Sunday, October 4, 2009

Firing Up the Fear Factory

Does anyone else find it more than a coincidence that lately the fear factory in Washington has stoked the fires up pretty close to a meltdown? The last time there was as much collective dread, I believe, was during the 1962 'Cuban Missile Crisis', a few days in October forty-seven years ago when the theory of Mutually Assured Destruction was challenged and stretched to a literal snapping point. We could hear the Nuke War Clock ticking down in our sleep. At that time, our national fear was shared and focused on just one thing. Now it is much different. Now there are a hundred fears and, it seems, as many factions.

After the September 2001 'attacks' on Washington and New York, I was not particularly afraid of terrorists. I was, however, terrified of what I knew would be the government's opportunistic response. After eight years, there is no doubt that my assumptions were totally justified. The US government - and I don't mean the Bush or Obama administrations, per se - now rules in an atmosphere of terror, mainly self-generated.

We are bombarded often by the specter of "another 911". That event is unlikely, unless there is further fore-knowledge, complicity, or even participation. And frankly, such an occurance is not needed. Whoever pulled it off accomplished the intended purpose.

When a goverment claimed to be democratic functions independently of its people, making laws, policies, and procedures in its own interest and that of a both domestic and foreign alliance of ruling elites, it can do so only behind a shield of implied or overt threat.

Since we all feel them, the threats - manufactured or not - are easily enumerated: economic collapse with attendant poverty, crime, and general destitution; military or paramilitary attack; loss of security; loss of freedom and rights, perhaps taking the form of martial law; fear of socialism, communism, fascism, anarchy, and rascism. And these fears are factionalized in such a way that we a now afraid of each other. During the Cuban Missile Crisis we were afraid of a common enemy. Now we are all afraid of each other and our government; our government is afraid of us. In short, the nation is afraid of itself. It's no way to live.

In a recent interview with the TimesOnline, Gore Vidal remarked:
America has “no intellectual class” and is “rotting away at a funereal pace. We’ll have a military dictatorship fairly soon, on the basis that nobody else can hold everything together. Obama would have been better off focusing on educating the American people. His problem is being over-educated. He doesn’t realise how dim-witted and ignorant his audience is. Benjamin Franklin said that the system would fail because of the corruption of the people and that happened under Bush.”

Vidal adds menacingly: “Don’t ever make the mistake with people like me thinking we are looking for heroes. There aren’t any and if there were, they would be killed immediately. I’m never surprised by bad behaviour. I expect it.”...
The implication here is that Obama is no hero, and I agree. But I'll bet he's as afraid as the next guy. As an aside, aren't we taking free speech just a little too far when we allow people, even ordained ministers, to pray openly for the president's death?

Fear is normally a healthy reaction to both perceived and actual threat. It is a survival mechanism. But when the threats, real or not, are seemingly uncountable, consistent, and long-lived, the fear turns into a state of rage alternating with catatonic numbness, followed by systemic breakdown. This happens to large, complex systems like governments, as well as to small systems like people.

I believe that the government's intentions are clear - to engender a dark fog of fear with which to cow and confuse the people - because it has done nothing to defuse either the fear or the anger. At times, in town halls, teaparties, and demonstrations it has stoked the fires, notwithstanding the occasional pronouncement that the economy is on the mend. Instead of directly confronting the flames with cooling water, Obama makes grand speeches about more war; lies about the economic non-recovery; flies off to Copenhagen to advocate for a scheme that would probably bankrupt Chicago. Meanwhile, the fires rage up the hills through the dried thorny brush of hate and terror. It is difficult to believe the result will not be a meltdown.

Washington, in fact, is purposefully making things worse. Although the "intelligence" community apparently knew about the alleged nuke lab at Qom for many years, it chose to reveal it during a few weeks in which several alleged domestic terrorists and their heinous plots were uncovered.

Added to that, just yesterday the FBI director added to the fuel supply:
They could strike the United States. That grim assessment is the first time the FBI director or any other senior law enforcement or intelligence official has stated on the record that the Al Qaeda-linked group al-Shabaab is no longer content to strike within the East African nation of Somalia.

During a hearing on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, FBI Director Robert Mueller was asked if members of al-Shabaab, which translates as "mujahideen youth," would send American recruits back to the U.S. to launch attacks.

"I would think that we have seen some information that the leaders would like to undertake operations outside of Somalia," Mueller told the Senate Homeland Security Committee ...
I must admit, I'm not immune. Although I'm still not afraid of "terrorists" (there still are elements of the FBI, CIA, and NSA who do a good job if they are tasked correctly and can operate without political interference), I am afraid of my government and a growing slice of the American citizenry. Lack of mutual respect and self-discipline, a sense of personal responsibility, and ignorance are not new. I've now been around for over sixty years and I've watched American culture dissolve steadily. We've long lost our moral edge. Fear will do that to you.

At CounterPunch, David Michael Green echoes my own feelings to a great degree ...
I really don’t know what to say anymore, about a country in which proposing a new and better version of corporate-plunder masquerading as national healthcare gets you burned in effigy for being a socialist stooge by gun-toting angry mobs.

I really don’t know what to say anymore, about a country in which the same people who hate you for being a socialist simultaneously hate you for being a fascist.

I really don’t know what to say anymore, about a country in which angry mobs of supposed anti-socialist demonstrators scream at their congressional representatives to “keep your government hands off my Medicare”.

I really don’t know what to say anymore, about a country in which claims that the government is going to start killing off seniors are taken seriously by tens of millions of people.

I really don’t know what to say anymore, about a country in which people are all worked up about government czars, but sat silently while the Bush administration destroyed the Bill of Rights and used a thousand signing statements to write Congress out of the Constitution.

I really don’t know what to say anymore, about a country in which deficits have all of a sudden become the source of enormous anger among people who said nothing about them previously, as the tax cuts for the wealthy, off-budget wars based on lies, and unfunded prescription drug Big Pharma giveaway transmogrified the biggest surplus in American history into the biggest deficit ever.

I really don’t know what to say anymore, about a country in which politicians can rant incessantly about other peoples’ sexual morality, get caught screwing prostitutes, and then still be reelected to the highest ranks of government by trashing the president.

I could go on and on, but what would be the point? ...
Indeed. Sigh.

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[Originally posted at P! ...]

1 comment:

  1. I see, so 'HOPE' has been jettisoned? Is it safe to assume that 'FEAR' has once again one the domestic policy day? Keep 'em worried, keep 'em in check. Boo!