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All content © 2002-2005 Anne Zook

March 10, 2004
From Mercenaries To Oatmeal

Here we go again with the mercenaries. I've talked about these armies of mercenaries in the past, I know, but it continues to astonish me how wide-spread the use of them is becoming. And here's another good article on the same subject. (Courtesy of Cursor.)

Speaking of mercenaries, think about this.

Here in the USofA, those who oppose the Bush Administration are terrorists, even if they're as apparently nonpolitical as, say, for instance, a group of teachers.

In Zimbabwe, the "Minister of State for Information and Publicity, Professor Jonathan Moyo" calls them "mercenaries" and includes (some) journalists among the group. (In Nigeria, you get "vampire mercenaries" but that's a different subject altogether.)

On the other hand, in Korea, they seem to call foreign soccer players recruited to play for Korean teams, "mercenaries."

I can't decide if all of this is because of faulty translations or if the entire world's rhetoric, and not just ours, is getting this over the top?

In Iraq they refer to "terrorist mercenaries" leading us to believe that you can find soldiers-for-hire who are not only willing to fight (and die) for your money but are willing to pretend to support your cause while they do so.

India's Navhind Times similarly mentions mercenaries hired to commit terrorist acts.

This is an interesting concept. It allows a small cult (even, say, one member) with sufficient funds to give the impression that they're at the head of a large, organized, militant movement. I don't think that's out of the question. (For the record, some that I hesitate to characterize as "wingnuts," purely on grounds of being polite to strangers, disagree that this is what's happening in Iraq, but I have to warn you that the scornful, dismissive tone of the article clearly labels the writer, if not the site, for what they are.)

I don't actually remember where I was going with this when I started, but it was all interesting, so read it.

And for those interested in how the current political process in the USofA mirror tactics used in Nazi Germany, read this.

I don't entirely buy into it. The human psyche is the human psyche and the fact that certain propaganda (read: advertising) techniques work on most psyches might have been articulated by prominent Nazis of the time, but they hardly "invented" the practice. I tend to find Nazi Germany's very effective use of propaganda interesting more from the perspective of being an incredibly successful advertising campaign than a dire warning that every advertising campaign since, especially political ones, are an attempt to establish some similar dictatorship.

No, I'm not concerned we'll turn into Nazi Germany, not really. I'm concerned, as anyone who has been reading this blog for more than a week can probably testify, about 1984.

Not a reign of terror. A reign of stifling, conformist, mindless, blandness.

It's probably a Liberal thing. Seems to me we have a choice. The future can be black forest cake or it can be oatmeal. I warn you. If you stop paying attention, you're going to get oatmeal, because that's what's easiest to mass-produce, not to please us, but to not terminally piss off the maximum number of citizens.

(I'm stopping now because I fear there was something seriously wrong with that last sentence. Syntax is not my ally today.)

In other news...hmmm.

Also, people keep wondering if the Democrats can win in '04 without the South but I have yet to hear anyone explain that we don't want to leave the South out. Certainly people there have suffered as much as anyone else in the country from the disastrous Bush Administration policies.

Posted by AnneZook at 08:41 AM


Comments

Where were you going with this post?

I'm lost. It was nice getting here, but...

;-)

Posted by: Charles2 at March 10, 2004 01:15 PM

Anne,

There's been some good work done on the hallmarks of fascism and how much or little they show up in the US, but the Dissident Voice article includes references to "the New York Times, that sophisticated temple of US Zionism"... not exactly dispassionate, balanced analysis.

A good example is this discussion of Stanley Payne's "general theory of fascism": http://forums.devhardware.com/showthread.php?t=9470

Honestly, I think that the discussions of "American proto-fascism" generally grossly underestimate the influence of corporations in modern life, which makes proto-feudalism an issue as well.

Posted by: Jonathan Dresner at March 10, 2004 01:34 PM

Charles, it's frequently a mystery to me as well as the reader. :)

In all seriousness, I started to write about how I object to the way hyperbole contributes to the overwhelming confusion so many people feel when they try to figure out what's going on in this country, or the world, and how they ought to feel about it.

As the level of political debate in this country sinks lower and lower, everyone feels free to use ever-more-loaded adjectives and nouns in an attempt to make their position, or their particular diatribe, stand out from the crowd of over-hyped crisises (Is that right? That doesn't look right.) competing for our attention each day.

There are plenty of examples of this in our recent (say, 20-year) history, but to stick just with the very recent past, look at how overused the word "terrorist" is already.

On 9/12/2001, everyone knew what a terrorist was. It was someone who hijacked a loaded plane and steered it into a crowded building, killing thousands of innocent people.

A scant 30 months later, a "terrorist" is also a group of teachers who don't agree with a government policy on funding education.

How, precisely, did that transition happen? (Well, one step at a time, but this isn't the place to trace the descent.)

If everyone and their next-door neighbor or their cousin is a terrorist because they're a teacher or because they're an environmentalist or because they participated in an anti-war rally, then why should the government expect we'll care about their continued cries of imminent terrorist action? The next time the government* climbs on that worn soapbox and screams how we ought to do this or that because the terrorists are coming!, they shouldn't be surprised if everyone shrugs and changes the channel.

The word is devalued by being overused and misused. The same goes for other words (and concepts). Not a few political personages and entities co-opt semantically loaded words to try and push their private agendas, or even just diss their opponents. It's becoming too common to even notice.

If everything your opponent does is greeted with cries of, "corruption! fraud! malfeasance!" then don't be surprised if no one is listening when someone on the opposition actually does commit a criminal act.

To put it simply, I'm suggesting that we all take a look at the language we're using and consider whether or not we want to fire with both barrels every time a rabbit hops across the road or if we want to save the really big guns (what martial metaphors) for when there's something of actually major significance happening.

* In this case, "the government" refers to the government, as an ongoing entity, and not just to the current Administration. While I might be willing to argue that it was the Republicans who really started pushing the level of political debate in this country toward the Sensationalism Sewer, I donít argue that any major political group is free from this kind of behavior.

Posted by: Anne at March 10, 2004 02:40 PM

Jonathan - I almost didn't post that link because I wasn't that happy with the entire article.

On the other hand, if I only posted links ot unbiased articles, I'd never post anything at all and in the end I decided that since the bias in the DV article was at least very open, readers would take all of the information with a grain of salt.

As far as your "proto-fascism" versus "proto-feudalism" comments...I don't have time to do it justice but thanks for the link.

(If I had time to do it justice, I'd be speculating on whether or not some kind of proto-fascism is the inevitable future for an overcrowded planet. I'd also be arguing that the difference between any modern version of feudalism and any 21st century version of Fascism in a western country like the USofA is going to be slight. The difference might be crucial to those who wind up living under a proto-fascist state instead of a proto-feudal state, of course.)

Posted by: Anne at March 10, 2004 02:46 PM

Anne,

Re: "Also, people keep wondering if the Democrats can win in '04 without the South but I have yet to hear anyone explain that we don't want to leave the South out. Certainly people there have suffered as much as anyone else in the country from the disastrous Bush Administration policies."

Howard Dean presented an for inclusion and an inspiring antidote to the notorious "southern strategy" in his South Carolina remarks: Restoring the American Community
Sunday December 7, 2003

http://www3.deanforamerica.com/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=10881&JServSessionIdr008=6xw117xj51.app196a&security=1&news_iv_ctrl=1321


Posted by: Deborah at March 10, 2004 04:23 PM

A "strategy" for inclusion! ..."strategy".

Or an "argument"? Maybe just a "case" for inclusion. whatever...He spoke to their suffering under Bush and it seems clear that if the masses were to get behind our common good, we could do a number. sigh.

Posted by: at March 10, 2004 04:28 PM

Anne,

Fascism is probably not likely to be a global movement, in the way I think you mean, because a great deal of the fascist identity has to do with bonding together towards a common goal against a common enemy: communism was the most popular "other" of fascist and neo-fascist movements. So, unless we develop a good internal enemy, widely distributed and difficult to tell from the rest of the population (uh oh, Here come the Jews again), or encounter (or invent) aliens, fascism will have to remain a nation-level movement.

Corporate feudalism might be a component of a neo-fascist movement, but I think it's more likely, in the long term to supersede it by its global nature.

Posted by: Jonathan Dresner at March 10, 2004 08:13 PM

Jonathan, I'm guilty of sloppy phrasing. I didn't mean a "movement" so much as I mean a sort of gradual evolution toward a kind of proto-fascism.

For example, the current "everyone's a terrorist" climate that's allowing law enforcement to use newly granted powers to crack down on behaviors it doesn't like. It's not that all the law enforcement officers are evil, or even most of them, it's that their jobs are easier and they perceive that the majority of citizens are safer if certain liberties are curtailed.

But giving up liberties, freedoms, in order to increase security isn't necessarily going to work, and it's a slippery slope no matter how you look at it.

It's not difficult to see how such a trend can lead toward the "proto-fascism" I was talking about. Even though no one involved is really guilty of wanting to impose any kind of fascism on this society...that's still where that kind of thing can lead.

Posted by: Anne at March 11, 2004 04:18 PM