, or about 10 times as long as the United States has existed as a polity. And for at least 1700 years before medical science ceased to be an adjunct to barbering and astrology and 1800 years before psychology began to develop as an organized mode of studying human beings.

Nor can the wisdom of the Hebrew scriptures – extending back a further millennium – be credibly accused of being devoid of profound insight into the human spirit and soul.

Nor can much of the world’s great literature – extending back even further – be said to be ignorant of the ‘soul’.

Nor even philosophers as recent as Camus and his existentialist concerns (as bleak as his Flattened world, un-Accompanied and un-Assisted by any Beyond, turns out to be).

But no doubt the organizational politics of grabbing a new chunk of ‘operating area’ and all the status, authority and funding that goes with it play some role in the cheerible trumpeting by the psychologists that they have come up with yet another new and amazing discovery.

But in the elite realms – now so influential in controlling the ‘discourse’ about human affairs and lives – the necessary ‘secularization’ that constitutes a major element of Correctness absolutely denies any Beyond, especially if that includes the ‘superstition’ and ‘compensatory fantasy’ of a realm beyond or Beyond this now-Flattened, material dimension that is, Correctness insists, the only field of human existence. Naturally, the idea of a God who is also a Person is even more thoroughly not-Correct.

The psychologists thus have set themselves a difficult task: to talk of a ‘soul’ and of a ‘spiritual’ dimension of humans. But only (or merely?)  in terms of material science, in a purely and ruthlessly this-dimensional way, without somehow involving the metaphysical questions as to what that soul might be, where it came from, how it operates, how it is sustained, or any of half-a-hundred other profound conceptual matters inherent in the very concept of the human soul.

This, to me, seems like trying to deal with hurricanes without reference to Wind, or claiming to understand the dynamics of sailing ships without reference to Wind. I can’t imagine that the enterprise is going to get very far in an efficacious sort of way.

But that has never stopped such enterprises from grabbing the governmental imagination these days, where economies can be sustained and even expanded without Productivity and wars can be initiated without any demonstrable evidence of a justifying threat.

This being the military, of course, the government is loathe to actually acknowledge ‘religion’ or ‘churches’ as having any real value – that would steer things perilously close to the ‘separation of church and state’. Better to let the psychologists – ‘scientists’ – handle it, so long as they don’t start dragging in any Beyond either as a dynamic operative Ground for the soul or a Source for any ‘therapeutic intervention’. And thus We are back to studying the sailing-ship without reference to the Wind.

Or, like certain ancient Chinese sages, studying the Unicorn to understand how the Horse works. The Unicorn in this image being the thoroughly this-dimensional, totally-autonomous human being now Correctly ‘liberated’ from superstition, fantasy, and the allegedly sentimental idiocies of organized religion.

The Horse in this image being the reality of the human-being comprised of a soul and a body (and perhaps even of a body within a soul), participating both in this-dimension and another, Higher dimension, and engaged purposefully in a highly dynamic if complex relationship with beings and perhaps Being that dwelleth there.

I can’t see this government thing working too well.

But God knows there is a problem in the here and now. Troops are committing suicide more often than they are being killed by enemy action now.

And this despite (or because of?) the fact that the field forces currently deployed are being dosed with more psychoactive drugs than any other troops in this country’s history. See here, here, here, here, and here.

Worse, that these huge and uncontrolled amounts of drug-taking (just talking prescription drugs here, not illegal substances or alcohol) have had (predictably) dangerous and even lethal consequences. See here and here.

But this can only be the hardly unpredictable consequence of the past four decades of child-raising (the earliest cohorts now the parents of the current troops themselves): simultaneously, the government – for political purposes more than anything else – embraced the National Nanny State.

And the Nanny State insists that a) there should be no pain in human life and if you feel some then something is wrong and probably being ‘oppressed’ onto you;  b) if you feel pain then that pain can and will be made to stop by actions that do not require you to do anything.

Worse, that  c) there is no darkness in you and there shouldn’t be any darkness in life. You can see where children raised with these beliefs (as well as all manner of prescription psychoactive drugs taken for years at a stretch) are not going to be well-prepared for leaving the ‘protected’ harbor of childhood and heading out onto the deeps of adult life (which, in the Correct theory, the Nanny State would also control so as to eradicate challenges and difficulties – which is pretty much like the government saying that it will train naval officers on the assumption that they will never encounter storms, typhoons, rocks, shoals, or any of the other accidents of life on the open sea because the Nanny State will ensure no such experiences arise).

Worse, that d) as above mentioned, there is no Beyond and probably no useful God. But not to worry because the Nanny State will always be with you – God and the saints are pretty much nothing more than some older form of Obi-Wan and the Jedi … and by ridding yourself of those childhood fantasies and superstitions you will ‘grow up’ as easily as snapping your fingers to dispel a silly thought.

And if you can steel yourself to imagine the mushy interior world of children thus raised, THEN realize that this government has sent them into a shooting war. This is the home turf of Ares Ferox et Atrox, where there are all sorts of horrors that are verrrry real, and there are Consequences with a capital-C that demonstrate to you quite undeniably why History comes with a capital-H.

You find yourself suddenly beset by Things That Will Not Go Away, and even discover weaknesses in yourself (where the grade-school self-esteem teachers told you to expect nothing but cheap-grace excellence and wonderfulness) and even darknesses in yourself (ditto).

Worse, you experience uncontrolled darknesses in other people: and in this type of war, that means all the very unhappy folks whom your Nanny government has sent you to invade (although you were told you were going to ‘liberate’ them and would be greeted as liberators).

And you realize, however inchoately, that 1) the Nanny State that seemed so self-assuredly all-powerful  and all-knowing back in grade school or - good lord - university cannot control those folks’ darknesses and 2) the Nanny government was so unreliably witless OR so purposely cynical that it sent you into the middle of this mess in the first place. And maybe even that the Nanny government started the whole thing to begin with.

That’s a form of child-abuse of cosmological scope and intensity, I should think, and now of ‘soldier-abuse’.

(And this is a government that now includes three highly-placed women: Hillary Clinton runs State, Susan Rice is UN ambassador, and Samantha Power is National Security Council Human Rights Director … I have nothing against competent persons of any gender in high government positions, but clearly the National Nanny State and the National Security State have both combined to lead Us into the new era of Go Out and Grab – for ‘humanitarian reasons’, of course.)
And it is creating not a “threat outside the person” but a “threat inside the person”, as one military medico sagely burbled. This is, perhaps for him and his colleagues, an amazing if disturbing new discovery. Had he never heard of Original Sin? Of the deep-seated and perennial human propensity to somehow fail his/her own best nature and give in to the Dark Side, to what the I Ching has always referred to as one’s own “inferior” aspects? That there is not only evil outside of you but an ever-alive propensity to evil inside you that you must learn to Master (that nasty masculine concept, as Correctness views it)?

Worse even than all that: it is very possible that the United States, in cahoots with other ‘mature’ economies of the West, and the NATO governments who have been without a justifying ‘enemy’ since the USSR signed itself out of existence 20 years ago, having blown their economic wad during the 1980s and 1990s, are now going to be looking to ‘grow’ their economies the easy way: by going out and Grabbing Other Peoples’ Stuff.

It will be done under the Nanny pretextual rubric of ‘humanitarian intervention’ but it will be a Grab, and most likely in countries sitting on top of lots of vital mineral deposits (Afghanistan) or oil (Iraq) or gold and oil (Libya) that are also nicely situated in the resource-thick belt of Eurasian resource-rich lands and perhaps even with an ocean-view and useful deep-water harbors. Come to think of it, large swaths of Africa may be eligible for such 'assistance'. And so a new rush for Africa will develop (the more things change, n'est ce pas?) It wasn't for nothing that the Pentagon recently erected a new Africa Command. But not to worry - there will be no oppressive 'k' in the new Africa Corps.

So whereas at least the Union troops and the Greatest Generation could console themselves that they were indeed suffering in a genuinely Good and Great Cause (and had been raised to call upon a Beyond to bolster their own personal coping resources), the current generation and subsequent generations of troops are going to be able to deploy no such competencies. And will not be able to cooperate with any such Help (although one prays and presumes that God, the Beyond, and all of Them will still be trying to give it).

And worse, instead of all that Help, the troops are getting psychoactive drugs by the bushel-basket, plus enough double-AA batteries to power their electronic amusement devices and personal communication devices, and are apparently now going to be informed – by agents of their Nanny government – that they have a soul but not a God, a spirituality that could be whatever they want it to be but won’t under any circumstances connect them to any Help beyond their own poor power to add or detract.

Lovely. The drugs will continue, buttressed now by happy-face Power-Point presentations by ‘providers’ who themselves have probably been raised in the same Flattened world and whose ‘training’ in all this soul and spirit stuff extends no further than the most recent Pentagon how-to directive and handy instructional manual.

The state of the military chaplain corps is a dog that hasn’t been asked to bark too loudly in this dark and stormy night. There are fewer Catholic chaplains, no doubt, and they, like their Church, have been whacked over the past 20 years by the Fundamentalist Ascendancy that brought neocon, patriotistic chaplains into power, the feminist Ascendancy that brought feministically-concerned females into power, and the ever-reliable agitations of the sex-abuse Mania.** And I would imagine that many of the mainline Protestant chaplains come from churches and ecclesial polities that pretty much gave themselves over to this-dimensional Correctness and the secular Nanny world long ago. There may be some Wiccans in the mix as well, who at least can use the term ‘goddess’, but also have a tendency to sacralize rocks, trees, and sylvan glades.

We are entering an awful new era in Our history. Scarcity, rather than the old Abundance, will now drive an ugly species of military action that regresses matters back to the 19th-century Great Power games, requiring not a broad-based citizen-force engaged competently in a Great and Just Cause, but rather an expeditionary gendarmerie (perhaps mercenary rather than Citizen-based) that must go to other lands and take their stuff, probably creating a great deal of blowback and mutual killing in the process.

And thus Our troops are going to be doing more killing. And not the stand-up, in-your-face, soldier-to-soldier killing of prior wars but rather – and the Vietnam vets experienced this – the killing of women and children either accidentally, or out of uncertainty as to whether they too are the ‘enemy’, or simply out of some berserker rage and lust-for-blood that has a tendency to visit all such fraught battlefields.

And yes: this is going to create ‘moral pain’ or even ‘spiritual pain’. For which the psychologists can and will offer nothing except ‘symptom suppression’ or – as the songster had it some decades ago – “Make the Pain Go Away”. When really, alas, it will be a matter somehow involving sinfulness if not outright sin.
The Godless Happy-Face Powerpoint ‘solution’, which now has to deal with all that plus the already-rampant consequences of excessive drugging of the troops, is a pathetic response to the profound issues, the profound realities and Realities, involved. The Consequences will come home to all of Us.

But if We are still actually a democracy, then We can exercise some control over a National Nanny State and National Security State government that seems not to have the wit or willpower to steer Us well through the intensifying storm.

Or We can let all these troops be sent forth on Our word to Grab Stuff for Us, lest We have to put up with sweat and scarcity once again.

But if that’s what We decide, let nobody bray piously that such a selfish and violent course of action be God’s will.


*A brief history of the PTSD diagnosis: Throughout the 1970s psychology and psychiatry tried to come to grips with the extensive panoply of mental, emotional, and behavioral problems (especially of an addictive and anti-social nature) that seemed to plague Vietnam vets.

Eager to help and get involved, the professional community voted in a new diagnosis (PTSD) in 1980, including it in the ever-growing collection of ‘official’ diagnoses collected in the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual” (DSM, now in its 4th-Revised edition, with a 5th theoretically due out next year).

There was a great deal of justification for looking at this phenomenon among the Vietnam vets. Postwar complications had always been evident in American troops; as far back as the Civil War some vets were said to have “soldier’s heart”, through which, somehow, the sufferer was seen to have been so seriously un-balanced or thrown out of whack as a human being by his experience in that war’s combat that he could not adjust to civilian life or conduct a mature and successful adult civilian life of love and work.

There were problems, however, from the outset. First, it was difficult to distinguish whether the ‘trauma of combat experience’ was the originating event, or whether there were latent or obvious pre-existing structural deficiencies in the self that, under the pressure of combat experience, were catalyzed into a florid phase that essentially overwhelmed the self’s coping mechanisms.

Additionally, there was the complication that many of the obvious behavioral markers, especially addictive or anti-social behaviors, hinted strongly at some pre-existing ‘issues’ which military combat service had exacerbated rather than ‘caused’.

Further, addictive behaviors such as alcoholism and drug-abuse had long been recognized as particularly insidious phenomena operating in a human life: not simply a medical-biological affliction such as a ruptured appendix or a broken leg, these addictions seemed to engage all the other sub-systems of the self – emotional, psychological, and even moral or characterological – in a concerted effort by the sufferer to deny the existence of the affliction, or even to ‘protect’ the affliction or to ‘justify’ it, over the course of years and decades, despite powerful evidence that they were indeed ‘afflicted’. Often the entire personality was skewed – you could say deranged – in a concerted and sustained effort to avoid the reality of the sufferer’s own condition as being based somehow within him. A respect for and competence in distinguishing truth and assessing oneself honestly were very often twisted beyond recognition by sufferers who were somehow almost intractably fixed on ‘protecting’ the very phenomenon that was effectively wrecking his life.

Rather quickly, pressure arose to extend the PTSD conceptualization from combat-troops to any troops who had served in Vietnam, and then to any troops who had served anywhere, whether they experienced actual combat operations or not. The very reality of military life – in peacetime as well as wartime – began to be accepted as potentially ‘traumatizing’.

Even more difficult was the blending of the PTSD movement with a curious but deeply influential cultural phenomenon that probably had something to do with rise of ‘sensitivity’ and ‘victimism’ during that decade: a sufferer who reported ‘pain’ of any sort had to be believed, although ‘pain’ is a profoundly liquid and subjective phenomenon, for which nothing short of the Vulcan Mind-Meld or one of Dr. McCoy’s whizzbang diagnostic geegaws can provide definitive objective medical evidence. It became almost impossible for any therapeutic interview to conclude that the ‘pain’ was not based in any evident reality: to suggest to a person complaining of ‘pain’ that no evidence of a pain-causing factor could be found would be to ‘blame the victim’ or ‘re-victimize the victim’ or deny the victim his/her ‘voice’.

The PTSD concept was a brave attempt but 30 years and more down the road it is still very much a work in progress in terms of conceptual coherence, conceptual integrity, accuracy, reliability, and validity. From a ‘medical’ ground wherein any emotional or mental complications could be viewed as primarily sequaelae of a provable and demonstrable actual event, the field changed to the ‘psychological’, where there were not necessarily any observable or confirmatory actualities to work with; much depended on the individual’s own claims about  interior experiences … which is not often the most predictable or solid ground – especially if it is pretty much the sole ground – on which to base a diagnosis and devise an effective therapeutic regimen.

Then, during the 1980s, the PTSD concept – originally conceptualized as a way to get a diagnostic grasp on the effects of combat ‘trauma’, and difficult enough to accomplish in even that limited area of causality – was suddenly ‘borrowed’ by other interests and applied to their own favored concerns and agendas: thus, most significantly, ‘sex’ was considered ‘trauma’, as well as a host of other more or less predictable and conventional experiences (and mishaps) of civilian life. Before long non-military psychologists and an increasing pandemonium of less-well professionally grounded practitioners were discovering ‘trauma’ and thus PTSD everywhere.

And the media lapped it up like catnip, finding that ‘stories’ by ‘sufferers’ made for much more telegenically gripping ‘news’ than some accredited professional drily discussing the complexities of the case.

None of which is to deny the possibility of PTSD, especially as the result of a genuinely overwhelming experience, whether isolated or sustained. But it is by its nature, now, a phenomenon tremendously dependent on the sufferer’s own subjective self-reporting – which is a dangerously soft ground on which to conduct any scientific method that seeks factual accuracy in order to deliver therapeutic efficacy.

And, even more difficult to assert nowadays, there remains the rock-ribbed reality that when exposed to an experience, some individuals will experience it as ‘traumatic’ and suffer or report PTSD-type symptoms, and yet others will not … which suggests that personal competence or interior make-up play some highly significant role in who experiences ‘pain’ and who doesn’t. Which is so highly not-Correct a reality as to be almost unutterable; byzantine levels of circumlocution are now required professionally to point this out without falling afoul of the tripwires of ‘victimist’ offense and outrage at ‘blaming’ the individual or even placing some responsibility on the individual.

My own thought here is that in light of the above complications – and they are profound – there would be great pressure on practitioners with prescribing authority to over-rely on increasingly complex psycho-active drugs simply to reduce the symptoms, thereby avoiding the frakkulent dangers of trying to plumb the causes of the sufferer’s problem (let alone entertain ‘doubt’ as to the sufferer’s ‘report’ of ‘pain’). A society widely dependent upon medications to effectively handle – or simply tolerate – “the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” or the perennial emotional challenges of conducting human life and relationships … is going to start losing significant amounts of vital and essential human resiliency and robustness.

**In regard to the ‘sex’ matter, a very recent (2011) official Navy-Marine stress Study reports that “more than half a sample of women returning from a deployment to Iraq reported deployment-related sexual harassment … analyses revealed that sexual harassment, but not combat exposure, was a unique and significant predictor of post-deployment PTSD symptoms”.  

Without getting into all the matters of women-in-the-military, or the curiously intransigent government refusal to allow same-gender units in order to minimize this type of situation, you can see where this mixed-gender scheme, on top of whatever predispositions females may have that may be different from males and may even possibly create greater vulnerability to war as it plays out in the new Age of Invasive Grab, can only be adding an additional and lethal (and I think utterly unnecessary) level of complication to what is already a frighteningly dangerous situation for the troops and the mission as well as for their families at home and the country generally.


In this acute article from Counterpunch, Rev. William E. Alberts exposes another Army initiative to somehow draft ‘spirituality’ and God by oh-so-selectively cherry-picking elements of ‘religion’ that support the type of soldierly behavior the Army is desperately looking for nowadays.

‘Spiritual fitness’ is part of being “psychologically resilient”, which is really what the Army is looking for.

As one Army honchette burbles authoritatively: “Spiritual people make better soldiers … [because they] place mission first … never accept defeat; never leave a fallen comrade. Those kinds of things require you to have a belief in something bigger than yourself.”

German soldiers of that infamous 12-year period in the mid-20th century did those same things, alas. Genuinely religious and spiritual Christians place God first, not the military mission (what, after all, would God say about the Grab War Era just dawning?). In fact, you could say that military necessity acts here as a sort of active parasite, seeking to take advantage of the notable self-strengths of the genuinely and maturely committed believer and subverting them to the purposes of the military agenda (which, increasingly, no longer even modestly resembles God’s work).

The firmly committed, strongly Shaped human Self that is the fruit of a well-grounded religious and spiritual formation is indeed one of the unsung wonders of human existence (though so lethally deconstructed and devalorized by the very secular-liberal elite culture that is now desperately trying to revivify it, like Stalin suddenly re-opening the Russian Churches as the Germans advanced voraciously into the USSR). But such a Self is also going to judge according to God’s standards, and not the Pentagon’s – do these honchos and honchettes realize what they’re fiddling with here?

My bet is they have no intention of implementing an in-depth program of spiritual development and transformation (after all, the whole idea of the secular State – in both its Nanny and Security versions – is to replace God, religion and spirituality as the Source and Ground of human existence).  This initiative is going to go only as far as the military thinks it’s cost-effective, and not a spiritual millimeter farther.

In what I think is the only off-key note in the article, Alberts – perhaps instinctively kow-towing to the Correct liberal pieties – speaks approvingly of the ‘war hero’ status of the Army honchette in charge of this program: one Brigadier General Rhonda Cornum, a medical type. You might ask why a Chaplain isn’t in charge of the spiritual-development initiative, but clearly that wouldn’t fit in with secular elite Correctness. While he reopened the churches, Stalin still made life hell for independent-minded churchmen and made sure his own factotums were ensconced in the pulpits.

If you follow these things, Cornum might ring a bell. In the Gulf War of 1991 she was a Major, traveling in a helicopter that was shot down. She was injured, taken prisoner, threatened with murder, sexually abused (but of course), and lived to tell the tale. And go out, get a ghostwriter, and write a book about it.

Alberts is apparently awed by her military decorations, which include the Legion of Merit (with two oak leaf clusters), the Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal (with four oak leaf clusters), and Purple Heart, and POW medal. Her wiki photo shows a bosom-full of ribbons reminiscent of a Soviet field-marshal back in the day. (See her photograph in full panoply here .)

The Legion of Merit has been known - and not infrequently t- to be awarded to high-level retiring officers as a sort of farewell geegaw after which the assembly tastefully adjourns to the reception for the cutting of the retirement cake. Depending on the criteria of the Service involved, the Meritorious Service Medal can be won for all sorts of things including the devising of a new computer program. The POW Medal simply requires being captured by the enemy and the Purple Heart requires you to get shot – by the enemy (although nowadays that standard has been somewhat relaxed).

The Distinguished Flying Cross is of a different order altogether: this is a strong military recognition, awarded to pilots for remarkable skill and heroism in handling their combat aircraft in extraordinarily challenging circumstances. It was an ominous sign of a diluting of standards when, in the interests of an incipient politically-driven feminist expansion into the military, a non-flying and even non-crewmember (she was, after all, merely a passenger on the helo) was given the DFC, presumably in the government’s pandering eagerness to provide ‘heroic’ examples for ‘military women’ and etcetera and etcetera and etcetera.

And on the basis of that type of ‘thumb’ on the scales of who gets medals, the combat ‘oak leaf clusters’ can easily be added on like confetti, the whole giving the impression to the untutored eye of mammoth military accomplishment and extraordinary heroism.

But – if you’ll pardon the foray into the lore of military medals and awards – Cornum’s rank and assignment to head up this ‘spirituality’ thing is not really so surprising. Spirituality, like heroism, is clearly fungible to the modern Correct military mind and also to the secularizing and Flattened elites of radical feminism  – and she may well pray with the ball-player from the old  Saturday Night Live that ‘besibol been bery bery good to meee’.

If there are aspects of ‘spirituality’ that can be shoe-horned into service in the service of some other agenda’s objectives, then how different is that, really, from bemedalling and promoting this or that politically favored person for purposes that have no relation to the genuine purposes of rank, medals, and ‘heroism’? ‘Ideals’ are, famously, merely semantic engines of oppression and it is an undying source of delight for transgressive and deconstructive types when they can – with the help of pandering politicians – screw with ideals for their own pet purposes and agendas.

‘God’, like Cornum’s medals, is just a ‘whatevvvverrrrr’ to be subverted and turned to one’s own purposes.

I recall an essay Umberto Eco wrote a few decades ago entitled “Travels in Hyperreality”; he had come to the US to have a look at America’s curious love-affair with fantasy and ‘authentic reproductions’ – and in doing so visited Disneyland, a bunch of fantasy-themed motels and smaller parks, and Disneyworld, with a stop-off at New Orleans (of happy memory) which was an actual and real city that somehow made its living off the fantastic.

If you are on the real Mississippi, he said, and the captain mentions that – say – there are alligators in the river, you still might not see any since ‘reality’ doesn’t always perform on cue the way we’d like it to. On a Disney ‘jungle river’ however, if the captain says that there are alligators in the river you can be damn sure that within a moment a large, authentic mechanical and ‘lifelike’ reproduction of an alligator would suddenly poke its snout out from the water or waddle along the ‘shore’.

This is not such a good thing, Eco thought. Americans start to form the unexamined assumption that manipulated-fantasy offers more ‘real life’ than Real Life itself. Thus they not only lose the ability to distinguish between fantasy and reality, but they actually prefer fantasy to reality.

Give some thought, if you wish, as to how that insight has become operative in the national life and mind. And in its soul.
But in a hell-hot irony, a god that ‘fungible’, a god that invertebrate, is going to be of no use to soldiers lacking the profound Grounding and Shaping of a genuine spirituality and possessing no working familiarity with – if I may – the actual, genuine, living God. A Gumby-like god – convenient for Correct political machinations and calculations because it is so shapelessly adaptable  -  is not going to provide the strength that a relationship with the Real McCoy provides and has provided over the millennia.

A ‘spirituality’ without Spirit is hardly sufficient to face the Vale of Tears. People sought God’s help and guidance because their ‘boat was so small’, facing the monstrous waves of life. What the Army is suggesting here is closer to some form of self-induced self-delusion, which keeps things pretty much limited to the small-boat that you were desperately trying to get help with in the first place. In that sense ‘spirituality’ as the Army is trying to use it here is merely another form of ‘drug’, and one that seeks to eliminate the symptoms (anxiety, helplessness, terror, guilt) without addressing the cause. Phooey. And this is even more true in the awe-full precincts of combat – especially in the Age of Grab – than it is in the already frightening civilian world of today in these parts.
By the time the Army finds this out … well, it won’t be Cornum and her enablers who come home shattered in heart and soul or – perhaps – in a box.

And the Pentagon band will play on.

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