Ruminations on Militarism

There is talk about the Marines keeping the soccer moms “safe”. But safe from what exactly? Prevention of terrorism in the suburbs is not the job of the Marines but of Homeland Security, unless the Marines are supposed to roam the world killing everyone who might conceivably be considering mounting an attack. Indeed, this does seem to be how the militarists envisage the role, but there are not nearly enough Marines to do this.

Another interpretation is that the Marines are keeping the soccer moms safe from a devastating invasion of Nicaraguans. Don’t laugh, Ronald Reagan scared the heartland with this very scenario, using the words, quote mortal threat unquote, which shows that the Americans suffered from a sense of vulnerability long before 911. Another explanation of the paranoia may be that it is a Jungian-type projection of the Americans’ own chronic aggressiveness; they assume that others have the same kind of motivations as themselves. Taking this approach a step further, we might suggest a globalisation of the guilt and fear of all polities founded on chattel slavery. It seems impossible for Americans to recognise that there is, and never has been, any unmotivated threat to the United States, only highly motivated resistance – with or without morally acceptable methods – to its predatory ways.

One definition of Militarism is that war is not conceived of as a necessary means in order to protect society but society is regarded as a necessary tool to support war. When threats to society are repeatedly invented outright, one may wonder whether war is the means or the end itself. In the New American Century, it appears that things should be done, not because they are the most effective way to achieve national goals, but in order to demonstrate virility. Policies suggested by others are ridiculed, not because they offer no prospect of success, but because they offer less of the hardass posturing that is what the voters so desperately desire. The modern American statesman, therefore, resorts to diplomacy only when violence fails. Barack Obama has been trying to do things differently, but it is probably far too late.

The self-worship of a military class is not restricted to the army as such. Someone has written that American cop movies are not about the cops protecting the community, because we rarely see anything that could reasonably be called a community outside the police station, only crooked politicians in gated communities plus psychotic criminals stalking helpless victims. It is the buddy relationships and esprit de corps of the police themselves that constitute the only “community” we see. This is classic militarism, an outlook that regards the soldier – and make no mistake, these police are not guardians of the law but an occupying army – as the only real human beings, whom the peons must serve and obey.

Some cultures speak of war as an evil necessity, a tragic diversion on the road from peace to peace. Militaristic cultures, however, make no attempt to hide the glee they take in power, death and destruction. When Reagan famously wanted to goof around with what turned out to be a live microphone, rather than say something truly amusing he announced that he would start bombing the Soviet Union in fifteen minutes. Or perhaps that was what he considered to be truly amusing. President Musharraf claimed that Richard Armitage threatened to “bomb Pakistan back to the Stone Age” if he did not get cooperation. That phrase we have heard before, from Vietnam. Another favourite American cliché is “making the rubble bounce”. Perle summarised American foreign policy as “Who’s next?” Do we see a pattern here? Assurbanipal and Tiglath-Pileser would have been proud of such kindred spirits.

The Greeks had a god of war called Ares. This does not mean, however, that a Greek general prayed for victory to Ares. On the contrary, the deity in charge of strategy and the application of reason to military affairs was Athene. Ares was a berserker, the personification of the blind rage and violence of war, and comes across in Homer as loud and stupid. Perhaps we could call him the god of American firepower.

Christianity is not the only religion that has a trinity. Hinduism also operates with a triplet of gods: Brahma the creator, Vishnu the maintainer and Shiva the destroyer. It may appear as if the USA has helped itself to other Indian deities, and constructed its very own trinity of Lakshmi, Kartikkeya and Yama.

If Mr. Smith, a nineteenth-century clerk, had gone to work on horseback, dressed as a cuirassier and waving a sword, we might have considered him a demented militarist with delusions of masculinity. What, then, shall we say about Mr. Jones, who commutes to twenty-first century corporate headquarters in a Humvee?

Arnold Schwarzenegger once characterised the Bush Administration’s critics as “girlie men”. I wonder how the Republican women reacted to that, or whether they even noticed that their sex was being identified with the national, er, sorry, with the party enemy. Perhaps Republican women are like biker chicks, cheering on their brutish males from the sidelines and then spreading for the winner of the fight?

What does it mean that 300 is a cult movie among a certain American demographic? It would appear that they long to be Spartans; that is, to inhabit a hyper-militarised slave state; to be part of a ruling caste created by eugenics and maintained through ritual murder and regular wars against its own labour force; and to be a citizen of a state that condescendingly protects its neighbours, whom it considers effete, but whom others consider merely civilised.

Posted on November 26, 2011 at 12:18 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink
In: RESISTANCE IS FUTILE!, The Shadow In The West

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