March 24, 2005

 

"Life is so complicated!"

These are very confusing times for Republicans. Sure, they have finally found and “re-elected” a President who is just stupid enough and pig-headed enough to be willing to try to implement the pure unadulterated agenda of the Right. At the same time, though, they are learning that the world is a lot more complicated than they ever imagined. As I mentioned in response to a recent comment, the US Right has a tribal mentality that attributes the guilt or innocence of individuals to the groups they are a member of, and vice versa. In the case of the 9/11 attacks, for instance, the US Right managed to implicate the entire Moslem world in the crimes of a couple of dozen individuals. It is becoming more and more difficult for the Right to apply its simplistic mentality to the real world. It used to be there were just two tribes in the world: the American Tribe (the good folks) and the Rest-of-the-World Tribe (the people who were trying, with American “assistance,” to remake themselves in the image of the “good folks”). The American Tribe was further subdivided into God-Fearing Republicans and Those-Awful Democrats, though it was not clear how the American Tribe (the good folks) had come to include the tribe of Those-Awful Democrats. What had always been an unquestionable article of faith, though, was that the Rest of the World Tribe (or ROWT, for short) was just (to use the President's technical terminology) “a group of folks” of varying shades of evil. The ROWT had a gray-hued Christian component that was on the path to salvation, as well as a completely dark and heathen Moslem component desperately awaiting the gift of salvation that would surely be delivered some day by American carpetbaggers. By the way, the US Right was not, and is not, aware of the existence of religions other than those two. (The latter point should not be as surprising at it may seem. Recently I found out, to my astonishment, that many "educated" Americans think Canada is a French-speaking country. If you don't believe this, just ask a group of Americans what language most Canadians speak on a daily basis. When someone does not know what language their neighbours speak, one can hardly expect them to know about the intricacies and diversity of Asian, African and aboriginal religions. Immediately after 9/11, right-wing hooligans attacked many Sikh temples and individuals because, you know, anyone wearing a turban is a Moslem, right?) The “Iraq thing” has complicated the picture for the Right. If all Moslems are one tribal block of evil people, they ask, then who are these Shias and Sunnis? Are they both evil? If they are both evil, why is there antagonism between them? Very confusing ... No matter how confusing it may make things for the American Right, world affairs cannot be approached and understood in tribal terms. The character and aspirations of each individual are unique to that individual, even though he/she may be a member of this or that group, or actually of many different groups at the same time. While most Iraqi Shias may be in agreement with one another about some issues, and most Iraqi Sunnis may be in agreement with one another about some of those same issues and other issues, nearly every Iraqi, as an individual, wants one thing above all, which is for the Americans to leave. The rest is the business of Iraqis, and of Iraqis alone. No-one else, least of all American Republicans, can understand or have any worthwhile opinions on the concerns of individual Iraqis.

March 19, 2005

 

March 19, 2003 – a date which will live in infamy

On December 7, 1941, Japan made what would today be called a preemptive attack against US naval facilities at Pearl Harbor. The attack, judged by today’s post-ethical American standards, was quite justified. After all, the US forces posed a clear and present threat to Japanese interests. The next day, Franklin Roosevelt addressed the US Congress, calling the date of the attack “a date which will live in infamy.” If the Japanese attack against Pearl Harbor was “infamous,” what would be an appropriate adjective to describe the US attack on Iraq that commenced on March 19, 2003? Iraq posed no threat whatsoever to any US interests, except for Bush's interest in taking control of its petroleum resources. Iraq had committed no act of aggression of any kind against the United States. Far from it. Iraq has been the clear victim all along. It had already suffered hundreds of thousands of casualties through the war imposed on it by Bush, Sr. It had suffered a dozen years of sanctions and continual US and British bombardment of its infrastructure, leading to deaths of half a million Iraqi children and many tens of thousands of others. Today, the only certainty regarding Iraq's future may be the fact that the United States will refuse to ever let it be free of the dominance of American profiteers. Iraq is now a ruined wasteland, with an obliterated past and no future.


March 17, 2005

 

Click on image for info on this weekend's worldwide protests



March 12, 2005

 

Motive instead of meaning: an often subtle mark of fascist propaganda

One difference between a book by any respectable political theorist and Hitler's Mein Kampf is that the scholar tries to form arguments that make sense, while Hitler tries to make the reader imagine he is reading arguments that make sense. One does not learn any rational arguments from reading Hitler’s book, because it is not intended to say anything that corresponds to reality or makes any rational sense. It is only intended to manipulate the reader’s emotions, so as to overpower the reader's reasoning faculty. What one does learn from reading such literature is the fascist method of distorting truth to fit a particular purpose. This in itself can be quite enlightening, because a conscious reading of such work can help the reader grow more aware of a fascist author's motives. It can also help the reader recognize similar tactics when they are employed outside a strictly "fascistic" context.

The influence of fascism has been so pervasive that it has become an unconscious part of our civilization. Official Nazism and fascism in Germany and Italy were destroyed. Their methodology of ruling over the minds of the population, though, were lessons that the Allied powers and their servile news media and pundits made their own. To find writing that is inspired by fascism, all you have to do is turn to nearly any mainstream news outlet.

An essential cornerstone of fascist propaganda is the fact that almost any word or concept has both a rational and an emotive significance. Thus “freedom,” for instance, is both the objective state of empowerment that allows a person or group to overcome bounds and obstacles, as well as the emotional state that accompanies the consciousness of not being bound. Fascist propaganda uses these two distinct concepts interchangeably, in order to generate confusion in the audience’s mind between one and the other. The end result, and the final purpose, is that the feeling supplants the concept, and the need for reality is disposed of.

A number of specific tactics are employed to manipulate the emotions and hence neutralize the intellect.

One fascist propaganda tactic is to use different words to describe the same phenomenon, depending on whose interests are being served. Another variant of this tactic is to call things by a name that suits the powers that be, rather than by a name that is an objective description of the objective reality. Thus the US invading army in Iraq are “liberators,” whereas the Syrian peacekeeping forces in Lebanon are “occupiers.”

Another fascist tactic is to make opponents appear to be saying something other than what the opponents are actually saying. This is accomplished through the ascription of negative emotive concepts to the words of the opponents. Hence any criticism of the policies of the State of Israel amounts to callous anti-semitism, and even to denial of the Holocaust.

Another tactic is to pretend to be humanitarian in order to appeal to the audience on an emotional level. Hence all brutality ever perpetrated by the US Government has always been, in fact, for the good of the victims. And it turns out that Bush, after all, was just using weapons of mass destruction as a pretext to liberate the Iraqi people.

Another tactic related to the one above is to pretend to be speaking from some moral high ground. The only purpose that the Bush clan, father and son, have ever had in Iraq has been to get their hands on its oil. Together, they are responsible for more than a million deaths in Iraq (including the half a million children who died as a result of sanctions). The actual nature of the Bush dynasty's project has nearly been buried along with the Iraqi dead. Now Bush Jr travels the world as its Saviour, a veritable Second Coming.

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