Ever since 2 November, when I requested what I called a «beauty-sleep cheque» (alas, some of us need such more than others !), I've been trying to think of a way to address the important issues adumbrated by Larry
, and not least, Flam
, without writing at such length that my posting would be rejected by our Agora
's software. I must confess that despite much cogitation these last two weeks, I haven't been able to find a way to deal briefly with matters not amenable to (visual versions of) soundbites. So while I haven't forgotten my promise, I have decided instead try to deal with the issues one at a time, in several posts, in the order in which they happen to come to mind or in which I they are brought to my attention by my fellow Agorists
. I hope it won't be felt that by taking this path, I'm ratting out....
Let me say firstly, Katy
, that I do think I understand the shock that the events of 11 September 2001 caused to US residents. I don't think it was so much the scale of the events - just under 3000 killed and the destruction of two great landmarks in New York City that caused the shock - destruction on a much larger scale has happened elsewhere - but the fact that 1) the strikes seemed to come out of the blue, and 2) and most importantly, that it happened here
; i e, in the continental US, which hadn't been subject to attack since the British burned Washington DC in 1812 (and then, at least, people in the US knew they were at war). I don't want here to discuss whether, for example, the feeling that the attacks came from nowhere with no forewarning was, in fact, justified ; it suffices to note that despite military activities on the part of the US 'round the globe, the vast majority of the people of the United States had no idea whatever that these actions, to the degree that they were even aware of them, could influence their own safety and security, protected as they were (or so it seemed) by two great oceans and military power greater than that of the rest of the globe combined. Were I to attempt to draw a parallel, I could say that the feelings of the citizens of Chile who experienced an attack by their own armed forces on the legitimate, democratically-elected government of Salvador Allende 28 years earlier to the day must have been similar to those felt by residents of the US, but of course, rumours of an impending golpa
had been flying for some time, so even if the Chilean armed forces had, unlike many of their Latin American counterparts, historically never revolted against the state, the shock was more that of a recurrent nightmare come true, than the sudden realisation of one in reality that had never been dreamt. My own parallel experience is on a much smaller scale - the events of 28 February 1986, i e, the murder of the Swedish statsminister
Olof Palme as he and his wife were walking home after a visit to the cinema. How could that happen here
, we (or most of us, including myself) thought, in our peaceful little land ; politics by assassination was something that was done in other countries, in Europe and not least, in the United States. And like your 11 September 2001, this event changed our lives and our political system radically as well : our little corner of the world no longer seemed to smile upon us, safe and friendly ; no Swedish prime minister has since walked home from the flicks unaccompanied by secret service personnel (or, as Per-Albin Hansson used to do forty years earlier, take the tram home from work every day) ; and, indeed, his (as yet, always «his», never «her») role has been changing, becoming ever more and more remote and president-like. So even if the scale of the disaster (3000 dead vs 1) is vastly different, I am not entirely without experience in which to ground the empathy I feel....
But when Larry
says that «I am not worried about an Imperial Presidency», our views part. To my mind, the struggle between Republic and Empire in the US has continued ever since those fateful days in Philadelphia in 1787 when the US Constitution was framed. (If I'm not entirely mistaken, Larry
, you, like me, are a great fan of Mark Twain
, one of the most prominent anti-imperialists in the US at the turn of the last century and a member of the Anti-Imperialist League
.) Just as Lincoln at an earlier junction had realised that «this Nation cannot exist half-slave and half-free», neither can liberty and freedom long exist at home in an Empire, which by its very nature is destructive of the liberties and freedoms of its subjects abroad. That which is brought to foreign lands at the point of a bayonet or with a whiff of white phosphorus is not Democracy but Tyranny, and Tyranny will not be satisfied merely with what it gains abroad, as the cost of such gains (the war on Iraq has hitherto cost the US taxpayer more than 200000 millions of dollars and thousands of killed and wounded) will inevitably lead to discontent at home, which must be suppressed if these gains are to be maintained....
Let me close here by providing a link to an essay, entitled
Confessions of a Repentant Republican
, by a US colleague, Dr William Frey, M. D. His background is certainly very different from my own, but I feel the anguish with which he realises that much of what he has believed about the nature of US power has been false. People like myself can perhaps be dismissed as foreigners and radicals who don't have a clue as to what is really going on, but I don't think the same things can be said about Dr Frey, as little as they can be said about Representative John Murtha