Danger, an Ominous Threat lurking somewhere – that's the War
Party's bread-and-butter. Back in the day, it was the
Germans, who were going to cross the Atlantic and meet their
Japanese allies somewhere
near the Mississippi. Then it was the
Commies, who were not only in the process of swallowing Asia
but supposedly had their Fifth
Column right here in the US, ready willing and able to take
the Capitol at a signal from the Kremlin. After that there was some
in deciding just who or what would take the place of the Red Threat,
but that was decided on September 11, 2001, when Osama bin Laden's
Caliphate emerged as the Bogeyman of the moment. It turned into
quite a long moment, as we have seen, one that still lingers to
this day, even after bin Laden's death and the crushing
of al-Qaeda: Americans, being sentimentalists, hang on to their
villains long after their shelf life has expired.
these dark eminences are alluring, in their way: the narratives
we construct tell us a story we can be proud of, a tale of derring-do
in which the American people are made of Heroic
Stuff, holding aloft the Torch of Freedom lest it be extinguished
by rampaging hordes of Orcs,
sacrificing their pelf, their liberty – and, often, their lives
– in the name of Saving the World.
has great value to our rulers: they cling to this narrative because
it justifies their power, and their insatiable desire for more.
President Barack Obama started out his recent state
of the union address by invoking the Threat and holding up the
military's response to it as a shining example:
achievements are a testament to the courage, selflessness, and teamwork
of America's armed forces. At a time when too many of our institutions
have let us down, they exceed all expectations. They're not consumed
with personal ambition. They don't obsess over their differences.
They focus on the mission at hand. They work together. Imagine what
we could accomplish if we followed their example.”
Yes, just imagine
if civil society was organized along military lines, with all of
us taking orders from our commander-in-chief – what a glorious
time it would be!
invoke these militaristic metaphors as exhortations to get us in
line: we hear much about “unity,” “unselfishness,” glorification
of “the mission” (whose mission?). These are the bromides uttered
by tyrants and would-be tyrants, who would love to turn society
into a civilian army. Their vision of the future is of a collective
marching in lockstep down the road to whatever hellish fate they
have in store for us.
These days, however, they are having a harder time convincing us of the reality of the Threat. This is true for a number of reasons, but the main source of our skepticism is the overwhelming certainty that the Threat is coming not from without but from within. No, not in the presence of those Mooslims, in spite of the Israel Lobby's best efforts: no, not from the long-gone Commie Conspiracy or the “militias” that were the favored bogeyman of the Clinton era. Instead, the Threat springs from something deeper, a force connected to the way our society works and has been working since the inauguration of the modern era: it is the looming threat of national bankruptcy.
January 28, 2012
Justin Raimondo [send him mail] is editorial director of Antiwar.com and is the author of An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard and Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement.
Copyright © 2012 Antiwar.com