Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The immorality of the state

I've been listening to the broadcasts of the "Winter Soldier" hearings, on Democracy Now from Pacifica Radio. It's absolutely gut-wrenching stuff. I remember driving across the country, listening to the first Winter Soldier, broadcast live on Pacifica stations. I switched from one to the next and sped through the zones where I couldn't hear it, as much as one can speed in a 1964 Volkswagen bus.

I think of the immorality of sending young men to a desert thousands of miles away from their homes, where they are encouraged, nay, ordered, to commit the most horrendous atrocities against innocent human beings.

If they just killed people, it would be bad enough. These young men... yes, and some women... are taught to denigrate other humans, to consider them as less than human, to hate them and to take pleasure in hurting, maiming, torturing and cruelly killing them in unspeakable ways.

It's not their fault. Yes, they participated willingly, if any impressionable youth propagandized into joining the military can be said to have done anything willingly. They were thrust not of heir own volition into an alien landscape where people were trying to kill them, with reason, of course. Steeped in a culture of violence and exhorted by their leaders to acts of horrible violence, it's no wonder that they shoot, stab, blow up and bomb their helpless victims, then live with their acts the rest of their lives.

Meanwhile, the perpetrators of these international crimes rest at their ease in obscene comfort and safety thousands of miles away, watching the scene on CNN and Fox Network, smoking their Cuban cigars and sipping on a fine single-malt whiskey. They don't see the blood on their hands, nor do they take credit for the lives of thousands of young men and women permanently scarred and distorted.

If there were any justice in the world Dick Cheney, Joe Lieberman and John McCain would be stripped naked and staked out on a street in Baghdad for the locals to have their way with them. It wouldn't make any difference in the long run, but some folks would sleep better at night.

In the broader view, it is not just cruel, amoral people such as Bush, Cheney and all the others who create such carnage. On their own, they would only be petty tyrants, neighborhood thugs, confidence tricksters and carnival hucksters, easily dealt with by an armed and aroused vigilante society.

Given access to the reins of the state, however, their immorality takes on global proportions, where they can ratchet up their murder, rape and pillage to epic proportions, relegating Genghis Kahn, Ivan the Terrible and the Celtic hordes to mere amateur status, neighborhood bullies, local ruffians. Adolph Hitler had nothing on Dick Cheney when it comes to roughing up the neighbors.

The most frustrating part of it all is that we citizens can do nothing to rein in the excesses of state power. The political process is controlled and pre-ordained. Elections consist of "which corrupt politician would you prefer to guide the imperialist ship of state?"

The answer is "None of the above." The only rational response to a corrupt state is non-cooperation. This does not mean no political involvement at all. It means concentration on local politics and local decision making, where we live, were our decisions have immediate results, immediate consequences and where those we vote for have immediate responsibility to the electorate.

All together now... face Washington, D.C., place your right hand over your heart and repeat ofter me:


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