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I tried to post this yesterday in answer to one particular commenter, but since claude thought I was riding the pipeline I wanted to take 'er our for another spin. Hope I have figured out how to repair a link error---

Reification: Re the notion that I think "America" has some kind of "evil intent." I don't suppose "America" has any "evil intent" either. "America" is a word, an idea, a bit of geography, and it is not "America" that does all this stupid stuff, building this huge, top-heavy, doddering, clumsy, hyperbureaucratized, gear-headed military establishment and all the contractors and Congressmen and talking heads that go along with it. Or creating the conditions for "Wall Street" to be able to steal both the present and the future by trading Monopoly Money for real dollars and writing and "negotiating" and taking the money and running from "commercial paper" that will be paid off, if at all, by the people who generate Real Wealth in "America." So any more than Goldman Sachs wiseasses and their Funny Munny "investment mechanisms" and bone-us babies are "America."

"America" is among other things that place in all of us where tribal loyalty and the notion of "home" exists, where we park all the good things we know. Except that for a fraction of us, it's just a cynically convenient handle to be manipulated, to sucker people into anti-survival behavior, into waving the flag and not-thinking about what those good things are any more. We should each one of us be very careful in how we apply the Reification process to that word, and other words, that have such power over the imagination. Those labels are just junk food for the mind.

Sticking with the militarization thing: It's a human, a very human thing, all that shootin' up the town, you see it everywhere on the planet these days. Maybe you saw the New York times piece a while ago, "The REAL Weapon of Mass Destruction," about "the Kalashnikov Culture that's spread everywhere, thanks in no small part to "American" sneaky-Petes pushing weapons on "friends" in areas that a few other "Americans" decide would benefit from "regime change" or "destabilization." After all, we "Americans" work real hard to be the biggest supplier of arms to the rest of the world. Is that a good reason to crow "We're Number One"? Read all the news, not just "our" mainstream media or the self-selecting echo-chamber New Media "content."

I grew up a Cub and Boy Scout. You know,

"On my honor I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country
and to obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong,
mentally awake, and morally straight."

The Scout Law being,

"A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent."

I had a couple of really good Americans for Scoutmasters, actual real war heroes as these things are counted, who drummed that stuff into me. As a good little Presbyterian, before I even learned how to spell "hypocrisy" let alone the richness of meaning of that word, I tried to abide by all that. I pledged allegiance to the flag every day, K through high school, got a lump in my throat at 4th of July parades, after putting up the burial flag from my Army uncle's coffin on a line between two elm trees in the front yard, then standing with my Dad who skippered a 103' wooden sub chaser in the South Pacific in WW II. I believed a lot of the stuff that someone growing up in the '50s and '60s got fed in "Middle America," including the truthiness of "Bomber Joe" McCarthy's soft-shoe routines and even the stuff about fraudulent "bomber gaps" and "missile gaps" and "windows of vulnerability." I "ducked and covered" with the best of 'em. Until I enlisted in 1966, and started getting a taste of what's really behind the RedWhiteAndBlue Curtain.

Call it a rant, which is what crazy people and old geezers whose meds need to be adjusted and little kids do, I guess. I just wish people, "my fellow Americans," would somehow become magically smart and aware and careful enough to see they are being had. (Maybe a poll would "prove" that a majority of us WANT to be had, so maybe that's just tough noogies for people like me.) See that Eisenhower's warning, while not maybe broad enough, was Right, and that Maj. Gen. Smedley Butler, who lived the American Military Hero Dream Life and finally got soul-sick enough and honest and good enough to blow the whistle on the sorry shit that people wrapped in "American Flags TM" Made In China By Slave Labor sell to the rest of us as a reason to live in fear of Everything and give them what, a quarter or more of our national treasure to build more shit that self-justifies a whole new round of "threat perception" and counter-counter-counter-countermeasures and anti-missile missile missile missiles and all the rest. To where every company in "America" the geographic unit has an open-arms invitation from the War Department to contribute to a Grand National Lethality Project (garnering a nice chunk of that national wealth if they come up with something really obscenely deadly and destructive.) And see that the "financial industry" works really hard to pick not only our pockets now, but the pockets of our great-great-grandchildren, converting the future Real Wealth-generation of the country into Funny Munny leverage units that can be spent today so they can Live Really Large at the expense of the future wage slaves and field hands who have to some how make good on those enormous promissory notes to which we are involuntarily made the payor.

That's not "America," that's the racketeers (made any study of "cost overruns" and "procurement fraud" and spent some time reading "Aviation Week" to get a flavor of how it REALLY works and the evil, yes EVIL way the minds of those people work) and "investors" and careerists, and self-aggrandizing flag-rankers who just HAVE to have another couple of nuclear carriers as places to have their paneled wardrooms built and their Filipino enlisted servants and all the rest, their private jets paid for by 'the public" so they can fly around to PGA golf tournaments or, I don't know, Grateful Dead concerts?

I "served my country" by volunteering for and doing my best to do a minuscule part in a Thing (looked like a war, felt and tasted and gave me bad hearing and high blood pressure like a war, but was what? just another "police action?" Not like anything I've seen, even on "America's Wildest Police Videos.") And I came home to a set of fellow citizens that were, for all the wrong reasons, either angry or indifferent or gut-hooked from taking the bullshit bait about "something happening there," the sound of dominoes about to maybe fall. And today I go to Walmart and buy slacks and a shirt "Made In fucking Vietnam." So what the hell was that all about, again? Maybe the same kind of thing that has Big Important People proudly driving BMWs and Mercedes, from the same companies that made the engines and hardware for the Kaiser's and the Fuhrer's tanks and staff cars and aircraft.

McNamara says, lately, "Oh, I am so sorry, America, I was really really wrong" -- very late in life. Did God give him grace and a free pass into heaven? Most of the cynical sonsabitches who wear those huge panels of ribbons on their manly chests do any confession and penance, if at all, in very private chapels. Kissinger takes money from "America's enemies," and is still a "respected talking head" full of deep international wisdomicisms, to go with that famous I-got-to-fuck-Jill-St.-John "Power izz dee uldimadt aprodiziac."

"America," to my little tiny mind, is both a whole lot more and, any more, a whole lot LESS, than most "Americans" think. No more Shining City On A Hill, no more Beacon To Justice, now hag-ridden by a power elite that doesn't even go for riding the rest of us hard and putting us away wet, just riding us into the ground. Go read up on the the various characters and elements in Animal Farm. Are you Boxer? I think I have been. When will the Pigs call the knacker to come round for your worn-out carcass? Or haul your corpse off to the algae vats to make another carton of Soylent Green?

I will not, do not need to, have no reason to apologize for being royally pissed off that "we" are being so royally screwed by the "me-me-me's." And that most of "us" insist on clinging to the mythical notions of Our Inherent Goodness and Godliness despite every kind and quantum of evidence to the contrary. And refuse to rise up and smite the Promise Breakers, the Hope Crushers, the Short-Changers that have at an accelerating pace cheapened and sold for a song the notional "America" that might have been a better place.

Gee, I wonder why the "conservative" leadership abandoned an idea to change the national anthem from Roseanne Barr critch-scratching-and-spitting "My country, 'tis of thee..." to "O beautifl for spacious skies..." Maybe they preferred people constantly having air-bursting bombs before their eyes, than puzzling over lines like

"America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!"

Or even worse,

"America! America!
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness
And every gain divine!"

and

"America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till selfish gain no longer stain
The banner of the free!"

and of course that real stumper,

America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till nobler men keep once again
Thy whiter (brighter, maybe? I'm thinking New Improved Oxydol Laundry Detergent here) jubilee."

Just asking, of course.

Originally posted to jm214 on Sat Mar 13, 2010 at 07:36 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    claude, leema, MKSinSA, obnoxiotheclown

    "Is that all there is?" Peggy Lee.

    by jm214 on Sat Mar 13, 2010 at 07:36:56 AM PST

  •  While living in Mexico I was reminded (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    claude, leema, jm214

    of the arrogance of using the word "America" to refer to the US.  Everyone in the western hemisphere is an Amercian.  I try not to use the word (rather use the US) because it ignores hundred of millions of other Americans.

  •  America is the land, the people and the ideals. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    claude, jm214

    When the ideals are corrupted or misused by persons for money or power, or bought out by corporate greed,we have an epic fail.  

    I think deregulation of industries starting with Reagan/Friedman's small government mantra, and culminating in the repeal of the Glass Steagall act are the main reasons why we are going to hell in the proverbial basket.

    Deregulation allowed a shift of power to trans national corporations & Wall St.  It allowed them to buy our politicians.   It allowed them to propagandize us on increasingly monopolistic media.  Most importantly it allowed the outsourcing of American production.  Production is the MAJOR source of any nation's wealth and we sent our over seas for the profit, not of America, but the trans national corporations!

    We need to reregulate in the name of FAIR trade, bring production back home, and get rid of that free trade meme that was never free.

    And most importantly we need to get the corporations out of our politicians and government: Support Campaign Finance Reform.

    PS: I grew up in the same era as you I think.  I was a girl scout and an idealist.  But my parents railed against McCarthy.  

    "I think it is much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers that might be wrong." Richard Feynman

    by leema on Sat Mar 13, 2010 at 08:59:01 AM PST

  •  Read Walt Whitman n/t (0+ / 0-)

    Don't give a damn a/t each & every politician currently alive in the US. Last time i voted for the top part of the ballot was 1972. Never missed SB election

    by Mutual Assured Destruction on Sat Mar 13, 2010 at 08:59:14 AM PST

  •  America (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    claude, bleedingheartliberal218

    is a word white people use to describe the nation which has invaded more countries than any other since World War II's land grab ended. It refers to the country holding the most people in jails. It refers to the country which sells more weapons and buys more "illegal" drugs than any other nation in the world. It refers to one of the very, very few industrialized nations so fixated on wealth, so uncaring, that it refuses affordable and comprehensive health care to its citizens. It refers to the nation which up until several years ago consumed more resources and polluted more than any other nation in the world. It refers to a nation steeped in scientific ignorance, a theocracy in service to corporations. It refers to a nation which has embraced torture, warrantless wiretapping and repudiated habeas corpus and the Geneva Convention.  

    It is pronounced Amurica. The country, formerly known as America, does not exist any more. It's a collective fantasy/memory of people who grew up in the 40's, 50's and maybe the 60's.

    In a democracy dissent is an act of faith. Like medicine, the test of its value is not in its taste, but in its effects. J. William Fulbright

    by crescentdave on Sat Mar 13, 2010 at 10:12:25 AM PST

  •  Land of the Free & Home of the Brave (0+ / 0-)

    Nah! Not Any More!

    Land of the Greediest & Home of the Insolvent!

    Amerika!

    (One Nation, Under GOD, With Liberty & Justice for the Rich and Privileged!  To Hell with Everyone Else!)

  •  My Country, right and wrong (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    claude

    It's difficult if not impossible to find a solid ethical justification for patriotism or any kind of tribalism. Yet I love my country.  I think its traditions are every bit as fine and noble as those of France, England, the Seychelles Islands or Vietnam.
      I think its one-sided to dwell on the evil side of us. It's there, but so is the shining city on the hill.  

    •  it took me a while, arion (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jm214

      but I ultimately came to the same place.  A child of the 60s, (b. 1945) I am intimate with every bruise and pimple on the ass of America (the USA), and yet I have come love her, from which arises the powerful passion of my defiance towards the greed-heads and other assorted idiots and bastards who who would abuse her yet again for their private gain at our expense.

      Why? Because we are/America is still this wonderous noble brave experiment in self-governance; Democracy, the Child of a half-Millennium of philosophical evolution (the "Enlightenment"). The worth and dignity of the Individual, codified and to be nurtured, but at the same time to be steward of the "common good", that all individuals might prosper.

      A fine thing, our Republic, if we can keep it. I intend to fight for it, by all means necessary, because I still, perhaps naively, believe in its promise.

      don't always believe what you think...

      by claude on Sat Mar 13, 2010 at 02:25:13 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I can't help but see the bad stuff, but hey, (0+ / 0-)

      if you've been a Boy Scout and end up being a nurse after a bunch of other stuff you can't be ready for existential self-snuffing. Solid agreement that there's no solid ethical justification for patriotism, as that word seems usually to be construed. but hey, we are wired to love the parents we get even if they drink themselves stupid every night and beat the shit out of us on the way into and out of the house and the DTs. Same for the enlarged tribe that is a nation. I try to keep an eye out for the sleazy shites who use that love of whatever each of us thinks of when we say "America," mostly (except for people like Kissmayassinger and Breadboardzynski and such) actually born here but unfettered by ethics or morals however you want to define those words. Us that love to build huge false gods and false images and false notions to sucker us into making slowly or quickly fatal mistakes in "life choices."

      I am drawn, past my Presbyterian training, to the Eastern notions of duality, but I don't think life is an illusion. People in pain are not suffering from illusions, though they may have visions dancing through their heads. Our traditions, the stuff those Wise Ole White Guys put together 230-odd years ago do draw us and for good reason, because parts of most of us resonate to them. So my take is maybe don't dwell on the dark side of the Hill, but be darn sure you understand that the people that do are there and waiting...

      And why are zombie movies, and flicks and TV shows based on violent extra-legal justice ("Dark Blue," "Dexter," "Shooter," "Rambo" even, stuff like that) so popular? Sublimation, or what?

      "Is that all there is?" Peggy Lee.

      by jm214 on Sat Mar 13, 2010 at 04:31:27 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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