Just another Reality-based bubble in the foam of the multiverse.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

no cause for celebration

Liam McGonagle:

...“It’s not a ‘celebration’. It’s a ‘commemoration’. It’s one of the few things that can bring divided America together as a nation. Mourning a shared tragedy, a loss of innocence. Expressing gratitude for the selfless courage of the first responders. Building community.”

Ah, not so much. In reality, it is a masterful manipulation of the complementary moral and intellectual weaknesses of the both extreme wings of the American body politic, a satanic appeal to our vanity and invitation to the destruction of our democratic institutions. Stupid right wingers love the 9/11 narrative because it’s a simple authoritarian parable providing clearly delineated foreign villains and glorifying nativist military authorities. Spineless left wingers love it because they get to light all their coolest scented candles around the drum circle and feel each others’ pain.

However, it’s actual primary importance, though quite obvious to anyone who actually thinks about it, is rarely explicitly articulated: the destruction of our sense of agency. The sense of individual and corporate empowerment and responsibility necessary to the successful conduct of affairs is decisively undermined by a morbid preoccupation with victimhood.

Especially so when that impotent whinging becomes the sole focus of public discourse. Remember: The United States did NOT defeat the Soviet Union in the Cold War. The Soviet Union defeated the Soviet Union in the Cold War — through the tragi-comic stupidity of insisting upon its vision of itself as the embattled last champion of a communal ideology beset from all sides by an insidious, corrupt capitalist enemy. This tunnel-vision prevented a balanced, realistic interpretation of the nature and severity of the economic and political challenges facing them. It foreclosed necessary policy options from even theoretical consideration. And it inevitably concentrated the latent energies of its ignored population to a breaking point. Even if those constituents’ ambitions have been imperfectly realized, and maybe even resulted in as much instability as progress, they undeniably achieved one goal — the destruction of the Soviet Union.

How ironic, then, that a nation of people professing to be can-do pioneers and innovators of the American frontier insist on painting themselves into a very Soviet-style ideological corner. All “American” solutions must be private sector solutions. Never mind that over-reliance upon and under-regulation of the corporate sectors recently resulted in the largest economic disaster in three generations. Never mind the obvious fact that the single common business purpose embodied int he charters of ALL corporations worldwide, profit, is essentially anti-social and undermining of the impetus toward activity and exchange for which Americans are starving. And never mind the fact that the most impressive and dynamic economic turnaround in our history was the result of progressive policy and vigorous governmental engagement. We are committed to a death spiral of stupidity...

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