Saturday, September 10, 2011

Ere the Dismal Tide

On this, the eve of which is going to be a very long day of “observances” and “memorial services” -- in which the “wall of separation of church and state” will be strained to the utmost – I have to offer a brief footnote to the preceding post, lifted from an article in the July issue of Chronicles by Andrei Navrozov. Now, Mr. Navrozov is, without a doubt, a conservative, or he would not be a regular columnist for, and European editor of, Chronicles. But he is also a man of the world, and a thorough cosmopolitan, and he does not hesitate to make this known on a regular basis. So it's interesting to see what happens when he starts talking about American “conspiracy theories”. In the case of JFK, for example, he refers to the assassination as “an act of terror directed against the population at large” (by the state) and “ritual murder”... and refers to “the absurd explanations [by the powers that be] that came in its wake.” In other words, rather than taking his ease in the bubbling cauldron of conspiracy theories, he has made a leap – solo, at least – into a form of conventional wisdom which only a European, or other non-American, can enjoy. Of _course_ JFK's assassination was an act of terror – it was meant not only to eliminate someone who stood in the way of many and varied agendas, but to serve as an object lesson to anyone who might follow. And sure enough – you'll notice – not one president has come anywhere close to bucking the Regime ever since.

In other words, you don't actually have to be a “conspiracy theorist” -- with all of its implications of fanaticism and monomania – to believe that the government – the state – is behind many acts of “terror” and other unsavory things. If you adopt a “reality-based” view, weigh the evidence, and simply conclude that this is the case, that does not even require an ideological premise, to say nothing of neurotic or ego needs. All it means is that you're seeing things as they are – or objectively seem to be. And this could be the case for 9/11, except that our degree of collective hysteria about those events make it virtually impossible. (Again, there is something to be said, from time to time, for European cynicism.) But let me move on to a quote from the article:

“The point was not to hide the fact that the President was not killed by a crazed loner, and yet leave the general population no alternative except to say that this was indeed the case. The object of the exercise is less the demonstration of plausibility for a given story and more the show of muscle that is above such vulgar issues as plausibility, opportunity, or even motive. All we need to do is to say that burial at sea is a Muslim custom, and our citizens will repeat this absurd fabrication without so much as a reference to Wikipedia.”

Now, let me try to deconstruct Navrozov's somewhat convoluted prose here. (Like many Russians, he has a much better command of English than most native English speakers and writers, but there is occasionally a turn of phrase that leaves one somewhat bewildered.) What he saying is that despite such monoliths of misdirection as the Warren Report, the government did not overly strain itself to deny that there was more to the matter than “a lone nut with a gun”. All they had to do was refuse to consider any alternatives – to put the entire question of alternatives beyond the pale, which means that – with the help of the ever-compliant media (who were totally enamored of JFK up to that fateful day, leave us not forget) – people had nothing else to “cling” to but the official story – which they happily did, out of fear. The logic of it reminds me of those “dissing” contests between two “homies” in the inner city, where one says “You mamma ain't nuthin' but a... (whatever)” And the other one says, “Oh yeah? Well, _you_ mamma...” and so on. The second guy never says “That's not true!” It would be absurd. It wasn't meant to be true; it was just part of the dialectic. The government doesn't waste time trying to convince people of the truth of the official narrative; it is enough to deny any alternative narratives (or their proponents) the right to exist. If there is only one story, in other words, it will be the one people believe, no matter how absurd it may be.

That this was true in the case of JFK is obvious. Conspiracy theorists ever since have been scrambling around trying to put together a credible, alternative narrative – and some have done a decent job of it, even in pre-Internet days. Then when we move up to the events of 9/11, we find much the same thing – an official line which is not defended by anyone in government, because it's no one in government's job to defend it... and plenty of alternative theories, or partial theories. But the alternatives, just as with JFK, are considered beyond the pale, and their advocates – regardless of their qualifications – are universally portrayed as paranoid nut cases. (And you'll notice that this is the media's job, not the government's.) And this is even more striking in the case of various liberals who were highly skeptical of the official line as long as Bush remained in office, but who have fallen into comatose silence even since Obama ascended to the throne and took over the narrative, without altering either jot or tittle. There is, as I've said before, only one Regime, and therefore only one narrative... and it is kept in a position of dominance less by brute force than by sheer default. As Navrozov points out, “plausibility, opportunity, or even motive” are non-issues when it comes to the narrative; all that counts is that there is a narrative, and that it comes from what most people continue to consider an unimpeachable source – namely the Regime, as represented by the government, in whatever thin partisan veil it presents itself at any given time.

Navrozov calls events like the JFK assassination “acts of nascent totalitarianism”, and, even though it may be somewhat of an exaggeration to claim that the events of 9/11 turned this country, overnight, into a police state, they certainly constitute a very large notch in the ratchet – as did the JFK assassination, or the Gulf of Tonkin (non-) incident, or Pearl Harbor, etc. Each instance offers the Regime an opportunity to acquire and consolidate more power – and when the harvest is as rich as this, for a relatively small investment, is it all that wild and speculative to imagine that the Regime has something to do with these events, rather than playing a strictly passive role? The object of terrorism, after all, is fear – and since the state thrives on fear, why should “state terrorism” not be added to the arsenal? I suspect that it already has been.

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