OT (Foreign Policy) Chronicles: Post-Human Americagreenspun.com : LUSENET : TB2K spinoff uncensored : One Thread
Its Not Just the Balkans . . .
by Srdja Trifkovic
Ideological assumptions that but two generations ago would have been deemed eccentric, if not utterly insane or even demonic, now rule the mainstream. The trouble is that normal people do not take madmen seriously enough. This works to the advantage of politiciansan inherently insane breedand their subjects attitude of they cant be serious allows them to sneer back, Yes, we can! Americas foreign-policy establishment proves the point.
In a New York Times profile last September, Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott declared that the United States may not exist in its current form in the 21st century because the very concept of nationhoodhere and throughout the worldwill have been rendered obsolete.
Now, this will come as a surprise to all those Americans who have naively assumed that the purpose of foreign policy is to ensure the survival, security, and prosperity of the United States within the international system, rather than its eventual absorption by the system. It should be noted that Talbotts statement was an exultant prophecy, not an impartial analysts assessment, and it came from the man who has defined, shaped, and executed this administrations foreign policy since the first day of this abysmal presidency.
While his partys presidential victory was still far from certain, Talbott wrote in Time (July 20, 1992) that he looks forward to universal government run by one global authority:
Here is one optimists reason for believing unity will prevail . . . within the next hundred years . . . nationhood as we know it will be obsolete; all states will recognize a single, global authority. . . . A phrase briefly fashionable in the mid-20th centurycitizen of the worldwill have assumed real meaning by the end of the 21st.
The key ideological foundation for Talbotts beliefs was stated bluntly: All countries are basically social arrangements, accommodations to changing circumstances. No matter how permanent and even sacred they may seem at any one time, in fact they are all artificial and temporary.
To Talbott and his ilk, the United States, Serbia, East Timor, Ireland, Russia, Iran, China, Cuba, etc., are merely transient, virtual-reality entities. Owing allegiance to any of them is inherently irrational, and attaching ones personal loyalty to itlet alone risking ones life for its sakeis as absurd as worshipping icons or dressing for dinner. Atavistic sentiments may have to be invoked for hoi polloi from the prairies who provide the cannon fodder for any given project, but this odious task is best left to the front men, such as presidents.
Like Marxs proletarian, Talbott knows of no loyalty to a concrete country. He could easily serve anyor indeed allof them, if they can be turned into the pliable tools of his Wille zur Macht. In 1792, it could have been France, in 1917 Russia. Today, the United States is the host organism of choice for two reasons. It is immensely powerful, and its political system is susceptible to penetration by a rabidly anti-traditionalist and deeply anti-American worldview and political agenda.
By treating America as an ideological proposition rather than a real nation, Talbott and Company at least cannot be accused of partiality when they treat other nations as either minions to be cowed or savages to be exterminated. They are imposing a birds-eye view of world affairs in the process, which makes discussion of their policy possible only within their odd terms of reference. Try applying the traditional criteria of national interest, and you will be labeled a Buchananite, with all the attendant isms that will destroy your name and career. But if you put on their specs and think of their project as one great moral crusade on behalf of human rights and democracy everywhere, you enter the virtual world in which all pretense to meaning is abandoned.
Their playful disregard for principles and order smacks of 1960s frivolity, but it comes with a big stick. The bombing of Serbian buses, hospitals, trains, and TV stations was conducted under the label of humanitarian intervention. The destruction of the traditional concept of sovereignty and the rule of law is a triumph of the international community.
The former peaceniks-turned-bombers in Washington, Bonn, London, and Brussels saw the late unpleasantness in the Balkans as a major step toward the fulfillment of their One World, post-national vision. Universal human rights were invoked to justify the will of the international community, that modern equivalent of Rousseaus general will, which means the will of the person talking. The rule of law and respect for national sovereignty and tradition have been boldly denied. But since universal concepts are by definition deracinated, the next step will be to demand a single global system of civil law that cannot stop short of a world government. The Serbs were a litmus test, and their collapsepredictable, even unavoidable, under the unspeakable Mr. Milosevicmeans that the project will march on.
For that reason, it is not just about the Balkans: In the aftermath of NATOs war, we are faced with a global problem that goes beyond Culture Wars. It is the end of culture.
For many millennia, people lived in communities in which the bonds between them were direct and emotional. In the fertile plains of Mesopotamia and the Lower Nile, society eventually emerged: Relations between people were formalized and measured in terms of objects, but the individual was still the subject of his own acts, motivated by his feelings and needs. But by the middle of the 20th century, society had evolved into a vastly complex social-technological system, and man was reduced to a mere elementthe human factor.
In our own time, what the ruling elite would call ideologyand what our grandparents would call spiritualityhas been replaced by content, by information. The process is accelerating by the day, and culture as a mechanism for maintaining social identity and coherence is becoming obsolete. Wealth, success, and health are the only values in the information era. The soul, emotional experiences, personal opinionall these are regarded as waste that distracts from production or from the precise execution of instructions. Culture, if not already embalmed and relegated to heritage, is automatically designated traditional. The real end of historythe complete transformation of society into a social-technological systemwould signify the end of mankinds cultural history. It would also signify the end of mankind.
Yes, and it is all for the best, according to Prof. Jon Huer at the University of Maryland, whose musings on the future were noted in Signs of the Times (July 1999). For Huer, the bombing by Americans and human-shielding by Serbs represented two very different worlds. The high technology of ultimate sophistication, so logical and so rational, with little human involvement, is countered by the total disregard of logic and rationality. Americans believe in the power of technology and all that it impliesreason, logic, practicality, solution-finding. Serbs believe in the power of their destiny, powerful, and so human.
Americans, he says, are now entering a wholly different era of society and culture . . . a Post-Human Era where all aspects of social life are streamlined and rationalized . . . [and] each individual is isolated from other individuals so that his or her self-calculation can be logically derived without distraction from other human beings.
Huer believes that post-human Americans are probably the future prototype humans, while Serbs are an atavistic holdover from a bygone era. He concludes that the Serbs have to recognize this inevitable development of history and join up with what will be, not what was or should be.
This gem of brutal honesty indicates why it is not just the Balkans anymore. Between the prototype rational post-humansepitomized by Clinton, Albright, Berger, Cohen, Blair, and Cookand the atavistic, irrational humans, each of us needs to make a choice. The former will rely on Americas continuing technological and military superiority, not on its moral authority or political magnetism. As British historian Michael Stenton has put it:
Victims and opponents are invited to contemplate the strength of a dominant culture, and despair. The experience in the Balkans today is of resourcelessness. One must plug into the Westits power centers and its cultureand pray for favor, and try to be noticed in the right way.
Hence the readiness of Balkan countries to damage themselves to help America damage Serbia. Looking for favor is the only game in town. If only it were just the money! Imperial culturetoday one says global cultureconfiscates respect for what is local and native and replaces it with something universal, however bad.
The Balkanshumanitarian bombings, multicultural Muslims, rape camps, and allwas the post-humans exercise in counterrealism, which is the essence of postmodernism. Jamie Shea and Jamie Rubin (note the cute nicknames retained by these presumed grown-ups) move beyond truth and reality, just as their more arty counterparts move beyond the limits of the aesthetic. The reversibility of the signifier and the signified, aggressor and victim, ethnic cleanser and ethnically cleansed, eventually eliminates the creator andultimatelythe subject, leaving nothing but the subjects signature, in the form of bomb craters if need be. vThis is the culture of the artificial world, of post-historical, technological man who has lost his bond with nature, surrounded by artificial reality and permeated by it. The Jamies of this world are literally beyond conscience, and in case of a hitch, paid professionals are there to release them from the burden of moral choices. vThis is manifested in foreign affairs in the obliteration of the ethnic identity of peoples, their special color and uniqueness, in the loss of diversity of social evolution that goes with the diminishing diversity of nature. A crude Gleichschaltung is performed under the ideology of universal human values, of a homogenized culture for the whole world. As befits the postmodern world, the proponents of diversity are in fact promoting its exact opposite: social-technological monism.
The destroyers of human culture are emboldened by demographic trends on both sides of the northern Atlantic. They believe that the seemingly obvious futility of resistance will force the remaining atavistic humans everywhereespecially in Americas heartlandto accept the inevitable and merge with the post-humans through spiritual and physical degeneration and loss of cultural identity. They are in hot pursuit of global power for its own sakethat Great Temptation and path of ruin that winds from the Persian King of Kings to Hitler. They like the fact that most of our fellow citizens, steeped in state school-induced amnesia and ignorance, have never heard of the former and have only the foggiest of notions about the latter.
They hope and trust that nobody will listen when we warn that our rulers are doing all over the world today what Athens did in Greece after leading the Hellenic coalition against Persia: trying to turn leadership into hegemony. The result was destruction of Hellas as a political and military factor for all time, and America will just as surely be destroyed if its rulers are allowed to proceed with their mad quest for the Weltmacht. But our foreign-policy elitespoorly educated, rootless, arrogant, inimical to traditional values and morals, cynically manipulative, and ultimately criminalare tipsy on their brew of benevolent global hegemony and march boldly on. Their co-conspirators in the courtier press and the new academia are calling it a pilgrimage. Bosnia was the litmus test, and they claim it worked. Kosovo was a well-rehearsed sequel.
With each new murder that the post-humans commit abroad, the task of resistance at home becomes more difficult. But there are many atavistic holdovers from the human past who will refuse to believe that the outcome is preordained. The struggle of real people for survival is natural and inevitable and goodeven if the outcome is far from certain. We may disappear, but we will not cease to hold on to life and beauty and truth.
The Serbs may be the first to perish, but the best among them will not despair. They remember, from that first Battle of Kosovo in 1389, that the world is a cosmos ruled by God, not chaos ruled by men (even those of the post-human variety). If their lonely suffering prods or shames others into struggle for survival, their Calvary will not have been in vain. The path of survival thus starts with understanding that the bell tolls not just for the Serbs: It tolls for all of us
-- Possible Impact (email@example.com), March 10, 2000
Lest we collapse into Hubris, perhaps we need to see some possible alternatives or possible strategies to derail this monster.
-- Chuck, a night driver (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 11, 2000.
-- Pinkrock (email@example.com), March 11, 2000.
Well there you go!
I was counting on an 11.5 Y2K scenario to prevent this kind of world from coming to pass. So you see in that hope I'm really a closet OPTImist. But unfortunately I made a little mistake in my calculations about the rollover. So now the piper will have to be paid.
I was looking at Tom Friedman's The Lexus and the Olive Tree as a viewpoint that was a little less over the edge of doom than Trivkovic's dark take. Tom I think goes as far as saying, well globalism (1st cousin of loss of differentiation) has it's pluses and minuses -- and it's up to us to enhance the former and shrink the latter. Trivkovic's doomer take, deep down, of course is actually closer to my natural predeliction.
What's the appropriate stand to take against the juggernaut? The Slav's is Be A Hero. An alternate is to dip into Gallow's Humor.
If I run out of jokes, is there still room for me to become a hero?
-- William J. Schenker, MD (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 11, 2000.
I dedicate this post to Chuck, Bill, and all the others who ask "what can we do?".
The Cycles of History, boy I wish we could learn from history, instead of repeating the painful lessons over and over ...
We The People
The War Inevitable
By Patrick Henry, March 23, 1775
No man, Mr. President, thinks more highly than I do of the patriotism, as well as the abilities, of the very honorable gentlemen who have just addressed the House. But different men often see the same subject in different lights; and, therefore, I hope it will not be thought disrespectful to those gentlemen if, entertaining, as I do, opinions of a character very opposite to theirs, I should speak forth my sentiments freely, and without reserve. This is no time for ceremony. The question before the house is of awful moment to this country. For my own part, I consider it nothing less than a question of freedom or slavery. And in proportion to the magnitude of the subject ought to be the freedom of the debate. It is only in this way that we can hope to arrive at truth, and fulfil the great responsibility which we hold to God and our country. Should I keep back my opinions at such a time, through fear of giving offence, I should consider myself as guilty of treason towards my country, and of an act of disloyalty towards the majesty of Heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings.
Mr. President, it is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of Hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren till she transforms us into beasts. Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty? Are we disposed to be of the number of those who, having eyes, see not, and having ears, hear not, the things which so nearly concern their temporal salvation? For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst, and to provide for it. I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging of the future but by the past. And judging by the past, I wish to know what there has been in the British ministry, for the last ten years, to justify those hopes with which gentlemen have been pleased to solace themselves and the House. Is it that insidious smile with which our petition has lately been received? Trust it not, sir; it will prove a snare to your feet. Suffer not yourselves to be betrayed with a kiss. Ask yourselves how this gracious reception of our petition comports with those warlike preparations which cover our waters and darken our land. Are fleets and armies necessary to a work of love and reconciliation? Have we shown ourselves to be so unwilling to be reconciled that force must be called in to win back our love? Let us not deceive ourselves, sir. These are the implements of war and subjugation, --the last arguments to which kings resort.
I ask gentlemen, sir, what means this martial array, if its purpose be not to force us into submission? Can gentlemen assign any other possible motive for it? Has Great Britain any enemy in this quarter of the world, to call for all this accumulation of navies and armies? No, sir, she has none. They are meant for us: they can be meant for no other. They are sent over to bind and rivet upon us those chains which the British ministry have been so long forging.
And what have we to oppose them? Shall we try argument? Sir, we have been trying that for the last ten years. Have we anything new to offer upon that subject? Nothing. We have held the subject up in every light of which it is capable; but it has been all in vain. Shall we resort to entreaty, and humble supplication? What terms shall we find which have not been already exhausted? Let us not, I beseech you, sir, deceive ourselves longer. Sir, we have done everything that could be done to avert the storm which is now coming on. We have petitioned; we have remonstrated; we have supplicated; we have prostrated ourselves before the throne, and have implored its interposition to arrest the tyrannical hands of the ministry and Parliament. Our petitions have been slighted; our remonstrances have produced additional violence and insult; our supplications have been disregarded; and we have been spurned with contempt at the foot of the throne.
In vain, after these things, may we indulge the fond hope of peace and reconciliation. There is no longer any room for hope. If we wish to be free; if we mean to preserve inviolate those inestimable privileges for which we have been so long contending; if we mean not basely to abandon the noble struggle in which we have been so long engaged, and which we have pledged ourselves never to abandon until the glorious object of our contest shall be obtained, -- we must fight! I repeat it, sir, --we must fight! An appeal to arms, and to the God of hosts, is all that is left us.
They tell us, sir, that we are weak, --unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week, or the next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every house? Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance by lying supinely on our backs, and hugging the delusive phantom of Hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot?
Sir, we are not weak, if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature hath placed in our power. Three millions of people armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we posess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us. The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone: it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. Besides, sir, we have no election. If we were base enough to desire it, it is now too late to retire from the contest. There is no retreat but in submission and slavery. Our chains are forged. Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston. The war is inevitable. And let it come! I repeat it, sir, let it come!
It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry peace, peace, but there is no peace. The war is actually begun. The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms. Our brethren are already in the field. Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!"
-- Possible Impact (email@example.com), March 11, 2000.