a “know your enemy” moment from Liberal Street Fighter

“During the time men live without a common power to keep them all in awe, they are in that conditions called war; and such a war, as if of every man, against every man.

“To this war of every man against every man, this also in consequent; that nothing can be unjust. The notions of right and wrong, justice and injustice have there no place. Where there is no common power, there is no law, where no law, no injustice. Force, and fraud, are in war the cardinal virtues.

“No arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death: and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.” Thomas Hobbes – Chapter 12, The Leviathan

This is the United States, a country that has turned it’s back on the finest ideals of the Enlightenment to wallow in the dark world described by Hobbes in The Leviathan.  
The coalition the right has built in the Republican Party is made up of three distinct groups that firmly believe that our natural state is one of perpetual war.

The religious right

A movement built around the unsupportable idea that this is a Christian Nation, that the Ten Commandments are the basis of our laws … a movement led by people who think the United States should be a theocracy, all in the hope that doing so will bring about the End Times. Much of the imagery they use to spread their message is very martial in nature.

The modern religious right is carrying on an old tradition, a tradition that pops up repeatedly. A tradition that taught that slavery was the natural order justified by the Bible. A tradition that regularly burns books, hounds intellectuals, imprisons and even kills women who dare to step outside the restrictive rolls spelled out for them in their holy book. Theirs is a martial religion built around the execution of a prophet who tried to teach peace. If the world is a perpetual war, the only peace comes through accepting His bloody corpse as a doorway into another, better world.

Racists, jingoists and nativists

Yes, we can lump them all together. They work hand-in-hand, back to the days of the Know-nothings and up through today’s Minutemen.

Made up of the children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and et cetera of immigrants themselves, these “warriors” believe that America must be sealed shut to keep out dirty ferriners, that in a nasty and hostile world we must secure Fortress America from invaders and the always dangerous “others.” Reservations, internment camps and indefinite detention are all necessary to keep “real” Americans safe. This is war, after all, a perpetual war that requires that we do anything necessary to keep us “safe.”


Here is the real root of their power. The other two groups are mere foot soldiers. The ingrained belief fostered by the modern corporate world, that only in “unfettered” capitalism can anything good happen, is strangling this country. Art, science, medicine … all only have worth when we can keep score with piles of dollars. War is just another profit center, and economic competition is just another way of fighting war.

It is in this group where our greatest danger lies, because they own much of the leadership of the Democratic Party too. There is no opposition to endless war, to the ravaging of the environment, to economic exploitation of any group or place that hasn’t got the weapons to fight back with.

The leaders of the “opposition” party will do everything they can to preserve their place at the corporate table. Our political system has fully been taken over by this Hobbsian worldview. At a time when the American public realizes more and more that we must get out of Iraq, it is the warhawks in the party who come forward in the media, who drive party policy. Senator Schumer made it clear at a recent house party in GA that:

“We are no longer letting Democrats get in a circle and shoot each other. We are going to intervene if any one Democrat attacks another. We are doing that in states where there are primaries. ……this always happens in the primaries, people throw up the cards and see where they land. No more. We’re finding the best candidates in every one of the seats where republicans are vunerable. “

Anybody within the Democratic Party who tries to make this party a real opposition party will be silenced or pushed out, in favor of the favored sons of the DLC, DSCC & DCCC.

We are fully a warrior nation now, but not in any noble sense, but rather a nation of fabulously wealthy and dangerous berserkers in search of glory, salvation or big steaming piles of cash, and we will let no one stop us. A nation born in Revolution, but predicated on the ideals of the Enlightenment, in the words of Thomas Paine, John Stuart Mill and Thomas Jefferson has now become a horde of barbarians, celebrating our state of perpetual war. We’ve been on this road a long time, but the campaign to stamp out a civic faith in reason, in debate, in the human creation of a body of law that ALL are subject to is dangerously close to completing its project.

We are in the grip of warmongerers and their shield carriers in the Democratic Leadership.

The sense of forbidding is everywhere, but we can see in Crawford a grieving mother trying desperately to remind us that we had hoped to build a compassionate nation. We must hope that this quiet protest will spread, for it is in grief and hope that we can return reason to our politics. It will be a long struggle, but quietly saying “NO, lets TALK” is the only way to stop the Hobbsians. We must return reason to our politics.

As John Stuart Mill put it:

Whenever the general disposition of the people is such, that each individual regards those only of his interests which are selfish, and does not dwell on, or concern himself for, his share of the general interest, in such a state of things, good government is impossible.

He could have been predicting our current state. Only we can save ourselves from it … if we have the will. If we don’t, we will find ourselves in a paranoid and chilling hell, one in which many of our fellow citizens already live. The prescription to such a world was, in Hobbes’ view, a strong monarch to preserve order and mediate the ongoing war. A strong monarch like our Imperial President.

Yasmin Etemadi’s chilling photo series about living life as an Iranian American since 9/11:

This body of work is a reflection of the state of fear and anxiety I have been living with since September 11th, 2001.  The events of that day have caused my Iranian identity to eclipse my American one and I have found myself a stranger in my own home.  This sense of displacement, coupled with recent political changes, has made me question the stability of my future living in America and has forced me to re-evaluate my identity after 19 years of assimilation to the American culture.

One result of this instability has been an emergence of a paranoiac state of mind, which is expressed through my art work.

— this is the state the Hobbsians are creating for ALL of us. First they came for the Moslems

image sources:

Thomas Hobbes

Angel Gabriel

Orcinus’ excellent post on the Minutemen

Fark dot com thread for Corporation poster.