Thursday, January 22, 2009

"Pledging Allegiance to the United States of Obama"

I wanted to start an informal discussion on here about Obama's speech yesterday afternoon. My only critique is that Obama is advocating a type of humanitarian imperialism that continues our national trend of aid and developmental assistance through unfettered obedience to the empire's requests. Even I wanted to shed a few patriotic tears after hearing the speech yesterday afternoon, but let us remember that the United States is neither the arbiter of freedom, nor the city on the hill discussed in the Christian and Hebrew Scriptures. Wielding the verbal sword of power in a way that somehow manages to adjure us with the need for working together for peace, while warning our enemies of the potential violent consequences of their actions is nothing but a form of distorted messianism that manages to still ask for obedience out of fear, trading obedience for the type of safety that is guaranteed by militarization, a safety that has nothing to do with the courage needed for peace.

Will we be working together for the right reasons? Does this perpetuate the illusion of the state as salvific? Does this continue to promote the idea that we can look to enlightened self-interest as a source of our moral fervor, that what is best for everybody is for everyone to do what they do out of a regard for their own interests, that the unification of this is what legitimates our "national identity?"

Locke mentions that the development of industry and the establishment of a national power based upon fear are inseparable. Ardnt and Hobbes both would agree that liberalism is inseparable with fear, and Daniel Bell goes far enough to point out that "Liberalism is a political response to an extra-political fear that wards off terror and fear by means of the construction of complex space – dispersing governing authority and providing the individual cover amongst a plethora of civic institutions and associations." He continues to warn us that "Legitimating the moral elevation of self-preservation on the grounds that if one were dead, one could not pursue any goods, civic leaders could persuade the populace that it has a moral stake in perpetuating fear and moral grounds for collaborating in the establishment and maintenance of the sovereign’s authority."

The state refashions desire, reforms it so that it is fearful and paranoid, and as a necessary tool for its own legitimation, the state promotes the promise of its own existence: Surrender and you will be protected. Protected from what? Terrorists who don't appreciate our "values"?

I must be a terrorist.



inos said...

Love and faithfulness keep a king safe; through love his throne is made secure.

A state power built on fear will not last.

benjamindavidbrown said...

Really liked these thoughts, Michael. I definitely agree with your points. We will have to watch and see what the future holds.

Jacob said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I don't know what to think, Michael. If I was the kind of guy to be concerned about this stuff, I'd probably be concerned.
That's all I got for right now.