Why They Fight
"All right, let's sum up. This year in History, we talked about the failure of democracy." - Starship Troopers
So, let's see what we've got: when Plame was outed by Cheney's office she was working on the Iran file, tracking WMD technologies; the congressional probe into NSA spying will likely now be dropped; new photos of Abu Ghraib frat pranks have filtered out; an Ohio Republican county commissioner has been charged with the attempted abduction of a 14-year old ("come here, little girl"), and Democratic senate hopeful Paul Hackett has been pressured by his party to drop out of a race the popular Iraq war vet could probably win to ensure a slot for a career politician who probably won't.
What's missing? Oh yeah: Harry Whittington has a pellet in his liver, now too, as well as in his heart (though he's said to be doing "extremely well"); Dick Cheney admits to drinking; and the ballistics just don't make sense at the reported distance of 30 yards.
Anything else? Just everything. Everything touched by the fallen angel of the American republic has become a farce, begetting tragedy. It's why The Daily Show has become the premier news program in the United States, because citizen/viewers are permitted to laugh at their condition, but powerless to do anything to change it.
It seems a defining characteristic of the present hegemon that if they deny it, it must be true. Should Bush ever deny having danced the hokey pokey with Jack Abramoff, the next week we'll see the pictures of the two in the Oval Office, shaking it all about.
Many Democrats, bless their blinkered souls, thinks all this means they're winning. That historic low poll numbers for Bush will translate into great gains next Fall and a sure victory for a safe, DLC candidate in 2008. They think, if they can't impeach the President for taking the country to war on a lie or the de facto President for Plame, then surely to God Cheney will be forced to resign for shooting a man.
As if. He's not going anywhere unless the "Lord calls him home" - whoever, and wherever, that may be for Dick Cheney - because even though Life Goes On for most people as if it isn't really happening, the Big Show with Iran is just ramping up. So Dick won't be leaving just yet.
It's wrong, I think, to call what's coming the "War with Iran," when actually it's just another campaign in the Long War that's intended to survive us, and walk the world through its greatest crisis of conflict and resolution. This is spelled out clearer than ever in the Pentagon's latest Quadrennial Defense Review, a .pdf of which can be read here. (See also this thread on the RI discussion board.)
As Bill van Auken notes, the language has been massaged so the enemy is no longer identified as "terrorists" but as "extremists" or "violent extremists." US forces are transitioning from "battle-ready" to "battle-hardened" to meet the "new strategic environment" in which the United States will not only be going to war with nations, but also "conducting war in countries we are not at war with." The Pentagon also intends to "provide US NORTHCOM with authority to stage forces and equipment domestically prior to potential incidents when possible."
How long has it been since you watched Starship Troopers? Perhaps you should again. I caught some of it last week on television, and I was surprised at how reality has outpaced it. I don't mean the space travel and the giant bugs; I mean the abandonment of democracy and dutiful dissent and the remodeling of America into a martial society. The bugs, of course, were never bugs anyway. They're the eternal, dehumanized other that needs only extermination. (The original title of 2002's giant spider movie Eight Legged Freaks was "Arac Attack.")
Paul Verhoeven's film is smart enough to satirize Robert Heinlein's rather straight-ahead authoritarianism (for instance, citizenship is a privilege of those who sign up for "federal service"), though satire seems a hard thing to grok for those who were disgusted by the story of "Hitler Youth in love."
Besides expounding principles of governance which could arguably be described as fascist, Heinlein was also - again, arguably - a student of the occult, and a familiar of the principals of the Babalon Working: Jack Parsons, L Ron Hubbard and "the Scarlet Woman," Marjorie Cameron.
In the 1993 the essay Whence Came the Stranger: Tracking the Metapattern of Stranger in a Strange Land, "Adam Walks Between Worlds" writes
Cameron and others recall that Heinlein and Parsons were quite close friends. They may have met at the Los Angeles Science Fiction Fan club wich maintained a reading room -- they were certainly seen there together. It was also common for science fiction authors to tour the Pasadena-based Jet Propulsion Laboratories that Parsons co-founded. Heinlein was particularly avid in availing himself of such tours. He used to take years off to study advances in science and often wrote glowing of NASA. So here was Parsons, the wunderkind of the rocket scientist community while Heinlein was its chief PR man and visionary. Space travel was both men's passion and livelihood. They had much in common, including their friendship with L. Ron Hubbard, who must have mentioned one to the other. Heinlein lived within driving distance of Agape Lodge which often performed the Gnostic Mass and, judging from Stranger and other writings, Heinlein was quite familiar with the ritual.
While doing his "federal service" Hubbard wrote a novel that virtually prefigures The Turner Diaries entitled Final Blackout. Published in 1940 and "generally considered Hubbard's best science fiction novel," Final Blackout is described by an Amazon reviewer as "an adventure story written for fascists, by a fascist":
Here's the set-up: a world war, started by weak, democratically elected elitists, has been dragging on for decades. A courageous soldier known simply as "The Lieutenant" overthrows the corrupt military power structure and takes matters into his own hands. He defeats all challengers and installs himself as a military dictator, bringing peace and prosperity to war-ravaged Britain. This new regime's torture and execution of dissidents is mentioned only in passing -- but I guess you can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs.
It's not just science fiction, but the para-science of UFO research that finds itself triangulated with the occult and the far right. In Messengers of Deception, Jacques Vallee catalogues contactee themes such as intellectual abdication, racism and social engineering that support Paris Flammonde's observation that "a great many of the contactees purvey philosophies which are tinged, if not tainted, with totalitarian overtones."
In an interview six weeks before 9/11, Bob Dylan said "We are living in a science-fiction world where Disney and Disney's science-fiction have won. This is the real world. Science-fiction has become the real world, whether we realize it or not."
That's true, even though we're not fighting the giant bugs yet. It's true, because enough people have been made to see no difference, and we who do are now the "extremists."