Monday, November 20, 2006

Hell, no.

Wouldn't sacrificing yourself in a war on behalf of a liberal government be dying for the government that wasn't supposed to kill its citizens? If that liberal government buries you in a gigantic, monolithic supercemetary well-garnished with flags, doesn't its monolithic presence feed on your blood just as thirstily and debasedly as any authoritarian regime that gets a standard-raising erection from public executions? Shouldn't any liberal government which requires that its citizens die to maintain its dominance be ashamed of and shaken by this gross contradiction? The moment liberalism requires a 'patriot', it has failed as an ideal.

Take WWII. We beat the Nazis. But they didn't lose. They pissed in the well of human decency, and we firebombed Dresden, we conducted scientific experiments on minority populations and even servicemen, and we still profit off of the information gathered by Nazi scientists (ever wonder how, when your teacher in elementary school tells you how long humans can survive without food on the one hand versus water on the other, we know that? Or regarding overexposure?). Liberalism, that permanent refusal to give shame to another, truly can't exist without being a totalizing ethos.

So do we act 'like them' and engage in dirty tricks in a 'war to end war' mentality? Or do we act the purists and refuse to do anything that even slightly resembles causing another any suffering? We can't do either. We need to do both. We need to be the United Nations in this country of mine that can't stop killing.

So when Charles Rangel suggests we reinstate the draft to make politicians "think twice" about going to war (bullshit: politicians are always thinking about going to war), I immediately think of previous wars for which there was a draft, and especially WWI, where there was massive dissent and public opinion weighed heavily against it… and how we went to war. The problem is that if you can force a person to do something, they will rationalize by recasting that action as being of their own election. Hazing makes people part of a team by putting them through trauma so ego-shattering that they have to incorporate that trauma, that violence into themselves, like flesh growing over a bullet that can't be removed. This is why the 'ignorant' underprivileged lay down their lives so readily for the country that wrongs them and kills them: it's not stupidity but Stockholm syndrome. And as a privileged white young man, I've been lucky enough to have been kept with one foot outside of the door to the kidnappers' safehouse.

This is why I don't want a draft, is because people need to be kept free of patriotism, and subjecting the many to it (even as a stake in a gamble) does not free any from it. If the powerful want to go to war, they will go to war, and thank god that this time—unlike the real Vietnam—our volunteer-driven corps allowed for an entire middle class basically freed from the war which could look at it from a distance and object. The people on the inside were given no voice with which to object so long as the media was on the fence, so all we knew was jingoistic yokels. They were wronged ideologically and quite materially as well inasmuch as they got fucking shot to death in the desert. And nobody should be wronged like that. Including me.

General drafts do not deter war. They encourage righteous wars. And that's why that mother------- ways & means chair was on the side of nobody good when he proposed reinstating the draft. He can't conceive of a world without war, but only a world with just wars. He figured himself as George Bush's inverted double, as a philosopher king. That's still a king, that's still a demagogue. Sic semper tyranus, bitches.


Alexander said...

I think you make some interesting points here, and I agree that there should be no draft, but to cast this argument in terms of "freeing up the middle class to protest" is both ethically troubling and just flatly incorrect, I think.

The most effective protests of this war have come from those who initially supported it (like Murtha) and those who have been directly effected by it (Sheehan, etc). In fact, the group that immediately rallied in opposition to the war (students, liberals), by merit of their social and economic status, made the anti-war case readily caricatured. "No blood for oil" was, whatever its validity, easily brushed aside.

Likewise, in Vietnam, the case against the war truly crystallized only when vets came home and started protesting themselves.

All in all, then, I think Charlie Rangel makes a powerful protest when he argues for the reinstatement of the draft, even though such a policy would obviously have disastrous consequences for the US military.

John M. said...

I think Charlie Rangel makes an effective protest, but what if he had pulled it off? That was basically my argument, though I really only focused on the material consequences of an actual reinstatement.
Although he makes a good point about the mining of the lower classes for their blood on behalf of the war effort, the solution is under no circumstamces to diminish the burden by spreading it out more evenly.
You're looking for authority as guaranteed from the inside, aren't you? Only veterans or former supporters of the war have the authority to criticize it? That outlook is purely hegemonic, doesn't allow for any progress through legitimate critique.

Alexander said...

Well, no. I'm not suggesting that only former supporters have the authority to critique the war. I'm saying that those are the people whose critiques have proved decisive in changing the nation's attitude towards the war, which is what practically matters. And also that the protests mounted by the early anti-war movement (primarily from students and leftists) were counterproductive because they were so easily caricatured by the right.

Gael Gazpacho said...

you make very good points John, I am all for joining brutus on the ides, but I pose you this question:

the "tyrant" has been very effective in his warmongering and sending of many young men to die for his selfish purposes. he benefits from the lack of a universal draft because the lack of such divides us. It is a simple case of Divide and Conquer. The poor are shipped off to die while the rich fuel the economy. Ultimately this is an irrelevant point because it won't happen, but I think uniting the lower 98% is the best front against the tyranny of the top 2% (which is effectively what modern tyranny is).


John M. said...

I made myself seem very abstract, but was trying to be rather practical, in a roundabout sense:
drafts unify people, but they unify a people on the wrong side. people get together to go to war. national socialism got people together in a big way.

war is taken as my fundamental anti-value here: it's the thing to really really really be avoided.

a bourgeois separated from the war can, I argue, effectively critique it. however, it exists under certain strictures, e.g., the bourgeois must still convince that there is no real separation between itself and the proletariat, or else there'd be a revolution. the mobility myth is how the bourgeoisie survives. as a result, it will come down on indelicate examinations such as radicals' which indict it for its implicit profiteering (though it always profits). however, it can ironically critique war on a more... metaphysical level, that is, the class can revoke it while remaining blissfully unaware of how it stands to profit from the war.

this is what the bourgeois media did, rather materially. embedded reporters? shit! they should've kept the war going on forever, if huxley was writing the script. but apparently the notion of 'critical distance' still carries some weight, because they managed to examine it pretty viciously, eventually.

so: nobody should be drafted, but pragmatically, the fewer who are, the better, and those of us not fighting should not feel guilty for not being drafted. we should merely (merely!) extend the right to everyone.

(otherwise we fall into revoking racial profiling by saying everyone should be strip-searched in airports, we elevate equality of rights over rights themselves, which is wrong)

and radicals need to exist, because otherwise there's no frame to your debate, and you are the radical.