You have to stand guard over the development and maintenance of democracy, social justice and the equality of mankind in your own native soil. [Mohammed Ali Jinnah]

Friday, November 21, 2008

Endless War? Why winning is for losers.

source: piece by David Kell on

The magical thinking behind the ‘war on terror’ has allowed a radical disconnect between problem and solution - most glaringly, between 9/11 and attacking Iraq. Hannah Arendt noted in The Origins of Totalitarianism that it can be very attractive when leaders offer solutions with a degree of certainty; the illogical nature of the proposed ’solution’ (for example, eliminating the Jews as a remedy for Germany’s military and economic problems) does not necessarily make it any less attractive. Arendt also noted that the need for certainty may be particularly intense in circumstances where people’s own economic and social circumstances are precarious; she suggested that part of the appeal of fascism was that the identification of a clearly-identified enemy - whilst frightening - was less frightening and less disorienting than a world in which the source of insecurity remained obscure.

That analysis resonates today. In his book What’s the matter with Kansas?, Thomas Frank provides a revealing case-study of how economic insecurity has fed into support for Bush and for right-wing politicians more generally. Frank argues that in Kansas (and, by extension, much of middle America), a longstanding hostility towards big corporations has been displaced into a ‘backlash’ politics that includes hostility towards foreign enemies, towards a range of ‘outgroups’, and towards the forces (like science, evolution, secularism and pluralism) that seem to undermine old and comfortable certainties. read complete post .....

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