Control Freak

In previous blog posts, I mentioned some of the lessons I learned from Robert Pastor when I was a graduate student at American University’s School of International Service (SIS). Another lesson I learned from Pastor was that the United States is not in control of international affairs. Rather, Pastor argued that the United States can only react to international affairs. Thus, there is an illusion of control, and this illusion is exacerbated by “intelligence” which has proven to render one failed assessment after another. Note the WMDs of Iraq and so forth, which led Colin Powell to humiliate himself before a global audience at the United Nations.

And the results of attempting to control international affairs are abysmal. The results include higher taxes, inflation, shortages, and a set of failed wars which have loaded massive debt on top of the American public. The key for Washington at this point is to let go and to stop making an already bad situation worse. Weapons peddling, for example, is making a bad situation worse in Continental Europe, and support for Israel has fostered a humanitarian crisis in the Middle East. End the costly and pointless support for Israel, and you will stop the potential for an even bigger humanitarian crisis in the Middle East. And even if the neocons who fostered the humanitarian crisis in the Middle East are held accountable in a court of law, none of them can be forgiven or offered salvation for their actions and for their rhetoric.

Control of reality ties into the shaping of a meta-narrative of history and reality. Thus, if one can control the meta-narrative, then one can perhaps control reality. But reality is beginning to diverge from Washington’s meta-narrative, thus the loss of control which had already been alluded to by Pastor when I was a student. Up until now, the meta-narrative hinged on differences in material progress between western and non-western peoples. But the differences in material progress can be made up for if there is peace in non-western societies and if western countries stop propping up corrupt regimes in non-western countries.

Thus, control of the meta-narrative means doing whatever is possible to maintain drastic differences in material progress between western and non-western societies. Despite the differences in material progress, non-western societies are culturally and socially richer than their western counterparts. Without controlling differences in material progress, the western meta-narrative of western superiority cannot sustain itself. Laissez-faire capitalism may have been the path towards material progress for the United States. But other countries and other regions of the world have different paths towards material progress. Therefore, the United States cannot and should not impose its path or way towards material progress on others. China proved that different countries and societies have different paths towards material progress.

Moreover, material progress should not even be an issue with advancements in technology and so forth. But the imposition of a ‘mass culture’ on the world by western powers is the main impediment towards material progress in other countries. As Max Horkheimer wrote:

“We criticize mass culture not because it provides us with too much or because it makes our lives too secure – we can leave that to Lutheran theology. Rather, we criticize mass culture because it contributes to a situation in which we receive too little and in which what we receive is too bad; because broad swathes of society live in terrible misery, both inwardly and outwardly; and because people end up resigning themselves to injustice. In short, we criticize mass culture because it keeps the world in a state in which we have to expect large-scale catastrophes, on the one hand, and a conspiracy on the part of infernally cunning elites to broker a hellish peace, on the other.”

Thus, the neocon imposition of the ‘mass culture’ which Horkheimer alluded to was done deliberately towards the Middle East in order to impede material and spiritual progress. As a result, everything uttered and said out of Washington needs to be critiqued and taken with a grain of salt. As George Orwell argued: “Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”

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