First, watch this – What Barry Says – not just because it is damn impressive, but because it will make the rest of this post make more sense.
Now, I agree with a good part of this movie, but when the narrator suggests that America would invade France or Britain this is silly and unhelpful. First, the US government wouldn’t order the invasion of France except in the most extreme of circumstances – we know they like to bomb people, but they like to a) bomb people who don’t matter so much (ie everyone who isn’t white) and b) have the pretense of legitimacy (more on (b), below). Secondly, suggesting the US might invade France or Britain – and including the line at the end which was something like “none of us really matter to them” – makes the message unnecessarily divisive. It pits America and Americans against the rest of the world. If you swallow that message you’ve just accepted the worldview of the people who are running the show. Really it’s a dangerous cabal in the american government who are waging actual wars on other countries but also wars on human rights, democracy and civic life within the west too, and with the complicity of all western governments. Yes, “none of us really matter to them” but ‘us’ is the majority of people in the world, and ‘them’ is the elites, and the corporations they control. Being American doesn’t mean you’re benefiting from corporate sponsored perpetual war, and suggesting so – or even just leaving the implication open like this video – is totally wrong headed and harmful. Love america, the cradle of the best and the worst, just hate the government- get it straight!
So back to the first thing – the invasion of Britain and France. Cycling in today, I was thinking that maybe, bear with me on this getting the US army to invade the UK might actually be the way forward. I mean, what better way to demonstration to everyone the ultimate logic of hegemony? I’m not sure what kind of thing would be sufficient to induce the US to invade our green and pleasant land (suggestions on a postcard…) but it would be a marvelous proof – to people here, to people in the US, to the whole world – of the ruthlessness of empire and a sort of reductio ad absurdum of the idea ‘if US economic interests are sufficiently threatened they will stop at nothing to re-secure them’. The scenario would have to be pretty extreme to get this to happen (maybe global oil reserves vanish overnight apart from a new, multi-billion gallon, oil-well discovered under Pontefract) but could it happen?
But then i got to thinking about the reasons why, although the cold structural logic of the such an invasion is impeccable, it would never happen. When you glimpse the structural logic of international relations, see the strings pulling the puppets, you can be excused for getting initially entranced by it. You want to explain the whole show in those terms – and indeed any explanation would be incomplete without them – but there is other logic operating. Governments that pretend to democracy must include that ritual as part of their operation. The problem with a hard structuralist’s cynicism is that it denies the value of this ritual, and thus becomes self-fulfilling. If we cease to believe that democratic institutions – things like voting and parliament – are relevant then our apathy will make them irrelevant. The illusion that is democracy will be stretched as far as public cynicism will allow it. On the other hand, our effort and commitment to the illusion can make governments respect it. They must maintain the illusion, and we must make sure that doing so is hard. Who cares if it is an illusion for which beaurocracies (corportate and non-corporate) have no need for? These structures are pilotted by individuals, individuals who will only suffer so much dissonence before they will change their actions.
All of this demonstrates that i am a liberal through-and-through and hence a) make me sick and b) will be first against the wall when the revolution comes.