Thursday, October 28, 2004
Never Cry Wolf
But what if crying wolf is all one ever does? What if one is as dependent on the wolves as on your overprotective daddy, who calls to you and says with mexed missages in his eyes, "remembernow , never cry wolf, Georgie." There always seems a performative ambiguity with this phrase, never quite so simple as the altruism, "prohibition creates desire." The prohibition is already desiring - desiring itself!? Rendered trite by outmoded moralists and insincere usage, sure, but this phrase also now functions as a strange sort of echo, as simulacrum and self-parody.
To say that Dubya is an idiot is the truth but not the whole truth. It is obvious maybe, but simply worth noting that much of his allure comes from a parading of his greatest weaknesses as strengths. (Not unlike all good dictators maybe.) As Zizek has pointing out holds true in an age of "postpolitics" - the means are here simultaneously the ends. What matters is that you harness the public imagination with whatever outrageous images and lies you can muster. And, as in Iraq, it's a reckless strategy that can easily - and perhaps only ever - backfire. But to willfully ignore the "it's just so crazy it might actually work" appeal of the neocon project is still something of a lapse. What I mean is, despite claiming to be moralists, the folks of Bush Inc. are in fact remarkably freed by their inherent crookedness to shape the rules of the game, and in this they are more visionary and creative than the DNC. Granted, it doesn't take much.
But integrity simply goes out the window. Things like voter intimidation and crooked electronic voting machines are entirely justified because this is, after all, a "whole new war." What matters is not so much that one's arguments are coherent, but that one preemptively defines the terrain, and precisely by changing it, and often. Such tactics depend on your opponent being continuously duped into responding to every new absurdity with woodern, outmoded appeals to integrity. You cannot continuously dignify the very conditions you wish to critique! Kerry has far too much of the choir boy, suck-up in him to mount an effective counter. (He also cannot speak without first taking a huge breath and concluding with fucking sermon.) So but maybe it is no wonder that Bush is now looking upbeat, thoroughly enjoying his monkey self, while Kerry often sounds....tired.
The neocon logic is of course perverse in the extreme. Iraq is now brimming with terrorists? That's why we have to bomb them, stupid! Permanent revolution? Domino! Such tactics are also entirely dependent upon the conditions of permanent war, which is what we got, and what we'll get (yes, that's the clip of pious Bush giving a "one finger victory salute" -- get the animated GIF here) unless a few thousand Americans go watch "Going Upriver: the Long War of John Kerry" this weekend (it's free - go watch it).
But maybe crying wolf is ultimately not such a bad thing, given a system increasingly run by wolves, and seeking world domination. That is, Nader is not simply stroking his damaged ego and trying to get attention. The sheep themselves are wolves, as are the parents.
'Terror' after all is not something ever purely external or other; its origins are within us or they are not at all. The terror of Dubya Inc. is a cancerous disease in the banal sense, if disease is understood as some foreign body infecting, converting cells and spreading its malicious poison. But such would be a misdiagnosis as 'terrorism' - in the Derridian sense - is something inescapably linked to the condition of possibility of any ethics whatsoever. Terrorism in this sense is neither the invading force of some contamination whose origins are external, nor a military tactic assumed, inevitably, in the face of overwhelming (and unjust) force. Rather terrorism would be that tension of thought that doesn't shy away from the possibility of the very worst. In that, on some level, it refuses to take anything for granted, this "good" terrorism does indeed share affinities with the "postpolitical" spirit of the neocons. However it is diametrically, uncompromisingly opposed. Instead of simply abusing and manipulating these conditions (of postpolitics) for cowardly personal gain and grandiose delusions, "deconstructive" terrorism would seek to advance a new ethics beyond ethics, to confront and so finally negotiate the deepest contradictions at the heart of our uncollective darkness. Or so a Derridian might argue anyway.
If only John Kerry didn't take himself so goddamn seriously. Americans despise that. Still, pas au-delà hearby endorses the fucker, may our country look on itself more honestly yet, and rejuvenate the turn he courageously, if a bit presumptuously, once proclaimed.
Posted by Matt Christie at 4:08 AM