Saturday, April 4, 2009

Bases Overseas by George Weller

The American people have been politically bewildered about their foreign policy for fifty years. In war they are alternately drugged about the promise of bloodless and easy victory, then whipped up with official warnings that peace will be expensive and far off...Politically this new American is not only ignorant; he is indifferent. There is the United States, or Home. And there are all the other places...

Unsupplied with statesmen capable of building him an enduring peace consonant with his own sacrifices, the American turns by reductio ad absurdum to an emotional apprehension of war. If you cannot think about the war, can you not at least feel about it? Besides the escapism away from the war there is in the United States a unique escapism into war , into atrocity stories, into magic-weapon stories, into hero stories, into sex-and-war stories, that defeats the political teacher.

Today the fighting man overseas is waiting for the statesman at home to do something. The statesman at home is waiting for the people to suggest for him to do something. The people are waiting for the press and radio to suggest what they should ask the statesman to do. The press and radio are waiting for their foreign correspondents and war reporters overseas to suggest to them what they should suggest to the public. And the reporters and correspondents are unable to analyze, much less suggest political action, because the fighting man (officers and censorship, that is) want one last orgy of home town stories, more mindless and more alike than the slow molasses drippings of four years of sloppy, apolitical, dear-mom war and say that politics is the affair of the statesman back home.


1 comment:

  1. "The denial of the political in combat films and fiction no less than in public patriotic rhetoric connects the new patriotism to the narcissism of consumer desire as the unifying national narrative. The ascedancy of greed and materialism in U.S. society during the 1980's has been widely acknowleded, but the distinctive form this greed assumed in an age of deindustrialization has attracted less attention and analysis.

    Changes in investment policies and tax codes accelerated trends favoring consumption over production, leveraged buyouts over productive investments, short-term profits over long-term investment, and love of gain over collective obligations and responsibilities. People at the highest income levels embraced behaviors previously associated with the poor- seeking short-term sensations and pleasures rather than pursuing disciplined long-range investments, programs or policies.

    At the macrosocial level, these policies have produced paralyzing levels of public and private debt, squandered the social resources and industrial infrastructure of the nation, and generated long-term costs to individuals and their environments while imposing burdens on future generations. On the microsocial level, they have encouraged the very attitudes displayed most often in adolescent warrior fantasies- regressive desire, narcissistic grandiosity, and anxieties about identity that lead to craving for sensations, distractions, and displays of power...

    In return for all the broken promises and devestated lives Congress and the Presidents have left the nation with an even better developed taste for spectatorship of the kind described long ago by J.A. Hobson- gloating over the perils, pains, and slaughter of fellow-men who he does not know, but whose destruction he desires in a blind and artificially stimulaed passion of hatred and revenge.

    George Lipsitz, "The Possessive Investment in Whiteness", 1998