Our Cold Civil War

In our country, the lie has become not just a moral category, but a pillar of the State.

– Alexander Solzehnitsyn

Earlier this month, when General Betray-Us was among us, Larisa Alexandrovna posted Our Cold Civil War at the Huffington Post. It caught my eye, and I filed it away for a better time to write about it. Lucky you, that time is now. Her thesis is two-fold:

  1. There are two wars going on, the one overseas, and the one domestically. The domestic war is between the oligarchs of this country versus We, The People. In her view, the domestic war far overshadows the overseas war in importance.
  2. Move-On’s General Betray-Us ad represents a major pushback in this domestic war – not because the ad was so great, but because roughly 3 million MoveOn members were able to pool their resources and have an effect – of getting Bush, the Senate, and others to rebuke it.

I don’t agree with everything she says – she doesn’t get why we’re still in Iraq (here’s a clue), but she expresses ideas both new to me and also ones I’ve long held but don’t often see in print. Examples:

…The attacks of September 11, 2001 were not the singular, all-transforming event that changed everything. Rather, it was the Supreme Court decision of 2000 that changed everything, a consequence of that single monumental failure to protect the Constitution…

The robber barons needed their figurehead, and so their allied fourth estate bosses fixed the propaganda around the myth, creating substance where there was none. The propaganda worked to create an image of a war veteran candidate Bush with a stellar educational background, an experienced and successful businessman, and an honest Texan raised on a farm. Those lies led to more lies and since then, we have essentially been held hostage by an ever expanding parade of liars.

The corporate interests of America are now almost entirely at one with the political interests of America. The people are either relegated to the outskirts as unimportant bystanders or are caught in the cross-fire as casualties of a hostile corporate takeover by American and even foreign corporations. We "the people" do not matter in a country where corporate profits are tied to state policy, which then uses those same corporations to tell us what is real and what is fabricated, what is true and what is false.

If a voice of dissent should manage to slip through the heavily corporatized and politicized public censors, as we saw happen in the case of Ambassador Joseph Wilson, a cadre of purchased truth tellers, reporters, and grassroots groups are ready in the wings to react swiftly, to silence and discredit back into the shadows not only the lone whistle-blower, but any other person considering coming forward.

This is not something that happens in a democracy. This type of political character assassination in which the assassins are so much of the mainstream does not happen in a democracy. It only happens in countries under the control of something other than the people, but not in a democracy.

In a nation where corporations control the government, the military, and every possible freedom that can be afforded to a people (voting rights, access to basic life sustaining resources, etc.), a thing such as "democracy" is merely another marketing strategy or product brand, worn like one might wear a tiny American flag on the lapel of a dinner jacket.

Such corporate control and merger with the government and military has been in modern times called fascism. In America, we call it "privatization," so that the jagged edges and unpleasant concepts of a nation where no choice is our own to make can be much more easily digested.

In America we now have designated areas where people may protest, conveniently far away from news cameras and the people they are protesting – so out of sight…they have been rendered largely invisible. The right to congregate, as with other constitutionally protected rights, would have been almost entirely dismantled by this administration if not for the Internet. So armed with a new printing press, a global printing press at that, it would not be long before the public awoke from the lies that led to the Iraq war.

And even when those lies were finally exposed, and we – the public knew that we were all being lied to, we watched is stunned horror as the corporate owned/state sponsored "news" outlets attempted to convince us that we simply did not understand the reasons given for the war in the first place. It was WMD; no, it was the spreading of Democracy; no, it was something or other; but whatever it was, it was always "we the people" who were at fault. We simply did not get it, is what we were told. The entire administration set off on a tour of the US hoping to convince us that we simply did not get it. What they did not realize, however, is that we simply no longer bought it.

It has slowly become more and more obvious that we are fighting a domestic war, as yet unnamed, but is palpable to any of us who pay attention. Although it is important today as ever that we hold the Bush administration accountable for cooking intelligence that led us into a war of choice against a nation posing no threat to us, the most immediately important questions surround the reasons for why we continue to be held hostage to that war.

Understanding the nature of the domestic battle can only lead to a single conclusion. Whatever the myriad of lies that have led us into Iraq in the first place, we now only continue to remain in Iraq as a distraction from the real war at home and likely for the worst kind of political abuses.

Divide and Conquer:

Yet those villains [the oligarchy] would have us believe we are fighting each other, a nation divided by its own political and social views. The same corporate interests who are robbing us blind would have us believe that we are a deeply divided nation: pro-choice vs. anti-abortion, taxes vs. no taxes, God vs. godlessness, gays vs. heterosexuals, and on and on it goes, pitting us against one another on the basis of every conceivable human attribute, position, and whatever differentiates any one person from another.

Does it not seem odd that differences that have for so long existed and co-existed, even with some tension, would suddenly now be strong enough to split this nation apart over the policies of George W. Bush? I have yet to meet a sane and rational person, regardless of political affiliation, who believes anything positive about Bush, Cheney, and the rest of their administration. When I talk to everyday people in everyday context, they don’t bring up pro-choice vs. anti-abortion, nor do they bring up the mantra of gays taking over the country. No, everyday people I talk to are appalled, embarrassed, and frightened of this cabal.

Indeed, on the most important issues of our time and despite our many individual differences, the majority of us agree on the basics of what is currently wrong with this country and its leadership.

So why are we being constantly bombarded with the idea that we are a nation divided? And just who spending billions on propaganda to make us believe it?

In our cold civil war, the enemy is not a part of the country called the "red states," as conveniently manufactured. Nor is the enemy a phantom right wing "wing-nut" or left wing "liberal loony," although there are some people who fall very much under those definitions. On the whole, however, there are simply not enough delusional and/or corrupt Americans to fill the manufactured stereotypes of the typical this or a typical that, even if the label is color-coded for political fear tactics.

The image of a divided nation at war with itself is a false one, as false as the reasons for this war and the general war on terror, which is more of a reign of terror than anything else. But who is it trying so hard to divide this nation and for what reason?

Perhaps the most obvious answer lies in that same question reworded thusly: Who benefits? Consider this question in yet another way: So long as we are standing face to face and not standing shoulder to shoulder, who is benefiting? The answer of course is the same corporations and their lackeys masquerading in the garb of government. They need to distract us, divide us, spend billions of dollars trying to convince us what we need, what we hate, what we love, who is evil, who is good and everything in between.

She eventually talks about how the MoveOn ad demonstrated 1) strength in numbers, and 2) who in the power structure is for us and who is against us, by their reaction to the ad. Read the whole piece.

I first became radicalized to her point of view, during the 2000 election cycle, back when I was a Green, marching in the streets of Los Angeles during the Democratic National Convention. I was reading Jack London’s The Iron Heel – which, combined with these events, connected the dots for me, and changed my view of American politics forever.

17 thoughts on “Our Cold Civil War

  1. Moonbat,
    I’ll have to find London’s book and read it. Thanks for the tip. I’d never heard of it.

    This nation is at a tipping point. Without the internet, we’d have tipped over already.
    The rich and powerful have wanted to kill off the middle-class since it reared its head. A powerful middle-class syphons off money and power from the rich and powerful. It can become unruly. Witness the ’60’s and early ’70’s. And like the spoiled children they are, they don’t like sharing. That is why, since before Reagan, they have been at war with it. FDR is Satan to them.
    And that is why they battle so hard to divide us today. Why they don’t want S-CHIP, national health care, or other “socialized” programs. Those programs will help the middle class and raise the poor to higher standards of living. Once freed of economic shackle’s, people look around and try to help others by changing the system that enslaved them.
    “The people, united, can never be defeated.” That is the chant they fear the most. And, now, in their battle to divide us, they are uniting us.
    Power to the people!!!

  2. Answers to many of the questions posed here may be found in Naomi Klein’s recent book, “The Shock Doctrine”. Alternatively, an extract from her book is in the current issue of Harpers, entitled “Disaster Capitalism: Cashing In on Catastrophe — from Iraq and New Orleans to Your Own Hometown”. Well worth reading.

  3. Of all my friends and relatives only one does anything on the internet and what he does has nothing to do w/ blogs, political or otherwise.

    There is a huge portion of the population that MoveOn needs to get engaged in a positive way. And, there is always going to be that 20% that will never believe and be always actively fighting MoveOn’s efforts.

  4. Moonbat, my quest for the truth started several days after 9/11.
    When I was in high school, I had a good friend who’s family was from Iraq. This was in the early 70’s. I met many of their relitaves who either were visiting from Iraq, or had also immigrated. All were very intelligent and friendly, none were religious extremists, indeed they were as secular as the mainstream Catholics I went to church with.
    My Iraqi-American friends took a lot of shit after the Israeli olympians were murdered by some Palistinean thugs, just because they were “A-Rabs”. Imagine blaming a 17 year old kid for the actions of a derranged psychopath half way across the globe?
    Totally rediculous, but ever since the 70’s which gave us the PLO atrocities and the Arab oil embargo, arabs and Muslims have beem maligned throughout the media, portrayed as either evil, greedy, or primative stooges.
    In my “quest”, I discovered the teachings of Leo Strauss.He, along with Irving Kristol, started the fire which is the neo-con movement.The ideology melds nationalism and religion as a control device over the sheeple. It has worked so far, but “folks” are waking up from the nightmare . http://www.alternet.org/story/15935

    BTW, Moonbat, great job!

  5. “Oligarchy.” Now that’s the term I was looking for. Not long ago, some commenters at the mahablog debated the use of the term “dynasty” to describe the Bushes and Clintons, in their hold on the White House. Perhaps it’s better to describe them as “oligarchs.” (Webster’s: “a small group [that] exercises control [of government] esp. for corrupt and selfish purposes.”)

    In his book The Assault on Reason, Al Gore identifies this group, in its current controlling form, as a many-headed hydra:

    1) Economic royalists, whose chief goal is to eliminate “the safeguards and protections established for middle-class families throughout the twentieth century.”

    2) Foreign policy hawks, “whose policy preferences range from unprovoked invasions to economic imperialism.”

    3) The fifth column; that is, “propagandists pretending to be journalists… [and those who promote] hatred as entertainment.”

    4) Extreme religious fundamentalists, some of whom Gore wonderfully describes as “cynical, garden-variety political hacks dressed in clerical collars.”

    It could be debated whether Gore himself is a reformed oligarch; we know he’s the product of dynasty (as the son of a former U.S. Senator). But when I read Ms. Alexandrovna’s ideas that moonbat posted above, and saw how well they overlap and expand on some of Gore’s thinking, it occurred to me that the anti-oligarchs are making great strides in organizing their arguments. This is absolutely necessary, if we’re to understand our choices in the 2008 election cycle, and act on them appropriately.

    The vast middle section of the American electorate isn’t at war with some other section; those voters need to understand where the problem lies. I’d start by taking power away from the economic royalists and foreign policy hawks, and go from there.

  6. The best part of this post is the title. For the rest, you still need to stand even further back in order to see what is happening.

    It wasn’t Bush v. Gore, it was the Nixon pardon.

    It wasn’t 9/11, it was the Iran hostage crisis.

    Most important of all, it isn’t the oligarchy, it is the Republican Party propaganda machine, which has been running the country for nearly thirty years now. It has no aim other than factional power but it has to couch its message in terms of various pseudo-philosophies. These are infantilized versions of whatever ideologies come to hand: in our local context, capitalism, Christianity, imperialism, whatever. The most successful pseudo-philosophies take on a life of their own, which makes it easy to mistake them for primary phenomena–but they never are.

    The civil war is urban vs. rural and it cannot remain cold for much longer. “Urban civilization” is a tautology and “rural civilization” is an oxymoron.

  7. Framing the divide in terms of ‘oligarchs vs. The People’ puts me in mind of one of Bush’s most annoying verbal tics. He frequently will say “What the American people have to understand is …” followed by whatever nonsensical policy stand or justification he has.

    It’s a formulation that irritates me because it simultaneously suggests that the American people are too stupid to judge things for themselves (an anti-democratic oligarchical thought) AND that it is his role, as Oligarch-in-Chief, to tell us what to think, and what to know.

    His tone when he says it is often quite petulant. It is clear that he has just about ‘had it’ with the people’s refusal to get into line and follow his orders.

  8. Pingback: Gibtod.Com » Our Cold Civil War

  9. cu – I hate to think where we’d be without the Internet. Love the Democrats or hate em, November 2006 would’ve turned out quite diffierently IMO without the on-line activism of recent years. I also distinctly remember how isolated I felt after November 2000. The online world slowly provided an immense balm and meet up, however virtual. And do read The Iron Heel.

    Bill Carey – very much looking forward to reading Naomi Klein’s latest.

    erinyes – Thanks.

    joanr16 – you raise MANY interesting points, worthy of an entire post by itself. I’ll only say here that the terms “oligarch” and “oligarchy” are straight out of The Iron Heel – they seemed apt.

    Frank Wilhoit – I’d argue that the Republican propaganda machine is simply the face of the oligarchy. And while there are plenty of people in that economic class who think the Rs have gone too far (and who are donating generously to the Democrats this cycle), I’d argue that the Rs and Ds as they’re currently constituted are simply different aspects of the same thing. And I greatly fear your last point – that the civil war will turn hot and violent, just as soon as economic conditions here unmistakeably tank. Twenty five years of preaching to gun-toting folk that liberals are to blame for everything, is the clearest set-up imaginable, and has me investigating countries like Canada, Costa Rica, and others.

    biggerbox – Bush is very revealing in his speech, is he not?

    erinyes – I’ve been looking at the late, great From The Wilderness site recently – the article you cited was written by one of FTW’s former writers. Articles such as this, and many others on the FTW site overwhelm my brain with their sheer number of data points. But the conclusions are pretty chilling and worthy of investigation. The story of FTW’s founder, Mike Rupert, a former LAPD cop, who has retired (from FTW) due to health and financial problems is itself pretty chilling. His story is a lesson in what happens when you get too close to how the Empire actually works.

    whig – I really wanted to see CSA, the Spike Lee film, that imagines what the USA would be like if the Confederate States had won the Civil War.

  10. I agree about Bush v Gore being the beginning of a fascist putsch. The media( dec 2000) tried to tell us ” everything is ok , be calm” and that alone made you know everything was not ok.I distinctly remember the creepy feeling the hair on the back of the neck feeling I had then. Dissent was deliberately shut down. Remember the black caucus and remember Jesse Jackson was going to make noise and about 2 days before the swearing in of Bush it was suddenly revealed that Jackson had a mistress and child etc ie the character assassins were waiting for him to dare open his mouth so they could shut him up?
    All this has been on my mind lately with “big money ” the oligarchs deciding we need Hillary . Only a Clinton or a Bush are our choices? Out of 300 million people? I’m tired of being told that the corporate choices means I am free.

  11. Very scary and eye-opening! Much information to research, although I’ve been thinking along these lines for a long time. My question is: What to do now that we know more of the truth? I don’t want war with Iran and I want us to get out of Iraq. I don’t think Hilary is the answer but it doesn’t seem like any of the candidates are anything to brag about. So, does anyone have suggestions as to what to do? Where can we find that honest man, that statesman, that this country needs so badly?

    Thanks for running this blog – it is much needed.

  12. There is in my opinion a good reason for a person of Russian roots to have an advantage in understanding what is happening in the United States today.
    The Cold War bled the two societies together. The United States adopted more than it realized of the Soviet viewpoint, just as the Russians, even the convinced Communists such as Gorbachev, were strongly influenced by the ideals urged by their opponents.
    We are nowadays in many respects the successor state to the Soviet Union.

  13. There are two wars going on, the one overseas, and the one domestically. The domestic war is between the oligarchs of this country versus We, The People. In her view, the domestic war far overshadows the overseas war in importance.

    I’m sorry but this talk makes me sick. The rightwingers have been calling for a purge for years – if the left starts calling for one too we are in trouble.

    The LAST thing this country needs is a purge!

  14. I think “civil war” is a little over the top, although the tactics on the other side have involved a lot of dirty pool. I think Paul Krugman has it right, that what we’ve had is a double backlash–a plutocratic backlash against the new deal, which the rich detested, combined with a backlash from the old segregationist south, who desperately want a society divided by class for racial reasons. I’d also add the paranoid bad faith and general weirdness of the neoconservatives (former anti-communists). So I don’t think it’s a “civil war.” Maybe an extension of the old civil war, as well as some hangover from certain 20th century ideological conflicts (fueled as always by material advantages that a plutocracy will tend to have…) These guys seem to play with a new set of rules, unfortunately, and I think the left will have to plug away for a while to get things on an even keel: expose propaganda, bring our own values to the fight, get some sophistication about our strategies, etc. As we’re, in fact, doing….

  15. Is anyone here reading Gerry Spence’s book, “Bloodthristy Bithces And Pious Pimps Of Power”? I know the title is a bit pulpy, but he brings up a very convincing argument that it is Corporate greed driving Politics not the other way around. Spence shows that we’ve already given up too much freedom already to fascism run by corporations, from tv, from publishing houses, from the courts, from both major parties, from our religious institutions. They’ve been taken over so slickly that most of us refuse to belive otherwise. Talk to average person about corporate hegemony and watch their eyes glaze over.

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