Monday, January 30, 2012
ANDREW BACEVICH: THE MISSING PIECE
No, I am not neglecting the closer look at Catharine MacKinnon, that noted Radical-Feminist (R-feminist).
But something rather key to the entire position I have been making in the recent series of Posts has come to my attention and it’s worth one more essay before I get back to her.
Andrew Bacevich, retired US Army colonel and now noted professor at Boston University and acute commentator on national strategic and military matters as they relate to international relations, has a new book out entitled “Washington Rules”.
(The title is a neat triple-entendre: the book a) discusses the ‘rules’ that are currently driving US foreign policy and the US government’s basic Stance toward the rest of the world, while b) the title also captures the current slang that this or that ‘rules, dude!’, while also c) capturing the US presumption that it now rules the world by some sort of non-Divine Right.)
I am not here reviewing the book in the larger sense of the term, but merely pointing out some highly-relevant aspects of his thought in relation to my own analysis of recent (the past 40 Biblical years) US history, foreign and domestic.
You might want to look at this short but effective discussion of his book.
What Bacevich has done, in regard to my own analysis (nor do I here seek to reduce him to a footnote to my own thoughts), is to identify the powerful but almost unseen source of a major gravitational pull that has been deranging this country’s politics for decades, and with increasing intensity.
As you may recall, I have been making the point that the Beltway – starting with the Dems in 1972 but soon joined the Republicans for their own purposes – hit upon the idea of solving the grossly unmanageable fractalizing effect of Identity Politics (with its lethal roots in that Alien political Universe of Marx, Lenin, Gramsci, the Eurocommunists – as adopted slyly here by the R-feminists) by pandering to the radicalized Left’s Big Identity (for votes) while also deriving political contributions by pandering to the Right’s Big Money (for shrewdly legalized PAC contributions).
But I have also been speaking of the Left’s National Nanny State or Leviatha, and the Right’s National Security State or Leviathan: they are both “sisters under the skin” in that neither of them have any use for any “deliberative democratic politics” nor for the Framing Vision nor for The People as We are conceived in the Framing Vision as not only being the governors of the government but also as grounding the legitimacy of the government.
The conceptual missing-piece is right there between ‘Big Money’ and the ‘National Security State’.
Wouldn’t ‘Big Money’ indicate a National Corporate State rather than a National Security State?
And this is where Bacevich wonderfully identifies that missing piece. A piece that exercises a powerful if still unseen gravitational pull that deranges the course and track of the US and, consequently, much of the rest of the world’s affairs.
There are un-heralded but verrrry real and rigid ‘rules’ governing the Beltway’s Stance toward the world.
First, there is a “credo” and that creedal dogmatic belief is that the US exercise “global leadership”.
Second, there is a “trinity” of methods by which that dogma is to be actualized and maintained. That trinity is a) global military presence, b) global power projection, and c) global intervention.
You cannot be part of the Beltway in-crowd – and ‘you just don’t get it’, to borrow the hoary R-feminist cackle and bray – unless you allow yourself to become completely indentured to these assumptions and presumptions.
As part of that Credo it is taken as given that the US “must lead, save, liberate, and ultimately transform the world”. This presumption – ironically self-serving but ultimately self-destroying – sets the nation on a path that is most pithily described as Griff nach der Weltmacht, that dark and bloody vision of Grasp For World Dominance that drove Nazi Germany. But it also embodies the terraforming lunacies of Marxism-Leninism, that sought to impose Year One and the ‘workers’ paradise’ on both Russia and any other nation the USSR could get its hands (or boots) on. A truly frakkulent and whackulent two-fer.
But then it also mirrors with eerie symmetry the R-feminist insistence (also derived from Marx but requiring the police-state regime common to both the Third Reich and the USSR) that in regard to the ‘patriarchal’ oppressions of world and Western and American Culture it is only the devoted cadres who “get it” and who possess the secret but ultimate Knowledge that ‘getting it’ gives you who are fit and authorized to call the shots for everybody else (in the name of ‘liberation’, of course).
Upon the ‘justification’ and ‘emergency’ of that awful poo-pile of presumptions so much of the American polity has been ‘liberated’, ‘reformed’, ‘transgressed’, and ‘creatively destroyed’ until now there is almost nothing that does (or conceptually can, if you buy into the presumptions) unite the country as a Citizenry, a common American Culture under the Framing Vision, or even a workable polity. At this point, you could say without too much fear of exaggeration, the US is now essentially ‘a government without a country’, meaning that the Culture and the common bonds have been ‘liberated’ and terraformed away (precisely what Antonio Gramsci in the very early 1900s and the Eurocommunist thinkers in the 1970s sought to achieve).
In birthing the (and his) ‘American Century’ 70 years ago, Henry Luce baldly exhorted Americans to “accept wholeheartedly our duty to exert upon the world the full impact of our influence for such purposes as we see fit and by such means as we see fit”. I can’t see how this ex cathedra elite exhortation differs very much from any sermon Lenin would have delivered to a Party Congress or the Central Committee.
Nor can it really be seen as differing from R-feminism’s essential self-issued Warrant for going after American Culture (‘dominant’, ‘hierarchical’, ‘oppressive’, and ‘marginalizing’ - to use the terms they filched from Gramsci) and ‘patriarchal’ (their own conceptual tweak, substituting ‘women’ for ‘the masses’). A Warrant for which the vote-desperate Dems deputized themselves with no further questions asked.
The American Century, foreign and domestic, would indeed be “red in tooth and claw” – or, perhaps: red, white and blue in tooth and claw. Such progress. Such liberation.
Ach! Oy! Oy gevalt! And phooey.
From this Credo four corollaries spew out like a pyroclastic flow.
First, “the world must be organized or chaos will surely reign”. No doubt that human nature and consequently human affairs need an order, ordo in the Latin. But it has been the genius of classical Christianity (itself ineluctably but not vitally deranged by the assorted gravitational pulls of an essential human dis-order) that any such ordo must reflect a higher Ordo, instilled by the Divine and constituting a Higher Law to which all human enterprises (governments not excluded) must conform.
This con-forming would guarantee a genuine liberation and freedom, as defined by that Divine Ordo rather than cobbled together out of scraps and for less-than-genuine purposes by this, that, or the other human agency and power as Time goes by.
But in reducing all human existence and activity and authority to merely this Mono-Plane of historical existence, Marx essentially wound up ascribing liberation and authority to whomever managed to get the power to assert and enforce their definition of it.
The R-feminists did this to sweep away moral, traditional, or cultural obstructions to their agenda domestically – but all in the name of liberation, of course, and with both the very bestest of intentions and the hyper-excited guarantee of a paradise to be delivered at some unspecified future date and on a cost-plus basis. Thus the American Leviatha was birthed (you should pardon the expression).
But of course such a gambit also served the Marxist-Leninist purpose of erecting a government power unanswerable to any Higher Law but rather granted plenary power to fulfill its own self-appointed promises by doing ‘whatever it takes’ to force the mulish lumpen-masses into doing what was best for them, as defined by that same government. Thus Leviathan was returned from the outer darkness into which the Framers had cast it.
You can make a good case that in Hebrew thought, what God ‘created’ in Genesis was not so much matter out of nothing (a rather Greek approach) but rather a social and cultural ‘order’ that enabled humans to move beyond the tooth-and-claw hell on earth to which their primal and primitive tendencies, un-Shaped by any vision of - or commitment to - their higher capacities, condemned them.
To the ancient Hebrews, such an improvement was wondrous – and in light of the abiding human tendency to wreak havoc upon themselves and each other it was utterly mysterious in its origin. Thus, they concluded, only God could have intervened to show them the way out of that tooth-and-claw labyrinth of their own primitive tendencies and urges.
Nor, I would say, were they wrong in their conclusion.
The Christian contribution was to Ground that Ordo in the dignity of each human being as created by God, in Whose Image humans could find their genuine nature and purpose – toward which they must for the sake of their own genuine fulfillment as individuals and as societies strive against their abiding lower, more violent and self-serving tendencies and predilections.
The Framers built on all of that, and while they stipulated the separation of Church and State, they could not and did not imagine their American Experiment as working without that subterranean foundation of virtue, character, and conformity to a common Beyond that was the Afterglow of the personal and cultural formation imparted by classical Christian civilization.
To Marx, of course, such concepts as ‘virtue, character, and a con-formity to a Beyond’ were all merely distracting and addictive tools, slyly imposed, to keep the masses content with their oppression – and so, for that matter, was the concept of any Beyond or God at all. Ditto for all of Marx’s latter-day adherents and descendants.
So for the Framers, it was not enough to have just any old political order. Leviathan – in the shape of unbridled monarchies or parliaments (thinking of Oliver Cromwell) or any other form of government that acknowledged no limits to its authority – was the natural enemy of the American Experiment. It was not enough to just have ‘order’ – it had to be an ordo that somehow conformed to the larger Ordo and remained answerable to it.
And that larger Ordo was built upon the dignity of each individual and the capacity and natural right of individuals to come together and govern themselves through the instrumentality of a government of which they were the ultimate governors.
The ‘totally autonomous’ individual was as alien and noxious to them as the ‘totally autonomous’ government. And yet – by the most amazing coincidence – the ‘valorization’ of the ‘totally autonomous individual’ has somehow gone hand in hand with the re-vivification of the ‘totally autonomous government’.
Thus the second corollary: that the United States will do the organizing of that new order. But of course, having simply gotten rid of God (the secular but fundamentalistic Radical Left – which for all purposes is the Left now) or having declared itself the un-opposable Deputy of God (the neocon and Christian-fundamentalistic Right), the US now asserts that for all practical purposes the US will now be managing the world, either in the absence of God or as His sole agent. Take your pick. But do what you’re told.
While there is always plenty of room in human history for wondering just what the hell God can be thinking, the track record of Marxist governments has surely not proven itself a suitable replacement. Nor, really, has the track record of the Beltway. Ask yourself: is your country better off now than it was 50 or 60 years ago? Do you care to imagine the world and country in 50 or 60 years’ time?
At least with God you get omniscience and benevolence (as well as Accompaniment and Help and Consolation, and of course that whole Higher Plane of Existence). With the Kremlin or the Beltway you get … well, you see what you get.
The third corollary is that henceforth the US gets to define the principles of that new order. But once you have started with a grossly insufficient conception of the humans and human existence, then you aren’t going to be coming up with any marvelously complete principles governing those humans and that existence either.
And Marx’s conception of the individual and of government is fatuously and yet almost wickedly insufficient. Squashed into this base Plane of Existence, with no Higher Plane of Existence, and originating as an accidental agglomeration of substances, the human being is nothing more than solitary and alienated and existentially homeless business and cannon fodder in whose name and for whose benefit any government that ‘gets it’ can wield unanswerable power.
Nor did R-feminism effect any constructive ‘liberation’ by asserting the ‘total autonomy’ of each individual (as long as s/he conforms to Correctness and whatever laws that the all-controlling government chooses to impose).
Curiously, while it was in Luce’s time a Rightist mantra that the US must resist any ‘world government’ (such as the UN), it now seems the bipartisan Correctness of both Left and Right in the Beltway that the US is the sole worthy government in the world. And of it.
One thinks, as I so often do these days, of the Bhagwan and of half-a-thousand cult leaders and variously agenda-ed gurus proclaiming themselves and their personal illuminations the sole and ultimate fulfillment of everybody’s needs and desires.
But – in a ruthlessly marvelous Orc-variation of Gramsci’s dampdream of the ‘marginalized’ (emarginati) taking over the Center of a Culture – the Bhagwan and all the other fringe-loonies have now, along with Marx, become the spiritual and conceptual direct ancestors of the current sitting political class and its assorted strutting parasitical off-feeders. Funny how the night moves.
Thus the dearest-held agendas of both Radical Left and Radical Right will constitute the governing agenda of this New World Order. And here is the 1970s Beltway ‘strategy’ of pandering to Big Identity and Big Money come back with a vengeance in what must be the national GOALAG State (Go Out And Liberate And Grab; or – if you prefer something a tad more tasteful – Go Out And Liberate and Govern. Take your pick – you’re totally autonomous in that.)
And the fourth corollary is that all the world’s leaders are dearly seeking for the US to do this and would be simply désolé if the US didn’t step up to the plate and take-over. This is necessary, of course, to keep up appearances: if the world’s leaders didn’t want the US, then it would become clear as a volcanic eruption that the US was roaring out of control all over the world.
It’s true, surely, of the Western European countries whose economies have followed the US economy into the poo-pile. And of such client countries who rely on the US for money – or perhaps don’t have the military means to fight back if they are selected for the honor of being intervened-upon. I doubt the Chinese and the Russians welcome it – but then, being far longer exercised in thinking in Great Power terms, this gross overextension of American might and writ clearly promises the best chance for the US doing itself in and leaving a well-furnitured penthouse suite behind at the top of the global condominium.
You get the idea that – having decades ago given up on any concern for the American commonweal – the Beltway macher are now going to reprise and improve upon the old Soviet nomenklatura’s last game-plan: use what you have to get what you can for yourself and then get out of town with your swag.
But the improvement will be something the old USSR never had the strength – or lunacy – to try: if we’ve gotten as much as we can out of our own country, let’s go out and Grab everybody else’s. Let the Game continue!
And surely there will be far more ‘governance’ and far less ‘liberation’ even as the new imperial procurators fan out from the Ultimate Rome and terra-form cultures and societies in order to conform them to Correctness even as the local resources are ‘harnessed’ or ‘more creatively employed’ or whatever.
Come to think of it, this is the old Soviet gameplan. Or at least its abiding dampdream.
Or a world-class replay of the old Greater Southeast Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. (Which leads the strategically-minded to wonder: if there is another war in the Pacific, will the US now play the part formerly owned by the late Imperial Japanese? History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does speak in rhymes: maybe World War Two will indeed ‘come back’, except that now We will be playing the part of the Imperial Japanese. It puts a whole new spin on watching those military-history documentaries of the good old days when the foundations of Luce’s ‘American Century’ and its Empire were forged.)
All of this will be accomplished (as in ‘Mission Accomplished!’) and We will be greeted as liberators (ditto) through the Trinity of global military presence, global power projection, and global intervention.
The gambit being that the US can spend whatever’s left in the national till to GOALAG enough stuff before the cash runs out. This is a move which at this point seems eerily like Berlin’s hopes for what turned out to be the Battle of the Bulge: use the last reserves to make a Grab that will turn the whole thing around. Or (less widely publicized) to make enough of a Dent so as to improve whatever bargaining might follow. Take your pick: in this you are totally autonomous.
In all of this, the US exempts itself from the rules that it insists everybody else has to abide by. Curiously, this is another eerie and dark symmetry with the claims of the R-feminists and Identity Politics: that the ‘emergency’ is so great, and the Good sought so marvelous, that to observe law (or the Constitution or the Framing Vision) would be mere obstructionism, fetishization of the ‘quaint’ and outmoded, and indeed constitute a cooperation in ongoing oppression, hegemony, dominance, and etcetera and etcetera.
In the face of which the Beltway pols in the 1970s decided to make deals, and – hardly less important – cut themselves in on the deals and make hay while they were at it.
And being on only nodding terms with the Framing Vision, the pols simply accepted whatever ‘justifications’ (and the Marx/Gramsci-inspired cadres of R-feminism had ready-made tomes of them) were pushed their way to keep up appearances. Thus We have had forty years of ‘liberation’ that have made Us less free, and forty years of an ongoing continuation of the great Vision of King (very much a descendant of the Framers and of Lincoln) that has resulted in the creation of Leviatha and the Frankensteinian re-animation of Leviathan.
So much for The People, for ‘deliberative democratic politics’, maturity, gravitas, and any sense of the boundaries imposed either by ‘common sense’, ‘tradition’ or any Higher Law.
Oh, and the government is now God – either replacing the aforementioned or acting as His sole Deputy and agent but in any case enjoying all the authority and plenary power appertaining thereto.
Or, as those DWEMs, the Romans put it: Quos deus vult perdere prius dementat. Those whom the divine wishes to destroy (or punish) he first drives insane. Although in this case, the insanity was voluntarily embraced in the treachery of replacing the Framing Vision with the Marxist gobbledygook from an entirely Alien political Universe forty Biblical years ago.
Nor can this New Order be judged by any standard other than its own. Again eerily echoing the R-feminist assertion – filched from Marx and Gramsci – that you don’t really ‘get it’ until you are inside of it and feel it and are in sympathy and sync with it. There’s no such thing as ‘objective’ knowledge, and anyway such ‘objectivity’ is merely a cloak for keeping the ‘bourgeois status quo of oppression, dominance, hegemony’ and etcetera and etcetera.
Oh, and there’s no objectivity because there’s no ‘reality’ ‘out there’; reality is whatever you think it is or want it to be or dream it can be. Everybody – and every Identity – has his/her/their/its own ‘reality’ which must be ‘recognized’, ‘respected’, and – with the government now in on the game – conformed to.
Thus, as the article notes: “the idea that American leadership can help bring about whatever fantasy world each member may hold in his heart” Or hers. And hasn’t this been the operative fantasy about government-imposed fantasy for the past forty Biblical years? I’m not denying the Content of some of those dreams and hopes; I am, rather, pointing out that the Method for achieving them was imported from that Alien political Universe of Marx/Lenin/Gramsi/Eurocommunism and that it is that very Method itself that has lethally – perhaps fatally – damaged the American polity and Republic.
We will achieve all this with a hefty world-wide application of boots, bombs, and drones. Although Napoleon himself – whose career should remain an example to the Beltway and whose statue should be erected forthwith on the Hill as a memento mori - had that one lucid moment in his megalomaniac madness when he observed ruefully that people don’t appreciate “missionaries with bayonets”.
To which, no doubt, the Beltway response will be a righteous rending and tearing of the ceremonial garments, followed by the further application of even more boots, bombs, and drones. It will be – one way or the other – God’s will because God Is With Us. Or, pithily put, on the German belt buckles back in the day as Gott Mit Uns. Which, however, might also imply the translation of God Help Us – except that there is no God, except that the Beltway is God. Figure your way through that and take your pick. In that you are totally autonomous.
The article continues: “As long as everyone who counts agrees to the necessity of the system, it doesn’t matter if what the system actually does is incoherent”.
So too, this is an eerie reprise in foreign policy of what has been pretty much the script for domestic policy for the past forty Biblical years: so long as you ‘get it’, then you needn’t (and had better not) take notice of the numerous incoherences within and between agendas and demands erected into law and policy. Who cares about ‘reason’, after all? Reason is simply another patriarchal tool of oppression; so instead you want to go with ‘feelings’ and you want to ‘just do it’ because you ‘get it’ and most of the lumps out there (formerly The People) ‘just don’t get it’.
But so as not to stampede the herd on the way to the pens, you can keep up the ‘appearances’ of simple and legitimate ‘change’ and ‘reform’. This was a major method by which so few Nazis (even armed) managed to get so many people to mush along to their deaths (and upon those millions be peace).
This country – certainly its government – has been morphing from an Elf to an Orc for quite some time. Did We not notice?
And precisely in that regard, Bacevich notes that the US “must be set up to project its power globally, wither that means boots on the ground, bombs from the sky, or knives in the dark”. [italics mine]
Our government has now taken to all the same dark-side operating procedures by which the Soviets used to subvert opposition in target countries, and that includes assassinating anybody who might oppose them. Since the national policy is some form of actual or replacement Divine Will, and therefore by definition undeniably and un-opposably Good, then anybody who opposes it – no matter on what grounds (patriotism, say, or principles of human freedom) – is clearly Evil. And when dealing with Evil you – being Good – have a 007 authority to ‘do whatever it takes’.
The Soviets got rid of the Polish intelligentsia – professors, politicians, priests, lawyers, and anybody with an education – in the Katyn forest, among other places: they shot them. (I recall one Soviet-inspired revolution – perhaps Pol Pot’s – where simply being able to read and write was grounds for automatic execution). It was far more efficient to be ‘pre-emptive’ than to wait around until you got set up and then encountered their principled resistance and then had to deploy the secret police and the security forces to find them, bring them in, and go through all the trouble of trying them before shooting them.
It amazes me that for all the eagerly-embraced historical attention given to the Greatest Generation, especially since Reagan’s day, yet We never connected the dots and thought to imagine that the same lethal forces or energies or demons against whom that Generation had to expend itself were still operative, and not very far away at all.
To the point where today, I think many folks look at those old or new documentaries – at best – simply to nurse the fantasy that the US is still the way it was back then, and that whatever happens now things will turn up roses the way they did in the summer of 1945. Not hardly.
Thus, as Bacevich limns, even the Clintons stayed within the bounds of that overall deep-plan for global imperium through global ‘engagement’. But neatly, they brought on the age of ‘governance feminism’, which hugely accelerated the insinuation of R-feminism into the Beltway and the national political brain and bloodstream – and it was then that the alliance was forged between the Content and Method of R-feminist elites and the neocon and dominance-minded Rightist elites. Hence, nowadays, the GOALAG Project is supported in a ‘bipartisan’ fashion by ‘liberals’ and ‘conservatives’.
That is to say, by R-feminists for whom American Culture and the Framing Vision and the Constitution and ‘deliberative democratic politics’ are simply tools of dominance, oppression and hegemony that must be swept away; and by ‘patriots’ and ‘realists’ for whom the boundaries on government power imposed by the American Culture of the Framing Vision and the Constitution and ‘deliberative democratic politics’ are merely pacts with weakness that must be swept away.
But, of course, all in the name of liberation and of The People. Yah.
Bacevich goes back to Woodrow Wilson, the elite professor-cum-preacher, who insisted that the US should “show mankind the way to liberty” but whose principles “are the principles of mankind and must prevail”.
So in case you aren’t willing to be ‘shown’, you will most surely ‘get it’ when the boots and bombs arrive.
And if these principles are are the principles of Correctness as defined nowadays, then a lot of countries and societies (even if not their governments) are not going to take kindly to American “missionaries with bayonets” and drones (and black-ops assassinations).
If these principles are ostensibly the principles of traditional American democracy, then they will merely be a lethal kabuki, because even though the world is much more interconnected than it was in 1787, still there is a huge difference between being a ‘model’ of democracy and being an ‘agent’ of it – as Washington and Adams saw. And there’s even more of a hellish difference between preaching democracy and practicing the very stuff of Soviet and totalitarian and police-state regimes.
Bacevich uses the term ‘semiwar’ and ‘semiwarriors’ to define the type of perpetual military activity. It began immediately after WW2 – this constant militarizing and all the derangement that supporting it required in the culture and the society and the economy and the polity. Constant undeclared warring.
Which, again, bears an eerie resemblance to the dynamics preached by Gramsci and the Eurocommunist R-feminists: a “necessary antagonism” or many of them, which could be the only fuel of politics (in the vision of noted R-feminist luminary Chantal Mouffe). It dovetailed in a mutually-rewarding synergy with the Cold-Warrior semiwarriors in the Beltway and continues even now, constantly engorging and intensifying.
JFK, I think though, is not so easily classed as a classic Cold-Warrior. He was hoping for some sort of Jamesian ‘moral equivalent of war’ in his Inaugural, and although he had no intention of yielding to the Soviets, yet he had a junior-commander’s abiding and tire-kicking attitude toward the Big Brass: in the Cuban Missile Crisis the Joint Chiefs – urging military action quick and fast and damn the consequences –were not allowed to play a serious role in the deliberations of the Ex-Com group he convened to plan the US response to that crisis.
He also wanted to “break the CIA up into a thousand pieces and scatter them” after the debacle of the Bay of Pigs. And he wrote Levi Eshkol in July of 1963 when that gentleman replaced Ben-Gurion as Israeli head of government to tell the man in no uncertain terms that the US would not countenance the Israeli’s having the Bomb. But then suddenly he got shot.
But like Ike, JFK too went along with assassination as being a more cost-efficient way of effecting change than sending in the boots and bombers (and starting, possibly, World War 3).
Bacevich raises the very interesting point that long before the Political Correctness of the “tenured radicals” of academia, there was – starting as early as 1976, the year after that final frenzied helo lift-off from the Embassy building in Saigon – a push spearheaded by Anthony Lake, to make sure that the experience of Vietnam didn’t push the US back into ‘isolation’ and isolationism.
If you wanted creds in the Beltway, you had to get on-board with that and toe the line with all the eager career-concerned caution of a Delegate applauding Stalin’s arrival on stage at a Party Congress.
Thus there was a ‘Political Correctness’ from the Right even before there was one from the radical Left.
An interesting symmetry indeed. But I would add here that given their base in the Alien political Universe of Marx/Gramsci, the radical Left – shrewdly eliminating its moderate elements to become the liberal-Left – is not and never has been reducible merely to those looney-tunes in the far end of the faculty dining room behind the plastic potted plants, sputtering their arcane politicobabble like new Bolsheviks.
The truly Alien roots and nature of the radical Left – which became the Left through the R-feminists – posed and continues to pose far more of a danger than might be imagined when contemplating in bemusement its symbolic whacked-out academic cadres down there behind the fake potted ferns.
And that Correctness on the Left was pretty much introduced as early as 1972 when the demographically-desperate Dems decided – come hell or high water – to kick the Framing Vision to the curb (although tastefully and secretly) and invite the Marxian vampire in through the front door.
So my take would be that Political Correctness was burning with increasing intensity on the Left by 1972 and on the Right by 1975, if not sooner.
The difference being that back then the Left was seeking to assault and change the entire American Culture verrrry publicly, whereas on the Right the gambit was to simply ensure that elite, Beltway-insider types got their marching orders and the public really didn’t enter into it at all.
Special attention is devoted, and nicely, to Madeleine Albright. Although as Secretary of State she cut a far more ‘normal’ figure than the truly weird Attorney General, Janet Reno, Albright by that very ‘normality’ symbolized and embodied the intensifying bond between the Left and Right as they coalesced into the foundations of a GOALAG regime that came to full blossom in the next decade.
If she was spun as yet another ‘victory’ for ‘women’, she demonstrated just how little the nation might get out of such a symbolic victory and how much actual cost such a victory might impose.
She was not going to support any Munich-type ‘appeasement’ of whatever enemy was on the list that day.
She was willing “to use force … because we are America … we are the indispensable nation”. How quickly being indispensable morphs into megalomania. But it was a shrewd cover for what I think was, even back in the Clintons’ day, a growing Beltway awareness that the productive infrastructure of the economy was in deep trouble (it had, after all, been incoherently wrecked in great part to enable the R-feminists to have a more woman-friendly Knowledge and Service economy and get rid of the macho, productive industrial culture of ‘mehhnnnn’) and that consequently, the US was going to need fresh infusions of assets in order to keep funding its dominance and hegemony (another marvelous irony lost on the fundamentalist cadres of R-feminism and neocon jingoism).
She was perfectly willing to use the military to get those assets – telling the vastly overrated Colin Powell that she couldn’t see the point of this vast military if it couldn’t be “used”. One recalls Hitler mentioning to Schuschnigg or somebody similar: you don’t think I have built this vast army for parades, do you?
And in pursuit of all that the potential deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children would be an “acceptable loss” and would be “worth it”. So much for sensitivity and ‘the children’ as being of concern to the cadres of the Left. In an Orc-like echo of Identity Politics, ‘children’ are only important when they’re yours; everybody else’s can fill, and should be prepared to embrace, the role of egg-broken-to-make-the-omlette. And of course, the truly disturbing Reno had authorized the fatal Waco assault ‘to save the children’, who were, she feared said she feared, being molested (as were the untold – and now apparently nonexistent – myriads of victims of Libya’s Viagra-crazed rape-battalions … but that last was, oops, under the Madam Secretary Hillary).
Rumsfeld wanted to institute a Revolution In Military Affairs (shades of the many ‘revolutions’ of the Left in the past forty Biblical years): wars could be won on the cheap, quickly and totally successfully and with no ill-consequences. I think of Ludendorff, histrionic and hysterical, telling his staff that he didn’t want to hear about ‘operational plans’ and ‘strategy’: he would have vast forces thrown into the meat grinder with the assertion that ‘we are going to go over there and take that position, and after that we shall see’.
Petraeus comes under well-deserved fire for coming up with the way to keep up appearances after the failure on the ground in Af-Pak: counter-insurgency operations (COIN). This would replace the clearly frakked “Shock and Awe” strategy left over from the first Gulf War and keep up the appearance that the Big Brass and their civilian Bosses and Bossettes knew what they were doing.
But it gets worse.
Petraeus solved a truly awful problem: how to keep funding for a military that clearly wasn’t able to win the wars – such as they were – it was sent to fight? The solution, through COIN and also through the frenzied embrace of drones (recalling the 1920s assurance by Douhet that ‘the bomber will always get through’ and that wars could be ‘won from the air’), “demolished the idea of the army as something that fought and won wars”.
Roll that one around in your mind for a while. We are funding a military that is not going to be there for winning ‘wars’, but that will be able to use the latest tech to win wars from the air. Although neither part of that pair of concepts has an impressive track record at all.
And in a neat two-fer, such a shift also solves a problem for the Left, where R-feminists lobbying for more women in the military, in combat, in everything a ‘male’ can do, had run up against the problem that in ground combat, especially sustained field operations, mixed-gender units are an even more resource draining proposition than all-female units.
If war is now going to be nothing more than manipulating a joystick – perhaps from the air-conditioned comfort of a strip-mall in Nevada or an air-conditioned combat ops computer-center on a warship - then there’s a huge (and verrrrry real) difficulty simply and suddenly ‘defined away’. As if the problem were merely an undigested bit of beef rather than the urgently monitory revenant of Jacob Marley.
Appearances rather than reality, shifting appearances rather than complex reality, ever-shifting definitions to define reality away, best-case scenarios to dispense with hard questions of consequences, and all with the very bestest of intentions. And above all, a slavish primary allegiance to the regime (conceptual even more than political) that rewards you with creds, status, and checks drawn on the public till … this is a) great progress and liberation and the sign of a mature, healthy, responsible and sober polity or b) an intensifying spin into a hubristic lunacy enabled by a passive Citizenry that will lead to a final charge into the valley that will wreck everything and everyone.
Take your pick. In this you are totally autonomous.
A couple of other thoughts.
Given that – in postmodern and R-feminist thought – there is no ‘real reality out there’, then of course one perennial human idealistic project is instantly rendered meaningless: “the judicious study of discernible reality” (which study has led at this point to several millennia’ worth of organized thoughts about fundamental stuff). In the pomo/R-feminst worldview all of that is useless because it is all tainted with either a) the unconscious adherence by those who ‘just don’t get it’ to a rotten and wrong matrix of hegemonic, dominant and oppressive presumptions or b) a willfull and deliberately and with malice aforethought 'patriarchal' and 'hegemonic' oppressiveness. (Although this profound mistrust of and revulsion to all prior thought and indeed to any serious thought – unless it is by Gramsci’s “organic intellectuals”, i.e. those intellectuals who ‘get it’ – does not include the dense and intricate tomes of pomo thinkers who assert that thinking does no good. Go figure.)
Thus in matters of human knowledge the pomo/R-feminist cadres officially declared Year One, on or about September 1, 1972.
But if it was Year One for ‘thinking about reality’ in literature (French literary theory is where this bunch of thoughts were first organized and declared in the 1950s and 1960s), and thus Year One for the Left and the Identities, it also became Year One for the Right and the government.
If there was no objective reality and thus no need to be ‘judiciously thinking’ about it for the ‘liberal’ Left, then wouldn’t that also be true for the government and the Right?
And though the government doesn’t write up a lot of ‘literature’ in the strict sense of the term, yet it does generate a lot of stuff in the form of written laws and policies and – as always – there was that pesky Constitution that sought to impose boundaries on the government’s range of action and – not to put too fine a point on it – on the (moral) quality of its actions.
And of course in regard to that ‘moral’: if there is no objective reality out there, then there is no ‘truth’ either. So why any need to be truthful?
All you really need at this point is to seem to respect truth just so as not to stampede the herd. Stephen Colbert has rightly belled this feral cat of a concept as “truthiness”.
And if the Constitution is not an owner’s or maintenance manual, but rather is simply a piece of ‘literature’ like a novel – a ‘text’ as the pomo’s say – then today’s reader’s ‘feelings’ are even more important in studying it (or not) as were the intentions and visions that informed the Framers who authored it.
Which the Right used for its purposes as vigorously as the Left did for its purposes. Because if any modern reader can make of a 'text' whatever s/he feels like making out of it, then why can't the President? With the Constitution.
The second point to make (and I’ve made it before in prior essays) is best exemplified in the 1990 historical novel “New York Detective” by William Marshall.
The work is set in 1880s New York City, where toil the odd team of City Detective Virgil Tillman and Patrolman Muldoon. Tillman is a shrimpy but idealistic detective, orphaned in childhood and a little distant from the hurly-burly of life, but dogged and intrepid when he’s on the case. Muldoon is a big bluff Irish veteran of the Civil War who was detailed from the police Strong-Arm Squad (comprised of the biggest and toughest bruisers on the force, for those times when you need the extra edge at a scene).
Tillman has a tough case, and he is getting pressure from above to make an arrest and close it. He can’t work out just yet who is the perp. Muldoon advises him in the accents of some homespun Nestor to this effect: You can’t always nab the real perp in a case, but that doesn’t mean you can’t come up with the right man to be pinched; there’s a million bad actors out there who are guilty of something, after all; so if you have to, you pinch a guy you know is guilty of something and you’ve solved all your problems; and someday down the road somewhere, some other decent copper will maybe pinch your actual perp for something else and it will all work out; in the Big Picture, God keeps the books and God will understand; and that, Virgil, is how it all works.
You can only imagine that in the hands of a John Ford, this homely bit of wisdom, delivered with a twinkly eye, a rich brogue, and lubricated by several snorts from a pocket flask, would be enshrined as practical wisdom in the hands of an actor like Victor McLaglen.
But, of course, Muldoon’s philosophy is hell and gone from the Framing Vision, where the Founders most precisely did not want the government conveniently leaving judgment of its action to a God who is conveniently not directly available, thus leaving the government ‘free’ to do whatever it takes to do whatever it thought best.
(And you can see here why the homely peasant wisdom of immigrants not schooled in the American Anglo-Saxon experience so frightened decent thinkers in that 1880s-1920s era of Immigration. The Southern Italian peasant approach to the whole thing was even more lethal: you can’t trust the brass-buttons and if a wrong has been done to you, then take care of it yourself or see your neighborhood godfather.)
While the Framers presumed a certain ‘Christian decency’ in all Citizens, they were still aware of the human tendency toward violent self-interest. And they most surely realized how that tendency can be amplified when a government is given great power (including a monopoly on the use of violence).
In that sense, I would say that the recent Right is actually regressive, taking the country back to a‘sturdy peasant wisdom’ that actually moves Us all back beyond the Framing Era into much more dark and bloody ground.
Of course, I will also then say that the Left – with its witless and/or treacherous embrace of postmodernism and R-feminism – is not only regressive but literally assaultive (or ‘deconstructive’) toward the entire Framing Project. And, really, if We abandon the Framing Vision and its Project, what is left to Us as a Republic or as America? We become a herd under the management of trail bosses who, whatever their nostalgic reflections at sunset or around their campfire, do not ultimately have our best interests at heart.