April 20, 2010

An Evil Monstrosity: Thoughts on the Death State

In connection with certain minor themes in some essays I'm planning, I forced myself to listen to a few minutes of Stephanie Miller's radio show this morning. At one time, I had listened to Miller fairly regularly; I found her a welcome change, at least as compared to the proudly, bombastically ignorant conservatives who abound on Los Angeles airwaves. She was bright and quick, and occasionally actually clever. I disagreed with her on a wide range of issues, but she was still an improvement of sorts, at least on certain subjects. (Please note that I carefully couch this in comparative terms; I always viewed Miller as light years from my preferred listening in a world even slightly closer to the one I imagine. And there was one earlier example of deeply awful commentary from Miller, on the subject of the tasering of Andrew Meyer while John Kerry calmly stood by and did absolutely nothing. I discussed that at length in "Obey or Die"; Miller's observations are the fourth example of commentary that I analyze in the final section of that article.)

But until this morning, I hadn't listened to Miller since shortly after Sarah Palin was selected as the Republican Vice Presidential nominee in the 2008 election. One other aspect of Miller had been of interest to me: her perfect recitation of the major liberal-progressive talking points of any given moment. The hatred and contempt she hurled at Palin was nauseating in the extreme. This is hardly to say that I agreed with Palin in substantive terms; I did not, as I repeatedly made clear, and I would never have voted for her or McCain. (I will not vote for war criminals, which both McCain and Obama were and are, along with most other members of the national political class, nor will I vote for those who refuse to acknowledge the war crimes endlessly perpetrated by the U.S. government, but instead justify, support and further those crimes in countless ways.)

But the loathing of Palin (and similarly of Hillary Clinton, another vile politician for whom I would never consider voting) proceeded in most significant part not from their policies -- and I emphasize that their policies are more than sufficient reason to condemn both of them to the hottest regions of hell -- but from the fact that they are women. I wrote about this at length in, "Kill That Woman!" Miller's ongoing celebration of Palin-loathing coincided at every major point with the hatred which spewed from many liberal-progressive writers and bloggers. It was unforgivably contemptible and stomach-churning. I found it impossible to hear to one more word from Miller, so I hadn't listened to her for over a year and a half.

But I steeled myself this morning and, after having to do some quick searching on the internet for the L.A. station that carried her (I'd forgotten in the time that had elapsed), I tuned in to Miller's program. I lasted about ten minutes.

Miller was interviewing a Democratic Congressman, whose name I've mercifully blocked out. As is so sickeningly typical of her, Miller was dutifully parroting what is perhaps the single most common theme of the moment for all good liberals and progressives -- that is to say, for all dedicated propagandistic hacks, whose lack of consistency, principles, conscience and simple decency is close to perfect in its approach to nothingness. You should include in this category all "leading" liberal-progressive voices (Atrios, Digby and so on ad nauseam); in fact, I insist you do so. You certainly must do so if you seek to describe such writers and bloggers in minimally accurate terms.

For I learned from Miller and the despicable Congressman that the greatest threat to peace and liberty -- for U.S. citizens as well as for millions upon millions of innocent human beings around the world -- is not a government that commits an endless series of war crimes abroad as it increasingly brutalizes and oppresses its own citizens at home. Oh, my, no: the single greatest threat to peace and liberty -- a threat which is inconceivably monstrous in its scope and lethality, one which necessarily leads to destruction on an unimaginable scale -- is a comparatively inconsequential number of people who employ (allegedly) ill-advised and, much more significantly, disfavored rhetoric.

Yes, you innocent lambs, who woefully lack all understanding of the true significance of events: what is going to destroy you is some individuals who speak in ways that great thinkers like Stephanie Miller find displeasing, or, which is incomprehensibly worse, upsetting. Without the wisdom of people like Miller, we'd all be dead by the weekend at the latest.

For the benefit of Ms. Miller and those of like mind (here, I use "mind" only to designate human beings who still breathe), I repeat a few words I first wrote at the beginning of 2009, and which I reprised in an essay some months later:
For more than a hundred years, the foreign policy of the United States government has been directed to the establishment and maintenance of global dominance. To this end, violence, overthrow, conquest and murder have been utilized as required. (See "Dominion Over the World" for the sources and development of this policy [the earlier essays in that series are listed at the conclusion of that article].) More and more, oppression and brutalization have become the bywords of domestic policy as well. Today, the United States as a political entity is a corporatist-authoritarian-militarist monstrosity: its major products are suffering, torture, barbarism and death on a huge scale.
I repeat the fundamental point to make certain there is no misunderstanding as to where I stand on this question: as a political entity, the United States is an endlessly destructive monstrosity.

The overwhelming majority of people -- including, I regret to say, even many of those who are severely critical of the United States government -- fail to understand this point in anything close to the thorough and consistent manner required. This failure is the result of an earlier one: an inability to grasp fully what it means to revere the sacred value of a single human life. I have a great deal to say about these two ideas, and these related failures on the part of most people, and I shall endeavor to explore this subject in detail very soon.

I abhor violence, and I condemn it without reservation, excepting only those instances where violence is directly, demonstrably required to resist preceding acts of violence undertaken by others against oneself. My contempt for those who minimize or seek to justify the monstrousness of the U.S. government is perhaps equalled only by my contempt for those who romanticize violence in the name of "resistance." At one time (when I still followed such developments with what I now view as an unhealthy curiosity), I saw fairly regular comments on various blogs to the effect that the time had come to "rise up" against the Evil State. Invariably, those who urged this course of action offered various excuses for their own planned absence from the field of action: they were too old, too infirm, or otherwise occupied. But those who are young and strong -- and who are, such commenters insisted, genuinely moral and committed -- should and even must arm themselves to the teeth and take up the battle forthwith.

Urgings of this kind are detestable and close to unforgivable morally. First, and this for me is the critical and even determinative issue, all people, but perhaps young people most of all, are fully entitled to live their lives and seek their own happiness as best they can. It is monstrous to suggest that they have some kind of obligation to invite their own deaths in service to some cowardly armchair revolutionary's fantasy of a glorious uprising. Beyond this is the very consequential fact that, with no exception in history that I can think of, violent revolutions on any scale lead to a state of affairs which is no better and frequently worse than that which the rebels seek to replace. If you think the American Revolution is the notable exception, I urge you to reconsider the question. In your effort to do so, I suggest you read this essay, and focus in particular on the discussion of Albert Jay Nock's argument that, with the adoption of the Constitution, the revolution was concluded -- and lost. I hope to have more on this topic as well in future.

Here's a repellently ignorant and nauseating example of a progressive's dreams of holy violence. The blood-drenched, subhuman mutterings of casual monsters of this kind will be the death of many of us. Tragically, as history has proven far too many times, that observation is all too likely to be literally true.

Let's return to my characterization of the United States. In addition to my description of the U.S. as a violence-ridden monstrosity spitting death and destruction in every direction, and to make unmistakably clear to people like Miller that I should unquestionably be shipped off to the nearest reeducation camp without delay, I will tell you my new moniker for the glorious United States government: in its essence, and in all its most significant manifestations, it is nothing more or less than a Death State.

As I noted, Miller is the perfect transmitter of conventional liberal-progressive wisdom. I'm sure Miller herself is thrilled that the disgusting Bill Clinton shares her concerns. I've seen a few reactions to Clinton's New York Times op-ed, but you probably won't find a better or more comprehensive single piece about the phenomenally dishonest arguments put forth by Clinton (and many others) than an article by one of the handful of writers I most admire.

I urge you to read Jim Bovard's piece in its entirety: "A Lethal Hypocrisy." Set aside the time to read it with care, and more than once. Bovard announces part of his judgment with admirable clarity and brevity in his opening paragraph: "The article settles any doubts about whether Clinton was one of the most talented demagogues of modern times."

Here are some highlights:
Clinton declared that "we do not have the right to resort to violence — or the threat of violence — when we don’t get our way."

Unless you’re the government.

The four million Americans arrested for marijuana violations during Clinton’s reign were victims of government violence and government threats of violence. The "fact" that Clinton never inhaled did not prevent the drug war from ravaging far more lives during his time in office. The number of people arrested for drug offenses rose by 73% between 1992 and 1997. The Clinton administration bankrolled the militarization of local police, sowing the seeds for a scourge of no-knock raids at wrong addresses and a massive increase in efforts to intimidate average citizens in big cities around the country.

During Clinton’s reign, the IRS seized over 12 million bank accounts, put liens on over 9 million people’s homes and land, directly confiscated more than 100,000 people’s houses, cars, or real property, and imposed over 100 million penalties on people for allegedly not paying sufficient taxes, paying taxes late, etc. The IRS knew that millions of citizens were assessed taxes and penalties that they did not owe. A 1997 audit of the IRS's Arkansas-Oklahoma district found that a third of the property seizures carried out violated federal law or IRS regulations. Former IRS district chief David Patnoe observed in 1998: “More tax is collected by fear and intimidation than by the law.” The Clinton administration fought tooth and nail against a law Congress passed in 1998 to curtail IRS depredations against innocent Americans.

Clinton’s op-ed mentions, almost as an aside, that the Oklahoma City bombing occurred on the second anniversary of the final assault at Waco. In 1995, Clinton denounced the Branch Davidians as “murderers” for their response to the 1993 Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms attack on their home. Clinton used that label even though a Texas jury found no such guilt - and even though the BATF apparently shot first and did not have a proper warrant for its no-knock, military-style raid.

Clinton was commander-in-chief when the FBI 54-ton tanks smashed into the Davidians’ home, collapsing 25% of the ramshackle building on top of residents before a fire commenced that left 80 people dead. His administration did almost everything it could to cover up the details of federal action at Waco, spurring the widespread distrust which Clinton later denounced.
Bovard writes about Clinton and Iraq:
Clinton’s Iraq policy relied on systemic violence. The U.S. was the lead country in enforcing and perpetuating the blockade on Iraq that resulted in hundreds of thousands of Iraqis dying. U.S. planes carried out hundreds of bombing runs on Iraq, and volleys of American cruise missiles slammed [that] country during his reign.
You can read many more details about the devastating effects of Clinton's sanctions policy in some of my earlier essays. Here's an excerpt from one of them, focusing on the Obama administration's unfathomably awful Iran policy:
It is at this point that I must remind you of one issue which most people remain determined to deny, even as the world plunges into agony and death:
A sanctions regime is not an alternative to war: it is the prelude to attack or invasion. Moreover, sanctions murder a hideous number of innocent people as surely as more overt acts of war.
This is the exact pattern that unfolded with Iraq, where the Clinton administration's loathsome sanctions regime inevitably and necessarily led to the invasion in 2003. And now, possibly encouraged by this obscene Nobel Prize, the exact same pattern is likely to be repeated with Iran.
Follow the links for more, as is said.

Bovard also writes about Clinton's policy in Yugoslavia, which rested on a series of stupendous lies which most liberals and progressives will never give up, damn their souls. Here is Bovard:
Bill Clinton has often acted like his 78-day bombing assault on Serbia in 1999 was his finest hour. The State Department was referring to the Kosovo Liberation Army as a terrorist group until 1997. After Clinton decided to attack Serbia, the KLA officially became freedom fighters. The fact that both Serbs and ethnic Albanians were up to their elbows in atrocities was simply brushed aside or denied. After surviving a Senate impeachment trial, Clinton was hellbent on starring in an old-time morality play.

Clinton’s bombing campaign killed hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Serb civilians. From intentionally bombing a television station, Belgrade neighborhoods, power stations, bridges (regardless of the number of people on them at the time), to “accidentally” bombing a bus (killing 47 people), a passenger train, marketplaces, hospitals, apartment buildings, and the Chinese embassy, the rules of engagement for U.S. bombers guaranteed that many innocent people would be killed.

In his anniversary op-ed, Clinton declared that “without the law there is no freedom.” But the law did not stop, or even slow, Clinton from raining death on Belgrade. Clinton brazenly violated the War Powers Act, the 1973 law which required the president to get authorization from Congress for committing U.S. troops to any combat situation that lasted more than 60 days. The House of Representatives refused to endorse Clinton’s warring. But, on Serbia and many other issues, Clinton acted as if his moral mission exempted him from all restraints, legal and otherwise.
I've written a number of pieces about Clinton's monstrous Balkans policy and the lies upon which it depended. See, e.g., here, here and here.

Here's another example of monumental liberal hypocrisy on the subject of disfavored speech and the danger it allegedly represents: "Tribal Politics: Principles, Liberty and Peace Need Not Apply."

Please keep in mind the two critical ideas I mentioned: first -- always, always first -- profound reverence for the sacred value of a single human life; and second, the monstrosity that is the United States government today, a government which is unquestionably a Death State in every way that matters, and in numerous ways that diminish the value of your own life each and every day. (I've written numerous essays on that subject; as one example, try: "The Normalization of Violence, Torture and Annihilation.")

We can hope that we will be able to continue our discussion, provided the Death State does not conclude that speech of this kind is so fearsome a danger that it must be ended. Yet, when I am completely honest, I must acknowledge how painfully obvious it is that a person who insists on the reverence due an individual life and who profoundly abhors violence of all kinds (actual or implied) represents a mortal danger to a State which can utterly destroy his life -- or yours, or the lives of an untold number of innocent human beings -- at a moment's notice.

UPDATE: For some introductory thoughts about what one can do to oppose the Death State, including a pointer to a Hannah Arendt essay concerning related questions, see the latest post.