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Tony Grist

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The Real Story [Oct. 21st, 2004|08:53 am]
Tony Grist
So now the BBC is giving us a history of the War on Terror. It begins in 1945- with a guy called Strauss who was the guru of the neo-cons and a guy called Qutub who decided that the Islamic nations needed to be rescued from the corruption of Truman's America.

Strauss and Qutub were ideological twins- puritans, at war with the liberal individualism. Strauss reckoned that a nation could only save its soul if it rallied to church and flag- and it could only be trusted to do that if it had an ENEMY.

The Soviet Empire was a dandy enemy. When it collapsed (having proved itself a lot less dandy than the neo-cons argued) a new Enemy had to be found. And there was Bin Laden just raring to step into Brezhnev's shoes.

The story of the past half century is the story of a struggle between liberalism and puritanism. Everything else- however epic- has been a distraction- a sleight of hand designed to take our gaze away from what was really going on.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: ibid
2004-10-21 10:10 am (UTC)
I found it more scary than the myths we were fed with!

It's strange, I grew up reletively without fear. the Soviet Union was just a vague singsong grownups talked about. By the time I was old enough to comprehend more it collapsed! The nineties being my formative years were pretty peaceful without any enimies worht the mention.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2004-10-21 10:26 am (UTC)
I remember the 50s and 60s. When I was a kid we used to play at being "Russian spies". For much of my youth I really and truly believed there was going to be a nuclear war between the great powers.

And now we we find out we were being sold a pup!





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[User Picture]From: ibid
2004-10-21 10:46 am (UTC)
being sold a pup! Never heard that one before.

I think Islamic terrorism is more of a threat but the exaggeration terrifies me. I was on my knees in prais When Rumsfeld admitted Iraq had no links with al-qaida. But then I am afraid of a 1984 situation where the press (darling Rupert!) and people's memories conveneintly overlook earlier claims.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2004-10-21 11:22 am (UTC)
I don't know where the pup thing comes from. It's an odd metaphor. After all, who wouldn't want to be sold a squirmy, huggable, big-eyed ball of fluff?

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From: archyena
2004-10-21 10:50 am (UTC)
It's rather true, I think even deeper this is about the decline of nationalism, the steady loss of ethnic identity. After all, traditional morals are really about ethnicities deep down. I think we're rapidly settling into a global value system that doesn't easily adhere to the old East-West, North-South divides. As evidence I'd offer that both Islamic fundamentalists and neo-cons are deeply concerned with the "foreign influence" that comes with a more interconnected world. It's simply that post-Hitler, nationalism is a bad word and so the nationalists won't simply use it.
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[User Picture]From: ibid
2004-10-21 11:00 am (UTC)
Not really, nationalism was a construct of romaticism. Benedict Anderson traces it further back to the reformation and the growth of vernacular print culture. Ethnicity is a touchy subject, what does it mean? In the Ottoman empire Greek speakers were 'Christians', there was no concept of being united by language. However a shared identity is indeed essential.
I think the important thing is sharing myths, and I thin the 'north-south/East-west' divide to be a modern myth which unites by division. Integrety depends on having another on which to lay comparisons.

I remember as an undergrad reading an article (alas I cannot remember the title) abotu a group in Papua New Guinea whose initiation rituals depended on going to war with their neighbours - real war. The British put a stop to it and for ages they saw themselves as in crisis because there were no initiates - and how were they to get initiates if they couldn't prove their superiority against everyone else by killing them?
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2004-10-21 11:24 am (UTC)
I'm thinking that the war in Iraq is going to lead to both groups- Islamicists and neo-cons- being thoroughly discredited. Or is this hopelessly naive of me?
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2004-10-21 01:40 pm (UTC)
I just wish they'd hurry along with developing alternative fuels. I keep reading how hydrogen or oil seed rape or something or other is going to power the cars of the future, but none-one seems to have the balls to push the research and get the new engines into production.
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