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One aspect of The New America: permanent militarization of society

6 July 2012

Summary:  We are at war, a war now in its second decade. We’re increasingly mobilizing every aspect of our society to defeat the enemy. Not just the massive expansion of our military, intelligence services, and domestic security services (no longer well-described as “police”).  Inevitably this militarization spreads, affecting other aspects of our society.  Our enemy is America, America-as-it-once-was. We’re winning!

Militarization against enemies (however imaginary): the easy, fast way to mobilize and change a society.

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Each year the number of nations we bomb increases.  The police arm-up with top-line military weapons and (like the NYPD) expand their Stasi-like intelligence units. The Courts increasingly defer to ever-more preposterous prosecutions of fake terrorist plots, in those cases where the government prefers to bother (rather then rendition to some Third-World hellhole). White House attorneys write briefs justifying the “unitary executive”: the President’s power to order assassination, foreign wars, and torture.

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The military and security services are our most respected institutions (details here).  We cheer as the good guys on top-rated NCIS and NCIS-LA each week knock down doors, do illegal surveillance, and shoot bad guys. We cheer as pop-tart Katy Perry mans up, and trots off with her rifle to kill our enemies.

Meanwhile we’re told that the primary threat to our liberty are steps towards universal health care of the sort long provided by every other developed nation.

Millions of Americans remain in the grip of delusions, such President Obama not being a citizen — or being a secret Muslim.

These symptoms have one explanation: we are at war with ourselves. It’s a non-violent civil conflict, waged in the individual heart and mind of each citizens.  We have passed the point where we can go back to America-as-it-was.  Whatever the result, it will be a New America.  Perhaps a new political regime — a Third Republic (an improvement on the Constitution), or Something Different.

Everybody will eventually take sides.  The passive majority will be herded into the New America by the victors.  Perhaps, like the Loyalists after the Revolution, many of the losers will emigrate.

“Every nation gets the government it deserves.”
— Joseph de Maistre, from letter 76 dated 27 August 1811, published in Lettres et Opuscules

What is the FM website doing amidst all this?

We’re attempting to understand these events through a combination of seeking their origins in the past and guessing about possible futures.  We’re looking for solutions.  We’re attempting to start the process of organizing our thoughts, and the larger task of organizing people — functions done during the Revolution by the Committees of Correspondence (the first in 1764; see Wikipedia for details).

Think of this as an aerie, a ledge high in harsh mountains from which baby birds look out at the world.  We discuss events in the comments. But up here there is time for little more than civility. Amidst the crumbling destruction of America-that-once-was, discussion will be stark and impersonal.

A few thoughts about militarization

“I’m getting a little fed up with hearing about, oh, civilian casualties. I think we ought to nuke North Korea right now just to give the rest of the world a warning.”
— Ann Coulter, interview in New York Observer, 10 January 2005

“National defense through war always involves some degree of national defeat. This paradox has been with us from the very beginning of our republic. Militarization in defense of freedom reduces the freedom of the defenders. There is a fundamental inconsistency between war and freedom.”
— Wendell Berry, Citizenship Papers (2003)

For More Information

(a)  Articles:

(b)  Books:

  1. The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced By War, Andrew Bacevich’s (2005)
  2. Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power, Rachel Maddow (2012)

(c)  Posts about the birth of a New America

  1. The guilty ones responsible for the loss of our liberties, 11 September 2011
  2. Fear the enemies within America more than those outside, 21 December 2011
  3. Some foes of the Republic revealed themselves by sponsoring the Enemy Expatriation Act, 30 January 2012
  4. How to Fund an American Police State (aka Weaponizing the Body Politic), 5 March 2012
  5. Our leaders explain that we’re sheep. Our role: to obey. Rebel sheep will be imprisoned or destroyed., 7 March 2012
  6. News You Can Use to understand the New America, 14 March 2012
  7. With a stroke of his pen President Hope and Change erased much of America, 20 March 2012
  8. What will replace the Constitution in Americans’ hearts? Let’s check for Fascism., 29 March 2012
  9. Looking ahead to the next step of the quiet coup, and a new America, 3 July 2012

(d)  Some posts about the fading of the Second Regime:

  1. An Appalling Threat to Civil Liberties and Democracy, 8 August 2010
  2. Cutting down the tree of liberty, 9 September 2010 — Government secrets trump fair trials.
  3. Let’s gaze upon the corpse of the Fourth Amendment, 12 October 2011
  4. Another bill before Congress pushing the USA further into the dark of endless war, stripping away our liberties, 28 November 2011
  5. An important article to read about another example of the fading rule of law in America, 29 December 2011
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12 Comments leave one →
  1. 6 July 2012 3:05 pm

    “Every nation gets the government it deserves.”

    … is victim-blaming. If you accept the proposition that those who govern bear some responsibility for their actions, then those who govern badly and deceitfully must bear responsibility for being bad governors. More importantly, since those who ‘choose’ their leaders are often given a hobson’s choice, it is outright immoral to blame them for having bad government.

    • 6 July 2012 6:48 pm

      “is victim-blaming.”

      I totally reject that perspective. IMO it in effect acknowledges defeat.

      “If you accept the proposition that those who govern bear some responsibility for their actions”

      Citizens are responsible for the safety of the Republic against all foes, foriegn and domestic. We exercise our responsibility as citizens by participate in the political processes — with voting as one small aspect.

      In a Republic leaders are responsible only to themselves, to their oath of office as they interpret it. Or, if you believe in such things, to God (who, as history clearly shows, doesn’t interfer). Unfortunately that sometimes means that their allegiance shifts from the current political regime to a new one. When successful, its the Glorious Revolution of 1688 or the American Revolution. Or the English Civil War, or one of the thousand coups that litter history.

      We are the decisive element. Our participation, or our passivity. In neither case are we victims, because we bear the ultimate responsibility for the fate of the Republic. When we forget that — as we have — then the Republic lies vulnerable to the foes that always besiege it.

      Certainly, gentlemen, it ought to be the happiness and glory of a representative to live in the strictest union, the closest correspondence, and the most unreserved communication with his constituents. Their wishes ought to have great weight with him; their opinion, high respect; their business, unremitted attention. It is his duty to sacrifice his repose, his pleasures, his satisfactions, to theirs; and above all, ever, and in all cases, to prefer their interest to his own. But his unbiassed opinion, his mature judgment, his enlightened conscience, he ought not to sacrifice to you, to any man, or to any set of men living. These he does not derive from your pleasure; no, nor from the law and the constitution. They are a trust from Providence, for the abuse of which he is deeply answerable. Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion.
      — Edmund Burke, Speech to the Electors of Bristol, 3 November 1774

  2. James Catfish permalink
    6 July 2012 3:08 pm

    Government programs, once created, seldom cease once they have outlived their purpose. These programs will only continue to grow simply because a threat (probably) still exist. Restraint, what do we really need to meet the threat went out with the G.W. Bush administration, and has continued under Obama.
    Something is wrong with our dealings with other nations, Iran was our great friend, now our enemy, Iraq was our great friend, and fought against our former friend, Iran with WMD, wonder where he got that? Osama bin laden was our friend in Afganistan, fighting the old USSR, and then, Great Evil, after 911. We would save much blood and treasure by looking at the long term. Ron Paul may have a point, we need to mind our own business.
    A nation that continues to spend, borrow and “print” money on the scale we are doing it, puts itself at hazard.
    Pogo, an old comic strip charter once stated, “Sir, I have seen the enemy, and he is us”.

  3. Stephen Ward permalink
    6 July 2012 8:53 pm

    Regarding English Civil War, “Michael Wood’s Story of England” on PBS will cover the period from Henry VIII through the Civil War this coming week. This is the third episode. The photography and coverage of English history in the first two episodes were very well done.

  4. Thomas More permalink
    7 July 2012 2:35 am

    I would also have to respectfully disagree with Marcus J. Ranum. The American people made a fateful decision when they elected the senile sociopath Ronald “the cruel man with the kindly smile” Reagan in 1981. (Recall that Regan is the politician who proclaimed in 1964 that Medicare represented a “descent downward to the anthill of totalitarianism” and in 1970 publicly announced of Vietnam antiwar protesters “If it takes a blood bath, let’s get it over with.”)

    All the policies that set in motion America’s catastrophic decline date from that time. Reagan ignored real economics and substited a faux Bizarro-world version called supply side economics that had no connection with reality: we see this insane policy in action today with the demented “austerity policies.” Reagan began the massive militarization which has turned America into Burkina Faso with aircraft carriers today. Reagan began the denial of science with public proclamations like “forest fires have created more pollution than all the smokestacks in America” — a policy which is today bipartisan, with Republican denial of evolution as a litmus test for its presidential candidates, and Democratic president Obama continuing the Bush-era political rewriting of inconvenient scientific papers and attacking the conclusions of its own scientific experts.

    Ronald Reagan began the Faustian partnership with fundamentalist religious lunatics which is one of the main characteristics of politics in America today. (Reagan famously told an audience of Christian fundamentalists in 1982 “You know I can’t acknowledge you publicly, but I want you to know that I publicly acknowledge you. In a phone conversation with Tom Dine, then head of thei nfluential American Israeli lobby, Reagan said “You know, I turn back to your ancient prophets in the Old Testament and signs foretelling Armageddon, and I find myself wondering if we’re the generation that’s going to see that come about. I don’t know if you’ve noted any of those prophecies lately, but believe me, they certainly describe the times we’re going through.” Source: Ronnie Dugger, “Does Reagan Expect a Nuclear Armageddon?” The Washington Post, 18 April 1984.)

    Reagan’s utter disregard for intellectual inquiry or science, and his stunning lack of curiosity, finds a perfect mirror in the insanely unreal statements of American politicians like vice president Joe Biden that marijuana is a “gateway drug” leading directly to heroin and methamphetamine use, and Barack Obama’s hallucinogenic assertion in his most recent state of the union speech that “Anyone who tells you that America is in decline or that our influence has waned, doesn’t know what they’re talking about.”

    These are our leaders in 2012, drifting fecklessly in a Reaganesque lala-land of fantasy, utterly disconnected from the real world. In this respect, they perfectly mirror their electorate, the American people.

    In 1981, the foolish feckless infantile spoiled-rotten American people chose pretty lies over unpleasant truth when they chose Reagan’s Morning in America over Jimmy Carter’s malaise speech. In turning their backs on reality, the American people sowed the wind: now they reap the whirlwind. I warned everyone I knew back in 1981 that the ascendency of deluded fools like Ronald Reagan and his crazy utterly destructive policies augured grave consequences for America. Everyone I knew laughed and laughed.

    They’re not laughing now. But the American people still haven’t accepted responsibility for their folly and shortsightedness and infantilism. The American people demand crazy policies — huge suburbs in which they roar around using gas-guzzling SUVs — then scream in kindergarten rage when their leaders respond to their wishes and embark upon endless wars to control the world’s dwindling remaining oil supply in the Middle East. The American people demand thoughtlessly foolish impossibilities — total safety from all future terrorist attacks — then throw themselves in the carpet in tearful tantrums when their leaders give them exactly what they demand and turn America into a drab gray police state. The American people demand an infinite cornucopia of cheap goods from China — then throw hissy fits when their leaders give them what they want by shipping American jobs overseas. The American people yodel in slope-browed pithecanthrepoid delight for more football Super Bowls and more mindless blockbuster superhero movies while sneering at hard intellectual work like science, and most reading at most one book per year, if any — then the American people screech in startled pique when their leaders give them exactly what they want, reducing the funding for basic science that serves as the motivating engine for U.S. economic growth, and shutting down libraries and stripping out arts and music programs from our schools.

    I’ve become fed up with the American people. They voted for these crazy self-destructive policies for 30 years. They ate their seed corn and partied hearty. Now they can take the consequences.

    • 13 July 2012 3:38 pm

      Patriot,

      I salute you.

  5. 13 July 2012 3:51 pm

    M.M. Virilio & Lotringer (re)discussed the symptoms of this (post)modern military-industrial-media-entertainment complex (coined by James der Derian), a.k.a. “(increasingly) permanent militarization of society”.

    Pure War. Review of it by JANINE ARMIN at BookForum, June-August 2008 — Excerpt:

    In June 2007, Paul Virilio and Sylvère Lotringer met in La Rochelle, France to reconsider the premises they had developed twenty-five years before in their frighteningly prescient classic, Pure War. Pure War described the invisible war waged by technology against humanity, and the lack of any real distinction since World War II between war and peace….

    In this new and updated edition, Virilio and Lotringer consider how the omnipresent threat of the “accident”—both military and economic—has escalated. With the fall of the Soviet bloc, the balance of power between East and West based on nuclear deterrence has given way to a more diffuse multi-polar nuclear threat. Moreover, as the speed of communication has increased exponentially, “local” accidents—like the collapse of the Asian markets in the late 1980s—escalate, with the speed of contagion, into global events instantaneously. “Globalization,” Virilio argues, is the planet’s ultimate accident.

    • 13 July 2012 4:44 pm

      Thank you for posting this! This is a great comment, with a link to the book and a review.

  6. 13 July 2012 4:09 pm

    For those with an indolent character, may I suggest some film noir starring Kirk Russell? “Escape from New York and Noir Fusion“, at At Snake in the Grass, 18 February 2011

Trackbacks

  1. (“Is The US Run By A Military Junta? It might as well be”) Washington’s Militarized Mindset by Tom Engelhardt « CITIZEN.BLOGGER.1984+ GUNNY.G BLOG.EMAIL
  2. The Iron Heel | Travels with Shiloh

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