Mudcat Café message #1177412 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #69413   Message #1177412
Posted By: GUEST
03-May-04 - 11:07 PM
Thread Name: BS: Militarism & the US culture of violence
Subject: RE: BS: Militarism & the US culture of violence
TomPaine.com: When a country prepares for war and goes to war, there are changes in that country's politics and culture. You write that a myth emerges -- a seductive myth as leaders spin out a cause. You write that a patriotism, a "thinly veiled form of self-worship appears." What do you mean by this myth, this cause, this patriotism and what you then say is an intoxicating result?

Chris Hedges: Well myth is always part of the way we understand war within a society. It's always there. But I think in a peacetime society we are at least open to other ways of looking at war. Just as patriotism is always part of the society. In wartime, the myth becomes ascendant.

Patriotism, national self-glorification infects everything, including culture. That's why you would go to symphony events and people wave flags and play the "Star Spangled Banner." In essence, it's the destruction of culture, which is always a prerequisite in wartime. Wartime always begins with the destruction of your own culture.

Once you enter a conflict, or at the inception of a conflict, you are given a language by which you speak. The state gives you a language to speak and you can't speak outside that language or it becomes very difficult. There is no communication outside of the clichés and the jingos, "The War on Terror," "Showdown With Iraq," "The Axis of Evil," all of this stuff.

So that whatever disquiet we feel, we no longer have the words in which to express it. The myth predominates. The myth, which is a lie, of course, built around glory, heroism, heroic self-sacrifice, the nobility of the nation. And it is a kind of intoxication. People lose individual conscience for this huge communal enterprise.

TP.c: You write there are different war myths -- myths that fuel conflicts. What type of myth do you see animating the discussion today in the United States as it looks at Iraq?

Hedges: Well I think the myth is remarkably similar from war zone to war zone. At least, as it pertains to how the nation that prosecutes a war looks at itself.

We become the embodiment of light and goodness. We become the defenders of civilization, of all that is decent. We are more noble than others. We are braver than others. We are kinder and more compassionate than others -- that the enemy at our gate is perfidious, dark, somewhat inhuman. We turn them into two-dimensional figures. I think that's part of the process of linguistically dehumanizing them. And in wartime, we always turn the other into an object, and often, quite literally, in the form of a corpse.