What first came to mind when offered this big, shiny blog Dave built, was, what could I add? In the archives and posts are a great wealth of information. This is the place I’ve always sent friends who are new to the web.
Then, the question hits me: what are we doing with all these billions of bites of blogged bounty? We can find more information faster than ever before. What are we to do with it? How do we deprogram the propogandised hordes?
First, I’m trying to understood who ‘we’ are. Roughly half of American households have internet access, and you can bet your booties that it’s income skewed. What percentage of that frequents Weblogs? We need to widen the circle somehow…Enter Dean. More on that later…
What we’re up against
We stand little chance of changing the tide unless we understand the nature of the monster that ate our government. The unholy alliance between the neocons, radical religious right, and big corporate money is a mighty foe indeed. How we focus our efforts will make all the difference in winning this fight.
This article, ‘Noble Lies and Perpetual War’ gets at the real underpinnings of the current governing philosophy of the neocons-in-charge. It’s an important read, because it highlights the futility of expecting any respect, or fairness, from our self-styled new ruling class. They have no shame and no guilt because they are convinced that the ends justify the means. Here for the visual.
Strauss does this by putting forward the argument that there is a natural ruling class, and a natural dominated class.
Leo also ‘legitimizes’ the sort of bull that got us into Iraq:
A natural order of inequality
Danny Postel: You’ve argued that there is an important connection between the teachings of Leo Strauss and the Bush administration’s selling of the Iraq war. What is that connection?
Shadia Drury: Leo Strauss was a great believer in the efficacy and usefulness of lies in politics. Public support for the Iraq war rested on lies about Iraq posing an imminent threat to the United States – the business about weapons of mass destruction and a fictitious alliance between al-Qaida and the Iraqi regime. Now that the lies have been exposed, Paul Wolfowitz and others in the war party are denying that these were the real reasons for the war.
So what were the real reasons? Reorganising the balance of power in the Middle East in favour of Israel? Expanding American hegemony in the Arab world? Possibly. But these reasons would not have been sufficient in themselves to mobilise American support for the war. And the Straussian cabal in the administration realised that.
Danny Postel: The neo-conservative vision is commonly taken to be about spreading democracy and liberal values globally. And when Strauss is mentioned in the press, he is typically described as a great defender of liberal democracy against totalitarian tyranny. You’ve written, however, that Strauss had a ‘profound antipathy to both liberalism and democracy.’?
Shadia Drury: The idea that Strauss was a great defender of liberal democracy is laughable. I suppose that Strauss’s disciples consider it a noble lie. Yet many in the media have been gullible enough to believe it.
How could an admirer of Plato and Nietzsche be a liberal democrat? The ancient philosophers whom Strauss most cherished believed that the unwashed masses were not fit for either truth or liberty, and that giving them these sublime treasures would be like throwing pearls before swine. In contrast to modern political thinkers, the ancients denied that there is any natural right to liberty. Human beings are born neither free nor equal. The natural human condition, they held, is not one of freedom, but of subordination Ã¢â‚¬â€œ and in Strauss’s estimation they were right in thinking so.
Praising the wisdom of the ancients and condemning the folly of the moderns was the whole point of Strauss’s most famous book, Natural Right and History. The cover of the book sports the American Declaration of Independence. But the book is a celebration of nature – not the natural rights of man (as the appearance of the book would lead one to believe) but the natural order of domination and subordination.(emphasis added)
Needless to say liberal thought is considered a weak inferior. Thus this administration’s acting like it’s entitled to do as it chooses, being superior and all…
A second fundamental belief of Strauss’s ancients has to do with their insistence on the need for secrecy and the necessity of lies. In his book Persecution and the Art of Writing, Strauss outlines why secrecy is necessary. He argues that the wise must conceal their views for two reasons – to spare the people’s feelings and to protect the elite from possible reprisals.
The people will not be happy to learn that there is only one natural right – the right of the superior to rule over the inferior, the master over the slave, the husband over the wife, and the wise few over the vulgar many. In On Tyranny, Strauss refers to this natural right as the “tyrannical teaching” of his beloved ancients. It is tyrannical in the classic sense of rule above rule or in the absence of law (p. 70).
Now, the ancients were determined to keep this tyrannical teaching secret because the people are not likely to tolerate the fact that they are intended for subordination; indeed, they may very well turn their resentment against the superior few. Lies are thus necessary to protect the superior few from the persecution of the vulgar many.
So, what kind of power are they accumulating over any potential opposition, threat or undesirables?
Information Clearing House has another article up describing US efforts to data mine every person traveling into or through the US, regardless of their home country’s policy on privacy.
“In Europe, data protection laws allow information to be used only for the purpose for which it is collected. America has no such laws. The EU is arguing with America over how to restrict its access to the passenger records of European airlines, but from a position of extreme weakness. America says it will fine air- lines $6,000 per passenger if they fail to provide all the access demanded, and the EU’s transport commissioner says he cannot afford to bring air traffic with America to a complete halt.”
She goes on to describe the creeping erosion of our basic protections….and describes a situation that is chilling to say the least: detentions without benefit of council or even official charges being placed; development of no-fly lists with no way to determine how a person gets placed on, let alone removed from. Interrogations based on one’s political opinion:
“Now ordinary people fall under suspicion for ordinary behaviour. In San Francisco, a retired phone company worker got into a fierce discussion at his gym about the failings of President Bush and the war on Iraq. He was woken several days later by federal agents calling at his apartment to interrogate him about his politics. Last February, a middle-aged defence lawyer in New Mexico was in an internet chatroom when he apparently suggested that “Bush is out of control”. Within hours, he was surrounded by police, then handcuffed by Secret Service agents and questioned about whether he was a threat to the president. In North Carolina, a 19-year-old was visited by FBI agents who had been told she had “un-American material” in her apartment. It consisted of a poster opposing Bush’s use of the death penalty. She was asked what she knew about the Taliban and questioned for 40 minutes. Her details have been placed on file.”
But for an answer for where to look to widen our circle, she continues:
…Yet it isn’t these measures that have aroused most public anxiety – it is the government’s new power to track, secretly, what people read, research and borrow in public libraries. For the past two years, many libraries have had wall signs warning patrons that the library cannot guarantee their privacy, and may be required to hand information on them over to the FBI.
Much of the anger at this has come not from urban liberals, but from conservative rural communities. Robert Reich, who was labour secretary to President Clinton, told me that the library issue has united ordinary people, libertarians and civil liberties activists. “It’s become symbolic of the entire effort to watch us,” says Reich. “There’s something very personal about library books, and it’s too close to George Orwell and the behaviour of totalitarian governments. Americans guard their privacy with a tremendous sense of righteousness and indignation. We hate big government. This country was founded on a suspicion of it.”
Maybe there’s some use to be had of all the efforts conservatives have made demonizing our government….it would be sweet irony to turn the monster they created against them. Feed the snake it’s own tail!
This is also a good indication of where we need to look to start building relationships and bring more support to the fight for sane government, although one wonders how the thought of FBI oversight affects surfing habits. But here is the fertile ground where we need to educate and recruit actively to take away more of those blood red states in 2004.
Time to take another look at Library Juice…