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Egalitarian Hawkishness, Nevermore

Both hawks and eagles may come from the same family, but in terms of political symbolism there must be a stark divide. In digesting a pair of new documentaries, HyperNormalisation by veteran film-maker Adam Curtis and the dream-like trilogy from Robbie Martin titled A Very Heavy Agenda, we are bound by reason to acknowledge how the conjoining of Neoconservatism and Neoliberalism on the world stage has become an irreconcilable thing. The lone difference between the two is that while Neoconservatives repress their shame, Neoliberals project it onto others. Neither of which might be considered as a useful tactic for productive peace-keeping, whether locally or globally.

The perception management discussed by Curtis has indeed gradually compelled modern politick to the no-looking-back point of rendering itself largely irrelevant, in favor of financial markets and their promise of ever-elusive riches ultimately running the show. Popular culture seems by design intent on conveying a self-trivializing ethos employing illusory aesthetics of commercialism in support of this, to distract as lucratively as possible from the jarring ebb and flow of economic strife. The system has become self-perpetuating through dependency upon the buying and selling of products relative to non-polarity, either repressing prejudices through subversive curation or projecting prejudices through escapist fantasy. All of which contributes to a problematic environment of repression and projection which in turn shell-shocks the consuming populace into unironically welcoming such distractions all the more. It is decisively circular logic. And it is a royal shame that so many reviewers missed so much of the subtext of HyperNormalisation, including Jonathan Cook and Phil Harrison. I think it was quite clear that “hyper-normalization” is the pained state of existing under the constant reminder that money is awarded more value than life itself. All else is window-dressing.

And if any virtues yet linger in such a maddening place, then war-profiteering ought to be deemed the most unpardonable sin. In that regard HyperNormalisation and A Very Heavy Agenda compliment each other surprisingly well.

Martin has made documentary films before, though briefer than the megalithic A Very Heavy Agenda, with previous efforts arguably proving him as a leading researcher into the Anthrax panics of the prior decade. This new work expands upon that story tremendously, showing it as but a minor symptom, neither the first or the last, for a diseased and all-encompassing transformation of western politics into an openly genocidal ethos where war-mongering is readily applauded and mistaken as heroism. It is the social norm in the western world to believe that Capitalism is Nationalism and anyone saying any different is cruising for a bruising because GOD says so. Through a dizzying array of news clips and sound bites, with hypnotic editing A Very Heavy Agenda portrays in their own words the super-villains of today proudly proclaiming how belief in anything other than the greatness of the American nation-state is mutable and inconsequential. By their view everything else, even truth, is cannon fodder to be bought and sold in an ongoing, world-wide poker tournament where only the exceedingly few might hope to be enriched, much less entertained.

Short of going postal or becoming a raging alcoholic, what is to be done about this unfathomable predicament? One thing to consider is that whether we like it or not, and whether we can always appreciate it or not, anything we can ever hope to experience in this life is impermanent.

Although absolutely none of the major 2016 Presidential candidates seemed keen on the matter, abolishing America’s foreign military presence would greatly diminish instigating foreign conflicts, and abolishing America’s foreign weapons sales would greatly diminish enabling foreign conflicts. If we want to really save lives, and if peace-keeping is ever honestly to be a serious consideration, then all at once this is precisely the thin grey line we as a society absolutely must cross.

Fully half of the worker’s taxes go to military expenditures. Shutting down each and every American military base overseas would cut defense spending dramatically. If the land had been re-appropriated, as was the case with Guantanamo Bay, then it must be returned; and if the land was purchased then it must be sold back to regional governments for “going out of business” prices. Granted, the thousands of soldiers and personnel required to staff the hundreds of installations around the globe would need to find something else to do instead, so perhaps they could all focus on attaining college degrees courtesy of Uncle Sam, which in turn would transform them into a far more capable when necessary force. Closing down all military bases outside of American borders would only improve public relations abroad, giving our neighbors of the world less cause to feel fear or intimidation. Trade relations would also get really interesting really fast.

We could still maintain an army. What I propose is logically accepting that an army spread thinly out around the world is at risk, whereas if the entire army were stationed domestically then realistically, America would be far less likely to ever be directly attacked.

Weapons manufacturers make more money off of the American government than does any other industry, and the turnabout is that the American government is the largest seller of arms internationally, by a wide margin. But were we to redirect those potential earnings of defense contractors into securing and strengthening domestic infrastructure instead, our bridges and dams, our highways and railways, our utilities and power grid, it would amount to genuine stability, even exceptionalism. Much of this could easily be spearheaded by the Army Corps of Engineers, who possess the means to do much good even if they rarely do. Creation is a far wiser investment in the future than destruction. If we cease any and all sales of foreign armaments, no matter the customer, the domestic economy would obviously take a step back, but then reducing costs of military expenses abroad to the opposite of astronomical would certainly help level things out. Warring nations should need to look elsewhere without American-made weaponry to get their points across, and the strong example America should be setting could well be contagious. Absolutely no armaments gifted to foreign bodies under the guise of aid ought to be permitted either.

Unlike the current status quo, there would then be less cause for shame, literally or figuratively, to be repressed or projected. And then the punchlines to these excellent documentary films need not cut so deeply ever again.

To say nothing of the nonsensical self-branding of “peacekeepers” at long last finally having an iota of truth about it. Saving lives is undeniably more heroic than claiming them, and egality inherently embodies greater virtue than anything divisively lucrative or hawkish. Let the war-mongers and war-profiteers find another means to support their addictions. It is just so vital to collectively realize that relegating death cults to fiction and pipe-dreams is not a bad thing, and that in fact it would make the limited time here in this meaningless life incomparably gratifying, for all parties. Even those warpathological.

We do not have to blame the world for how we react to it. Especially at the individual level, lest you sound like the guy smacking around his girlfriend.

Because we can decide, each and every last one of us. We can choose to jump at the shadows pointed out incessantly by commercial media, and we can choose to live by fictional identities and fake intentions. We can choose who to marginalize, who to preemptively strike, who to hate. Or we can choose something else altogether. None of which ultimately matters because we are all going to die someday no matter what we do, and each and every last one of us will be forgotten and the world will end and we will all be specks of dust floating aimlessly in space once again. In that big picture we are irrefutably powerless over anything and everything except whether or not to be a dick in the brief duration of our lives. And as most of us are not actual birds we are under no compulsion to allow our feathers to be ruffled so.