June 20, 2008

Prefatory Thoughts on the Enablers of Evil

No sooner do I write this, as I did only yesterday:
I find it interesting that the same liberals and progressives who speak of the importance of idealism, aspiration and the like retreat so quickly and so willingly into: "Well, it's politics after all. What can you expect?" In many cases, these would be the same writers who condemn some of us for being criminally deficient in hopefully hopey hopalistic hopiness. It's obvious we can't hold a candle to Nellie Forbush, who has hope enough to power tens of thousands of bombs, and even intercontinental missiles. Hey, if you're going to continue a foreign policy of brutality, widespread death and destruction without end, you can still do it optimistically! Here's a slogan for the hopetastic Democrats and their supporters: "Hopeful genocide! When we murder you, you'll die smiling!" No charge.
Than along comes this:
Democrats have certainly enabled them over the years and will likely continue to. They are politicians, after all, not comic book superheroes. But there should be no doubt to anyone who isn't wrapped up in immature freshman dorm cynicism, that there is a distinct difference between those who believe in the concept of an imperial presidency and those who are simply weak and corrupt. They both undermine freedom, but the first is many orders of magnitude worse than the second.

Perhaps that's not much to work with, but it's all we've got and in the end there will be no one around to acknowledge the intellectual superiority of those who sat on the sidelines, starry eyed and impotent, railing about third parties and revolution, while the world went to hell. (See: Communist Party, Germany, 1932) But hey, everybody has a right to their own kind of therapy and ineffectual whining is as legitimate as anything else. Whatever gets you through the night.
I came across Digby's Credo ("We're 2% less shitty than Pure Evil! It's all we've got!" -- a deeply inspiring manifesto if ever I heard one, and one which appears to work wonders with the morally insensate, intellectually inert pustule that is the progressive netroots) by way of IOZ, who has some useful commentary. In my view, however, IOZ does not go nearly far enough. I've already begun work on a new essay, which will be titled: "Notes on the Enablers of Evil." I have a lot to say on these matters. For the moment, I note that one of the keys to the intellectual rot and moral corruption underlying Digby's pronouncements will be found right here: "[T]here is a distinct difference between those who believe in the concept of an imperial presidency and those who are simply weak and corrupt. They both undermine freedom, but the first is many orders of magnitude worse than the second."

This is profoundly wrong, and exactly backwards. Think about this: as history has demonstrated many times, full actualization of a great evil such as the imperial presidency is only made possible by those who are weak and corrupt. Since Digby was thoughtful enough to bring up Germany in the 1930s, you can get a head start on my new essay by reading or rereading this: "Thus the World Was Lost." Pay special attention to the comments of those Germans who tried to work for change "within the system" and to "bore from within," and about "the problem of the lesser evil," and how bitter were their own later condemnations of their acquiescence to evil. On these issues, see also "There Is No 'Lesser' Evil Now," and "The Barren, Deadly Wasteland that Is Now Our Life": "So which is worse? Those who support evil, but insist they believe it is good? Or those who support evil while claiming, at least some of the time, that they actually know it is evil? ... [I]n a psychological sense, I probably would have to say the Democrats (and certain of their apologists) are worse: to say you recognize evil to any extent at all, yet to fail to oppose it or, which is still more reprehensible, to act for its furtherance, consigns one to the lowest rung of Hell."

(I also must ask, just for shits and giggles: Does Digby mean to suggest -- honestly, truly and seriously, as in a conclusion supported by close study of the presidency in twentieth century America -- that Democrats are opposed on the basis of some kinda, sorta political principles to "the concept of an imperial presidency"? Honestly? Truly? Seriously? That is fucking, grade-A comedy gold.)

That reminds me: here's the opening of the draft of an article I began some months ago. The article was going to address the presidential campaign in general, and certain issues pertaining to Obama in particular. I've since dealt with some of my very grave concerns about Obama in other articles (do a search on "Barack Obama," and you'll get several hours' worth of reading material), although not all of my concerns by any means. Here's how the opening went:
In this year of self-selected stupidity, an intellectual desert composed of ignorance, lack of historical knowledge and perspective, an inability to grasp either political theory or reality, and intentional, frequently enthusiastic deception, obfuscation, misdirection and outright lies and propaganda, one searches in vain for a discussion of even a single issue that genuinely matters. From almost every source -- the mainstream media, political blogs and magazines, people we meet in our daily lives -- comes frantic activity, interminable analysis, puerile parsing of each word and emphasis offered by the candidates for president. All of it is entirely irrelevant in terms of those factors and dynamics that drive the United States as a political entity, and that determine the course of government now and for the foreseeable future. None of it will have any significant effect in terms of our government's actions.

These increasingly desperate efforts by people who pathetically attempt to convince themselves that all this is "important" and that, by extension, they are, that we are at a crucial moment of historic choice (until the next such moment two years hence, if not earlier), that what happens between now and November is of greater significance than all previous periods of national crisis combined, are the cheapest mass entertainment ever devised. No admission fee is required -- except that you leave your mind and your ability to engage in independent, informed analysis outside the door. Be sure to offer nothing but superficial, trivial, thought-obliterating commentary, and you too can be a full participant. The nonstop barrage of news stories and analysis is ultimately meaningless, but it appears to provide those who engage in these ever more frenzied motions with pleasure that increases daily, until it will finally explode in early November. Various clinical terms designate the severely obsessive, repetitive determination to finding gooey, sputtering release on the fuel of fantasy, while simultaneously remaining determinedly oblivious to facts in the external world. Some may find such terms impolite and upsetting, so we will forbear from employing them.
Oh, yes, I have lots of drafts like that. Maybe I'll get around to using more of them someday.

My observations about "frantic activity" and "frenzied motions" are particularly relevant to all the blessed, noble activism that has been unleashed in connection with the new FISA bill. So much activity! So many motions! Absolutely none of which will matter in any important way. For some of the reasons why it won't matter, see the discussion in the middle section of this essay. I also have much more to say on that subject. The ruling class couldn't be happier that so much energy is being channeled into a comparatively inconsequential matter. Note that I said, "comparatively." It's not that the new FISA bill is unimportant; retroactive immunity, as the most obvious issue, is certainly bad. But again, see the earlier piece as to why it will not change the fundamental direction of our now-dead republic in any genuinely significant manner.

In stark contrast, one development would sound the final death knell for any prospect of meaningful change. You know what that is. War has always been and will always be the most crucial means by which repressive, tyrannical government cements its massive powers and acquires still new ones. The consequences of an attack on Iran will be huge and certainly irreversible, at least in our lifetimes, both at home and abroad. It's an interesting question: why all these fired-up activists will take on a battle such as the FISA one, while they are absolute in their refusal to try to stop the drive to war with Iran. I'll explore that in further detail, too.