Monday, July 11, 2011

Extremism, Endless War, Apathy and Passive Indifference

There are times the disenchantment feels overwhelming, that the forces of unnecessary endless war, brutality, the killing of innocents in drone strikes and missile attacks et al is so endemic while the majority of people remain apathetic and passively indifferent. That is galling.

One imagines somehow shaking people out of their stupor while shouting, "Don't you see; don't you realize what's going on?" Then coming to ones senses and thinking they're thinking I'm some sort of crazed lunatic, over-reacting as "chicken little" and the sky is falling. And this is not just with those on the right!

There are times the exasperation is felt with those on the left. Such is the case with Libya and Qaddafi. It seemed unconscionable to let this madman massacre the people of Benghazi and from here the U.N. at the 11th hour stepping in and halting his assault on the city and its people was the correct action to take. Yet the anti-war left denounced the U.N. interdiction as just another example of imperial over-reach. From here this action shouldn't be equivocated with America's wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, the over-reach into Pakistan and Yemen. It seemed like a knee jerk reaction.

The same can be said of the ACLU and its support of the Supreme Court's decision upholding "Citizens United" in an extremist interpretation of the 1st Amendment giving corporations the same freedom of speech rights as people. 

These are two examples of leftist extremism even if they refuse to see it. One embracing the power of the state while the other seeing no legitimacy in states taking action. 

The right and today's Republicans are easily dismissed as monolithic, ideological reactionaries who offer absolutely nothing. The fact is the left has its demagogues and extremist ideologues as well.

It has been hard to reconcile the ideological left's sometime lockstep, knee jerk nature.

In looking at the past there have been extremist (seen as such at the time) ideological and successful movements. Think of the suffragettes who campaigned tirelessly for women's right to vote, the civil rights movement against official segregation and denial of equal rights. Before that were the abolitionists against slavery (a cause for the Civil War but which subsequently ended the practice).

Then there have been the unsuccessful ideological movements (with some continuing to this day).

Prohibition was enacted attempting to legislate morality but was repealed some 15 years later with the realization you can't legislate against and abolish sin. It only magnified the desire to commit it and made it even more appealing. It is why the war on drugs is an utter failure. Even poverty which has always existed can never be eliminated and the war on poverty could do little in ending it. The war on terror only results in endless war and is something that has always existed and can never be eradicated. Like crime can never be completely eradicated it can be controlled from completely eroding civil society but there will always be crime.

Declaring war on something doesn't mean it will be eradicated. Some cures can be found for some diseases but disease will never be eliminated.

Can we make war against brutality and eliminate it from the face of the earth? Unfortunately, no.

Even when there has been successful war against an imperialist fascist state such as Nazi Germany in W.W. II, its success didn't eliminate imperialism or fascism forever. Fascist imperialism could be resurrected. Certainly ending Nazi fascism didn't kill fascism.

Communism didn't end with the demise of the Soviet Union. Capitalism doesn't exist without the state rescuing it from its excesses and applying socialistic measures to keep it from imploding.

Man is an imperfect species. He (she) can never be made perfect. Life itself can never be made perfect, with only success and no failure. There can not be success without some failure.

We are on the threshold of biological wonder, completing the genome and working with the fundamental building blocks of life. There may be a time where new limbs can be grown, a cure for Alzheimer's and the like but the idea of endless life and no death? Prolonging life is obviously happening now, but death is as much a part of life as life itself.

In the West we embrace "progress" as if it is a human, instinctive and universal value. This is Western hubris as much as American's hubris believing everyone wants be an American or that globalization is some inevitable result of human progress. 

There are Islamic cultures that do not embrace "progress", where religion and government are the same and not separate as we in the west believe it should be.

The American Indian culture had no concept of ownership of the land. Owning land was an alien concept brought by European colonialism and imperialism. Americans often think of "ownership" as something God given and a natural right.

The American Indian culture was decimated by overwhelming numbers of mostly white Americans of European heritage taking "ownership" of the land. Just imagine if the American Indian culture had superior numbers"but it didn't and the Native Americans were brutalized and forced to adapt. So in truth the freedom we extol was really the result of conquest and plunder, not something that God granted.

Be that as it may, too many Americans today take their freedom for granted, as if they are "entitled" and as Americans "exceptional" in getting their way, again as if God granted. 

This American hubris is triumphalist that embraces unnecessary war and acquiesces over our hegemony all over the world and to which the world opposes.

Hopefully, it is not too late to learn mutual respect of others, their values, their culture and differences.
We can no longer be imperialist overseers as if the oceans are American lakes and we dominate the world.
It remains to be seen whether we have the foresight and ability to do so; either that or suffer the fate of all other empires before us that fell in the past. This time in our own unceremonious demise.      

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