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    "SILVER: I just find it very i..., 2003-03-14 00:00:00 | Main | From my armchair this is the ..., 2003-03-18 00:00:00

    I sat down and started reading one of the books I got for Christmas during the president's speech today - already knowing the substance of the speech would effectively be a declaration of war I figured I'd take up reading fiction again, just to get used to it. As President Bush announced the 48-hour deadline I read this:

    "What he meant, of course, was that there would always be wars, that they were as easy to stop as glaciers. I believe that, too."

    So much for fiction. All I wanted was a pack of pretty lies and I picked up Slaughterhouse-Five.

    Throwing oneself in front of the glacier in an attempt to slow it down, as it happens, is the subject of Raimondo's latest piece. Surrounding an arguement against the present tactical feasibility and potential effectiveness of civil disobedience, which has merit, is a pack of stupid insults against people who have made their own decisions - needless to say very difficult ones - to commit illegal, non-violent acts in resistance to an illegal, grossly immoral, violent war. He calls people carrying out actions like this - or for that matter any direct action, like this - "narcissistic".

    About the only convincing aspect of the insult is that he's directing it at fellow Americans, since, face it, at present we're one of the most unduly narcissistic nations in the world. Look at this face:

    Is there anything more evident of "a psychological condition characterized by self-preoccupation, lack of empathy, and unconscious deficits in self-esteem" when a man wearing that expression declares that, in deference to the tiny minority of the world's population that support this war, we will shortly be waging an aggressive war on their behalf in the name of "democracy", and, he adds - to the citizens of the defenseless country that will be soon facing down a hard rain of American bombs - please don't defend your country.

    Needless to say myself, Raimondo, the pundits, the dissenters, and the rest of the American public have all been quite busy gazing thoroughly at their navels while the man wearing that outrageously silly attempt at an expression of mixed forthrightness and concern has paid them all their due by treating them with brazen disregard. This is not a government that cares about what you think. This, as Raimondo might say, is not about you.

    Should we really bother impinging upon the motives of those who see the glacier, and throw themselves under it?

    There are three political reasons behind acts of public protest: getting attention, putting pressure upon officials, and interfering with actions one feels are immoral. The latter isn't anymore narcisistic than the first two, and it can be far more effective in the right circumstances.

    Raimondo's tactical concerns are all largely valid, and while most of them are exaggerated in my opinion (and maybe he should read more than one paper: the SF Bay Guardian describes police initiating the violence against Black Bloc activists, they may be coo-coo for breaking windows but they're beautiful when they're angry, and they're right to be when cops get violent - who am I supposed to be more concerned about, kids defacing army recruiting offices or an armoured titan clubbing innocents with truncheons?) they merit discussion, and certainly we should hope that resistance is expressed in such a way as to minimize the danger poised to others. But to the extent to which any of us restrict our protest against our own government's actions implicates us in its crimes there's a moral dilema that should be treated seriously, rather than with facile ad hominem. War is murder by other means, obstructing traffic really fails to compare.

    I wish I was a mole in that ground
    If I was a mole in the ground
    I'd root this mountain down
    and I wish I was a mole in that ground


:: posted by buermann @ 2003-03-17 00:00:00 CST | link





    go ahead, express that vague notion
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"Any man who is not a radical at 20 has no heart. A man who is not a cynic at 50 has no mind."