Monday, December 19, 2016

A Culture of War

As the Electoral College convenes today to annoint Donald J. Trump the next president of the United States, Henry Giroux serves up another timely warning - this time about the powerful synergy of fascism, racism and America's war culture.


With Donald Trump’s election as president of the United States, the scourge of authoritarianism has returned not only in the toxic language of hate, humiliation and bigotry, but also in the emergence of a culture of war and violence that looms over society like a plague.

War has been redefined in the age of global capitalism: it has expanded its boundaries and now shapes all aspects of society. As Ulrich Beck observes, “the distinctions between war and peace, military and police, war and crime, internal and external security” have collapsed. As violence and politics merge to produce an accelerating and lethal mix of bloodshed, pain, suffering, grief and death, American culture has been transformed into a culture of war.

War culture reaches far beyond the machineries that enable the United States to ring the world with its military bases, produce vast stockpiles of weapons, deploy thousands of troops all over the globe and retain the shameful title of “the world’s preeminent exporter of arms, with more than 50 percent of the global weaponry market controlled by the United States,” as reported by Denver Nicks.

...As a militarized culture is dragged into the center of political life, fear feeds a discourse of bigotry, insecurity and mistrust, adding more and more individuals and groups to the register of repression, disposability and social death. 
Trump’s recent appointments of neoliberal elites, such as Steven Mnuchin, a long-time hedge fund manager and investment banker, to be his treasury secretary and Wilbur Ross, a billionaire investor, to head the Commerce Department make clear that he intends to allow the managers of big banks, hedge funds and other major financial institutions to run the economy. This is an upgraded version of neoliberalism which, as Cornel West points out, serves to “reinforce corporate interests, big bank interest, and to keep track of those of who are cast as peoples of color, women, Jews, Arabs, Muslims, Mexicans, and so forth…. So, this is one of the most frightening moments in the history of this very fragile empire and fragile republic.”


Army commander turned academic, Andrew J. Bacevich, in "The New American Militarism" wrote of the emergency of the United States as the world's new permanent warfare state in which the threat and use of military force had supplanted diplomacy as the preferred instrument of foreign policy. Giroux touches on this theme:


As Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri emphasize in their book Multitude: War and Democracy in the Age of Empire, the veneration of war in the United States has now reached a dangerous endpoint and has become the foundation of politics itself. This is especially true as Americans entered into one of the most appalling and threatening periods of the 21st century. They write:

'War has passed from the final element of the sequences of power—lethal force as a last resort—to the first and primary element, the foundation of politics itself…. In order for war to occupy this fundamental social and political role, war must be able to accomplish a constituent or regulative function: war must become both a procedural activity and an ordering, regulative activity that creates and maintains social hierarchies, a form of biopower aimed at the promotion and regulation of social life.'


...Neoliberal society has ceded any vestige of democratic ideals to a social formation saturated with fear, suspicion and violence. The line has become blurred between real acts of violence and mythical appeals to violence as cleansing and restorative, as is evident in Trump’s emotional appeal to his audiences’ rage and fear. Dystopian violence is now legitimated at the highest level of politics, both in its use as a spectacle and as a policy of terror initiated most specifically in the murderous rampage of drone warfare. Politics is now an extension of the culture of war, and violence is a generative force in the production of everyday life.

The normalization of violence in US society is not only about how it is lived and endured, but also about how it becomes the connective tissue for holding different modes of governance, policies, ideologies and practices together. All of these come to resemble military activities. And it is precisely such activities that serve to legitimate the war on terror, the use of mass surveillance, the weaponizing of knowledge and the merging of a war culture and warfare state.


...While we may be entering a period of counterrevolutionary change, it must be remembered that such historical moments are sometimes as hopeful as they are dangerous. Hope at the moment resides in struggling to reclaim the radical imagination and bringing together an array of single-issue movements, while working to build an expansive, broad-based social movement for both symbolic and structural change. Central to such a task is the need to build alternative public spaces that offer fresh educational opportunities to create a new language for political struggle along with new modes of solidarity. At stake here is the need for progressives to make education central to politics itself in order to disrupt the force of a predatory public pedagogy. We must disrupt the “common sense” that is produced in mainstream cultural apparatuses and that serves as glue for the rise of right-wing populism. This is not merely a call for a third political party. Any vision for this movement must reject the false notion that capitalism and democracy are synonymous. Democratic socialism is once again moving a generation of young people. We need to accelerate this movement for a radical democracy before it is too late.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oiOJ07nyfM4

And so say all of us..

TB

Anonymous said...

Or more appropriately'''

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x_LhOO6Q6p8

TB

Anonymous said...
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The Mound of Sound said...

All that writing to express all that ignorance and it's gone in a "click."

Pamela Mac Neil said...

I saw a documentary the other night Mound. It showed police from various American cities going to Israel to be trained by the Israeli military in how to practice military policing, in various US cities.

Now that Trump is President, I wonder if they expect more citizen revolts. These militarized police forces are becoming common place in the US.The Israeli's, who practice this military violence on Palestinians daily, can now show American police forces how it's done.

Anonymous said...

Don't say we weren't warned:

Of all the enemies of true liberty, war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debt and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people. The same malignant aspect in republicanism may be traced in the inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war, and in the degeneracy of manner and of morals, engendered in both. No nation can preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare … -- James Madison

Cap

Anonymous said...


We have one of these in Nanaimo BC!!
http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/fs-fd/tav-vbt-eng.htm
To what end I do not know , perhaps the hockey Dads are restless.

The idea is an American import where such vehicles are common.
Civil unrest in the USA is likely to become much more frequent under a Trump government.
The USA has a sad record of both internal and exported violence ; not something to emulate.

TB

The Mound of Sound said...

Now that the Americans have repealed posse comitatus the standing army is empowered to use force against the citizenry for law enforcement duties in the States. The purpose of the law and its role in the structure of American civil and political rights is lost. There was no upheaval, hardly a whimper.

As I've written before, my father stressed on me that we have not a single right or freedom that, if undefended, wouldn't be stripped from us. He cautioned that we should never forget that those rights and freedoms had been paid for, usually in blood, often more than once. He also warned that those rights that we took for granted invariably held great value to those who would strip us of them. Everything he said seems alien to our 21st century society.

The best and, thankfully, enduring protection we have to sustain our rights is the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It was the wall Harper couldn't surmount and the current prime minister has also beat his head against it.

I think today we find ourselves in an unstable situation - environmentally, economically and politically. This provides opportunities for those who would exploit our confusion and lack of resolve. It's hard to imagine these circumstances settling, certainly in the remainder of my lifetime.

It's no accident that those most engaged, people such as George Monbiot and Robert Reich, now speak in terms of active resistance to the state. They see us pitted in a high stakes struggle with our own governments and the narrow interests they now increasingly serve.

Perhaps we're witnessing "late stage" neoliberalism in which the state turns on its own people. What could that be except some precursor to a more authoritarian future, possibly even a neo-feudalism?

When will we see Trump's "Reichstag fire"? For the past couple of days I've been working on a post about terrorism in the age of the Giant Orange Bloat. This man who flies into a rage of middle of the night tweets over comedy skits is every terrorist's dream. They're button pushers and Trump is a walking human button. They have a playbook that has been tested and proven going back to the days of the Visigoths all the way through to Giap and Ho, Mao, Fidel and Che, the Algerians, al Qaeda and ISIS. Trump is their perfect chump.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
The Mound of Sound said...

Well, Anon, you cowardly disrespectful little prick, you're gone again. Down the sewer where your malicious half thoughts belong. Adios, dipshit.

Anonymous said...

It's the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine. Oh yeah!