This brief post is an appreciation of a long essay by John Steppling, entitled “It Is Us”. Steppling begins by saying that “The manufacturing of Russia as the arch enemy of not just the U.S. but mankind in general has reached levels of absurdity and pathology. This is all sort of obvious, though, I think.” And he goes on to note, with some despair, that there is virtually no opposition to the consensus narrative about alleged Russian crimes such as the Skripal poisoning.
And then he asks the question I’ve been asking:
What does the ruling class want? Almost every major government official who propagates the anti Russia rhetoric is wealthy. Or at least affluent. Why do they want to promote conflict? To make more money? If so, what can that extra money buy them? What does John Bolton not have that he wants? What does Rachel Maddow want that she can’t afford? This has always troubled me. When I ask such questions I usually get an answer like “they want power” or “they want control”. But why? What does more power bring you? The ability to create institutions in your own image, in accordance with your ideological leanings? Is that it? If this is correct, for some, what does being able to shape institutional authority actually bring you? What benefits? Is it some moral demand for change? ….
For the reality is that nobody benefits from a nuclear war. NOBODY. But tens of millions die. And maybe everyone dies.
Is this not something the propagandists know? Do they want to die?
As to the opinion of the masses about all this, I think, Steppling gets exactly the right answer: they are in denial, they just don’t think about it. And furthermore, when they do think about it, they conclude that the US is making a stand for righteousness.
Why do so many people regard US foreign policy as coherent? The answer is the overwhelming majority of Americans don’t think about US foreign policy at all. They might know of Kim Jong Il, but they know nothing of the history of US/Korean relations. And they have no idea just how extensively the CIA has funded the very same Muslim jihadists they fear are ready to break into their homes. They hear some mainstream media story, often with a celebrity front person, about stopping this or that genocide (invariably caused by the United States) and decide yes, *we stood by* in Rwanda. Or, *we HAD to go into Yugoslavia to stop the Serbs*, etc. The reality is always diametrically opposed to the one manufactured by the U.S. State Department. The reality of Kagame or Milosevic, or Hezbollah, or China, or Venezuela is obscured and mystified. And the “white saviour” narrative remains the most popular. Posit that the third world NEEDS western help and you have a winner in the minds of most Americans.
It’s only in his conclusion, I think, that Steppling stops short. He says that America is a “self hating nation”, repressing and sublimating its psychic wounds.
What’s he missing? First, of course, that some of the powerful elite themselves must be persuaded by their own propaganda. Second, that some of the motivation is religious, to bring about the apocalyptic scenario at the heart of the ancient Abrahamic scriptures.
And possibly most importantly, that the US political establishment senses how badly they could fail, and how far they could fall, in a military confrontation with the rest of the world. By huffing and puffing, and blowhard bluffing, and select projections of military power, they hope to postpone the inevitable.
The one core truth for me today, at least politically, is one must resist western Imperialism. You don’t have to agree with the rest of the world that resists it, but you must stand with them. It is only white privilege, hubris, that allows for a westerner, an American, to criticise Maduro, or Assad, or the DPRK. Or Iran. Yes, Iran was a conservative revolution, but they are part of a bulwark against the nightmare of Western capital today. Self determination. America has never wanted to save anyone. Ever. America has always had ulterior motives. The self loathing American. The Ugly American. We have met the enemy, and it is us.
But in resisting “Western Imperialism”, one is also standing with the idealistic vision of America, and Americans. As Steppling rightly notes, the vast majority of Americans just don’t understand what’s going on. Part of the hope for our planet, is that Americans might yet see through the falsehoods being foisted on them by the neo-con warmongers and mass media propagandists.
Also, perhaps it is going to far to ask Americans to refrain entirely from criticizing Russia? They too have a long history of imperialism, having grown from a small principality around Kiev. And they, too, have chosen the path of militarism, even if it’s in self-defense at this point.