Thursday, May 27, 2004

War Against The Abstract Is Intentionally Perpetual

From The Tavis Smiley Show:

'[Imitates George W. Bush] "Oh, I'm a wartime president. You know
that? I'm like one of those really big guys out there. You know, like Lincoln and, you know, the other one. I'm a wartime president."

Well, somebody should tell him, "Shut up." This isn't a war. A war is against a country. War on terror. Terror is an abstract noun. It's like a war on dandruff. Well, you can fight a real war on dandruff, but it's not war. Why does he call it a war? Because he can get powers for himself the way Roosevelt and Lincoln and other real wartime presidents got for themselves. And that's what he wanted, and that's what he got. And that's what we gave him.'

This is why one can't be a Libertarian and be a Neocon at the same time and remain intellectually honest. Libertarians are right to rail at the open-ended nefarious and tyrranous so-called War on Drugs. Yet most are incredibly quick to disregard their own logic when the "enemy" is an abstraction like foreign Communism or Terrorism. Then they'll give carte blanc to tyranny -- how much power do you want, oh Supreme Leader?

Back to Vidal's point, which is an enduring and powerful one which he lifts from Charles A. Beard, "perpetual war for perpetual peace" is not just a rhetorical tool of the Ruling Class, "unspun" for all to see, but a means by which the country can be subverted for the purposes of a misguided ideological crusade. Purposefully all "business of the normal government" is put on the backburner in favour of militarisation. Concomitantly, all domestic safeguards such as the Bill of Rights are shredded or subverted out of "military or security necessity."

It's easy to paint this theory as paranoid, but it's also dishonest. It's a glaring fact that "crises" are manufactured or exaggerated for the partial purpose of gaining the siting Ruler special powers the Constitution denies otherwise. From the Alien and Sedition acts of John Adams to the Palmer Raids of Wilson, from the Commie Witch Hunt of McCarthy to the PATRIOT Act of GW Bush, proto-fascists manufacture "crises" or exaggerate legitimate conflicts in order to become famed and feared and (especially in this recent instance) enrich themselves and their cronies.

But this cannot be done by declaring war on a mere country, no, because sooner or later that country will be defeated. No perpetuity involved. Therefore war on the abstract must be declared, since the abtract by definition can never be defeated. Victory is not, then, the true aim.