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
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!"
Or even worse,
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness
And every gain divine!"
God shed his grace on thee
Till selfish gain no longer stain
The banner of the free!"
and of course that real stumper,
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.