Monday, October 1, 2007

The continuation of politics by other means: Part II

Blackwater is defined as wastewater containing bodily or other biological wastes, such as from toilets, kitchen sinks, etc. This is to be compared with graywater that is wastewater from household baths and washing machines that is recycled and used for gardening or flushing toilets.

An alternate definition of Blackwater is the private military company that is one the U.S. State Department’s three largest security contractors, which was founded by ex-Navy SEAL cum-millionaire Erik Prince who not only has all sorts of ties to the Republican Party, but is also is a board member of Christian Freedom International. Now I know it is a huge fallacy to extrapolate anything about the private security contractors on the ground in Iraq or their blatant disregard for the value of human life from the founder of the company’s apparent ideology, but I will say that it is amusing in a laugh-at-a-particularly –funny-Holocaust-joke-kind-of-way. Crusades, anyone?

The last definition that I am proffering today is hubris: excessive pride or self-confidence; arrogance, which is from the Greek hybris meaning “wanton violence, insolence, outrage,” originally “presumption toward the gods.” Now here’s the question: is it their hubris thinking that they can go into another country and kill and maim people indiscriminately without significant consequences or is it our hubris in that we are being presumptuous that the gods of commerce will hear or care about our moral outrage w/r/t what they do to preserve our way of life? More specifically, isn’t this moral outrage a little hollow when we continue to invest with groups such are JP Morgan Chase, Fidelity, and Capital Group/American Funds, which in turn are some of the largest U.S. investors in PetroChina, the public arm of the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC). So, as we feign moral outrage about mercenaries (let’s call these private security contractors what they are) indiscriminately using force against Iraqi citizens for perceived threats, we are feeding our IRAs, which in turn are being used to help fund the genocide in Sudan (our [well, not mine…restaurants do not help much in terms of retirement…] money goes into our IRAs, is then re-invested into PetroChina, then is in turn used by CNPC to operate the Greater Nile Petroleum Company, Sudan’s largest oil producer.)[1]

I know, I know, progress not perfection. We drive our cars to our rallies and protest about NAFTA or American Imperialism then go home feeling as if we’ve made some sort of difference. We write polemics in blogs that no one reads and less people care about that ultimately let us gain a moral neutral buoyancy so that we can sip our lattes and run our miles, but aren’t we really just assuaging our ubiquitous White Guilt? Does any of this really matter? Could we, even if we were willing to, extract ourselves from a significant percentage of the culture of oppression and domination of which we are integral parts? Everything we purchase and consume is the moral equivalent of a blood diamond. How do we resist? Stop consuming? Write our Congressmen? Blow up a dam?

It is funny, Nate challenged me to quit watching and reading about sports and he would in turn stop eating meat. I’ve found it more difficult than quitting smoking. How many other comforts will I have great difficulty giving up? Coffee? Rice? Fish? The Internet? Cable TV? Alcohol? Cell phone? Pornography in all of its many forms? As I sit here free-associating on my laptop that cost 1/15th the estimated value of an Iraqi citizen’s life (at least according the State Departments Diplomatic Security Service) on my day off from a restaurant where people spend more on meal than I make in a week, I am at a total loss. I am not even angry anymore, only confused and depressed.

War is the continuation of the absence of politics by other means[2]; it is corporate sponsored states using force and propaganda to control the resources of those with less power. Mussolini said of Fascism that, “[it] should be more appropriately called Corporatism because it is a merger of State and corporate power.”[3] This brings to mind what might be “the central delusion of [our] culture, the delusion that there are rich and there are poor, that monetary wealth – and by extension food and land (which means food) – is held by anything more than social contract and force.”[4] We live in a world where we vote with our dollar and we are not really given any other choice. Freedom? “You can have all the freedom you want as long as the authorities consider it unimportant.” [5] Or at least so stated Ted Kaczynski. I doubt there can be any real freedom, much less democracy, in a capitalist state.


[2] Eh, The Spirit of Terrorism, Jean Baudrillard

[3] Endgame, Volume 1: The Problem of Civilization, Derrick Jensen

[4] ibid.

[5] ibid.