13 September 2006

Branding Democracy

Branding Democracy

Is it all as simple as a grab for oil and power? From the top, yes. Creating fear and then stepping in to “protect”? Those are mafia methods: the protection racket.

REPORTER: What does the war in Iraq have to do with 9/11?
BUSH (irritated): Nothing....But the American people should know that I’m doing my job of protecting them.

Deeper than that, the implied lie is that “the war” is a protracted (in fact never-ending) battle of good vs. evil. In order to make sure the people feel “good” (especially about their fearless leaders), the population has to be presented (enter TV, newsfeeds, and embedded reporters) with a generalized enemy to be feared: an “axis of evil.”

An average American responds: “God continue to be with the victims and their families. Be with the soldiers as they continue to defend our way of life. It's regrettable that so many are forgetting the scenes of that day. We are in a struggle for the very lifestyle that so many take for granted.”

At this deeper level of truth and self-deception, goodness equates with the supreme value placed on material prosperity, and the freedom to enjoy it even if at the expense of others. In such a bipolar world, the “haves” are good and the “have-nots” are evil (unless they are content with the plundering of their resources and sanctions on their own freedoms).

So finally we have it. Oil really is blood: the lifeblood of the American way of life. Protecting Americans means protecting the way of life, the lifestyle, the priceless “democratic freedom” to consume at the top of the global food chain, for which any cost in human lives (whether foreign or American) is deemed a necessary blood-sacrifice.

The high priests of American foreign policy (for whom Bush is really just a typecast down-home mouthpiece) are certainly wedded to this imperial philosophy, by their own embedding in and dependence on the corporate hierarchies that rest atop that economic food chain. And the people who follow the resulting war cries, whether conscious or not of their real motives, must be reckoned with.

If it’s a real “us” against “them” today in North American politics, it’s those of us who cannot in conscience support violence to other human beings for the sake of our own prosperity, vying for political influence with those who have no qualms about putting the maintenance of their economic lifestyle above the very lives of others less fortunate.

I could go further to say that the one stance is “good” and the other is “evil,” but my dualistic trap has very different consequences than the current working model. My response to the evil of imperialistic warfare is, the behavior should be condemned and made politically indefensible. The conventional response to the evil of insurgent have-nots is, kill them if they don’t comply.

Which brand of democracy do you buy?