May 17, 2010

The Monstrousness Is Now Our Life

I see, via IOZ, that Ross Douthat has happened on a critical truth. I say "happened" because, although I read Douthat only very irregularly, I know enough of his approach to view this as a largely meaningless accident. Moreover, as explained below, the terms in which Douthat expresses this truth only worsen the terrible problem that engulfs us.

Nonetheless, the particular truth at issue is of singular importance. Douthat begins by noting that, "[t]his feels like a populist moment." What is actually happening is radically different:
But look through these anti-establishment theatrics to the deep structures of political and economic power, and suddenly the surge of populism feels like so much sound and fury, obscuring the real story of our time. From Washington to Athens, the economic crisis is producing consolidation rather than revolution, the entrenchment of authority rather than its diffusion, and the concentration of power in the hands of the same elite that presided over the disasters in the first place.
Douthat discusses Greece and the E.U. as one example of this phenomenon, and the U.S. government's response to our economic "crisis" as another. (I identified the same phenomenon in one of my earliest pieces about the economic "crisis": see "The Vampire, Struck by Sunlight" from September 2008, especially the final section.)

Douthat continues:
A similar, quieter consolidation has taken place in the realm of national security. After campaigning against the Bush administration’s foreign-policy overreach, President Obama has retained nearly all of the war powers that George Bush took up in the wake of 9/11.

Yes, some of the previous administration’s more sweeping claims have been repudiated. But the basic post-9/11 architecture of executive power — expansive powers to detain, interrogate and assassinate, claimed for the duration of an open-ended war — looks destined to endure for presidencies to come.
Immediately after this passage, we read:
Taken case by case, many of these policy choices are perfectly defensible.
To which, I must respond: No.

More accurately: Fuck, no. Not a single one of "these policy choices" is defensible. And when it comes to "expansive powers to detain, interrogate and assassinate, claimed for the duration of an open-ended war," these "policy choices" are insane, monstrous and deeply evil.

We are thus returned to the concluding passage of my article from the other day. Douthat is writing in the fucking New York Times, as perfect an embodiment of a predatory, oppressive, endlessly destructive and murderous Establishment as you can imagine. So all such issues -- issues, for example, of indefinite imprisonment, torture and assassination -- are "policy choices" to be politely debated, as we sip our tea, daintily curl our pinkies, chew our tasty little sandwiches oh so delicately and, every now then, tut-tut about some regrettable "excesses."

"Oh, my, we've murdered 40 more innocent civilians in Afghanistan/Pakistan/Iraq? [Remember Iraq?] Dear, dear me. Tragic."

"We're still torturing people? Torture is now a fully accepted and recognized method of warfare for the United States government? Oh, my. That would seem to be, well, a mite troublesome."

"We assassinate people, whenever the president says to? Really? know, I don't think I've tried the salmon sandwiches yet. They look delicious."

As I wrote:
Here is a note for those who write and talk about these issues. If you write on these subjects and if you talk about them regularly on radio and television, and if you do not state -- repeatedly, with all the conviction and passion that you can command -- that actions of this kind are insane, monstrous and deeply evil, you are not opposing the monstrousnessness. You are accommodating it, seeking excuses for it, trying to minimize it -- or, to use the phrase I often employ in my own notes -- you are "making friends with evil."

If you do this, you are not fighting against the monstrousness. You are part of it.
Ross Douthat and The New York Times: part of the monstrousness.

The same is necessarily true of any commentator who regularly writes in mainstream publications, just as it is necessarily true of any commentator who regularly appears on major television networks. Yes, motherfuckers, fill in your favorite "dissenting" liberal or progressive right fucking here. If they consistently and explicitly told the full truth -- namely, that all the most significant policies and actions of our Death State are monstrous and deeply evil -- they would not be writing for or appearing on mainstream outlets. That's how it fucking works, buddy.

Fuck. Fuck fuck fuck.