Tuesday, June 19, 2007


Let me make one thing clear at the outset- I'm glad America is fighting the religious fanatics who want to kill us. Often, I poke fun at the incompetence of how this war has been waged, which seems comparable to the failed ''war on drugs''; however, unlike the war on drugs, I'd rather not see this one called off. To be blunt, I don't have much use for these terrorist groups, they don't make much sense to me, and there's a sort of banal, mossbacked, authoritarian stupidity to what they claim to want, what they do, and the aspects of modernity that fuel their hatred. If liberals are guilty of ''Utopianism''- that is, wanting to pull society to a non-place that has never been- then reactionaries must be guilty of ''retrotopianism''- wanting to pull society back to a past that never existed. And if I can't dance there, then fuck your revolution.

So, I support fighting the mutants. But, it's also hard not to feel that the ''war on terror'' has been a moral and legal retroversion of its own. What's most troubling about the massive and totally unnecessary clusterfuck that is the War in Iraq is the sense that the people in charge of it simply didn't care how it turned out, so long as we got to kick some heads in. It's not just that they didn't learn the ''lessons of Vietnam'', they don't seem to even understand how modern war is waged against guerrilla armies going back at least to the Napoleonic Wars. And I suspect that they really don't care. Because, after all, Americans are the ''good guys'' and we always win. And, if we don't, we can just keep Iraq as a colony. It's not an ethical stance- it's blustering superciliousness disguised as an ethical stance.

And I don't understand why we gave up the ethical position that we used to occupy. The accounts of torture at Abu Ghraib, Cropper, Bagram, etc. simply get worse and worse. Now, we're talking, increasingly, about murder and rape, and even worse, a mafia-style sacrifice of the lowest men on the totem pole to save the war criminals in charge. Again, the attitude is that this is not our problem, because after all, we're the good guys and we can do whatever we want. Habeas corpus is optional, torture is authorized, the Geneva Conventions don't apply to anyone, people are disappeared for vague crimes that they're never tried of- could it really be this bad? The worst part is imagining a time to come in which turning any of this back will be, in itself, abnormal.

Increasingly, it seems like the war consists of a group of religious fanatic murderers who want to drag civilization back to the Middle Ages, and a group of authoritarian boobs who just want to drag us back to the Age of Absolutism. Of course, the authoritarians are better by comparison, but not in comparison to much else. Maybe I'd rather have starry-eyed hopeless Utopianism than the Retrotopianism appropriate to those who live in an ever-present ambiance of fatalism.

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