2014.07.12 simulacra

Never having actually studied Latin, I don’t exactly make it a regular habit to use Latin vocabulary, aside from the words most of us use (even when people don’t notice that they’re Latin). Sometimes the language has a word that’s just right for the thing at hand. I find myself thinking again about the word simulacrum (plural simulacra). A few definitions I found for it:

a slight, unreal, or superficial likeness or semblance

an effigy, image, or representation

something that replaces reality with its representation

I happen to be pondering the word following some afterthoughts about my last note, which was about some thoughts brought on by the Independence Day holiday here. Looking around, over the days around the holiday, I keep thinking about the empty theatrics, and platitudes like “celebrating our military that provides our freedom!” while losing the plot on what “freedom” might actually mean.

One big item seems to be people forgetting, during all the militaristic jingoism, that the people that so many people simplistically refer to as “the Founding Fathers” had serious reservations about even the idea of keeping a standing army. It has been painfully clear for some time that too many people have lost the plot about the purpose of having military forces being to maintain a protective defense of the country, not to maintain worldwide domination of military empire, but that’s just one of our problems.

For that matter, despite all the flowery rhetorical proclamations about “The Founding Fathers”, much of what they thought and said has been tossed aside, or mangled somehow into simplistic bumper-sticker blurbs.

Part of that is the warning from more than one of those guys about the danger of political parties gaining power, to the point where the parties themselves become the government, instead of a democratic republic under the control of the citizens. We now have what they warned us about, much like we have the problems of trying to be a militaristic empire that we were warned about by President Dwight Eisenhower on his way out of the White House, warning the citizens of the nation about what he called “the military-industrial complex“, which, these days, could be retitled “the military-corporate-banking complex“.

These days, I keep finding myself thinking about that a little too often, given the circumstances we have now. For all the grandstanding jingoism about “Our Troops/Our Heroes/our military that provides our freedom”, there seems to be a pretty gross deficit of thinking about the proper role and place of military armed forces in a nation of free people with a democratic republic for governance.

I think it was in my last note here that I mentioned a comment somewhere. That said that we become a society of Hollow Men when it becomes normal, even standard, to use words and phrases as empty rhetorical cliches and platitudes with the actual meaning lost or warped and perverted. This is a serious problem, right here and now in present day America, including the casual misuse of words like “freedom” and “defense”.

One part of what we were left as a legacy from the guys people casually call “The Founding Fathers” is more than one warning from those guys (George Washington and John Adams, naming two off the top of my head) about the danger of political parties gaining power, becoming centers of power and authority above the people, essentially becoming the government. We are there, now. Consider how many political creatures babble about “our two-party system”, when nothing, I repeat, nothing in the legal foundations of the Unnited States of America, or even in any of the philosophical discussions surrounding its foundation, say anything about any such thing, or provide any power and authority to political parties as a concept, at all. We hear this rhetorical nonsense about our supposed “two-party system”, coinciidentally, inevitably coming from people speaking as members of one of two current political parties that have complete dominance and control of governance in the country today.

This is a huge subject all its own, with virtually everything in American governance and the politics running through it being dominated by what I’ve been calling Bipolar Political Disorder, with things like people throwing around terms like “election cycle” and everything being some endless sports tournament game. In the case of that term I just mentioned, at this point it’s clear that the “election cycle” really does kind of fit the general definition of “cycle”, which not only repeats in patterns, but effectively never really ends.

Setting that aside for now, one thing that often ends up even worse is when people start chattering using the word “bipartisan”. It’s usually (always?) presented as a nice thing that suggests that people in the sport are asetting aside the two-opposing-teams sports competition to actual function properly as elected servant representatives of the people and act in governance for the good of the people. The actual reality seems to more often than not actually mean some episode of “both sides” teaming up in agreement to generate and implement some really bad idea.

I happened across a hearing of the Senate Committee for Foreign Relations being broadcast on C-Span, given the title “Russia and Developments in Ukraine”, coming into it by chance to be greeted by the sight of Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland. Go to the Senate webpage for this event, and you’ll see Nuland named as “The Honorable Victoria Nuland”. There is nothing honorable about this woman, judging from events of the past months. You will recall that this is the same Victoria Nuland who was captured in a phone call, talking with the US ambassador to Ukraine, while doing her job as the ranking State Department official in charge of foreign relationships with Europe (and apparently Russia, specifically, since Russia is really the only nation that fits the “Eurasian” label), saying “fuck the EU!”. That, as was apparent from the conversation, and has been covered before, came from Nuland’s apparent frustration with leaders of European governments in failing to get on board with her choices for people to take power in Ukraine following the overthrow of an elected president by coup d’etat that, at that point in time, had not yet happened.

I’ve been over the Ukrainan situation and the US involvement many times in the last few months, with loads of links to articles covering this objectively, apart from the US Department of State propaganda, so I’ll skip a full rehash of that complicated and ongoing story. The shorter version is that the highly dishonorable Victoria Nuland delivered “testimony” that was just a continuation of the same gross deceptions and manipulation.

Worse, among the participants on the other side of the room on the Senate committee, as I watched the scene it became completely apparent that everybody seemed to completely assume a compliant role in the whole charade. Much of the discussion was about what, exactly, they thought were proper details for economic sanctions against Russia to both control and punish the Russians for their supposed “aggression” in Ukraine. There wasn’t even a question about whether any such “sanctions” were appropriate or justifiable, never mind how it was their place to have any involvement at all regarding affairs on the other side of the world.

Aside from the specifics of the Ukrainian situation, that alone was one of the disgusting and disturbing things about the whole event, this atmosphere of a panel of elected public servants of US national government just assuming that they were some sort of controlling body of authority of world government.

It might be a murky and difficult mystery to sort out exactly how involved the US government was in the overthrow of a demicratically elected leader in Ukraine, but it is clear public fact that the coup in Kiev was supported by the US government, given the public talk about what the Washington crowd like to call “regime change” before all the trouble broke loose, and Victoria Nuland’s discussion of choices for who would fill the leadership of a new Ukrainian government, before the coup/putsch/junta took place. This one of the the things that made it, shall we say, interesting to hear all the Senate committee chatter about how they had to deal with Russia “destabilizing” Ukraine. This is just one portion of the detachment from reality.

Basically, as I’ve said, the whole circus revolved around the same presumptions and obvious lying that has been playing out for months: that everything was great in Ukraine, until Russia invaded, and all that fiction. Never mind the coup overthrowing an elected leader, or that the “Russian invasion” consisted of the Russian military havign a naval base in Crimea on the Black Sea where they have been as long as there has been a Russian navy, with agreement between Russia and Ukraine since the breakup of the USSR allowing military personnel for the base and security, with the limit of personnel never exceeded by the Russians even following the coup in Kiev, which they could certainly reasonably regard as a serious security threat to theie naval base. Then, there was the reaction in Crimea, with first the Crimean parliament, in the semi-autonomous region of Crimea, and then a voter referendum of the people of Crimea, rejecting the “interim” government by coup that had taken control in Kiev, asking Russia to make Crimea part of Russia again, as it had been before Soviet Premier Khruschev made Crimea part of Ukraine in 1954, when both Russia and Ukraine were part of the Soviet Union. All that, ever since, has been consistently and constantly referred to by Washington as “Russian invasion of Ukraine and seizure of Crimea”.

The whole Senate hearing was just more of the same, seemingly operating in some completely different alternate universe.

 

Reality Optional Economics

Washington’s Arrogance Will Destroy Its Empire

Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens

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