Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Chris Hedges

I'm just reading Chris Hedges' book, War Is a Force that Gives Us Meaning, and just wanted to post some quotes:

War is a crusade. President George W. Bush is not shy about warning other nations that they stand with the United States in the war on terrorismor will be counted with those that defy us. This too is jihad. Yet we Americans find ourselves in the dangerous position of going to war not against a state but against a phantom. The jihad we have embarked upon is targeting an elusive and protean enemy. (4)

I don't know why I'm quoting that. It's so well-known, so repeated, almost cliché, but, still, it is so true and so important. He goes on to tell of war's narcotic effects, its thrills, its sense of purpose--the very one it conveys to societies--like ours--that fall under its spell. "Even with its destruction and carnage it can give us what we long for in life. It can give us purpose" (2).

I am often amazed, as I drive down the street, as I purchase food, gas, clothes and other things we call necessities, at how the spell of war and of capital flowing through me and endowing me with something I don't intrinsically have. War is the ultimate form of branding: live or die, win or lose, right or wrong. Our brutish, wanna-be dictator that we call The President is sucessfully branding himself and pulling all into his manichean system in which our daily actions allow us to portray ourselves as patriotic ("Let's buy a car!" "Support our troops!") because of what we say, wear or worship. But, don't worry. We still have our imagination, right?

"It’s a strange thing when a letter from the school principal arrives on lime green and aqua stationery. Stranger still when the postmark is Burbank, California, and the return address reads “Imagineer That!” But it was real. The communique trumpeted “Disney Channel is coming to our school to help spark our creativity”—in a pre-packaged 90-minute assembly.

“Imagineer That! The Creativity Adventure” is designed to “help empower students to unleash their creative powers.” It folds “an imagination skills building workshop” and a sighting of Disney Channel star Ricky Ullman into the middle-school day, and follows up with a celebratory evening “wrap party.” Full participation is guaranteed by a chance to win a family vacation to (where else?) Walt Disney World. The principal described this hoopla as “a fantastic opportunity.”

(From In These Times)