Remember how it felt in 2005? How no matter what you said about the coming train wreck it was met by exuberant, frothing-at-the-mouth descriptions of the rich future in store for us all, even as our troops trampled through Iraq and Afghanistan, showing just who we meant by "us all", in our so-called "Globalized" economy? How people already well-off: better-fed, better-housed, and more mobile than any population in human history, mortgaged their future, cashed in their nest-eggs, willingly put their heads up their own arses for more ... more ... more ... ? So much more it became an embarrassment. It was like watching as strangers watched a close relative push aside someone smaller and weaker than them to ransack their bag of Halloween candy, even though their own bag was already overflowing with crap that was not only nutritionally empty, but was disastrously unhealthy. Yet there I was huddled with my Beloved, and "the smell of disapproval was sharp." Whatever I owned was Stamp Paid. Like the neighbors of Sethe, "watching such a reckless selfishness made me furious, hearing voices from a saner time as they whispered to each other in backyards about fat rats, doom and uncalled-for pride. As neighbors indulged, they thought nothing amiss, yet there were signs that we had overstepped, taken too much, offended the world with such unseemly excess". That was what created the queasy feeling that we were helplessly witnessing what was, as it turned out, exactly what it felt like: a Crime.
And not just petty criminality. This was malfeasance on a scale never witnessed before outside of a totalitarian dystopia. Bush had shown that everything, even the rain, belonged to the men who had the guns, men who were not even embarrassed that their manhood lay in their guns; men who knew without gunshot the fox would laugh at them. And these "men" who made even vixen laugh could, if you let them, stop you from loving the sound of cooing doves or the loveliness of moonlight. They were the haves, and the have mores. But they were wrong, they no longer had mores, they had only an immoral and unquenchable lust for power and wealth, and so the other classes followed their lead in the vain hopes they could join their ranks. There was not anything that could be raised above the furor, nothing safe from the all-consuming fires of the greed-stoked mania. Family, brother, sister, children, home, all were sacrificed for the illusion of wealth. So you had to learn to protect yourself and love small. Pick the tiniest star out of the sky to own, grab those treasures your neighbors had thrown out as though they were garbage, harness the resources thought of as trash, hoping someday they'd be more valuable than all their worthless cash.
Yet now, a full decade after 2005, having been shown the utter folly of mindless accumulation for its own sake, we are back to the same game, churning up the same unattainable desires, and, like cigarettes sold in their new electronic packaging, the poison's still the same; killing us softly's still the endgame. But the Cheshire cat grins are now on our own faces and the impetus to fool us comes not from politicians and Corporate giants, but from our own lack of imagination to steer ourselves toward anything sane. We refuse to stoke any desire for cultivating the enjoyment of what we have, succumbing instead to the grasping instinct for acquiring what we haven't. As a culture we reject the wisdom of Ursus from The Man who Laughs, ignore his warning that "better is the enemy of good", losing, as did the Gwynplaine, what is precious in the pursuit of vanities and power.
Thus can The Washington Post write articles about how War makes us safer and richer and while derivatives valuation surpass a quadrillion dollars, we still fail to discuss, as Elon Musk unveils his home-solar energy pack, and google goggles about pilotless cars they call driverless (what? no motor?), the significance of investing everything we have, or, more accurately, since it's all done on credit, what we don't have, or how we're squandering our still considerable resources, not on a possible future, but on an impossible future that harkens back to an unsustainable past that even the pursuit of which is quite likely to prove our complete undoing.
In Upton Sinclair's Wide is the Gate, he asks, "Suppose that you had a chance to address the workers of Germany, what would you say?" His character responds by saying he would point out to them that the increase in employment of which the Nazis boast is based entirely on the manufacture of armaments and the piling up of debts, an answer Ian Morris, the penner of the trash printed by WAPO, would feel quite comfortable with, as his article was a complete apologia for War as not only a lifestyle, but a civilizer and impetus for progress, something which those who refer to themselves as Progressives should take note.Wrapping himself in Hobbes, he fails to mention, that, as Ursus from The Laughing man chuckles, because of his name and that of his only companion, a large domesticated wolf, whom Ursus (Latin for beast) has named Homo, which is, of course, Latin for “man”, (a pun over the Hobbesian saying "homo homini lupus", meaning, "man is a wolf to [his fellow] man"), to stave this predatory instinct of man toward his fellow man, Morris decides a fascist state is a perfectly acceptable device.
But, returning to Sinclair's opus, "When a nation turns its whole substance toward war materials and profiteering, it will go to War ... it can do nothing else because it is equipped for nothing else." Goebbels liked to brag that so many of the Nazi leaders, including Goring, had been airmen, like HW Bush, because bombing people who are unarmed and helpless on the ground beneath you, is a school for eliminating the scrupulous. Targeted assassinations via drones is even more unscrupulous. Lacking what used to be our conception of human brotherhood, his aim in life, as Morris suggests ours should be, was to compel others to submit to his will. And now, like Hitler did before us, we iterate constantly our declaration of peaceful and honorable intentions, which the world has by now learned to know means more terror is soon to be unleashed on its helpless peoples.
Hitler on German re-arming: "Not intending a warlike (pre-emptive?) attack, but exclusively for defense and thereby for the maintenance of peace" (almost verbatim the words of Presidents Reagan/Bush/Obama).
"The rich: Birds of passage, beautiful and elegant, for whom the whole of the modern world has been made", (as the rest of society sinks into the morass of depression there is absolutely no concern amongst the current aristocracy. The modern world was made by, for, and therefore belongs to, them. Never mind that, most of the R&D for it, having been done under the military umbrella, was paid for by the public they so excoriate. A fact that only makes them sneer all the more at how irredeemably STUPID we are).
"He knew how diplomats would slip in weasel words which would sneak away with the substance of any sentence" (these weasel words are now included in your credit card agreements, mortgage contracts, and the 'agreements' you check for your online or computer software, carefully coded phrases designed to entrap and connive from institutions waxing sentimentally about how they build on a relationship of trust).
"Like most humans, she found it easy to believe what she wanted to, but everything goes back to the fear of the Reds; preferring Fascism every time."
And it is this that Ian Morris is really saying in his article. His paean to War is simply giving the bosses in Washington permission to be the unscrupulous men they have become, devoid of any real belief in the ideals they professed to get them elected. They talk Globalization, but they trust only each other and are plundering all the world's peoples they've gotten in their power. They have no thought but to hold Power and extend it and they now believe they have the whole world at their mercy. They think of themselves as all things to all men, and have become so removed from their fellow citizens that they have adopted all of the Soviet practises, not the least of which is the practise of telling the most bare-faced and obvious lies, and then maintaining them in spite of any facts offered in rebuttal.
This is what War and its glorification does, as, in its inevitable outcome of assigning one party as victor, it renders truth as nothing more than whatever they choose to make it. It is the consequence of the denial of the existence of any moral law, and an expression of their contempt for their opponents. Like their position on torture, or NSA eavesdropping, they'll tell you a lie and then laugh in your face - not because they think you believe it, but because you're foolish enough not to understand that they are Superior to both the Truth and you. Because you're foolish enough to believe that there's actually any such thing as truth in the world! Because you are inferiors, doomed to extinction and it doesn't matter in the least what you believe about anything. That's really the way Ian Morris and the Washington Beltway feels, and lying to you (Boehner: "We're Broke") is just part of the process of your extermination. They, the new Master Class, The Aristocracy that owns America, the Possessors, the Rulers of the World, yield to nothing - least of all to the truth!
Married to this reality is what William J. Astore refers to as the "full-scale emergence of a new and dangerous mutant version of our armed forces", and the "almost unimaginable way the military has been “privatized” in the twenty-first century." And although he means such Corporate privatisations as Dyncorps, KBR, Blackwater and Halliburton, the way the Military has been privatised is much better portrayed by the Morris article, because it demonstrates that it has not only been privatized, it has been internalized. To such an extent that there is no USA without the US Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines, as well as Special and PSY-ops, Seals and Drones, ICBM's and cluster bombs, Depleted Uranium and phosphorus bombs, collateral damage and unintended consequences. As much as the world associates the Nazi Reich with concentration camps and Blitzkrieg, it now associates the USA with Stealth Warfare and Pre-emptive strikes, two more of the dreams, together with drone strikes, of absolute power imagined and voiced by Hitler in Berchtesgaden and reported on decades ago by Upton Sinclair.
But as the Powers that be and its toadies try to stoke the public into another feeding frenzy, the spirit may indeed by willing, but the wallet is weak: it is not only empty, it is overdrawn. As the governments of the world, as supplied by their Central Banks, lose sight of the fact that credit is finite, and debt has a meaning and an onerous cost to actual living beings, the underclass is reminded of the fact constantly. The new generation saw their parents thrown into the street, their cars repossessed. They ride bicycles with a fierce determination. Why? To make drivers pay for their hubris of poisoning the air the bikers need to breathe? I doubt it's anything that concrete. They can't take out loans because they have college debts, no chance of saving, even the chimera of interest as payment for the use of their funds has been stolen from them. Their money is worthless and cheap; the banks', valuable and expensive. This is what we tell them every day. Is it any wonder they cling to only their phones as a sign of modernity? Everything else has been taken away. So the urge to splurge in manic buying, the careless sloughing off of decades' worth of savings to satisfy some adolescent whim, that should be ignored but is instead indulged in, isn't there.
But, as in all societies run by militarized diktats, the victor eventually pushes too hard, not on the loser, but on their own citizens, until thoughts of escape override thoughts of security, and they take their loved ones and flee. Because all they want for their children is exactly what is missing in the world since Y2K: safety. Which has been supplante by fear. And maybe, upon seeing their pursuers they don't, can't, just surrender, they think No. No. Nono. Nonono. Simple. Just fly. Collect every bit of life they have made, all the parts of them that are precious and fine and beautiful, and carry, push, draggg them through the veil, out, away, over there where no one can hurt them. Over there outside this place, where they'll be safe. And the hummingbird wings beat on.