Today I viewed the monumental new PBS documentary, Bush’s War – four and a half hours about the deceit and incompetence that got us to where we are in Iraq. It struck me as a very admirable job. It is a disturbing report to say the least.
It certainly looks as though an age of tyranny is before us; and indeed, quite apart from the war, it seems that our existing industrial technology and financial organization must inevitably impose such tyranny inasmuch as large-scale military planning always leads to more bureaucratic planning, which leads to more military planning, which leads to more bureaucratic planning, ad infinitum. In the desperate effort to simplify the problem and make the plan work, more and more repression and regimentation is inevitably part of the plan.
As the documentary shows, Bush’s “war on terror” is simply a bed of Procrustes. The truth must be stretched or surgically abbreviated to fit it. I see no hope at all for a reversal of existing trends and a deliberate return to a more decentralized form of society, since any genuine diminution of the criminal lunacy can be accomplished only by teaching people to realize that our national policies are disastrous and entirely contrary-to-the-facts.
The neoconservative doctrine of perpetual war is manifestly unconstitutional and counter-productive, but those who believe in it get an enormous amount of heart-warming excitement from their belief, which makes them forget the long-range disasters which such beliefs inevitably lead to. Everyone says he is against war, but no one does anything to stop it. Our entire educational system is designed to support statism and is calculated to turn individuals into militarists (Bertrand Russell has a fine discussion in his Which Way to Peace?).
The “military-defense-of-democracy” argument is practically unassailable today, and it is not by proclaiming this fact in a loud voice that will convince human beings to discontinue their habit of aggressive warfare. It’s really a great shame, considering the potential America has for setting an example for the world. So long as the majority of Americans choose to live like the homme moyen sensuel, society cannot do anything except to stagger from catastrophe to catastrophe.
Today the lie is considered ipso facto good. Now it is quite acceptable to stand Christianity on its head and to speak as if all we needed to be justified was to be wicked. The sicker, the more unfaithful, the more untruthful we become, the more justified we are. To canonize good thieves puts us automatically into a position of an admittedly secular Christ. The word “Christianity” itself comes to be used equivocally, since it has been made profoundly ambiguous by religious people themselves.
We have, in essence, lost the fear of the Lord, both as a society and as a church. It is in this sense that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom – and of true Christianity. This fear questions our religiosity, our own self-justified ambition to do “good.” It begins to see with horror the complacency of speeches that promise to “defend democracy” or “fight terrorism.” The revolt of creature against Creator has netted the calamitous result of all war – shattered minds and wills and shattered spirits, hate fragmenting family and community, nation and world held together only by the inflexible concrete of force.
I shall be curious to see what response – if any – Bush’s War receives among evangelicals. If we go on as we are now going, it is absolutely certain that we shall have a long drawn-out catastrophe. How are we to persuade our leaders to think primarily of truth and only secondarily of power? That is the question. I do not know the answer. All that can be done is to tell people the truth and to hope that one day they may act in accordance with the facts.
March 26, 2008
David Alan Black is the editor of www.daveblackonline.com.