Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The realities of power

How many ways do I loathe liberals and progressives? Let me count the ways .... One thing in particular that arouses my ire is the emphasis on nonsense like "energising the grass roots," on meaningless "activism," on cheap moral indignation and fury. Behind all this I sense the influence of the European Enlightenment, of humanism, of the emphasis on individual qualities of honor, integrity, and shame that the sheer force of numbers can somehow affect. If somehow Obama could only be reached and convinced how morally reprehensible is his war in Afghanistan! He would be shamed into withdrawal. Or how reprehensible his unwitting support of the health care travesty is! He would surely do a volte-face if he realised. And if liberals and progressives could just "mobilise," then all would become possible. I've been listening to this hogwash for years. It's like listening to craven mice philosophically discussing the ravenous cat waiting outside their hole.

The realities of power are different. A tiger is a tiger, with its own appetites. Trying to convert it to a vegetarian by either reasoning with it or shaming it is unlikely to work. What did people do with rogue carnivorous tigers in the past? They would methodically hunt down and destroy them. Villagers didn't sit in a circle and talk about "energising the grass roots" so as to convince the tiger of the error of its ways. In like manner, US imperial and military power is not going to be tamed one iota by all this mobilising and hand-wringing.

The US imperium follows its own violent logic and is not amenable to the kind of control nitwitted liberals might imagine. Sure, the empire's functionaries use logic as an instrument when they can -- but that is similar to the reasoning of the wolf in La Fontaine's fable of the wolf and the lamb, where the strongest reasons always yield to the reasons of the strongest:

That innocence is not a shield,
A story teaches, not the longest.
The strongest reasons always yield
To reasons of the strongest.

A lamb her thirst was slaking,
Once, at a mountain rill.
A hungry wolf was taking
His hunt for sheep to kill,
When, spying on the streamlet's brink
This sheep of tender age,
He howl'd in tones of rage,
'How dare you roil my drink?
Your impudence I shall chastise!
''Let not your majesty,' the lamb replies,
'Decide in haste or passion!
For sure 'tis difficult to think
In what respect or fashion
My drinking here could roil your drink,
Since on the stream your majesty now faces
I'm lower down, full twenty paces.
''You roil it,' said the wolf; 'and, more, I know
You cursed and slander'd me a year ago.
''O no! how could I such a thing have done!
A lamb that has not seen a year,
A suckling of its mother dear?
''Your brother then.'
'But brother I have none.
''Well, well, what's all the same,
'Twas some one of your name.
Sheep, men, and dogs of every nation,
Are wont to stab my reputation,
As I have truly heard.
'Without another word,
He made his vengeance good--
Bore off the lambkin to the wood,
And there, without a jury,
Judged, slew, and ate her in his fury.

1 comment:

Red Frog said...

Other than slandering wolves and tigers, funny stuff.