This is a war universe. War all the time. That is its nature. There may be other universes based on all sorts of other principles, but ours seems to be based on war. . . . --William S. Burroughs
We didn't come this far because we're made of sugar candy. Once upon a time, we elbowed our way onto and across this continent by giving smallpox-infected blankets to Native Americans. That was biological warfare. And we used every other weapon we could get our hands on to grab this land from whomever.And we grew prosperous. And yes, we greased the skids with the sweat of slaves. So it goes with most great nation-states, which--feeling guilty about their savage pasts--eventually civilize themselves out of business and wind up invaded and ultimately dominated by the lean, hungry up-and-coming who are not made of sugar candy. Paul Harvey, 5/23/05 Commentary
That we live in a war universe seems to be axiomatic and yet it is also rather disconnected from the rather buffered lives of most educated, liberal bourgeois. This disconnect, this delusional sense that the relatively peaceable life that they live is normative and that violent conflict is aberrant, is precisely what allows the bad guys to win.
Who are the bad guys? The people throughout history who lie, murder, assassinate, liquidate, purge, cleanse, avenge, or do whatever it takes to make sure their interest group--be it family, tribe, race, party, class--nation stays on top. It's the compulsion to stay on top and to use any means necessary to achieve it that is at the root of the problem. It's called the will to power. It's what makes the world go 'round. Who are the good guys? Those who refuse to submit to the logic of the will to power.
There is always a lofty rationale to justify the most primitive of our compulsions. But the exercise of freedom we are justifiably hated for is the freedom of the master to do as he pleases, which is contrasted with the unfreedom of him who serves the master. Ask a typical Yankee-hating Latin American why he hates Americans for their freedoms. Maybe it's because the exercise of American freedom comes at the cost of the restriction of his own.
So this poses a problem for the rest of us who are not obsessed with staying on top and who refuse the logic of the will to power. We'd prefer not to fight. We've got more interesting and productive things to do than to play at this primitive game. For me, it's fundamentally uninteresting in its idiotic crudity. And yet we are playing in the game whether we choose to or not because we are living in a 'war universe'. So we have four options about how to live in the war universe: One, the monastic option or an option like the ones the Amish have chosen--the stop-the-world-I-want-to-get-off option. Two, the option to live in the world and just go along with whoever is in power and not think about it too much. Three, the I-understand-how-bad-it-is-but-am-just-going=to-mind-my-own-business option. Four, the option to resist, the stand-and-fight option.
if we choose to fight, it won't be a fair fight. It's asymmetrical by definition. We're dealing with people who are merciless, who lie, cheat, steal, murder, bribe, coopt--people, in other words, who are possessed by the will to power, and who see any means as justified to achieve and maintain that power. So do we have to play the game on their terms? I would say that has to be avoided at all costs, but that means fighting with some other source of power that rejects the will to power. I think we saw how that might work in South Africa, and we saw it in the American South in the 1960s. But those were situations in which the bad guys were so obvious, so cartoonish, and where the historical abuses were suffered for a very long time, and obvious to anyone with an ounce of decency. But it's not about decency; it's about power and the the will to resist those possessed by the will to power.
I'm certain that eventually we will see conscience-driven resistance movements arise again. But the will to push back seems to require a period of severe suffering from those who are not possessed by the will to power--and that's probably the way it's going to play out for us in our current predicament. Because for now the people who are most acutely aware of and appalled by the current configuration of power are for the most part are choosing option 3. I'm one of them because I don't see a viable, conscience-driven option for 4. Or maybe I just don't want to see one.