Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Enemies: the rise of the other, the antagonist, and the decline of postmodernity

Who are our enemies? Why do we have enemies, and what purpose is there to have enemies? Why can't we just be good pious people that walk around all the time saying good-day, or asalamalakim.

So what the hell am I talking about? I refer to a rising tide in America to use words such as enemy and evil to encourage a sense of otherness (orientalist) and thus envelop society in a good/bad binary.

The conservative revolution has done much more than push forth an has seeped into the national dialogue. The 'I' is replaced by impersonal normative statement: no longer must I decide for myself, so much as theory and theology should decide for me. As Bush said a few months ago.
In the years ahead you will find that indifferent or cynical people accomplish little that makes them proud. You'll find that confronting injustice and evil requires a vision of goodness and truth. You'll find that many in your community, especially those younger than you, look to you as an example of conduct and leadership. For your sake, and for the sake of our country, I hope you'll always strive to be men of conviction and character.
Being a good person requires a fusion with a good force: an objective goodness. Of course conservatives can make good with their financial ties by announcing that maximizing oneself is in God's good design. That, in very Calvinist terms, being good and showing God how good you are is the best way of earning your place in heaven: it is why Calvinists were also the most prosperous groups in society; despite the great discrimination it faced from other dominant sects.

Bush's words highlight a new moral character. No long are moral sentiments sufficient for our understanding: a good person now defines himself against the image of a large and imposing other: that in divine language we have gone away from the individual and returned to the macroscopic: the creation of a national mythology around conquest and destiny, supremacy and power.

These thoughts have always been around...they were equally the products of WWII. But society, recovering from the 70s and 80s, and even into the postmodern existence of the 90s and consumer culture...we have revived our destiny in mythic terms.

There is good and bad. And we need enemies, regardless of whether they are deserving to be enemies; regardless of any history that should deflect our actions, or any fact that should make us question. We need enemies to make us believe we are children of the divine.


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