Please God, Deliver Us from the Banality of Evil
I do not hesitate one second to state clearly and unmistakably: I belong to the American resistance movement which fights against American imperialism, just as the resistance movement fought against Hitler.
Virtually every day our mendacious corporate media publicizes the farcical “debate” between officials of the Bush Regime and Congress. While numerous polls have indicated that over two thirds of U.S. Americans want an end to the war in Iraq, and voters positioned the Democrats to exercise the will of the people, the war rages on.
Between the Gulf War, the subsequent U.S.-driven draconian UN economic sanctions, and the seemingly endless U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq, well over a million Iraqis are dead. Infrastructure essential to vital human needs, including transportation, health, utilities, water, and sanitation has been decimated. Depleted uranium will continue to visit misery and death upon the Iraqi population long after the imperial invaders have been sent packing, as we were in Vietnam.
Machiavellian plutocrats, whose moral development has not progressed beyond that of an earthworm, scheme incessantly to convince the American public that we can “win” or “succeed” in Iraq. How much murder and mayhem must we inflict before we achieve the “victory” the cynical bourgeoisie covets?
Yet despite the overwhelming concentration of wealth and power in the hands of a relative few individuals and corporate entities, each of us in the United States is complicit in the crimes of our nation to some degree. Obviously, some bear much more responsibility than others, but we have each had a hand in the obliteration of the Iraqi nation.
While a majority of U.S. Americans now vehemently oppose the Bush administration and its abominable war, too many of us still believe that both are anomalies which will be “corrected” once we “elect” a new cast of characters to take the political reins in 2008. Sadly, little could be further from the truth. As with most putrescence, ours runs deep beneath the surface.
Fed a steady diet of carefully crafted agitprop from cradle to grave, many of us zealously pursue the American Dream of suburban utopias bordered by white picket fences. Utterly oblivious and indifferent to the staggering cost we impose upon the rest of the world, we ignore the stack of bloodied corpses on which we climb as we reach for the sacred brass ring. Ready-made delusions eagerly provided by our corporate masters assure us that we are entitled to all that we desire, convince us that we are morally superior to those we bleed dry to gratify ourselves, and shield us from the grim reality that we are the “monsters on Maple Street.”
Beneath the gilded fašade of truth, justice, and the American Way lurks a corrosive and rapacious socioeconomic system which is inimical to democracy, a relative handful of opulent overlords ruling a “constitutional republic,” and hundreds of millions of poor and working class individuals who are all too willing to participate in crimes against humanity in exchange for “the good life,” which as Hurricane Katrina so clearly demonstrated, is not nearly as “good” as we have been programmed to believe.
Since it is unlikely that conscience will impel us to muster the collective will necessary to dismantle this abhorrence, let’s pray that resistance movements in Iraq and other nations that we oppress and occupy serve us a healthy portion of humility by sending us home with our tails between our legs.
In the event readers need a summary of the case for divine intervention on behalf of humanity against the detestable monstrosity we have become, here it is:
1. We are a gluttonous herd of swine devouring resources at a rate well beyond the Earth’s capacity to renew them. Metaphorically speaking, we are one of twenty people populating the globe. Yet we greedily gobble a quarter of the pie, leaving our nineteen neighbors to divvy up the remaining 75 percent.
2. Our socioeconomic system, in which our de facto aristocracy, myriad “think tanks,” textbook authors, and mainstream media whores have inculcated us to place an unwavering faith of cult-like proportions, is only several generations removed from feudalism, mercantilism, chattel slavery, and the early industrial capitalism which fostered the abject human misery about which Dickens wrote. Concentration of wealth into the hands of a few, exploitation of the working class and the poor, various forms of servitude, profits and property over people, unbridled consumption of resources, and an insatiable need for growth and expansion are inherent malignant aspects of our much vaunted “American Capitalism.” Encouraging and rewarding greed, narcissism, hyper-competitiveness, selfishness, and ruthlessness, the “best system there is” has propelled shamelessly decadent pigs to obscene opulence while leaving over half of the world’s population to wallow in extreme poverty.
3. Rather than dismantling the military leviathan we created to facilitate our involvement in World War II, we chose to embrace a perpetual Military Keynesianism under which a mere 5 percent of the world’s population spends more on war than the rest of the world combined. We have no problem “tainting” our capitalism with a little socialism as long as it enables the continued existence of the parasitic “defense” industry, allows us to maintain over 700 military bases in at least 130 different countries, and empowers us to wage the covert and overt imperialist wars necessary to advance the interests of capital.
4. We have a long history of spouting off about our devotion to “freedom and democracy,” decrying (and sometimes lynching) authoritarian rulers who refuse to surrender their nation’s sovereignty to our empire, and installing and supporting brutal tyrants who serve the needs of our beloved plutocrats. Iran, bad. Saudi Arabia, good. Venezuela, evil. Colombia, righteous. You get the picture.
5. In the course of our “infinitely benevolent” quest to democratize and free the world, we have left a bloody wake of annihilated human beings euphemistically labeled as “collateral damage.” Millions of Native Americans “sacrificed their lives” so that we could found and expand the United States. At least 600,000 Filipinos were felled as we toiled under the crushing responsibility of our “white man’s burden.” A half million Japanese died so we could display our power to Russia, a significant threat to capitalism’s hegemony. Factor in the 135,000 at Dresden, over two million Koreans, three million Vietnamese, the aforementioned million plus in Iraq, and millions more (counting those murdered via covert operations, smaller military interventions, and by proxies like the Shah, Pinochet, and Israelnot to mention the blacks who died as a result of the slave trade and Jim Crow lynching), and the malevolence of the Third Reich pales in comparison to the criminal enterprise known as the United States of America.
6. Aside from having developed and deployed nuclear weapons (in spite of the rest of the world being years away from attaining them and Japan’s loss of will to continue the war), we possess and continue to develop the largest nuclear arsenal on the planet. Friendly regional hegemons, like India and Israel, receive our blessing and assistance in nurturing their nuclear capabilities, sans signing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Meanwhile, we relentlessly beat the drums of war against Iran for exercising their right (as a signatory of the NNPT) to develop a program to produce nuclear energy. How much longer can the chicken hawks in DC refrain from unleashing atomic hell, again? How much blatant hypocrisy can the world endure?
7. Given our love affair, no scratch that, our obsession, with shopping, acquiring, owning, and consuming, we keep the Once-ler’s fat, happy, and running at full throttle. As the Truffula trees, Humming-fish, Bar-ba-loots, and Swomee- Swans disappear at an alarming rate, we’re too busy “lovin’ it” at McDonald’s and cashing in on Wal-Mart’s “always low prices” to notice or care. Global temperatures rise, ice shelves plunge into the sea, glaciers recede at alarming rates, violent storms rage, species become extinct, and bees disappear en masse as we intrepidly continue filling our two lives per gallon Hummers with inane consumer goods that we don’t need. “Keeping the economy strong” is indeed a noble calling.
8. As crafty as we are, we are not solely reliant upon military means to impose our cultural imperialism. As Milton Friedman and “the Chicago Boys” demonstrated with their experiment in Chile, neoliberalism is a powerful economic tool with which we can integrate weaker nations into our empire. Astoundingly, nation after developing nation accepted our Trojan horse of “generous” loan packages, which in turn forced them to crush organized labor, privatize, deregulate, and cut or eliminate humanitarian expenditures. For many years, Fidel Castro was one of the few holdouts in the face of our economic tyranny. With the recent emergence of leaders like Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales, hope looms on the horizon. Yet predictably, we continue to rain misery upon the people of Cuba and are desperately attempting to sell the world on the idea of pouring our food supply into our gas tanks so we can eliminate our dependence on Chavez’s oil and give him the “Fidel treatment.”
To spare ourselves the guilt of our undeniable abetment in crimes against the Earth and nearly all its sentient inhabitants, we desperately cling to the Disneyesque illusion that the United States is a benevolent “policeman to the world” that preserves and advances noble ideals like human rights and freedom.
Sorry, ladies and gentlemen, but the analyses of Hannah Arendt and Ward Churchill define our reality much more accurately. No matter how closely an individual U.S. American might adhere to humane principles, we are all “Little Eichmanns.” We can minimize our roles, but there is no escaping participation in our nation’s virtuoso performance of “The Banality of Evil.”
God bless America?
How about God bless humanity by cursing the American Empire?
We desperately need the heavy doses of reality, constraint, and humility that the loss of our military and economic supremacy would bring.
Jason Miller is a wage slave of the American Empire who has freed himself intellectually and spiritually. His essays have been widely published, he isCyrano’s Journal Online’s associate editor, and he volunteers at homeless shelters. He welcomes constructive correspondence at: firstname.lastname@example.org via his blog, Thomas Paine’s Corner, at: