Four Years

Siun at firedoglake writes about the way President’s Bush speeches and President Bush’s policies exist in different realities. He loves to talk about “freedom,” for example, but his own policies both foreign and domestic are hardly supportive of freedom. One wonders what he thinks the word means.

This pro-war op ed in the New York Post makes me wonder what time-space continuum the writer is occupying. Saddam’s regime was toppled! Its machinery of war and internal repression was dismantled! Decades of one-party rule – the “Republic of Fear” – came to an end! Political power was taken from the brutal and corrupt ruling elite and transferred to the Iraqi people as a whole!

Bombs at a Shiite mosque in Kirkuk killed at least 20 people today. Is this what newly empowered Iraqis chose for their own country? Somehow, I don’t think so.

You see that a lot with righties; they use words — freedom, victory, democracy — without seeming to have thought real hard about what they mean. It’s as if the word imposes the reality instead of describing the reality; if we claim Iraqis have “freedom,” then it must be so. If you try to impress upon righties that Iraqis are not free and that “victory” in the context of Iraq is meaningless, they accuse you of hating America.

There’s not much I can say about Iraq that I haven’t already said. So I’m going to quote Eric Hoffer’s The True Believer (1951) instead.

It is the true believer’s ability to “shut his eyes and stop his ears” to facts that do not deserve to be either seen or heard which is the source of his unequaled fortitude and constancy. … And it is the certitude of his infallible doctrine that renders the true believer impervious to the uncertainties, surprises and the unpleasant realities of the world around him.

Thus the effectiveness of a doctrine should not be judged by its profundity, sublimity or the validity of the truths it embodies, but by how thoroughly it insulates the individual from the self and the world as it is ….

The effectiveness of a doctrine does not come from its meaning but from its certitude. No doctrine however profound or sublime will be effective unless it is presented as the one and only truth. …

It is obvious, therefore, that in order to be effective a doctrine must not be understood, but be believed in. We can be absolutely certain only about things we do not understand. A doctrine that is understood is shorn of its strength. …

If a doctrine is not unintelligible, it has to be vague; and if neither unintelligible nor vague, it has to be unverifiable. One has to get to heaven or the distant future to determine the truth of an effective doctrine. When some part of a doctrine is relatively simple, there is a tendency among the faithful to complicate and obscure it. Simple words are made pregnant with meaning and made to look like symbols in a secret message. There is thus an illiterate air about the most literate true believer. He seems to use words as if he were ignorant of their true meaning. Hence, too, his taste for quibbling, hair-splitting, and scholastic tortuousness.

Bush’s Iraq War policy is not policy; nor is it a plan or a strategy. It is a doctrine, as Hoffer just defined doctrine. It is something to be believed in, not understood, and if you don’t share the faith you hate America.

13 thoughts on “Four Years

  1. Hoffer’s “The True Believer” should be required reading in all our schools. I hand out old copies all the time for people to read, it’s scary to me how accurately in 1951 Hoffer predicted the current political climate of the US today.

  2. Thus the effectiveness of a doctrine should not be judged by its profundity, sublimity or the validity of the truths it embodies, but by how thoroughly it insulates the individual from the self and the world as it is ….

    Does this mean the same as drinking the Kool-aid?

  3. During WWI, a character in popular fiction was Pvt. Sweig– Good Soldier Sweig. No matter how awful his circumstances, regardless of the horrors around him, despite the truth as known to him through his senses, the Truth of the Kaiser, of his commanders, of his own necessity to deny his helpless state in order to survive, got Sweig through each disaster only to face the next.

  4. Daddy..Daddieeee…..DAAADEEEE………EEEEE…. wail, sob….I’m scared…..

    Here, child….you just need a bit of Daddy’s doc-trine, drink it up…it’s what Daddy drinks when life becomes too real.

  5. 4 years of war and bush can only give the american public a 10 min. speech delivered at 10:30 am. The speech that no working american will never see…besides a 10 sec bite on the local news…. WOW. Run and hide bush…that has got to be worst than cut and run any day.

  6. Rich weenies like Bush believe that their word is the same as their actions. I observed the same disconnect in a rich-kid boss I once had, he thought that by simply saying something, anything, it meant that reality naturally followed. At times it got to be like King Kanute commanding the ocean. I suspect this comes from a lifetime of having the help actually do everything, including enabling one to live in a cocoon.

    This explains the behavior of weenies at the top, but it doesn’t explain the idiot followers. These quislings think they are safe and secure by attaching themselves to the rich and powerful, is my guess. Any independent or critical thought was beaten out of them (sometimes literally) at an early age. As someone up-thread expressed, “Daddy, please save me”.

    Thanks for the link to Eric Hoffer’s book, it’s now on my wishlist. The pro-war commentaries honoring the anniversary of our glorious invasion are literally making me sick.

  7. Wall Street and Madison Ave created a culture in America that thrives on instant gratification. As we ‘celebrate’ 4 years of victory in Iraq, the culture of make-me-happy-now is getting tired of the payments and the death toll. And they are realizing that we are further from any real triumph; any meaningful accomplishment that we were 4 years ago. Georgie is trying to tell us that we have something new happening; he ditched Rummy and shuffled generals. But nothing there has really changed and this ol’ klunker of a war runs and sells as badly as as it did before the paint job.

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