“Anti-Americanism” As A Causeless Disease

The suffix on the word “anti-Americanism” shows that potent memetic warfare is being conducted. For, while people may be worried about the rise of China, no one is blaming them for “Sinophobia”. Not even during the Cold War did anyone coin “anti-Russianism”, although Moscow itself made industrious use of the expression “anti-Sovietism” for the complaints of its own subjects. Which is, of course, the point of “anti-Americanism”: after a medico-psychological-cultural-political disorder of wicked foreigners and their fellow-travellers has been established, the next step will be to send Americans to the camps for exhibiting it.

The Bush Administration showed signs of taking a leaf out of the book of the Anti-Defamation League, and defining anti-Americanism as something for which no man may allege a cause. Not so the head of MI5, who said that the British suicide bombers “are motivated by perceived worldwide and long-standing injustices against Muslims; an extreme and minority interpretation of Islam promoted by some preachers and people of influence; and their interpretation as anti-Muslim of UK foreign policy, in particular the UK’s involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan”. What in the British context appears as tendentious support of government policy, suggesting that no moderate Muslim would ever have reason to interpret the invasion and occupation of Iraq as a hostile act, in the American context would appear tendentious in the opposite direction. For the head of MI5 was suggesting that terrorism is in fact a response to “worldwide and long-standing injustices”, albeit only “perceived” ones. Can we imagine an official of the Bush-Cheney White House admitting that? No, the other guys were only doing it because they were “evil”.

Explanation of “anti-Americanism” as a psychological rather than a political phenomenon, caused by mysterious processes in the soul rather than rational opposition, is being stepped up. There are, for example, various cod-Freudian theories going the rounds, to the effect that “anti-Americanism” is nothing but a displacement of not very respectable emotions: envy, inferiority complexes both individual and national, perhaps even Oedipal rage against the father and so on and so forth. All right already, but we could, if we wished, play this game with the Nazis too; we could invent a psychiatric disorder or cultural perversion called “anti-Aryanism” and blithely talk as everyone knew that this was the “real explanation” of people’s irrational dislike of Hitler’s New World Order and that the only question was how to cure it. In fact, this is what the Nazis actually did and their preferred cure was death. Mutatis mutandis, that was also pretty much how Soviet psychiatry operated, so we would only need to translate their textbooks.

Consider language such as “The aversion to America is becoming greater, louder, more determined”; and “Those two closely related resentments are now considered proper etiquette. They are present in polite company and acceptable in the discourse of the political classes”; further that “Anti-Americanism has been promoted to the status of Western Europe’s lingua franca.” How very convenient for American policy-making; one does not reason with an “aversion”, there is no arguing with people whose minds are full of “proper etiquette”, and one does not need to defend oneself to a language. All these verbal tricks thus exclude the possibility of valid grounds for any hostility to American policy.

Some sophisticated players of this game appear to concede the possibility of such valid grounds, only to magic them away again with psychobabble, as for instance: “Negative sentiments and views have been driven not only — or even primarily — by what the United States does, but rather by an animus against what Europeans have believed that America is.” The last part is layered like an onion – behold, there is an animus, an irrational dislike, directed not against what America is, but merely against what Europeans (falsely) believe that America is. Very well, let us turn the whole thing around and see how it plays. From the time of the cold war, maybe: “Anti-Sovietism has been promoted to the status of America’s lingua franca.” Or a little earlier: “Negative sentiments and views have been driven not only — or even primarily — by what the Third Reich does, but rather by an animus against what Americans have believed that the Third Reich is.” In an individual, the belief that what he is has nothing to do with what he does is called narcissism.

It is assumed, often wrongly, that mental health specialists consider the patient’s real situation and real grievances before labelling him paranoid or delusional. In the same way, before a person is diagnosed as suffering from the self-evidently malignant condition of “anti-Americanism”, we ought first to consider the behaviour of which he is complaining. We ought not, for example, to reproach him for resenting the interference of the CIA in his country’s governance without a real enquiry as to whether given events were caused by American agents or not. It is not good enough to wave one’s hands and talk about conspiracy theories, thus assuming what remains to be proven. Shall we then say that Simon Wiesenthal was suffering from “anti-SS-ism”? No, let us have the fashionable psychoanalysis not instead of but after the establishment of the facts.

Posted on July 15, 2011 at 15:55 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink
In: RESISTANCE IS FUTILE!, Medicalising The Opposition

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