"...it's not the training to be mean but the training to be kind that is used to keep us leashed best." ~ Black Dog Red

"In case you haven't recognized the trend: it proceeds action, dissent, speech." ~ davidly, on how wars get done

"...What sort of meager, unerotic existence must a man live to find himself moved to such ecstatic heights by the mundane sniping of a congressional budget fight. The fate of human existence does not hang in the balance. The gods are not arrayed on either side. Poseiden, earth-shaker, has regrettably set his sights on the poor fishermen of northern Japan and not on Washington, D.C. where his ire might do some good--I can think of no better spot for a little wetland reclamation project, if you know what I mean. The fight is neither revolution nor apocalypse; it is hardly even a fight. A lot of apparatchiks are moving a lot of phony numbers with more zeros than a century of soccer scores around, weaving a brittle chrysalis around a gross worm that, some time hence, will emerge, untransformed, still a worm." ~ IOZ

Aug 11, 2012

America

I had a temptation to write, "Americans have forgotten the feel of war," but truths in the need of telling, that sounded a lie in my head, before I ever wrote it.

The last two wars fought hard on this continent produced a triumphant, and yet equally morose religiosity, coupled feverish and desperately with a stern national faith in the right to expand limitlessly; two senses of life clutching at each other like a pair of illicit lovers tucked into a piss soaked alley, more grappling for dominance than making love.

The War For Slavery and the Indian Wars. And Americans still stamp the seemingly endless ramifications of those contests upon the skins of others.

But, we don't know war.

We don't understand the wake of death and chaos, the sundering of families, the breaking of heart and spirit, the degradation, the shattering of human perspective, the hardening of hatred.

We can't even remember it, because our faiths have no roots in memory. They burrow, instead, into the morrow, nematodes of belief seeking out new flesh and new victims for our devotions.

If you don't hate this America, this complex of ideas and beliefs and redemptive, holy violence, I say to you that you should know firmly now what side you've chosen. And that you should suffer it.

I want nothing more fervently than for war to come home. To tear this nation of 300 million predators and prey animals into tattering shreds. I want us to learn what it's like to be an Iraqi child, who watched her mother scurry towards the market, wincing at bomb blasts in the distance, and who never saw her come home. I want us to feel Hiroshima, Dresden, all of Vietnam, the Philippines, the Lakota, Arapaho, the Comanche, the Colombian and Argentine peasants shackled to the needs and ugly urges of Catholic putchist paramilitaries, Africa savaged Africa, to feel what we never even managed to learn to forget: war.

Until no more America ever lends its name to even a square inch of earth.

Even that would not come close enough to what we've taken wheedled, wrought and bought - returned in due and debts paid.

We have nothing worth saving. We should dream of no pale reflecting wings of angels, come to redeem us. Had we humanity at all, we would raise the white flag and let world have its vengeance, passive witnesses to our earned destruction, mute and without complaint.

But we lack that humanity, we Americans. We do not strangle our bosses and cops where they sleep. We do not take to the streets or the beaches, to echo even the flimsiest of French protests. We certainly have no Greek in us. The young of Egypt shame us, and they struggle against a reactionary Islam and capital's endless succession of martial juntas.

And we do not walk away.

So, war should come. And come, and keep on washing over us until we've left so little to remind our victims of the days of our dominion, that they can raise their heads and pity our remnants.

11 comments:

what the Tee Vee taught said...

The war for slavery and the Indian wars

or

The war for property = wealth and power AND the war for property = wealth and power.

I would argue that we-thee-'Muricans do know war — it is here — and we know it well. The constant struggle to maintain enough property that will result in adequate wealth and power (as has been drilled into our heads from when the brain was still mostly a potential brain, the neurons connected in this revolting atmosphere of destruction for personal gain).

Our war is less brutal, less physically devastating (but the stress probably is somewhat comparable). I'm interested in how predictable and "over-come-able" stress leads to resilience and how unpredictable, wild, violent stress leads to pathology. I would argue the stress the "average" American faces falls — quite clearly — into the pathology producing category. And the war you invite (which I can't share your excitement for) is already upon us, growing everyday... as more and more are excluded (forever and to a greater degree) from the level of property that we deem sufficient.

We — the average employed, entangled American — is surely an asshole, dominated by a relentless PR/propaganda campaign to serve the ends of the few... and that makes the average American worthy of pity as well (not forgiveness or excuse... and also not to distract from the potent and also deserving anger in your critique).

gamefaced said...

nah tv we don't know war. there is no comparable, similar, stress is kinda, no... even the suggestion alone kinda proves we don't.

Jack Crow said...

tv,

I have to concur with gamefaced, but I don't want to turn my nose at your reply. It's late, I'm tired, and I don't want to shirk on account of either.

Let's just say the above was written as a mental response to three days of long distance runs, and the sheer tonnage of political signs alongside the roadways.

Woke up today, turned on the telly (stupid), there was this shit about Paul Ryan, and people having strong opinions.

Was certain I'd encounter some vaunted free political speech on the subject, out and about today.

Thought to myself: "...what would de-trivialize all this shit? Why is this politicking so gods-be-fucked personal with people?"

I mean, I did campaigns but it was for the fun of it. If you've got no vested interest, it can be fun. Dirty tricks and innuendo and just beating the snot out of the opponent is gamesmanship. It's sport.

But getting personal about which shitwhistle is going to get his shot at the nightly news?

Fuggeddaboudid.

And that's even with abortion, Medicaid, Social Security and the Police State on the line, because let's be honest - democracy theater fucks up their plans the half of the time it's not helping them speed 'em along.

So, why so much fierceness and passion into what's so obviously a rigged (by money) set of contests?

Americans have never really paid the price for their wars. That's my conclusion. We've got no long view, no antidote to hubris, because we fly the latest butcher's rag with ever paying the butcher's bill.

I don't mean, men and women haven't died, or that the Civil War wasn't some kind of awful.

But, it's been fucking triumph after fucking triumph, and then full throttle forgettery.

It's obvious we can't really fathom what it's like to be knee deep in a Sarajevo, Baghdad, Grozny, Kandahar.

Boys get shipped out. They come back with haunted eyes, or angry hungers. Parades are thrown and then a physician writes a script for Pacifixal and a referral to group therapy, if the dude's wife/girlfriend is half-way to lucky. If not, she pays the price in bruises or murder-suicide, and the rest of us get to hit the collective ignore button.

I'm not really a believer in debt, or redemption. I don't think the cosmos is coded for justice, balanced accounts, karma or divine reward.

But, fuck and ayes, we're sitting on a mountain of other peoples' bone-memories, picking our teeth mindlessly while they starve, all the while pretending that this pyramid of death is a noble culture and history and art what all sort of adds up to our rightful place in the world, like we've even got a right to get upset about Paul fucking Ryan or Barackius Dronefather.

Jack Crow said...

* - ...without ever paying the butcher's bill...

Justin said...

I'd rather our lack of experiencing war grow rather than shrink.

I do share your contempt for American culture generally. Most of us are perpetual adolescents, accepting no responsibility for anything, projecting all agency for changing the things we abhor onto politicians or corporate big whigs so as not to have to do the work of deconstruction and reconstruction ourselves.

Today I read Chief's Seattle's response to U.S. government's offer to buy the earth in 1851. It brought tears of shame to my eyes, which I suppressed. The speech was framed on the wall of a private home. I was standing in the home of a man who constructed a 4,000 square foot monstrosity, adorned with as much shit and trinkets as could be expected by your typical rich white man who seems to only know the value of buying as an end unto itself. That the monument to a rampant materialism that is killing our world was gilded with the commodified remains of a murdered culture foretelling the end point of a spiritually dead culture spoke to the psychotic dissonance of our present context. That the framed speech was flanked by several dead animals that had been preserved and mounted as trophies drove the point home.

At times like that, Jack, I begin to share your assessments and can begin to formulate thoughts along those lines, buttressed by a well versed understanding of what brought us here. What I choose to do is suppress these thoughts, same as the tears, and just feel the experience inside out. The effect is a feeling of absolute clarity, later, I can allow myself to think again. Mostly I think about exactly what needs to be done and how I can do my part.

Keep running and keep losing that weight.

Devin Lenda said...

While it wasn't retaliation by imperialism's victims and while it had nothing to with justice, Hiroshima itself seems like a good comp here. Imperial Japan was as terrible as present-day U.S., though not as huge or efficient. And in Hiroshima, civilians died instantly. Mindless worshippers of power were incinerated. Child beaters died slow, painful deaths. Children died, too, of course. And today, people remember. Kids take school trips to Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Teachers send the very clear message --this is what happens when you go to war.

The Japanese military is huge these days and the pretense of pacifism won't last much longer but the people of Japan, though they might be sucked into supporting a war with a decent propaganda campaign, are relatively pacifist and this despite having institutions every bit as authoritarian and violent as American ones. Support for the death penalty hovers around 85%, for example. Beating children in schools lasted decades longer. But, as much as they're miseducated to hate China and Korea (especially North), they don't want war with those countries.

And still I'd never wish Hiroshima on anyone. I'm not even sure what role that memory plays. It could be that Japan's rulers just see the advantages of being Scottie Pippen, ruling the world as a #2 or 3 without doing much work. Also, remember that Americans were mostly opposed to WWI pre-propaganda, even as their government imperialized Latin America. That opposition didn't add up to much in the end. Although I suppose if the rulers are affected by these lessons, it's a different story...

Excellent comment, TV and glad to see you back, Jack.

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boston charlie said...

This all sounds very very 1969/1970.

"amerikkka, we hate you so much, we're going to rip your guts out from the inside."

-- Bernardine Dohrn

And I don't see a damn thing wrong with it in principle.

The liberating thing about accepting the need to bring the war back home is that one no longer need worry about the futile waste of time called 'building mass movements' amongst masses of corn-fed white supremacist krister krackers.

Rather one can concentrate on finding simpatico discontented people, and honing your interpersonal and technical skills. Educate yourselves and each other as to just how fragile the creaky jury-rigged amerikan infrastructure is. Inform yourself as to the presence in your locality of centers, networks and persons of the imperial police-state and war-state.

If mass movementing is your bag, support immigrant rights. The more newcomers who are not acclimated to the amerikan shit, the better. I would argue that immigrants in general should not be used as pawns in our dramas, but in mass they provide those opportunities that a sea of potentially neutral to friendly fish can. Learn Spanish and whatever languages your local immigrant communities use.

Ideological resources are rare and usually cultish, but some gems can be found in the early Weather Underground works, writings of Ward Churchill, J. Sakai's Settlers, and if you can read between the Maoist jargon, the Leading Light Communist Organization.

So, what is to be done?

what the Tee Vee taught said...

More than a decade ago, I think, Martin Prechtel was interviewed in the Sun Magazine in a piece called Saving the Indigenous Soul. It was his thinking that, to some extent, convinced me that all prices end up getting paid, whether the payment goes out the front door or... somewhere else. And, as Americans are (ostensibly) wrought with mental illness, domestic violence, and a hatred for the ways in which they spend their day to day... "we" are paying. "We" are suffering... although not for materialism masquerading as "quality of life".

Now, that doesn't change the fact that I can buy a shit load of tee shirts made by some shit-on human? Of course not. Etc. examples about american military violence...

Here's a link to the interview, a very good read, I think: http://www.thesunmagazine.org/issues/304/saving_the_indigenous_soul


Michael- said...

Brilliance sir:

"So, war should come. And come, and keep on washing over us until we've left so little to remind our victims of the days of our dominion, that they can raise their heads and pity our remnants." - Jack "muthafukin" Crow

Jack Crow said...

tv, justin -

I'm not suggesting that the kind or type of American suffering isn't somehow real, or that it's lacking in an implied legitimacy.

I'm only suggesting that we aren't going to stop stomping the earth until we are no more.

And that's not going to happen nicely.

boston,

I vacillate between wariness of revolutionism, and rather obviously, some cheer-leading for it.

My native state, if you will, is the wariness. From anger and observation, though, I echo your question. What is to be done?

devin,

It's not always within my initial interest to spell out: this is a thought exercise. It's easy to read my posts as, well, jeremiads against everything and nothing. I get that this is an impression I give, because it's an impression on want to give. Anger is a caustic. And part of the venting is intended to sear away the dross on my own eyelids. To perhaps even sear them open, forever.

michael,

It was honestly writ, but looking on it now, less passionately, I do tend to overstate. I ain't taking anything back, naturally: but I'm not saying, "Everyone who lives in America has to suffer." I'm saying America has to.

I want - and this is as frank as I get, this naked desire - America to be collapsed from within.

I can't disconnect that from the consequences, which are awful.

But, I could also say the same about personally wanting to see rapists castrated by their victims. It doesn't alter the suffering of the perpetrator in the moment of his very intimate severance - it's just that I cannot manage to care for him.

I've been a victim of that kind of violence. I have no room for pity for the perpetrators of it.